|Fate of Enders post office subject of community meeting|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Friday, 22 July 2011 15:49|
By Josh Sumner
The Wauneta Breeze
Approximately 35 Enders citizens came to the Church of the Brethren last Wednesday to find out what, if anything, can be done to save their town’s post office.
Western Nebraska Post Office Operations Manager Kathy Hand led the discussion by providing information and fielding questions about the possible change to postal service in Enders. Hand was joined at the front of the room by Hershey Postmaster Jessie Bergen, who is assisting Hand in the gathering of surveys during, what Hand called, the information-gathering process.
“What we’re here to discuss is the possible discontinuance of the Enders Post Office,” said Hand, in her opening statements to the somewhat hostile crowd.
Western Nebraska Post Office Operations Manager Kathy Hand, at left, addresses the crowd during last Wednesday’s public meeting about the future of the Enders Post Office, as Hershey Postmaster Jessie Bergen looks on. (Josh Sumner | The Wauneta Breeze)
Many of those in attendance were curious why Enders had been singled out as a candidate for discontinuance. According to Hand, there are two reasons: The absence of a permanent career postmaster, and the light workload of the current officer-in-charge.
Enders is considered a “vacant” office, as it doesn’t have a permanent career postmaster — the previous postmaster retired on June 8, 1997. A study indicated that current Enders Officer-in-Charge Betty Krausnick has about a 2-hour daily workload, said Hand.
When asked why a new postmaster wasn’t hired in Enders in 1997, Hand said she didn’t know. She did say no new postmasters are currently being hired due to a hiring freeze at USPS.
Hand called the postal service’s current 60-day “study phase” into the Enders office a docket. During this period, USPS will accept comments and written responses from those citizens affected by a potential Enders closing. At the conclusion of the 60-day period, the docket makes its way from Hand to the Postal Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where a final determination is made, said Hand.
When faced with opposition from a crowd member, who suggested that closing a small office like Enders would provide little or no relief to USPS’s current financial catastrophe, Hand agreed.
“Closing Enders is not going to save the postal service,” said Hand, who estimates that USPS currently faces daily losses in the $30 million range. “But it is one step towards longevity.”
If the proposed plan does indeed take place, those who currently have post office boxes would begin having their mailed delivered rurally.
“We feel that putting boxes on the route is providing you efficient regular service,” said Hand, who was met with opposition following her statement. Hand attempted to alleviate the tense crowd by stating that the decision was by no means a certainty.
“I have seen offices that have been on the discontinuance list and have been saved,” said Hand.
The USPS would have to receive a strong response from the citizens in Enders to make such a determination, but the possibility remains alive.
The alternative of using one postmaster to manage multiple offices is an idea USPS is not considering at this point, said Hand, in response to the idea that the Champion postmaster also manage Enders.
Hand provided no specific financial figures for the Enders office during the meeting. Information, such as the office’s revenue figures, will be revealed at the conclusion of the 60-day study phase when the docket is released to the public.
Hand encouraged Enders citizens and patrons of the post office to return questionnaires in the pre-addressed envelopes included. She added that comments included in those questionnaires will become part of an official record, and will be available for public viewing.
Questionnaires can currently be picked up at the Enders Post Office.