East Dixfield, ME Post Office may be closed or its weekly hours reduced

East_Dixfield_Maine_PO(July 17, 2014) EAST DIXFIELD — Depending on the results of a U.S. Postal Service survey, the service may close its East Dixfield Post Office or reduce the weekly office hours.

Those results will be made public by Postal Service officials at the post office at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 22.

Even if it remains open with limited hours, it could still be closed in the future and its customers would have to get their mail from the larger Wilton Post Office.

“It wasn’t arbitrarily picked,” Melissa Lohnes of the Postal Service’s corporate communications office in Boston said late Thursday afternoon. “It depends on what the community says for options and how it all shakes out.”

If it remains open for now, current Saturday window service hours won’t change as a result of the service’s Post Office Structure Plan, she said. Additionally, access to a delivery receptacle won’t be impacted by the plan.

Either way, the East Dixfield Post Office’s postmaster of 16 years, Joanne Karkos, will be reassigned or lose her job, Lohnes confirmed.

East Dixfield is a village in the towns of Wilton and Dixfield. Residents living on the post office side of Route 2 live in Wilton and those on the opposite side live in Dixfield.

In May 2012, the postal service announced that non-executive postmasters across the nation would be offered a voluntary early retirement incentive.

“Our employer has worked with postmasters, so they do have options if their hours are reduced,” Lohnes said.

If the East Dixfield Post Office remains open and its weekly time is reduced to four hours daily, Lohnes said people can still buy stamps and send packages and get their mail.

But whether the office is unmanned, or there is a postmaster relief person behind the counter or a USPS officer-in-charge, is still up in the air, she said.

Lohnes said the Postal Service’s decision to reduce weekly service office hours or even to close the post office is based on daily usage of the post office. It’s also a nationwide effort.

Since last month, East Dixfield Post Office customers have received a notice advising them that the postal service is seeking their input via a survey about what decision to make.

The survey gives customers four options from which to choose:

* Keep the office open, but with realigned weekday window-service hours based on actual office workload. In East Dixfield’s case, the hours would be changed from 7.5 hours each weekday to four hours each weekday.

* Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and provide roadside mailbox delivery. Retail and delivery service would be provided via a rural carrier. Mail delivery points would be established or maintained and customers can purchase most postal services through the carrier or other alternate access points.

* Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and find a suitable alternative location operated by a contractor. These are usually at a local business, Lohnes said. When businesses are found that meet the criteria, they are contracted through the U.S. Postal Service and offer stamps and flat-rate products with services hours usually more than what the Postal Service can offer.

* Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and relocate the P.O. Box service to a nearby post office. In East Dixfield’s case, that would likely be Wilton.

Should weekly window service hours be changed to four hours daily, customers were asked to indicate their preferences for these hours. A survey provision states that the time when mail is “in the box” or delivered will likely be affected by the hours selected.

After receiving results of the survey, the Postal Service will examine the responses.

Unless more than 60 percent of the community chooses the discontinuance study for the East Dixfield Post Office and establishing one of the three criteria above, the Postal Service intends to keep the window service office open four hours daily each week.

Officials with the Postal Service’s Postmaster Operations in Portland will share the results on the afternoon of July 22 in the East Dixfield Post Office lobby or outside the building if the turnout be larger than anticipated, Lohnes said.

The officials will also answer questions and take additional input on when the post office will be open. Lohnes said a final decision won’t be made until after the public meeting.

In the aftermath of the Postal Service’s major restructuring efforts, the goal is help return the organization to financial stability.

According to a May 9 news release, the U.S. Postal Service ended the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year (Jan. 1, 2014, to March 31, 2014) with a net loss of $1.9 billion.

That marks the 20th of the past 22 quarters it has sustained a loss.

via East Dixfield Post Office may be closed or its weekly hours reduced | Sun Journal.

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