Port Royal Area Post Offices May Cut Hours, Close

Port Royal postmaster Chris Hawkins helps customer Lori Papadakis. The post office here is among 34 others in the region in danger of having its hours reduced or possibly closed. A public hearing on the matter is set for July 8.

Port Royal facility is home for entire community

In the tiny town of Port Royal, the post office is more than a place where people pick up and send out their mail.

“Everybody in this town pretty much relies on the post office. It’s like a center for everything. Everybody meets here,” said Chris Hawkins, Port Royal’s postmaster for the past 11 years.

Port Royal resident Cleo Coleman (left) and Vice Mayor Jim Heimbach check out a notice of an upcoming public hearing that may decide the fate of the Port Royal Post Office.

The Port Royal Post Office will be one of about 34 in the region that could see its hours reduced or possibly closed as part of a nationwide process to cut costs.

A public meeting is planned in Port Royal for 2 p.m. on July 8 at the post office to discuss possible changes.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service did not say when meetings would be held to discuss the future of the other post offices from the Fredericksburg area on the list. She also did not say whether any of those locations had already reduced operating hours.

The Port Royal Post Office may shorten hours or shut down depending on the outcome of a July 8 meeting.

Port Royal residents were notified via first-class mail and sent a survey asking them to select one of four options:

Keep the post office open but reduce hours from eight a day to six. Saturday hours would stay the same

Close the office and offer roadside mailbox delivery

Close the office and find an alternative location operated by a local business

Close the post office and provide P.O. Box service at another nearby post office.

In late August 2012, all of the U.S. Postal Service’s 67 districts began the two-year process of notifying affected communities.

The postal service spokeswoman described the plan as a way to preserve rural post offices by “modifying retail hours to match customer use.”

At the Port Royal Post Office, residents have individual boxes to pick up their mail because it isn’t delivered to their homes.

That’s one reason it’s used more as a gathering place than just a post office.

“You go in, you don’t just get your mail. You see your neighbors, we post notices for clubs, governmental notices, jobs, babysitters, yard sales, etc.,” said Port Royal Mayor Nancy Long.

“Because everyone goes there to pick up their mail, that’s a perfect place to put all this information.”

The post office in Port Royal, though it’s changed physical locations a few times, is one of the oldest continuously operating post offices in the country.

According to postmaster Hawkins, the office opened in 1766. It was closed, however, during the Civil War.

“Port Royal has had a post office throughout its history,” Mayor Long said.


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