Residents protest reduced hours at Jay post office

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JAY — Some residents here would rather see the Livermore Falls post office reduce its hours or even close than have hours reduced at the Jay post office, they told a U.S. Postal Service representative Wednesday.

Other residents said they would compromise if the Livermore Falls site would close one hour a day to let the Jay office stay open during the lunch hour. They also suggested other post offices sacrifice an hour or close.

Residents said the Jay post office is busier than Livermore Falls and the latter facility has less parking and is a lower quality building. They also pointed out that Jay has a major business, Verso Paper Corp., three schools and majority of the schools in RSU 73, which serves Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls.

Postal Service Marketing Manager Rick Coughlin said the Livermore Falls site brings in more money over the counter than the Jay office.

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Last year the Postal Service lost more than $15 billion nationally and is currently losing $25 million a day, Coughlin said.

“We need to do something to offset that,” he said.

More than 24 residents, including town officials and a state representative, showed up at the Jay post office to hear the realignment of hours the Postal Service proposes to reduce the counter hours in Jay. The plan is to reduce counter service by two hours each weekday to make it open six hours a day.

The hours proposed from Monday through Friday are 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday hours would remain the same at 8 to 11 a.m.

Access to post office boxes in the lobby and mail delivery would not change, Coughlin said.

A survey was sent to 2,184 customers in the town and 518 surveys were returned, Coughlin said.

Of the surveys returned, 382, or 74 percent recommended that the post office stay open with a realignment of hours. Thirty-seven people, or 7 percent recommended a delivery option. Ten people, or 2 percent, chose a village post office option and 19, or 4 percent chose a nearby post office option. Seventy people, or 14 percent chose no option.

State Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, said that one option was missing from the survey: to keep the hours the same. He asked if the Postal Service would send out a new survey with that option.

Sending out another survey is not an option, Coughlin said.

The Postal Service is looking at reducing hours at 13,000 small rural post offices nationwide to offset operating losses, Coughlin said. Congress has said don’t close post offices, he said.

The idea of reduced hours is a compromise to closing post offices.

“We need to overcome a $2.2 billion operating loss” and balance the intent to keep post offices open, he said.

Residents voiced concern about inconvenience to residents and businesses of the office 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each weekday.

The majority of post offices in the country were looked at, Coughlin said.

Reducing hours at post offices would save $500 million a year, he said.

Marilyn Morse, manager of the North Jay post office, said Livermore Falls has a population of about 3,200 and Jay has a population of about 4,900.

“We have a busy post office. The parking is better, the building is better,” Morse said.

“The reduction of hours does not make sense. This post office is not losing money. We all know that.”

Sylvia Ridley, a retired post master of Jay said, suggested that the Dryden post office be closed and leave Jay open.

Dryden Village is in Wilton and is one of four post offices in that town.

Jay Town Manger Ruth Cushman voiced concerns for safety of her employees trying to get out of the Livermore Falls office and inconvenience of time of driving the more than 4 miles to Livermore Falls to do business.

Resident Linda Burdo said she doesn’t drive a lot, especially with the cost of gas. She shops local instead of traveling.

“This post office is so convenient,” Burdo said. “I don’t have time to drive all over the place.”

Jay Selectman Tim DeMillo said the postal service should reconsider operations.

The Postal Service is trying to keep everyone happy but it won’t be able to, Coughlin said.

Gilbert asked if the reduction of hours was a done deal.

“What do we have to do to influence the final decision?” Gilbert asked.

Coughlin said this is it.

“I’m taking notes,” he said and will submit feedback.

Nothing will happen sooner than 30 days.

He was asked what has to be done to change the mindset in Congress. He said you could contact congressmen.

“It is not written in stone but we’re dealing with wet concrete,” Coughlin said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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