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May 14. 2012 10:44PM

50-plus NH post offices would have hours cut

TAMWORTH — The smallest post offices in the state — once threatened with closure — will stay open, but for fewer hours, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

The post offices in northern New Hampshire on the closure list were in South Tamworth and Glencliff.

“Obviously, we’re very happy that the post office will stay open,” South Tamworth resident Kate Vachon said Monday. “But we’re disappointed that rural postal employees will see their hours and incomes cut. We appreciate the efforts of all the letter writers, legislators and others who spoke up on our behalf. We’ll be interested to see exactly what the plan means for the South Tamworth P.O.”

The Postal Service announced a new plan May 9 to keep existing post offices open, while still working on ways to trim operating losses. That plan includes changing the retail hours of operation at post offices throughout the state. The strategy would be put in place over a two-year period. The Postal Service estimates reducing hours could save $500 million a year.

Under the plan, more than 50 post offices in New Hampshire would have their retail hours cut, including East Derry, Fremont, Temple, Milton Mills, Barnstead, Hebron, Warren and Lempster, among others. The hours of access to post office boxes within the lobby would be unchanged.

The USPS will file the revised plan with the Postal Regulatory Commission, and the plan is to be subject to public meetings.

According to Vachon, the South Tamworth office serves 62 boxholders and 54 rural delivery sites. The post office is far busier in the summer, when seasonal residents and visitors arrive.

It would be open four hours a day instead of eight under the USPS plan.

Supporters of the post office sent a package in February during the public comment period for the proposed closures. The package included letters of support from local state representatives, Executive Councilor Ray Burton and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, among others.

A petition was signed by more than 500 individuals.

The Glencliff Post Office is in the western White Mountains near the Appalachian Trail. In October 2011, the final determination to close the small post office was affirmed after a review of petitions from local citizens. In the latest plan, the retail hours for the post office are cut from eight hours a day to two.

The Lyme Center Post Office retail services also would have its hours cut to two a day.

In February, Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the USPS in northern New England, said that the list of possible closures was generated after data was gathered on low-traffic facilities.

“We have to look to see what efficiencies we can get,” he said, noting the projected loss for 2012 is $18 billion.

The net loss for 2011 was $5.1 billion.

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To see the list of post offices affected, go to http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/welcome.htm


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