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November 21. 2012 10:43PM

U.S. Postal Service hearing from small-office patrons

TAMWORTH - If your post office is on the list of facilities slated for a reduction in retail window hours, it may be worth your while to pay attention to the mail you get.

The U.S. Postal Service is holding public forums in the communities affected.

The forums take place a few weeks after residents receive a survey asking for feedback on the changes. For many New Hampshire communities, those meetings have already been held.

On Nov. 14, postal patrons from Chocorua heard from postal officials.

The changes, the USPS said, are necessary to contain costs. In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the organization had a loss of $15.9 billion, a big jump from its $5.1 billion loss for the previous year, but the 2012 numbers included $11.1 billion to prefund retiree health benefits.

Tom Rizzo, communication coordinator for the Northern New England District, said Wednesday that the meetings are to share the results and to get feedback on where, in the course of the day, hours could be cut without greatly inconveniencing the patrons.

"We try our best to do that," Rizzo said. "Most of these meetings are going pretty much the same."

Shaving off time on the window hours could mean opening and closing later and earlier, or stretching out the closed-for-lunch period.

In the list posted in May of this year, hours at the Chocorua Post Office were slated to be reduced from eight to six a day.

The majority of the New Hampshire post offices on the list will see the retail hours reduced to four to six hours a day.

Two post offices will have their hours further reduced, to two hours a day - Lyme Center and Glencliff in Warren.

The list is subject to change after additional review.

Information about the meetings posted on the USPS website includes the countrywide list, in addition to the schedule of meetings.

The Post Plan, the announcement says, "is designed to make sure America's communities continue to have access to our products and services as we right-size our post office network to reflect the nation's current use of our services."

Tamworth resident Kate Vachon said Wednesday said that so far there have been no changes in the hours at the South Tamworth Post Office. That office had been on the closure list but, it, along with small post offices across the nation, got a stay of execution.

Chocorua is a village district within the town of Tamworth.

There could be more changes coming. Among the legislative actions on the USPS wish list is approval to let the postal service determine delivery frequency. That could affect the thousands of rural delivery customers across the state.

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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at syoungknox@newstote.com.

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