County post offices dodge closures

The Portland Post Office, along with thousands of other rural post offices in Tebbetts, Steedman and across the country, no longer face possible closures. The offices will instead have their business hours cut to make up for funding deficits.

The Portland Post Office, along with thousands of other rural post offices in Tebbetts, Steedman and across the country, no longer face possible closures. The offices will instead have their business hours cut to make up for funding deficits. Photo by Dean Asher.

Many rural Callawegians gave a collective sigh of relief following a recent announcement from the U.S. Postal Service declaring that almost 4,000 low-revenue, rural post offices would not be shut down as previously planned.

Though they will face a substantial cut in hours based on usage, post offices such as those in Portland, Tebbetts and Steedman will no longer have to worry about potentially closing their doors. All three post offices currently have eight-hour days, but the proposed plan by the Postal Service will cut the Tebbetts office down to four-hour days. Portland and Steedman would be open for two.

USPS spokesperson Valerie Welsch said that reducing hours would help cut down on budget issues.

“The Postal Service needs to take action to improve our financial stability,” said Welsch. “This is one of the strategies that we are moving forward with, not only to keep the nation’s smallest post offices open for business, but to allow the Postal Service to move towards financial stability.”

Welsch said that the new hours would phase in over the next two years to allow post offices to adjust their frameworks accordingly.

Rural post offices across the nation faced closure due to budget cuts in the Postal Service, beginning last year. The decision to keep them open comes after backlash from rural citizens and their lawmakers. Portland residents sent in a signed a petition to keep their office open in December. Later that month, the Postal Service decided to hold off on their decision to close the Callaway County rural offices until this month.

Denizens of Portland, such as lifelong resident Joe Holzhauser, were relieved to hear their post office would stick around.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “That way, we still have a post office out in rural communities, like it should be.”

Brandon Farley agrees, noting that many people in Portland are older and cannot drive for themselves, and removing the post office would have made it difficult for them to get their mail. Others aren’t as thrilled with the cut in hours, however. Beverly Cowen, an employee at Riverfront Bar and Grill, agreed it was good the post office wasn’t closing, but that “it really defeats the purpose to only be open two hours a day” for people who worked.

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