|LOCATION||PROPOSED HOURS||MEETING TIME||MEETING DATE|
|Fostoria||Four hours||12 p.m.||Tuesday|
|Dickens||Four hours||1:30 p.m.||Tuesday|
|Ruthven||Six hours||3 p.m.||Tuesday|
|Rembrandt||Two hours||5 p.m.||Tuesday|
|Sioux Rapids||Six hours||6:15 p.m.||Tuesday|
|Webb||Four hours||4 p.m.||Wednesday|
|Gillett Grove||Two hours||5:30 p.m.||Wednesday|
|Peterson||Four hours||4 p.m.||Monday, Oct. 29|
|Royal||Four hours||6 p.m.||Monday, Oct. 29|
Nearly 30 individuals gathered in Everly's Hap Ketelsen Community Center at noon on Monday to discuss proposed hour reductions for the town's post office, which could happen as soon as mid January.
The United States Postal Service is proposing hour reductions for thousands of post offices across the country.
"I have under my jurisdiction 124 post offices. Of the 124, 82 of those are going to be changed under this post plan we have designed," Northwest Iowa Post Office Operations Manager Kent Gochenour said.
Under the plan, the Everly Post Office would be opened from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. - with a lunch break from 11 to 11:30 a.m. - Monday through Friday, while the office would continue to be opened from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays.
Of 450 surveys mailed by USPS, 216 were returned, with 197 - or 91 percent - favoring hour realignment. Other options included delivery to cluster box units, a Village Post Office in an existing business or only using a nearby post office.
Gochenour acknowledged that a mandate to pre-fund the retirement system for 75 years has burdened the USPS.
"It certainly doesn't help us," Gochenour said. "That's a political thing we don't have a lot of control over. We've asked the last couple years to have some relief from Congress and that hasn't happened yet. Until that does, it would be pretty irresponsible not to do something."
Gochenour also blamed Internet transactions for a reduction in USPS revenue.
"Because of the Internet, we've lost more than 25 percent of our business," Gochenour said. "We're hemorrhaging financially. If we don't change, we're simply not going to stay open. We just recently reached the borrowing limit. There is a (penny) postage rate (increase) coming up, but we need to change things and change them fast."
Initially, USPS officials thought the change would include closing about 3,700 post offices.
"The public was very upset about that, and understandably so," Gochenour said. "Therefore, we've come up with a new plan for reduction of hours. We'll maintain the post office, but reduce hours."
Proposed hours are based on the volume of mail and retail business at each location.
Gochenour added that a Village Post Office may supplement the traditional post office. To qualify, an existing business must be handicap-accessible and cannot serve alcohol.
"If it is an option here, patrons could have a P.O. box in the Village Post Office," Gochenour said.
He emphasized that option would not replace the traditional post office.
"There's no plan to close the Everly Post Office at this time," Gochenour said. "There are no plans to close any post office."
When asked if the hour reduction will affect rural carriers, Gochenour said there would be "virtually no change."
Large packages would have to be dropped off at the post office between 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., but individuals could place items in a collection box up until 4 p.m.
Gochenour acknowledged the hour-reduction process will have hiccups.
"Will adjustments have to be made? Obviously yes, but we're still going to have a presence in your town," Gochenour said.
He expects the proposal to be posted in about a week, but not implemented until after the Christmas rush dies down in mid to late January.