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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Dozens of area post offices could soon be cutting back hours.
The U.S. Postal Service is facing a major budget crisis. Now, they're proposing cutting back hours at many area post offices. For instance, from eight hours a day down to two hours in Arkansaw, Humbird, Barronett, and Exeland. Many others would cut their hours in half. The post office says it'll save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
"We're going to be implementing this over the next couple of years, and by the time it's all put in place, we're estimating savings of about 500 million dollars a year, so it's certainly significant for us," says USPS Spokesman Pete Nowacki.
The postal service is in the process of sending out surveys to determine what changes communities would prefer for their post office.
There are four options: cutback hours, shut down the office, have carriers provide retail service, or find a local business that could contract some post office services. Those surveys will go out to communities before a public hearing is held.
Some communities, like Arkansaw, Pepin, and Bay City have already held their meetings, and a spokesman for the post office says they were sparsely attended. But he says most residents favored shortening the hours rather than closing the offices.
"Anytime you do anything like this, you're going to be asking somebody to change how they go about doing business. They're used to coming to the post office at a certain time of day and they don't want that to change and we understand that. We're at a point in our history with volume declining and customer business declining and revenues declining that we don't have much choice though if we're going to be keeping all of these offices open," says Nowacki.
Places like Fairchild, Boyceville, and Humbird will hold their meetings about the changes next week. Others will be held in the coming months.
The earliest any changes would be made for any community would be November 17th. That would be for communities who have already held their public meetings. The postal service says one week after the meeting, they'll come back with a final decision for the new hours for that post office. It'll be at least a month after that that those changes would go into effect.
Here are the next public meetings that have been scheduled for our area:
-Boyceville Post Office: Tuesday November 13th, 7 pm, Boyceville Village Hall. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 6 hours.
-Centuria Post Office: Tuesday November 13th, 7 pm, Centuria Village Hall. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 6 hours.
-Conrath Post Office: Wednesday November 14th, 5 pm, The Villa. Cutback in hours proposed: 4 hours a day to 2.
-Fairchild Post Office: Thursday, November 15th, 7 pm, Fairchild Fire Hall. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 4.
-Holcombe Post Office: Wednesday November 14th, 7 pm, Lake Holcombe Town Hall. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 6.
-Humbird Post Office: Thursday November 15th, 5 pm, Town of Mentor Hall. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 2.
-Milltown Post Office: Tuesday November 13th, 4:30 pm, Milltown Community Center. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 4.
-Weyerhauser Post Office: Wednesday November 14th, 2:30 pm, St. Peter and Paul Church. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 4.
-Wheeler Post Office: Tuesday November 13th, 5 pm, Our Savior's Lutheran Church. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 4.
-Eleva Post Office: Tuesday November 26th, 6:30 pm, Eleva Elementary School Library. Cutback in hours proposed: 8 hours a day to 6.
There are many other post offices that are facing changes, but no meetings have been scheduled because no meetings are scheduled the week of Nov. 17-23, or between Dec. 8, 2012 and Jan. 8, 2013.Meetings will resume after Jan. 8, 2013.
For a complete list of proposed hour changes for post offices across the country, click here.
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