The U.S. Postal Service is looking to reduce the operating hours of the Silver Point Post Office, similar to the plan recently enacted at the Alexandria Post Office.
A public meeting was held on Tuesday, February 5 at Silver Point to give postal customers in the area a chance to express their views.
The Silver Point Post Office is currently open from 6 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 6 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturdays.
The proposed changes would leave the post office open 7:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays and from 6 a.m.-11 a.m. on Saturdays.
More than 750 surveys were recently mailed to Silver Point residents, and of those who responded, 85 percent indicated they preferred the realignment of open hours rather than the other options which included providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses by rural carrier or highway contract route, creating a "village post office" by moving post office facilities to a local retailer, library, town hall or government center, or offering service from a nearby post office, the closest of which would be 12.5 miles away in Smithville, 12.8 miles away in Chestnut Mound or 13.2 miles away in Cookeville.
Changes at the Alexandria Post Office took effect, Saturday January 26, providing six hours of window service each weekday. The facility retail hours are now from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with lunch from noon until 1:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Saturday window service hours were not reduced and access to delivery receptables were not changed as a result of the POST Plan realignment of weekday window service hours at Alexandria. Customers still have access to their mail receptacles 24 hours a day and Post Office Box mail is still available daily for pick-up by 10:00 a.m. Monday-Friday, and at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.
David Walton, spokesman for the Tennessee District of the United States Postal Service, in a telephone interview with WJLE last Thursday, said the Silver Point Post Office is among 13,000 across the country being considered for shortened retail hours."Back in May of last year, the Postal Service announced a new strategy in which we looked at the smallest post offices across the country and decided to reduce the retail hours at 13,000 of them nationwide. Before we proceed with this, what we're doing is going into these communities and we're holding community meetings. Originally we wanted to close about 300 post offices nationwide but we got such a push back from communities who wanted to keep their post offices open. So what we tried to do is create a strategy that would be a win-win situation for both the postal service and communities. So before we make any changes, we're going into these communities and holding a community meeting. Prior to that meeting, we will send out a letter letting customers know what our intentions are. But in that letter is a survey and its giving customers four options, one being that they can keep the post office in their town open at reduced hours, or there's three other options but all of those entail closing the post office. Most of the time, these communities opt to keep their post offices open but at reduced hours. The Silver Point meeting was held on Tuesday, February 5. Normally what happens at these meetings, usually about a week or so thereafter, they will post at the post office the decision, whether it is to keep the post office open at reduced hours or whatever it is that the community has decided. Normally, the soonest that those changes could take effect would be in thirty days but some times it is much longer than that," said Walton.
According to the United States Postal Service website, the postal service is currently projecting a $14 billion net loss in fiscal year 2012. In order to help reverse their losses, many offices across the country are attempting to shorten their open hours instead of closing down completely.
Silver Point postal customers with questions or concerns may call 931-858-4950 and leave a message to pass on to the corporate office, where the final decision of new hours will be made no sooner than 60 days after last Tuesday's meeting. After two years, the Silver Point Post Office will be up for evaluation again, and any changes made will be based on the location's revenue between now and then.