Citizens unconcerned about possible post office changes

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By Lynne Werner
Bath-DeWitt Connection staff writer

Citizens in Bath and DeWitt, Mich., are unconcerned about the possible changes to the U.S. Postal Service suggested to Congress by the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe on Sept. 6. As one Bath citizen put it, “It’s been coming for a long time.”

Donahoe made many suggestions to downsize the post office, such as reducing the number of processing centers by more than half, eliminating around 20,000 city routes, and reducing the number of delivery days from six to five among others. President Barack Obama has endorsed stopping Saturday deliveries.

Mail volume is expected to go down about 2 percent from last year, or 167 billion pieces of mail. Donahoe attributes this decline to technological advances such as email and social networking sites.

Citizens seem to agree with this. DeWitt resident Nancy Brandi uses the post office’s services these days only when absolutely necessary, such as for paying bills.

“My son (who lives in Seattle) and I will have four-hour marathon calls every week,” she said. “I mean, you used to have to pay for long distance. These days it’s free with cell phones.”

Brandi also said she uses Facebook and email to keep in contact with her grandchildren. She visits the post office only when she sends packages to her children, about once or twice a month.

While the post office has made many changes that have narrowed the $20 billion gap between expenses and revenue, the suggestions made to Congress were not included because those changes must be ratified first.

Another issue is that no one seems to know exactly how these changes will affect communities. Spokeswoman for the Postal Service Sabrina Todd said that a study of the 252 processing and distribution centers will be conducted through the end of February or March 2012 to learn more about the affects these changes will have on communities and the post office itself. Processing centers in Lansing, Mich., Kalamazoo, Mich., Kingsford, Mich., and Saginaw, Mich., will be a part of this study.

As information becomes available, public meetings will be scheduled and held so citizens will be able to learn more about what these changes will mean for them. No dates have been set yet.

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