By DENISE GRANT
HAMLER — Hamler’s post office began operating on shorter hours Monday. It is a change that will be coming to most rural post offices soon.
“Everything is going great,” said a Hamler postal worker. “At least the post office is still here.”
Hours have been cut over the lunch hour and at the end of the day.
Hamler’s post office is now open between 8:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. The post office is also open between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.
Lobby hours, for those needing access to post office boxes, are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lobby hours on Saturday are from 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. The post office is closed on Sunday.
David Van Allen, of the U.S. Postal Service’s corporate communications staff, said reduced hours are an alternative to closing small post offices to cut costs.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
The Hamler post office is among the first in the area to make the change to shorter hours, but other cost-cutting options are available to other towns.
In recent weeks, many communities in northwestern Ohio have been surveyed on their preferences.
Reducing hours is one option. Another option is closing a post office and offering either curbside delivery, a post office box service at a nearby post office, or a post office set up in a convenience store, library or other local business. These in-store post offices are managed by the proprietors, and can be more convenient and offer longer hours than a regular post office.
Allen said public meetings will be held in each community affected by the change to explain the results of the survey, explain the changes, and address questions and concerns.
Similar meetings began throughout the nation in October 2012. As of last February, about 54 percent of the post office’s rural customers preferred to maintain a local post office with reduced hours; 20 percent liked the idea of an in-store post office; 15 percent wanted services to be offered at a nearby post office; and 11 percent preferred an expanded rural delivery.
About 13,000 post offices will be affected by the changes, with all the changes to be in place by January.
Local post offices affected by the changes include:
- Van Buren
- Fort Jennings
- Flat Rock
- Fort Seneca
- New Riegel
- Grand Rapids
- Jerry City
- West Millgrove
- Mount Victory
- New Bavaria
- Ridgeville Corners
- Green Springs