The U.S. Postal Service is proposing cuts to hours of operation at small rural post offices, including several of Juneau’s neighbors, but that cost saving measure may help buy time for the threatened Douglas Post Office.
Douglas’ post office was targeted for closure last year, but a decision on that office’s future was put off until mid-May.
Now, the Postal Service is proposing cutting window hours at thousands of rural post offices, but the list of offices with potential cuts didn’t include Douglas.
“At this point we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen,” said Luke Miller, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Don Young, who has been monitoring the situation.
Miller said the hope is that means the value of the Douglas office has been recognized, but said it is being considered in a different category from the other rural post offices that had been considered for closure.
Top postal officials in Juneau and Anchorage did not return phone calls from the Empire on Wednesday.
The decision to cut hours at, but not close, less used rural post offices was intended to prevent the loss of small-town mail service, as well as those town’s zip codes and community identity, said a U.S. Postal Service spokesman in Washington, D.C. where the announcement was made.
Postmasters in some small communities around Southeast Alaska said Wednesday that a call from the Empire was the first they’d heard that they’d be reducing their hours.
Chichagof Island was particularly impacted, with post offices in Tenakee Springs, Elfin Cove and Pelican among those seeing hours cut, mostly from 8 hours a day to 6 hours a day.
Alaska U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich issued positive statements about the nationwide action.
“I have always said that I would fight any cut from any government service that hurt Alaska disproportionately — and it appears the USPS is attempting to address its tough financial situation while maintaining full access to postal services,” she said.