The Gibson Post Office may have its hours cut as part of a national initiative by the U.S. Postal Service to save money.
The POStPlan, or Post Office Structure Plan, announced by the postal service in May, targets some 13,000 rural post offices nationwide, 235 of them in North Carolina. The POStPlan replaces an older plan to close offices with fewer than two hours of workload daily and less than $27,500 in annual revenue - some 3,600 nationwide.
“The POST plan is about revising operating hours based on customer use,” said Monica Robbs, corporate spokesman for the postal service’s Greensboro and Mid-Carolinas districts. “We looked at staffing and customer usage, and those who were not earning a certain number of hours based on customer usage were reviewed and designated as possible opportunities for a reduction in hours.”
Gibson’s post office, currently open eight hours a day on weekdays, has been slated for a reduction to six hours.
In recent weeks, a survey has been distributed to those served by the Gibson Post Office, allowing them to state a preference for the reduction in hours or for three other options.
Each of the other options available to local residents involves performance of a discontinuance study. One option is to offer roadside mailbox delivery in lieu of keeping the post office open, in which case those served could purchase stamps and other postal services through their mail carrier.
The postal service may also close the office and contract with a local business to offer stamps and flat rate services. The final option included on the survey is to completely discontinue postal services in Gibson and “relocate P.O. Box service to a nearby Post Office.”
“They’re presented with the options for the survey, which give them what the proposed hours are for that particular office, unless there is an overwhelming decision by the community that they would like to move to something else,” Robbs said.
Gibson resident Martha Miller said that, for her, a six-hour day for the Gibson Post Office would be a workable solution, while closure of the office would be a detriment to the town.
“I’d really hate to lose our postal service; it’s so convenient, and I’m hoping that it will get to stay open some,” Miller said. “A shorter day for me would be fine, because I don’t work and I live right here in town. It would still be very convenient.”
Postal management representatives will hold a meeting with the Gibson community on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. at the post office. All of those served by the post office are encouraged to attend to express their preferences for the post office’s future.
At Gibson’s town meeting last week, former Gibson mayor and postmaster Sadie Odom exhorted area residents to attend the meeting in force to support their post office.
“The town hall and the post office are the backbone of the community, and I know all of you have sensed that under new management right now, the feeling in the post office, when you go in there, is not what it has been in the past,” Odom said.
Shaving two hours from the Gibson Post Office’s current hours of operation would fall in line with the POStPlan’s nationwide vision to reduce hours without closing post offices, but the other options may be explored if community members express a preference.
“We’re implementing the same procedures nationwide, and the direction they go will depend totally on community input,” said Robbs.