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Winston-Salem Journal: Waughtown post office will remain open, Hagan says
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Waughtown Station post office will remain open and will not be included in the latest U.S. Postal Service plan to cut costs, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Wednesday.
"The proposal to close the Waughtown Station has been put on hold," Hagan said in a telephone interview outside the floor of the U.S. Senate. "That's really good news in communities where our post offices are really important."
Hagan said postal officials are evaluating its services at post offices across the country and have not set a specific timetable to close any post office.
The post office is at 1995 Pleasant St. in southeastern Winston-Salem. Nancy Byrum lives in the Flat Rocks neighborhood about a mile from the post office.
"Naturally, we are delighted that it is staying open," Byrum said. "A lot of elderly people in the area depend on that post office."
The Postal Service announced a plan last week to keep the nation's rural post offices open with reduced hours to match its customer use. In North Carolina, 234 rural post offices will stay open, including one in Bethania.
The service had considered closing Waughtown Station because its revenue had declined by about 16 percent from 2009 to 2010. Closing the station would save the agency $1.5 million a year.
Hagan was part of a bipartisan group that asked Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to extend the May 15 moratorium on post office closings until postal reform is signed into law.
The U.S. Senate passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act in April. The U.S. House remains stalled over a separate bill allowing for aggressive cuts.
The Postal Service has been grappling with losses as first-class mail volume declines and more people switch to the Internet to communicate and pay bills.
But more than 30 percent of U.S. households do not have broadband Internet access at home, and more than 25 percent do not use the Internet, according to a 2011 Commerce Department report.
The Postal Service's plan to reduce hours at 13,000 rural post offices will result in $500 million in savings, Hagan said.
The agency has forecast a record $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year. It reported a $3.2 billion loss in its second quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended March 31.
Hagan and 41 other senators signed a letter dated May 2 to Donahoe, acknowledging the service's financial challenges, but they urged the postmaster general to keep rural offices open.
"Rural citizens depend on the mail to manage their lives and stay connected with their government," the letter said.