NEWBORN -- Post offices in Newborn and Mansfield are facing reduced hours as the U.S. Postal Service looks to cut costs.
Hours at the Newborn Post Office are proposed to be reduced from eight to four on weekdays -- from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- and to remain from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Mansfield's hours are proposed to be decreased from eight to six hours on weekdays.
About 40 people attended a citizen's information meeting last Wednesday at Newborn Town Hall, according to Town Clerk Lisa Rowe.
"The purpose of the meeting was to get feedback from the citizens to see which hours they would like to see Newborn open, as the (Post Office) would like for it to be where Newborn and Mansfield do not overlap hours. If Newborn is open in the mornings, then Mansfield can be opened in the afternoon, and vice versa," Rowe said.
If Newborn's hours are reduced, it would mean that Newborn will lose its full-time postmaster. A final decision is expected to come sometime this week.
"The people here at Town Hall were not happy about losing their postmaster. It is important to them to form a relationship with their postmaster, to get to know them," Rowe said.
According to an informational flyer supplied by the Postal Service, 1,227 customer surveys were mailed out and 320 returned by Newborn customers, with 86 percent of customers saying they would prefer a realignment of hours versus closing the post office, using village post offices in town or having mail delivery service by either rural carrier or highway contract route.
Mansfield and Newborn are two of the more than 250 post offices in rural Georgia proposed to have hours reduced. The Postal Service announced in May the new strategy to keep the nation's smallest post offices open when public outcry followed the announcement that nearly 3,700 offices would be studied for possible closure.
"Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and always will be, a top priority," said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe at that time. "With that said, we've listened to our customers in rural America and we've heard them loud and clear -- they want to keep their post office open."
The new strategy will be implemented over two years. Once implementation is complete in September 2014, the U.S. Postal Service anticipates a savings of $500 million per year.
According to the Postal Service, revenue and visits to post offices are decreasing, with a 27 percent drop, or 350 million fewer visits, since 2005. Eighty-eight percent of rural post offices are losing money.