USPS official to meet with Douglas residents

A US Postal Service official will visit Douglas tomorrow (Wednesday) to hear from residents about the possible shuttering of their post office.

The Douglas branch is among thousands nationwide being considered for closure by the financially struggling agency. The unnamed official from the postal service’s Anchorage District Office will be at the Mt. Jumbo Gym Wednesday from 7 to 9 pm. Douglas Resident Susanne Williams hopes for a good turnout.

“It’s part of our identity – 99824,” Williams says. “And if it closes, what do we do then? We go to street delivery. But then for special needs, if you’re a senior, or if you do not have a car, it takes half a day. You either got to spend all morning getting over the federal building and back again, or you got to spend all afternoon.”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warned Congress Tuesday that the Postal Service could lose 10-billion dollars in the fiscal year that ends this month. That puts the agency in danger of defaulting as it reaches its borrowing limit.

Donahoe is asking Congress to let it break union contracts to fire employees, change retiree health benefits, and end mail delivery on Saturdays.

He testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Alaska Senator Mark Begich questioned how the plan to cut Saturday service would affect small businesses.

Donahoe says of all the possible places to cut, Saturday service makes the most sense. But he clarified that the change would only affect shipping and delivery of packages.

“Generally the volume is about 10-15 percent lower on Saturday than the rest of the week. We will keep post offices open on Saturdays. So people would have access to our 30,000 plus post offices,” Donahoe said.

“For shipping packages and so forth for small businesses?” Senator Begich asked.

“Right,” replied Donahoe. “We’d be able to provide that service. Now we will not be running outgoing mail that night, that would be Monday, but they would have access to our services.”

Begich’s office says the Congressional delegation is still awaiting a list of which post offices on the list for possible closure will be spared. The list was expected more than a week ago, but was delayed due to Hurricane Irene.

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