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Decisions near on post offices

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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A decision on some of the nine post offices in the north country eyed for closure could come within the month.


The date has passed or is nearing for the period to end for public comments. A decision from the U.S. Postal Service could come within weeks of each of the endings of the comment periods, spokeswoman Maureen P. Marion said.


Post offices under consideration for closing are Hailesboro, Parishville, West Stockholm, DePeyster, Ellisburg, Deferiet, Fishers Landing, Lorraine and Thousand Island Park, which is working on a seasonal plan.


Comment periods for Thousand Island Park, Lorraine, Hailesboro, DePeyster, Fishers Landing and Deferiet end this week. The comment period for Ellisburg ends Tuesday. For West Stockholm, the comment period concludes July 22. The Parishville comment period ends Aug. 16.


Patrons unhappy with decisions to close may ask for a review by the Postal Regulatory Commission. Ms. Marion said she did not know of any decisions the commission had reversed.


"It is a review of the process rather than an appeal per se," Ms. Marion said.


The Postal Service conducted a time/use study at all of the offices it targeted.


Parishville, for example, handled an average of 22 transactions daily and spent 23 minutes doing it.


"It's a tough argument that makes for an eight-hour day," Ms. Marion said.


Closing the office would save the Postal Service $26,000 annually, although the agency is looking beyond money.


"We do recognize that not every office is going to be over the top," she said. "Our need is to make sure there is a balance between a good use of our resources while providing services that people are looking for."


However, each of the offices has a small workload.


Fishers Landing has annual overhead of $88,000 with a revenue of $22,000, and averages 1.6 hours of work daily. The DePeyster office averages 1.7 hours of work daily, has annual revenue of $16,000 and an overhead of $60,000.


The Hailesboro office was the most active of the nine, averaging 2.4 hours of work daily. It has overhead of $85,000 and annually brings in $63,000.


Overhead costs include the lease, utilities, salaries and fringe benefits, including that of backup staff and transportation.


Supporters of the Hailesboro office are building a case to keep it open.


The Postal Service may not realize the Hailesboro office serves more than its 133 box holders, 59 of whom are senior citizens, said Natalie J. Spilman, a member of the group trying to keep it open.


The Gouverneur Post Office, the closest to Hailesboro, does not have adequate boxes to serve those displaced, and putting up a mailbox would cost each box holder at least $100.


Large shipments of packages for the military are sent from Hailesboro. Although Ms. Marion said the Postal Service could provide services for special mailings, Ms. Spilman said organizers likely will switch to UPS.


She submitted a packet to the Postal Service containing a petition with 417 signatures and resolutions of support from governmental bodies, among other data.


"It's a no-brainer for us, although I think the Postal Service sees things differently," Ms. Spilman said.


In addition, the community meeting sponsored by the Postal Service was flawed because it took place in the morning when many people are at work, she said.

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