The Ranburne Post Office will reduce its hours, but it will stay open, said a representative from the United States Post Office at a meeting called to gather community input on the issue Wednesday.
As part of the postal service’s plan to realign the hours of 13,000 post offices throughout the country, Ranburne’s post office will reduce its weekday window service hours to six a day, Monday through Friday, said Ron Davis, manager of post office operations in Area 4.
Davis didn’t specify a date when the schedule would start; the post office is still receiving surveys it sent out to residents asking their views on the matter, he said.
Those surveys, numbering about 1,500, asked residents their preference of reduced hours or closing the post office and using an alternative site, such as one in a local store or a nearby post office — the closest being in Bowdon, Ga.
The post office received 371 completed surveys, Davis said.
“Y’all had the most surveys except for one office,” Davis said of the post offices he handled. “Most of them, you have less than 100 surveys returned.”
The vast majority of Ranburne-area respondents, 340, said they would like to see reduced hours rather than closing the office, he said. Davis also provided the rest of the results. Nine respondents said they would like to receive all mail at home instead of having the post office, Davis said. Four said they would like to have a local business host the post office, he said. Two said they would prefer to use a nearby post office and 16 didn’t care, Davis said.
The 25 or so people gathered for the meeting were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the post office doors open.
Patsy Smith, whose family owns Ranburne Supermarket and Hardware, said her business relies on the local post office. We could not drive to Heflin or even Bowdon, Smith said.
“It would require taking too much time away from the store,” she said.
Before Ranburne got its post office, the town’s residents had Bowdon, Ga., addresses. It caused a lot of headaches for people as they enrolled in state-specific activities. For instance, when Ranburne residents tried to go to college, the Bowdon address created a lot of problems. Alabama schools, which charge out-of-state tuition to Georgia residents, required proof of Alabama residency, Smith said.
That all changed in the 1960s when Ranburne got its own post office, she said.
“We have worked so hard to get people off the Bowdon addresses,” Smith said.
Terry and Sheila Hendrix came to the meeting as concerned citizens, they said.
“We need to keep the post office and all the hours we can,” Terry Hendrix said. “I just believe it helps the community.”
Ed Traylor, a Ranburne resident, offered some advice to Davis. Stop losing things, Traylor said.
“That’s something you might suggest to your higher-ups,” Traylor said. “Two or three things we sent to people have just been lost.”
The local post office could give some lessons to the rest of the postal service, he said. They’ve never lost his packages, Traylor said.
Another resident agreed.
“I think we’re very fortunate here in Ranburne,” the resident said. “The post office staff, the carriers, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Davis suggested to the group that the hours be changed to 8 a.m. to noon and 1:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. The extended lunch break would have the office open and close at the same time, but by adding 45 minutes to the break, would still bring the hours down to 6 per day, he said.
“That would still give you the opportunity to use the post office in the morning time,” Davis said. “People in the afternoon who have to work would still have the opportunity to come to the post office before it closes.”
The precise weekday schedule has yet to be worked out and announced. Saturday hours would remain the same, however, 8-11 a.m.
One of the residents asked about the lunch break being from 11 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. He also wondered if the extended lunch break would bother the employee.
Davis said some of the employees really like the extended lunch. He mentioned one in Waverly who goes to the gym to work out every day during her lunch hour. Others bring in an air mattress and take a nap, Davis said.
Davis asked the people at the meeting if the extended lunch break would be good for them. He’ll do whatever they want, Davis said.
Heads nodded all over the room.
Charlene Jones said she would be fine with the extended lunch hour.
“Just so long as they don’t close the post office,” Jones said.
Residents who haven’t done so already can still fill out their surveys and turn them into the post office up to 90 days after they were sent out, Davis said.