The Wellington office has been susceptible to elimination ever since the U.S. Postal Service began scaling back services due to revenue not matching its expenses. Many other rural post offices are equally vulnerable, so when customers complained about the prospect of losing their facilities, officials with the Postal Service listened.
“These were targeted originally to be closed and we listened to the public,” said Postal Service spokeswoman Debra Fetterly. “Instead of closing those retail offices we’re looking at reducing hours.”
Still, the fate of the Wellington office — and roughly 1,500 other post offices like it across the country — will depend on a questionnaire distributed to customers of at-risk post offices. The results from Wellington customers were received early this month and will be revealed at a community meeting held by the Postal Service today at Crossroads Baptist Church at 5 p.m.
According to Fetterly, participating residents had 30 days to complete the questionnaire. Fetterly said she did not know how many questionnaires customers in the Wellington area received but said 261 questionnaires had been returned to the postal service by Oct. 4.
The questionnaire presented four proposals for customers to consider; one of the four options would leave the post office open. The other three would have it close.
Two options would have the office close but would make provisions for postal customers to receive retail services — stamp purchases and other transactions — in their home town.
One of those two options would have mail carriers sell stamps and collect packages in the communities. The second of those two options would establish what the postal service is calling a “village post office” in Wellington. A village post office can be established at private businesses — like convenience stores — and provide costumers with retail services.
The fourth option would have the post office close and its customers go to a neighboring post office for retail services.
“I don’t believe that customers would select that, but that is an option,” Fetterly said.
The post offices nearest to Wellington are in Alexandria and Weaver.
Customers who use the post office boxes at Wellington would likely have to travel farther to continue using a post office box, or get mailboxes for home delivery.
That would be the case for Artie Paulk, who said she’s been collecting her mail from a post office box in Wellington for 10 years. She said if the Wellington office closes, she would have to get a mailbox instead of driving to the next-to-nearest post office.
“I’d get a route before I went that far,” Paulk said. “I’d sure hate to see it go.”
Sarah McKerley was picking up her mail from a post office box Wednesday afternoon when she told a reporter that she’d been visiting the post office in Wellington for more than 40 years. She gets her daily mail there, and her sister’s medication.
“I come up here just about every day,” McKerley said.
Currently the Wellington post office is open between 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. It closes between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.
Fetterly said the hours at post offices targeted for this program across the country would be reduced to six, four, or two hours daily.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter@LJohnson_Star.