A new plan announced last week by the U.S. Postal Service would eliminate Saturday deliveries of letters and magazines to all without P.O. boxes starting in August -- a change that's likely to be felt strongest in rural areas, like Eastern Madera County.
In lieu of closing small, rural post offices in the face of daunting deficits, the U.S. Postal Service also recently decided to reduce the operation hours of the post offices in O'Neals, Raymond and Fish Camp.
The new plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery to homes and rural boxes does not include package delivery, however. Post offices will also remain open on Saturday with their normal retail hours, and mail delivered to P.O. Boxes.
"Currently, the Postal Service is losing $25 million dollars a day," said Oakhurst Postmaster Holly Baker. "Postal leadership is making decisions to improve our financial position. The Postal Service lost $1.3 billion dollars in quarter 1 (Oct-Dec), historically our busiest time of year. Since the Postal Service does not get subsidized by the federal government, these changes are necessary for the Postal Service to continue to remain viable."
Baker said the Mountain Area's contracted rural carriers will not lose their jobs if a Saturday cut is implemented, and the Postal Service is communicating with groups, like magazine retailers, to change their production and delivery schedules so their publications aren't sitting undelivered to customers through the weekend.
New office hours
As of Jan. 14, the Fish Camp Post Office hours were cut down to 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Saturday (package pick-up only).
Starting March 9, the Raymond Post Office will only be open from 8:30 a.m. to noon, closed for lunch, and 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Saturday hours are 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., package pick-up only.
The O'Neals Post Office will also experience a cut in hours, but the U.S. Postal Service has not yet announced when the reductions will begin, said Penny Cole, officer in charge at the O'Neals office.
"The post plan is implementing slowly and as of now, we don't know when O'Neals will change," Cole said.