Over 50 Stratford residents convened at their local Post Office on Wednesday to hear about changes to its hours of operation.
They were notified that the Post Office would likely be open on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. This would reduce its hours of operation per day from eight to six.
This decision was reached after a survey was sent to residents of Stratford. 565 surveys were mailed and 286 were returned. Of the respondents, 251, or 88 percent, preferred realignment of hours over other options. Those included a delivery option, a village post which would be run by a local business or government building, or using another nearby Post Office. The closest Post Office is in Stanhope, 8.3 miles away.
Stratford Mayor Mike Nepereny, center in doorway, was one of about 50 visitors to his local post office on Wednesday.
Information given at the meeting said Saturday window service hours would not be reduced and access to blue box delivery receptacles will not change.
Sharon King-Scroggins, Manager of Post Office operations for Area 7 in Iowa, said that six hours of operation was chosen due to the volume of revenue at the Stratford Post Office. In a tiered system, offices with lower revenue could be open four or two hours a day, but no less, if their hours are realigned under this plan. The U.S. Postal Service estimates half a billion dollars will be saved annually with this new strategy that will be phased in through September of 2014.
As the Stratford Post Office has no sitting postmaster, King-Scroggins said the Post Office's hours could be reduced. Officer In Charge (OIC) Heidi Heck heads the Stratford office, and the Postal Service is contractually obligated not to change hours of posts with sitting, union Postmasters until 2014. Heck said the Stratford Post has not had a Postmaster for the five years she has worked there.
King-Scroggins has been to 40 offices in Iowa so far, with a dozen left to do this week. She said this plan has not yet been implemented. It is proposed to take effect no sooner than January 12, 2013, due to contractual obligations. The finalized hours will be posted in seven days.
"This is the alternative to closing those offices and this is happening nationwide," King-Scroggins said. "There are nine of us in Iowa running around having community meetings, and when I say running around, I really am running around."
King-Scroggins said she was specifically at the post office to inform residents it would not be closed, after concerns were raised during a question and answer period. Stratford was on a list of potential offices slated to be closed in a 2011 Postal Service announcement. The Postal Service changed their plans to the current one in May of this year.