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USPS changes might create local effects

“The only constant is change,” said Kevin Branson, USPS postmaster for Hood River. Being practical and adaptable is just part of the work he does.

With the recent announcement of the elimination of Saturday letter delivery by August, and a directive from Congress to “keep taking methods to become more efficient,” Branson, like all postmasters across the country, is ready to roll with whatever the latest news brings.

“I’m thinking this is a wait-and-see situation. A lot can happen before August. It may not happen,” he said. “Maybe Congress will sit up and take notice and put in some favorable legislation to help out. That is my personal hope.”

In the meantime, Branson doesn’t anticipate a huge local impact.

“The big savings are at the national level where there will be savings on 500,000-600,000 employees’ salary and benefits,” he said.

“This shouldn’t reduce any local fulltime positions: We have been diligent to hire to the workload that we have. Some of the part-time temps may see a reduction in their hours; we don’t have any of the logistics yet.

“Personally I anticipate that the hours will simply shift — Mondays will be heavier and we will need the additional assistance along with days after holidays,” he said.

As Branson sorts through the daily barrage of emails on the potential changes at the national level, he tries to maintain a philosophical balance.

“Every day things are changing and we must be able to adapt quickly.”

As for the anticipated logistics: No home mailbox letter delivery will be offered on Saturdays; local post office windows will remain closed as they currently are on Saturdays. Certain classes of packages will still be delivered to home boxes and P.O. boxes.

“They haven’t determined the type of parcels that will still be delivered,” said Branson. “These will probably be priority or express, but I’m not sure if surface mail (formerly known as parcel post) and medium mail is part of the mix. There is some talk from the postmaster general about exploring parcel delivery on Sunday”; a potential expansion of service.

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