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USPS sets meeting to discuss future of Unicoi location

The United States Postal Service will hold a meeting on Jan. 9 at 4 p.m. in the town of Unicoi’s post office to discuss how a nationwide reduction of hours for offices in rural areas will impact the town of Unicoi.
In July 2011, the USPS announced that 3,700 post offices nationwide were likely to close. Instead the USPS implemented a plan to reduce hours with a prospective savings of $2.1 billion by 2014, according to a USPS fact sheet.
The town of Unicoi post office is one of 13,000 offices receiving cuts to their operating hours and is set for a reduction from eight hours to six. The number of hours reduced at each rural office is based on previous usage.
David Walton, USPS spokesperson previously said the expected completion date for the overall reduction plan is September 2014. Walton said the USPS learned through previous meetings and public response that closing offices down was not preferable.
“I don’t think any town wants to lose their post office,” said town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch. “Usually we all see it as an important part of our community.”
Town residents are encouraged to attend the meeting in order to learn more about the USPS process for reducing hours.
“I encourage everyone to come and speak out,” Lynch said. “We need to be writing letters or whatever it takes to stand up for the post office.”
In October, about 20 Flag Pond residents attended a similar meeting in order to learn more about the reduction and how to retain a post office in their community.
“The POST plan is a two-year plan to enable small communities to keep their post office here with retaining their zip code and community identity,” said Kristi Hamilton, who was the acting manager of post office operations, in October.
Hamilton told Flag Pond residents that the only way to ensure the post office does not close is to use it more frequently.
Lynch said he looks forward to attending the meeting in order to better understand the town post office’s situation.
“I’m not clear about what they are wanting to do,” Lynch said. “We certainly don’t want to lose this post office. A lot of questions can hopefully be answered at that meeting and it will also give people a chance to speak out on behalf of the post office and I hope they will.”

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
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