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Rural post offices getting reduced hours

Published On: Jan 14 2014 08:08:50 PM CST

We take a closer look at how the USPS changes will affect residents in small towns.

HATCH, N.M. -

The U.S. Postal Service is implementing what it's calling the Post Plan.

Hours at thousands of post offices in small towns across the country will be cut.

Just a few miles from Hatch, N.M., there's a string of small towns.

Driving down the main road, you can see fields, small markets and dairy farms.

For many in these towns, getting mail at the post office is a routine.

"A lot of our elderly folk out here, they can't drive anymore. They look forward to getting up in the morning to the post office," said Anna Maldonado, a resident of Derry, N.M.

Now that routine has to change with post offices in towns like Garfield, N.M., and Derry cutting their hours in half.

"It's inconvenient. It's really inconvenient. Rural communities, we depend a lot on the post office," said Andy Nunez, state representative for District 36.

Both post offices will soon be open four hours a day. Others are cutting down to just two hours a day.

The Postal Service said these cuts are necessary to keep the business afloat.

In a written statement, CEO Patrick Donahoe said, "We simply do not have the mail volumes to justify the size and capacity of our current mail processing network. To return to long-term profitability and financial stability while keeping mail affordable, we must match our network to the anticipated workload."

The estimated savings: $1 billion a year, a small fraction of the amount Congress is requiring the Postal Service to set aside for future pension payments.

The Postal Service estimates by the time the plan is complete about 13,000 jobs will be cut.

"Their savings are humongous but what happens to the people who are losing their jobs?" Maldonado said.

Some residents in these small towns have no other way to get their mail.

"These people try to cram it down our throats that, 'Hey, you've got computers. You've got this and you've got that.' Might be fine for young people but for us oldies, no. I don't have a computer in here. I depend on mail. I depend on the post office to get my mail here," said Raul Medina, a resident of Garfield.

Postal works at Derry and Garfield told ABC-7 they do not have an exact date of when the reduced hours will take effect.

Postal officials said customers will still have access to their post office boxes despite the reduced hours.

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