Bon Air post office reduces window hours
by Mark Ledbetter
BON AIR — Residents can breathe a sigh of relief after finding out they aren’t losing their post office. However, there will be shorter operating hours.

Willie Trawick, manager of post office operations for Alabama, announced during a public hearing Thursday that the Bon Air post office window operations will change from Monday-Friday from 8-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4 p.m. to Monday-Friday from 8-10 a.m. Saturday hours will remain 7-10 a.m.

“That’s better than closing,” Mayor Bobby Tidwell said.

All Bon Air residents receive their mail by post office boxes in the lobby.

Trawick said the purpose of the public hearing was to discuss results of a survey sent to Bon Air residents seeking their input regarding four options for the post office.

One option presented was the reduction in window operation hours and would not affect Saturday hours or access to delivery receptacles.

A second option was discontinued service at the post office and offered residents roadside mailbox delivery with carriers providing retail and other services.

The third option presented included discontinuance locally and determining a suitable alternative location operated by a contractor. By establishing a Village Post Office, local businesses that meet USPS criteria would contract with the department to offer services.

The VPO plan called for establishing services in convenience stores, local businesses, libraries or other locations that would manage the services. The USPS pointed out that such an arrangement would provide services that offered convenience, longer hours and the continuation of post office boxes, forever stamps and prepaid priority mail flat rate envelopes.

A final option was to discontinue services locally and provide post office box and services at a nearby post office.

Bon Air survey results indicated 89 percent of responders favored the realignment of hours and 11 percent favored having mail delivered to their homes.

The surveys are part of a two-year plan to be implemented in September 2014. According to the USPS, changes would result in estimated savings of a half billion dollars annually to the Postal Service.

Recent revenue shortfalls forced the USPS to search for ways to reduce expenses.

For now, residents said the reduced hours at the Bon Air Post Office seem to be a reasonable solution.

CAVCO representative Mayhar Hall said the new hours will allow the company to conduct business as usual. “That’s good,” Hall said.

CAVCO is a leading manufacturer in Bon Air, producing pipes and fittings.

Trawick also said he would have the department evaluate options for replacing “antique boxes” in the lobby. There are two types of boxes utilized, one a key-locked box and the other an antique dial combination lock.

Resident Starlen Jackson said he favored the secured locked boxes. “Most of our residents are elderly and not having a post office would be inconvenient,” Jackson said. “Sometimes they have money that comes through.”

Tidwell expressed concern about the outside pickup box. Trawick said the pickup hours will remain the same and will be picked up by the Childersburg post office.

Martha Goodwin, Childersburg post office officer in charge, has been assigned administrative responsibility for the Bon Air office. Goodwin said her responsibilities would include staffing the Bon Air office, the finances, and the delivery service.

Tidwell said the Bon Air post office has served as a community landmark for years.

“Bon Air was incorporated in 1932 and the post office has served the community at least since then,” he said.

The local office employs one full-time and one part-time employee. When asked how the administrative changes would affect Bon Air, officer in charge Wendy Connell said, “As long as our customers are happy, this is our main goal.”

Bon Air is one of 25 post offices in Alabama that will address mailing alternatives. Trawick said the Postal Service considered foot traffic at each location and the revenue generated by each post office in determining which offices will face the same decisions as Bon Air. Bon Air is the only post office in Talladega County that faced alternatives.

Trawick said the official decision by the Postal Service will be posted in the Bon Air lobby on Nov. 8

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com.

© 2012