Newsoms, Drewryville post offices targeted first for changes

Published 1:54 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

RICHMOND—Newsoms resident Randolph Cook, who frequents one of eight Western Tidewater post offices targeted for changes, will have a say in what happens to his post office.

The U.S. Postal Service in June proposed cutting hours at post offices in Boykins, Newsoms, Sedley and Zuni from eight daily to six daily. Post offices in Carrsville, Isle of Wight, Branchville and Drewryville were targeted from going from eight hours to four hours daily.

Residents served by the post offices in Newsoms and Drewryville will be the first to be asked to complete a survey, said Michele Martel, district communication coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service in Richmond.

The surveys will be mailed soon and residents have 14 days to return them, Martel said.

Choices will include:

* Reducing the number hours of service at their post office

* Giving up post office boxes in exchange for rural delivery

* Having a local business offer minimal postal services

* Or closing the post office.

“The surveys will be collected and compiled,” Martel said. “If 60 percent of the people want to accept reduced window hours, that will be the decision.”

Cook said he would go along with fewer hours of service to keep the post office open in Newsoms.

“I just think the convenience of doing business,” said Cook, a retired Virginia Department of Transportation resident engineer who is now the regional manager for an asset management team from Tennessee.

The 68-year-old’s personal and business dealings require two to three weekly visits to the post office, which is 2/10 of a mile from his home. The post office in Boykins is the next closest at 5 miles away.

The Postal Service in October is expected to host meetings in Newsoms and Drewryville to review results from surveys, Martel said.

The agency needs to make changes for financial reasons, she said.

“Unfortunately, there have been major changes in the way people use the mail and the general economic conditions,” Martel said. “We don’t get tax dollars and have to operate fully on revenue. We can’t keep deficit spending.”

Should residents opt for a local business providing postal duties, Martel imagines it would include selling stamps and offering the flat-rate priority mailboxes.

“We would provide them with a sign and Postal Service logo, set up a retail counter and train them,” she said.

There’s also hope that post offices in neighboring communities who opt for fewer hours may cooperate so if one post office is closed, customers can go to another one nearby.

Martel did not have dates as to when customers in Zuni, Carrsville, Boykins, Sedley, Isle of Wight and Branchville could expect their surveys. The process is expected to take two years to complete.