Postal hours to be reduced at Great Cacapon
Weekday window service hours at the Great Cacapon Post Office are scheduled to change from eight to six hours a day beginning February 23. However, Morgan County Commission efforts to reverse the decision continue.
A January 15 letter from Appalachian District Coordinator Paul Bradshaw announced that the United States Postal Service has concluded its review for the Great Cacapon Post Office.
Customer survey responses, community meeting input and Postal Service operational needs were considered in reaching their decision to reduce hours, Bradshaw said.
The Great Cacapon Post Office will become an associate office of the Berkeley Springs Post Office and will oversee its operations.
The Great Cacapon Post Office will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. starting February 23.
New weekday window service hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The window will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. during lunch.
Saturday Post Office hours will remain the same — 8 to 11 a.m. Current Saturday window service hours will not be reduced and access to mailboxes will not change.
Acting Postmaster Rick Dunn, who is a fulltime employee, will be returning to his former position as customer service supervisor at the Berkeley Springs Post Office.
Dunn has served as the Great Cacapon Post Office Officer in Charge for the last several years. The postmaster position was left vacant after former Postmaster Tara Silver relocated to the Falling Waters branch.
A part-time postmaster-clerk position will be posted internally first so Post Office employees can apply. If the position isn’t filled inside the Postal Service, it would then be posted publically, said Berkeley Springs Postmaster Ron Davis.
The Great Cacapon postmaster relief position is in the process of being filled, Dunn said. That employee works Saturdays and is on call to fill in as a substitute.
They would also run the Great Cacapon Post Office until a new part-time post-master-clerk is employed if the position isn’t filled by when the new hours take effect.
The county commission sent a copy of their resolution that opposed the Great Cacapon Post Office reduction in hours to Postal Service officials and area legislators. They asked that the decision to cut the branch hours be reversed and be set aside until all other options were explored.
Included with their resolution were formally recorded resident comments from a second public meeting and a petition with more than 560 Great Cacapon postal patron signatures begun by Great Cacapon resident and attorney Jerry Berman.
The commission sent the documents because the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission had requested additional comments from the community about the proposed reduction of hours, Commissioner Stacy Dugan said.
Dugan said they still hoped to reverse the decision and keep the same quality of postal services in Great Cacapon.
Dugan received a response from the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission on December 31. The letter noted that citizens may only file an appeal after there has been a final determination to close a post office. A copy of the Postal Service policy on appeals was enclosed.
Berman, the commission representative on this issue, said they are raising a policy issue and asking for new policy and not making a legal claim. They feel the Post Office has acted within its legal rights.
They wanted the Postal Service to know how important the services were that are provided to Great Cacapon and other rural communities and are asking for a dialogue with Postal Service officials to find another way to work things out, Berman said. Congress has been working on proposals that would give more flexibility to local Post Offices.
Berman said no one has shown them where the cost savings will be with the Great Cacapon arrangement. There’s no reduction in force. Someone will be driving back and forth from Berkeley Springs to Great Cacapon to train and oversee a new part-time postmaster/clerk.
The commission is still pursuing the request for a reversal of the decision until someone explains where the savings is and why things can’t be different for Great Cacapon, he said.
Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Delegate Daryl Cowles were sent a copy of the resolution, the petition and public comments, Berman said.
Berman was contacted by a staff person from Senator Joe Manchin’s office last Friday. Manchin had heard of the Great Cacapon Post Office plight and they were going to try to address it, Berman said.
“They all know cutbacks have to come,” Berman said of legislators and the Postal Service’s current financial crisis.
The cutbacks in Great Cacapon are part of the nationwide process to reign in the United States Post Office’s huge deficit. Berman is concerned about potential post office closings unless the Postal Service rethinks their future role in rural America and thinks outside of the box.
More than 150 Great Cacapon residents packed a Postal Service public meeting in late October to voice their anger and concerns about the proposed reduced hours and the possible loss of Dunn as acting postmaster.
More than 50 residents returned to a November 1 public meeting held by the Morgan County Commissioners to formally record their complaints.
The community conducted a letter-writing campaign to government and Postal Service officials to appeal the cuts.