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Rural Alaska

Rural Alaska post offices may see reduction in hours in 2015

  • Author: Francesca Fenzi
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 20, 2014

Dozens of post offices in Alaska face potentially reduced hours of operation beginning in January.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, most of those offices will experience a reduction from eight hours to six hours of operation per day -- though some locations will decrease to as little as two hours per day.

The adjustments are part of a new operations strategy initiated by the postal service in 2013 in response to nationwide data indicating an overall decrease in the number of parcels delivered annually.

Dawn Peppinger, the marketing manager for the postal service in Alaska, said that nationally, the plan has been to consolidate -- or close -- post offices. But in Alaska, where remote offices are often the only source of mail for rural communities, the postal service was pressured to take a different approach.

"In this case, a lot of our offices in Alaska, you can't just drive to the next post office. So that was part of the consideration too," she said.

Rather than closing remote post offices, the postal service opted to reshuffle hours of operation throughout the state. According to Peppinger, a total of 161 offices in Alaska will be affected, with roughly 100 already adopting the changes.

But not all of those changes involve reductions. Some offices' hours, like those in Anvik and Grayling, have remained constant, while others, like those in Kobuk and Stevens Village, have actually increased. A complete list of affected post office locations can be found on the USPS website.

The adjustments will affect operations only Monday through Friday, while Saturday hours will remain unchanged.

Still, the most dramatic shift appears to come in the form of employment for postal service workers in Alaska. With a decrease in overall work hours, many post office operators would fall into the category of part-time clerk instead of full-time postmaster.

Peppinger said most of these post office clerk positions have been created at a smooth transition point for each community, like the retirement of an existing postmaster. But offices that have not yet adjusted their hours will now have to do so by January.

This article originally appeared on KNOM Radio Mission, a Nome-based radio station sharing stories from around Western Alaska. It is republished here with permission.

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