BIG HORN — In 30-45 days, the post office in Big Horn will reduce its window hours from eight to six hours per day. More than 20 residents gathered in the Big Horn Mercantile, which also houses the town’s post office, to discuss the reduction in hours Tuesday night.
While some residents expressed frustration about losing two hours in which to conduct business at the post office, overall reactions were positive.
“I thought this was a great meeting,” Big Horn resident Margie Gustafson said. “I thought it was presented very well. I think the postmistress, Kim, has done a fantastic job. I would love to see the post office stay open because it’s more than just a post office; this is a meeting place for everyone. We’ve been here for 22 years, and I hope this stays open forever.”
The proposed hours for the Big Horn post office are 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Saturday hours will be 9:30-11:30 a.m. .
Some meeting attendees said they would like to see the hours be earlier, and some said they’d like later hours. Suggestions and comments from the meeting will be considered before the final decision is made, Acting Manager of Postal Operations for Wyoming Keith Artery said.
The reduction was due to loss of revenue.
“It’s just a reduction in hours to meet the demand of what they’re showing is the demand of this office. They said that this community would need six hours to stay with where they are, selling that many stamps,” Artery said.
Post offices around the country are losing money, Artery said. The postal service uses a complicated formula to determine if certain offices should operate fewer hours — or close altogether. The formula involves computing how many stamps are sold and how much revenue is earned per hour and dividing that by the amount of hours and days worked to determine community demand at each office, Artery said.
“I want to caution you. You need to buy your stamps here,” Artery said. “One thing that will keep this office at six hours is buying stamps here and mailing letters and packages here.”
Artery said the postal service will evaluate 2013 numbers in 2014 to determine hours for the Big Horn post office next year. If business increases, it may be possible to increase hours up to eight; if business decreases, hours could be cut to four per day.
“If everybody will buy their stamps here, mail their packages, mail their letters here, that will help us tremendously to keep the place open, and that’s the most important thing,” Gustafson said.
The current pick-up time for mail in Big Horn is 3:15 p.m. Artery said that will likely remain the same or may be moved to 3 p.m. to align with the time the window closes. The “box up” time when mail is placed into post office boxes may change slightly, Artery said.
Several residents expressed appreciation for the current postmistress, Kimberly Fjell, who is on detail service from Upton. Fjell said she would put in for the position in Big Horn if she has the opportunity even though it will likely mean a reduction in hours and pay. Placement is determined by seniority, Artery said.
“I thought it was great. I thought it was a time for people in the community to express how they feel about the post office, which is that it’s the heart of the community,” Big Horn resident Alice Roach said about the meeting. “We’re just happy that they’re not talking about closing it. We can deal with the reduced hours if we can just keep the post office.”
Only window hours will be reduced. Post office boxes will still be accessible 24 hours a day.