Gore post office facing cuts

Posted: October 30, 2012

The Winchester Star

Dennis Voorhess (right), manager of Post Office Operations, talks with Gore residents Monday about new hours for the Gore post office.

GORE — The U.S. Postal Service plans to cut weekday hours at the village’s post office from eight to six, a change scheduled to go into effect at the end of January or the first two weeks of February.

On Monday, 14 residents braved the rain and wind to attend a meeting on the changes with Dennis Voorhees, manager of Post Office Operations for the Northern Virginia District.

Saturday hours will remain the same, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Voorhees said he is considering a 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. schedule for Gore on weekdays once the changes are implemented.

Resident Thelma Whitmer said she’d prefer having the post office open more hours, but was resigned to the changes.

“We have to adjust to the way the world is,” she said.

In a recent survey by the Postal Service, most patrons of the Gore facility preferred having the hours there reduced as opposed to having it close.

Of the 955 surveys delivered to patrons, 316 were returned, Voorhees said, and 280 preferred to realign hours than close the post office or set up a village post office for local residents.

As part of its new Post Plan, Voorhees said the cash-strapped Postal Service wants to cut hours at a number of mostly rural post offices across the country to save money.

Star Tannery, Millwood and Gore are the local offices targeted for the hourly reductions. The White Post facility may come under scrutiny later, Voorhees has said.

There are some bills before Congress proposing to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, but Voorhees said they have not been acted on.

He said the Postal Service is coping with the loss of about 27 percent of its first-class mail business, as many people turn to the Internet to communicate.

Resident Dwight Byers suggested that people get rid of their computers “to keep their post offices.”

“Not everybody’s online,” offered resident Calvin Neighbors.

Paulette Vanderbrosch said she sends a lot of priority and express mail at the post office because of her husband’s custom furniture business.

Delivery in the route boxes that most rural residents have isn’t really safe, Vanderbrosch said, citing a time when she found some of her mail, including a credit card, in a nearby field.

She said she’s had a postal box at the Gore post office for 15 years.

Voorhees said he expects the Postal Service to “get its financial house in order,” but added that, with Congress in charge, “there are things we can’t do right now, because our hands are tied.”

Although Congress decided the Postal Service should be privatized in 1970, there are still a lot of regulations as to how it can operate.

It has also mandated that the Postal Service prepay retirees’ health benefits, a $5-billion-a-year cost. In September, the Postal Service defaulted on its annual payment.

When the Postal Service attempted to close many rural offices and asked to stop Saturday delivery, Congress blocked that solution, but legislators never came up with a fix for the problem and have now adjourned until after the November election with no solution in sight.

“I know you’re in dire straits,” Whitmer said to Voorhees, adding, “the government has its fingers in the post office. I think you’ve done a good job on this.”

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com