HOULKA – A public hearing to explain changes at Houlka Post Office drew 47 people who voiced their concerns with a reduction in postal hours.
Postal customers gathered at the Houlka Community Center to hear Tina Terry of the North Mississippi Post Office Operations Center explain why the post office will see its hours go from eight to six hours a day and a part-time employee replace the Houlka Post Office Postmaster.
“This all started in 2011 with talk of closing 3,700 post offices across the country,” said Terry. “There was a lot of push-back from customers and communities that would have been affected at that time and many of those changes were delayed.
“We have seen a decline in mail volume and therefore revenue and that has prompted these decisions,” said Terry. “What we are seeing is a lot of eight-hour post offices go to six-hours and some to even four and two-hours of operations a day.”
Terry pointed out the Van Vleet Post Office was one location that went to two-hours a day.
The major change in Houlka will be the closing of the post office window for two hours during the noon lunch time-frame.
“The post office will still be open five days a week and from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday,” said Terry. “Post office boxes will still be accessible 24-hours a day. The change will come in how long there is someone at the post office window.”
Houlka residents pointed out the change will impact residents who work the most.
“If you are a factory worker and get an hour off for lunch, you are out of luck,” said Houlka resident James Reynolds. “Most of us go to work before the window opens and are there after it closes.”
He said working folk will have to drive to Houston to conduct postal business.
“I won’t be able to buy a stamp to pay bills in Houlka,” said Reynolds. “That’s a problem for me and it could be a problem for my creditors.
“I think the people it will really affect are the businesses that pay bills and get payments through the mail,” he added. “This is not good for our economy and it will hurt Houlka.”
Terry said postage can be bought on-line and she urged any business who wanted to sell stamps to contact the U.S. Postal Service about offering that commodity to the public at that company or store.
“This decision was made in Washington, D.C.,” said Terry. “They looked at the numbers and had to make some hard decisions.”
Terry said this decision is final.
Terry said city and rural routes will still be delivered as usual.
“The U.S. Postal Service does not get government funding and has to operate at a profit,” said Terry. “We’ve had to make changes in Vardaman, Derma, Woodland, Mantee and Calhoun City. Houston is still an eight-hour post office as is Okolona.”