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Faced with a crowd of more than 60 Linville Falls residents, Gary Eubanks, right, answers
questions about the USPS plan to reduce operation hours at Linville Falls Post Office and
other rural post offices in the area.
Photo by Matthew Hundley



Originally published: 2012-11-02 11:01:28
Last modified: 2012-11-02 11:01:28

Eubanks explains USPS plan to Linville Falls residents

Matthew Hundley / (matthew.hundley@averyjournal.com)

More than 60 Linville Falls residents gathered outside of Linville Falls Post Office last Tuesday, Oct. 23, to speak with and listen to Gary Eubanks, director of operations for the USPS Greensboro District, which includes the post offices in and around Avery County.

The gathering was organized for residents to provide their thoughts and get answers to questions regarding the current plan to reduce the hours at Linville Falls Post Office to four hours per day. 

The plan will affect post offices that have been determined as not having sufficient workload to justify staying open for 8 hours per day, said Eubanks. 

Post offices with sitting postmasters will be excluded from such reductions for the time being.

Eubanks said that the crowd at the meeting was the largest he had encountered while attending such meetings throughout the region, acknowledging that the turnout at the Linville Falls Post Office marked an unprecedented dedication to the office and its status in the community.

Other post offices in the area, including Jonas Ridge, Plumtree and Minneapolis may face similar reductions in mid-January.

Linville Falls, with its exceptional turnout and 64-percent return rate on community surveys, marked a distinctively strong community response to the coming changes.

“It was, by far, the highest return rate we have seen,” Eubanks said. 

Citizens at the meeting questioned Eubanks on a variety of issues, including how the surveys were used, broader USPS policies and the formula used to determine an office’s workload.

Local historian and Linville Falls resident Tense Banks emphasized the value of Linville Falls Post Office to the community it serves.

“This post office is the lifeblood of the community,” Banks said. 

Randy Womack also spoke, asking if the reduction in hours might not further reduce workload, creating a repeating cycle that would inevitably lead to further decline in hours at the next assessment in 2014. 

“We are like sheep being led to the slaughter,” said Womack, who also commented that the survey provided to residents did not include options to keep the post office open in its current state. “We were not given a good choice.”

Several residents asked Eubanks for specifics regarding what criteria were used to determine the office’s workload and how those criteria were weighed.

Eubanks was unable to provide that information at the meeting, although he offered two suggestions when resident Wilma Biggerstaff requested a detailed explanation of what could be done to regain the lost hours following the next evaluation in two years.

“Tell me specifically what we can do,” Biggerstaff said. “How do we increase the workload?”The suggestion Eubanks offered included encouraging residents to rent more boxes, as opposed to rural delivery, and making as many transactions as possible at the post office window, as opposed to using the website or postal boxes. 

Eubanks said that transactions are counted individually, regardless of their size, meaning that the purchase of a single stamp is weighted the same as the purchase of book of stamps. 

Several residents responded that they would henceforth purchase all of their stamps one at a time.Eubanks emphasized that, as a post office employee, he was impressed by the interest and investment the community demonstrated on behalf of their local post office.

“I applaud you guys for all you have done,” said Eubanks.

After the meeting, resident Annmarie Harris compiled a list of suggestions to help improve the Post Office’s ratings before 2014. 

The list included a petition to request point-of-service technology, which records all window transactions, rather than the current manual system in place in most rural offices. 

Harris­ also mentioned purchasing one stamp daily, mailing packages through a window transaction at the post office rather than through FedEx or UPS and ordering magazines or other periodicals to be routinely delivered to a post office box.