THURSTON – Thurston’s post office is under consideration for closure, although a decision won’t likely be made until after the first of the year. “It’s still in the study process,” said David Vanallen, spokesman for the United States Postal Service. “It’ll be a few months before any final decisions are made, next year at least.”
Vanallen said if circumstances change for the post office, every address within the Thurston Post Office’s delivery area would receive a written notice.
Thurston Clerk Treasurer Aaron Ready, speaking as a resident, said he believes closure of the post office would have “some impact” on the community, particularly for older residents who couldn’t reach the Millersport or Baltimore post offices easily. He said US Postal Service representatives have told Thurston community members that the post office itself may remain open for deliveries to PO boxes, but the office would offer no services. A rural carrier would deliver the mail. “That, to me would make the most sense,” said Ready, adding that postal representatives said that legally a post office cannot have part-time hours. It’s either open full-time or not at all.
Ready said postal service representatives said some communities have a “retail replacement” option whereby stamp sales and the like are conducted from a local business, such as a supermarket or pharmacy, but Thurston has limited options for an appropriate business from which to conduct post office business.
According to the US Postal Service’s web site, here’s why the Thurston office and others statewide are under consideration for closure, including an explanation of the retail replacement option: “As more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations, the need for the U.S. Postal Service to maintain its nearly 32,000 retail offices – the largest retail network in the country – diminishes. To that end, the U.S. Postal Service will take the next step in right-sizing its expansive retail network by conducting studies of approximately 3,700 retail offices to determine customer needs. As part of this effort, the Postal Service also introduced a retail-replacement option for affected communities around the nation.
‘Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, selfservice kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,’ said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a press release on the web site. ‘Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.’
“For communities currently with out a postal retail office and for communities affected by these retail optimization efforts, the Postal Service introduced the Village Post Office as a potential replacement option. Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.
“’By working with third-party retailers, we’re creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them,’ Donahoe said.