CLIFFORD — The Clifford post office will reduce its schedule to two hours each weekday, starting Feb. 9, the postal service announced Tuesday.
Tentative hours after the reduction are 3 to 5 p.m. but have not been finalized. Carmen Jennings, greater Indiana operations manager for the U.S. Postal Service, said a final determination of window hours is expected to be posted at the Clifford post office no later than noon Dec. 4.
About 10 people attended Tuesday afternoon’s announcement at the Clifford Fire Department.
“(Clifford residents) won’t like this,” said Deb Abel, who serves as officer in charge of the town’s post office. “They like being able to come here and not have to stand in line to mail a parcel or buy stamps. This isn’t good for anyone.”
The decision is not expected to affect home delivery in the Clifford area.
Mail that is now placed in postal boxes by 10 a.m. won’t be available until after 3 p.m. The Postal Service is expected to do a security survey to determine if the lobby can remain open 24 hours a day.
“This is happening in small communities nationwide,” said Greenwood Postmaster Rob Ford, who attended the announcement. “It’s just something we feel we have to do because of the financial condition of the Postal Service. We have to save money where we can.”
In May, the Postal Service leadership announced it would phase in a reduction of window hours at small town post offices across the country during the next two years. They claimed the effort would save about $500 million a year and help return the organization to financial stability.
Clifford has had a post office since 1853, when mail was delivered to the town on horseback. After losing several businesses, the current Mill Street post office has been considered by a number of Clifford residents to be the town’s social hub.
Tuesday’s announcement was made one week after 124 surveys were mailed out to Clifford-area residents. Jennings said 34 completed surveys were received during the past week.
Early survey results showed 76 percent of respondents prefer shorter hours, rather than being placed on a rural route or having postal service established at an unrelated Clifford business, according to Jennings.
“Yes, they sent out a survey,” retired Clifford Fire Chief Ed Stone said. “But the only two choices seemed to be either keeping the post office open a few hours a day or closing it down. I think it’s just one more step in the process of closing the post
The reduction in window hours will mean the Clifford Post Office will be staffed by a part-time officer in charge, rather than a full-time postmaster. The town has not had a postmaster since Paula Kirts retired in 2009.
Abel, who lives in Seymour, said the reduction in window hours means she won’t be able to continue working in the town’s post office.
“I can’t afford to drive from Seymour to Clifford for two hours a day,” Abel said. “I’ll have to go back to Columbus and work there.”