Wellington to keep post office, lose post master
Fearing the worst, many Wellington residents showed up at Tuesday's public meeting expecting to learn that United States Postal Service officials planned to close their post office. Following information gathered via a community survey, postal agents instead put forth a plan to reduce the local office's hours of operation by 30 minutes daily and replace the town's post master with part time employees.
During Tuesday's meeting, Wellington residents were addressed by Manager of Post Office Operations in Salt Lake Tony Cline, Acting Post Master or Officer in Charge of the Price Office John Murillo and Price Office Customer Service Supervisor Sandra Koon.
According to Cline, not only Wellington but many of Utah's smaller communities are facing cutbacks, many more severe than the adjustments coming to Wellington.
In fact, Cline stated that in the past three weeks he had visited five communities just like the Carbon County city, to let them know that there would be a reduction in their services.
While most residents didn't seem bothered by the half hour reduction in daily postal service, many citizens took serious offense to the fact that their city would no longer have a full-time Post Master.
"For 100 years, Wellington has had a Post Master. So what you're telling me is that you are going to replace our Post Master with a $12.50 an hour employee for six hour a day," said Wellington resident John Mohr. "That is just not acceptable."
In response, Cline stated that this type of reduction was how the United States Post Office has decided to save revenue.
"The post office is facing serious financial challenges, just like every business is," he said. "And so we have to make choices. So, do we keep the post office open and go with a lower paid employee, or close the post office down."
Mohr was not swayed by Cline's explanation and took further umbrage with the fact that East Carbon and Sunnyside have post offices within a mile or two of one another and are being allowed to keep a post master at each location. Mohr repeatedly asked why Wellington residents were not given the option to keep their post office just as it is by the "quasi-federal" organization.
The United States Post Office is classified as "quasi-federal" because while they have a monopoly on first class mail and are regulated by Congress, they are funded solely by the revenue generated through the sale of postage and other services.
Mohr, who had picketed all day Tuesday along U.S. Highway 6 and at the Wellington Post Office, contended that having a highly trained Post Master who knows the town's residents by name was vitally important to the city. He also stated that loosing a high paying full time job would be devastating to a city that is already struggling economically. Following his comments, it became clear that many of those present at Tuesday's meeting had no idea they would be losing their Post Master.
The Sun Advocate has learned that Clea Curry will retire as the Wellington Post Master after 35 years of service on Sept. 30. She is leaving the U.S. Postal Service due to a reduction in force and was reportedly given a choice between moving to a larger office or retiring.
She has chosen to retire.
"I would have to move to a big area, and that's just not something I want to do," said Curry. "I love Wellington, this is my home and this is where I want to stay."
While many at the meeting stated that they had just learned of the possible changes in postal services over the past few days, postal officials mailed out a survey to the residents of Wellington earlier this year concerning the need for changes at the city's post office.
Of the 779 surveys mailed, 239 were returned for consideration. Of the surveys returned, 88 percent voted for a realignment of hours over any of the other choices provided by the postal service.
Cline approached the session with a plan to change the office's hours to 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays with a lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. On Saturday, the office will now be open from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Access to delivery receptacles will not be reduced from current hours. After more than two hours of discussion residents continued to discuss the issues they saw coming in the future rather than the reduction proposed and accepted on Tuesday.
Additional concerns centered around whether or not this was just the first step in a plan to close the Wellington Post Office permanently and whether or not part time employees alone were qualified to be responsible for the town's mail.
"I do not see how offering someone $12.50 an hour is going to attract someone with the experience and education needed to handle our private mail, our registered mail," said a Wellington resident who wasn't identified. "People can't live on $12.50 an hour. Being over the Post Office is a very professional job. Mail is a very private, special thing. People get their checks in the mail and if you don't have top quality people in there it's not going to be ran right."
As residents continued to make suggestions concerning how money could be saved in order to keep their post master, it became clear that regardless of other cuts, the decisions concerning a 30 minute cut in daily service and the loss of a Post Master had been made.
For town Mayor Joan Powell, the cuts are acceptable and she was also worried about the potential loss of the city's mail service.
"Keep our post office is what matters," she said. "We can accept a loss of 30 minutes. As for Clea, I can't express how much we are going to miss her. For 35 years, she has brought a smile to the face of everyone who visited that office, she knows the people she serves and that makes a world of difference."