HARTFORD — Post offices are often the center of any small town, and another small town in Mason County is fighting to keep their post office open.
Anyone who uses the Hartford Post Office, whether resident or not, is urged to attend an upcoming meeting sponsored by the United States Postal Service from 5:30-6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Hartford Community Center. The meeting will record and accept comments from the public about the USPS’ plan to possibly close the Hartford Post Office.
The Hartford Post Office is one of four post offices being studied for possible closure in Mason County as part of a cost-cutting measure for the USPS which is conducting feasibility studies. These studies, which include data from public hearings like the upcoming one in Hartford, will be a tool in determining which offices stay or go.
As with the recent public meeting in Ashton concerning the closure of its post office, the Hartford meeting is required by law and the USPS is encouraging as many people as possible to attend and comment. These comments and feedback are crucial to the feasibility study and a final decision cannot be accurately made without information from the community.
The meeting’s comments will be recorded. Residents may turn in written comments or use forms provided at the meeting to comment. Also, comments can be hand delivered to the Hartford Post Office, a USPS spokesperson said, adding, residents have 30 days to submit comments from the day of the public meeting.
As in Ashton, residents in Hartford are putting together an organized effort to prevent the post office’s closure. A petition to keep the office open can be signed at the Hartford Water Office during normal business hours, according to Hartford Councilwoman Susan Kensler.
In terms of a time line, after the meeting, the data from local input is gathered, the USPS does its own research and findings and the completed study is then submitted to headquarters for review, according to a USPS spokesperson. If headquarters concurs with the finding, then the final determination is posted - if the determination is to close Hartford, customers have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The commission then renders its decision within 120 days. Even if there’s no appeal to the decision to close a post office, no post office may be closed sooner than 60 days after the public posting of the final decision.
In addition to Ashton and Hartford, the West Columbia and Southside post offices are also on the list for possible closure.