UPDATE: 2/23/2012 8:41pm
Economic struggles plus an increase in electric communications and retiree health care add up to a multi-billion dollar problem for the United States Postal Service. The USPS wrapped up its 5-month consolidation study and released results approving the Parkersburg Customer Service Mail Processing Center for consolidation with the Charleston Processing and Distribution Center.
"The peak of the United States Postal Service was in 2006 when we had 213 billion pieces of mail that went through our facilities and were delivered to our customers," explains Darryl Myers, the USPS District Manager of the Appalachian Region. " Now, just a short time later, we process about 164 billion. That's a drastic decrease."
In a move to return the nation's mailing system to profitability the postal service will consolidate 264 mail processing facilities. (Those closures include the Parkersburg and Athens Customer Service Mail Processing Centers.)
The exact number of jobs impacted by the consolidations is unclear at this time and so is the future of the building that sits in Downtown Parkersburg.
"We'll work very closely with out federal delegation to make sure there is a good use for the facility," says President and C.E.O of the Wood County Area Roundtable, Cam Huffman. "We have a lot of companies looking at West Virginia right now because the economic standing of our state is very good. So, we could definitely help pitch that facility if they wanted us to. I'd like to see if go to a private organization."
Myers says the consolidations will not impact service to customers.
"There's been a proposal that we made to the postal regulatory commission to change service standards form 1-3 days for first class mail to 2-3 mail," Myers says. "So, what that does is allow us to use that time to transport that mail to these larger facilities where it will be processed more efficiently and actually quicker."
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is less optimistic about the consolidation plan. The West Virginia democrat describes the closures as atrocious and says mismanagement is one of the main contributors that led to a poorly preforming postal service.
The Senator says he'll work to see that the decision to consolidate facilities is reversed.
"We've been working on a bill, the Postal Service Bill, it's a bipartisan matter," Senator Manchin says. "There are all these talks about consolidations and closings and we are doing everything we can to prevent that and prevent it from happening."
No official date is set for the Athens and Parkersburg closures.
The United States Postal Service wrapped up its 5-month consolidation study and released the results Thursday.
The USPS approved the Parkersburg Customer Service Mail Processing Center for consolidation with the Charleston Processing and Distribution Center. That means the Parkersburg operation will close.
The Athens Customer Service Mail Processing Center has also been approved for consolidation with the Columbus Processing and Distribution Center.
WTAP will have more on this study, about what it all means for the mail service & the workers here in the mid-Ohio Valley on our evening newscasts.
Stay tuned WTAP-TV and WTAP.COM for updates.
A proposal to move Parkersburg's mail processing operations to Clarksburg will be up for discussion at the U.S. Postal Service's upcoming meeting.
The meeting will be held in the Parkersburg High School Auditorium starting at 6 pm Friday, December 29th.
Hard economic times have forced the postal service to look at whether or not they need all of the current employees and equipment.
Postal Service managers will give an overview of the reasons for the proposal and its possible outcomes, and will listen to community input and concerns, before making a final decision.
A summary of the proposal, the meeting agenda, and presentation materials will be available on usps.com prior to the meeting.
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