BRYANTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Debbie Winchester has made a habit out of visiting the rural post office in Bryantsville nearly every morning on her way to work in Nicholasville.
But her routine will have to change on Oct. 1, when the post office cuts back its hours as part of a nationwide effort by the U.S. Postal Service to trim costs.
On that date, the Bryantsville post office will have its operating hours cut in half, with window service only on weekday afternoons and just a few hours on Saturday morning. The lobby, which contains the post office boxes and shipping containers, will remain open around the clock.
"I just think it's pitiful," Winchester told The Advocate Messenger in Danville (http://bit.ly/1plStJN). "Especially for older people who get their Social Security delivered to their box. It's safer than having a mail box, where someone can steal it. It's just more convenient."
"And, it's a meeting place. You see people here you don't see every day and just chit chat," she said.
The Postal Service has been cutting back hours at smaller, rural facilities rather than close them down completely. Currently, downsizing has occurred or is planned at some 33,000 post offices around the country, including 317 in Kentucky.
"Even with reduced hours, at least the communities still have a post office," said David Walton, spokesman for the USPS' main office in Louisville.
In 2011, the Postal Service had a plan to cease Saturday deliveries and shut down thousands of small post offices across the country in an effort to cut its ongoing financial losses, which were $354 million in the first quarter of this year.
But, Walton said, there was such "blow back" against the plan from residents that Congress couldn't agree on a list of post offices to shutter, leading to the hours cutback plan that is currently being implemented.
Post office visitors at other sites were less concerned about the upcoming changes.
"I hate to see the little post offices go away, but it doesn't really affect me much," said Brett Benton of Mitchellsburg during a stop at the Parksville Post Office in western Boyle County, where weekday hours have been cut in half. "If they're not open, I just use the drop box outside, mostly to pay bills."
Perryville resident Charles Young doesn't mind that the hours at his post office have been reduced to six per day. "I'm retired," he said. "It doesn't matter to me. I can come any time I want."
But Young said he was worried that the Postal Service could reduce hours again or begin closing offices in the future.
"I think they've done shrunk it down enough. I'd hate for it to shrink anymore," Young said. "I'd hate to have to drive all the way to Danville to get my mail."
Information from: The (Danville, Ky.) Advocate-Messenger, http://www.centralkynews.com/amnews