Hours to be reduced at Schroeder Post Office

The mood and voices in the room were clear on Thursday, March 6—Schroeder township residents were asking to keep their post office open eight hours a day.

But Deb Metzer, Deer River Postmaster, and Jeff Roberts, Blackduck’s Postmaster, were there to tell the 40 or so people on hand for the Thursday, March 6, 2014 evening meeting held at the Schroeder Town Hall that the decision had been made: Schroeder’s post office would drop from eight-hour service to four-hour service, and there was nothing they could do about it except decide what hours they would like to see the doors open for business. 

Metzer made that announcement mid-way through the meeting and several people got up and left without saying a word.

“This process began a year and a half ago and there is no way to appeal this decision as far as I know,” Metzer said to Skip Lamb, who asked about an appeals process in light of Schroeder residents largely being kept in the dark about the plans to cutback the service.

“You could have found this online. It’s out there. Sorry you didn’t see it, but anything Congress does is online,” Metzer told Lamb.

The cutback in service was due to a lack of volume in mail and packages seen in Schroeder, said Metzer, saying upper management uses a formula that applies to all post offices nationwide in its decision process.

“It’s not just here or just in Minnesota where this is happening. Rural post offices are going to two-hour, four-hour or six-hour service when cuts need to be made,” Metzer said.

Lamb argued that closing rural post offices or cutting back on their hours only achieves a small amount of savings while it puts a tremendous strain on communities like Schroeder that depend upon its service, especially when the tourist season arrives and the area fills with people. Metzer agreed, but said, “Write to your Congressman and let him know how you feel.”

Metzer said cutbacks in the Northland began “five years ago when the postal service had to make some drastic cuts in our area. They started cutting back upper management in Duluth. When that wasn’t enough they went to Minneapolis and starting cutting back upper management there. But they couldn’t make enough cuts to balance the budget so they kept looking for other places to make cuts and this is what they came up with.”

Schroeder has 84 rented post office boxes. Jan Dillon is the PMT currently staffing the post office and she keeps the window open for her entire time at the post office, which Metzer said was “exceptional service.”

Based on a postal survey sent out to Schroeder residents, 79 percent of the 62 respondents asked for a realignment of hours. Metzer said after reviewing postal service operational needs, the recommendation was to keep the Schroeder Post Office open from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday with Saturday hours set 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., but asked if these hours would work for the public on hand.

After some discussion the people in attendance voted to ask that the hours be set from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. daily with the Saturday hours left alone as recommended