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Avoca post office meeting date set

Justine Wettschreck/Daily Globe Residents in the city of Avoca will have their post office remain open under a new U.S. Postal Service reorganizational plan.

AVOCA -- Residents of Avoca are the latest in a long list of small cities across the nation to receive letters from the United States Postal Service (USPS) regarding a discontinuance feasibility study.

"The office is being studied due to declining office workload, which may indicate that maintaining this facility is not warranted," the letter states. "There are a number of alternate sites within a short radius of this office to provide the sale of stamps and the mailing of most packaged items."

Included with the letter is a survey postal customers are encouraged to complete. They survey asks if the customer visits the office for personal or business reasons, and how often the customer purchases stamps, mails letters and packages, picks up mail, buys money orders or sends out bulk mailings.

Customers are also asked how often they use the facility as a bus stop, public bulletin board and community gathering place.

They survey asks whether the customer uses alternate methods to conduct post office business, such as the website or phone service or uses a post office at a different location.

Customers are also asked if they have a vehicle to get to another post office in the vicinity.

The USPS is already conducting the study, the letter states, and the findings will be discussed at a meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Avoca Community Hall.

The meeting is also open for community members to voice their concerns.

The questionnaire can be turned in the meeting, or mailed back in the envelope that came with the letter.

Written comments about the possible closure may be hand-delivered to the Avoca Post Office or mailed to the District Discontinuance Coordinator, Northland PFC, 100 South First St. Room 426B, Minneapolis, MN 55401-9990.

The study consists of publicly available record, so please by advised, the USPS states, that any information or responses furnished will be visible to others.

According to regulations, the initial investigation and any subsequent formal proposal to discontinue a post office would originate from the postal field manager responsible for offices in that area.

The proposal, which must explain the services recommended as substitutes, must be prominently displayed for 60 days at the affected post office, along with an invitation for comment.

At the end of the comment period, additional review is made and lower and upper levels of postal managements, the letter states.

A final decision is made at Postal Headquarters in Washington D.C., and that decision posted for 30 days.

Customers may appeal the decision, and the Postal Regulatory Commission has 120 days to consider and decide the appeal.

Even without an appeal, no post office may be closed sooner than 60 days after the public posting of the decision, the letter states,

According to a list released in July, more than 3,700 post offices across the nation are being studied or have already begun the comment and review phase.

In southwest Minnesota, the cities of Dovray and Kenneth have already had meetings such as the one being planned in Avoca.

Although citizens of Alpha have not received letters yet, a meeting to discuss the fate of that post office will take place at the Alpha City Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 15.

Other local post offices being studied -- Bigelow, Iona, Beaver Creek, Hardwick and Magnolia -- have not yet set dates for a meeting with post office personnel.