Sonoma County laments plan to end Saturday mail

  • Merrie Dickinson, left, officer in charge of the Glen Ellen Post Office, helps Aaron Cargile with his mail in Glen Ellen, on Wednesday, February 6, 2013. The Postal Service will end the delivery of first-class mail on Saturdays in August. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

In Glen Ellen, as in other small American towns, Saturday mail deliveries are often eagerly anticipated, especially by those who are unwilling or unable to venture into the world.

To lose that tradition, that connection, strikes some in this community as a violation of the common good.

"It's another hit to the spirit of public life," Noelle Oxenhandler, a creative writing professor at Sonoma State University, said Wednesday outside the town's post office, which according to a plaque outside the door was dedicated in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan.

Across the nation Wednesday, people absorbed the news that the Postal Service plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays as a cost-savings measure. The change will take effect in August.

Mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on that day. Packages would continue to be delivered on Saturdays.

The announcement drew sharp reaction from the North Coast's congressional delegation and from representatives of labor unions, who fear the change will result in more job losses.

The Postal Service anticipates losing 35,000 employees nationwide to re-assignment or attrition once Saturday deliveries are discontinued, said James Wigdel, a spokesman for the agency in San Francisco.

Despite its status as an independent agency, one that receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations, the Postal Service is subject to congressional control. Congress has moved in the past to prohibit five-day-a-week delivery.

Congressman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, on Wednesday called the move to end Saturday mail deliveries "draconian."

He advocated for other options, including modernizing the Postal Service and "fixing" a congressional requirement that the agency pre-pay retiree health benefits.

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