Residents voice concerns over postal plan

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Residents watch a video produced by the U.S. Postal Service regarding potential changes to mail sorting facilities during a public input meeting Thursday at the Clovis Civic Center.

Robin Fornoff

U.S. Postal Service spokesmen ran into a small but contentious crowd Thursday during a public meeting in Clovis.

The meeting at the Clovis Civic Center was designed to explain plans for closing a first-class mail processing facility and hear public input.

About 18 people showed up and, of those offering comments, most questioned the wisdom of a plan officials acknowledge will decrease service while saving the postal service about $714,000 a year in Clovis.

First-class mail processing now done in Clovis would be moved to Lubbock, said David Martinez, manager of operations support for the postal service.

Martinez said the change would only affect first-class mail, slowing it from the current standard of one-day delivery to delivery in two to three days.

Package and periodical delivery would remain the same, Martinez said.

Martinez said Clovis is one of about 300 mail processing operations the postal service plans to close across the nation. He said it is necessary to save the postal service.

Martinez said use of first-class mail has declined about 20 percent nationwide in just the last five years. Martinez and others blame the decline on increased use of the Internet and mobile or smart phones.

“The sobering reality is that first-class mail volumes will not return,” Martinez said.

But several attending the session questioned the plan.

“I don’t understand how the postal service is going to save itself by lowering or decreasing our customer service,” said Shelley Austin, president of the American Postal Works Union Local 2287 in Clovis. “We are going to dig ourselves into our own grave with this.”

Ray Sullivan, publisher of Freedom New Mexico newspapers including the Clovis News Journal, Portales News-Tribune and Quay County Sun, said reductions and other changes in mail delivery of the company’s publications have cost Freedom at least 100 subscriptions in just the last year. He said those are customers who don’t get newspapers until two or three days of publication and canceled their subscriptions.

Sullivan said the postal service decline in service is also affecting many other newspapers across the state that rely on mail delivery.

“You’re costing yourself money with a two or three-day delivery standard,” Sullivan said, adding, “It’s killing us.”

Martinez cautioned that plans outlined for closing Clovis and other mail processing services nationwide are preliminary.

“Let it be understood,” said Martinez, “that no final plans have been made.”

He also pointed out the postal service announced Wednesday that it is extending its plans to begin implementing the changes by a month until mid May.