Fair Bluff area residents who packed a public meeting Wednesday expecting to hear that their post office would be closed or its hours cut, were surprised to learn that the location will soon be open longer each weekday.
Counter hours will increase from five and a half to six hours Monday through Friday, Jackie Williams of the Postal Service told the crowd of about 80 people.
However, the postmaster's work hours will be reduced from eight hours to six and a half hours a day. The pay rate for the position will also be cut, Williams said.
The changes are part of the Postal Service's national plan to keep its smallest offices open while reducing costs.
Several weeks ago, Fair Bluff postal customers received a survey asking them to weigh in on possibilities, including "realigned" hours, home delivery, or closing the post office and using a nearby location.
82 percent of the 241 people who responded preferred changing the hours, according to results released at the meeting. Only 1 percent said they would rather use a nearby post office. The closest location is Marietta, 6.8 miles away.
Williams explained the counter hours were being extended because under the new national strategy, known as the Post Plan, offices will be open two, four, or six hours each day. The workload at the Fair Bluff office exceeds the threshold for a four-hour location.
Fair Bluff Mayor Billy Hammond expressed concerns about the postmaster's pay cut, but said the announcement was good news for the town.
"A small town cannot stand but so much before it will dwindle and go away," he said, noting Fair Bluff's only bank closed within the last year.
Williams said she didn't know specifically when the new hours would take effect but said it would be before January 10.
Hours will be changing at another Columbus County post office as well. Officials announced counter hours at the Clarendon location will be reduced from seven to six hours each weekday.
Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.