EAST CANTON, Ohio — The post office in the small Stark County community of East Canton was scheduled to scale back to only a half-day starting next Monday.
The move is a part of an effort by the U.S. Postal Service to try to either close or scale back the hours of some 14,000 post offices around the country to try to save money, but residents and business owners in East Canton believe it hurts them more than it benefits the Postal Service.
“A lot of our business depends on being able to send things out into the world and if they get rid of this post office we are not going to be able to do that anymore. We are going to have to drive to Canton to do it or to Akron or wherever else,” said Ed Budinski, who co-owns a collectibles store in East Canton.
Many believe scaling back the hours of the post office is simply a foot in the door to try to close it completely.
“A representative was here at the last council meeting and said that it’s a possibility that they will do it within 30 days,” said East Canton Mayor Kathleen Almasy.
Almasy is concerned about the number of seniors who are now able to walk to the post office in the small community, some of whom get their prescriptions through the mail.
Business owners said in a struggling economy, having the post office closed during the afternoon hours will hurt them badly.
“I know when I go to the post office you always have a line. Every time I have to go over there I have to wait in line,” said Rose Weaver.
“Afternoon is the busiest time, we see them coming and going. It’s a really busy post office so having this post office gone in the afternoon, it’s going to be really hard on everyone,” said Susan Shaw, whose husband owns a computer repair shop.
Clint Langman, the president of Postal Workers Union Local 524 in Canton said the U.S. Postal Service can’t be saving much by closing the office for a half day.
Langman said the postal workers will still be paid and the Postal Service will still have to pay the lease for the property.
He believes about all they will save is from some utilities and that savings is far overshadowed by the hardship on the small community.
The East Canton post office is only one of two in the Canton area that are scheduled to have their hours scaled back starting Monday.
The ‘North Industry’ Post Office on Cleveland Avenue Southwest is also scheduled for changes in its operating hours.
The U.S. Postal Service announced last year it was going to ramp up its efforts to scale back or close post offices around the country to try to offset more than $8 billion in reported losses it suffered in 2010.
Most in East Canton understand that something has to be done, but they also feel that the small towns stand the most to lose by the changes.
“I think the small towns are the backbone of this country, especially small businesses, so they need to be here for us so that we can run our businesses,” said Diane Moody, who has owned a pizza restaurant in East Canton for more than two decades.
“That gives you a three-hour window to do any business in that you need to get done, and then after that you are going to have to go to a surrounding city to get your business done and it’s a real inconvenience,” concluded Budinski.