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Postal Service plans changes for Gering
August 25, 2011 Jerry Purvis   
In a U.S. Postal Service measure to cut costs, all mail operations out of the Gering office will soon be moving to Scottsbluff.

The Postal Service announced that as of Oct. 22, 2011, mail operations for Scottsbluff and Gering will be consolidated at the Scottsbluff office and Gering mail carriers will report for work there. However, USPS has decided not to go forward at this time with a proposed consolidation of the Harrisburg to Gering carrier route.

Postal Service officials said the cost-saving measures were due to a 20 percent drop in mail volume over the past five years. And while the agency made cuts of $12 billion and eliminated 110,000 positions over the past four years, they still lost $8.5 billion last year. This year’s projected loss is $9 billion.

Cost-cutting measures have included consolidation of mail routes, transportation, mail processing locations and carrier operations.

Although mail carriers will work out of the Scottsbluff office, USPS officials said carriers would deliver the same mail routes and the mail would arrive at about the same time as before the changes.

Also, Gering would retain its mailing address and ZIP Code of 69341. Officials said the changes would be virtually transparent to the customer, as mail acceptance would continue at the Gering office, as well as services for post office boxes, postage and package mailing and delivery.

However, some city officials aren’t so sure. Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said the city was given little notice of the changes and weren’t asked how it would impact the community.

When Mayo initially contacted the Postal Service early in 2011, he was told nothing was going on. Then a Jan. 31, 2011, letter from the Central Plains District of the U.S. Postal Service to Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson outlined the proposed changes.

When the proposed changes were first announced, they were discussed briefly by members of the Gering City Council – and all agreed they were unacceptable. Mayo wondered whether it was wise to make changes at the post office in the county seat, which serves all county offices, as well as the county jail and the local office of Nebraska Health and Human Services.

With the announced changes came concerns from the public the action was only a first step in the eventual reduction of service, or perhaps closure, of the Gering office.

Kathy Hand from the USPS North Platte office said on Aug. 23 the offices being considered for discontinuance are generally those with less than a two-hour workload. That is not the case in Gering, so it would not apply under the current discontinuance guidelines.

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