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Lake George post office to stay open, hours reduced

Lake George post office. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Lake George's post office has been granted a stay of execution.

An announcement Wednesday that rural post offices would remain open but with drastically reduced hours appears to have spared the quaint facility from certain death.

Once on a hit list of rural post offices slated to close May 15, Lake George is still somewhat in limbo. It is now on an "expanded access study list."

Longtime postmaster Iris Olson retired at the end of 2011.

The office has been staffed with temporary help since then, in three-month stints.

Kathy Leyba of Nevis is currently at the helm, with Rachel Tusler working weekends.

"We haven't heard a thing" about reducing hours, Tusler said.

Wednesday Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe held a news conference to essentially put the brakes on the rural postal closings.

He acknowledged the massive cuts of $3 billion had caused concern across the United States, especially with rural postal patrons.

Instead, he said the department would try to keep more offices open but with reduced hours, from two to six hours a day.

Lake George was one of 3,700 low-performing post offices slated for closure by this weekend as part of a cost-cutting measure to head off bankruptcy.

Donahoe said the Postal Service would now seek regulatory approval for the new plan and get community input, a process that could take several months.

But Lake George, with 110 postal boxes, already has been through the public hearing process, so it's unclear if the town would have a second one.

Patrons there were almost universally against closing their office. And no businesses had stepped forward to assume a stripped down version of postal duties in a storefront setting.

The plan was to handle operations through Laporte, which is 13 miles away. Lake George customers would be served through rural delivery.

In 2010, the Lake George post office had annual expenses of $88,378 and revenues of $25,500, a net loss of $62,878.

According to Donahoe, no post office would be closed. But 13,000 rural mail facilities could see similarly reduced operations.

"At the end of the day, we will not close rural post offices until we receive community input," said Megan Brennan, the Postal Service's chief operating officer. "We believe very few post offices will be closed over the next few years."

The Ponsford post office is on the same list. It, too, was scheduled for closure this spring.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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