SUGAR HILL — Sugar Hill Post Office customers got support from Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Kelly Ayotte on Friday in their objections to the way the U.S. Postal Service handled the recent reduction in window hours at the small post office.
Before the retail hours were abruptly cut down in May to 10:15 -10:45 a.m. each day, the service window had been open from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The senators sent a joint letter to Deborah Essler, Northern New England district manager, customer and sales for the U.S. Postal Service, writing, “We are concerned about both the nature of the changes in service and the manner in which they were made. We urge you to consider holding a community meeting in the town to ensure that affected residents, government officials and small business owners can ask questions and offer their input about the future of retail postal service in Sugar Hill.”
A copy of the letter was also sent to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
Brenda Aldrich of Harman’s Cheese & Country Store said the effort to get the attention of elected officials was town-wide, with the Sugar Hill selectmen writing a letter as town representatives. She said that since Harman’s is open every day, it has become the center of information, and they have encouraged people to contact their representatives, many of whom have. She said that she spoke with staff members of Senator Shaheen and Congressman Charlie Bass, and that fellow resident Beth Perlo met with Ayotte and Bass. Aldrich said that resident Nancy Martland organized an email chain to keep people up-to-date.
“It seems like our current world wants the rural Post Office to fail instead of helping it succeed,” Aldrich said. “I remember talking with some of the older generations of Sugar Hill that remember the Grand Hotel days. They talked of twice daily mail delivery to Sugar Hill and how people gathered at both times of the day to receive the mail. The post office is one of the last links we have to community in this high tech world ... a chance to see people face to face and be part of the community. It should be cherished and fostered.”
On Saturday, Sugar Hill residents honored the post office employee who manned the Sugar Hill station for 10 years until he retired in April, Aldrich said, adding that the town presented Bob Clark with a plaque of appreciation for his years of service.
“Last month,” Shaheen and Ayotte wrote, “the USPS revised its retail network optimization strategy with a continued focus on ensuring that communities have a voice in the process. While we understand that this particular change in hours is the result of a pending collective bargaining dispute, we believe the town of Sugar Hill should also have an opportunity to make its concerns known.”
The post office is serviced by the Lisbon Post Office, and is not considered to be a post office by the USPS, but a NonPersonnel Unit.
Contacted Saturday morning, Tom Rizzo, spokesman for USPS in Northern New England, declined to comment on the senators’ letter.