Van Wyck post office faces cuts

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By Chris McGinn

VAN WYCK – The Van Wyck post office survived a potential closing last year, but now faces a reduction in hours, according to the latest cost-saving plan from the U.S. Postal Service. 

The Post Office Structure (POSt) Plan calls for reducing hours in 17,700 of 32,000 postal retail locations. For Van Wyck’s office, this would mean opening for four rather than eight hours on weekdays. 

Last year’s proposed closure of 3,700 rural post offices was met with an outpouring of complaints from the affected communities. 

The postal service’s new plan attempts to address the concerns of these areas, such as maintaining ZIP codes, while meeting budget realities. 

This month, the postal service reported a year-to-date $11.6 billion loss. 

“We feel like it’s a win-win,” said postal service spokesperson Monica Robbs.  

Communities can maintain local postal services and identities, while the postal service is able to reduce worker hours, an expensive budget line item, she said. 

After full implementation, the postal service hopes to save a half-billion dollars per year. 

Beginning in September, communities in the affected ZIP codes will receive notification of community meetings and surveys explaining the potential changes and asking them to indicate preferences, such as the time of day the hours should be and whether the office should be closed altogether.  

Robbs said the changes would take place by September 2014. 

Plans include keeping the Van Wyck office’s 383 post office boxes accessible 24 hours a day, as they are now. Customers who need retail services would have to travel to another nearby post office, such as a contract office in Indian Land.

Resident Corey Parkman, who was mailing packages at the Van Wyck post office Friday, said the reduction in hours wouldn’t be that much of a difference to him because he receives mail at home and can use the after-hours drop box. 

However, customers such as Glenda Manus, who uses counter services to send packages for her Ebay business, would find this more challenging. Manus said maintaining her “Ebay Top Seller” status requires being able to send out packages within one day of payment. 

“I am in [the post office] every day and I use the counter for service every day,” she said. “We’ve been on pins and needles in our Van Wyck community for the last year worrying about having our post office closed permanently. A reduction of hours would be preferable to losing our post office all together, but it would serve the community and surrounding areas better if it were to remain as it is,” Manus said.

Betty George, 61, has been the face of the Van Wyck post office for 29 years, 17 as its postmaster. 

George said she assists nearly 200 customers a week with retail services and more. She said the benefit of a small community post office is “everybody becomes friend and family.”

“I’m a crime watcher, counselor, friend, you name it,” George said. 

She said she hasn’t followed the latest plan too closely, reading about details in local news reports. 

“I’m thinking about today only,” she said. “One day at a time.”

“If the reduction of hours will save the Van Wyck post office, we will conform to this plan. We will not like it, but will live with it,” Linda Vaughan said. “We do not want to lose our Postmistress Betty George and will continue to fight for her and our post office.”

For more information on the POSt Plan, visit www.usps.gov.

About the Van Wyck post office

Address: 5222 Old Hickory Road, Van Wyck, SC 29744

Phone: (803) 283-2135

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 2-4:30 p.m.

History: According to the National Archives and Record Service, Washington, D.C., the Van Wyck post office was established June 25, 1889, and Charles S. Massey was appointed postmaster. Julius M. Yoder was appointed postmaster Oct. 24, 1890, and Cecil R. Yoder was appointed postmaster May 31, 1907, and served until March 1913. The post office was located at the Massey-Yoder Store from 1889 until 1913. Other locations were the J.C. Griffin Store, T&T Store, S.L. Thompson Store and the Cash Store, all on Van Wyck’s Main Street. In October 1974, it was moved to new quarters next door to the Jingle Jungle Store on Steele Hill Road (now the Old Hickory Deer Processing Plant). It was moved to the current location around 1998.


 – history submitted by Linda Vaughan, descendent                             of Julius and Cecil Yoder