Augusta could get news about the fate of its mail processing center later this month, according to the United States Postal Service.
Postal Service spokesman Stephen Seewoester said Tuesday that on Feb. 23 local district managers will begin announcing results of the Area Mail Processing studies that began more than five months ago.
Seewoester said affected postal employees will be informed of their status before the public release of the study results.
After his remarks were published on The Augusta Chronicle’s website, Seewoester called the newspaper to revise his statement.
“At this point I cannot confirm that date,” he said, explaining he had been given some “bad information” from another colleague in Washington.
That date is consistent, however, with what others have heard from the Postmaster General himself.
Mike McCoy, assistant administrator for Dougherty County, where another mail processing facility in Albany is being evaluated for closing, said he took part in an informational webinar Friday in which Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said letters would be going out to postal employees on Feb. 23 informing them of which facilities would be shuttered.
“He said the operational plans had not been finalized, but they anticipated to be able to implement the plans after May 15,” McCoy said. He said he took part in the webinar because of the local interest in the Postal Service plans to move mail processing from Albany to Jacksonville, Fla.
Postal Service officials are considering consolidating Augusta’s mail processing operations with those in Macon, Ga., and Columbia, S.C., to save a proposed $4.9 million. The Augusta plant is one of 252 processing centers set for closure. The plans also include closing other Georgia facilities in Columbus, Valdosta, Savannah, Athens, Albany and Waycross.
Lauren Culbertson, with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office, said the Postal Service had announced a moratorium on all postal facility closings or consolidations until mid-May, in response to a request from several senators in December.
A statement from the Postal Service said the agency “will continue all necessary steps required for the review of these facilities during the interim period, including public input meetings.”
Culbertson said, presumably, that those “necessary steps” could include announcements about future closings, but she wasn’t certain what that meant.
Peyton Bell, spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Barrow, said the Congressman was watching the situation in Augusta closely, but did not anticipate any changes to occur until after the moratorium was lifted.
Barrow sent his own letter to Donahoe in December opposing the closing of facilities in Augusta and Savannah.
“Unless it can be demonstrated that quality of service will be maintained, and there will be no adverse impact on jobs, I urge you to oppose the closure of these facilities,” the letter said.