Mail reduction public hearing approaches

The future of Rockford’s post office was on the minds of some city aldermen during the May 22 City Council meeting.

Both Ald. Frank Beach (R-10) and Linda McNeely (D-13) shared their concerns about the proposed redirection of mail from the Rockford to the Palatine sorting center.

Beach asked whether city officials were aware of it and about their response.

“We are aware of the problem. We do see the concern,” City Administrator Jim Ryan said.

According to U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo’s (R-16) office, the U.S. Postal Service announced in December 2005 it was launching a study to determine whether rerouting all outgoing mail from ZIP codes beginning 610 and 611 through Palatine’s sorting center was prudent.

That would include mail coming from communities in Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson, JoDaviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Ogle and Lee counties.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Sean Hargadon said the study is part of a nationwide effort to evaluate the Postal Service’s efficiency. About 11 billion pieces of mail have been lost since 1998, Hargadon said.

He said the study’s initial phase has been completed and a public hearing is scheduled at 6:30 p.m., June 5 at the auditorium on Northern Illinois University’s Rockford campus. Hargadon said Manzullo and Postal Service officials would outline the need for the study and answer any questions. Postal workers might be the ones most in search of answers.

Hargadon said, during a May 23 interview, the proposed redirection wouldn’t translate into unemployment.

“Nobody’s going to lose their jobs,” he said, noting they’d simply be transferred to other positions.

The Rockford facility employs approximately 250 people, Hargadon said. A reorganization could mean the loss of 50 jobs, according to Manzullo’s office. But Hargadon stressed any changes are only predicated on one thing.

“We’re not going to do anything unless we can keep the service standards where they are at or change them,” Hargadon said.

From the May 31-June 6, 2006, issue

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