Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coulters Post Office Gets a New Lease on Life It's an Old-Fashioned Place, Where People Socialize, Share a Laugh and Get Community News

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coulters Post Office Gets a New Lease on Life It's an Old-Fashioned Place, Where People Socialize, Share a Laugh and Get Community News

Article excerpt

In the Coulters Post Office, a full-service store tucked in the basement of a family home in South Versailles, mail is not the only thing that is delivered.

The shop -- containing one full-time employee, 92 reserved P.O. boxes and a staircase in the middle of the office that leads to the residence upstairs -- provides a place to socialize, share a laugh and get the community news.

For many -- if not most -- of the people who live in the ZIP code, the basement store is a daily destination. That's because there is no home delivery.

"It's a place where people come. They talk. They meet other people here," said Thelma Householder, 62, who lives in the community and has worked at the Coulters Post Office since 2004.

On Thursday, she wasn't working but had just stopped by to pick up her mail and chat with Priscilla Byzon, the officer in charge of the post office and its only full-time employee.

"It's just a place," Ms. Householder said as she departed with her mail. "It's a place to be."

For now, it will remain a place to be, just not as often.

Ten months ago, the Coulters office was one of 3,700 across the country that the U.S. Postal Service said it likely would close. The Postal Service faces severe financial challenges, partly the result of a dramatic drop in mail volume as people turn to the Internet for their communication needs.

The post office closure plan was met with strong opposition -- especially in rural areas such as Coulters -- and on Wednesday the agency scaled back its plans.

Instead of closing down offices, the agency announced, it would dramatically reduce hours at many of its office locations.

The Coulters Post Office -- currently open eight hours a day Monday through Friday and two hours on Saturday -- could see its hours of operation reduced to two hours a day under the plan.

Officials with the Postal Service said Wednesday they didn't want to close offices that communities need, but also had to find savings and will have to find more.

And that means less time for Ms. Byzon -- and what she described as a steady flow of customers -- at the Coulters office.

Ms. Byzon, 61, said she usually handles at least 200 pieces of mail a day. …

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