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      US Postal Service agrees to moratorium on facility closures

      The United States Postal Service has agreed to a five-month moratorium on closing postal facilities, which would give Congress more time to enact postal reform legislation.

      In a news release, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says during the moratorium, scheduled to end on May 15, 2012, the Postal Service will continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and to solicit community input.

      Durbin says a meeting was held Monday between U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, several senators and the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Thurgood Marshall, Jr.

      Senator Durbin said, "Over the last few months, I have heard concerns from local officials, residents and postal service employees about the original proposal from the Postal Service. Illinois would pay a heavy price under that proposal which impacts dozens of rural post offices in our state and nine mail processing centers that employ roughly 1,800 Illinoisans. There is no doubt that the Postal Service as we know it today has to adapt, but I think a better solution exists. The Postal Service has given Congress five months to act. It's now up to us to move forward with comprehensive legislation that does not jeopardize the best postal service in the world."

      In the Grand Strand and Pee Dee area, one rural post office and one processing facility are being studied for possible closure.

      The post office in Fork, in Dillon County, has been part of the community there since the late 1800's. While the closure of the Fork Post Office wouldn't result in dozens of job losses, it would have a serious impact on the community.

      But the Florence Postal Processing Center, which is also on the possible closure list, employs 158 people. We recently explored the impact of that closure on the Florence community.

      A public hearing on the possible closing of the Florence facility is set for December 19th at at 6:30 p.m. at the Poynor Adult Education Center on Dargan Street.

      Christina Mulka, a spokesperson for Senator Durbin, says she believes public hearings about the possible closures will most likely move forward, despite the moratorium.

      Here's a link to the list of post offices nationwide being studied for possible closure.