Revised List Could Spare Postal Plant

Sanders Says He's Been Told White River Jct. to Stay Open

By:  John P. Gregg
Valley News

White River Junction -- The U.S. Postal Service may be reversing position on its plans to close the mail sorting facility on Sykes Mountain Avenue that employs 245 workers, according to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is battling for legislation to stave off closures and maintain overnight delivery standards.

Sanders late yesterday said he had received assurances from the Postmaster General's Office that the plant will stay open, especially if reform legislation passes Congress.

"I think the postmaster general has begun to understand the importance of White River Junction in maintaining strong mail delivery standards in Vermont, and I very much appreciate his willingness to take a second look at the plant," Sanders said in a phone interview from the Senate cloakroom, where he was helping oversee amendments to the postal bill.

"I am cautiously optimistic that tomorrow (Wednesday) when we are finished voting, we will have a bill passed in the Senate that strengthens our ability to keep rural post offices open, that protects a number of mail processing plants around the country, including White River," Sanders said.

Postal Service officials last night said they had provided members of the Senate a "preliminary list of mail processing facilities that could retain overnight delivery service for first-class mail and periodicals" but cautioned that it represented a "modeled network" based on estimates from the Senate legislation. Even if the measure clears the Senate, its fate in the Republican-controlled House is uncertain.

"We began notifying our employees today that the Postal Service has provided this information to the Senate based upon their request. The facilities on this list could be subject to change because (the Senate bill), should it pass the Senate today, may not represent final legislation. The Postal Service will continue to diligently study the most efficient network to meet final service standards," New England regional Postal Service spokesman Tom Rizzo said in a statement.

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