Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, third from left, and Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, third from right, met with Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, far right, representatives of Sens. Saxby Chambliss’ and Johnny Isakson’s staffs, and U.S. Postal Service officials Wednesday in Washington.
WASHINGTON -- Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said Wednesday afternoon the lines of communication between United States Postal Service officials and local leaders had been opened after a meeting at U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop's office here earlier in the day.
Sinyard and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard met with representatives from Bishop's and Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss' and Johnny Isakson's offices Wednesday to discuss the possibility of privatizing the post office at 345 W. Broad Ave., which is scheduled to be closed as part of the postal service's austerity plan.
Sinyard said he and Hubbard did not ask post office officials to reconsider plans to close the facility but to allow interested local entrepreneurs to keep the facility open.
"We told them we know the closure is imminent," Sinyard said as he awaited his flight home after the meeting. "But we wanted them to know we had folks who were interested in operating the post office as a private business. We wanted assurances that we could put them together with these folks to see if the numbers work.
"The lines of communication have been opened. The gentleman in charge of the program said he will be in touch with our folks, so hopefully there will be some very serious dialogue in the next few weeks."
Sinyard said the USPS had extended its deadline for closing the Albany facility until September.
"Hopefully by then we'll have had an opportunity to see if we can get an agreement (to operate the facility as a 'village' post office) in place," he said. "It's just frustrating to us that it took four months to get to this point."
Sinyard, Hubbard and Albany City Manager James Taylor had a planned meeting with USPS officials cut short two weeks ago due to inclement weather. Bishop, Chambliss and Isakson brokered a return meeting with post office officials after hearing the particulars surrounding the closure announcement of the Albany facility.
"Sens. Chambliss and Isakson were dismayed when they learned (USPS officials) had not even contacted us before making an announcement that they planned to close the post office," Hubbard said at a civic club meeting last week.
Sinyard said he and the Albany mayor had also talked with the legislative delegation's staff members about plans to shut down the air traffic control tower at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport due to sequestration-mandated cuts.
"We told them how important that airport is to our nation's defense with the Marine Base located in the county and how important the airport is as a transport hub for companies like UPS and Fed-Ex," Sinyard said. "As we speak, officials at the highest level of government are meeting to talk about these important issues.
"The information that we shared has been strongly received. Now we just have to hope and pray they work out for our community."