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Mail processing center closure to be discussed tonight at Huron meeting

HURON -- Postal Service officials will explain their proposal to close the Dakota Central Processing and Distribution Center at a public meeting tonight in Huron.

The proposal to be discussed at the meeting -- which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Huron Event Center -- would mean slower mail delivery across the state, but $2.2 million in annual savings for the Postal Service.

To close its mail processing facility in Huron and numerous other such facilities across the country, the Postal Service would have to lower its standard for first-class mail from overnight to two- to three-day delivery.

If the Postal Service follows through on its plan, all of Dakota Central's services would be moved to the mailprocessing facility in Sioux Falls.

The Sioux Falls mail processing facility is the only one of six such facilities in South Dakota not being studied for possible closure by the Postal Service.

In July, the Postal Service said mail processing centers in Pierre and Aberdeen would be moved to Huron, but those services would now be moved to Sioux Falls if the Huron facility is closed.

A recent study by the Postal Service of the mail processing facility in Huron revealed 14 positions would be lost in the move to Sioux Falls. Those Postal Service employees would be reassigned to another facility in accordance with their collective bargaining agreements.

The Huron facility is just one of 252 mail-processing centers across the country being studied for potential closure. The Postal Service hopes to save more than $3 billion annually by closing many of its mail-processing facilities and some rural post offices.

Shutting down mail processing facilities like the one in Huron is just part of the Postal Service's plan to save itself from financial ruin after running a $5.1 billion deficit for the 2011 fiscal year.

It now faces default on a $5.5 billion payment to fund health care for its retirees. Hoping to find $20 billion in savings by 2015, the Postal Service began taking steps to consolidate or close facilities nationwide to cut operating costs.

Facing congressional pressure, The Postal Service recently agreed to delay closing any of its facilities until May 15. Postal Service officials will continue to review facilities for potential closure until that time.