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September 26--  There are 45 post offices in Georgia which have been identified for closing by the U.S. Postal Service and the post office in the small Montgomery County community of Alston is one of them.

{mosimage}Alice Ryles from the Postal Service broke the news to Alston residents at a public hearing at the Alston City Hall.

"The Alston Post Office is being studied for closure.  It came out on the headquarters list of offices which met certain criteria." she said.  Nationwide more than three thousand post offices are on the chopping block and Ryles reports its all due to the economy.

"As the economy as hit everybody, it's hit us.  We're trying to make our workload match our workforce," she notes.

An Alston resident says in a small town like Alston, the post office does more than just deliver the mail.

"We use that for a meeting place every morning.  We come here after the mail's up.  The only time we see our neighbors is at the post office.  We might not see them anywhere else for months, but you come here and you'll see different ones every time you come.  I hate to see it close because we've already lost so many businesses here," he said.

As an alternative to a government-operated post office, the Postal Service is offering small communities like Alston an alternative.  It's called the Village Post Office and it can be operated by a private business .

"That's a local decision if someone in the community wants to take on that responsibility.  It would help the community preserve its identity plus still offer post office boxes.  It can be a convenience store, grocery store, feed store, furniture store or anything like that where someone wants to take on the responsibility of serving as a village post office," Ryles suggests.

According to Ryles, it will be as few more months before the final decision on closures is announced.