ELKO, Nev. -- Nevada has emerged as both a winner and a loser in a nationwide overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service.
Postal officials announced Thursday that they are preparing to close a mail processing center in rural Elko and redirect those services by about 227 miles to a distribution center in Salt Lake City. Roughly two Elko postal workers will be affected by the change for a proposed annual savings of about $288,000.
Delivery services will largely remain the same, but postal officials have warned that some mail could be delayed because it will be arriving from Utah. Customers will still be able to purchase stamps and other postal services at the Elko post office.
Meanwhile, the postal service will keep open a Reno mail processing plant that had been targeted for closure last year.
The U.S. Postal Service announced last year that it might close 252 mail processing facilities and cut 28,000 jobs in 2012 to help the financially troubled agency avoid bankruptcy and adjust to declining mail volume. First-class mail has declined 25 percent since 2006. In all, the nation has 487 mail processing centers.
Reno and Elko officials had protested the proposed changes, citing Nevada's worst-in-the-nation unemployment rate. Volume and geography determined which mail centers were closed.
In Elko, the two displaced employees could be hired at another post office. The postal service union has a no-layoffs clause. The Elko employees could also be encouraged to take early retirement.
A decision to close the 200,000-square-foot facility in Reno would have left Las Vegas with the state's lone mail-processing center, and 177 jobs would have moved to a mail processing center in West Sacramento, Calif. Postal officials said they ultimately determined that plan would not "improve efficiency or service," according to a statement sent out to reporters Thursday.
Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley of Las Vegas praised the decision to keep the Reno center open Thursday.
"Northern Nevadans will continue to get their mail on time while also preventing massive layoffs that would have only hurt our state," she said in a statement.