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On Monday in Faulkner, Charles County saw the opening of its first village post office.

In October, representatives from the U.S. Postal Service visited several rural post offices in the county to discuss pending cuts in hours of operation, aimed at curtailing a $14 billion loss for the agency. It was decided that hours of operation at the Faulkner post office would be cut to four hours a day. To offer citizens in the area an alternative, the Red Top convenience store has become a part of the USPS’s Village Post Office program.

Although the first in the county, the Red Top village post office is not the first in the region: last week, one opened in Helen in St. Mary’s County, where the post office was shut down in August.

USPS Capital District Retail Manager Xiomara Chalmers explained the importance of the supplementary locations.

“This is a way to help expand our alternate access channel,” Chalmers said. “It allows the post office to provide service in different ways. It provides limited services without the town losing its name or ZIP code, which is important.”

As a village post office, the Red Top store will offer people the chance to ship packages and buy stamps, although citizens will not be able to pick up mail at the store. The village location will work in partnership with the Faulkner post office.

Beginning next week, Faulkner Officer in Charge Diane Harris said, the Faulkner office will only be open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“I think that this will be good for when the office is closed,” Harris said. “It’ll really help the customers.”

Red Top Manager Dilpreet Singh said he was approached by representatives from the USPS last month about the possibility of making the store into a village post office. After consulting with his family, Singh said, the decision was easy.

“I’m a local. I can literally walk to my house from the store, so this affects me, too,” Singh said. “We open at six in the morning and close around eight at night. You can come here then and do what you need to. The post office isn’t open then. We’re open every day.”

Like the Faulkner post office, the Red Top village post office will rely on carrier service from Bel Alton to ship items.

USPS Village Post Office coordinator Cynthia Dyson said plans are in the works to open other village post offices in the area, although she could not say when or where.

lrenner@somdnews.com