It was a small crowd compared to the more than 200 residents who had attended an earlier hearing, when the U.S. Postal Service had recommended consolidating Tupelo's outgoing mail operations to Memphis.
That plan, which was approved last year, was scrapped in January.
This time, the USPS wants to send Tupelo's outgoing and incoming mail operations to Grenada. It would save the cash-strapped federal agency an estimated $491,000 annually and affect eight local workers.
"We have more equipment, facility and staffing than is necessary to handle the volume," said Elizabeth Johnson, USPS Mississippi district manager. "In order to be more efficient, plans are to reduce excess mail processing."
Johnson said first-class mail has declined 42 percent in the past decade. To compensate, the USPS has consolidated numerous mail processing operations nationwide.
Eight workers in question
But many in the audience disagreed with the strategy - at least as it relates to Tupelo.
Eddie Summers, a postal employee, said the consolidation will affect more than eight workers. He said roughly 20 people work in incoming and outgoing mail processing.
Others, like Tupelo City Council President Fred Pitts wondered how the USPS would save money when it didn't plan on cutting staff.
Of the estimated cost savings, more than 60 percent reportedly will come from job reductions, according to the USPS consolidation study. But the agency said it will not lay off affected employees. Instead, it will reassign them according to contract agreements.
USPS spokeswoman Nancy Ross told the Daily Journal after the meeting that, while the positions would be eliminated, employees would be reassigned to previously unfilled slots.
"We've been holding jobs open throughout the country for two or three years for these types of scenarios," Ross said, likening it to staff reduction through attrition.
Kenny Long, a Tupelo postal employee and a representative of the American Postal Workers Union, said the USPS should consolidate Grenada operations to Tupelo instead of the other way around.
"This town is growing," Long said about Tupelo. "We still can't understand why you want to yank this from us when we're the ones poised to grow."
Also present at the meeting were representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, all R-Miss. Cochran and Wicker do not oppose the consolidation but urge caution.
In a statement to the Daily Journal, Nunnelee said: "It is important to the communities in north Mississippi that we keep our rural post offices open. By the restructuring of its operation, I am counting on the United States Postal Service to achieve this goal."
The consolidation isn't expected to impact delivery time or service, Johnson said.
The USPS will continue its study of the Tupelo consolidation for several more weeks before announcing a decision. The public will be informed when that happens, said Doug Kyle, consumer affairs manager for the state.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.