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      Postal study examines distribution center

      More than two hundred people gathered in Columbia Tuesday night to provide input on the future of the mail distribution center at the Columbia Regional Airport.U.S. Postal Service officials are conducting a study that could lead to the consolidation of some of Columbia's operations into the St. Louis and Kansas City processing and distribution centers. The study, known as an Area Mail Processing study, or AMP, involves a review of the center's mail processing and transportation operations.The review will determine the capacity needs at a facility in order to increase efficiency and improve productivity."We are looking at all of our operations across the board to see where we can improve efficiency and reduce costs," Valerie Welsch with USPS said. "We are doing everything within our ability to reduce our operating expenses."That could mean the loss of more than 40 jobs.Postal officials are considering the changes because of a continuing decline in first-class mail volumes, especially first-class, single-piece mail, which is down by 37 percent since 2007.