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Postal work is no walk in the park

Staff writer

New Hillsboro Postmaster Becky Larsen got her start with the Postal Service as a mail carrier in 1993 in Newton, and she said the job isn’t as easy as many people think.

“A lot of people think we enjoy being city carriers when it’s 70 degrees, but most people don’t want the job when it’s three degrees and snowing,” she said Thursday.

Larsen was appointed postmaster on Aug. 29, but she has been the officer-in-charge — essentially interim postmaster — since April 1, when Norman Bouwie retired. Installation ceremonies will be 2 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Hillsboro post office.

As postmaster, she has a wide variety of duties. In addition to working at the front window, she is responsible for managerial work, including daily, weekly, and quarterly reports.

On a typical day, she arrives before 8 a.m. and makes sure the office has received its mail but hasn’t received mail that should have gone to a different office. Hillsboro’s mail goes through a facility in Wichita.

Larsen opens the service window before working on reports and updating accounts. She works with customers as needed and handles any special issues as they arise.

Postal work isn’t as routine as many people believe, she said. People see mail carriers delivering every day, and they see a person at the service window, but they don’t realize how much effort it takes to get the mail to the local carriers.

“Every day is different,” Larsen said. “One of the tricks is to be as organized as possible.”

She records the amount of mail going through the post office each day. On Thursday alone the office handled almost 10,000 pieces of mail. The amount of mail varies some at different times throughout the year — Christmas is the busiest season for mail, she said.

The biggest challenge for the Postal Service is saving money and time while keeping a good level of service, she said.

“I don’t know what the future of the post office is,” Larsen said, but she thinks it needs to make changes.

She knows a lot of postmasters in a 30- to 50-mile radius. Keeping in touch with other postmasters provides opportunities to share ideas and offer support, she said.

She worked in Newton and Marion before becoming postmaster at Whitewater in 1999. She was Valley Center postmaster from September 2007 until her appointment at Hillsboro. She said she has wanted the Hillsboro position for years.

Larsen lives north of Peabody and is a graduate of Peabody High School. She has two children, Trevor and Kortney. They attend Peabody-Burns High School.

Last modified Nov. 19, 2009

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