Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 08 January 2013 15:22
The U.S. Postal Service has made a lot of changes in recent years, and Lori Kelsey, Marion’s new postmaster, has been there for many of them.
Kelsey said she’s worked for the postal service 27 years and is happy to be back home.
“I have been a clerk, carrier, postmaster in a couple other offices and supervisor,” she said.
Kelsey has worked in El Dorado, Marquette and Geneseo, but her home was in Florence and she is a 1984 graduate of Marion High School.
“My family loves being here,” Kelsey said. “It is so relaxing, refreshing and nice to be in a small town and get to visit. It’s not fast-paced and we get to know people.”
One of the more significant changes in her nearly three decades with USPS, she said, is the way letters are sorted.
“A few years after I started, USPS began processing through automation,” she said. “We now get a lot of mail already sorted to the carrier in route sequence order and (carriers) don’t have to touch it. They just take the mail to the street with them.”
Prior to automation equipment, Kelsey said clerks or carriers sorted everything by hand—letters, flats or irregular parcels.
“Twenty-seven years ago,” she said, “ZIP+4 began about that timeframe.”
The automation machines were able to read four additional numbers, which is what put the mail in order for the routes, she said.
As postmaster in a small, rural area, Kelsey is limited in the number of hours of clerk work per day.
“I love it,” she said. “As the need comes and a carrier is sick, I can also carry the mail.”
But of all the jobs she has had, Kelsey said she likes being a mail clerk most of all.
“As a carrier, I had to deal with the elements,” she said. “It seemed I was always going out when it was icy or snowy and I worried about driving.”
Kelsey said she is seeing new changes as Marion’s postmaster.
“(USPS) is reducing hours in order to save money and keep post offices going,” she said.
With the reduction in administrative hours at smaller offices, she said, Marion’s facility will handle that work.
“There would be six or seven offices under the Marion office,” she said. “They include Burns, Cedar Point, Florence, Lincolnville, Lost Springs and Peabody.
“Elmdale is on the list, but it might go somewhere else.”
At this point, Kelsey said much of the plan is still new.
“We are working out the kinks as we go along,” she said. “We are trying to have an action plan lined up, but things come up that will have to be tweaked, too.
“Everything is changing everywhere.”
Kelsey said the Marion Post Office has a good reputation. The facility has 11 employees, including rural and city carriers, a cleaning and maintenance position, clerk and the postmaster.
“The employees at this office are a good group of people to work with, too,” she said.
In the near future, Kelsey said, she would like to offer workshops so that customers can learn more about saturating portions of town to help them with whatever they are advertising.
“Customers can do things online that maybe they didn’t know they could do—like ‘Click and Ship,’ holding mail and mail pickup,” she said.
“An abundance of information is on our website and a lot of people in rural areas don’t realize they can do all these things.”
Kelsey said she would like to help area customers by making a brochure listing the services.
Kelsey’s husband, Kerry, works at the refinery in McPherson. Their two boys are in college and their 11-year-old daughter is in the Marion school system.
The installation ceremony for Kelsey is expected to happen in the latter part of January or early February, she said. More information about this will appear in a later edition.