Mary Larson to retire after 31-year career with Postal Service
Springfield Postmaster Mary Larson has decided to retire as of April 30, after 31 years with the U.S. Postal Service — 21 of those years in Springfield.
Larson left a full-time job as supervisor at the Developmental Achievement Center at Redwood Falls to take a job with the Postal Service. “It was a choice I had to make,” she said during a recent interview. “I was guaranteed two hours every two weeks; I could get more hours, but that was what I was guaranteed.”
“It was the best thing I did,” Larson continued. “Opportunities for advancement were great.”
Larson took advantage of her opportunities to work her way up the postal ladder. She started work for the U.S. Postal Service as a part-time flex carrier on December 8, 1984. A part-time flex carrier is a career hourly rate employee who is available to work flexible hours as assigned by the Postal Service during the course of a service week.
“I worked from midnight to 6:00 a.m. at Windom, then came here to sort mail at 7:00; and then if they needed help somewhere else, they would send me. That’s how I started,” she said.
Larson accepted work whenever and wherever it was offered so that she could get the experience necessary to achieve her goal of becoming a postmaster. She was officer-in-charge at Comfrey before she became postmaster at Wanda. While at Wanda she was officer-in-charge in Westbrook for 11 months. She was postmaster at Wabasso where she served from 2000-2005; and while in Wabasso she was officer-in-charge as a night supervisor at the Willmar Post Office — a sorting facility, from midnight until 6:00 a.m.
“I loved my job. I didn’t care if it was walking the mail route 10 miles, working with customers at the window, or sorting mail, I loved my job. It was a good fit for me,” Larson said. “I never dreaded coming to work. I have always like my job until this past year.”
The job has “just become too stressful,” Larson said.
The Postal Service took postmasters out of the small offices. As postmaster at Springfield she was also asked to supervise the Sanborn, Comfrey and Lamberton Post offices. Her responsibilities included scheduling and hiring. The number of employees grew from 12 to 23 in her charge with no extra help. “Plus, we were expected to do more reporting and paperwork,” she added.
The U.S. Postal Service has used a variety of tools to shrink its workforce by nearly 30 percent in the last 20 years, as the struggling mailing agency has attempted to modernize and right size in a new era of communication. A recently released report from the Congressional Research Service detailed the combination of attrition and separation incentives — and, in one case, a round of layoffs — the agency used to trim the number of people it employs by more than 250,000 since 1995. To further cut personnel costs, a “primary driver of USPS’ operating expenses,” CRS noted the Postal Service has increased its reliance on non-career employees.
Of course, the Postal Service’s shrinking workforce and increased reliance on non-career employees has stemmed from the dramatic decrease in Americans’ mail usage. As revenues dropped, USPS management turned to personnel costs — which represented 78 percent of operating expenses in fiscal 2014 — to bring the organization out of the red.
“I remember us having 27 feet of letters that we used to have to sort manually,” said Larson. “Now we have about 4 to 6 inches.” There have been some changes and efficiencies, however. “Now everything comes marked in trays, in order sequence for delivery — newspapers and magazines come presorted for the routes,” she noted. “We are, however, delivering a lot more packages due to online ordering.”
Postmaster Larson praised local postal employees. “We have some excellent employees; most have done a really good job,” she said.
In retirement Larson will keep busy on the family farm. She plans to work in her flower gardens. She and husband Marty plan to increase their dairy goat herd; they have a contract to sell milk with Stickney Hill Dairy at Kimball, makers of fine cheeses. And, she plans to do some volunteer work. “I never had the time to do much volunteer work. I did volunteer with CRU and in church,” she noted. And, she was a 4-H leader for 20 years when her children were involved in 4-H work.
Mary Larson is retiring after 31 years of service with the US Postal Service. Stop by and wish her well as she starts her well-deserved retirement
Friday, April 29
1:00 ~ 3:00