Unofficially, Kelly Howser of Norwalk has been the Indianola postmaster for almost a year.
The appointment became official on Tuesday, when Howser was installed.
“We got really behind due to COVID, we weren't doing the any swearing-in ceremonies during all of that,” said Howser. That hasn’t stopped her from getting comfortable in the job.
“I love it. We have a great team of people,” she said.
Howser started her career with the Postal Service in 2006 as a mail handler at the processing and distribution center in Des Moines. In 2009, she completed the associate supervisor program and was promoted to associate supervisor at the South Des Moines station before becoming supervisor customer service in Des Moines. She was postmaster in Winterset before coming to Indianola.
“If you had the opportunity to work with or for Kelly, you know she will work tirelessly to make sure you have the tools and skills to do your job safely and efficiently,” said Ashley Hardenbrook, Earlham postmaster, who led Tuesday’s ceremony. “She is a true leader, she works alongside her team until the work is completed.”
For the last year, that often has meant hitting the streets, carrying routes, Howser said.
“We don't have enough employees and we are trying to hire,” she said. “We're doing everything we can to get out there and get people hired. That is our biggest hurdle right now. We just don't have enough employees.”
Howser oversees 21 employees in Indianola and 10 more at the St. Marys, Milo, Lacona and Liberty Center stations. She would like to have five more substitute carriers for rural routes and one more for city routes, said Howser. They also are hiring for a position called an “ARC” or assistant rural carriers.
“They just work weekends and holidays, and they just deliver packages,” she explained. “We would love to have as many of those as we could get.”
Howser said the ARC position is great for college students and others who want to make a little extra money.
Package delivery is an ever-increasing part of the postal service, she added.
“We're turning into a package company,” she said. “People pay all their bills online. You don't see the Sears catalog and JC Penney, the mail volume itself is way, way down. But the packages are way up.”
Once she gets back to full staff, Howser said she would like to get out to the community more, educating businesses in particular on better ways to use the postal service and save money on mail.
“A lot of people are really surprised when we talk to them about the different discounts they can get with going through the business part,” she said. “We have a business department that will go out and help them create their business account and different ways of saving money and mailing cheaper. A lot of people don't know that we do that.”
While she’s looking forward to getting more involved with that, Howser had her own small celebration on Tuesday. She didn’t have to deliver a route.
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