Rural mail carrier Thomas finally has full-time job

Kelly Thomas is on the job as the new rural mail carrier for route one.

That’s what his wife Donna jokingly told Kelly Thomas on his 50th birthday, when he was informed he was officially the rural mail carrier for route one out of Lime Springs. His first day as full-time employee was on March 26.

He has been the substitute driver since January 1, 2011 when Ron Stockman retired after 20 years on the route. It’s been a long transition period to go from substitute to full-time since he started subbing 18 years ago for Gailen Johnson. When Johnson retired, he became the back-up carrier for Stockman.

Also, when Johnson retired in June 2007, the routes were consolidated making it only two routes out of Lime Springs Post Office instead of three.

Thomas’ work day starts about 7:00-7:15 a.m. when the mail truck arrives. He then sets out to cover his 130-plus miles with 286 boxes between Cresco and Saratoga and a little towards Granger.

He said his favorite part of the job is visiting with the postal customers. It can be a lonely job out there on the road with no contact, so he appreciates when he has a package to deliver.

He gets in a dig to the temporary OIC (officer in charge). “The hardest part of my job is Dolly [Hovey]! Actually,” he says, “it is the bad roads in the winter.

When Thomas wasn’t subbing, he was farming. He and the former Donna Mahr have farmed and raised their four children between Kendallville and Burr Oak.

Now that he is full time with the U.S. Post Office, Thomas says, “I’ll probably farm a little less. We’ll have to see how it goes.”

Things have changed a bit since he started subbing in 1983. The cost of stamps was 20¢ and today a first-class stamp is 44¢.

Hovey added the price of stamps is going up. “First class will stay the same but on April 17, everything else increased.”

Another change is in volume, which has decreased but packages have increased—probably due to easiness of ordering online.

One thing that won’t change is the same dependable service area residents have received from the rural mail carriers. Kelly Thomas will continue the tradition.

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