New Avon postmaster steps up
He’s listened to the tales of missing mail and long lines at the long beleaguered Avon Post Office.
But Schuster, who recently took the reins as postmaster in Avon, is confident he has solutions.
“I’ve heard all kinds of stories, but I’m not afraid of them,” said Schuster, who most recently worked at an office outside of Chicago. “When you paint a wall, you don’t paint it all at one time. You paint it one stroke at a time, so it’s a matter of dealing with one issue at a time.”
Schuster, who’s been with the Postal Service since 1974, has already dealt with problems unique to the mountains – wildfires. The fast-moving Coal Seam Fire that erupted near Glenwood Springs held up operations at a mail sorting center there.
That meant on Tuesday, when the Glenwood center got back on track, the Avon Post Office was deluged with seven times as much mail as it usually gets in a day. Schuster said the morning was hectic but his staff had the mail sorted and under control by the afternoon.
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“I’ve always lived in the flatlands, and the mountains are the biggest draw for me,” Schuster said. “This is beautiful country.”
The only bears Schuster encountered in Chicago were members of the professional football team, he said. And Schuster plays golf, but he described himself glowingly as a “hacker.”
“When I’m out there, I take a lot of swings,” he said. “But I get my money’s worth. Each swing I take costs that much less.”
Schuster said he’s already gotten to work on some of the problems afflicting the Avon Post Office.
“One of the biggest issues we’re dealing with now is we ask box-holders when they renew, but they don’t tell us everybody that’s receiving mail in the box,” Schuster said.
A simple way to solve that problem is for people sending mail to someone who may not be listed on a post office box is to write “care of” the boxholder on letters, he said.
Packages have been another difficulty for the Avon Post Office. Residents have complained that they have to wait in long lines to retrieve packages when they get a pink slip in their post office boxes.
“We’re going to use the postal lockers more,” Schuster said. “Anything that doesn’t require a signature or a scan, we’ll put in the lockers.”
The lockers are the larger post office boxes that don’t belong to specific customers. When a customer has a package in a locker, he or she is notified with a numbered key in their post office box. And once the person opens the locker to get their package, the keys stay in the lock – they can’t be retrieved.
“One problem we were having is people were walking away with the keys without opening the locker,” Schuster said. “They didn’t know what the keys were for.”
Many of the locks have been replaced on the lockers, the use of which should greatly reduce the Avon post office’s notorious lines, he said.
“I think people will start seeing differences. If they haven’t already, they will soon,” Schuster said. “I intend to be very visible.”
Schuster said he would like to remind customers that the cost of a first class stamp goes up on June 30 to 37 cents from 34 cents.
Avon hasn’t had a postmaster in more than a year. The office has been run by a string of officers in charge and other supervisors.
Schuster said stability is key to improving service in Avon.
“Any decision I make, I’ve got to live with,” Schuster said. “And when the staff and I come up with workable solutions, they’re not going to change. Stability and consistency are big issues.”
Schuster said he’s got a good crew at the Post Office, which means making improvements shouldn’t be too difficult.
“Give me a couple of months and you’ll see a marked improvement,” Schuster said. “It’s nothing insurmountable, and we’re taking care of the little things. And taking care of the little things takes care of the big things.”
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 606 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.