Postmaster for the town of Minturn calling it a career | VailDaily.com

Postmaster for the town of Minturn calling it a career

NWS Minturn Postmaster 1 DT 5-22-12

MINTURN, Colorado – Minturn has had a long list of postmasters since 1889 – 15 years before it became a town – but no one has held the job longer than Jim Madril.

Madril, a valley native, will retire Thursday after more than 40 years with the U.S. Postal Service. Since 1980, he’s been Minturn’s postmaster. He started with the postal service seeing an opportunity for a career with good pay and benefits and stayed because he loved the work and the people.

Like most small-town postmasters, Madril knows pretty much everyone in town and where they live. In fact, a notice went out recently to box-holders that as of June 1, they can’t expect items sent to their street addresses to end up in their mailboxes the way they often do now.

Knowing where just about everyone lives isn’t in the official small-town postmaster job description. Learning just about everything about a community’s life just sort of goes with the territory.

“People congregate here,” Madril said. “And a lot of people come in just to say hello.”

That’s what makes a small-town postmaster a unique source of information about a community and a valuable resource for everyone from residents to those just passing through.

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That hasn’t changed over the years – nor has the fact that it takes two or three days for a first-class letter to get just about anywhere in the lower 48 states – but getting the mail to and from post offices is different in many ways.

There’s the cost of a stamp, of course – it cost 8 cents to mail a letter when Madril started his Postal Service career in 1971. But Madril said technology has made it easier to find out where a particular piece of mail or package may be. That technology also has made it possible to move more mail with fewer people.

Minturn’s post office at one time had a postmaster and a couple of employees. These days, Madril handles the work himself, six days a week.

While the Postal Service has changed, some of the biggest changes in Madril’s career have come in Minturn itself. Many of the buildings look different, of course, but the town’s population has changed over the years.

“There’s a lot of younger folks here today,” Madril said. “A lot of the older people have moved on.”

But Madril keeps up with the changes and still enjoys the job and the people. And while the Postal Service is currently in a financial bind, Madril believes the organization will find a way to put its troubles behind it.

That’s going to be someone else’s problem as of June 1, although it will be a while before the town has another postmaster.

Postal Service spokesman David Rupert said Minturn’s post office will be run by an interim person for a while. But since the service is now offering early-retirement packages to 21,000 postmasters around the country, Rupert said that process will have to play out before a permanent replacement is found for Minturn.

While all that goes on, Madril said he plans to stay in Minturn. Once he finishes a good-sized to-do list at his home, he will make longer-term plans.

Madril’s ready to retire. But he’ll miss the people he sees every day.

“I’ve enjoyed working for the community,” he said. “I’ve always treated customers with dignity and respect – the way I’ve wanted to be treated. … It’s been a great pleasure working with the residents here.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.