City swears in 37th U.S. Postmaster

By Julie Fann

In a special ceremony conducted Friday afternoon, Bruce N. Range was sworn in as the 37th U.S. Postmaster for the city of Elizabethton since the year 1811. Range, a native of Jonesborough, assumed his office on March 23.
   "I started with the post office in 1986 in Las Vegas and worked there until 1990. Then I was transferred to southern California, where I was promoted to manager until 2001," Range said in an interview with the STAR yesterday.
   Range replaces Jim Buck, who was appointed as Postmaster in 1981 and served for 18 years.
   Range, 43, originally moved to Las Vegas after joining the U.S. Air Force, where he flew F16 airplanes for four years, eventually achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant at Ellis Air Force Base. He then returned to the private sector.
   "I left southern California in March 2001 when I was promoted to Manager of Customer Service in Durham, N.C. Then I was promoted to Postmaster in Elizabethton," he said.
   Jamie Frisbey, Manager of Post Office Operations in Knoxville, conducted the installation. Master of Ceremony was Rusty Jacobson, Manager of Operations Programs at the U.S. Post Office in Merrifield, Va.
   "Postmasters used to be congressionally appointed. Nowadays, you actually have to go through the ranks and earn it, competitively compete for the position," Range said.
   Duties of a U.S. Postmaster include supervising 58 employees with two other supervisors, processing mail for Unicoi County, Mountain City and Hampton, and performing general administrative duties.
   "Everything here is under my realm as far as safety of the employees go; the budget, purchasing, the facility, security, everything. If everything is good, it's good; if it's bad, it falls on me."
   Since four years passed following the retirement of former Postmaster Jim Buck, and Range's appointment, certain inherited problems had to be eradicated.
   "Most of those were due to an instability. Different people would be here for an interim period of time as an officer in charge. When you get three or four different people, it makes things unstable," Range said.
   Greeting every employee individually, Range said, helped ease the sense of temporariness they had about the post office, and, as a result, morale has improved.
   The post office currently has a complete staff and will not be hiring any new employees due to a diminished work load. Range said the decrease has several causes.
   "Telecommunications have taken a bite out of some of our services. And Sept. 11 definitely had an impact. It took a lot of confidence out of some people. Still, there is a demand for hard, original copies," he said.
   All revenue generated by the U.S. Post Office comes from mail, not tax dollars, which Range said is a common misconception people have about the postal industry.
   "The only thing we survive on is the first class stamp and services we provide. That's where we generate all our revenue. We're just like any other business."
   What makes the post office a government service, according to Range, is that it is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution that every citizen has a right to receive mail. Also, the post office pays into the nation's deficit without receiving money.
   Several city officials, family and friends attended the ceremony Friday, including Sen. Rusty Crowe, Mayor Sam LaPorte, Mayor Protem Sam Shipley and City Manager Charles Stahl.
   The Rev. Clyde Hester, pastor of Eden United Methodist Church, Jonesborough, performed the invocation.
   Senator Crowe during the ceremony presented Range with a written proclamation from the office of the Lieutenant Governor in Nashville.