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
"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
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
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.