Round Lake man named state's top rural letter carrier
WORTHINGTON — A rural route driver for the Worthington Post Office has been honored as the Minnesota Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (MRLCA) Outstanding Member of the Year.
Jim Obermoller, of Round Lake, has delivered mail for the U.S. Post Office for the past 26 years — and full-time for the last 20 years. He was presented a plaque Tuesday during the association’s annual meeting in Mankato.
Obermoller said he has suspicions of who may have nominated him for the honor. A three-member committee evaluated all of the nominations and selected Obermoller from the list of candidates. There are approximately 2,800 carrier members in the Minnesota association.
The award recognizes Obermoller’s commitment to the postal industry and his customers. He delivers the mail south and west of Worthington to approximately 430 patrons on a 93-mile route.
“I start at 7:30 a.m. and a normal day I would be done about 4:30 or 5,” Obermoller said. “That’s not all driving the route. The rest is putting it together — sorting the mail and getting it ready for the route.”
During certain times of the year — such as the days leading up to Christmas and those immediately following a holiday — Obermoller can’t fit all of the mail in his vehicles. On those days, two trips are required to ensure everyone gets their newspapers, letters and bills.
“The customer is what drives the job — that’s the enjoyable part,” he said.
Over the years, slippery and snow-covered roads have landed him in the ditch a time or two, and those same customers he serves came to his rescue.
“I appreciate my customers,” he said. “I treat them good year-round because some day I know I may need them to help me.”
In more than a quarter century of rural mail delivery, Obermoller said he has lots of stories and memories.
“I remember one very stormy day, a patron called in and asked if his mail was going to be delivered,” Obermoller recalled. “The answer to him was that the mail was sorted and in the Post Office and he could come into the Post Office to pick it up if he’d like — the rural carriers weren’t going out.
“He said, ‘Well, I can’t get there.’”
On another occasion, when Obermoller was delivering the mail afte r a snowstorm, he found a woman who had slipped and fallen on the ice and snow on the patio of her apartment.
“She had fallen and broken her hip and she’d laid out there for half an hour, 45 minutes, in below-freezing weather,” Obermoller said.
“I have been out in white-out conditions and many times it’s just a struggle to get back into the post office,” he shared. “Some days you don’t know where you’re at on the road and the other scary part is the other person doesn’t know you’re there. We have strobe lights and flashing lights to try to let everyone know we’re there.”
Despite the weather challenges, Obermoller said he enjoys being a mail carrier — so much so that he’s become involved with the rural mail carriers union at the regional, state and national level.
“Shortly after I started I became a local steward and got involved in the county and state level,” he said, adding that he’s served as president of the local unit (Nobles, Rock and Jackson counties), and is currently the unit’s secretary-treasurer.
In 2004, Obermoller was elected to the MRLCA board, and he was elected secretary-treasurer of the state group in 2008.
“I was re-elected for the fourth time at this convention,” he said.
Obermoller attends numerous state and national conventions for rural letter carriers throughout the year, and serves on a national committee for the purpose of helping train state secretaries for rural letter carrier associations across the country. Most of those trainings are done in Washington, D.C.
As the MRLCA Outstanding Member of the Year, Obermoller and his wife, Sandi, will be recognized at the association’s national convention in Grapevine, Texas, in August.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.