Abraham Lincoln. Benjamin Franklin. William Faulkner. While known as presidents, inventors, and writers, all three had another profession in life: that of the postmaster.
Now, Ronda Salas joins their ranks, the newest Postmaster of Turlock – and the city’s first full-time postmaster in four years – having been sworn in on Thursday.
“The position is so important we have the person actually take an oath,” explained Tony Cordova, Riverbank Postmaster, who led Salas’s installation.
The position has been historically important in Turlock as well. The city’s first postmaster, Patterson C. Lander, named the city which now nearly 70,000 call home.
When city founder John Mitchell initially proposed the name of “Sierra” for what would come to be known as Turlock, Lander told Mitchell there was already another city named Sierra – a no-no in the postal industry, as mail could become lost. As an alternative, Lander suggested Turlock, a name he saw in a “Reader’s Digest.”
While Salas won’t be tasked with naming the city, she will be asked to lead one of the county’s largest post offices.
“I am very fortunate to be in Turlock,” Salas said. “It is such a great community.”
Salas doesn’t just follow in the footsteps of historical greats, but also her decidedly postal service-focused family.
Salas’s husband, Tony Salas, is the postmaster of Hughson. Her uncle recently retired from being the postmaster in Livingston. Relatives have served the Postal Service in Oklahoma, and a nephew serves as a mail carrier in Ripon.
Salas, 48, started in the Postal Service at age 19, working as a reserve rural route carrier in Denair. She’s since worked her way through the ranks, with positions in maintenance, letter carrying, and management throughout the county.
Salas has been in Turlock for the past year or so, helping out in the absence of outgoing Postmaster Steve Thomas. Thomas spent much of his time out of the office since his installation four years ago, due to various assignments and lack of staffing in Modesto.
Because of that absence, Salas had to prove herself to the Turlock branch, show that she could be a strong, constant leader, she said. And while the task may have been a challenge at first, by Thursday’s installation ceremony those employees – who she credits for much of her success – were cheering and chipping in for a banquet.
“I just feel so honored to be a part of such a team,” Salas said.
Now, Salas’ days will be filled with the duties of a Postmaster – effectively the manager of Turlock’s Post Office. Everything from customer service to the delivery of mail and ensuring the office is clean will now be under her purview.
“Every day is different,” Salas said. “Every day is a new challenge.”
Trucks break down. Mail carriers call in sick. But the Postal Service’s duty remains.
“Every piece goes out every day,” Salas said.
That’s no small challenge for the Turlock office, which delivers nearly 70,000 pieces of mail daily to more than 20,000 addresses with just 84 employees.
Salas said her tenure will be focused on delivering better, more consistent service. And she expects to love every minute of it.
“I am happy to come to work every day and serve this community,” Salas said.
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