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Snoqualmie, Preston without postmasters

In charge, but not officially postmaster, Peter Keese is the top staffer at the Snoqualmie Post Office. - Seth Truscptt / Snoqualmie Valley Record
In charge, but not officially postmaster, Peter Keese is the top staffer at the Snoqualmie Post Office.
— image credit: Seth Truscptt / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Snoqualmie and Preston post offices have operated without an official postmaster for months.

A promotion freeze by the U.S. Postal Service has slowed any official choice to replace Snoqualmie Postmaster Bernie Weinkauf, who retired in February, and Preston Postmaster Ronnie Brooks, who retired in March.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t anyone in charge, though. Both offices are being helmed by officers in charge (OICs).

Former Issaquah Post Office head clerk Peter Keese is the officer in charge at North Bend, while longtime Fall City rural carrier Missy Rutledge is in charge at Preston.

The officer in charge fill a post office’s top spot between postmasters, said Keese. He works alongside the two postal clerks, handling the mail, selling stamps, setting the schedule, filling out reports and monitoring the budget.

“In this office, you basically do everything,” Keese said.

Rutledge was a rural carrier for several years, filling in for the postmaster as needed. She went through an officer-in-charge training program and put her name in for the position at Preston. She was supported by her former boss at Fall City.

Both Keese and Rutledge plan to apply for the postmaster positions.

Keese said the job gives him the freedom to run an office the way he sees fit, within limits. Rutledge said Preston is growing, and would like to see the post office be used by more people. She appreciates the postal service’s stability and good pay and benefits.

Last year, the Preston post office moved into bigger digs inside a former propane store, across the street from its former location. The new office is larger and brighter and has more parking.

Post offices are going through a lot of fluctuations. Keese figures that the pending shut-down of a Seattle-area facility may hold up the selection of a new postmaster in Snoqualmie for another month.

The postal service as a whole is challenged by the growth of online banking and bill-paying,

“There’s definitely a dwindling of mail,” Keese said. Writing letters is getting to be a lost art, and “everybody has a hand-held something or other,” he said.

Still, “things have to be moved,” he added. “Certain ways of communicating are done in other ways now, but goods have to go.”

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