Postmaster Fultz walks off into the sunrise
After 33 years with the United States Post Office, including the last five right here in 93546, Mammoth Lakes Postmaster Gary Fultz hung up his apron for good on Thursday.
A native of Michigan, that is where Fultz plans to return, albeit via a circuitous route in a travel trailer – thus the sunrise part of the headline, as he’s returning east.
He will be replaced, at least for now, by OIC (Officer-in-Charge) Lupita Mahoney, who had been serving as Postmaster in Big Pine.
Fultz moved to Mammoth Lakes to take the Postmaster’s job in March 2006, and immediately ingratiated himself to the community by working with local citizens, notably Elizabeth Tenney, to beautify the post office.
Recognizing the post office as a community hub, the community bulletin board also came into being on Fultz’s watch.
“I could’ve made a killing selling doughnuts and coffee [here],” laughed Fultz, alluding to the post office’s place in the community and sheer foot traffic.
The obvious question is what in the heck prompted Fultz to move to California in the first place.
“No idea,” he said. “It was an adventure.”
An adventure that has borne fruit as his girlfriend Kristin has become his wife, and the couple has added a dog to the family during his stint in Mammoth.
Sheet: Did you leave Michigan just ‘cause you had a premonition the [University of Michigan] Wolverines would suck?
Fultz, who was wearing a Michifornia t-shirt given to him as a going away present by his postal staff, laughed again. “I’ll be going to watch the Wolverines on Saturdays and the [Detroit] Lions on Sundays.”
But before he gets a chance to do that, he’ll be fishing off a Boston Whaler his in-laws got him as a retirement gift.
“All I gotta worry about is fishing,” said Fultz, who named the Little Lakes Valley as his favorite local spot.
Fultz began his postal career in Pontiac, Mich. He said he was advised of openings at the nearest postal facility by a postal carrier who sized him up and said, “You’re stocky. You could handle it.”
A rather fortunate choice for Fultz, who had been working the graveyard shift at the time at a nearby General Motors Plant.
When he started, Fultz made $9.85/hour.
Of his time in Mammoth, Fultz said, “I’ve never met such fascinating people. This community surpasses any I’ve experienced [in places where Fultz has supervised offices over the years].”
“In an average town, if you make a mistake, they want to grab you by the throat,” he said.
The recent financial woes of the United States Postal Service, exacerbated by the trend toward digital communication, are a disappointment to Fultz, who foresees future service cuts.
Not only has the Postal Service targeted 1,800 rural post offices for elimination, but Fultz thinks we’ll continue to see a proliferation of contract offices such as the one Craig Hansen operates at Mammoth Business Essentials.
Sheet: So why does a letter mailed in Mammoth to a post office box typically get sent down to Bakersfield versus being handled here?
Fultz: Believe it or not, it’s faster. They’ve got machines in Bakersfield that can process 37,000 pieces of mail an hour. And the turnaround is generally 24 hours.
So, farewell to Mr. Fultz, Certainly, we’ve noticed an improvement in service since his arrival and hope the rest of the current staff remains intact.