After thirty-one years of sorting mail and selling stamps at half a dozen different post offices around the Lyman County area, Joyce Berg will retire at the end of the month and start a new chapter in her life.
“I have a lot of catching up to do at home,” said Berg from behind the counter of the Reliance Post Office last Thursday. And, while cleaning house and doing the books for the family construction business may keep her busy she hopes to have more spare time for travel and maybe golf.
Berg started at the Reliance Post Office in 1983 working as the Post Master Replacement (PMR) under Postmaster George Miller. Over the years she filled in as a PMR at post offices at Lower Brule, Kennebec, Presho, Vivan and Murdo before being named Officer In Charge (OIC) at Reliance upon the transfer of postmaster Roger Burfeindt to Chamberlain in 2001.
In February 2003, Berg was officially named postmaster at the Reliance Post Office.
“The third time was a charm I guess,” said Berg referring to the number of times she applied for the postmaster position at Reliance.
She worked for three different postmasters at Reliance including, Miller, Harry Jansen and Burfeindt.
“I was named the Officer in Charge each time one left, but it wasn’t until the third time that I finally got the job,” said Berg with a chuckle.
Berg, at just 63 years old could have continued to work a few more years but upcoming changes in the post office helped her make up her mind to retire a little early.
The Reliance Post Office has been designated by the POSTPlan of the USPS to reduce hours and full-time employees by September 30, 2014.
“I could have worked up to the end of September, but Gerald's home a lot more and we decided we could do some traveling now,” said Berg referring to her husband stepping back from the construction work following back surgery.
Berg has experienced a great number of changes in the post office since 1983.
During the 1990's when computers were just starting to come into the offices, Reliance was considered a HUB office under Postmaster Burfeindt.
“We had one of first computers in the area,” said Berg. When Burfeindt transferred to Chamberlain, as the OIC Berg took over for him and was working with ll area post offices that were not computerized yet.
“I had to go around and visit offices until they were computerized,” said Berg. “I was just a OIC and some postmasters didn't like me coming in and telling them what they were suppose to do.”
Members of the Joe Hieb family have been the mail carriers working out of the Reliance Post Office since Berg started in 1983.
“They've been great to work with,”added Berg. At one time there were three routes out of the Reliance office but they have been combined and cut to just two. “We lost a few boxes as some people started getting their mail on the route.”
Friday Presho Post Master Diane Hieb will visit the Reliance office and the official transfer of postmasters will take place. Berg is ready to dust off her golf clubs and enjoy some warm weather in retirement.
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