COLUMBIA—The post office is the constant in every community.
It’s a gathering place, and it is and often the first place where people go when they move to a city.
Alisa Calvert, postmaster for the post office in Ashland, explained this important role of the post office and how she fits into that.
"I think most importantly the role of a postmaster is to know the community and to know their residents and their employees," Calvert said.
This practice is far more common in rural communities. Smaller towns allow for the postmaster to take a more active role in the community, and Calvert makes it a point to greet every customer and make sure the customers know that she cares about them. Calvert said it's harder to do this in big cities because the postmaster plays more of a supervisor role and doesn't have as much opportunity to interact with the customers.
"A small town post office has a more personal feel to it," said Calvert.
This can be seen in the way Calvert interacts with her customers, and it can be as simple as reminding people that they need stamps when they come in, Calvert said.
Calvert has been the postmaster in Ashland for seven years, during which time she has seen tremendous growth. The population of Ashland has doubled in the past 10 years, according to the city's website, and the post office has grown as a result.
When Calvert started as the postmaster in Ashland, there were only three routes and they were getting increasingly overburdened. A fourth, smaller route was created to take away from the overburdened routes. Calvert said that within the next few years, that smaller route will become a regular route with Ashland’s growth.
There are 167 post offices in Missouri being evaluated for closure, but Ashland is not one of them. Calvert said her employees are instrumental in helping her make her goals to keep their revenue strong.
"I think what's unique about Ashland is that we're growing and they're going to take that into consideration when making lists for closures, and we've made it past two lists," she said.
Another factor that Calvert believes that separates Ashland is the support the post office gets from the residents.
"They really support their local post office here in Ashland," she said. "They understand that's how we make our money and how our salaries are paid and they make a conscious effort to use us."