LAKEPORT, Calif. – Lakeport's 29th postmaster was sworn in on Friday.
Maria Lane, a 22-year Lakeport resident who was appointed to the job on Oct. 4, took her oath of office during an afternoon ceremony that included colleagues, family and friends.
Doing the honors of administering the oath to Lane was Dana Tibbetts, who retired as Lakeport's postmaster in 2010. He hired Lane as a letter carrier in 1995.
It's been exactly a century since a woman last held Lakeport's postmaster job. Myrtle Hancock was postmaster in 1914.
Since joining the US Postal Service, Lane has worked her way up from a letter carrier to a full-time clerk in Clearlake Oaks in 1997.
She transferred to Upper Lake, where she worked from 2000 to 2008, worked as postmaster of Hopland and then, in 2010, returned to Upper Lake to serve as postmaster, where she worked until her latest appointment.
In introducing Lane at the Friday ceremony, Joseph Machado, manager of Post Office operations from the San Francisco office, explained that the postmaster appointment is a significant one.
The position serves as a local federal representative, and has a responsibility to the community, Machado said.
“Maria does her job very well,” Machado said.
Lake County historian Ruby Glebe was on hand to offer a brief history of the local Lakeport Post Office.
The first trading in the area took place in 1855, with settler William Forbes arriving around that time and claiming a 160-acre homestead, she said. What is now Lakeport would, for a time, be known as Forbestown.
On July 17, 1858, a post office opened in Big Valley, as there was no suitable place at that time in Forbestown, Glebe said.
Indian and deer trails would become the post roads, she said. Mail would come from Sacramento, over the mountains through Pope Valley, and later from Ukiah by horseback and from Calistoga by stage.
Glebe said the city's name became Lakeport in 1861. The name change followed the formation of the county and came, in part, to prevent the town being confused with the mining town of the same name in Yuba County.
According to county historical records, a post office was authorized in Lakeport in November 1861, leading to the Big Valley Post Office's closure.
In 1913, Scotts Valley ranchers submitted 123 signatures in support of rural delivery, according to Glebe.
Over the years, the Lakeport Post Office was in a number of locations. On June 4, 1984, the Lakeport Post Office opened at its current location on 11th Street. Glebe said it's the only federally built post office in the county.
After Glebe's historical retrospective, Lane took her oath from Tibbetts.
She offered her thanks to her fellow postmasters and staffers. “Every day we learn something new.”
She added, “What a great crew we have here.”
Following the ceremony, when asked about the challenges Lane will face coming into the job, Tibbetts – who served as the city's postmaster from 1984 to 2011 – said it will be a matter of trying to keep up financially with a huge delivery volume and fewer staff.
“We can't cut services, we can't close places down just because they're not making money,” Tibbetts said.
When Tibbetts started as postmaster, there were 28 employees at the Lakeport Post Office, and 20 when he left in 2011.
Today, there are 17, said Lane, which serve 10 carrier routes and 1,234 post office boxes.
Over the last few years, as the post office has lost more staff, it's also gained about 1,000 deliveries, Lane said.
“As the county grows we add new delivery points,” she said.
Despite the challenges, Lane – who stopped to receive congratulatory hugs from staff – is excited about her new job.
“I love it,” Lane said.
Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.