Postmaster plans to finish in SH

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Ralph Peterson became Sweet Home’s new postmaster on Monday, April 14.

Peterson, 56, had been the postmaster at the Eugene Post Office since 1999 before taking the Sweet Home job. He replaces Sherryl Lamm, who retired.

Peterson said he was just looking for a less stressful post to finish his career with the U.S. Postal Service before taking retirement.

“I chose to go back to a small town,” he said. “I had more supervisors on my staff in Eugene than I have employees here. You can imagine what that does to my problems.”

Peterson grew up in Medford and worked at the Boise Cascade lumber mill there before moving to Vancouver, Wash., where he worked in the ALCOA aluminum plant. He joined the U.S. Postal Service in 1979 as a mail carrier in Vancouver.

“Just about everybody who joins the Postal Service starts as a clerk or carrier,” he said.

He moved through a series of supervisory positions in Vancouver and then in Longview, Wash., before becoming postmaster at Lincoln City from 1990 to 1995.

Then he became manager of postal operations for the 974 area code, which involved managing the small post offices “from Yachats to Brookings to Prineville to Crescent and everything in between,” before moving to Eugene.

He figures this is his last stop.

“My next step is retirement,” he said.

Peterson lives in Springfield with his wife Paula (“I won’t give you her age”) and two sons, Cole, 17, and Jacob, who will be 15 in May.

He said he enjoys the “beautiful” drive up Marcola Road to work, though he’s opted for a 2002 Saturn instead of the car he really loves to drive, a 1995 Camaro Z28 convertible.

He and his family enjoy wakeboarding on Fall Creek Reservoir, which is about 20 minutes from their house, though he said they probably will get a taste of Green Peter this summer.

Peterson said the local Post Office isn’t going to get many noticeable changes now that he’s in charge, though the process of adjusting some of the city routes, which had already begun before he arrived, will continue. He said some customers’ mail delivery times may change as the new routes go into effect, but he said delivery will become more efficient and he expects delivery times to become more regular for customers.

He also has plans to “clean up the outside and the inside of the Post Office.”

As the fifth postmaster or officer in charge in two years in Sweet Home, Peterson said one of his goals is to “support employees who’ve been here working through quite a bit of turnover.

“I think they’re looking for some stability,” he said.