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Postmaster says farewell to Lake Orion

Ted Banks was always able to serve customers with a smile. Photo by O. Shumaker (click for larger version)

Here, Hamlet (Cooper Nicholas) is consoled by his friend Horatio (Karen Graves) and two guards before seeing his ghostly father. (click for larger version)
July 18, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Intern

By the close of July, the Lake Orion post office will lose one of its valued members, postmaster Ted Banks, who will retire before the month is out.

"It's a good office and I've enjoyed running it," Banks said.

Banks served as Lake Orion's postmaster for the past eight years, and has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 31 years last April, serving 14 of them as postmaster to various offices. He worked in Southfield and Rochester, among other offices, before becoming Lake Orion's postmaster.

"It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Banks said. "My father went to school here way back in the day, so it was nice, when the opportunity made itself available, to come into Lake Orion."

A postmaster is essentially the boss of the office, as the name indicates. They are responsible for ensuring that the post office runs without a hitch—which means making sure that all the mail for citizens in their area is properly processed, sorted and delivered in a timely manner six days a week. They also have to manage other operations within the postal service. The Lake Orion branch, for example, has a processing plant in Pontiac that delivers mail to the local office every morning, which has to be processed and delivered. In addition, the postmaster acts as an administrative head of the office, managing finances and other issues surrounding the post office.

"For all intents and purposes he's like the CEO of your local post office," Banks said. "He or she—or in this case, me—they're in charge of everything."

Banks did not originally intend to spend 31 years with the postal service. When he got out of the military and started attending college, there were letter-carrier jobs available in Pontiac. Banks was looking for a part-time job at the time, and so decided to take the test to become a letter-carrier part time. Not three or four weeks later, on his route, Banks was trapped on a porch by a German Shepherd, which, "wouldn't come any closer to me, but every time I tried to get off the porch and go to the next house, he'd start barking and growling," Banks said. 31 years after that experience and many others, Banks is ready to retire.

"The opportunity provided itself, and I wanted to do some different things," Banks said.

One of those things is spending more time with his family. Banks has three adult children and a 14-year-old son entering high school in the fall. Due to work, Banks was busy when his older children went through high school, and now that his youngest son is entering high school, he intends to enjoy those years with him.

In parting, Banks has only positive things to say of his employees and fellow postal workers at the Lake Orion office. By Banks' estimation, they really, "want to make sure that the people of Lake Orion are taken care of." Though he called the past eight years, "the best years of my career," Banks is ready to spend more time with his family.

"I love working in the community, but it's the right time," Banks said.

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