After a three year wait, Michele Matlage was officially installed as Osceola’s postmaster in a ceremony at the Osceola post office on Feb. 17.
Path to postmaster
Matlage began her career in the postal system in 2015 as a PSE (mail processing) clerk in New Virginia. Shortly after starting there, Matlage accepted a position in Osceola as a PTF (part-time carrier). While working as a PTF, Matlage was given the opportunity to be a substitute supervisor (204B) at the Indianola post office. A year later, she was promoted to supervisor in Osceola.
In 2020, Matlage was awarded the position of postmaster in Osceola. Before she could be installed, however, the COVID19 pandemic happened, and installation ceremonies were placed on hold. In November of 2022 the ceremonies started back up, and Matlage was finally able to have hers, almost three-years to the date of becoming postmaster.
Matlage’s installation ceremony was held in front of her fellow postal workers and family. Ashley Hardenbrook, postmaster at Earlham, led the pledge of allegiance and gave a brief history on the post office and postmasters.
“In the mid-19th century…postmasters took the oath. The job of the postmaster was an important one,” Hardenbrook said, sharing that the position was often sidelined by the postmaster’s primary occupation.
Postmasters were usually recommended by the outgoing postmaster, the community or local congressman. The job of the postmaster was to keep the post office open during normal business hours. If mail were to be delivered on Sundays, the postmaster had to wait until the conclusion of church services to open the post office for one hour. In olden times, the mail was delivered by mail wagons, the drivers of whom would blow a horn or trumpet as they came into town, causing the men at church to get up and leave the service. As such, a compromise was made in regards to waiting to open the post office, though the postmaster general continued to allow mail wagons to run on Sunday.
“[We] came back full circle, delivering on Sunday,” Hardenbrook said.
Following Hardenbrook’s history of postmasters and the reading of a postal poem, the manager of post office operations for the Hawkeye District Wendy Berg led Matlage in taking the oath of office.
Matlage spoke a few words after she was sworn in, thanking Berg for the opportunity to be postmaster, and those she works with.
“I truly do appreciate it. I would not be in this position and come to work everyday if not for these guys over here.They have pushed me, I come to work everyday for them…I appreciate you guys every day,” said Matlage. She also thanked her family for their support in her career.
In speaking with the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune, Matlage said about the job,
“It’s never boring.”
When asked what she likes the most about what she does, Matlage restated that it’s the people who she works with, as well as the customers who she helps serve. Matlage said that she also likes the opportunities afforded as postmaster by being able to travel around the state to help out with different projects, and also the chances to go out of state if she wants to. For over a year, Matlage has been helping out elsewhere in Iowa, and is happy to be back at her “home.”
Matlage is a lifelong resident of Clarke County. She and her husband, Mark, live on a farm outside of Murray. They have two adult children, Michael and Dakota, late son Tanner, and six grandchildren - Aria, Waylon, Jackson, Luke, Peyton and Brooke.
When not at work, Matlage enjoys being on the farm, helping with her husband and son’s trucking company, traveling and spending time with her family.
In addition to duties at the Osceola post office, Matlage has also been the officer in charge at several postal locations, including Corning, Grimes, Indianola and Mount Ayr. She is in charge of approximately 30 postal workers between Osceola, Murray, Woodburn, Weldon, New Virginia and Van Wert.