Cutline 1: New Postmaster Kyle Browning relaxes at his new desk during a rare break from his duties as the new man in charge at the Effingham post office. Bill Grimes photo
Cutline 2: Postmaster Kyle Browning checks out what bulk mail technician Terry Budde is doing at the Effingham post office. Bill Grimes photo
Fifteen years ago, Kyle Browning was a Mattoon police officer.
He didn't mind patrol or helping people. But with a growing family, he minded the hours.
"I was working rotating shifts, and I wasn't able to be with my family as much," Browning said. "I wanted to be able to take my family to church, and I knew if I took a job with the Postal Service, I'd be off Sundays."
The Brownings are active at the Apostolic Center in Mattoon.
After beginning his Postal Service career as a flex carrier in 1999, Browning has steadily moved up the ranks. Monday, he began duties as the Effingham postmaster.
Browning admits his new job will have its share of challenges, particularly in these modern times when so much business is conducted online.
"Unfortunately, mail volume is declining due to electronic alternatives," he said. "That's true for the younger generation in particular."
But Browning said there's still a place for the Postal Service in today's increasingly electronic society.
"We want to educate people that the United States Postal Service is a reliable, economical means of communication," he said. "Some items have been doubling and tripling in price in the last few years, but you can still get a first-class stamp for 46 cents."
On top of that, Browning said, the Postal Service does have an online presence. Known as "Click and Shop," the computer-savvy customer can send items from home.
Browning said the Postal Service is also trying to generate more interest in the Every Door Direct Mail program that has been in place for several years.
"It allows customers to focus on certain parts of an area if they want to advertise," he said.
Mail sent through the program is targeted to individual routes within a community, or multiple communities. Users must send a minimum of 200 pieces at 16 cents a piece, or $21.20.
"We've had this in place for awhile, but we are starting to push it harder because we believe this is a very affordable service," Browning said.
After several years as a carrier, Browning was selected for a supervisory training program in 2005. After a year at the Champaign post office, he became delivery supervisor at the Mattoon post office. He was still in that position when he took the Effingham job.
At Effingham, he supervises 42 employees. After his first week, he's impressed with the veteran group of postal workers in place.
"This is a great group of people," he said. "They work well together as a great team. I just try to steer everybody in the right direction."
Browning said he hopes to improve services at the Effingham post office, even though he's pleased with what he has seen so far.
"We are looking at improving from the top down," he said. "We're trying to make the United States Postal Service the best we can so we remain viable for generations to come."
Browning said he will continue to live in his hometown of Mattoon. His wife, Julie, is a nurse at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, while sons Kameron, 15, Nate, 13, and Jayden, 6, all attend Mattoon schools.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or email@example.com.