Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 3, 2000

Mark Sobotka new postmaster in Lester Prairie

By Jane Otto

With a starting point in Willmar, and stops in Hutchinson and Franklin, Mark Sobotka's career has found its way to Lester Prairie.

As its new postmaster, Sobotka said that he's looking forward to the challenge and also glad to be closer to home.

Sobotka, who lives in Hutchinson with his wife and two children, was Franklin's postmaster since February 1999. He commuted to Franklin, which is about 45 miles southwest of Hutchinson, east of Redwood Falls.

Franklin is a smaller post office than Lester Prairie, said Sobotka. The box section here is about three times the size of Franklin's.

All cash transactions were recorded manually in Franklin; that is, hand-written in a cash book, said Sobotka. Sales here are saved to a computer disc and then electronically transmitted to the main office in Minneapolis.

"The window is a lot busier here, but that just goes with the office," said Sobotka.

While employed as Franklin's postmaster, Sobotka also served as officer-in-charge at the Stewart, Murdock, and Norwood post offices during vacancies in those locations.

His postal career began in July 1985 in Willmar where he worked as a night clerk. As a part-time mail carrier, he walked a city route from 1987 to 1993. From there he went to Hutchinson in the fall of 1993, where he was supervisor.

Not particularly enjoying the daily commute from Willmar to Hutchinson, Sobotka moved his family to Hutchinson.

In Lester Prairie since May 20, Sobotka replaced Aryls Harwig who retired in February. Sobotka said he welcomes any questions as to what services the post office offers.

"If they have complaints, that's okay, too. That's part of any business," said Sobotka. "We'll try to fix the problem."

Sobotka said that he looks forward to getting to know the local businesses and school.

"I want to provide the best service possible for them, so that they can work more efficiently," he said.

Sobotka pointed to bright yellow stickers that dotted the walls and file cabinets of the office. They read:

"Every piece, every day."

The Postal Service's slogan, he said, is what they strive to do.

"Mail every piece to its destination, if possible," Sobotka said.

And like any good postmaster, he advised on how to correctly address an envelope; have the box number, or, if there isn't a box number, the street address directly above the city and state.

"And don't forget the ZIP code," he smiled.

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