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Summit Hill postmaster to retire

  • RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Gerald L. Haggerty Jr., Postmaster in Summit Hill, will be retiring from the USPS Friday.
    RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Gerald L. Haggerty Jr., Postmaster in Summit Hill, will be retiring from the USPS Friday.
Published December 15. 2010 05:00PM

On the wall by the counter of the Summit Hill Post Office is a sign. It reads:

"Here to courteously assist you and provide the quality service consistent with your expectations of the U.S. Postal Service."

It's signed by Gerald L. Haggerty Jr., Postmaster.

"Jerry," as he is known by most of his patrons, said the sign signifies the philosophy he has adopted during his career.

On Friday, the public servant will be retiring as postmaster in Summit Hill after serving for nearly 20 years. He has been with the United States Postal Service for 31 years.

From 9 a.m. to noon (or until they run out) on Friday, there will be cookies and coffee available in the lobby of the post office for residents of the small hilltop community who want to bid him farewell.

"It's been a pleasure serving in Summit Hill," said Haggerty.

Jared Diehl, who is a supervisor in the Tamaqua Post Office, will serve as officer-in-charge of the Summit Hill facility effective Monday.

Haggerty said he is retiring for two reasons:

• To work at building his tax and financial services business in Jim Thorpe.

• To spend more time with his wife, the former JoAnn Highland, and his 14-year-old son Alex.

Haggerty said he started the income tax and financial planning in 1998 and will continue to operate it and hopefully expand it.

He explained that the USPS has gone through a lot of changes since he began working for it.

"Much of what we used to physically do, automation has taken over," he said. "Ninety percent of the letters are put in order by machine.

"It's all about reducing costs," he added. "Things have changed with the carriers. They spend less time in the office and more on the street because of machines doing the sorting of the mail."

Haggerty admits that the Internet has hurt the Postal Service tremendously, except for the package business. Regarding packages, he said, "I think that's the new horizon for us, to keep our revenues up."

He explained that more people are communicating via e-mail and Facebook, and even exchanging greeting cards on the computer, than ever before. In addition, more people are doing shopping with their computers and having the goods sent through the Postal Service.

When it comes to service by the Postal Service, Haggerty defends the employees.

"We do a great job when you think of the amount of mail we handle every day," he said.

He also said the Postal Service will be around for a long time, although possibly not every small town like Summit Hill might have its own individual post office.

Haggerty started his career as a mail carrier in Lehighton in 1980.

His career followed the footsteps of his father, the late Gerald Haggerty Sr. , a longtime postmaster in Jim Thorpe, who retired in 1975, and died in 2007.

Haggerty said the one thing he is looking forward to is spending time with his family. He and his wife, a school teacher, will now be able to take summer family vacations.

Also, he anticipates often having supper on the table when she comes home from work.

In the summers, he plans to do more trips with the family's travel trailer.

Looking back on his time with the Postal Service, he said, "The key to my whole career has been service. The employees have been the key to good service in the whole town."

Although Haggerty is the postmaster, he often is seen working at the window in the post office, performing the duties of a clerk. He said he usually fills in when clerks go to lunch or if they get very busy, such as at the Christmas holiday.

"In smaller offices, a lot of postmasters do this," he said.

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