Madera’s newest postmaster, Henry De la Torre, will swear his oath of office at a traditional swearing in at noon Friday at the city’s post office, 201 S. D St.
“I love the community,” he said. “As a whole, it’s little bigger than I thought (it would be), but so far everybody has been great ... I’m very impressed with the community here, a lot of community involvement.”
Despite the public ceremony, De la Torre assumed his office in late August. The office handles and delivers 57,000 pieces of mail daily to 30,764 addresses and 1,326 post office boxes via 45 combined city and rural routes. Those numbers will grow greatly in the future.
“One of our challenges is the new development of Riverstone,” he said, referring to a 2,000-acre community planned for southeast Madera County. “We’re expecting over 6,000 new deliveries over the next few years.”
Riverstone is the biggest subdivision approved by Madera County supervisors in the Rio Mesa Area Plan, which covers land west of State Route 41 and on both sides of Avenue 12. If completed, the plan would result in more than 30,000 new homes not far from Fresno and easily surpassing the population of the city of Madera.
Growth is not the only matter De la Torre has on his mind, however.
“One of my main concerns is the mail theft and vandalism thats occurring for the city of Madera,” he said. “We’re working with the police department and sheriff department to eliminate what is going on … There’s a lot of it going on right now, especially in the rural areas. They need to check their mail everyday.”
Mail theft not only involves the loss of checks and packages. It can also enable identity theft and other kinds of fraud, according to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office. Resolving such problems can take months or longer.
Suspicious mail activity should be reported to law enforcement, but a parcel delivery on Sunday is not one of them – so long as the carrier wears proper identification. “I guess people don’t realize it that we are a seven day a week business now. If you see our vehicles on Sunday, that’s us delivering for Amazon,” De la Torre said.
Expect a surge of package deliveries in the months ahead.
“We’re coming into our Christmas season, which is our peak season. We’re expecting a 40 percent increase in parcels from last year alone,” he said. “Everyone’s shopping online now and we’re seeing a big increase with parcel deliveries. … People order it. We’re going to deliver it.”
More deliveries also means seasonal jobs for those who are willing and qualify. “There is a lot of hiring right now. Everything’s online … Most of my employees here live in the community of Madera, which I also like,” said De la Torre, referring job seekers to www.usps.com/careers/.
The Madera post office has 85 employees who serve Madera County from Valley Children’s Hospital to Chowchilla.
“It’s very important to me that we represent the postal service in a positive way,” he said. “We’re part of Americana, like police and firefighters. We’re visible. You see a postal vehicle and you identify it with the postal office.”
De la Torre, 52, has a bachelor’s of arts degree from Fresno State University. He started his postal career as a city letter carrier in Fresno in 1991, moving on to manager of customer service in 2003, and shortly after became postmaster in Dinuba.
He enjoys traveling, wine tasting and all outdoor activities. He volunteers his time at the Clovis Unified School District, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Tree Fresno and Central Valley Special Olympics. He is a member of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
He and his wife, Michelle, have three daughters and a son, Alyssa, 24, Krista, 20, Kaitlyn, 17, and Niko, 15. They reside in Fresno.
Kimi Lonjin, manager of Post Office Operations, will administer his official oath of office Friday.
“The role as the postmaster of the city of Madera is something I take with personal pride and accomplishment,” said de la Torre. “I will strive to ensure that we provide the best possible customer service on a daily basis to all my customers.”
The U.S. Postal Service appointed Madera’s first postmaster, Edmund V. Murphy, in 1933.