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By Andi Bourne

Greenough Retires after Nearly 31 Years


Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

Ellie Greenough's last day as the Condon Post Office Postmaster is June 17. She is two months short of 31 years with the US Postal Service. The community is invited to congratulate her on her retirement after the service on Sunday, June 19 around 12:30 p.m. at the Condon Community Church.

SWAN VALLEY - After working for the Condon Post Office for two months short of 31 years, Ellie Greenough is looking forward to her retirement. Greenough has seen a lot of changes and worked through many challenges. Working with her customers has always been her favorite part of the job and what she will miss the most.

Greenough moved to the Swan Valley in April 1978. She worked various jobs until being offered the postmaster relief/leave replacement (PMR) position at the Condon Post Office.

"The postmaster relief job was offered to me and it worked well with my schedule at the time," said Greenough, who was also driving school bus and working as a cook and waitress at two local restaurants. "It just happened to work out and it was one of the better paying jobs at the time."

Greenough worked as the PMR for the first 20 years of her career. Her scheduled hours were four hours on Saturday. Otherwise she filled in for the postmaster when he was gone.

"PMRs do all the things that the postmaster does but you are supervised," said Greenough. They were also non-career positions, so she did not get benefits.

When Greenough started, the post office was in the northeast corner of the Buckhorn Camp. It had less than 80 boxes.

"It was about the size of a postage stamp," said Greenough. "It was tight at best. Christmas time was a joke."

Greenough remembers when they remodeled the Buckhorn Camp into the Mission Mountains Mercantile. They cut off the post office and put it in the parking lot. One night it rained really hard and was blistering hot the next day.

"I got a free sauna," said Greenough and laughed.

The Condon Post Office moved to its current location in 1988. Snow Country Construction built the building with three offices. The US Postal Service (USPS) started leasing the office in the north end. When the second office became available in the early 1990s, they expanded again including more boxes and package lockers. The package lockers freed up Greenough because she didn't have to hand off every package to customers.

Greenough became Condon's Postmaster in 2005 after Jim Jardine retired.

"There is so much more involved in just delivering mail than there ever used to be," said Greenough. "All the scanning involved [and] all the accountability."

Greenough said that the Condon Post Office is unique because it services two zip codes, Seeley Lake, 59868 and Condon, 59826. They also draw customers from Swan Lake, 59911.

When Greenough first moved to Condon, the east side of the highway was Seeley Lake addresses from Seeley Lake north to one mile past the Hungry Bear and the west side of the highway was Condon addresses. Then they removed all the boxes on the east side of the highway and gave them all Condon addresses. The final change was renumbering all the existing addresses after they widened the highway.

"I've had three addresses and my house has never moved an inch," said Greenough.

Now the mail delivery is either by highway contract with a mailbox on the highway or mail is delivered to the post office. The highway contract from Big Fork ends at Salmon Prairie Road and the Condon highway contract ends at the post office.

"So that mileage, which is six or seven miles between the post office and Salmon Prairie Road has no mail delivery," said Greenough. She has made it her mission during her tenure with the USPS to find solutions for customers in Swan Lake, who order packages and have a post office box in Condon. The zip code routes the packages to Bigfork and then returned for delivery making the process cumbersome at best said Greenough.

"We were gaining ground on it until things changed a little bit," said Greenough. "I've been trying to use the information [about who lives in Salmon Prairie but has a Condon post office box] to enlist a program that would work for both. Everything that I know to do or find out to do I try. It doesn't always work so we back up and go back to the drawing board."

Greenough said that petition to officially change the name from Condon to Swan Valley created more delivery problems.

"Between Seeley Lake, Swan Lake and Swan Valley it was a debacle at first," said Greenough. "It is finally getting sorted out."

During her career, Greenough was forced to learn a computer. She said the computer and scanner dictate her daily routine.

In addition to equipment for scanning packages, Greenough has seen many different products including the Forever postage stamp, "Click & Ship" and paying fees and renting a mailbox online.

"Click and Ship has benefited everyone. It's saved my time, their time and money too," said Greenough.

Greenough really enjoyed the one-on-one customer contact that she had as the sole employee.

"I've enjoyed the customers," said Greenough. She said they are what she will miss the most. "I'm a service oriented person and I love helping people. I enjoy visiting with people and just being around them."

Greenough said that because someone purchases a piece of property and has a physical address, that doesn't mean they have established mail delivery. She helps them get that set up and works with local real estate agents to help with the process.

She also enjoys problem solving and helping her customers find the best way to ship a package. She also thought it was fun introducing customers to the new product lines offered by the USPS.

"It might be something that could benefit them or their business," said Greenough.

Greenough's last day is Friday, June 17. She is looking forward to starting Holland Peak Kennels, boarding horses and dogs and getting back into real estate sales since she has maintained her real estate license.

"I'm looking forward to enjoying life, the view of the mountains, breathing the fresh, clean air and playing with my critters," said Greenough. "It's been a good ride but this old horse is getting tired. It's been a very, very good job for me. If I hadn't had it I wouldn't be living in the valley now with the loss of my husband [Max in 2010]. This is a great place to live because the people have surrounded me with love and help and I try to give a little back whenever I can. Now I will have more time to give back. "

Everyone is invited to congratulate Greenough on her retirement Sunday, June 19 at the Condon Community Church following the worship service at approximately 12:30 p.m.


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