New postmaster rolling into town |

New postmaster rolling into town

Susan Wood

Mike Benson wants to show his stuff this month as South Lake Tahoe’s new postmaster with a penchant for customer service.

Benson, who hails from the city of Mount Shasta where he was also postmaster, has covered this territory before.

When he wasn’t ensuring residents got their mail in the late 1980s, he spent a handful of years on the dog-show circuit, presenting the finer points of Scottish terriers. The hobby proved too time consuming, so he gave it up. He still has five canines at home.

Benson has seen their varying personalities, in much the same way he’s noticed a diverse collection of people who have frequented the Mount Shasta Post Office.

The mountain town has a reputation for being a hub for those seeking a higher spiritual center. He’s seen customers show up barefoot or bald-headed, as the last rural bastion of the San Francisco way of life.

Benson has seen it all, logging 23 years with the U.S. Postal Service. The last two were spent in Shasta.

“I’m trading one mountain community for another,” he said.

He looks forward to more responsibility with this one. The postmaster job here oversees six branches – the main branch off Al Tahoe Boulevard, Tahoe Paradise, Tahoe Valley, Eloise Avenue, Black Bart, Bijou and Stateline.

He’ll replace Alice Ynchausti, who retired after 33 years with the Postal Service. Officer-in-charge Toni Passot has served as acting postmaster in the interim.

Benson is quite familiar with Lake Tahoe. He worked at the Zephyr Cove post office from 1988-90. Ten years before, he also worked at the post office in Reno. He has family who live there.

“From a family standpoint, (the Tahoe job is) very centrally located,” he said.

The location also lends itself to his favorite sport – waterskiing.

Benson comes on board in South Lake Tahoe Sept. 24.

Armed with an economics degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Benson plans to focus on running the post office as a business without relinquishing service.

He aims to keep Saturday delivery and explore new ways of generating revenue for the financially strapped national institution.

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