Nevis, Akeley welcomes new postmaster

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Jesse Forbes said he is enjoying his position as the new postmaster for Nevis and Akeley.

"In both my mechanic work and the military, I was put in supervisory roles," he said. "I naturally want to lead people."

He started working at the Nevis Post Office in January 2018, helping Chuck Tangeman clerk until he retired as postmaster at the end of February.

"I was put in here by my boss as the officer in charge until the job position opened up, and after I went through the application process, he picked me for the job," he said.

Forbes said his current position as postmaster involves supervising 10 people, including route drivers and office staff at the Nevis and Akeley facilities.

Jesse grew up in Coon Rapids. He has 25 years of experience as a mechanic. His 10-year career with the Army included serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 as well as being stationed in Germany, Texas and Colorado. All of his service in the military involved working as a light wheel vehicle mechanic.

"I worked on humvees and all the trucks," he said. "Anything with wheels I worked on."

Once his military service was complete, Forbes elected not to remain in the military. In 2003, he attended Denver Automotive College where he earned an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in automotive repair.

It was also in Colorado where he met Vanessa. They moved to Pine Island in 2007 and were married. Pine Island is a smaller town near Rochester. Vanessa worked at the Mayo Clinic as a billing analyst, and Jesse worked at some independent shops and a Toyota dealership.

"My goal was to get back into a government position," he said.

Jesse and Vanessa have two children together. Kamber is 9 and Aveyah will be 6 in October. Both attend Nevis School. Forbes also has daughter from a previous marriage, Alyssa, who is a junior in college in Wise, Va.

It was during a visit to Nevis three years ago that the couple fell in love with the place they now call home.

"We were driving around looking for a summer home and ended up finding our house," he said. "We called the realtor, walked through the house two hours later, called the bank on the way home, got approved for a second mortgage and bought the house."

Jesse has a connection to this area. His parents, Rodney and Rose Forbes, were married at St. Mary's in Two Inlets in the 1970s and still have friends in the area that they come up to visit, although they live in Chandler, Ariz. now.

His next step was looking for jobs in the Nevis area. In 2015, he found a job with the post office as a part-time flexible clerk, working at the window in Menahga and moved to Nevis. "I got to know a lot of people down in Menahga," he said. "I was assigned a schedule, but when they needed me more they called me in to work. I was also loaned out to other facilities. I've worked in Park Rapids, Walker and other locations in the area."

Vanessa and their daughters stayed in Pine Island until after she completed a year of training that would allow her to continue her job at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester working from their home in Nevis online.

"We had to live a year apart," he said. "We sold our house down there and she and the kids moved in with her parents. Once the kids finished school, they came up here and my mom, Rose, watched them that summer."

He said the biggest challenge moving to the position of postmaster so far is dealing with more rules and regulations. "You are knee deep in everything," he said. "You've got the hiring and the firing, scheduling and people calling in sick."

Between the Nevis and Akeley post offices, Forbes said, they service close to 2,000 addresses a day during the busy summer months. While that number decreases with the departure of the seasonal residents, he said winter presents its own challenges with some extreme weather and road conditions.

Having so many "snowbirds" who change addresses can be a challenge as well.

"Make sure you come up and speak to a clerk to make sure you have the form filled out correctly for temporary forwards or stopping of forwards ," he said. "Don't just drop it off. We can check your form and make sure it will do what you want it to do. Say you are a summer resident and you want to only temporarily move away, but you don't fill it out correctly. Now it's a permanent forward and when you come back next year your mail is sitting in limbo and loops until someone figures it out."

When problems with mail delivery occur, he said people should contact the local post office they are receiving service from at the time. "I can talk with any postmaster in the USPS through the post office email system, so between that office and myself we can figure out what we need to do to get their mail delivered to them correctly," he said.

He said he and his family are enjoying the small town life of Nevis. "We've been here now for going on three years and the kids love it," he said. "They've made new friends.'

In his free time, Jesse said they enjoy boating on Lake Belle Taine. "I like fishing and hunting, too," he said. "And I still work on cars in my free time. I have a 1968 Firebird that I've had for a few years now. I've got some classic motorcycles I'm restoring, too. One of them my dad got after Vietnam."