KODIAK — Kodiak postmaster William Kersch will soon call a new island home.
Next month he and his family will leave the Emerald Isle for Puerto Rico, where he will take over as postmaster of a US Postal Service office in Cabo Rojo on the southwest corner of the island.
Kersch has served as the postmaster in Kodiak for about seven years. This new job is a promotion and will give him a chance to serve a larger community of around 50,000 people.
“It’s something unique, different and challenging,” he said. “I want to learn the Spanish language, and that immersion program will force us to do it. We’re going right into it.”
As a bonus, Kersch, a longtime surfer, will also be able to enjoy his hobby in warmer waters.
“Surfing is going to be pretty cool, especially not having to wear a wet suit and being able to paddle,” he said. “I’m looking forward to surfing down there.”
Kersch started his career with the USPS in Washington D.C. about 20 years ago. From there he moved to Minneapolis, Minn. and then to Kodiak. He spent around seven years at each post.
“Seven years seems to be that magic number,” Kersch said.
One of the biggest changes Kersch made at the USPS in Kodiak was turning the office into a 24-hour building.
“Before I was here, it was not 24 hours,” he said. “My last office I converted to a 24-hour facility. When I saw that this wasn’t, I said we needed to change that.”
Other changes he spearheaded include fixing potholes in the parking lot, removing trees for better visibility, re-siding the building, painting the interior, removing excess equipment and rearranging everything in the workroom so the process flowed easier. The USPS also put in a new electric system, a new fence, boiler and windows.
Kersch reduced overall operating expenses at the Kodiak USPS office by making the building more energy efficient and reducing utilities. The building is more energy efficient by almost 40 percent.
His new job will be similar to the work he did in Kodiak.
“They want me to come in and implement changes like I’ve done here,” he said. “That’s what is exciting about the job is trying to make it run more efficiently.”
During his time in Kodiak, Kersch was extremely involved in the Kodiak community.
He served as a planning and zoning commissioner for five years, was on the board of directors of the Kodiak Lions Club and was a trustee for the Elks Club.
He also ran the soap box derby for three years, was a National Ski Patrol member, advised the Kodiak Leos Club for youth, assisted in Civil Air Patrol and coached soccer and softball.
Kersch said he’s going to miss the people of Kodiak the most when he leaves.
“It’s amazing I can go anywhere and drive down the street and wave at somebody and I know them,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
His tentative start date in Puerto Rico is June 15, although it could be delayed until the end of June.
USPS spokesperson Blessie Lochmann said Kersch’s move won’t affect the operations or service in Kodiak while they look to fill the position.
“What we will have is the current supervisor there probably step up to cover while we put the process in place of finding his replacement,” she said.
Lochmann wasn’t sure if the position would be opened locally or nationally.
“We haven’t determined yet how far or wide we’re going to open the position for,” she said. “It’s not an overnight or couple of weeks process.”