ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
Postmaster Dave Kell fills the service window at the tiny Hawaii National Park post office. A poll found the Postal Service America's favorite government agency.
Postman is Volcanoes favorite
Dave Kell gets rave reviews as the park's on-site postmaster
HILO » The U.S. Postal Service received the highest rating of any government agency in a recent national poll, beating out the National Park Service.
That's fine with the staff at Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, because they love their own on-site postmaster, Dave Kell, said park spokeswoman Mardie Lane.
"He's got wonderful energy," Lane said. "He's witty, kind and truly helpful."
Professional photographer Brad Lewis, who lives in a subdivision just outside the park boundary, said Kell always greets customers at the one-man post office by telling them he's having an "absolutely excellent" day.
Lewis generally walks or rides his bike to the post office, and Kell knows that. So when a big package arrives for Lewis, Kell phones him and tells him to drive his car so Lewis won't have to schlep the package home.
Kell's tiny office is in the same building with the cafeteria and bar at Kilauea Military Camp, a military resort of modest buildings that date to 1916, the same year the park was founded. The old wooden buildings carry an air of rural funkiness.
The post office address is Hawaii National Park, without the word "Volcanoes" in it, a remnant of the days when the Volcanoes Park and Haleakala National Park on Maui were a single park. The ZIP code, 96718, had an estimated 2005 population of 32.
At 6 feet 4 inches in height and 275 pounds, the 41-year-old Kell admits, "I do take up most of my office space."
Kell lives in Hilo with his wife, Dayna Oda-Kell, Miss Aloha Hula 1982, he says proudly. They have three boys.
He drives to the 4,000-foot-high park every workday.
"It's just paradise up here," he said.
The GfK Roper poll, published in the Federal Times in late February, showed that affection for the Postal Service runs nationwide.
The reason is that many customers consider letter carriers members of the family, said Postal Service spokesman Duke Gonzales in Honolulu.
Some letter carriers even have been thrust into the role of first responders, as evidenced by tales of good deeds in a servicewide electronic daily bulletin.
In the three years Gonzales has been working in Honolulu, a postal worker found an elderly woman in Hawaii Kai who had fallen and couldn't get up.
In Waikiki a letter carrier found an elderly woman who had collapsed in her home and was barely alive. Arriving paramedics were not able to save her, but her family was grateful to the letter carrier for finding her so that her final moments were not spent alone, Gonzales said.
Another letter carrier called police about a car cruising a West Oahu neighborhood; the occupants were arrested for burglarizing homes.