16 Years, 32 Bicycles

Each of the the past 16 years since he became Belmont’s postmaster, Steve Polomik has purchased and given away two bicycles – one for a boy, and one for a girl- to lucky village youths who win them through a raffle.

Today, Polomik retires as postmaster, and before the day is over he will present the last two bicycles to this year’s winners. Each of the 32 bicycles he’s given away were paid for out of his own pocket.

“I always said to myself if I ever became postmaster, I was going to do something for the community,” Polomik, 52, said. “At first I didn’t know what to do, but then I thought bikes were a good thing. I decided as long as I could afford it, I would continue to do it. And they look forward to it each year.

“I’m happy I did it. I have enjoyed doing it.”

Each year – usually around the holiday season – Polomik has placed a raffle jar on the post office counter, then asked local children ages 5-12 to write their names and contact information on a ticket and place them inside. At the end of the raffle, local resident Betty Thatcher drew the names of the winning boy and girl.

On Jan. 23, Thatcher picked the tickets of Josh Neidert, 9, and Abby Hawthorne, 10.

Polomik said he will miss the people who patronize the Belmont Post Office and talking to them each day.

“I will miss the employees, and the people in town,” he said. “I will miss the work … to a certain degree. I was apprehensive about retiring. When you do a job for so long – and it’s what you did all (your) life – it’s a big change.”

But Polomik said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to accept the retirement benefits offered by the United States Postal Service, which will give him credit for 2,911 hours of sick time he never used.

His career with the Postal Service began on Jan. 21, 1984 when he was hired as a part-time flex clerk for the New Matamoras Post Office. Polomik was a college student at the time, and would go on to earn his degree in general business from Ohio University Eastern in 1987.

Over the years he worked locally at the post offices in Barnesville, Bellaire, Shadyside and Hannibal before coming to the Belmont Post Office as an officer-in-charge on Jan. 2, 1998. He was named postmaster four months later.

He plans to spend his time in retirement working on his family’s farm in the Lansing area.

“I’ve had a good career, but there are other things I could do, too,” Polomik said. “There’s always something to do if you’re willing to do it.”

Bonnie Haga, most recently the officer-in-charge at the Byesville Post Office, will succeed Polomik as Belmont’s postmaster.