By RICK HAYES email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Just shy of 30 years of service to Jefferson County, Supervisor of Assessments Steve Lueker will step down from the position officially at the end this week.
Lueker announced his retirement over a year ago to the Jefferson County Board. The Board recently appointed Mt. Vernon Township deputy assessor Lee Ann Crunk to replace Lueker.
While Lueker will not have a daily presence in the basement of the courthouse, he has offered his experience in a consulting role — the request will formally be made at tonight’s Fiscal Committee meeting — and will remain active in the local Emergency Management Agency as its coordinator.
Lueker was appointed Supervisor of Assessments in Jefferson County on June 1, 1984, following similar appointments in Perry and Brown counties. He served three and two years, respectively, in those counties, and during a
transitional period served as a land man for an area coal company.
At age 24, Lueker was one of the youngest Supervisor of Assessments in the state when he was hired to that position in Perry County in 1976. He took that position following the retirement of his predecessor. He became interested in the work while attending Rend Lake College and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
“The (Perry County) Republican county chairman called my father and asked if I would be interested in a summer job in the assessor’s office,” Lueker said. “With that, I got into doing the work in the office and fell into liking it, and the girls at the local abstract office kind of took a shining to me, and taught me a great deal. I even switched majors in college because I liked it so well. They asked if I would stay on and eventually became the Supervisor of Assessments there. I never cared whether I made a whole lot of money as long as I had something good going and I liked it.”
Lueker said through the years his affection for the job has varied nearly daily.
“There’s so many technical functions. I really enjoy that, and I enjoyed the appeal process. Unfortunately, the last few years I haven’t had the opportunity to work that field. As a result of financial cutbacks, there’s been things I’ve had to let slide and that is one of the areas,” he said.
Striving for accuracy has always been one of Lueker’s goals as the county’s assessor.
“I feel the people deserve that. When I came here, these records didn’t exist. They didn’t have documentation except for one assessment district. That just blew my mind,” he said. “At least now we can sit down with someone and show them documentation. We can deal with specifics and fix it.”
Lueker says there is still some unfinished business at the office — mentioning that he has four ongoing projects — and he would like to see at least some of them completed, including accounting for property ownership in and around Rend Lake.
“It’s a project that’s been sitting here for two or three years, and I’m going to work on that after I leave,” Lueker promised. “I will see that it gets done because I think it’s that important.”
Lueker said retirement has been on his mind for several years, but now is the time to step back and enjoy his two sons, Joshua and Charles, daughter Kristi, and three granddaughters. A family member also owns a beach house in Texas which Lueker would like to frequent.
“I’m emotionally and mentally worn out,” Lueker said.
He recommended the appointment of Crunk and believes she will do an excellent job.
“Lee Ann worked at the township level and did an excellent job for many years,” Lueker said. “Now she’s moving into a lot of administrative duties and policy decisions have to be dealt with. She has natural talent and will do a good job for the county.”