Thanks, Union County, for the opportunity to serve you over these last 24 years. We've worked hard to make your lives safer.

Thanks, Union County, for the opportunity to serve you over these last 24 years. We've worked hard to make your lives safer.

We've replaced well over 200 bridges and widened nearly 100 miles of roads. We've substantially improved our traffic control signage and installed over 100,000 feet of modern guardrails. We've replaced over 1,200 road culverts and applied over 40,000 tons of salt. We've developed our Geographic Information System (GIS) and new up-to-date county maps.

We've issued over 9,900 building permits in just the last 10 years alone, and performed approximately 140,000 building inspections. The estimated value of all that building construction is about $1.7-billion.

We've created a one-stop-shop that allows customers to come to our office for all building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing questions and permits.

During that same 10 year period, we've reviewed plans for subdivisions totaling nearly 1,700 lots to insure the lots and subdivisions were properly designed. We've safely operated five wastewater treatments.

I'm proud of all we've been able to accomplish. I'm especially proud of the day in June 2007 when we had the once-in-a-lifetime pleasure of dedicating the Big Darby Plains Scenic Byway, the relocated and renovated Pottersburg Covered Bridge, the new Buck Run Road Covered Bridge, the new North Lewisburg Road Covered Bridge, and the North Lewisburg Multi-Purpose Trail. I'm proud we had over 200 people join us on the Pottersburg Covered Bridge that day.

I'm proud of the relationships we've developed over the years. Relationships with the general public, with township trustees and village officials. Relationships with other county officials and with state agency officials. Relationships with elected officials at the state and federal levels.

However, I'm most proud of the relationships we have developed among our Union County Engineer employees. We have dedicated employees who report to work every day to serve the residents of our wonderful county.

Our employees are responsible for everything we've accomplished over the years. They deserve all the credit.

From 1985 through 2008, we constructed nearly $60,000,000 worth of road and bridge projects. Of that amount, over $41,000,000 was performed by contractors through competitively bid contracts.

The balance was performed by our own employees. Only $17,000,000 of that $41,000,000 was paid for using our own local funds. The remaining $24,000,000 was funded using state and federal grants or private sources.

My decision to retire as your Union County Engineer was not an easy one. I spent much more time considering that decision than my decision to run in 1984.

I look forward to being a retired county engineer. I'm sure I will find myself involved in many local organizations and committees. I've been way too involved not to be involved any more. I do expect to resurface somewhere doing something.

I am so pleased our Convention and Visitors Bureau was able to organize our first annual Union County Covered Bridge Festival this fall.

The festival was well-attended and the bridges looked wonderful.

The festival committee is already meeting and actively planning the 2009 event.

Looking into the future, we have bridge replacements planned for the next 10 years. We even have another new covered bridge planned for 2010.

We know which roads need to be widened. We have a plan in place for resurfacing roads. We know our county is going to grow, and we are planning to make sure that growth doesn't overwhelm us.

We are actively involved with the LUC Regional Planning Commission and the 33 Corridor Team to work toward a shared vision for sustainable growth along the USR33 corridor. We are working closely with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Public Works Commission and other agencies to maximize the amount of federal and state dollars returning to Union County.

All of that involvement and planning will continue with Jeff Stauch as your next Union County Engineer.

Jeff brings with him 22 years of experience working in our office. He will work hard to serve you. Please reach out to him to share your thoughts and ideas.

Serving you as your Union County Engineer has been a real pleasure for me. Public service is an honor and a privilege. I've been honored to be your public servant. Thanks again for the opportunity.

Union County engineer Steve Stolte retires Dec. 31.