Lincoln Co. recorder, treasurer with combined 80 years of service retiring
IVANHOE — More than 80 years worth of combined experience in the Lincoln County Recorder and Treasurer’s offices is about to come to a conclusion.
County Recorder Loretta Lundberg and County Treasurer Susan Paluch are leaving their jobs to enjoy retirement. A coffee and dessert reception for both of them was held Friday at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Ivanhoe.
Lundberg, who has worked for Lincoln County for almost 51 years, plans to move to Miller, South Dakota, where her daughter’s family lives. As she learned her duties as an office clerk, she heard from the Lincoln County attorney at the time Durwood Peterson about changes in county land use that were destined to create more variety in the type of documentation that would need to be prepared.
“He talked about rural electric co-ops, rural water system development, and natural gas pipelines,” Lundberg said. “It was enjoyable to play a role in that kind of progress through working at the courthouse. It was much happier than putting the final stamp on things like a farm foreclosure.”
A sizable share of foreclosure processing corresponded to the early 1980 farm crisis, which led to activism on the part of farm advocacy groups such as the National Farmers Organization and Groundswell MN.
The farm crisis followed a period of favorable commodity prices that led many farmers to plant fence row to fence row. It eventually drove land values up to a level that wasn’t sustained over a long term period.
One of her predecessors as Lincoln County recorder was Ken Toft of Tyler, who in retirement was elected the Tyler area’s Lincoln County commissioner for two terms between 1991 and 1999.
“He was a very good mentor,” Lundberg said. “When he was first elected elected to the county board he told me ‘now I get to be your real boss.'”
Lundberg has witnessed much of the history associated with integrating county record keeping with technology, from entirely manual processing to e-recording networks.
She said each step was a new experience. At the same time, rural counties such as Lincoln County benefited from public and privately funded efforts to bring the new technology to locally based courthouses as quickly as possible.
“We’ve had some training and equipment expenses, but some of it was made easier by statewide support funding,” she said. “Also private vendors have helped by promoting leases that allowed us to try a new system before having a large purchase cost. With each change, there have always been ways to make it work in the end.”
Paluch began her work in the county treasurer’s office as a part-time assistant at tax time back in 1980. Eight years later she was hired as a treasurer’s deputy.
“It started when Mark Leibfried (retired Lincoln County treasurer) needed some extra help at tax time,” she said. “I’ve been part of the treasurer’s office ever since. As I gained experience, I learned all the reasons for why it’s important to be accurate with details.”
In retirement, she plans to spend larger amounts of time with things she used to do only in her non-working hours. She’s especially looking forward to more time with family members and grandchildren.
She is likely to go down in history as Lincoln County’s last treasurer. The departments of auditor and treasurer will become a combined department led by current Lincoln County Auditor Deb Vierhuf.
The change will be similar to the realignments of management positions at other county courthouses and government centers, including Lyon County, Yellow Medicine County and Murray County. Besides changes toward combined auditor-treasurer operations, some counties have added a highest ranking manager of all county departments to serve as the county administrator or county recorder.
Many changes toward automated computer based processing have caused steady, long term changes throughout Paluch’s career.
“It’s been good in many ways but not completely good,” Paluch said. “I’ve seen many times how it can make the processing faster and offer more convenient, online based information to the public “It’s not completely a substitute for one-to-one service to citizens. There are still many people who would rather talk to a person.”