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Hook’s career travels down a new road

by on May 4, 2010

Steve HookIf potholes in highways are annoying to you, just consider how troublesome they are for Steve Hook.

As the county engineer in Ohio’s Morgan County, Hook is responsible for maintaining 342 miles of roads and 210 bridges. “The severe weather we had this past winter has given us a bumper crop of potholes,” he said.

Hook logged 33 years with AEP, virtually all of it at Central Ohio Coal Company, where he had stints as reclamation engineer, engineering superintendent and operations superintendent.

“Even when I was working at the mine, I always thought that I’d like to be the county engineer,” he remembered.

In the spring of 2004, Hook ran against the incumbent county engineer and won handily, capturing roughly 75 percent of the vote. He was unopposed in the 2004 general election, and was also unopposed when he ran for re-election in 2008.

“I’d only been in office two days when the flood of 2005 hit, causing 75 road slips that we had to repair and wiping out two of our bridges,” Hook recalled. Funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped pay for the repairs.

Rapidly rising costs have meant that balancing the budget is no easy task.

“The cost of asphalt was nearly $30 a ton when I took office and it’s $60 a ton today,” he pointed out. “Consequently, we haven’t been replacing people who retire — we’ve gone from 28 employees to 22. But with the new types of equipment and improved technologies, we’re able to get by with fewer people.”

The county engineer’s office is also responsible for overseeing the countywide house-numbering system, updating property tax maps, handling flood plain issues along the Muskingum River, and working with the county school district on bus routing and snow removal, among other things.

“Working at Central Ohio Coal was great training for being the county engineer,” Hook said. “I was involved with the mine’s haul roads and I dealt with state and federal agencies, just like I’m doing today.

“This is been an enjoyable change for me,” he concluded. “People don’t want to believe anyone in public office these days, but when you show them how the costs are increasing, they say, ‘Oh, my!’ I have a wonderful group of people who work for me and, all in all, I’m enjoying the people in our county and I’m enjoying what I do.”

From → Retiree Profiles

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