Skip to main content


Scott Golberg, retirement, steele county
In addition to a certificate, county commissioners gave retiring administrator Scott Golberg a crystal decanter, engraved with a note of appreciation, and glasses with the Steele County logo. Board chair Jim Abbe made the presentation during the April 9 board meeting; Golberg retired on April 12. Staff photo by Joni Hubred
Steele County administrator calls it a career
Joni Hubred, News Editor
“I landed absolutely where I should have been, and I have no regrets.”
-Scott Golberg, Retiring County Administrator

When Scott Golberg started working for Steele County, state of the art office equipment included the IBM Selectric typewriter.

The year was 1981. If you wanted to get a message to someone, you had three choices: the telephone, the U.S. Postal Service, or an in-person meeting.

People still smoked in their offices. Another six years would pass before the first computer arrived, destined for the Highway Department.

Golberg took the position of Environmental & Safety Coordinator over private sector offers because he wanted to use his newly minted biology degree from Gustavus Adolphus College. He spent the next 43 years with the county, retiring last Friday.

“I landed absolutely where I should have been, and I have no regrets,” Golberg said.

His first office was in the Annex building, across from what is now the Steele County Administration Center. Golberg was a one-man department, sharing space with the Highway, Planning & Zoning, Extension, Veteran Services, and Human Services departments.

Back then, the Coordinator (a precursor to the Administrator post), Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder, Assessor, Probation Services, and board room were all located in the Courthouse on Main Street. 

In the 1990s, officials expanded the Environmental Services Department, naming Golberg as director–a position he held until he felt he had to do more.


The road to his appointment as county administrator began in 2010, when long-time county coordinator Dave Severson retired.

“He was a great, life-long mentor for me,” Golberg said.

Commissioners decided then to move to a departmental structure headed by an administrator, who would have more control over departments. The first administrator was hired in 2011; over the next six years, three administrators and one interim leader would walk through what became a revolving door.

“It was huge change after having the same leadership for 29 years,” he said. “We’d had a board and a system that was a pretty well-oiled machine.”

In October of 2017, Golberg became the county’s fourth administrator. What’s more, the entire board of commissioners had turned over in two elections.

“Our board meetings were running two-and-a-half to three hours,” Golberg said. “Elected officials were trying to learn their new roles. That’s one of the reasons I felt compelled to jump in. I saw how unstable things were.”

Commissioner Jim Abbe was among those new faces. He said Golberg was always there when officials had questions.

“If he didn’t have the answer, he’d find it for us,” Abbe said. “We were all pretty fresh, and he brought a calming voice. He’s helped us grow in our jobs.”

Abbe said if Golberg didn’t have answers to commissioner’s questions, he’d make sure he found them.

“As one commissioner, I’m of the mindset we have to get things done right now,” he added. “(Scott) reminds us we need to take a step back. He’s very analytical, and as a result, we’re in a good spot.”

While commissioners understand Golberg’s decision to retire, Abbe said, “It’s bittersweet… We’re gonna miss Scott.”

Supportive, committed

Golberg credits board committees, in which officials meet directly with department heads, with calming the waters at the start of his tenure.

“That was my first year, trying to get everybody to understand the committee structure, and if you want that to work the way you want it to work, you have to trust each other,” he said.

He believes that helped cut down the length of board meetings; commissioners today often take care of their regular meeting agenda within an hour.

As Golberg’s executive assistant for the past five years, Rebecca Kubicek knows how much time goes into those agendas. She also researches the wide variety of questions that come through the Administrator’s office.

Kubicek said as boss, Golberg will be greatly missed. She said he’s “very supportive, and he’s committed to every position he’s been in.”

“He inspires,” she said. “He wants you to become better and to do better. He’s very thoughtful in everything he does… and one thing I have noticed is that he makes determinations based on data. That’s important especially in that position.”

Y2K, pandemic

For fun, Golberg shared a list of milestones through the decades–including the end of the 1990s, when everyone prepared for Y2K and “the end of the world as we knew it.” He also recalled massive flooding in 2010 across Owatonna and Steele County, which forced the highway department from its home on a floodplain.

But nothing could have prepared him–or anyone else–for March of 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was just no template to go to,” Golberg said. “It was extremely challenging. We’ve been through emergencies, floods, tornados. They happen, and they're done. The duration of (the pandemic) just kept beating you down.”

At the same time, he said, “I think it showed that if we can get through this, we can get through anything.”

Even though he had a rough start, Goldberg believes the county has come a long way, improving its bond rating and making strides in planning for capital improvements. Financially, he said, “we’re in a really good place.”

He credits many people who have mentored him along the way, no one more than Severson, who left him with some words of wisdom that he’s passing along to his predecessor.

“The advice I got was take it day to day, and the attitude that this, too, shall pass,” Golberg said. “Whoever comes in, you’ve got a really good leadership and you have staff motivated to do their work… You’ve got a good, stable base.”

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates