SUNBURY - Gary L. Steffen, who has served as chief clerk of Northumberland County for the past three years, will retire June 6.

Vinny Clausi, chairman of the Northumberland County Board of Commissioners, announced Steffen's pending retirement Thursday afternoon in a press release.

Steffen initially was hired by the county Oct. 16, 2006, as a public safety department employee. He replaced attorney Kymberley Best as chief clerk March 22, 2011, and is currently earning a salary of $51,002 plus benefits.

Prior to working for the county, Steffen was the police chief in Point Township for 28 years and previously was a dispatcher for Sunbury police.

During a telephone interview, Steffen, 58, of Northumberland, said he and his wife, Pamela, plan to move close to a beach in Delaware to "enjoy life." Steffen said he still plans to work, but preferred not to identify the type of job he has accepted.

"My wife and I made a 10-year-plan after she recovered from stage 3 breast cancer in 2004 and we plan on enjoying life by moving to a beach area," he said.

He praised the late Merle Phillips, a former county commissioner, and current Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy for giving him an opportunity to serve as chief clerk.

"This was a great opportunity and I appreciate everything they have done for me and what I've learned from them," Steffen said. "I also really appreciate the cooperation I've received from the department directors and employees I had a chance to work with. Being chief clerk is a stressful job, but I always tried to do the best I could for the county."

Clausi said he was very disappointed about Steffen's retirement, but praised him for being one of the county's "most valuable assets" who has gained the respect of all department heads.

"It will be very difficult to replace him," Clausi said.

The chairman has recommended to Bridy and Commissioner Richard Shoch that Steffen's duties be divided between county assistant solicitor John P. Muncer and administrative assistant Janet Povish.

"We are fortunate in that Gary, John and Janet have worked closely together the last two and a half years," Clausi said. "Between John and Janet, they have close to 50 years of experience with the county, so they are well familiar with the operations of county government."