After 37 years as an attorney in Wright County, and the lead prosecuting attorney for the county the last 22 years, Tom Kelly is ready to put his files away for the last time.
The longtime county attorney – who was always quick with a quote and eager to work with families and victims to find a solution in or out of court – announced his retirement, set for the end of 2020.
The county attorney issued a full statement, as he was wont to do during his tenure, on Wednesday, Sept. 30:
I have been with the County Attorney’s Office representing the citizens of Wright County for almost 37 years, the past 22 as your elected County Attorney. I started my career as a prosecutor for Wright County in March 1984, was Chief of Criminal Division 1990 to 1998 and elected County Attorney 1999. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Wright County for all these years. I have truly enjoyed my years with the County. I will be retiring at the end of December.
I will be recommending to the County Board that my Chief of Criminal Division, Brian Lutes, be appointed to serve out my term as County Attorney. I am confident he has the experience and common sense to fulfill the responsibility of the office and to serve the citizens of Wright County. He is a great person and an outstanding prosecutor. Brian is well respected by law enforcement.
Over the years, I have been involved with the following: administrate office, set agenda, policies, the budgeting process and make hires; administrate forfeiture funds; dealt with media including County Attorney News Report; public speaker including Law Enforcement Academy; been honored to have given a number of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day speeches; spoken to over 16,000 high school students on life, our great country, veterans, our criminal justice system and what it takes to be a good citizen; sat on Safe School Committees throughout the county; Stop Truancy & Educational Neglect Programs; speaker for Mock Crash presentations; Safe Harbor Law; Prosecutorial Program for Combat Veterans (take another look); MEADA (Mentorship Education and Drug Awareness) – I was one of the founding members in 2004 and I am currently President; Safe Communities of Wright County Board Member; former Board Member for Community Health Foundation of Wright County; Wright County Drug Court; WrightROAD (In lieu of Drive Wright & Teen Drive Wright); Sober Cab; Social Host Ordinance; Adult & Juvenile Diversion Programs for minor consumption, drugs, sexting and theft; President Wright County Law Library for over 20 years; past Secretary for Wright County Leadership for 20 years; help instruct law enforcement on criminal law & procedure; member Wright County Criminal Justice Committee; created Prosecution Teams within office; conducted Grand Jury proceedings; prosecuted homicides and other serious criminal cases over the years.
I always stressed the “Team Approach” to prosecution which requires a working relationship with law enforcement that instills credibility, confidence, cooperation, teamwork and efficiency. I am proud of the working relationship between my office and law enforcement for all these years. I am grateful for all their support over the years.
I also stressed the importance of the “Team Approach” within my Civil Division and the need to work with the County Board and other departments as they carry out their duties and responsibilities. My office had a good working relationship with the Board and other departments and we were responsive in a timely fashion for civil matters.
I had a great support staff, legal administrative assistants and assistant county attorneys who worked hard at representing the citizens of Wright County. My philosophy was to hire the best people possible and then stay out of their way and let them do their job. My employees had a positive impact on Wright County Government and our citizens. I am very proud of that.
My office would not had been what it was without my Office Manager, Cindy Hohl, my Chief Deputy, Brian Asleson, and my Chief of Criminal Division, Brian Lutes. Jenny Paripovich ran my Victim/Witness Assistance Program. She did a great job aiding victims of crimes in understanding the criminal process, obtaining restitution, providing support, making appropriate referrals and providing a forum where the victim’s concerns are respectfully considered.
I would like to thank all my employees for their dedicated service over all these years. I was blessed with wonderful and hard-working employees. Moreover, they were good people. I wish you all well.
Lastly, but most importantly, I would like to thank my family Holly, Megan and Matt for all their love, support and patience throughout the years.
General Douglas MacArthur once stated “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” After almost 37 years, it is time I fade away. It has been one hell of a ride. I have enjoyed it immensely. I want to thank Wright County and its citizens for all their support over the years and for making it all possible. I will forever be grateful. Thank you.
Take care. God Bless.
Wright County Attorney