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Forest, Other Northern Counties To Add Desperately-Needed Prosecutors

Ben Meyer/WJFW

Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono nearly got emotional when he learned help was on the way.

He’s been the only prosecutor in the county since 2008.

But this month, the administration of Gov. Tony Evers announced Forest County would get one of the 65 new assistant district attorney positions added statewide.

“According to state statistics, I’m doing the work of three prosecutors because our workload is so heavy,” Simono said.  “It’s a 24/7 job.”

He’s been asking for another prosecutor in his office for much of that time.

In a letter dated Sep. 16, Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan announced 64.95 full time equivalent positions in several counties across the state, including one in Forest County.

“Being on call for as long as I have been, 24/7 for those nearly 12 years, plus all my weekly duties, I was almost brought to tears, it was such a joyful relief, knowing that there would be additional help from a prosecutor’s standpoint to be able to help share some of the duties,” Simono said.

Langlade and Lincoln counties will each add another prosecutor, as well.  Price County will share a new prosecutor with Taylor County.  Oneida, Vilas, and Iron counties were left out from gaining new positions.

Simono said Forest County has the highest rate of drug-related deaths per capita in the state.  He believes another prosecutor can help address the area’s issues with drug abuse.

“That’s great for everyone involved, for protection of the public, to address the needs of victims,” said Simono.  “That’s something that’s long overdue.”

Simono has authority to hire someone as soon as this week.  But with 65 new positions across the state, he’ll be competing for good lawyers.

“There are a lot of people who can apply in a lot of places, so I need to find somebody who wants to come north,” he said.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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