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Grand Forks state's attorney retires after four decades in law

David Jones

The state's attorney in Grand Forks County will retire this year after practicing nearly four decades of law.

David Jones told the Herald Friday he will finish out his term in office, but the 64-year-old will not run for re-election.

"I'm into my 39th year of the practicing of law and have hit that certain stage where it looks like it makes sense," Jones said of retiring. "I think it's time, and I think it's time for somebody else to take over."

A native of Gardner, N.D., Jones graduated in 1979 from the UND School of Law. He has been with the Grand Forks State's Attorney's Office for almost 23 years, the last three of which he served as its head. He also is the legal counsel for the Grand Forks County Commission.

Jones was appointed to the office by the commission in January 2015 after Peter Welte, who was re-elected to the post in 2014, left the position to pursue a private practice.

"I've enjoyed every day that I'm over here," he said. "I very much appreciate the people that I work with."

There have been challenges as Grand Forks County has grown in population, and the world in general is not static.

"You're never bored," he said of the criminal world, adding there is never a similar day when it comes to prosecuting cases.

His office has seen a wide variety of criminal cases, he said. He also noted that he oversaw the execution of documents that allowed Grand Forks Air Force Base to lease 217 acres of land to Grand Forks County, which in turn the county leased to Grand Sky Development Co. to create Grand Sky, an unmanned aircraft and technology park, about 15 miles west of Grand Forks.

Jones plans to travel and spend more time with his wife. It's unlikely he would continue practicing law, he said.

Grand Forks County Assistant State's Attorney Haley Wamstad announced Wednesday she would run for Jones' position this year. As of Friday, she was the lone candidate to announce a bid for the office.

The general election is Nov. 6.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248