The Menominee City Council has approved an “engagement letter” for six months connecting the city and Mouw and Celello, P.C., a law firm located in Iron Mountain, Mich. We believe it was the right thing to do until the city comes up with an experienced candidate interested in serving the full-time position of city attorney.

Rob Jamo, who had served the city faithfully as city attorney and also handled city manager’s duties when a search for a manager was in place, resigned the post to become Menominee County District Court judge. We can’t blame Jamo for wanting to step up to the judicial position. He was a loyal public servant for the city and we wish him well in his new role on the judicial bench.

The Mouw-Celello firm is a good choice. The attorneys in the firm are well schooled in municipal work. They are experienced barristers, a component that is critical in the day-to-day workings of municipal government. The firm has a broad base of experience working 36 years for municipalities in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. The firm was formed by Richard Celello and John Mouw. Richard Celello, now retired, served a long tenure as circuit court judge in the district embracing Menominee, Dickinson and Iron counties.

Dickinson County seems to be a breeding grounds for talented lawyers who have worked in municipal law, criminal law and other segments of the profession, several of them serving as highly respected prosecuting attorneys and judges.

Mike Celello will be the pointman between the newly hired firm and the city of Menominee. Other members of the firm will assist the city if needed according to Mike Celello.

Celello made a strong presentation before the city council. He was well-prepared concerning the city’s budgetary course, departments, committees and commissions.

It’s ironic that the Menominee County Board also turned to Dickinson County to help it get through a heavy backlog of criminal cases. The county retained the services of Carl Downing, former prosecuting attorney in Dickinson County who is now retired. Downing was highly recommended by Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Rogg who sought the additional attorney to help the county reduce a caseload of more than 500 criminal cases. The hiring of Downing is a temporary fix aimed at slashing the caseload.

Citizens should be aware prosecutors in Michigan and in other states are frequently confronted with heavy backlogs in criminal cases. We have seen it recently in Marinette County. The delays in prosecution are not fair to victims of crime who have to wait months, sometimes more than a year, to see justice done. An experience prosecutor like Downing will help Rogg and his staff reduce backlog.