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Dave Olson, Published January 12 2011

Clay attorney deployed again: Melton to leave for third tour

For the third time in seven years, Clay County Attorney Brian Melton is leaving home for an overseas deployment with the Minnesota National Guard.

This time around, Melton, who lives in Moorhead, is heading for Iraq as a lieutenant colonel in command of about 900 soldiers with the 1-194th Armor out of Brainerd, Minn.

Their mission will be convoy protection, said Melton, who on Tuesday informed the Clay County Commission of his plans.

Melton said his leave of absence will begin March 4 and he expects to return to work in July 2012.

In his absence, Michelle Winkis Lawson, chief assistant Clay County attorney for civil matters, will serve as acting county attorney.

Melton requested – and the commission approved – a temporary pay boost for Lawson of $12,000.

Heidi Davies, chief assistant county attorney for criminal matters, will be given additional duties and a temporary pay bump of $6,000, based on commission action Tuesday.

The county attorney’s office also will hire a temporary assistant county attorney who will hold the job for about 16 months.

In past deployments, Melton served in Iraq from about October 2005 to August 2007.

Before that, he took part in a deployment to Bosnia from September 2003 to April 2004.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555