By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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She is the second attorney hired by county prosecutor William Payne, who was appointed in January to serve the last year on retired prosecutor Deborah Kelly’s term.
Nelson-Gross was in training Monday — her first day at the office — and was not immediately available for comment.
“She has a lot of civil experience,” Payne said of Nelson-Gross, who helped the city of Sequim rewrite its code and shoreline plan before she went into private practice in late 2011.
“She applied, and I felt she was the best candidate for the position.”
Nelson-Gross rounds out the staff of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which has 10 attorneys and 10 non-attorney employees.
Former Chief Civil Deputy Mark Nichols and Civil Deputy Brian Wendt left the office after Payne’s appointment, with Nichols becoming the hearing examiner and part-time court commissioner.
The civil side of the prosecutor’s office advises elected officials and department heads in legal matters.
Earlier this month, Payne hired Paul Conroy, a former Grays Harbor County senior deputy prosecutor and Aberdeen municipal court judge, as a felony deputy.
Other attorneys in the office are Chief Criminal Deputy John Troberg, Juvenile Deputy Tracey Lassus, Appeals Deputy Lew Schrawyer, District Court Deputy Jonathan Luke, Felony Deputy Jesse Espinoza, Civil And Family Support Deputy Kim Ortloff and Felony Deputy Alexandrea Schodowski.
“Everybody is very qualified and capable and excited to work,” Payne said.
Nelson-Gross worked on behalf of the Olympic Resource Protection Council in an unsuccessful petition of the state Department of Ecology to rework the controversial Dungeness water rule.
The rule, which took effect in January 2013, limits the amount of water that can be drawn from the river and its tributaries to support minimum flows for fish and human uses.
Ecology Director Maia Bellon rejected the council’s request March 18, but said her agents could address many of the council’s concerns administratively.
“Kristina is a terrific attorney,” said Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire, whose district includes the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
“I’ve known her for several years now. I just really respect her work.”
McEntire said he got to know Nelson-Gross when she worked for the city of Sequim and has known her husband, Rick Gross, for many years.
“She has a very good legal mind, in my opinion,” McEntire said.
“I’m just happy Will brought her on staff.”
Community Development Director Sheila Roark Miller said Nelson-Gross is “energetic and engaging.”
Rick Gross, customer service manager at Estes Builders, was the 2012 president of the North Peninsula Building Association.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at email@example.com.