In a way, you could say it began in sixth grade at Winterset, when Melissa (Stewart) Larson was assigned the role of prosecution in a mock trial.
Once she decided to go to law school, she figured she'd be doing some prosecution work. Now, she's been sworn in by Matt Wedemeyer, chairman of the Adair County Board of Supervisors, as the county's newest County Attorney. Clint Hight resigned from that role recently following a medical diagnosis.
"I wanted to find a job close to home and that meant civil work to start with. It's always been on my radar," Larson said.
The County Attorney is responsible for all criminal and juvenille prosecutions in the county. He or she also performs civil work for the Board of Supervisors if they have a legal question while going about their usual business.
"It's a lot. We're lucky that we're a smaller county and don't have as many people, but I would say that because we're on the interstate, we're kept busy with those tickets that people get up on the interstate, in addition to the normal day-to-day stuff that we get," Larson said. "We're not nearly as busy as other counties but it's still a lot to take on all at once."
In Larson's estimation, a County Attorney needs to be able to fairly analyze evidence, which she says she feels confident in her ability to do because of her experience as a criminal defense attorney. You also can't be afraid of the courtroom, and Larson is already in the courtroom often as an area attorney.
Larson said that Hight's assistant, Kara Ladd, has been approved to stay employed for a few more months to assist in the transition of County Attorney activity to Larson's office. Larson's current assistant, Donelle Griffith, is assisting in the process as well.
Because she cannot serve in another elected capacity, resigned her school board position at Nodaway Valley effective July 1. She currently served as the board president. Though Hight's current term runs through 2022, Larson will be required to run in the 2020 election in order to finish out Hight's full term.
"I'm looking forward to serving the community and working hard for our citizens. I'm sad about the circumstances that have given rise to this. Clint's been a mentor of mine and I really have learned a lot from him over the last few years," Larson said. "He's going to be really missed in this office."