Marshalltown city attorney to retire

The city attorney will say goodbye to his only client and retire at the end of the month.

Curt Ward has been the Marshalltown city attorney for four years and practicing law since 1975.

Ward closed his general practice office at the end of January and has since been working in City Hall.

“The new mayor wanted to make sure I was here for at least a few months after he came into office so that there was a transition between the advice I was giving the old mayor and the advice I’m giving the new mayor,” Ward said.

During his career, he was also a city attorney for State Center and other smaller communities.

“I’ll miss the people and the variety,” Ward said.

Being a city attorney there is a wide array of problems, different people, levels of sophistication and understanding, Ward said.

“Some are multi-million dollar developer type people and some are little retired folks at home on their pension who are just looking out the window and worrying about the future,” Ward said. “Somewhere in between that range you’ve got to be able to connect with them on how the law works, which is a little hard to explain to people especially if they’re fearful. It fills your day.”

He said he enjoyed his role as Marshalltown’s city attorney and a lot of exciting things are coming, if the residents support it.

“When you think back to the kind of town Marshalltown was, the small, rural community that Marshalltown was a 120 years ago, I bet those people were very frugal with their money and I’ll bet they didn’t waste money on things that didn’t seem to be necessary,” Ward said. “But they still built this beautiful courthouse right in the middle of their community as an expression of their pride in their town and in their government.”

Ward said he hopes people will express those same feelings towards getting new police and fire stations.

“They wanted it to be a shining example of how proud they were to be from Marshalltown,” Ward said. “That’s how I want them to continue to think about things instead of ‘oh that’s a lot of money’ or ‘we could use that money to fill potholes,’ it’s also an expression of pride in our community.”

Ward said he wants to continue seeing that pride.

“This isn’t a place where we just get bogged down in our problems,” Ward said. “We actually do something about it and we are glad we’re from here, I want to see that continue.”

During retirement, Ward said he and his wife are going to move to Gilbert, Ariz. to watch his 4 and 6-year-old grandchildren grow up.

“I was a little too busy when my own two grew up and it happened faster than I thought it would,” Ward said. “I thought when you have children you have them for 18 years. Really what happens is by the time they’re 10 or 11 you’re just taking them places and they are hanging out with their friends and it’s gone. I’m going to take a little extra time to watch these grandkids grow up.”

He said he will come back to Iowa for his other grandson’s senior year activities.

His last day as city attorney will be May 23.

Roger Schoell, an attorney at Grimes, Buck, Schoell, Beach & Hitchins Attorneys at Law, was asked by Ward to apply for his position.

“He’s exactly who I want,” Ward said. “They have a long history of city government in that firm. Gene Beach was in that firm when he became mayor, Leonard Grimes was the senior partner in the firm when I came here and he was a former mayor of Marshalltown. I think Roger is comfortable with city government.”

Schoell has been an attorney in Marshalltown since 1970. He takes the role of city attorney May 27.

“I am eager to become acquainted with the duties that are involved,” Schoell said. “I hope that I will continue to get support from the city employees and the areas I may need some initial guidance in. They’ve all been very receptive.”