Crossing Guards return to keep kids safe

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The MLN thought the men and women who safely see your kids to school and back deserved recognition for their dedication and loyalty to their public service.

Crossing Guards Renee and Richard Morris have been safely seeing the children of Mesquite across Mesquite Blvd. and Arrowhead Lane for approximately 12 years.

Crossing Guard Allen “Sarge” Hunt has been a crossing guard for 5 years.

The Morris’ began many years ago with the city as volunteers for the Salvation Army, helping with many of the activities directed toward the children such as the back to school and the Angel Tree Programs.

When an open position came up for a crossing guard Richard, or Buddy, as the children refer to him, applied and was hired 12 years ago.  Buddy worked for General Motors in Detroit for 10 years and for another 20 years for a Denver Company that manufactured typewriter ribbons before retiring to Mesquite and says he couldn’t be happier working with and around the kids during his retirement.MLN-Guards2aug21-14

Renee was in the insurance industry until she retired and moved to Mesquite and was hired as a crossing guard 10 years ago.  Renee says the kids have a hard time with her name and refer to her in any way they can or by simply calling her, “Crossing Guard”. Renee says, “ it doesn’t really matter what they call me, I just love seeing their smiling and adorable faces every day.”

Both Buddy and Renee couldn’t be happier with the children or their positions where they say the business owners on both corners are very gracious to each of them.  Renee mans the cross-walk on Arrowhead and Mesquite Blvd. where Baja Imports stands and Buddy is across the street at Majestic Lube.

MLN-Guards1aug21-14In 2009 Allen Hunt, or Sarge, as the kids refer to him, joined the ranks of the Police Volunteers in providing the city with the “volunteer crossing guard” positions they needed to fill after the City of Mesquite deleted the paid crossing guard positions when going through their budget crunch that year.

Hunt is a retired Army Sergeant and 38-year postal worker from Salt Lake City.  He laughs about the irony of becoming a crossing-guard.  Hunt says he used to only joke with his buddies about retiring to Mesquite and becoming a crossing guard.  Hunt would tell people “I’m going to retire and become a crossing guard, I’ll start my day with the kids going to school, go golfing and come back to get the kids back across the street and go home; what a life.”

In 2010 the City Council approved a budget of $6,500 a year for crossing guards, reversing a decision made only one year prior to delete those positions from the city’s payroll and use police and private volunteers to fill them.

Filling those crossing guard positions proved to be a taxing endeavor for not only the police volunteers who had to be pulled out of service when the Police Department was already short staffed but for the School Resource Officer who spent considerable hours trying to schedule the volunteers for full coverage of the two crossing areas, Mesquite Blvd at Arrowhead and Sandhill Blvd at Old Mill Road.

In a 2010 article in the Mesquite Citizen Journal, Interim Police Chief Troy Tanner addressed City Council at the August 23, 2010 City Council Meeting saying, “despite all the time the [school crossing guard] volunteers put in, the department had considerable trouble filling all the required slots last year. In many cases, on-duty police officers had to go out of service to handle crossing assignments. That will be a more severe problem this year because, with attrition, the day shift now consists of three officers instead of the five we had last year.”  Tanner concluded his case with, “There is no intent to denigrate the time and efforts donated by MPD and other volunteers. The department is simply trying to achieve the most effective coverage we can.”

Three paid positions were added to the city’s budget and in 2010 the City of Mesquite hired Allen “Sarge” Hunt as well as Renee and Richard “Buddy” Morris where they have faithfully served the children of Mesquite for these past three years and they are very much looking forward to beginning this school year next week.

Hunt says he doesn’t do his job for the money; he does it for the simple joy of being around the children.  Hunt also umpires for the newly formed Mesquite Little League team and umpired in Salt Lake City for 4 years as well.  He is a grandfather and a people-person, so he just enjoys all the interaction with everyone he sees on the busy intersection of Sandhill and Old Mill Road.

This intersection is particularly challenging due to the amount of visitors to Mesquite who come off the highway at Exit 122.  Hunt says most of the people who live here in Mesquite are wonderful, but he explained, “Many of the out of town drivers are looking for something/ somewhere without knowing exactly where they are going and they are not paying attention, nor do some of them consider the fact that there are children in the area so I’m especially careful to be aware of everything at that light. I take my responsibility to the kids very seriously.”

When you happen to be driving down Mesquite or Sandhill Blvd. in the morning or mid-afternoon don’t forget to smile and give a friendly wave to these very dedicated Crossing Guards and show them they are appreciated.

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