Mike Benham took home the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award from Mayor Al Litman and the City Council on Feb. 24. File photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Mike Benham took home the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award from Mayor Al Litman and the City Council on Feb. 24. File photo by Stephanie Frehner.

At Wednesday night’s meeting for the Mesquite City Council, awards for community members were presented prior to regular council business.

Mesquite’s Distinguished Citizen of 2015 award was honorably accepted by local businessman and veteran Dennis Hangey.

Hangey currently operates an upholstery business, revamping fabrics on chairs and other furniture for the community. But when he’s not there, he takes on several other roles, including bag piping for many events throughout the year.

His most notorious playing has left people speechless during 9/11 and veteran ceremonies, including the annual 1000 Flags Over Mesquite, an event sponsored by the Exchange Club of Mesquite of which he is a board member. But Hangey doesn’t stop there. He also plays by request at funerals and other events from Cedar City, UT to Boulder City, NV.

Think that’s deserving of his newfound title? There’s more that Hangey does for the community that many never hear of. He donates pizza twice a month to J.L. Bowler Elementary School’s reading program. With all that he does, it’s no wonder he was chosen for this year’s honor. His character is priceless and he promotes Mesquite wherever he goes.

Volunteer of the year for 2015 went to Mike Benham, who stepped into the spotlight last October, taking over the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Since then, he has increased the membership of CERT from 10 to 21 and as of the second week in February, the team has assisted local residents by changing their smoke detector batteries in over 50 homes, all for free. The CERT team also provided much-needed security during the recent performance of the Vienna Boys Choir in November.

Benham’s other notable accomplishments include helping out at information booths during local events, assisting in organizing the first ever Parade of Lights in Mesquite and with his wife, Debbie, they have volunteered to be Mr. & Mrs. Claus at many functions. The Benhams also do special private events during Christmastime upon request. “It’s all about the kids,” Benham told the MLN in an earlier interview, marking his 21st season as Santa. “It never gets old!”

Benham was also recently recognized as the Fire Department Volunteer of the year at the annual banquet held by the Mesquite Elks Lodge. As a retired fire chief from New Jersey, Benham has the experience and knowledge of what it takes to run a tight but well-oiled machine, something that he hopes to continue working on in Mesquite for many years.

The 2015 Employee of the Year went to Robin Cude, who has been a city employee since 1997 and was reclassified as Building Assistant/Inspector in 2004. Since then, she has continued her education and training and is now a fully-certified Combination Inspector, allowing her to inspect both residential and commercial buildings in the areas of building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical.

At the top of her functions as the primary building inspector, Cude has an average case load of 30 to 40 inspections per day and has been instrumental in helping to automate the building permit and business license processes.

For more information on the City Council meeting, check out the full story on our website, www.mesquitelocalnews.com.