Merri Erickson, left, and the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce Derby Duck reminded the City Council and public of the annual Ducky Derby fundraiser coming up on Saturday, March 26. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Merri Erickson, left, and the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce Derby Duck reminded the City Council and public of the annual Ducky Derby fundraiser coming up on Saturday, March 26. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

In a short meeting Tuesday night, March 22, the Mesquite City Council spent more time in public comment than on any real business.

In a unanimous vote, the council approved the emergency hire of a second full-time Records/Evidence Clerk in the Mesquite Police Department. MPD Deputy Chief Scott Taylor explained the regular clerk will be absent for several months severely restricting the ability of the department to fulfill the responsibilities for the position.

Taylor told the council MPD intended to ask for the second position in the upcoming budget process for the next fiscal year but simply couldn’t wait that long.

The new position carries a $60,600 salary with additional benefits.

Burton Weast, Mesquite Works Board of Directors president, gave the council an update on the progress the workforce development organization is making towards a $360,000 grant application that will fund its activities. “Half of the money will fund youth programs and the other half will fund adult programs,” Weast said.

The council was considering a resolution supporting Mesquite Works that will be included in the grant paperwork. The resolution was approved on a 5-0 vote.

He said the grant application must be submitted by the end of March and “we will know sometime in early April if we are successful.”

Workforce Connections in Las Vegas is the grantor of the funds. Weast discovered in December 2015 that the organization has received between $100,000 and $200,000 a year from federal government sources for workforce development activities in Mesquite but no one had ever applied for the monies.

Patty Holden, CEO of Mesa View Regional Hospital, recently joined the board along with Nick Montoya, the city athletics director.

Weast expressed his gratitude to city employees Richard Secrist and Jesslyn Bickley for their help in issuing a city business license on extremely short notice that Mesquite Works required for the grant application.

“We discovered that we are the only workforce development organization applying for the funds that is entirely composed of volunteers,” Weast said. “All the others are businesses or organizations who do this for a living. The downside is we’re all a bunch of volunteers. The good side is we’re community-based and we have tremendous support to do this.”

Councilwoman Cindi Delaney asked Weast if Mesquite Works had any inquiries from people looking for training or from businesses seeking its help in training employees.

Weast explained that the organization had not promoted itself yet to potential trainees because “we’re not official yet. We don’t want to create expectations if something happens and we don’t get the grant. We are hearing from employers however and we’ve received lots of inquiries from them.”

He explained he had visited the “Hire the Bulldog” program active in the Virgin Valley High School that trains students on employment issues and that Mesquite Works will remain connected with them.

“What we have found so far is that everyone is starting to talk to each other about workforce development issues and programs. The great thing about this process so far, win or lose on the grant money, is the communications that are happening all over the community. The employers are talking to each other, the schools are talking to others. We’re finding that there are lots of ways to help each other even without a grant to get people employed and do good things for the community. That part is pretty astounding.”

(Editor’s note: Weast is a news reporter for the Mesquite Local News.)

The council also passed a resolution in support of HOME week March 26 through April 2. The Help Our Moral Environment recognition is celebrated every year in Mesquite in honor of citizens who helped prevent a pornography store from opening in 1996 in the city.