“Ann Rice asked me to attend the city council meeting with her tonight; she’s only ever asked me twice to go… so maybe I should take her.” These are the words Yoli Bell spoke to her husband Allen on Tuesday Feb. 27. The couple, along with Dr. Ann Rice, attended the meeting; Bell had no idea that she would soon be dumbfounded.

City council began as usual with an invocation and the pledge of allegiance, public comments were heard, consent agenda voted on and then the big announcements came.

It was time to recognize the folks who embody the spirit of Mesquite with their work ethic, volunteer efforts and much more.

Mayor Allan Litman was proud to present a plaque to Ken J. Sandoval, Grade II Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator in the Public Works Division for the City of Mesquite since 2007 during the City Council Meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 27. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The first to be recognized was the Employee of the Year. Mayor Allan Litman was proud to present a plaque to Ken J. Sandoval, a maintenance worker in the Public Works Division for the City of Mesquite since 2007. He currently works as a Grade II Operator in the waste water treatment plant and is driven to continue improving and learning new skills. Sandoval was recognized as Employee of the Year for his demonstration of outstanding performance, positive attitude, professionalism and leadership for the calendar year 2017.

The next announcement was for the Volunteer of the Year. Litman and Nickolas Montoya were both very pleased to present that award to volunteer Shirley Blake and subsequently from Shirley to her husband Ron who had always supported her, mainly by providing rides and carrying her equipment from home to the center.

Shirley Blake was presented the award for Volunteer of the Year and subsequently from Shirley to her husband Ron during the City Council Meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 27. Blake’s boss, Nickolas Montoya also presented Blake with additional gifts to show his personal appreciation for her extensive volunteer efforts. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Blake has volunteered for the Mesquite Parks and Recreation Department in the Lifelong Program, teaching water aerobics at the Recreation Center. Despite moving from Sun City Mesquite to St. George, Utah, some time ago, she and her husband have been driving down to Mesquite two to three times a week so that Blake could continue her classes.

Blake was recognized for her valuable contributions, commitment to community service and dedication to the volunteer spirit by way of a plaque from the city but Blake’s boss, Montoya, wasn’t going to let it just go at that. Montoya also presented Blake with a large plant, balloons and a gift package which hubby promptly carried back to their seats and eventually out to the car and into their home. Montoya was genuinely touched by Blake’s commitment and the long drive she and hubby make several times a week to ensure that her class members continued to stay healthy and active in the year 2017. As long as Blake is able and hubby is willing to haul, members of her water aerobics classes will stay that way and Mesquite will continue to benefit from the selflessness of this Volunteer of the Year and her husband.

The big announcement was next, great strides were taken to keep the identity of the recipient of Distinguished Citizen of the Year, a secret. Mayor Litman expressed that Mesquite is a small town so they didn’t even chance having the plaque made up ahead of the announcement so nobody could accidentally see it and tell someone.  As it turned out, the secret was so well kept that when Litman announced the name Yoli Bell; she was “utterly dumbfounded.”

Yoli Bell was ‘utterly dumbfounded’ when her name was announced as Mesquite Most Distinguished Citizen. Bell was speechless and in tears when Jim Wilson presented her with a bouquet of yellow roses and Mayor Litman spoke heartfelt words during the City Council Meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 27. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Of course, Rice was trusted with the secret as was her very good friend and long trusted ally, Jim Wilson who was ready and waiting to present the speechless Bell with a bouquet of yellow roses.

Yoli Bell founded the Mesquite Cancer Help Society and through the efforts of the MCHS, Mesquite families have an easier time coping.

MCHS is all encompassing, from financial help to support groups and counseling, they help local residents. The money they get stays in Mesquite, Bell was sure to see to that. She says that the larger groups spend most of the money donated on administrative costs rather than helping people who need the help; Bell makes certain that isn’t the case with MCHS.

Every penny the MCHS receives benefits a local cancer patient and their family by way of helping to ease the burden of paying home bills on top of doctor bills and medications when they are in treatment and unable to work. Litman expressed that anywhere you go in Mesquite or the surrounding valleys; everyone knows of or has heard of the good work Bell has accomplished through her outstanding dedication to her community; truly Mesquite’s Most Distinguished Citizen.