Thursday, February 22, 2024
Home Vacation Mesquite: A gateway and a getaway

Mesquite: A gateway and a getaway

by Staff

Courtesy City of Mesquite

Mesquite Balloon Race

• Fifth in a series

Nevada is a sprawling state with most of its people in two population centers. But beyond the reaches of Las Vegas and Reno is a land filled with attractions and history. Some of them, of course, might not be familiar to most Nevadans. The Sun has reached out to mayors and representatives of the Silver State’s 19 cities, giving them a platform in our pages to talk about their area’s history and attractions and to describe what makes them special and what challenges they face.

Today, we present a Q+A with Mesquite Mayor Allan Litman.

Give us a history lesson. What makes your jurisdiction unique?

Mesquite Flats, the original name of this community, was founded by Mormon pioneers. What makes us unique were the prior attempts to settle a very unwelcoming part of the country. Floods drove out the early settlers twice before a third successful attempt in 1884. The unrelenting efforts by these pioneers have led to the successful community we now have.

What kind of attractions and events do you have that people may be interested in visiting.

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Marilyn Redd Park in Mesquite.

Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mesquite hosted 1.3 million visitors. Its location makes us the gateway to numerous national parks and, of course, provides an easy getaway from the congestion of overpopulated Las Vegas. We are a premier golf destination with eight top-notch courses. Mesquite hosts the world-famous Long Drive for golf at a state-of-the-art sports complex. In addition, we hold a balloon festival, two major car shows, and numerous soccer, baseball and soon, pickleball tournaments. When you take into account that our population is under 25,000, we are a very busy community.

What new development opening in 2024 has you excited and why?

Although it will probably be partially open prior to the end of this year, Crown Cork and Seal, one of the largest, if not the largest manufacturer of aluminum cans, will be fully operational in 2024. We were chosen over a number of locations in the southwest, and are very proud we met their expectations. The company has been in business for over 100 years, has over 45,000 employees and is located in countries all over the world. Crown Cork and Seal has brought many high-paying jobs to our community and will prove to be an economic asset. In addition, Hawaii Food Carts will be building a manufacturing plant that produces food trucks that they will ship, not only to locations in the United States, but to overseas locations too.

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Sunset over Mesquite.

What is the biggest challenge facing your jurisdiction?

Mesquite is a small city with a large retirement community. We are lacking in an educated workforce. With only one high school, we graduate fewer than 200 students yearly. With some going off to college and others seeking greener pastures or just staying home, very few enter the workforce. To compound the problem, the lack of affordable housing, for those who do wish to work in Mesquite, makes it difficult to recruit outside Mesquite.

What industry is most important to your town’s economy? What about diversifying?

We have several important industries in Mesquite — the casino business, golf, Do it Best Corp., Primex Plastics, and the newly opened Crown Cork and Seal. I believe we are in the process of diversifying our economy away from the traditional gambling and golf we have been famous for. With the available industrial land we have, further diversification is just around the corner.

What opportunity does your community provide for public education? What challenges does it face?

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A 2016 file photo of the Falcon Ridge Golf Course in Mesquite, Nevada.

Public education in Mesquite is provided by the Clark County School District. We have no charter schools here, but have been looked at by several as future sites. Our biggest challenges in education are the same faced by rural schools that are part of an urban system located many miles away. What is provided to the Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas schools is not provided to us. As an example, we have no vocational or specialty schools here, and there is no available transportation to them for our students. If there was, the travel time would make it virtually impossible for our students. Our needs are very much different than that of big-city schools.

What challenges do your residents face with health care availability and cost?

We have one small, rural hospital with 23 beds. Being a for-profit facility, costs are generally higher than the facility in St. George, Utah. Being a small facility, it is very difficult to attract specialists or offer the services of a major medical facility. For example, we have no cancer treatment available in Mesquite. Chemotherapy and radiation patients have to travel either to Utah or Las Vegas for services. All this adds to the costs of medical services in Mesquite. In addition, retention continues to be an issue. Many of our providers have to travel to Mesquite, and then return home daily. This is not desirable, but it’s a fact.

Nevadans have lived with historic drought for the past two decades. What initiatives are in place to save the valuable commodity of water?

Although water is an issue in the state, as well as the entire southwest, Mesquite is not dependent on the Colorado River or Lake Mead. The underground aquifer, Basin 222, supplying the city of Mesquite and Bunkerville with water is stable and is in no danger of being depleted in the near future. This information comes from the Nevada Division of Water Resources. They see our water source as sustainable. There are extensive studies taking place as well as the implementation of a water conservation plan due to the proactive Virgin Valley Water District. With our growth rate, it has been predicted that we will not have water issues for many years to come.

What issues are facing your community regarding roads and transportation?

Our roads and streets have been carefully designed to meet the needs of future development in Mesquite. Transportation is somewhat limited, but currently the Silver Rider bus service meets the needs of the majority of non-vehicle drivers within the city. We are also serviced by two outside-of-the-city companies that provide transportation into Utah, as well as from Mesquite to the airport in Las Vegas.

How can public safety be enhanced in your community?

We have a well-managed police force that has always been proactive in providing the best service possible for our residents and visitors. Violent crime, a major issue in larger cities, has not been a serious problem in Mesquite, and we have been rated the second-safest city in the state. The solve rate for all crime in Mesquite is exceptionally high. The city has given our police and fire departments the most up-to-date equipment available, and continues to monitor any new developments in these areas. We are building a state-of-the-art fire station, and are looking at an additional substation to service a growing area of Mesquite.

What is one thing you wish the rest of the state knew about your jurisdiction?

The quality of life in Mesquite is the best in the state.

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