The year 2021 has seen something of a come-back from the pandemic year of 2020. Yes sometimes it has seemed as if we keep taking one step forward and two steps back. But a careful review of the events of 2021 shows that we have come a long way forward. In any case, here on the final week of the year, it certainly warrants a moment of looking back. What follows is a brief recap of some of the news highlights that have kept The Progress staff busy in the local communities over 2021.
Vaccination clinics beginThe year began with COVID-19 vaccinations becoming widely available in local areas. In mid-January, local first responders and medical workers were receiving the jab. By the end of the month, the first vaccination clinics were being held for the public. On Jan. 25, the first Moapa Valley clinic was held for residents over age 65 at the Overton Senior Center. A long line of cars snaked from the senior center all the way down the main street of Overton with seniors hoping to get the shot. Supplies ran out before everyone got it. But more clinics followed. The City of Mesquite held its first clinic on Feb 5-6 at the Rising Star Field House. With a larger population to serve, this was a logistical challenge which was taken on by a remarkable teaming of public/private entities.
Heavily restricted high school sports beginAfter a year without high school sports, a winter sports season began in mid-January.It was only tentative at first. Girls flag football, being outdoors and designated as only medium contact was allowed to begin a shortened 6 week season.But no spectators were allowed on campus. Family members and fans had to set up chairs on the sidewalk outside of the fence of school grounds to watch the flag football games (see photo).Later on other sports were added including fall sports like volleyball and football. The school year ended with a six week spring sports season.Only schools that had live, in-person instruction taking place on campus were allowed to play sports. Since it had been offering hybrid live classes since August, MVHS was able to participate immediately. But that meant that the Pirates only had private and charter schools to compete against.In March, VVHS came online with a similar hybrid learning program and Bulldog sports were able to resume as well creating a more competitive sports environment.
CC Fair cancelled againThe Clark County Fair Board announced that Moapa Valleys biggest annual event would be cancelled for a second year in a row. Because of health restrictions still in place and the large scale of the event, officials decided that holding the April event just wouldnt be possible.Even so, the Clark County Junior Livestock Association board pledged that they would move forward with its youth livestock show and auction, usually coupled with the Fair. Because of its smaller scale and more local appeal, they had determined that it would be do-able.
Heritage Park development approved for downtown MesquiteThe Mesquite City Council enthusiastically approved a downtown improvement project envisioned by developer Dixie Leavitt, a former city resident with ancestral ties to the communitys pioneer history.The project, proposed for a parcel directly across Mesquite Blvd from City Hall, would include greenspace landscaping, a stream of water lined by walking paths, and interpretive panels about the pioneer history of Mesquite. In addition the park area would be surrounded by buildings featuring boutique commercial spaces and residential apartments.A formal development agreement was signed later in the year by Leavitt and Mesquite Mayor Al Litman (see photo above). The project is expected to start construction early in 2022.
Virgin Valley students go back to live classesStudents returned to the halls of Virgin Valley High School in March. Kids were able to return to campus with a hybrid model of in-person and online learning. This also allowed Bulldog sports to resume again, just in time for the abbreviated fall sports season including volleyball, football, soccer and cross country.In Moapa Valley, schools opened again, from a similar hybrid setting, which had been in effect since August, back to a regular five-day full academic schedule.
Federal land bill introducedA mammoth public lands bill was filed in Congress that would set aside 2 million acres of newly-designated conservation land throughout Clark County in order to allow for 30,000 acres of new disposal land to be developed in the Las Vegas valley.Much of the new conservation land designations were huge swaths of land surrounding the Moapa Valley communities. This includes a new Special Management Area for the Mesa Milkvetch on the 10,000 acres on the bench lands immediately east of Logandale and Overton.The bill had full support of the Nevada Congressional delegation. But as of this date, it has not been brought to a vote by either house of Congress.
Pandemic Hammer GameThere was no home team, no goal posts and no stadium full of spectators. Because the football fields at both Moapa and Virgin Valleys were under construction, the annual rivalry game was played on a soccer pitch at the Mesquite Sports Complex.Only a small group of fans were allowed due to health restrictions. But even that small number of spectators was a first for this strange pandemic season.By the end of the evening, the ceremonial hammer was passed from the Bulldogs, who had won it the year before, to the Pirates who won the game, 18-14.
Small town festivalThe Clark County Junior Livestock Association (CCJLA) held its annual show and auction on April 8-10 at the Logandale Fairgrounds.After the cancellation of the Fair event in February, the CCJLA were determined to still provide a venue this year for youth exhibitors to exhibit and sell their carefully-raised livestock.Clark County Marilyn Kirkpatrick stepped in to help make the show a success. She and her staff planned a scaled-back event featuring three nights of amateur rodeo, a myriad of 4-H exhibits, agriculture exhibits and other activities. The event drew approximately 5,000 rural attendees.
Farewell to SugarsA downtown Overton mainstay, Sugars Homeplate Restaurant, closed its doors on May 18. The restaurant had been a fixture in the community for more than 30 years.Owners Ray and Judy Metz sold the restaurant to a company owned by celebrity Las Vegas illusionist Criss Angel.Angel went to work immediately on a full renovation of the building. Within about six weeks he opened the all new Cablp restaurant which became an immediate sensation.
Large-scale events return to Mesquite resortsMesquite Gaming opened its Mesquite Motor Mania to the largest turnout ever for the annual event. A total of 975 auto entries rushed for the opportunity to gather at this show.Motor Mania is usually held in the cooler weeks of January. But it was postponed due to health restrictions. Even so, the weather fortunes smiled kindly on the show. Instead of the more usual heat, the weather was mild for that weekend.
Graduation 2021With widespread uncertainty on whether Clark County School District would return to coordinating live graduation ceremonies, parent and community groups in both Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley stepped up again and planned the 2021 Commencement activities for each school.Both communities planned essentially all-day celebrations including parades, processions, ceremonies, photo-ops and safe, sober after-parties for the graduates.
Return to summer activitiesThe summer of 2021 saw the return of most of the youth summer events that had been cancelled in 2020.Both the Logandale Stake and the Mesquite Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held summer youth camps for both girls and boys. Vacation Bible School weeks returned to area churches. Parks and Rec programs resumed. The Virgin Valley Theatre Group held a very successful Youth Summer Theatre Camp. Public library programs returned under certain strict health guidelines. And area kids had a few things to do for the summer again.
Public art brightens cityscapeThe Mesquite Public Arts Commission received a state grant to wrap a number of Overton Power District utility boxes in vibrant, colorful artwork. The artworks, donated by Salt Lake City artist Rachelle Knight, depicts various Virgin Valley heritage scenes.The project began with 10 different locations for the artwork, mainly on busy city streets. But the concept quickly gained popularity and leaders of various neighborhoods approached the commission asking to fund additional boxes.
Storm hits M.V.The Moapa Valley communities were slammed by a violent summer thunderstorm on June 29. The tempest included torrential downpours and gale-force winds that knocked out power in some neighborhoods, uprooted trees, and flooded homes and yards.The storm really wreaked havoc at the Logandale Fairgrounds including severe flooding to the grounds and uprooted trees. Worst of all, the whole north bank of bleachers at the rodeo arena, which had just recently been replaced, was picked up and turned over leaving a huge twisted mass of metal.
Back to The FourthBoth Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley communities returned to their full observance of Independence Day this year.In Mesquite, the Eureka Resort helds its traditional Rockets Over Red Mesa program, complete with Community Vendor Village, the Nevada POPS Orchestra and the full fireworks display.At the Logandale Fairgrounds, there was a full day of festivities. These included the Veteran Flagraising, Rotary Community Breakfast, activities and games for the kids, the Chamber of Commerce community dinner and the Moapa Valley fireworks display paid for by donations from local businesses and individuals.
Mormon Mesa saved from solarA community-wide protest movement finally prevailed to save the Mesa just to the east of Moapa Valley from solar power development. On July 21, the BLM announced that an application for a 9,200-acre solar power generation facility atop the Mormon Mesa had been scrapped by Solar Partners VII, LLC.The announcement caused feelings of victory and elation to many local resident who were adamantly opposed to the project.
The Progress opens Mesquite officeThe Progress news opened a new Mesquite office location to service the communities of the Virgin Valley. The new office is located at 11 W Pioneer Blvd, Suite B on the second floor of the Bank of Nevada building.Working in the new office is The Progress Virgin Valley advertising consultant Tara Schenavar.The Mesquite Chamber of Commerce held a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the new office later on in October after the weather had cooled down enough to hold event on the outdoor patio of the building.
New turf for football seasonBoth the Jeff Keel stadium at MVHS, and the Evan Wilson Stadium at VVHS, underwent a major conversion from grass to turf football fields last year.The state-of-the-art surfaces were completed last summer just in time for the fall football season to begin in August.In addition to football, both boys and girls soccer was played on the field during the fall season.
Back to SchoolThe kids in both valley returned to school in August. All schools in both the Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley were open for a full, five-day learning schedule.The kids, teachers and school staffers were all required to wear face masks; and parent access to campus was limited. But the students were happy to be back in class in front of their teachers.
MVCEAB hosts mental health fairObserving the toll being taken on mental health in the community by the pandemic, members of the Moapa Valley Community Education Advisory Board and several other partner organizations organized a community mental health fair that was held at the Logandale Fairgrounds on Sept. 9.The event drew more than 700 people. It included a community dinner, numerous activities for kids and a resource fair with many different vendors and exhibitors focused on mental health resources.The event ended with world-renowned guest speaker and suicide prevention activities Kevin Hines making an appearance and telling his own story about attempted suicide.
Mesquite lands major manufacturing facilityThe City of Mesquite was selected to be the home of a new state-of-the-art aluminum beverage can manufacturing plant. Crown Holdings, Inc., a global Fortune 300 company, announced that its new southwestern U.S. plant would be located in the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center.The new 355,000 sq ft facility will supply beverage cans for the companys commercial clients throughout the western U.S.The plant, which is expected to begin operations in the second quarter of 2023, will create 126 new jobs in the community.
Long Drive back in MesquiteHeavy-hitting golfers from around the world came to Mesquite to compete in the Long Drivers Association Championship event in Mesquite which ended on Oct. 1.Bryson DeChambeau attended the contest put up some serious yardage reaching the final eight in the contest.But it was his friend Kyle Berkshire who came out on top of the contest.
Subway opens in OvertonA new Subway restaurant location had its grand opening in downtown Overton in October.A ribbon cutting event was held in the morning on Oct. 6 and by lunchtime the line of customers was out the front door.The new sandwich shop is owned by the Draper family of St. George, Utah; who also owns the two Subway locations in Mesquite.
Veterans Day celebrationsBoth valleys came out strong to celebrate veterans in November. The traditional Mesquite Veterans Day Parade returned in all its splendour on Nov. 6. It included grand marshall Brian Cornett as well as a full complement of community organizations and businesses following behind.The 1,000 Flags event was also on the docket during the second week of November. The Exchange Club of Mesquite and its partnering organizations honored veterans and servicemen with a sea of American flags posted on the Rec Center field.
The Moapa Valley honored its veterans in grand style with the traditional parade down the main street of Overton. Nearly 50 entrants participated in the parade which was led by Grand Marshall Bryant Robison, a veteran of the Korean War.After the parade, the crowd convened at Overton Park for a community picnic courtesy of the MV Chamber of Commerce and the local Rotary Club.
Pirates vs Bulldogs at StateThe small town spirit loomed large at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, as the football teams of both VVHS and MVHS faced off this year in the 2021 NIAA One Nevada 3A Division Football State Football Championship.The two hometown teams drew a huge crowd to the stadium with nearly 5,000 fans in the seats for the matchup. Of the three state championship division games played in the stadium that day, the 3A game was by far the best attended. The stadium saw a total of 9,171 attendees over the four games of the day.After the Bulldogs came out strong in the first half, the Pirates came roaring back from behind and won the game, 27-14.
New security updates at MVHSAfter more than four years of seeking capital funding from the Clark County School District for needed school security measures, the MVHS finally used on-site funding to make the updates.The school paid a contractor to construct a new security wall across the front entrance to the central quad area of the school.
Season of GivingThe Mesquite Parade of Lights, with its annual food drive, kicked off the season of giving on Dec. 2. Since then and throughout the month of December, the spirit of holiday giving has run rampant in both the Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley communities.There have been food drives and toy drives, shopping with cops, kettle drives, angel trees, deliveries from fire departments and on and on.All this has gone to show the quality of communities in which we live and the tremendous benefits to living in Small Town, America.
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