Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the City of Chandler will honor two individuals and one organization by inducting them into Celebration Plaza at Tumbleweed Park during a special ceremony at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.
Former Chandler Mayor Kenny Thomas, Police Officer James Snedigar and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce will be recognized for their sacrifice, contributions and good works on behalf of the people of Chandler. Thomas served as mayor from 1976 to 1979. Snedigar joined the Chandler Police Department in 1995 and was killed in the line of duty in 1999. Formed in 1912, the same year that Chandler was founded, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce has advocated for Chandler’s businesses and community for more than 104 years.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony that will be held at Celebration Plaza, which is a permanent monument near the center of Tumbleweed Park, located on the southwest corner of McQueen and Germann roads. Celebration Plaza features a fountain and a decorative wall used to display brass plaques honoring organizations or individuals for their civic leadership, public outreach and outstanding personal service and commitment to the community.
This year’s inductees will have their plaques added alongside the plaques for these previous inductees: Officer David Payne, Chandler Kiwanis Club, Chandler Lions Club, Coy Payne, Chandler Compadres, John H. Dick, Najeeby Basha, Jerry Brooks, Patti Bruno, Lowell Huggins, Detective Carlos Ledesma, Dave McDowell, Marty Wright, Eddie Basha Jr., Chandler Service Club, Lenford Calley, Officer Robert Nielsen and Henry Salinas.
Nominations for induction are submitted by the public between Feb. 1 and April 30 each year. There is no fee to submit a nomination, and the form is available online at chandleraz.gov/parks or by calling 480-782-2717. The nomination forms are reviewed and evaluated by a subcommittee comprised of two members of the Museums Advisory Board and one member of the Parks and Recreation Board. The full Museums Advisory Board then votes on which names to submit to the Chandler City Council for final approval.
Questions about the Celebration Plaza nomination criteria or the recognition process can be directed to the Chandler Museum at 480-782-2717.
Get to Know: Celebration Plaza inductees for 2016
Officer James Robert Snedigar
Jim Snedigar came to the Chandler Police Department in 1995 with a wealth of experience, including service in the U.S. Army 3rd Ranger Battalion. As an officer, he modeled community policing concepts and embodied the noblest principles of policing; his fellow officers respected him for his professionalism. Snedigar served the department as a field training officer and then as a member of the Neighborhood Response Team. In 1998, he was selected to serve on the Special Assignment Unit (SAU).
On Friday, April 16, 1999, Snedigar responded to a request for SAU personnel to assist with a search for three armed robbery suspects. While leading the team, he was mortally wounded. In addition to his dedication to his job, he took and active role in numerous community projects that positively impacted the residents in Chandler’s traditional neighborhoods. He was also a prominent figure during the W. Steven Martin Toy Drive to provide Christmas gifts to Chandler families. Snedigar’s service and dedication left a legacy for all Chandler Police Department personnel to follow. The City will honor Snedigar for making the ultimate sacrifice for the people of Chandler.
Mayors and councilmembers have enormous influence on the development of a community and former Chandler Mayor Kenny Thomas served during a crucial time of immense growth, when annexation battles literally defined the shape of the city. Thomas came to Chandler in the 1940s, when he bought a house on Tulsa Street and joined his brother’s meat locker business. In 1964, he began his 15-year political career when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Council. He served as a councilmember until 1970, when he unsuccessfully ran for Mayor.
Re-elected to the council in 1972, he successfully ran for mayor again in 1976. While he was mayor, Thomas engaged in political battles with Phoenix, Tempe and Gilbert in an effort to expand Chandler’s borders.
His time in local politics came to an end during a 1979 recall election in which several councilmembers lost their seats. Though Thomas never returned to politics, he dedicated more time to his favorite pastimes, including photographing the Tumbleweed Tree, which he has documented nearly every year since 1957. Thomas died Oct. 16, 2016.
Chandler Chamber of Commerce
For more than 104 years, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce has advocated for Chandler’s businesses and community. Over the past century, the Chamber has supported better roads, lit streets, flood control, fire protection and tourism promotion. Today, this organization continues to better the community encouraging primary job growth, promoting the importance of small businesses, and working with the State legislature and other elected officials to ensure Chandler’s economic conditions remain an advantage to its businesses.
The Chamber Community Foundation Leadership Institute has trained more than 830 people in leadership qualities. Those people have gone on to sit on countless Chandler nonprofit boards and committees, as well as improve their leadership techniques in their businesses. The Chamber holds more than 530 mentoring sessions each year on everything from marketing plans to startup advice, business law questions to signage, parking to development, and more. The Chamber’s Women in Business Program empowers women with personal and professional development through monthly luncheons and mentoring events. The Young Executive Series develops future business leaders to serve the community. In short, the Chamber of Commerce, with its efforts in education, development, technology and advocacy, has been a part of Chandler’s success for more than a century.