2021: W. Chandler comes of age with honors, jobs

Many West Chandler residents, feeling disenfranchised over perceived slights from the city, got a boost in November when a West Chandler branding campaign was rolled out to heighten visibility and establish a sense of place. –Chandler photo

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Wrangler News and wranglernews.com take a look back on a volatile year as West Chandler attempted to shake the crippling effects of the year before brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

1—‘It was like a bomb went off’: Explosion from damaged natural-gas pipe that was not replaced blows roof off W. Chandler print shop, injuring 4

Four men were badly burned as a West Chandler print shop was destroyed by an explosion caused by a damaged natural-gas pipeline that mistakenly was overlooked for replacement.  –Wrangler News photo by Lee Shappell

Karen Goetz was going about her work as office manager at Arizona Community Church on the morning of Aug. 26 when a thundering boom startled and shook her.

“It was like a bomb went off or something,” she said.

An explosion from a natural-gas leak in a pipe that had degraded — and through a clerical error was not flagged for replacement in a Southwest Gas remediation project — blew the roof off of Platinum Printing, 4940 W. Ray Road, Suite 1, at the northeastern corner of Ray and Rural roads.

Brothers Andrew Ryan, 39, and Dillon Ryan, 29, who own the print shop; Parker Milldebrandt, 29, a lifelong friend of the Ryans, who works in their shop; and Glenn Jordan, 58, who owns All-American Eyeglass Repair a couple of suites west of the shop, were burned seriously and spent weeks in Valleywise Health Arizona Burn Center.

 

2—Intel to build 2 chip plants, agrees to reclaimed-water pact to bring 3,000 jobs to W. Chandler

Construction equipment prepares the site for two new chip factories at Intel Corporation’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler. The site will be home to Intel Fab 52 and Fab 62. The price tag of $20 billion is the largest private-sector investment in Arizona history. –Intel Corporation photo

West Chandler expects to see more than 3,000 high-tech, high-wage jobs with announcement March 23 of a $20 billion expansion at tech giant Intel’s Ocotillo Campus, the largest private investment of any kind in Arizona history. The semiconductor manufacturing icon will build two new fabrication plants in the historic expansion. Intel entered an agreement with Chandler for construction of a reclaimed-water interconnect facility to meet Intel’s yearly projected needs, critical because it saves and reuses water.

 

3–West Chandler branding initiative gives neighborhood sense of place, identity

Stryker is bringing nearly 300 jobs to West Chandler at new plant (foreground) just north of Loop 202 near 56th Street. –Photo by Cyndi Bosworth/Todd Photography

Many West Chandler residents, feeling disenfranchised over perceived slights from the city, got a boost in November when a West Chandler branding campaign was rolled out to heighten visibility and establish a sense of place. City Council spent $239,937 to buy nine 15-foot-tall signs with “West Chandler” lettering and a high-tech theme that reflects the area’s industry base. West Chandler has 630 businesses employing 29,000 workers. With six miles of frontage along I-10 and Loop 202, it is seen by thousands daily.

 

4—Mall brawl startles community; all suspects tracked down and arrested

A fight involving nine men, some armed with knives, rattled West Chandler in an uncharacteristic violent episode. –VisitChandler.com photo

A fight broke out March 12 involving nine young men, including three who were stabbed, at Chandler Fashion Center. It was shocking and horrific to a community not accustomed to that sort of crime. Police said the brawl was random, and that it is safe to shop at the mall and to live in West Chandler.  Officers identified and eventually arrested all suspects.

 

5–Chandler Regional opens 96-bed Tower D, increasing Level 1 Trauma Center to 429 beds

Tower D increased patient capacity at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center, a Level 1 trauma center. –Wrangler News photo by Billy Hardiman

A five-story patient-care Tower D opened in August on Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center’s campus, marking its second major expansion in less than a decade and bringing expanded patient care and new jobs. The project included an 1,100-vehicle parking structure.

 

6–Massive sports-entertainment complex coming to Wild Horse Pass

A 10,000-seat stadium and large two-sided video board at Wild Horse Pass will be ready for the Phoenix Rising Football Club in time for the May 1 opening of its United Soccer League season.  –Phoenix Rising rendering

A major influx of sports, entertainment, recreation and jobs excited West Chandler with the February announcement of major development at Wild Horse Pass. A 3,300-acre project would include events center and concert amphitheater, five hotels, theme park, timeshare complex, third golf course, expanded equestrian center, villas, retail and office space. A 10,000-seat stadium for Phoenix Rising soccer opened last spring. An 11-story second tower at Wild Horse Pass Hotel nearly doubled capacity to 447 rooms in the fall.

 

7–State fair coming to Wild Horse Pass – and then it wasn’t

The Arizona State Fair was temporarily moving to Wild Horse Pass for 2021, a larger venue than the state fairgrounds near downtown Phoenix, allowing more room for social distancing. Then plans were scrapped over supply-chain issues.  — Arizona State Fair photo

Not so fast on just crossing the freeway to enjoy corndogs and cotton candy – and then hopping on twisting, turning rides that make you want to give them right back. Arizona State Fair, planning to move to Wild Horse Pass in October, scrapped plans due to supply-chain issues that delayed delivery of infrastructure items. Officials hoped the larger site would mitigate spread of COVID-19.

 

8—Sports betting comes to Wild Horse Pass Casinos and Cardinals jump on board for action

A rendering of the remodeled Wild Horse Pass Casino.  –Gila River Hotels & Casino rendering

Gila River Hotels & Casinos joined forces with the Arizona Cardinals and BetMGM in September to operate sportsbooks at Gila River’s Wild Horse Pass Casino, across Interstate 10 from West Chandler, and at Lone Butte Casino, just south of the city along Loop 202. High-end Las Vegas-style roulette and baccarat are now legal, too.

 

9– City puts 5 bonds on November ballot and all carry easily

The Police Department gains 27 officers and increased funding in Chandler’s 2021-22 fiscal-year budget. –Wrangler News file photo

West Chandler voters joined those across the city in overwhelmingly approving sale of five municipal bonds worth nearly $273 million to fund police facilities, replace a fire station, upgrade parks and streets and add bike paths. Each carried by more than a 2 to 1 majority.

 

10–City employees get $3k bonus

Chandler employees were rewarded for their work a dedication through the COVID-19 pandemic with a one-time bonus. –Chandler photo

Every Chandler full-time employee who was with the city as of Dec. 31, 2020, and remained employed through March 27, 2021, received a one-time exceptional-performance award of $3,000 in April for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every part-time employee who was onboard during those dates got $1,500.

 

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