Chandler Edition - March 2021

CHANDLER EDITION

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 8  MARCH 23APRIL 19, 2021

ONLINE AT

Chandler hires interimcity manager

HOT POT CARIBBEAN CUISINE

IMPACTS

CITY & COUNTY

DOWN TIMEWINES

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New tower underway atWild Horse Pass Hotel &Casino

GROWING Wild Horse Pass

$143M cost

150-foot tower

Rooftop restaurant

Two new pools

BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

ocials said. “This expansion is a major invest- ment in the Gila River Indian Com- munity and symbolic of a new chapter in our history,” Kenneth Manuel, Gila River Hotels & Casinos CEO, said in an email. “It reects our commitment to be a leader in the gaming and hospital- ity industry through enhanced expe- riences and amenities, and we look forward to seeing the continued repre- sentation of our community’s culture CONTINUED ON 12

Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino plans to open a $143 million expansion later this year—bringing more hotel rooms, meeting space and a rooftop restaurant to the Chandler area. Scheduled to open this fall, an 11-story hotel tower will be added to Wild Horse Pass and connect to its existing hotel. The 150-foot tower will feature 205 guest rooms for a total of 447 rooms on the Gila River Indian Community property, Wild Horse Pass

18,000 sq. ft. of additional conference space

205 new additional guest rooms for a total of 447 guest rooms at Wild Horse Pass

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WILD HORSE PASS BLVD.

A new tower and amenities are scheduled to open this fall at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino.

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SOURCE: WILD HORSE PASS HOTEL & CASINOCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Thousands of fraudulent unemployment claims were led in Arizona in January—with letters being sent to employees and employers throughout the Valley, including Chandler, and concerns rising about cybersecurity and data breaches. On Jan. 16, the Arizona Department of Economic Security reported 17,993 unemployment insurance initial claims—or rst-time claims. The state then CONTINUED ON 15 Unemployment fraud sees a sharp spike amid pandemic BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

80K

RISE OF UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD Arizona saw a sharp rise in unemployment claims in January, leading ocials at the Department of Economic Security to implement new identity verication measures to reduce the number of fraudulent claims.

75,041 claims

60K

40K

“I AMHOPING THE ACTION THAT DES IS TAKING IS ABLE TO CONTROL IT IN THE FUTURE.” TERRI KIMBLE, PRESIDENTCEO OF THE CHANDLER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

20K

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Implemented Department of Economic Security identity verication

SOURCE: ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SERVICESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

and trust use.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMAMY: When I moved here nearly three years ago and toured Chandler, one of the buildings that stood out the most was Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino. In our front-page story, learn about the growth, including the addition of the Phoenix Rising stadium, in the area. Our reporting also dives into the relationship between the city and Native American tribes. Amy Ellsworth, PUBLISHER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMALEXA: We know the coronavirus pandemic has aected nearly every facet of life and business as we know it. In our front-page story this month, we delve into the most recent issue with unemployment insurance claims—which have increased during the pandemic—and the fraudulent claims aecting local residents and businesses as they try and navigate the Arizona Department of Economic Security to get the claims resolved. Alexa D’Angelo, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

WHATWE COVER

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CHANDLER EDITION • MARCH 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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CHANDLER

Kaleidoscope Juice

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COURTESY KALEIDOSCOPE JUICE

app for ordering wash-and-fold laundry services, is expanding from Texas into Arizona. The company announced on its Facebook page that it was hiring in Janu- ary, but a business opening date has not yet been announced. Honeywell has committed to a long-term lease for more than 150,000 square feet in west Chandler. Honeywell is expected to hire hundreds of workers to support the production eorts during the rst year, with the potential to grow in the coming three years. An address and con- tact information were not available as of press time. www.honeywell.com/us/en EXPANSIONS 6 State Forty Eight , an Arizona-themed clothing brand, expanded its Chandler presence in February. The Valley business took over the suite next door to its Chandler retail location located at 3245 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler, to make it the business’s ocial headquarters. The move is part of the company’s mission to expand operations and amplify newly launched screen printing and embroidery services. 480-616-4899. https://statefortyeight.com 7 Risen Savior Lutheran Church expanded its footprint in Chandler. Locat- ed at 23914 S. Alma School Road, Chan- dler, the church added square footage and created a worship center which also houses youth rooms and opened Feb. 7, with services being held in the new building for the rst time. The church is encouraging mask usage and using social distancing protocols. 480-895-6782. http://rslcs.org

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TM; © 2021 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOWOPEN 1 Kaleidoscope Juice opened in down- town Chandler on March 1. The juice bar, coee shop and grab-and-go restaurant will be housed in the bottom oor of The Alexander, the redeveloped oce space at 25 S. Arizona Place in Chandler. www.kaleidoscope.love 2 Distinctive Glass , a full-service glass company that specializes in shower doors and mirrors, opened its rst Arizona loca- tion in Chandler on Jan. 4. The business is located at 6150 W. Gila Springs Place,

Ste. 22. 480-274-0555. www.distinctiveglass.com COMING SOON

12, marks the fourth Brooklyn V’s Pizza location. The restaurant is known for its New York-style pizza. http://brooklynvspizza.com 5 Forefather’s , a restaurant oer- ing cheesesteaks, fries and salads, will open later this year in Chandler. An ocial opening date has not yet been announced. The restaurant will occupy the space left vacant by Farmboy Market, Meats, Sandwiches at 1075 W. Queen Creek Road, Chandler. www.forefatherssteaks.com hampr , a free Android and iOS phone

3 A new 810 Billiards & Bowling loca- tion will open in Chandler near Chandler Fashion Center. An opening date is not yet known. The business will be located

at 3455 W. Frye Road. www.810bowling.com

4 Brooklyn V’s Pizza will add a new Chandler location this year. The new lo- cation at 4991 S. Alma School Road, Ste.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

March-April events

COMPILED BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

MARCH 25 A TOAST TO BROADWAY Join the Chandler Center for the Arts for a 60-minute toast to Broadway with some of the stage’s biggest and brightest talents. Enjoy performances from the stars of “Wicked” singing the hit “For Good,” including Ann Hampton Callaway, Harvey Fierstein, Scarlet Strallen, Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte and Julius Thomas III. The performance will be held virtually, something the Chandler Center for the Arts has been doing throughout the last year as COVID-19 has limited gatherings and events. 7 p.m. $25. www.chandlercenter.org APRIL 04 CHANDLER’S FAMILY EASTER CELEBRATION Celebrate Easter with Chandler’s Family Easter Celebration in which families can hunt for eggs along one of the city’s trails. Reservations are required, and space is limited to ensure the health and safety of all guests. Precautionary COVID-19 measures will be in place. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, Chandler. 480-782-2735. www.chandleraz.gov

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State Forty Eight

ALEXA D’ANGELOCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

ANNIVERSARIES 8 Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank , which serves those in need of food and other goods in Chandler, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Matthew’s Crossing celebrated with an event that honored the nonprot’s work March 4. The food bank has continued to serve residents in need throughout the coro- navirus pandemic. 1368 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler. 480-857-2296. https://matthewscrossing.org CLOSINGS 9 Amal Pizzeria Ristorante closed in early March. The restaurant specialized in Italian cuisine including pizza, pastas and appetizers. The restaurant was located at 4991 S. Alma School Road, Ste. 12. http://amalpizzaaz.com

APRIL 1018 CHANDLER FAMILY BIKE RIDE

spirit and pride with friends and neigh- bors,” Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke said in the release. To be part of the shared community experience, participants are asked to register online at http://chandleraz.gov/ familybikeride and commit to at least one bike ride at any convenient time from April 10-18. Registration opened March 1. Those who register by March 31 will reserve a goodie bag with an event T-shirt, a water bottle and other items from event sponsors.

The Chandler Family Bike Ride will return April 10-18, according to a news release from the city. Following the model set in 2020, this year’s event is an expanded nine-day family bike ride—encouraging partici- pants to enjoy one or more bike rides and share their experience with the community through their personal so- cial media accounts and the event page on Facebook. “We may not be able to gather in large groups like we have in previous years, but we can still bond as a community on social media and share our Chandler

Find more or submit Chandler events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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CHANDLER EDITION • MARCH 2021

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

PROJECT UPDATES

Gov. DougDucey, ADOT allocate funding for road, highway projects across the state

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BY ALEXA D’ANGELO Gov. Doug Ducey announced $230 million in new transportation infrastructure investments Feb. 18 that will enhance highway safety and meet the demand of new residents moving to Arizona. “Despite the pandemic, Arizona’s economy is strong, and families and businesses continue to relocate here in record numbers,” Ducey said in a news release. “Now is the right time to use our state and federal dollars to make investments that create jobs, modernize our infrastructure and improve highway safety.” The funding comes from transportation dollars, including higher-than-anticipated revenue amid Arizona’s strong economic recovery, and federal COVID-19 relief funds, according to a news release from the state. The projects include $33 million to rebuild and widen the Gila River bridge on I-10 between Phoe- nix and Tucson, paving the way for a full expansion of I-10 between the two cities. The I-10 Gila River bridge is the first step in completing the widening of a key commerce corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. The project will rebuild and widen the I-10

W. RAY RD.

STATE PROJECTS The governor announced funding for major projects across Arizona—the I-10 project will directly affect the Chandler area.

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to rebuild and widen the Gila River bridge on I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson, paving the way for a full expansion of I-10 between the two cities

$33M $41M $40M $117M

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF MARCH 17. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT CHNNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. Status: Crews began work on the project July 13 and started with tree removal and utility potholing on the road, according to the city. The work is on both the north and south lanes of the roads. Timeline: July-April 16 Cost: $4.04 million Funding sources: federal grant, local match McClintock Drive, Kyrene Road bike lane additions The city of Chandler is constructing two new segments of bike lanes along A McClintock Drive and B Kyrene Road that will connect to the existing bike lane system at the Tempe city limits.

to widen US 93 north of Wickenburg

to add capacity to I-17 north of metro Phoenix

to improve more than 600 highway lane miles across the state

SOURCE: GOVERNOR’S OFFICE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

bridge to three lanes in each direction over the Gila River and open opportunities to further widen I-10 in both directions. That project will start construction in 2022.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Chandler USD

COMPILED BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

Chandler USD Board April 14, 28, 7 p.m. 1525 W. Frye Road, Chandler 480-812-7000 • www.cusd80.com MEETINGSWE COVER policy, allowing paternity leave for six weeks. The leave will be deducted from the employee’s sick leave bank, according to the district. CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD board approved an increase in contract costs relating to Chandler Online Academy during the March 10 meeting. The board previously approved annual software renewals/maintenance contracts with estimated spending June 10. At that time, a total of $217,000 was estimated. On March 10, the board approved an increase to one of the vendors from $37,000 to $350,000 to cover additional single-course access licenses. MEETINGHIGHLIGHTS CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD governing board approved March 10 changes to the district’s paternity leave policy. The old paternity leave policy allowed for ve leave days. The change aligns it with the district’s maternity leave school district. The number of cases reported at school sites across the state has decreased from several months ago, according to data from Maricopa County Department of Public Health. On March 3, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that schools would be required to return to in- person learning by March 15, or after spring break. An exception is made for middle and high schools located in counties with “high” transmission of COVID-19. NUMBERTOKNOW As the state sees a decrease in active COVID-19 cases, so does Chandler USD. According to the district’s dashboard as of March 17, there were ve active COVID-19 cases across the entire 5

Chandler allocates funds for several school playgrounds CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD governing board approved $3.6 million Feb. 25 to refresh the playgrounds at several elementary school sites. The scope of work has been nalized and could include any of the following: site demolition, nal cleaning, sanitation, rubber surfacing, potential fencing, concrete, equipment, wood ber and swing sets. Core Construction was chosen as the construction manager at risk, according to documents from the district. COST PER Several schools will get playground updates in the next year.

Chandler USDeligible to get over $13Mto oset coronavirus expenses CHANDLER USD Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Homan announced Feb. 17 the amounts each school district and charter organization will be eligible to receive under the latest round of federal relief and recovery funding for Arizona public schools. Under formula funding set by Congress through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appro- priations Act, Title I schools will receive over $1 billion to support COVID-19 relief and recovery eorts, accord- ing to a news release. Homan also announced the use of discretionary dol- lars available to the Arizona Department of Education under the CRRSA Act to guarantee a baseline funding amount for every public school district and charter organization in the state, according to the release. Chandler USD is eligible to receive $13.57 million to oset COVID-19 expenses that have put the district in a dicult position. The funds are available for obligation through Sept. 30, 2023.

SCHOOL SITE Andersen Elementary Frye Elementary Galveston Elementary CTA Goodman Hartford Elementary CTA Humphrey Knox Gifted Academy Shumway Leadership Academy Weinberg Gifted Academy SOURCE: CHANDLER USDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER $368K $376K $432K $301K $259K $397K

$516K

Total cost: $3.6M

$510K

$485K

Board approves purchase of equipment for newhigh school

Chandler to issue school improvement bonds CHANDLER USD The Chandler USD govern- ing board approved a resolution March 10 to sell and issue school improvement bonds. The resolution authorizes the issuance of bonds for the district to raise funds for capital projects. The Series 2020 Bonds are the second sale from the 2019 election. The board’s approval puts the district in a position to execute the transaction when the timing is right, according to district ocials during the meeting.

CHANDLER USD At a meeting March 10, the Chandler USD governing board approved the purchase of equipment for the district’s newest high school— expected to open at the start of next school year. The board approved total expense of nearly $687,000. The early purchase will

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CHANDLER EDITION • MARCH 2021

CITY& COUNTY

News from Chandler

COMPILED BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

NUMBERTOKNOW

Assistant city manager appointed to interimcitymanager

Chandlermayor declares March 1 COVID19Memorial Day CHANDLER It has

Chandler- Gilbert Community College can vaccinate up to 12,000 people a day, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The site opened to the public March 3. 12,000

been a little more than one year since the rst COVID-19 case was announced in Arizona. The case—announced Jan. 26—marked the

CITYHIGHLIGHTS

CHANDLER On March 4, Chandler City Council appointed Joshua Wright to serve as interim city man- ager, according to a news release from the city. Wright previously served the city as an assistant city manager, a position he has been in since May 2017.

beginning of what would turn into a

March 1 nowmarks COVID19 Memorial Day in Chandler after the city issued a proclamation.

yearlong eort to curb the virus that has taken nearly 16,000 Arizonan lives.

COURTESY CITY OF CHANDLER

Joshua Wright

In March 2020, residents in nearly every city began to feel the eects of the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency with fewer than 10 conrmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. To honor those who have lost their lives in the last year—and to honor those who have survived the virus—Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke and Chandler City Council issued a proclamation Feb. 25 declaring March 1 COVID-19 Memorial Day. “Residents have grappled with the challenges of distance learning and working from home while others have experi- enced a job loss or lost income,” reads the proclamation.

Prior to joining the city of Chandler, Wright was the town manager of Wickenburg from 2011-17. He replaces Marsha Reed, who announced she would retire earlier this year. Wright holds a master’s degree in public administration and bachelor’s degrees in psychol- ogy and religious studies from the University of Arizona. The city is now embarking on a mission to hire a new city manager while Wright is interim.

City Manager Marsha Reed is given a key to the city Feb. 25.

COURTESY CITY OF CHANDLER

Chandler City Council March 25, 6 p.m. 88 E. Chicago St., Chandler 480-782-2181 • www.chandleraz.gov MEETINGSWE COVER Chandler Corps, Save the Family and the neighborhood resources department for services to assist Chandler households negatively aected by the pandemic. CHANDLER Chandler City Council on Feb. 25 approved a development agreement between the city of Chandler and Valley Christian Schools, an Arizona nonprot, for the installation of roadway and trac improvements at the intersection of North 56th Street and West Galveston Street. CHANDLER On Feb. 25, the Chandler City Council adopted a resolution authorizing the reallocation of $3 million of AZCares Grant Funds for future distribution and authorizing reallocation to AZCares grant funds in the amount of $1.115 million to Chandler AZCEND, the Salvation Army

City projects creation ofmore than 2,500 jobs in next three years

CHANDLER The city of Chandler released its 2020 annual report high- lighting the city’s accom- plishments over the last year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The report, released Feb. 18, oers insights into how well the city met the Chandler City Council’s goals for the year.

CHANDLER ANNUAL REPORT Notable accomplishments featured in the 2020 annual report include: • Business retention, expansion and attraction is expected to create $437 million in capital investment and create more than 2,500 jobs in the next three years. • Chandler issued 4,228

building permits at a combined value exceeding $1.1 billion, more than 70% higher than the value of permits issued in 2019. • The city completed the second phase of the Public Safety Training Center, creating a state-of-the- art shooting range and judgment training for ocers. • Chandler put three new aerial ladder re trucks

into service, plus the Public Safety Training Center hosted the rst Chandler Fire Regional Academy and became an accredited paramedic training site. • The city treated and delivered 11.8 billion gallons of drinking water plus treated and delivered 11.2 billion gallons of wastewater to A+ standards for reclaimed uses. SOURCE: CITY OF CHANDLER COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BUSINESS FEATURE

BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

“MAKINGOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL LIKE

FAMILYWHEN THEY WALK INAND LIKE APROUDMEMBER OF DOWN TIME WINES IS OURGOAL.” COLLEEN KASPAR, COOWNER

Down Time Wines oers an assortment of wine-themed gifts in the shop as well as customizable wine labels.

All the wine in Down Time Wines is made in house—everything from the creation of the wine to the corking in the end.

Colleen and Basil Kaspar named their business after a boat they used to keep at Canyon Lake. (Photos by Alexa D’Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

SPEC I ALT Y WINES Down Time Wines oers an assortment of unique wines to customers. • Coee, $16

Down TimeWines Couple creates, bottles and labels own wine in Chandler C olleen Kaspar did not know when she met her future husband that years later she name and our tagline, ‘You deserve it,’” Colleen said.

to work every day,” Colleen said. “There is something so satisfying about turning the key in the lock of your own business.” The store is known best for its smooth coee wine, its blackberry merlot and peach chardonnay, Colleen said. All the wines in the store are low in sultes, reducing the headache response some people get from drinking wine, she said. “We are really a one-stop shop,” Colleen said. “You can get a gift, a bottle of wine, a glass of wine and a sandwich, and even host events here.” Colleen said the business stays busy but quiet with loyal regulars coming in and out throughout the week. “I like the quiet, but someday I really hope to get a crowd in here,” Colleen said.

• Raspberry Mocha, $16 • Toasted Caramel, $16 • Black Forest Creme Brulee, $16

One of the walls in Down Time Wines is covered by a mural of Canyon Lake, and the wine bottles themselves are labeled with the same image of Canyon Lake in the background. It is just one of many touches that Colleen said makes her customers feel welcomed and like they are at home. “Making our customers feel like family when they walk in and like a proud member of Down Time Wines is our goal every time someone comes in,” Colleen said. And the business is a family aair. Colleen and Basil are there every day, along with Colleen’s sister who also works at the shop. The three of them work to create, bottle and label the wine in the back. “It’s fun; I love getting to come

would be running a store in Chan- dler selling their own hand-crafted bottles of wine. Basil Kaspar was making wine before he met Colleen, and after they married she said her kitchen turned into his wine workshop. It was then they knew they wanted to make a business out of Basil’s hobby. Down Time Wines opened in November 2016. The small shop in Chandler oers dozens of hand- crafted wines—everything from the wine itself to the label being put together by Colleen and Basil—wine- themed gifts and quick bites. “We had a boat out at Canyon Lake, and we named it ‘Down Time,’ and that’s how we came up with the

Down TimeWines 393 W. Warner Road, Ste. 109, Chandler 480-307-9296 www.downtimewines.com Hours: Tue., Thu. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wed., Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Sun.-Mon.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

BY ALEXA D’ANGELO

THREE DISHES TO TRY

Curry goat ($13.99) is goat stewed in house-blend curries.

The jerk chicken (10.99) is a staple at Hot Pot; the dish is served with rice and steamed vegetables. (Photos by Alexa D’Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ox tail ($20.99) is a food unique to Jamaican culture.

Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine Owner brings fresh, familiar favorites to Chandler W hen Karen Francis took a trip to Arizona on vacation from New York, she had no intention of starting a restaurant. But with one taste of the Jamaican food oerings in the Valley, Francis said she knew she was going to

“IT’S THE STUFF YOUGROWUP ONWHENYOU’RE JAMAICAN.” KAREN FRANCIS, OWNER

as Gov. Doug Ducey limited indoor dining and restricted businesses to take-out only for a portion of the summer. Coming up on a year since COVID-19 began impacting business, Francis said she is grateful to the people who kept ordering her food. “I was bracing for the worst,” she said. “I don’t know how we got so lucky. God must’ve sprinkled some dust down on us. They were so supportive, and I’m so grateful to them all for coming in. I had people traveling from Cave Creek coming in and buying a bunch of food to make sure we stay in business.” The food, Francis said, is what keeps people coming back. With traditional Jamaican dishes, Francis—who still spends some of her time in the kitchen—said the restaurant tries to keep it as pure and authentic as possible. “It’s the stu you grow up on when you’re Jamaican,” Francis said. “We serve traditional jerk chicken; we do a whole red snapper; we do so much. It’s a very simple, but very tasty, menu.”

bring authentic Jamaican food to the Valley. “I took one bite at that restaurant, and I was like, ‘Mmm, no, this is not authentic,’” Francis said. “They were not representing Jamaican food correctly. I thought I could do better.” In July 2008, she opened Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine in Chandler. Since then the business has seen customers remain loyal enough to allow the business to expand to include a food truck—some- thing Francis says is always in high demand. “We have amazing customers,” she said. “Some of them have been with us since we opened, and they are still there. I’ve seen kids grow up that I met in their mama’s bellies and teenagers turn into adults.” Francis said the customers kept her aoat during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—especially

Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine 2081 N. Arizona Ave., Ste. 132, Chandler 480-722-7577 https://hotpotcuisine.com Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., closed Sun.

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CHANDLER EDITION • MARCH 2021

N�w around WI LD HORSE PASS

The area around Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino will look dierent in the next year with the addition of a new tower at the hotel and a new soccer stadium nearby. SOURCE: WILD HORSE PASS HOTEL & CASINO COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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W. WILLIS RD. NEW 1 Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino new tower 2 Phoenix Rising Stadium EXISTING 1 Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino 2 Phoenix Premium Outlets 3 Rawhide Western Town & Event Center 4 Rawhide Event Center 5 Rawhide Rodeo Arena at Wild Horse Pass

PREMIUM OUTLETS WAY

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1

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The newPhoenix Rising soccer stadium is expected to open inMay. (Courtesy Phoenix Rising)

generate 600 jobs including jobs in the hotel, events, and food and beverage departments, Rose said. The construc- tion eort has also resulted in more than 300 jobs. Nearby, a new stadium will be fully operational in May hosting Phoenix Rising FC—a professional soccer team with the USL Championship league. The new facility, including several practice locations, will be in the Wild Horse Pass entertainment area o I-10 and Loop 202. The team will relocate from Casino Arizona Field. Phoenix Rising player Zac Lubin said he cannot wait for fans to see the new stadium. “The idea the last few years, we sell out every game, and knowing what we can do with a stadium with higher capacity—it’s really great to see that investment in more seats,” Lubin said. The changes to the area do not stop with developments, as the state Legis- lature and the state’s Native American

tribes are in talks to revise the state’s gaming compact—the contract between the state and the tribes for gaming—which could elicit changes in the gaming industry statewide as well as the kind of games oered at Wild Horse Pass. Changes ingaming Rose said the gaming industry has gone through changes in the last year as the coronavirus pandemic forced a temporary shutdown of the state’s casinos in the summer and casinos were forced to modify their gaming oors for safety. Partitions nowexist between games, separating players from each other, and temperatures are taken upon entrance. “2020was a roller coaster—we closed our three 24-hour properties with over 3,000 employees twice,” Rose said. “No easy feat. But I can proudly say that our team became stronger due to

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of indoor meeting space and 4,000 square feet of outdoor meeting space. The new tower will feature a bar and lounge on the second oor and roof- top dining on the 11th—overlook- ing the desert landscape and nearby mountains. “From up there you’ll even be able to see the wild horses kick up the dust in the distance—it’s going to be incred- ible,” Rose said. The Wild Horse Pass expansion will

CONTINUED FROM 1

in the expansion project.” The project marks the rst expan- sionsince thepropertyopened in2009, said Deliah Rose, director of brand and hospitality at Gila River Hotels & Casi- nos, which is the gaming arm of the Gila River Indian Community. In addition to the existing 12,000 square feet of conference space, the expansion will add 18,000 square feet

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GI LA RIVER INDIAN COMMUNI TY The Gila River Indian Community, the entity controlling Gila River financial effect on Chandlр Hotels & Casinos, gives back to nonprots and local cities, counties and the state.

impacts with our philanthropy, com- munity support and partnerships.” The Gila River Indian Community, under the gaming compact, contrib- utes a percentage of its revenue to the state, cities, towns and counties, according toMax Hartgraves, a spokes- person with the Arizona Department of Gaming. Tribes with casinos contribute a percentage between 1% and 8% of their gaming revenue each year. A majority of that—88%—is sent to the Arizona Department of Gaming, and 12% of the overall percentage of reve- nue goes directly into cities, towns and counties. Statewide, tribal gaming gener- ated more than $102 million for the state’s portion of this revenue in 2020, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming. Rose said the Gila River Indian Com- munity directly pumps funds into Chandler as well, providing funding for Chandler police and re as well as Dignity Health—the company behind one of Chandler’s two hospitals. The community contributed funds to the new tower at Chandler Regional Med- ical Center, Rose said. That does not include charitable giving. “Gila River Hotels & Casinos is proud to support local causes that aim to improve children’s welfare and edu- cational programs across the state of Arizona,” she said. Rose said she is excited to see what the new development becomes at the hotel and casino—and what it will, in turn, bring back to the community. “We are condent to be delivering a Valley icon and a destination our guests have been anticipating and ask- ing for,” she said.

Through the state’s gaming compact, GRIC gives a percentage of its revenues to

• Chandler Police Department: Crisis Negotiations Operations Center Support • Dignity Health Foundation: Capital Campaign for Tower D at Chandler Regional Medical Center • Chandler Cultural Foundation: Connecting Kids Youth Education Programs focused on performing arts • Marc Community Resources: Employment training and program

The remaining 88% of that funding from

12%

88%

GRIC goes to the state’s Arizona Benets Fund, which is split among the following funds that aect Chandler: • trauma and emergency services fund • Arizona Wildlife Conservation Fund • state tourism fund • instructional improvement fund

local cities, towns and counties. A portion of that goes into the city of Chandler. Funds have gone to: • Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department: Improvement of rescue capabilities including extrication tools that save patients from auto wrecks and heavy machinery

for individuals with severe developmental disabilities

SOURCE: GILA RIVER HOTEL & CASINOCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

it. We are a family to the core and came together swiftly to execute something that had never been done before. “ Construction was already underway before COVID-19 struck, Rose said, and the project itself has been part of the Wild Horse Pass long-term plan for years. Rose said Sundt, the contractor on the project, has continued progress on the project during COVID-19. “The closure provided us the ability to limit the inconveniences the con- struction had on our guests during demo and concrete blasting,” Rose said. “It was a bit of a blessing in dis- guise. Watching the [project] come together has generated excitement, hope and resiliency during such a draining time.” More changes in gaming may lie ahead in the state. Two sports betting bills were introduced in the state Leg- islature in February—both backed by Gov. Doug Ducey—that would allow for statewide mobile sports wagering as well as retail wagering at the state’s tribal casinos, professional sports ven- ues and horse racetracks. The bills would allow for 30 sports

betting licenses—10 for pro sports fran- chises or venues, 10 for tribal casinos and 10 “limited” licenses for retail- only at horse racetracks. House sponsor, state Rep. Je Weninger, RChandler, says House Bill 2772 has the support of both the gover- nor and the state’s tribes. “There is illegal betting happening now, and the state isn’t capturing that tax revenue,” Weninger said. “This will bring that back in and benet our community.” In his State of the State address in January, Ducey announced “an oppor- tunity for a modernized gaming com- pact that will bring in more revenue for our tribal nations and our state budget.” If the new gaming compact is approved, the tribes could build more casinos—though howmany are not yet known—and oer new games like bac- carat and craps to existing oerings of slot machines, blackjack and poker. “When the gaming compact is revised, we hope to oer our guests additional slots, new table game expe- riences and a sports betting experience

unlike any other,” Rose said. “One of our brand pillars is our sports-centric passion. Our partnerships with all the local teams, including Cardinals, Suns, Mercury, Diamondbacks, Coyotes and ASU Athletics, will generate exclusive access and amenities for our players.” Fostering community relationships In addition to providing hotel and gaming space, Rose said Gila River Hotels & Casinos makes it a point to work with local cities, counties and businesses to further cement itself in the community. “As an executive board member of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, I have found a place at the table to share all that Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Hotels & Casinos pro- vides to the state and Phoenix metro area,” Rose said. “We feel a close bond and connection to Chandler as many of our guests and team members are residents. Business entities enjoy our property for guest room needs, busi- ness retreats, team outings and more. As one of the largest employers in the East Valley, we strive to make positive

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CATCHING UNEMPLOYMENT

INITIAL CLAIMS

BENEFITS PAID

WEEK

$53.53M

10,409

Jan. 2

$106.97M

20,198

Jan. 9

$149.9M

17,993

Jan. 16

While the number of unemployment claims increased in January, not all claims were actually paid out, according to data from the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

$121.48M

48,361

Jan. 23

$131.02M

65,545

Jan. 30

$134.87M

79,598

UNEMPLOYMENT BY THE NUMBERS

Feb. 6

1.65M Arizonans receiving pandemic unemployment assistance benets

$124.06M

6,469

Feb. 13

$13.55B Total unemployment insurance benets paid

5,742

$128.13M

Feb. 20 SOURCE: ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

492K Arizonans receiving

unemployment insurance benets

apologized for any inconvenience the unemployment claims caused businesses. “Obviously there is no way to stop people fromling claims up front with- out negatively impacting people who are eligible for unemployment bene- ts,” Wisehart said. Wisehart said the majority of the claims were fraudulent, and payment for those claims was prevented, but he said DES notices went out to many employers and chambers of commerce. He called the attack the “largest cyber- attack in the history of this country.” Adam Doupé, an associate professor in the School of Computing, Informat- ics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University, said there has been an increase in cybercrimes since the pandemic began a year ago. “The fundamentally dicult prob- lem is verifying identities,” Doupé said. “It makes a trade-o more dicult. It makes it so it could actually harm the people signing up for these programs.” Doupé said when large information breaches—like previous breaches at Equifax, Target or Capital One—occur, personal information can get put on the dark web where criminals will buy it and use it, such as signing up for loans or credit cards. But he said unemployment fraud has been more rampant during the pandemic. “Once that data has been breached, it’s like trying to put oil back in a tanker—you just can’t do it,” Doupé said. “This is a problem, but we need to look at what steps can we take to decrease fraud but not increasing fric- tion of getting that money to the peo- ple who really need it.”

with the feds, talked with payroll—no one fessed up to data breaches. As far as we know, we still don’t know the source and didn’t have any other to-date attempted fraud.” Timmons said the issue seems ram- pant in the Valley. “To know not just one person that this has happened to, but multiple people, that’s indicative that there’s a big issue somewhere,” Timmons said. “All of us would like to knowwhat hap- pened so that we can take the appro- priate steps.” Despite the spike in initial claims, DES reported a smaller increase in the amount of benets paid, according to DES data—meaning while fraudulent claims were being made, they were not necessarily getting paid out. As of Feb. 6, $134.68 million was paid in unemployment benets compared to $106.97 million in unemployment claims paid out Jan. 9. DES recommends victims of fraud visit the department’s webpage specif- ically for fraudulent claims and follow the checklist provided to ensure the claim is marked by DES as fraud. Christie Ellis, a Chandler resident, was also a victim of a fraudulent claim. She—as a business owner—was sent a claim in her maiden name. She said she followed the process set forth by DES and did not experience any hiccups in reporting the fraudulent activity. But, like others, she is unclear where the breach of her information came from. “It’s strange that it’s happening to so many small businesses and small-busi- ness owners,” Ellis said. “It’s like we

have experienced false claims.” As a result of the increased fraudulent

CONTINUED FROM 1

activity, DES Deputy Press Secretary Brett Bezio said the department has taken steps to reduce future fraudulent claims but said Arizona is not alone. “States across the nation have seen a signicant surge in unemployment benet fraud, largely in association with identity theft,” Bezio said in an email. “Although there has not been a breach of information stored by DES, criminals are using phishing scams, previous corporate data breaches and other tactics to collect information from individuals across the country and le for Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assis- tance benets in their name.” Bezio said fraud detection measures and identity verication through a sys- tem known as ID.me have helped DES to combat fraud and has both reduced the number of fraudulent claims and allowed DES to identify individuals with unique circumstances. “Individuals committing UI fraud are evolving and becoming more sophisticated,” Bezio said. “We will continue to identify suspicious activity among claims while working diligently to ensure eligible claimants continue to receive critical assistance.” Eectsonbusinesses, employees Kyle Timmons, franchise owner of Oce Evolution Phoenix in Ahwatu- kee, said he was a victim of a fraudu- lent claim the rst week of February. Timmons said he did all the things recommended by DES and his payroll provider—not knowing why his infor- mation got out there. “I found nothing,” Timmons said. “I checked all the credit reports, checked

reported 48,361 initial claims Jan. 23 and 79,598 on Feb. 6 as businesses and employees across the Valley began to report unemployment fraud. Businesses and employees in the East Valley experienced the same problem: Employers had received correspondence from DES that their employees—and in some cases, people who had never worked for the com- pany—had led for unemployment insurance. In the case of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Terri Kimble said she not only got notice for her employees, but also for two others never employed by the chamber. “I think what we are nding is it’s more widespread,” Kimble said. “I am hoping the action that DES is taking is able to control it in the future. I encour- age people to have a credit-moni- toring component if they received a claim against them—especially since Social Security numbers are out there on these claims. As an employer, I encourage them to make sure they are responding quickly to the claim and saying that it is fraud. I know we have had just over 50 businesses that

“IT’S STRANGE THAT IT’S HAPPENING TO SOMANY SMALL BUSINESSES AND SMALLBUSINESS

were targeted in some way.” Managing fraudulent claims

OWNERS.” CHRISTIE ELLIS, CHANDLER RESIDENT

In a call Feb. 19 with chambers of commerce across the state, Ari- zona DES Director Michael Wisehart

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CHANDLER EDITION • MARCH 2021

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