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Chamber honors Thomas, Snyder for service
Incoming Manteca Chamber of Commerce President Eric McMurtrey sits at the head table with his wife April. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
Two men who personify community service – Les Thomas and Jack Snyder – were presented the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s highest honors during the 86th annual installation and awards dinner.
Thomas received the chamber’s Distinguished Service Award while Snyder the Lifetime Achievement Award during the dinner that took place Saturday at The Emory.
Big business of the year honors went to Doctors Hospital of Manteca, Merrill Gardens, and PG&E. Small business of the year recognition was given to Chez Shari, Holiday Inn Express, and State Farm-Crystal Downs.
Agape Villages was honored as the non-profit of the year while Randy Sutton earned board member of the year honors.
The chamber ambassador of the year was Dr. Russell Rottacker.
Eric McMurtrey was installed as the chamber’s president. The Doctors Hospital of Manteca administrator officially takes over for post currently held by Kirk Dall on July 1.
The sold-out crowd of 155 gave Thomas a standing ovation as he received his award
Thomas lends his time to a number of community efforts including the Knights of Columbus but it is his dedication to the Flags over Manteca project for the past eight years that earned him the chamber honor. Thomas has not missed a single day coordinating the flag distribution and collection in the past eight years.
He oversees the distribution of the flags to various volunteers each day the flags are out usually starting before 5:30 a.m. He also is there in the late afternoon when the flags are returned to make sure all 2,400 flags are collected and stored.
There have been times when they have been short volunteers that Thomas has put flags out himself.  Many times when a group is short volunteers in the afternoon or forgets to come back, he’ll retrieve the flags. He always makes sweeps of the streets after all groups have returned flags to make sure none were missed.
Thomas is an Army veteran of the Korean War. He moved to Manteca 20 years ago to work on the building of Yellow freight in Tracy.
The chamber launched Flags over Manteca in response to the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001. The $60,000 required to purchase the flags and poles were purchased with money raised from the community.
Volunteers are needed for this Sunday, June 14, to help distribute the flags on Flag Day. If you can help call 823-6121.
Flags are also placed on Independence Day, Labor Day, Sept. 11, Veterans Day, Presidents Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day.
Snyder has complied a long list of community service over the past 40 plus years with 25 years of serving on the Manteca City Council including as one of the city’s handful of directly elected mayors.
Long before a single home was built south of the Highway 120 Bypass, Snyder had the vision that the community — which was about half its current population in the mid-1980s when he first pitched the idea — needed a community park to provide more recreational activities for youth.
Snyder approached the partnership that provides the financial backing of Atherton Homes and secured the deal of the 20th century — $1 for the 52 acres with no strings attached.
Snyder played a pivotal role twice in securing funding for the Highway 120 Bypass. Once when citizens and the council succeeded in getting the route relocated out of downtown on Yosemite Avenue to its present location and a second time when a barrier was put in place after 34 people died in less than three years of the new highway that was originally built with a travel lane in each direction with an alternating passing lane.
Major projects that have taken place during his second tour on the City Council included laying the ground work for the city to snag the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley lifestyle mall anchored by Bass Pro Shops, the Stadium Retail Center anchored by Costco, and the Big League Dreams sports complex.
Snyder is a retired Libbey-Owens-Ford industrial relations manager.
Snyder is currently the captain for the Manteca Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police and a director of the Give Every Child a Chance board that provides free tutoring services.
He was one of the key people who got the Boys & Girls Club started 30 years ago and has served on the board and as president. He also is credited with launching the telethon 30 years ago. The event has not only turned into a Manteca tradition but is the club’s largest source of funding to provide services to 1,400 youth in Manteca and Lathrop.
He has served as president of the Manteca Historical Society, United Way campaign chairman, East Union Cemetery Board chairman, Community Prayer Breakfast Committee chairman, the Doctors Hospital of Manteca advisory board, district chairman for the Boys Scouts, East Union High Athletics Boosters Club president, held every post and county office in the American Legion.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail