CANTON, OH (May 14, 2009) – The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival department of Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have named the following key committee chairs: Tom Nesbitt, Public Safety and Service; Joann Smith, Special Events; Guy Ruda, Enshrinement; Jim Speakman, Game; and Kevin Deckerd, Appreciation Party.   [gallery link="file" columns="5"]

Tom Nesbitt serves as the City’s public service and safety representative to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Committee. He serves on the Mayor’s administrative team as director of public safety, overseeing the police, fire and building departments. He joined the Healy administration in Jan. 2007 after 27 years with the Nebraska State Patrol, serving in the roles of colonel and superintendent of the agency. He has extensive experience at all levels of law enforcement, also previously spending time as head of the State Troopers Association of Nebraska.


The Chamber and Pro Football Hall of Fame committees of the Enshrinement Festival work closely with the City of Canton to assure the safety and comfort of citizens and visitors who attend the annual festivities. The level of cooperation from the City has been extraordinary over the past 46 years, and the Chamber and Hall are grateful to the city’s elected officials, department heads and employees who provide so much support each year.


Smith, coordinator of student teaching and field experience at Kent State University Stark, is heading the Hall of Fame Special Events Committee for the seventh year. Prior to this position, she served as chairman of the Enshrinement Festival Souvenir Committee, and she continues to serve as co-chairman of the Ribs Burnoff judging sub-committee and member of the Appreciation Party Committee.  She shares her musical gifts as cantor at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, and as a singer and secretary of the board of trustees for Voices of Canton.


As Special Events chairman, one of her major tasks will be to coordinate the Hall of Fame Board of Trustees Reception, which is staged as the first official function for the Enshrinees and their presenters, returning Hall of Famers and other out of town guests. Additionally, the Special Events Committee provides services such as emergency medical and dental assistance for guests of the Hall of Fame during their stay in Canton, and the committee is always on call to assist the Enshrinees and their families as needed. Smith will be assisted with these many duties by vice-chairman Linda Leitzke.


Ruda, a sales associate for R. Z. Marketing Group, is serving his tenth year as chairman of the Enshrinement Committee. He previously served 17 years as a member of the committee, as well as three years as chairman of the former NFL Experience Committee. Ruda and his team of volunteers prepare the facilities and programming for staging, seating and logistics of the Enshrinement program. The Enshrinement for the Class of 2009 football greats will be held Saturday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. at Fawcett Stadium. Those being honored are Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr., and Rod Woodson. Mark Prosise serves as vice-chairman of the committee.


Speakman served on the Game Committee for ten years prior to being named chairman in 2004. He is chief of staff at Arthur Middleton Capital Holdings, Inc., and co-author of Covert Persuasion, a book on psychological tactics and tricks to winning in business, sold nationwide and available in eight foreign languages.


Under Speakman’s direction, the Game Committee is responsible for timing and coordination of the pre-game and halftime activities during the Hall of Fame Game, held at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, featuring the Buffalo Bills versus the Tennessee Titans before a sold-out stadium and national television audience on “NBC Sunday Night NFL Football.” Game activities will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the AFL. Assisting with the many details is committee vice-chairman Paula George.


Deckerd is serving his second year as chairman of the Appreciation Party Committee after two years as vice-chairman. Owner of Stellar Construction-Decks Limited, he is active with Canton South youth baseball and basketball and The Ohio State University Alumni Association. The Appreciation Party is held to show gratitude to the generous sponsors and team of more than 4,200 dedicated community volunteers who provide the resources and support to make the annual Enshrinement Festival such a huge success. Julie Norris is serving as committee vice-chair.


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