By Pat Murphy
Special to Valley News 

Menifee Chamber hosts 'Wake Up Menifee'


Last updated 1/10/2019 at 9:24pm

Pat Murphy photo

Tony LoPiccolo, executive director of the Menifee Chamber of Commerce, addresses guests at Wake Up Menifee, Thursday, Jan. 3. The chamber event was held at Blitzer's Yogurt and gave both community and business members a chance to learn about the city and all it has to offer.

The Menifee Chamber of Commerce hosted their first chamber event of the new year, Thursday, Jan. 3, at Blitzer's Frozen Yogurt in Menifee. Wake Up Menifee is a monthly coffee networking and information event that meets at 8 a.m. the first Thursday of every month.

Tony LoPiccolo, the executive director for the Menifee Chamber of Commerce, and Menifee Mayor Bill Zimmerman welcomed the 36-40 guests at the event.

The January coffee meeting was hosted by Rhonda Copp, the co-owner of Blitzer's Frozen Yogurt with her husband, who is a captain with the fire department. Copp said the couple bought the business as their retirement plan after her husband retires next year. In addition to frozen yogurt offerings, she said they also sell waffles and floats.

LoPiccolo opened the morning by asking Paula Kemp, the founder and president of Veteran Sisters, to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Kemp is a former Navy combat photographer. The Veteran Sisters provides "a safe place for hope, help and healing," she said, and is looking to establish a "walk-in" facility called "Veteran Sisters Operation Wellness."

Next on the agenda, LoPiccolo introduced Heather Perry, a representative of state Sen. Mike Morrell; Zimmerman, Menifee City Council member Dean Deines and Gina Gonzales and Kayla Charters of the city Economic Development Department. The chamber of commerce was represented by George Mills, its newly elected chairman; Larry Luna and Noel Cajudo. Chamber ambassadors Phil Liso, Angela Grangruth, Hope Suhr, Briana Darby, Leonard Greenlee and Brian and Amanda Horan were on hand to support the event as well.

Retired Hemet police chief Dave Brown, who recently lost a bid for county sheriff and was hired by Menifee as the new director of public safety, spoke to the gathering. Brown is tasked with creating a police force for the city. He told the audience that it is unprecedented in California for a city the size of Menifee to establish a new police department. He said that he is looking forward to the challenge and to working with city officials to bring about this significant change. Brown is a 27-year resident of Menifee where his three children grew up.

Kayla Charters gave a brief update on city activities. She announced that Menifee won several awards for administration practices, purchased new CPR equipment for the Menifee Fire Department and received a $500,000 grant to build a new median on Antelope Road. Charters said that the newly constructed City Hall offices should open in late February, and she reminded everyone that the city will continue the quarterly held business spotlight program.

Zimmerman spoke about all the upcoming changes in Menifee. He welcomed the newly elected councilmember, Dean Deines. Zimmerman said that Deines had 28 years of experience with Riverside County and was bringing that valuable financial expertise to his new position.

George Mills, the incoming chairman for the chamber, said that his goal is to provide local business with growth opportunities, and he promised to provide more value for their membership. He drew applause at his announcement to establish a First Responders Barbecue, a Menifee night at the Storm Stadium and a Menifee Night at the Fairgrounds.

At the end, LoPiccolo opened the event to public comment and introductions from insurance agents, real estate agents, dry cleaning services, nonprofits, florists, a gift basket business owner and more.

For more information on Menifee, visit or

To reach Veteran Sisters, visit

Pat Murphy can be reached by email at [email protected]

Pat Murphy photo

Menifee Mayor Bill Zimmerman enjoys a cup of coffee during Wake Up Menifee, Thursday, Jan. 3 at Blitzer's Yogurt.


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