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Menifee 24/7

VOL. 2 NO. 6


no more riding these rails Railroad has history here, but tracks are rusting away

Officials battle funding issues

By DOUG SPOON Editor The tracks are still there, bent and broken in places, railroad ties missing, metal rusting in the desert sun. Chances are, you only notice them in places where they seem inconvenient. Places where a railroad crossing is still marked on the pavement and the weather-worn wooden gates stand as silent sentinels. Places where they seem to serve no purpose, yet refuse to go away. These railroad tracks, built in the late 1800s, are as much a reminder of Menifee’s storied past as the Native American petroglyphs on hidden boulders or the “ringing rock” along Haun Road. Their pathways could never be traveled by rail again, unless a whole new rail system is installed. Even so, history buffs and hikers alike can get a sense of what “modern” transportation was like more than a century ago by walking along the abandoned tracks and imagining the hiss of steam locomotives carrying freight and passengers


of the Post since 1990. He urged other local veterans to join the Post, which has about 100 members. “We used to have a lot of World War II veterans,” Espejo said. “Now we have five. We don’t want our post to die. We want our young veterans to join with us.” Thomas Garcia, a veteran who now serves as Commander of the NJROTC unit at Paloma

Valley High School, was also honored. He has led a fundraising effort to send his cadets to Florida for a national competition. They are trying to raise the last $17,000 of the $40,000 needed to fund the trip. Guillermo Valdez retired from the U.S. Navy in 2010 after serving in Operation Desert Storm,

Feeling like your community needs to make more progress in terms of public safety? Well, if it makes you feel any better, you’re not alone. Riverside County officials say the combination of exploding population growth and limited funds has created just as big a challenge for the entire region as it has for Menifee. The CEO of Riverside County recently told an audience at Menifee’s Oasis senior community that while the population of Riverside County increases by about 50,000 per year, revenue is less than it was during the lean years of 2007-08. “We’re still climbing out of the hole of that recession,” said George Johnson. “We know infrastructure continues to be a problem, and we want to continue working with Menifee on that issue. The population growth has put a tremendous strain on services and programs we can deliver. “In addition, AB 109 has put a strain on the criminal justice system. We have to figure out how we’re going to operate with the resources we have.” Sound familiar? Menifee police reports often refer to offenders who are quickly put back on the streets because of state legislation designed not to build more prisons, but to force counties to take more serious criminals into already overcrowded county jails. At the same time, Menifee’s police force remains far short of county guidelines for officers per 1,000

See VFW / A3



lived in Menifee the last 20 years. “It was only a matter of seconds before they announced on the ship’s system, ‘Man your battle stations, this is no drill.’ “We all scrambled for our battle stations. We didn’t have [battle] equipment at my station. I stood as an observer and watched total destruction before me.” Verano’s ship was not hit. As the U.S. entered World War II, Verano

made important contributions by breaking Japanese code in locations throughout the South Pacific. Even watching it first-hand, Verano said that as a 23-year-old Navy sailor, he didn’t really grasp the impact of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor until much later. But today, at age 100, he can look back and appreicate the many experiences in his life.

Above, railroad tracks unused since 1996 can still be seen between rows of trees just southwest of Grand Avenue and Leon Road on the border of Menifee and Winchester. Below, that same stretch of track was used during the filming of a “Wild, Wild West” TV episode in 1965, showing a train the way it looked in the late 1800s. The route ran from Perris east to Hemet and then north to San Jacinto.


VFW pays tribute to area veterans Menifee 24/7 Staff Local veterans were honored for their military service Jan. 20 when VFW Post 1956 of Menifee held its first annual Awards and Recognition Luncheon. The event was held at Kay Ceniceros Center and was sponsored by Jeff and Sharon Nelson of NPG Asphalt of Perris. It is planned as a yearly event

Public safety concern remains

to recognize VFW members for their service to their country. “We realized that there really was no reception for the veterans,” said Vietnam veteran and Post Commander Michael Cano about Post 1956, which has been very active in the community since 1960. “We had kind of lost contact with some people. So many things have happened over the

years, that we tend to forget things we should remember. “There are approximately 9,800 veterans in this valley. Sometimes you walk right by a veteran and you never know it. We’re getting these people to come together, and I want to continue this.” Among the honorees was Tony Espejo, a Korean War Air Force veteran who has been a member

Menifee 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon Navy veteran Frank Verano is presented a U.S. flag on his 100th birthday.

Pearl Harbor survivor saluted as he turns 100 Frank Verano was eating breakfast aboard the USS Detroit, a Light Cruiser moored in Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when something happened he can still describe in detail today. “I heard a loud sound I identified as an underwater explosion, like a depth charge,” said Verano, a Navy veteran who has



February 2018


New Fire Station 7 opens for service Facility will be one of state’s busiest By DOUG SPOON Editor The long-awaited new Menifee Fire Station 7 was opened to considerable fanfare Jan. 10, with City and Fire Department officials joining a large crowd in touring the $4 million facility on Bradley Road. The station is Menifee’s first public facility owned and operated by the City. It is more than twice as large as the old Station 7, operated by Riverside County and located farther north on Bradley Road, near McCall Boulevard. It will house a crew that works the busiest firehouse in Riverside County. “This new station will provide more equipment space and will improve response times,” said Josh Bischof, Ballation Chief, during the dedication ceremony. “The City of Menifee is a very public safety-minded city. The City Council has committed to the safety of their citizens and their firefighters.” Fire Station 7 was built on part of the lot formerly occupied by the Kings Inn, a landmark structure in the early days of the Sun City community, on Bradley Road south of Cherry Hills Boulevard. A commemorative plaque stands in front of the fire station, which includes an 8,173-square-foot facility with 3,805 square feet of administrative and living space and 4,368 square feet of a detached appara-

Menifee 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon A large crowd gathered inside the new Menifee Fire Station 7 Jan. 10 for the official opening of the facility on Bradley Road. tus bay. The design of the station includes stucco walls, a stone facade and a window-covered perched tower entry. The energy efficient building uses LED lighting and other features to reduce electricity usage, as well as water efficient fixtures. The living quarters accommodates an eight-person crew with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, Captain’s quarters, a full commercial kitchen, state-of-the-art workout room and space for the city’s Emergency Operations Center. “This facility will dramatically overcome limitations that existed in

the old fire station,” said Greg August, City Council member representing District 1, the Sun City community in Menifee. “This station will provide the needed space and increased living and equipment facility that will benefit the city for years to come.” Menifee Mayor Neil Winter also praised the new facility. “This represents a lot of foresight -- not just for the present City Council, but for all the citizens of Menifee,” Winter said. “You all asked for two things -- good roads and a safe community. This represents another step toward a safe community.”

Menifee 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon The new fire station features state-of-the-art equipment.

Petition tactics draw mayor’s ire Zip code issue only one part of the problem

A new chapter in the Tale of Two Petitions was written Jan. 17, with tensions between a single Menifee resident and Mayor Neil Winter reaching a boiling point. Menifee City Council members unanimously voted to make an official written request to the U.S. Postal Service to reassign the city name Menifee as the default mailing name for all four zip codes associated with the city -- 92584, 92585, 92586 and 92587. In addition, the Post Office will be instructed to list the community names Sun City, Romoland and Quail Valley as acceptable names for use as well. What difference does it make, you ask? Postal officials acknowledge they use the zip code, not city name, in delivering mail, so postal items addressed to any of those names have always been delivered to the proper address. But John Smelser, a resident at a Heritage Lake address that previously had a zip code default name of Sun City, believes it makes a whole lot of difference. Smelser contends that companies that purchase mailing lists from the Post Office use the default name, as well as the Department of Motor Vehicles. He insists he is a resident of Menifee, not Sun

Nicks new community services director Menifee 24/7 Staff

Menifee 24/7 photos: Doug Spoon Menifee Mayor Neil Winter( left) opposed the way resident John Smelser handled the zip code issue. City, and he wants that city name listed on his drivers license and other documents. Others have supported his additional statements that online ordering of items has been complicated by the process in the past. Winter does not have a problem with the change. It’s the way Smelser has gone about it that has drawn his ire. After addressing the City Council on this matter several times last year, Smelser said he got tired of waiting for a response. He launched a petition drive intended to force the council to take action, even while Winter was promising to research the issue and put the item on the council agenda. Not only that, Smelser reacted to the perceived lack of response by teaming with former mayor Scott Mann to file a second petition to place on the ballot a recall

of Measure DD, the 1 percent sales tax approved by voters a year ago. Winter and other city officials believe Smelser brought forward the Measure DD recall petition as a form of blackmail in attempting to force the zip code change. During the Nov. 1 council meeting, after addressing the zip code issue at three meetings in September and October, Smelser told council members he was prepared to file two petitions and “you are not going to like the second petition.” Moreover, during an Oct 18 appearance before the council, Smelser made a comment Winter considered racist in accusing previous council members of bowing to the demands of Sun City residents in neglecting to make the zip code name change. “You seem to prefer the all-white community in

the housing tract of Sun City over the mixed communities of Quail Valley and Romoland,” Smelser said during public comments. “There is no reason for less than 20 people in the housing tract of Sun City to control your inaction on the vote to make Menifee our preferred name in the U.S. Postal System.” The rift between Smelser and Winter grew when Winter talked to at least two people collecting signatures for the Measure DD petition and claimed they were spreading misinformation about the issue. Menifee 24/7 confirmed these claims by talking to a woman collecting signatures in front of the Target store in Countryside Marketplace. She incorrectly stated that voters never approved Measure DD, then said she was confused and was collecting signatures only

because she was being paid to do so. And in a Nov. 4 email to Winter, Smelser threatened to file a third petition -- to recall Winter as mayor. “When this person [Smelser] got no response from these threats, the threat came to City Hall to attack people’s vote to pass the tax Measure DD,” Winter read as part of a lengthy prepared statement. “A statement was made that if I would make the zip code name changes, he would drop his next petition drive to recall me for not taking action... “So because of this one person who has joined forces with an ousted past elected official [Mann], we are having this discussion tonight. I have no problem with this action, only that it has been brought to us as a dictate and demand...”

New Menifee City Manager Armando Villa’s first major hire came Jan. 18, when City of Menifee officials announced that Jonathan Nicks is the new community services director. Nicks has 20 years of local government experience, according to a news release, including his most recent position as deputy director of Orange County parks and community services. He also served as executive director of the Placentia Community Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for local community programs. “I am thrilled to begin working with the City of Menifee team,” Nicks said in the press release. “With Menifee being a relatively new city, I see great opportunities to make an impact in the organization and within the community as the city continues to grow and develop.” Nicks holds a Master of Public Administration from Cal State Long Beach and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Cal State Fullerton. He is a member of the National Parks & Recreation Association, American Public Works Association, and California Parks & Recreation Society.


February 2018

A Valentine’s Day story...

Menifee couple married 76 years


In the next four pages, we pay tribute to some of Menifee’s longest lasting marriages. And we start off with the longest one of all!

By DOUG SPOON Editor It all started one day in 1940 in a roller skating rink in Akron, Ohio. That’s where 19-year-old Rex Finley met a pretty 16-year-old girl named Irene. “He seemed old to me – almost too old,” Irene Finley, age 93, says now with a smile. The two soon began dating, however. As Rex tells it, they skated “every night from 7-11 and twice on Saturday and Sunday. I worked there and managed the floor. We were both pretty good skaters.” Apparently, they were pretty good as a couple, too. Married a year later – six days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 – Rex and Irene Finley recently celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary. Of those who responded to our request for long-time married couples, Rex and Irene have been married the longest. Having lived in the Menifee area since 1986, the Finleys moved into the Sun City Gardens assisted living and retirement community last year. They remain active and continue to celebrate a life that has brought them four children, 13 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren. “We’re very close,” said Rex Finley, who’s age 96. “Our whole family num-

Irene and Rex Finley were married in 1941 and recently celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary. Below, Irene and Rex are shown in their early days together. They are 93 and 96 years old, respectively. bers about 59. And I’ve never heard one word from one family member saying about another one, ‘I don’t like this person.’ It couldn’t be a more perfect family.” Soon after their marriage in 1941, Rex spent three years in the Army as a radio intelligence officer. Upon his return, he worked first briefly for a Goodyear rubber plant, then began a 33-year career as a mail carrier. Halfway through that career, he and Irene moved out west to Canoga Park.


From Page A1 Operation Iraqi Freedom and many other deployments. He was honored for his efforts in promoting Post 1956 on social media and with the Post newsletter. Also honored was Robert B. Fuhrmann, a sergeant in the U.S. Army with the 101st Airborne Division who won a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam. Albeno B. Reale, a World War II veteran who was recognized with a Bronze Star and other awards. Another World War II veteran honored at the luncheon was Edgar Hustead. He was a gunner with the 191st field artillery. He later re-enlisted to serve in the Korean War. Other honorees included Jim Wallace, Edward Resnick and Kelly Leflore. Gift baskets were presented courtesy of NPG Asphalt to all veterans and their spouses. A representative of Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley also presented certificates to some of the honorees. “It’s important to me to see people involved in the Post,” Cano said. “Some veterans sit at home, they’re lonely, their spouses have died, they need help. Some don’t know the benefits the VA offers. We want to help them.” For more information on VFW Post 1956, call 951-246-8411.

“Our first home, we paid $4,100,” said Rex, who made $2,100 a year delivering mail in 1946. “The first house we bought out here (in California) was $13,000. After I retired, we bought a home for $138,000.” Rex said the values he and his wife developed came out of the depression, when they learned to appreciate what they had. “The Depression was altogether a different time than now,” Rex said. “No one had anything. I lived on a street with 19 houses

but only three people had cars. The rest of us did without. The Depression taught us a lot about the way to face life.” One of the things it taught them, Rex said, was how to manage their money. To this day, he said, they have never had a disagreement about finances. “We’ve had an interesting life,” Rex said. “We’ve never had a serious quarrel in our life. “Money is one of the main things couples argue about. We never argued about money. For several years she sold real estate and she made more money than I did. But never was it ‘my money, your money.’ ” Rex spent much of his life playing baseball and softball. As a teenager, he and his brother played on a team that finished third in the state tournament. He is a Senior Softball Hall of Famer who played in the senior league in Menifee until a couple years ago. “Some people say you have to like the same things to stay together this long,” Rex said. “She never cared about baseball, as much as I played. She sat and watched me play, but we never sat and watched a game together. She read and read and read, and I didn’t read. I read small articles, she read novels by the dozens. “Our family is what kept us together.”

VERANO From Page A1

Menifee 24/7 photos: Doug Spoon Above, Korean War veteran Tony Espejo addresses the crowd. Below, World War II veterans Al Reale (left) and Edgar Hustead were also honored.

Verano celebrated his 100th birthday Jan. 28 with more than 150 friends and family at The Club, a retirement community in Menifee. Still one of the most active residents in the community, Verano smiled as he was greeted by those around him. “A lot of people know me here -- mostly because I used to fix a lot of their computers,” Verano said with a smile. After spending six years in the Navy, Verano returned to his native Michigan, where he became a pioneer in the development of computer technology. “I went home and met up with a good friend from high school,” Verano said. “I had a feeling what he was working on could be applied to what I wanted to do. We did a lot of experimenting in the basement, and we ended up making printing equipment.” Meanwhile, Verano was attending college – first at Michigan State and then at MIT. Using the experience he developed with radar systems in the Navy and his driving ambition, Verano played a key role in technological development. Verano said the first computer he worked on, in 1952 at MIT, was a “monster” that used a punch tape input system.

When a co-worker left to work at IBM, Verano was the last to use the computer before moving on to the next generation of technology. “I turned off the power switch on that computer for the very last time,” Verano recalled. “It was very significant in the development of solid-state electronics. Then the next big thing was optics. “During the war, the Navy started installing radar systems on the ships. After the war, the electronics technology being used was basically the same as on the radar systems we used on the ships.” Verano didn’t marry until age 40. The couple didn’t have children but were married for 47 years until his wife passed away. He spends his days keeping himself fit, chatting with his friends, and of course fixing computer problems of those around him.

February 2018



Menifee couples, milestone marriages...

72 YEARS ... Joe and Doris Rahm

64 YEARS ... Mercy and Roy Matthys

64 YEARS ... Ciro and Tina Licciardi

62 YEARS ... Pat and Jim Kirkpatrick 62 YEARS ... Don and Barbara Ross

60 YEARS ... Lois and Dale Powers, today and at Lois’ high school prom

February 2018



Celebrating 50 years, 60, 70 and more!

58 YEARS ... Armand and Doreen Fournier

57 YEARS ... Nancy Jean and John Bics

56 YEARS ... Diane and Ed Arasim, then and now

54 YEARS ... Robert and Jacqueline Sacheli

54 YEARS ... Anne and Doug Marshall, today and back in the good old days



February 2018

Menifee 24/7 salutes these happy couples

53 YEARS ... Carolyn and John Convey 52 YEARS ... Susanna and Jerry Hager (Susanna passed away Jan. 1, 2018)

52 YEARS ... Joanne and Mike McGavran, today and five decades ago

50 YEARS ... Josefina and Robert Greenwood

50 YEARS ... Linda and Dave Morrison, today and on their wedding day

February 2018




from Perris east to San Jacinto and back. And by talking to people like Bob Kent. A Menifee resident and retired geologist, Kent recently gave a presentation to the Menifee Valley Historical Association on the history of the railroad in Riverside and San Diego counties. A crowd of about 60 people listened intently as Kent described the network of railways that once ran through this part of Southern California. Construction of the railroad that eventually reached Menifee began in 1881 in National City near San Diego, according to Kent. A man named Frank Kimball and his brothers bought a 26-acre ranch there with the goal of building a railroad all the way to the Nevada border, where it would connect to train lines heading east. Fred Perris, for whom the nearby city is named, was one of four engineers who surveyed the land. Between 2,000 and 3,000 men worked on the project, which was a subsidiary railroad of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. They blasted through miles of cliffs to build the railroad through Oceanside, inland to Fallbrook, on through Temecula, and eventually through Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Riverside before connecting with the Southern Pacific Railroad in Colton. The group included as many as 1,500 Chinese laborers, many of whom were bought down from San Francisco for the project. It was dangerous work; injuries during blasting were common. At one time, nine bridges enabled the railroad to cross over the Santa Margarita River. Their construction, and the dangerous blasting through mountain sides, resulted in several of the Chinese workers threatening to abandon the job. According to Kent, engineers designing the project didn’t count on the

Menifee 24/7 photos: Doug Spoon Miles of rusting track with pieces of rail and ties missing are surrounded by weeds in Menifee. Below left, historian Bob Kent describes the history of the local railroad to guests at the Menifee Valley Historical Association Below right, chunks of brick laying near the tracks north of the Heritage Lake development could be part of a siding where Menifee farmers loaded goods onto railroad cars.

flood potential of western rivers. Several times areas of track constructed too close to river beds flooded, washing away portions of track. A flood in 1884 created water 26 feet deep in places. After another flood in 1891, the line from Fallbrook to Temecula was washed out and not replaced. In 1916, flood waters washed out another six miles of track in the Fallbrook area. Service to Elsinore was stopped in 1927 after another flood. Long before that, however, construction of the San Jacinto Valley Railway Company carried trains from Per-

ris east through Menifee, Winchester, Hemet and into San Jacinto. Crops, chickens and other agricultural items were transported, including grain from Menifee that was sent to a mill in Colton. Herk Bouris and other longtime wheat farmers in the Menifee area would load grain right from the fields onto railroad cars at a siding located next to what is now a dirt stretch of Case Road between Menifee Road and Briggs Road, recalls Betty Bouris, Herk’s widow. Betty Bouris recalls the siding, where rail cars could be taken off the

main track for loading. A dirt path a few feet from the existing tracks appears to be where the siding was located. Kent said a box car once stood there, used as a station house. Another railway once ran through the canyon between Menifee and Lake Elsinore where the aptly named Railroad Canyon Road now exists. After a dam was built in 1927 and Canyon Lake was created, the railway eventually was discontinued. Tracks that run along

the south side of Highway 74 in the Romoland community eventually cross Menifee Road, then run just north of homes in the Heritage Lake development and past the site of the old siding, where only a few strewn bricks here and there remain. The rails then cross Briggs Road a few yards south of where it connects with Case (also known as Matthews) Road for a short distance of dirt road which ends on pavement that takes motorists either

east on Matthews Road or north via a left turn toward Heritage High School. The railroad’s role in that stretch of road is a factor in an ongoing struggle to get the road paved (see related article). A short distance east of Briggs Road, the tracks run through a grove of eucalyptus trees just north of a reservoir that can be seen by motorists traveling on Simpson Road. That stretch of railroad was used in the filming of a 1965 episode of the “Wild Wild West” television series. An 1880s model locomotive with passenger cars was brought in, and series co-star Robert Conrad mentions the nearby town of Menifee several times. The episode is titled “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife” and can be viewed on YouTube. The railroad through Menifee was in use from 1888 to 1996. The Santa Fe Railroad still owns the railroad easement, although Riverside County purchased the tracks. Because of the Railroad’s property easement ownership, that corridor will remain as is, even though it would have to be reconstructed to be used again. It’s doubtful that would happen, meaning that a pathway into Menifee’s past will continue to run both through open fields and alongside modern housing tracts.

‘Dirt Man’s Curve’ remains a problem By DOUG SPOON Editor One might call it “Dirt Man’s Curve.” Locals often describe it in more colorful terms. It’s an L-shaped roadway in northeast Menifee where the pavement ends and Briggs Road becomes a bumpy stretch of dirt road that leads motorists into a right turn onto Matthews Road for less than 50 yards before the pavement resumes. Many motorists then immediately turn left to head north once again on Briggs Road toward Heritage High School. For years, residents have been complaining about Dirt Man’s Curve. It’s bad enough that the dirt road is chopped up by the frequent traffic, resulting in a bumpy ride over abandoned railroad tracks and around a sharp corner through more bumps in the road. When it rains, the road floods. As Menifee has grown and traffic between the Heritage Lake community and Heritage High School has increased, the cries for

Menifee 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon Bent and rusted railroad tracks approach a dirt portion of Briggs Road heading east toward Winchester. action have intensified. Why, people ask, is it so difficult to get that short portion of road paved? Having a railroad easement running through the area complicates the issue, but an official with the Riverside County

Transportation Commission says the years-long delay in paving the road can be attributed to a residential developer. John Standiford of the RCTC told Menifee 24/7 he is in regular contact with the project manager

of Heritage Lake residential development for CalAtlantic Homes, which is obligated to pave the road as a condition of its development agreement. So far, he said, CalAtlantic has not agreed to fulfill that obligation.

Standiford said the Railroad retains rights to the railway easement, which means there will always be a right of way for tracks crossing Briggs Road at that point. However, he said that does not prevent the County from

paving the road once CalAtlantic comes up with the required funds to pay for it. Brian Jacobson, the project manager for the Heritage Lake project at CalAtlantic, referred media inquiries to the corporate office. That office has not responded to a Menifee 24/7 inquiry about its lack of action in the paving project. Like Standiford, the Menifee city engineer and head of public works said he has been unable to get anywhere with Jacobson on the paving agreement. According to Jonathan Smith, the original developer agreement was made with Riverside County before Menifee was incorporated. Although CalAtlantic agreed to pave that stretch of road, neither a dollar amount nor a deadline was specified. What can the City of Menifee do to enforce that part of the development agreement? Smith says he will not sign off on certificates of occupancy for any of the additional homes CalAtlantic plans until the road is paved.


February 2018


SAFETY From Page A1

residents. Why? In part, because a shortage of county funds has resulted in the Board of Supervisors raising rates for cities that contract with the county for Sheriff’s Department protection – like Menifee. So what’s the answer? That could be summed up in one word: Patience. Menifee city officials shake their heads when they hear some of the rumors circulating on social media alleging misuse of funds generated over the last year through Measure DD, the 1 percent sales tax approved by voters in November 2016. Because of the restoration of an estimated $6 million per year in vehicle license fees that were denied the City from 2011 until last spring, some residents have suggested that part of the Measure DD is disappearing into the pockets of city officials. Why the suspicion on the part of critics? Because the eight additional patrol officers added to the City’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department last July have not yet been added to the Menifee police force. That, however, is only because of the time it takes to recruit and train more officers to fill such positions, as Menifee Po-

Menifee 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon Residents of the Oasis community in Menifee listen to Riverside County officials’ presentation. lice Chief Greg Fellows has stated in the past. Residents may have seen or heard recent advertising in which the Sheriff’s Department is seeking more recruits to meet the demand. As for the more than $3 million in Measure DD revenue budgeted to fund those positions? It’s sitting there waiting to be spent on those additional officers sometime later

this year. “The chief told us it’s going to take a little time to implement the program because they have to hire and train those officers,” said City Manager Armando Villa. “They’re halfway there. The Fire Department was a little quicker to staff up their needs. We allocated Measure DD funds there as well, to buy the medic patrol unit and add para-



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medics.” The current budget includes the following amounts added to public safety efforts using the estimated revenue from Measure DD: -- Additional police services staffing: $3,499,420 -- Additional fire services staffing: $1,999,000 -- Scott Road interchange project: $2,000,000 -- Pavement management program: $910,850 The addition of the paramedic squad vehicle and five additional staff assigned to the new Fire Station 7 is a result of Measure DD funds that residents might overlook in the rush to demand more police officers. That expense is justified by the demand for service placed on Fire Station 7, which is the busiest in the county. At the Feb. 7 City Council meeting, City Engineer Jonathan Smith described the completion of a pavement project on




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Murrieta Road and the installation of sidewalks in two areas near schools, using roughly half of the $900,000 in Measure DD funds allocated to pay for part of that ongoing project. And the $2 million in Measure DD funds budgeted for the Scott Road Interchange is still there, waiting to be used when construction on that project begins later this year. Therefore, as city officials point out, the Measure DD funds are not being wasted. The greatest benefit is yet to be seen later this year. An exact accounting of Measure DD funds expenditures and budgeting will be presented by city staff to the Measure DD Citizens’ Oversight Committee on Feb. 13 in a 1 p.m. meeting at City Hall. “It is our hope over the next four months, we can begin to implement these other projects,” said Villa, who was hired as city manager in December. “The Measure DD funds are there to augment public services, particularly public safety. We need a whole bunch of infrastructure costing in the multimillions of dollars. We’re taking the opportunity to carve out chunks of that revenue for these projects. “The City has a fiveyear Capital Improvement Plan, and it lists all the projects we need. We said, ‘This year we’ll do this, in two years we’ll do this.’ Thanks to DD, we will be able to implement public infrastructure faster.” Villa is well aware that a petition is being circulated to gather enough signatures to put on the No-

vember ballot a measure to recall Measure DD. Several residents have complained publicly that some petitioners are giving out false information about the issue. Villa was asked what would happen to the city budget if Measure DD were recalled at the end of the year. “We would have to amend our contract with the Sheriff’s Department to not give us the extra positions we funded,” he said. As for the many socalled “minor” offenders who are out on local streets because of AB 109 … well, that’s an issue that county officials are dealing with. At the recent State of the County presentation to Oasis community members, CEO Johnson said the County has budgeted $400 million to build a new detention center in Indio. It will add 1,300 jail beds to the county system. But officials acknowledge more needs to be done. “We don’t have enough jail beds,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told Menifee 24/7 after the Oasis presentation. “That’s going to get us an extra 1,300 beds, and that’s probably all we’re going to get for a while. “We have to find a way to best use our jail beds. At that point we will have 4,500 jail beds, roughly. For our population and the number of people who go into jail, that’s going to have to be it. “For low level offenders, we’re going to have to look at alternatives to jail. Work release, for example. For the very lowest offenders, community service. For first-time offenders … well, we’re going to have to conserve those beds for those who really need it. If we have someone who’s committing crimes, more serious crimes, we have to make sure we have a system that protects that capacity. “I don’t think we can expect new (state) legislation. That would fix it, but don’t hold your breath. It will have to be fixed at the local county level. There must be cooperation between the DA’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department and the public defenders.” Public safety is a challenge that isn’t going away. It’s a matter of money and manpower. In Menifee, both those factors are increasing. And city officials hope residents don’t vote to take them away.

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Inside Menifee 24/7 FEBRUARY 2018



New high school fund source considered Bond measure could alleviate fund shortage from state By DOUG SPOON Editor One of the most often asked questions regarding the school system in Menifee is the status of the new high school, which has been on the drawing board for years. Many residents have asked what they paid for in taxes to support the 2012 approved bond Measure T if there’s still no new high school being built? Officials of the Perris Union High School District, which includes both Paloma Valley and Heritage high schools, are just as tired of giving the same old answer as residents are of hearing it. In short, the $75 million set aside from Measure T funds to pay half the cost of a new high school has been held in waiting … waiting for the state’s promised matching $75 million. For more than three years, since architectural plans were approved for a $150 million high school to be built on Leon Road north of Scott Road, PUHSD officials – along with administrators in many other California districts – have been waiting for matching funds allocated by the State of California. Grant Bennett, PUHSD superintendent, estimates that less than $400 million of the $9 billion authorized to fund schools through the passage of Prop. 51 in 2016 has been released by Governor Brown. “Jerry Brown’s been

An artist’s rendering shows some proposed exterior scenes of the new high school planned for the southeast portion of Menifee. dragging his feet on the Prop. 51 money,” Bennett said. “We’re figuring we have to do it ourselves or we’re going to be so far behind that by the time that school opens, Paloma Valley will be over 4,000 kids.” Paloma Valley’s student population already is at about 3,200 – several hundred over the capacity for which it was built in the 1990s. Estimates are that considering Menifee’s growth, the school would reach the 4,000 mark within five years. That’s why the PUHSD governing board last year authorized the district to move ahead with a feasibility study of another bond measure to fund the $75 million needed for the new high school, as well as additional funds to improve existing schools in the district. A sampling of registered voters were recently asked if they would support a bond measure for that purpose, and more

than 61 percent said yes. If the proposed $148 million bond measure is placed on the November ballot and passes, PUHSD would in essence move on without the state funding and begin construction of a new Menifee high school, which would open in August of 2021. More taxes? Well, how badly does Menifee need that new high school? “We never want to go out and ask for taxpayer money, but this is the situation we find ourselves in,” said Candace Reines, deputy superintendent of PUHSD. “Do we ask the community if they want this to be a locally funded high school or do we want to continue waiting while our schools are overcrowded? “Residents might ask, ‘What if the state money were to come through eventually?’ We have a facilities master plan that covers a lot more of these things. Part of our study

session was to identify priority projects. In the Menifee area, top priority is a new high school. But if state money were to come through, that would allow us to move on to Paloma Valley with more improvements.” Construction has already begun on some improvements at Paloma Valley, which lacks larger, flexible-sized classrooms suitable for today’s tech-oriented curriculum. There is no multipurpose room and some portable classes are being used. Plans have also been approved for a new two-story, 10-classroom building to be built at the back of the campus, near the current classroom structure of similar size. Even so, that precious $75 million is still set aside for the new high school, while awaiting the other half of the construction cost. Bennett said he expects to be ready by June to

ask the school board to approve placement of a bond measure on the ballot. Meanwhile, residents will be receiving mailers which they can return with feedback. Residents can also find useful information on the issue at a new page on the district website: http://www.puhsd. org/pages/KeepingPace. There will also be two town hall meetings to solicit input from residents. The first will take place March 1 at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Perris High School. The second will take place March 26 at 6 p.m. in the theater at Paloma Valley High School. Bennett said the opening of a new school would be “a step on the road” to creating a Menifee Unified School District. The PUHSD has been working with officials of the Menifee Union School District to facilitate such an expansion of MUSD, but the new high school is needed

before this can happen, he said. If MUSD becomes a Unified School District, it would have to include all high school students who live in Menifee. The plan for unification is to build the new high school and have a unified Menifee district including that high school and Paloma Valley. Heritage would remain in the PUHSD, but the approximately 1,200 Heritage students who live in Menifee would have to be moved to a Menifee school. “They need the new high school to be able to unify,” Bennett said. “If they didn’t and they took the 1,200 students from Heritage, they’d have about 4,500 students at Paloma Valley.” Plans for the new school include state-of-the-art classrooms and amenities, including an athletic stadium and theater. School boundaries would have to be determined.

Top scholar-athletes at Menifee high schools signed letters of intent Wednesday to accept scholarships to four-year colleges and universities. Five athletes were honored at Heritage High School as they accepted scholarships before a packed gym. Running back Sherod White (Montana State), linebacker Jesse Estrada (College of Idaho) and lineman Avante Robbs (Dixie State) received football scholarships. White rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 20

touchdowns for the Patriots football team, which finished with an 11-2 record, reaching the CIF semifinals. Skyelar McIntyre accepted a volleyball scholarship to Benedictine University, while Katelyn Thomas became the school’s first aquatics athlete to accept a scholarship, signing a swimming scholarship offer from Concordia University. At Paloma Valley High School, Travis Shaff-Brown signed a baseball scholarship to Colorado Christian Uni-

versity. Shaff-Brown is a left-handed pitcher who throws nearly 90 miles per hour. Marie Marlow became the first student from Santa Rosa Academy to accept an athletic scholarship, signing a letter of intent to play soccer at the University of San Francisco. Marlow scored 128 goals in her four-year high school career at Santa Rosa and made the allleague team all four years. The talented senior has been team captain the last two seasons.

Area athletes accept college scholarships

Menifee 24/7 photos: Doug Spoon Above, five Heritage High athletes sign letters of intent; below left, Travis Shaff-Brown signs his letter; right, Santa Rosa’s Marie Marlow and family.



February 2018

True giving of oneself These three honorees are examples of service

Castillejos: Epitome of hometown hero By DOUG SPOON Editor Jennafer Griswold worked for nearly 10 years with Mike Castillejos on the committee organizing the annual Menifee Relay for Life to fight cancer. She said that no matter what project Castillejos was working on, he was available for all but eight days a year. “Mike was a huge Chargers fan,” Griswold said. “As soon as he got their schedule, he would map that out and tell everyone, ‘These are the days I’m not available.’ We would get notice six months ahead of time. He thought that far ahead in his planning. “Those really were the only times he wasn’t available to serve others. With Mike’s help, we raised close to $300,000 for the American Cancer Society. And he had time for everyone. Even after meeting you just one time, he would get up and go across the room to greet you the next time. No one comes close to his kind-

ness and grace.” Mike Castillejos might have been the most organized man in Menifee. From all accounts, he might also have been the most compassionate. Both during his long career as a bank president in town and after his recent retirement, Castillejos was involved in virtually every big volunteer organization in Menifee, always giving of his time with a smile and a willingness to help others. Castillejos died suddenly at age 61 from complications of pneumonia on Jan. 14. As the community mourns the loss of a man twice named Menifee Citizen of the Year, Menifee 24/7 posthumously honors him as a Hometown Hero. The criteria for our recently announced Hometown Hero award program is to be someone who is recognized by others as one who truly makes a difference. This applies to no one more than Castillejos. One of his favorite volunteer organizations was the American Cancer Society

Menifee Relay for Life, for which he served on the organization committee for the past 10 years, including as chairman. He also had been a member of the Rotary Club of Menifee since 2001 and served as president in 2007-07. In addition, Castillejos served as board member with the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce, including serving as president. He also was a member of the Knights of Columbus 7846 and

was Grand Knight for two years. He devoted time to the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard and Menifee Santa’s Workshop as well, in addition to many other charities. “Mike had a heart for people,” said Linda Denver, who served alongside Castillejos in the Rotary Club and other organizations. “It was related to his faith in God. He just had that spirit in him; he wanted to serve. “Everything everyone is

saying about him is true. I can’t say enough about his character. He was honest and dependable, and he has the kindest spirit I have ever known.” Denver concurred with Griswold and others who said they never heard Castillejos say a negative thing about anyone. “He never had a bad thing to say, even when he had an obvious opportunity to be sarcastic or critical,” Denver said. “That goes to his love of God. I know where Mike is now.” Darci Castillejos, Mike’s wife of 34 years, is also very involved in the community. She said Mike’s passion for community service goes way back. “It really goes back to his early days at Bank of America,” Darci said in reference to Mike’s days working for a bank in Temecula. “Employees would do volunteer activities with the March of Dimes and other organizations. Mike derived a lot of joy out of that. “How did he keep up

with everything? He was just that kind of guy who got joy out of serving. He was very organized. He simply made it work, and he was tireless.” Darci said Mike got involved with organizing the Menifee Relay for Life because of friends who had died of cancer and in memory of his father, who died from the disease, as well as Darci’s mother. “That event touched him personally,” said Darci, shown at left with Mike. “He saw how well the event could be done, and it was very moving to him. That was probably one of his favorite events to work.” Regarding Mike’s service with the Rotary Club, Darci said Mike “saw the value in the good things they do. He appreciated the energy that goes into their projects that give back to the world. The same with the Knights of Columbus. He was very committed to his faith, even though he didn’t wear it on his sleeve.”

Sims: Teaching is labor of love

Amy Frahn (right) poses with members of the Menifee Challengers baseball program.

Meeting challenges on field Frahn serves disabled children with local baseball program Amy Frahn, the first honoree in Menifee 24/7’s new “Hometown Heroes” program, is a great example of service to others. We are proud to recognize her for her volunteer work in the community. Seven years ago, Frahn reactivated a baseball program designed to give disabled children the opportunity to participate in a sport. Since then, she has developed the Menifee Challengers program into an important outlet for physical activity for youth in baseball, football and cheerleading, with basketball in the planning stages. Frahn lost a young daughter to meningitis 25 years ago. She has looked for opportunities to help disabled children ever since. “If our daughter had lived, she would’ve been

mentally and physically handicapped,” Frahn said. “I knew I wanted to find ways to help children like that.” After Frahn moved to Menifee with her husband Jason in 2001, she learned from John Dreher, president of Menifee Valley Little League, that MVLL had previously had a Challengers program. “I asked John what happened to the program and he said they had nobody to take it over,” Frahn said. “I felt I was being led to start the program up again. I had John’s full support. He said, ‘Whatever you need, do it.’ “Without the support from John Dreher, I would never have been able to accomplish this. John and my family have supported me every step of the way.” Frahn set out on the difficult task of finding

children who could benefit from the program. She asked Menifee Union School District officials about sending fliers to Special Education classes but was told district policy dictated that all students had to receive a flier to publicize such an event. “I didn’t have the money to print that many fliers,” Frahn said. “I started going from school to school, standing in front of the school and talking to parents. I went to local meetings. When Facebook got bigger, the word spread.” That first season, the Challenger baseball program had 12 players. Last season, the program included 65. This year, Frahn expects more than 80 players to participate. The program has been expanded to include players from other cities that

don’t have such a league, including Murrieta, Temecula, Perris, Hemet, Moreno Valley, Wildomar and Canyon Lake. The program is sanctioned by the national Little League office, which has a policy that no player above the age of 26 can participate. But Frahn spoke to officials at the national office and was told she could accept players of any age, with those over 26 serving as coaches. The oldest participant she has had is 40. “We have players with Down syndrome, autism, those in wheelchairs and walkers, players who are non-verbal where we have to use sign language,” Frahn said. “We make sure all the players get up to bat, that they all get a hit and they all get a home run so they can circle the bases.”

“I believe the brain is incredible,” said Ken Sims. “All students can learn, no matter what their capacity is. It just takes time to provide systematic instruction in order to help them grow.” For 22 years in the Menifee Union School District, Sims has been doing just that, primarily as a Resource Specialist Position teacher. At Quail Valley Elementary School, Sims works with students who have learning disabilities to help them maximize their potential. One parent who says Sims has gone “beyond the call of duty” to help her two children progress in school believes he receives more recognition than he gets. She is the one who nominated Sims for our latest Hometown Hero award. “He’s more than just a hero to my kids,” Sondra Bunting said about Sims. “He’s an amazing teacher. He doesn’t just say, ‘You’re failing and you’re on your own.’ He told me he could tutor my children and I don’t have to pay anything. He will text me and say, ‘McKenna is not on track today. Here’s what I think we should do.’ He’s in constant contact if there are any concerns. “Mr. Sims is so dedicated to his job, on and off the clock. I don’t think he gets enough recognition for all he does. My kids really struggled in some areas and he showed them a way that they are learning better and getting better grades. He has the patience and the understanding that most teachers don’t.”

Sims worked with Bunting’s son, Kenyon Robinson, from kindergarten until he graduated to middle school. He now teaches Bunting’s daughter, fourth grader McKenna Jordan, whom he’s had as a student since first grade. Working with McKenna and others both before and after their other school classes and sometimes during the regular school day, he uses creative methods to motivate them and customize teaching to their interests. “The students can earn play money and then on Friday, he opens his store,” Bunting said. “They get to pick from things he buys himself. My son earned like 2,000 tickets and he bought a remote control dinosaur.” Sims says it’s all just part of his way of serving others. “I give money to church,” Sims said. “That’s called tithing. Well, part of my tithing is at church and part is here at school. I feel privileged that my creator has chosen me to do this. “The main part of what I do is take them where they’re at and instruct them on their level to help them improve.”

February 2018


Students excel in biomedical class Bhy EMILY HOOS Menifee 24/7 intern

At Santa Rosa Academy in Menifee, students are learning amazing things in one of the offered STEM electives, Biomedical Sciences. Biomedical Sciences is one of the main electives taught on campus at Santa Rosa Academy. It teaches students various skills and worthwhile information though the Project Lead The Way program. Year three Biomedical Science students are experiencing this first-hand, learning different surgical techniques and suturing skills. The third year of the Biomedical Science program, Medical Interventions, is one of the most

rigorous courses taught in the STEM program at Santa Rosa Academy. Students go through four units, each focusing, in depth, on different medical interventions. The most recent unit studied the logistics of surgical intervention. Students learned about organ donation and transplantation and how several medical procedures are executed by today’s surgeons. Delany Lizarraga, third-year Biomed student, described the learning material. “Although it’s complex, I am excited about the things we are learning and how applicable they are,” Lizarraga said. “I am learning things that I had no idea that I wanted to

even know.” Students were not only able to learn about these complex concepts, but were also able to put them into practice. Each student was able to practice several suturing techniques on real pigs’ feet to understand how it would feel to practice these procedures on patients. “It was surreal to be able to actually get a feel for what it would be like to give stitches to a person who needs them,” said senior Megan Evans. “I felt like a real surgeon and that’s what I love about biomed. It makes you realize that no matter how crazy your dreams may seem, they are always within reach.” Kirk Fisher, Biomed-

ical Science teacher of five years, continuously encourages his students to reach for goals that at times may seem out of reach, and to work hard to get there, said student Ari’ya McDonald. Santa Rosa Academy is located in Menifee and is a STEM-based charter school, excelling in science and math related subjects. One course that faultlessly represents the ideals of the presence of these classes within the school is a four-year biomedical elective course that the school offers to its high school students and even mandates two semesters of introductory to biomed for middle school students.

Students practice suturing techniques using pigs’ feet in the Santa Rosa Academy biomed class.

Measure DD funds support new sidewalks By DOUG SPOON Editor

made by a committee that proposed naming the school after the Native American history of the area. Since then, further consultation with the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has resulted in the selection of what is considered a more appropriate name. The school will be

named Taawila Elementary School. In the Native American language, Taawila means “sitting place.” The hills surrounding Audie Murphy Ranch was once a sacred gathering place for members of the Pechanga tribe. Ron Ulibarri, president of the Menifee Union School District governing

board, said the selection was made to accurately reflect the Native American tradition without using a name that is sacred for use only with the Pechanga Tribe. A public meeting will be held in the near future to discuss school boundaries affected by the opening of the new school.

The benefits of Measure DD tax dollars is seen again in Menifee with the completion of two sections of sidewalk that will provide extra safety for children walking to local schools. Through the City’s “Missing School Sidewalks” project, nearly 750 feet of sidewalk was constructed on the north side of Holland road, connecting existing sidewalk further west with existing sidewalk on South Shore Drive. This will create a safer path for students walking to South Shore Elementary School. In addition, the City constructed 1,240 feet of new sidewalk (left) on the south side of Garbani Road from Evans Road to Menifee Elementary School, which houses the Boys & Girls Club and is adjacent to Menifee Middle School.

a unique feature that isn’t currently offered by providers in the area. The rooms mirror an open bay concept with three walls and a curtain track in each. In addition, the state-ofthe-art unit offers: -- Lactation support to help ensure high exclusive breastfeeding rates

--Top perinatal department per patient satisfaction scores -- Direct access to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) and highest levels of expertise -- Family-centered care “No mother, father or family should have

to spend a minute away from their child,” said Peter Baker, JD, MBA, administrator of Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta. “Our new NICU will restore the connection between a newborn and their family during a critical time when support is needed

the most.” The hospital currently offers labor and delivery support, a skin-to-skin bonding program following delivery, 24/7 family visits, classes and support groups, and nursery care. The new NICU will be staffed by neonatal experts from LLUCH.

Menifee 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon Construction continues on the new elementary school being built in Audie Murphy Ranch.

New name chosen for new school Menifee 24/7 staff

Menifee Union School District board members voted Jan. 23 on a new name for the elementary school that will open next fall in the Audie Murphy Ranch community. In early January, board members chose a name from three suggestions


The sidewalk project, created in partnership with the Menifee Union School District, identifies 11 locations hear Menifee schools in need of sidewalks. When completed, the project will create 10,702 linear feet of sidewalk to improve pedestrian safety. The estimated $500,00 cost of the project will be paid using Measure DD funds. The 1 percent sales tax increase, approved by voters in November 2016, creates funds used by the City for public safety and infrastructure improvements. “Thanks to Menifee residents who voted for Measure DD, we now have access to critical funding to complete these vital safety improvements,” said Jonathan Smith, public works director and city engineer. “We’re working with our valued partners, like Menifee Union School District, to prioritize projects and get these sidewalks built.”

LLUMC – Murrieta and LLUCH are part of Loma Linda University Health, a faith-based health system, providing education, training, research and care to the Inland Empire community. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was celebrated on Oct. 30, 2017.

Loma Linda opens local NICU facility Loma Linda release Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta has opened its new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as part of a comprehensive plan to provide families and their newborns the care and comfort they need throughout the post-delivery process. The six-bed facility is a Level II NICU, enabling hospital staff to take care of the most common problems that can occur with premature infants born at or after 32 weeks gestation. This care can include short-term mechanical ventilation, treatment for jaundice, help with feeding, or treatment with antibiotics. The unit accepts readmits up to 28 days old for certain diagnoses, including sepsis infection. LLUMC – Murrieta delivers over 800 babies each year, with 8-10 percent of those newborns in need of additional special care. The new NICU offers six private rooms designed to allow parents to stay overnight in the same room as their baby,


February 2018


What can we learn from Turpin case? As most everyone knows by now, one of the most heinous cases of human abuse in Riverside County history took place less than a mile from Menifee -- and has made news around the world. Not since the murder of 10-year-old Terry Smith in Menifee in 2013 and the protests over busing of undocumented immigrants into Murrieta in 2014 has the national media descended in such numbers upon this area. The charges announced by Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin against David and Louise Turpin of Perris are so numerous and extreme, they are virtually unfathomable. At a press conference in Riverside Jan. 18, Hestrin announced that each of the suspects has been charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, and six counts of child abuse against the 13 children they kept confined to a home in the

Monument Ranch development of Perris. David Turpin also has been charged with one count of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear, or duress. Each defendant faces a potential sentence of about 94 years to life in prison. Details given by Hestrin after the children were interviewed and evidence recovered were horrific. A 29-year-old -- oldest of the children, who were all malnourished -- weighs just 82 pounds. As punishment, the children were beaten and sometimes chained to beds or furniture for weeks at a time, apparently not released even to go to the bathroom. They were fed just once a day and sometimes were forced to watch their parents eat meals in front of them. Hestrin also said that during part of the time the family lived in Texas, the parents lived apart from the children and only came to their house to feed them. Some of the

children lacked cognitive abilities, he said, and didn’t even know what a police officer was when Sheriff’s deputies arrived. David and Louise Turpin pleaded not guilty to all counts in a Riverside courtroom. It is certain that as the investigation continues, even more grisly details will come out. So what are we as nearby residents to take away from these horrible crimes? Is there a lesson

we can learn from this? Obviously, we already know not to starve our children, beat them and chain them to their beds. Is there any new lesson that can be learned? There is one thing we should already know but perhaps need to be reminded about. That’s the need to be willing to get to know and communicate with our neighbors. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been possible for neigh-

bors in the Monument Ranch community to learn of the abuse and report it to authorities before now, but it certainly might be possible for us to become more aware of our neighborhood surroundings and less afraid to report suspicious circumstances. In many cases, this kind of neighborly familiarity is not easy. Many Menifee residents work outside the area and spend hours commuting. Time at home is valuable and often is limited to activities inside the home. Block party? What’s that? Borrowing a cup of sugar next door? You might not even know your neighbor’s name, or be afraid to approach them. “A neighbor asked me, how does this happen and we not know this?” said Kimberly Milligan, who lives across the street from the house where the crimes occurred. “I said, ‘You know what? We live in California. We don’t know our neighbors like we used to before. We don’t socialize like that.’

“This was almost the perfect storm to make something like this happen, because we’re kind of off to ourselves in this community with not much around us.” Monument Ranch was built in an area surrounded by open fields northwest of the Menifee-Perris border at the intersection of Ethanac Road and Goetz Road. It’s true that the community residents are pretty much off by themselves. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t form a Community Watch program and be aware of their surroundings. The rest of us? We must be patient with an understaffed police force. We should make an effort to get to know our neighbors and to network with them, perhaps through a Neighborhood Watch group, to work together in protecting ourselves and our neighborhood. Apps like are helpful, but face-to-face contact usually is best. If we all work together, we can make a difference.

Fund set to assist Turpin siblings

MSJC student Wayne Yeager of Hemet poses with his winning entry in the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast art contest.

MSJC hosts Unity Breakfast MSJC news release

Residents, students and officials gathered at Mt. San Jacinto College Monday to honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the theme of social justice and equity at the 12th annual Unity Breakfast on Jan. 15. Congressman Raul Ruiz, D-La Quinta, said there is no room in society for the insults and extremism heard too often today. He reminded the audience that King was a visionary who dreamed of a peaceful and just world.

He urged the audience to “Keep calm and love on,” a theme he said his own pastor spoke about recently in church. “I think that’s the remedy (against hate) we should have now, to keep calm and love on,” Ruiz said. The annual Unity Breakfast at MSJC is designed to bring the community together and remember the message and work of King to promote social justice and equity. Guests enjoyed breakfast, performances, speaker presentations, and a stu-

dent art contest. MSJC Political Science Professor Willie Hamilton coordinated and hosted this event with the MSJC Diversity Committee. MSJC student Wayne Yeager, 20, of Hemet won first place in the MLK Day Unity Breakfast art contest for his art that raises awareness of missing Native American women. He said across the U.S., Native women are raped and murdered or otherwise go missing without much help in finding them or solving the problem. He hopes law enforce-

ment and other officials put emphasis on solving these crimes and finding the women. “There are no stats or databases to show how many of these women are missing,” Yeager said. “It’s disheartening.” MSJC student Mya Correa won second place and student Karen Day earned third place in the student art contest. Dr. Raquell Rall gave a talk titled “Maximizing Educational Outcomes For Communities That Traditionally Have Had The Least Opportunities.”

Members of the Mt. San Jacinto College Diversity Committee thanked the MSJC Board of Trustees and President/Superintendent Roger Schultz for their continued support and participation.

lege district’s boundary. The event was organized by a partnership between MSJC School of Nursing and Allied Health in conjunction with the Inland Health Professions Coalition-Reach Out. “The two-day Discovery Camp at MSJC was designed to inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals,” said Dr. Peter Zografos, director of Nursing and Allied Health at MSJC. The students partici-

pated in activities that involved careers like certified nursing assistants, emergency medical technicians, registered nurses, diagnostic medical sonographers, and other related careers. “All of that was really interesting to me,” said Michael Carter, 17, of Wildomar. Carter says he enjoyed using the stethoscope to check the lung sounds of patients and also learning about gastric bypass pro-

cedures during the breakout sessions. Carter, a high school senior at Elsinore High, plans on becoming an athletic trainer after college. For some students, this was their first college visit experience. Vanessa Vasquez, 16, of Perris plans to be a nurse. Attending this health camp was Vasquez’s first time on a college campus. She enjoyed cleaning wounds during the wound care session.

Liliana Montoya, MSJC alumna from 2015, is now a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Hemet Hospital, visited the camp to encourage these prospective students about their career options.

Members in the audience included Mt. San Jacinto College Board President Bill Zimmerman; MSJC Trustees Tom Ashley, Dorothy McGargill and Ann Motte; former Trustee Eugene Kadow; San Jacinto Councilman Andrew Kotyuk, and many others.

Students explore careers in health care MSJC news release Nearly 200 high school students from Menifee and the Hemet areas explored careers in health care on Jan. 10 and 11 during the second annual Health Occupation Discovery Camp at Mt. San Jacinto College. Held at MSJC’s Menifee Valley Campus, this event offered a series of hands-on workshops for the students from high schools within the col-

“It may seem difficult but it’s not times you may want to cry you may want to give up, I know I did, but just keep pushing’s very rewarding,” Montoya told the students.

The City of Perris, Mt. San Jacinto College and the Mt. San Jacinto College Foundation have partnered to establish the Perris Bright Futures Fund to assist the 13 Turpin siblings reach their educational goals. The City and College also are creating a second scholarship to aid students who major in child care, social work and health care. Perris City Manager Richard Belmudez said the City is honored to partner with Mt. San Jacinto College on establishing both scholarships. “We want the Turpin siblings to know that the entire community is behind them,” he said. “Through the scholarships we hope to not only show our support, but encourage future professionals dedicated to assist individuals of similar circumstances. We invite the entire Perris Valley community to participate.” The Perris Bright Futures Fund is accepting donations. The second scholarship will be posted to the MSJC Foundation web page soon. Dr. Roger Schultz, superintendent/president of Mt. San Jacinto College, said he hopes the scholarship can help the Turpin siblings rebuild their lives and that the second scholarship helps those students who wish to enter educational programs that can help end child abuse. “This is a time when we need to pull together to help others. We are proud that Perris partnered with us in this endeavor,” Schultz said. “We will uphold the college’s mission and our vision of transforming lives by providing this support for the Turpin siblings. We want to do what we can to make sure they have bright futures.” To donate to the Perris Bright Futures Fund, visit or call 951-487-3171.

February 2018



This just isn’t your mother’s crockpot By KRISTEN SPOON Associate Editor It’s all the rage! How many of you out there got one of this year’s most valuable holiday gifts? The Instant Pot is one brand name of the new “instant pot” craze and the one I recommend. There are a variety of “multi-cookers” out there, but I just love the simplicity of the Instant Pot. According to the New York Times, over 2.6 million of these were sold this Christmas season. Why, you ask? Well, the Instant Pot is AMAZING! I bought mine before the craze hit, so I got to experiment a little longer than most people. When it comes to a new kitchen gadget, I will be the first to splurge and get it! What exactly is an Instant Pot? It’s much more that a pot. Depending on the size of your family and the size of the pot, you can do just about everything in it. It’s done all in one pot, eliminating the mess. My culinary friends tell me they are able to go from using 8-9 different pots to using just one Instapot. And the flavor is outstanding! But as those TV commercials say, “Wait, there’s, More!” The Instant Pot can be a slow cooker, rice cooker, a yogurt maker, it will steam things, sauté things, cook frozen meats or whole frozen meals in just minutes. I even make cheese cakes and desserts in mine. Don’t be afraid of this pressure cooker. It’s not like your Granny’s pressure cooker, the kind people feared would explode. These are very safe. The steaming feature cuts your processing time by about 70 percent. Have you ever heard

Kristen’s Corner Crafts, chat and other stuff

to the garage? I sure do! I love my Instant Pot and I gave one to my girls for Christmas. They report that since they got them, they have been cooking better, cleaner meals, faster, and saving tons of money. One of the websites I use is “Once-a-MonthMeals”. I like it because I can type in what type of meat or vegetable and how many servings. Then you can even sort it according to Paleo, traditional, winter, spring, special occasion, and even Keto menus. They do have a first-time mini meal trial for free, or a membership you can purchase monthly or yearly. After I pick my meals, it creates a shopping list for me and creates labels. Then I freeze my meals so they are ready for my Instapot each day. The average meal takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, after 10 minutes to pressurize. The days of an all-day cooking marathon are over. An “allday” roast only takes about 90 minutes. Here is my favorite recipe for Sunday dinner:

of the sous vide method of cooking? It is done with water/broth and steam, and it’s used in most upscale restaurants for the high quality of taste with the small time allowance. This is the same concept, but done on the personal kitchen size. What can’t the Instant Pot do very well? Make crispy things. So if you’re looking to do rotisserie chicken, a nice charbroiled steak, the Instapot isn’t the best method. I did not like spaghetti in the Instant Pot. I’d much rather cook that on the stove top. It was a little too mushy for me. Mississippi Pot Roast, Pressure Cooked However, you can do lots with chicken and Cook time: 90 minutes steak by using the sauté button first, then conServes: 4-6 people tinuing with an Instant Pot recipe like mongolian beef, or honey pecan chicken. Honey tamarin Ingredients: ribs are fantastic. I have about 600 recipes that • 1 3-4 lb roast (any kind will do) are all fabulous. • 1 packet of ranch seasoning mix The average cost of an Instant Pot 6-quart mod• 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) el is around $90. If you keep your eye out, you • ½ jar of peppercinis with the juice can find them on sale when they are in stock. Ev• ½ cup of water or 1 can of coke erybody wants an Instant Pot, so right now they are hard to find. You can also find them on AmDirections: azon. So do you think it’s time to clean off your 1. Place your roast in the bottom of your Incounters, empty out your cupboards and panty, retire all those old do-dads and kitchen gadgets stant pot. 2. Sprinkle the ranch mix over the roast. 3. Place the stick of butter on top and pour the peppercinis over it. 4. Pour water around the roast. 5. Add the lid and make sure it is turned to “sealing.” Click the manual button and change time to 90 minutes. 6. Shred and serve.

Menifee Crossword Puzzle

Then email me and tell me how wonderful this gadget is and how it changed your life! ENJOY AND HAPPY GATHERINGS! Kristen

Menifee to get a new library

Solve the Menifee Crossword Puzzle by finding the answers to these clues having to do with Valentine’s Day. Answers on page B7. ACROSS


3. Seek someone’s favor 4. Struck by love 7. Temporary love of an adolescent 9. The act of clasping another person in the arms (as in greeting or affection) 12. Perennial bulbous flowers 14. A messenger of God 16. A person loved by another person 18. Roman God, usually shown as a boy 19. To pucker up and touch lips 22. Two people join together through ceremony or contract 24. Muscle that pumps blood 26. Taking a series of rhythmical steps in time to music 27. Set aside for marriage 28. A printed or written greeting

1. An ardent follower and admirer 2. Type of flower 3. Seek someone’s favor 5. A colorful bit of rubber that can be blown up or filled with helium 6. A girl or young woman with whom a man is romantically involved 7. A food from roasted ground cacao beans 8. A gift 10. A type of plant having showy or colorful parts 11. A sweetheart chosen to receive a greeting on this special day 13. An enthusiastic kiss 15. Color shade, lighter than red 17. A soulful or amorous idealist 20. To tease for attention 21. To go out with someone 23. Set aside for marriage 24. To squeeze tightly in your arms 25. Symbol of love exchanged at wedding

City of Menifee and Riverside County officials have announced the approval of a public library to be built across the street from Wheatfield Park. This news comes the same week details were released regarding the temporary closure and renovation of Sun City Library. Officials of the Riverside County Library System announced that three new libraries have been approved for the county: Menifee, French Valley and Desert Hot Springs. The Menifee site is a county-owned lot on the northwest corner of Menifee Road and La Piedra Road -- a vacant lot occasionally used for parking for big events at Wheatfield Park across the street. According to a news release from the City of Menifee, plans call for a facility of 15,000 to 20,000 feet, including charging stations, Wi-Fi, self-checkout and a computer lab. It is described as being designed to have a “Starbucks feel.” All construction costs will be paid by the County, said Gina Gonzalez, the City’s economic development director. The estimated timeline for design and construction is 18-24 months, according to County documents. Menifee City Council member Lesa Sobek, in whose district the library will be built,

expressed excitement about the project. “With Sun City Library (left) being one of the busiest libraries in the entire county, Menifee residents are in need of a library system on the east side of the City,” Sobek said. “This news could not come at a better time, as this amenity will greatly complement our growing population, as Menifee is the fastest growing City in Southwest Riverside County.” The Sun City Library, located in the Cherry Hills Plaza on the west side of the 215 Freeway, will close March 4 for renovations including flooring treatment, painting and some interior reconstruction. The children’s area will als be renovated, said Michelle Stiles, branch manager of the Sun City Library. She said that facility should be closed for two to three months. During that time, Menifee residents may use the libraries that are open to the public at Paloma Valley High School or Heritage High School, plus the Canyon Lake Library and Perris Library. Books checked out at the Sun City Library may be returned at any of the other libraries, Stiles said. Books may still be dropped into the book drops at the Sun City location.


February 2018


menifee 24/7 has you covered!

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e t i s b We


February 2018


Photos from local residents...

Menifee in Pictures

One lady’s fancy ride Golf carts are a common sight on the streets of the Sun City community in Menifee, but there’s only one like the buggy Billie Christiansen was seen driving down Sun City Boulevard recently. Billie, who’s 87, told Menifee 24/7 she got the tricked-out cart from a neighbor, whose husband used to drive it before he passed

away. The previous owner had customized it, adding a specialized hood, front end and grill to make it look like one fancy vehicle. “This is only my second time in a year behind the wheel,” said Billie, who recently got new batteries for her ride. “I had to do it today because I needed some things from the store.”

Photo by Eduardo Garcia

Photo by Chuck Moreno

Crossword puzzle answers ACROSS


3. Woo 4. Smitten 7. Crush 9. Embrace 12. Tulips 14. Angel 16. Sweetheart 18. Cupid 19. Kiss 22. Marriage 24. Heart 26. Dancing 27. Engaged 28. Card

1. Lover 2. Roses 3. Woo 5. Balloons 6. Girlfriend 7. Chocolate 8. Present 10. Flowers 11. Valentine 13. Smooch 15. Pink 17. Romantic 20. Flirt 21. Date 23. Engaged 24. Hug 25. Rings 26. Doves

Photo by Ennis Hackman

Menifee 24/7 EDITOR Doug Spoon ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kristen Spoon Editorial phone: 951-729-9865 Advertising phone: 951-729-9875 Website: Facebook page: Menifee 24/7 General info: Menifee 24/7 Print Edition is distributed monthly by Premier Media Group. For a list of distribution sites, see All content in this publication is Copyright 2018, Menifee 24/7.

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February 2018

Menifee 24/7 newspaper Feb 2018  

Menifee California's monthly newspaper

Menifee 24/7 newspaper Feb 2018  

Menifee California's monthly newspaper