He has lived a colorful life. He was drafted into the armed forces and served in Vietnam in 1965-66, as a helicopter gunner and later, a military police officer. He married his wife, Barbara, in 1967, and they raised two daughters. Upon moving to Florida in 1971, he became an “elf” for eight years with Keebler, the well-known cookie manufacturer.
In 1997, he co-chaired the Business Development Week in Pasco County, which led to his becoming the President of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.
Now, after 15 years of dedicated service to the Chamber, Joe Alpine has relinquished his executive position.
“How time flies when you’re having fun,” he quips.
When Joe turned 70 last Fall, he decided it was time to retire and spend more time with Barbara, his daughters and grandsons, Justin & Ayden.
A “Roast & Toast” celebration of his tenure with the West Pasco Chamber was held at Spartan Manor in New Port Richey, January 11, where he was honored for his tireless service.
One of his biggest accomplishments as President of the Chamber was keeping the membership up as the economy entered into recession. The Chamber membership currently exceeds 860 businesses and organizations, which is down from the pre-recession total of 1000. However, the programs initiated over the last few years of Joe’s presidency have kept membership strong.
“If you put others before yourself, it turns out pretty well,” Joe explains. “Try to do what you think is best.”
What is best includes supporting and promoting local businesses. Joe has consistently recognized the impact of small businesses on the local economy. “Small businesses provide the spark,” he believes.
In retirement, Joe plans to attend all of Justin’s basketball games at Florida Christian College in Kissimmee, and will enjoy watching 9-year-old Ayden grow up.
Although the shoes he is filling are big ones, Henry “Chip” Wichmanowski, the new President of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, is more than capable of doing just that.
“I have a passion for West Pasco,” Chip said. “I think I bring the ability to get people to work together. I believe I have the ability to network and work with people to get more members here.”
With approximately 4,500 West Pasco businesses, his goal is to have a quarter of the in the Chamber. However, it is not simply about expanding membership, but retaining current members. “If I had my druthers,” Chip said, “there’d be no terminations (among members), although, some turnover is inevitable.”
Chip proudly served as Executive Director of the Pasco Education Foundation, which raises money for the Pasco school district, and this aligned him perfectly with his new position. His experience with the Foundation will assist him in fundraising efforts to implement programs necessary to continue economic development.
He continued, “Our biggest opportunity is increasing and growing businesses here. My goal is to make the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce the go-to organization for economic development in West Pasco.”
Chip and his wife, Debbie, lived in Florida briefly in 1977, and returned as permanent residents to Pasco County in 1984, and they have been serving the community and Pasco County School System since. Chip became Principal at Gulfside Elementary School, and later Calusa Elementary. Debbie is currently Assistant Principal at Longleaf Elementary School.
Their three children are Nicholas, 31, a commercial liability insurance salesman in Fort Myers, Jamie, 29, an Anclote High School teacher; and Alisha, or Ali as she prefers, a River Ridge High School junior.
For more information about the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, call 727-842-7651 or visit their office located at 5443 Main Street, New Port Richey.
We wish you both many blessings in your next phase of life!