Retired LA Sheriff ‘s Department Lieutenant, and former LCF Public Safety Commissioner Nicholas Berkuta, III was named La Cañadan of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada, announced Bill Sherkey, 2013 chairman of the club’s committee that made the selection.
Berkuta, his wife Mary Ann, and his family have lived in La Canada for 37 years. According to Mary Ann, “Nick served in the city as a young Deputy Sheriff and would come home with glowing reports about what a great city he observed in his daily rounds as a deputy. He would tell me that some day we will live in that city.”
Berkuta made his wish come true, moved to the City in 1976, and was soon immersed in city life.
Berkuta served for fourteen years as a city public safety commissioner and is currently a parks and recreation commissioner, having been appointed by the city Council in 2012. Berkuta has also been active in the La Cañada Coordinating Council, and now serves as membership chair. In the 1980s he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce as a Recreational Director and served on the Fiesta Day Parade Committee in 1983, 1984 and 2006.
Working with children has been one of Berkuta’s passions over the past years and he was involved with the Boy Scouts of America and with the Indian Guides at the YMCA as Tribe Chief 1978 to 1990.
As a member of the Sheriff’s Department for 36 years, and a Public Safety Commissioner, Berkuta has had an ongoing interest in Emergency Preparedness and personally lead the Kiwanis Emergency Mudslide Volunteer Response Team for the City setting up a Call Center soon after the Station Fire. He directed 150 Spontaneous Convergent Volunteers responding to intense media publicity for help. His and the efforts of volunteers provided assistance to 35 homeowners with mud and debris flows that inundated their properties.
As a result of the success of the project, the city requested a continuance of the Kiwanis project. Berkuta served as president of the Noon Kiwanis Club from 2009 to 2010. He joined Kiwanis in August 2005. He was sponsored by Kiwanis member City Manager Mark Alexander.
The active volunteer has also been involved in leadership roles in the La Canada Tournament of Roses and with the school district as a current member of the School Board Oversight Committee.
The retired Lieutenant has been married to Mary Ann for 43 years. They have three adult children: Nicholas IV, Christina, and Robert. He earned an MBA from La Verne University and an undergraduate degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
The La Canadan of the Year event will be held at Noon on Wednesday, May 1st at Van DeKamp Hall at Descanso Gardens. Reservations can be obtained by calling (818)790-9901. Lunch is $20.00. Early reservations are recommended as it is expected that this will be a sell out event.
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