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Carl Kanowsky: A most deserving Man of the Year

It's the Law

Posted: May 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

It was the year 2000, and I had a dilemma.

I was the new president of the Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club. (Everyone else had been bright enough to avoid this “honor.” I was the obvious choice since there were no other choices.)

We were in the middle of long and eventually successful negotiations with the William S. Hart Union High School District about greatly expanding the club’s presence at Sierra Vista Junior High School. But getting the funding for the new facility only addressed a portion of the numerous issues surrounding any new construction.

There were questions about how the club was going to look, who was going to supervise construction and how were we going to share use of the new building between the school district, the club and other community-based organizations.

The school district had seasoned professionals representing it, and the club had me. The largest construction project I had overseen was the tree house in our backyard. So, clearly, we needed help.

Now, as those of you who volunteer for nonprofit agencies know, it’s not a case of, “There’s not enough money.” The situation is more like, “There is no money, but it needs to get done anyway.” And, as is the case with a charity, a volunteer’s pay is generally in the multiples of zero. But this was going to be a multimillion job benefitting thousands of local kids, and they deserved to be well-represented.

So, I went to Tom Dierckman. He’d been on the club’s board for a few years. And, fortunately for the club, he was Mr. Newhall Land.

He’d overseen both residential and commercial construction for our largest locally owned developer for several years. He had contacts in many of the construction trades and knew how the building-approval process went.  He knew when quoted prices were appropriate and when they were out of line. He had a great reputation and was respected by other community leaders, as well as his colleagues in the construction trade. In short, he was an ideal solution to the dilemma.

He and I had breakfast and discussed what the club needed. I told him that I wanted to turn the project over to him and asked if he could supervise it just as closely as what he did for his employer.

Tom, likely to his ever-lasting regret, didn’t say no immediately. He had a decision to make. He’d been in the Navy, first on active duty and, over the past several years, on reserve. Like everything else in his life, his was a success story. He was now at a crossroads. He could either take on this responsibility for the club or he could accept the flag level promotion that he’d been offered by the Navy.

I had no clue what “flag level” meant. His rank with the Navy was as a captain. They wanted to promote him to admiral. 

Tom revived me after I’d passed out. I mean, this extraordinary man was actually contemplating passing up the opportunity to become an admiral to help the local Boys & Girls Club build a new clubhouse.

He said he needed to talk it over with his boss at Newhall Land and his wife, Sandy, and would get back to me.

As you know, he took a pass on being admiral and did an uncommonly fine job in guiding the completion of the beautiful facility the club has at Sierra Vista.

And, in service to the club, he didn’t stop there.  He served two years as president, led a very successful fundraising campaign and provided leadership to the club in determining its strategic plan. Tom is an asset that the club jealously treasures. And that’s why he deserved to be named the SCV’s Man of The Year. Congratulations, Tom.

Carl Kanowsky of Kanowsky & Associates is an attorney in the Santa Clarita Valley. He may be reached by email at cjk@kanowskylaw.com. Kanowsky’s column represents his own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.

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