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Municipal Employees to Be Feted at Banquet

Five city employees will be honored Wednesday as outstanding public servants at a banquet sponsored by the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce.

San Fernando Police Sgt. Ken Belden, Linda Russum of the finance department, Richard Liles of the public works department, Francisco Villalva of the community development department and Virginia Ufano of the recreation and community services department were nominated by department directors for the annual Outstanding City Employee award.

Belden, a 17-year veteran of the force, is a watch commander in the patrol division. He founded the department’s first bicycle unit in 1991 to increase communication and interaction between residents and police officers.

Ufano, supervisor of the recreation department for three years, oversaw the doubling of enrollment in the city’s day-camp program for children, organized a Seniors Expo for about 240 senior citizen residents earlier this year and oversaw the overhaul of the city’s Dial-a-Ride bus program.

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Russum, data processing coordinator in the city’s finance department, is responsible for the city’s payroll, computer services and general ledger, and has been employed by the city since 1984.

Community Preservation Officer Francisco Villalva became a city employee just after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. He took charge of earthquake recovery duties and coordinated a special neighborhood improvement project. He also helped organize several Neighborhood Watch groups.

Liles, a city employee for about 25 years, is operations and maintenance manager in the city’s public works department. He instituted a set of rigorous safety standards in the department and was instrumental in setting up the city’s successful graffiti-removal program. Liles also organized an urban reforestation program designed to replace missing or diseased parkway trees.

The banquet will be held at noon Wednesday at the Odyssey restaurant, 15600 Odyssey Drive in Granada Hills. Reservations are required.

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