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Whiston Retires, Leaves Legacy of New Parks, Facilities across Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — Steve Whiston is retiring from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Aug. 31, after a 30-year career with TPWD in which he was involved in or supported the development of more than 24 new state parks and natural areas.
Since 2003, Whiston has led TPWD’s Infrastructure Division, a team of architects, planners and others who design, build, and repair state parks, fish hatcheries, wildlife management areas and other conservation facilities. During Whiston’s tenure as director, the division has successfully managed more than 658 projects worth more than $157 million.
"Steve Whiston’s leadership and experience will be missed by the agency," said Scott Boruff, TPWD deputy executive director for operations. "He has made tangible contributions to the character of our facilities over the course of his career that will serve all Texans for many years to come."
In recent years, Whiston’s greatest challenge and biggest accomplishment has been seeking and obtaining additional legislative appropriations of $124 million in general obligation bonds to support the department’s statewide construction and repair program. Most recently, this has included bonds approved by legislators and statewide voters to fund state park major repairs. But the TPWD bond program has in the past also funded important repairs to hatcheries, WMAs and other facilities.
"Our biggest challenge has been managing the sheer volume of work, prioritizing and planning multiple large projects to unfold over many years," Whiston said. "Our future funding, in terms of additional installments from the legislature, has depended on our ability to spend the money that had already been appropriated in a timely and efficient way."
Whiston originally joined the department in January 1978 as an architect in the former Historic Sites and Restoration Branch. For 14 years, he led project teams responsible for the restoration or development of 23 state historic sites across Texas.
Whiston rose through the ranks and held several other positions before becoming interim division director of the newly created Infrastructure Division in August 1996. In this role, he served on a special department task force that first assessed the backlog of statewide major repair needs facing state parks and other facilities. He co-authored an Infrastructure Task Force Report in 1997 that was instrumental in gaining legislative approval for $60 million in new revenue bonds for capital construction and repairs.
He was appointed deputy director of the Infrastructure Division in February 1996 and for the next seven years was responsible for day to day operations of the division and the successful expenditure of the new revenue bonds. He became Infrastructure Division director in January 2003.
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