Grand Opening of New Game Warden Training Center Set

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AUSTIN — The recently completed first phase of the new Texas Game Warden Training Center in rural Hamilton County will be dedicated in ceremonies set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Located on a 220-acre tract donated by the Police Assistance League of Texas, the state-of-the-art training facility near the small community of Star is the result of a public-private partnership that so far has raised more than half of the $20 million needed to complete the entire project.

"We’ve come a long way since ground was broken on April 9, 2009," said Peter Holt, chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. "But there’s still work to be done. It wasn’t too long ago that we were training future Texas game wardens in a converted warehouse in Austin. Our wardens do a lot for this state, from enforcing our conservation laws to rescuing hurricane victims, and we need to help them do their jobs by providing the best training we possibly can. That’s what this new training center and our fund raising efforts are all about."

The Texas Legislature initially authorized $3.6 million from the sale of the 1978-vintage game warden training facility in central Austin to begin construction of the 39,000-square foot campus in Hamilton County. The rest of the funding has come from private donations. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been a key player in the fundraising effort and the Texas Game Warden Association has assisted as well.

The now-completed Phase One construction includes an administration building, an education hall-armory, dining hall and a fitness center. The second phase will include a firing range, a water rescue facility, a residence for the academy superintendent, a maintenance building and an entry portal.

Currently, 43 future game wardens plus one conservation officer from the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon — 36 men and 8 women — are moving toward completion of training that began on January 4 this year. They are scheduled to graduate in ceremonies at the State Capitol on July 27.

Events Wednesday begin with a catered lunch for invited guests, followed by the dedication ceremony. After that, tours of the training complex will be available.

Former Gov. William P. Clements, who is the largest individual training center donor to date, will be honored with a plaque bearing his name placed on a stone wall located in the plaza of the new facility.

In addition to Gov. Clements, other major donors include Ramona and Lee M. Bass, Luminant, Debra and T. Dan Friedkin, T.L.L. Temple Foundation, Kathleen and Edwin L. Cox, Jr., Mary Josephine and George Hamman Foundation, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, and Walter Umphrey.

Since 1895, Texas game wardens have built a reputation as "off-the-pavement" peace officers with a state law enforcement heritage second only to the legendary Texas Rangers. Eighteen have died in the line of duty.

That proud tradition of service is carried on today by 532 men and women who reflect the diversity of the people of Texas. They come from small towns and some of the nation’s largest urban areas. Many have degrees in criminal justice or wildlife management or biology. Others studied the humanities or trained in a wide range of other fields before becoming game wardens.

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