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May 13, 2010

Note to editors: This release will substitute for May 11 news release headlined “Grand Opening of New Game Warden Training Center Set.”

Texas Game Warden Training Center Gets Big Gift from Former Governor Clements

AUSTIN — Former Gov. William P. Clements has donated $1 million toward the planned second phase of the new Texas Game Warden Training Center in rural Hamilton County, bringing to $3 million his total contribution to the project.

“No other state agency helps Texas put its best foot forward than the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,” Clements said at Wednesday’s dedication of the recently completed first phase of the training center. Praising Texas’s 532 game wardens, he added, “I’m proud of them and I know you are.”

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.

Clements, who served as governor from 1979-1983 and again from 1987-1991, earlier donated $2 million toward construction of the first phase of the game warden training facility.

“Bill Clements’ accomplishments in conservation during his two terms as governor have had lasting impacts on Texas,” said Will Beecherl, chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s board. “Through appointments, acts, legislation, policy, and influence, he has been an enthusiastic champion of conservation. Furthermore, he has been a life-long supporter and a participant in hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. Texas is fortunate to have been the recipient of his leadership and generosity.”

The Texas Legislature initially authorized $3.6 million from the sale of the 1978-vintage, 6.2-acre 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 & 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, an emergency vehicle operations course, refitting of instructor quarters and cadet cabins and a helicopter  landing pad.

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.

During the ceremonies Wednesday, the training center’s landscaped central plaza was named in honor of Clements. In recognition of other major donors, the administration building was named for Ramona and Lee M. Bass, the education building for Dan and Debra Friedkin, the armory for Arthur Temple, the fitness center for Luminant and the dining hall for Kathie and Ed L. Cox, Jr.

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 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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