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Houx retiring as Parks & Rec head

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POSTED April 22, 2009 3:55 a.m.
After more than two decades of overseeing the department that brought about Woodward Park and Big League Dreams, Steve Houx is calling it quits.

The longtime Parks and Recreation Director  who spent 15 of his 22 years of service at the helm of the department – announced Tuesday that he’ll retire next month and focus on spending more time with his family and tackling the hobbies that he loves.

“I’ve got a couple of grandkids that I’m looking forward to spending time with, and definitely golfing and fly fishing,” Houx said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “I want to dedicate more time to volunteer work.”

“I’m sure that my wife has a list of things to do.”
Since coming to Manteca as the Deputy Park and Recreation Director from the City of Modesto 22 years ago, Houx, 61, has been instrumental in shaping the way the community views recreation.

On top of overseeing the plan to give nearly every Manteca neighborhood a storm retention basin that doubles over as a large open park, Houx kept the concept of public recreation a popular concept for more than two decades.

Roughly 80 percent of the department’s operating budget comes directly from the fees paid by those who participate in the city programs.

And in recent years, Houx has been an integral part of bringing two jewels to the community – the 51 acre Woodward Park as well as the Big League Dreams complex that has already exceeded financial expectations.

“When I first started I was somewhat surprised by the passion that people here have for sports and enjoying them outdoors,” Houx said. “That desire has really been central to expanding what the city offers and bringing new things to the residents.”

Even as he nears retirement Houx isn’t shy about grand visions of what he’d like to see carried out in the future – like adding another community park like Woodward to serve the western portion of town that is growing out, or possibly an aquatic center that could be ground zero for the popular summer swimming programs that the department offers.

Houx plans on making May 21 his last day as a City of Manteca employee. Bruce Mulder currently serves as the Deputy Recreation Director.

“It’s been a pleasure to bring the parks that we have here in the community and be able to maintain them to the standards that we have over the years,” Houx said. “That’s certainly going to be something that’s challenged in the next few years with the budget situation the way that it is.”
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