Governing Board Honors Symons, Dabney and McCree

Whitehead, Symons, Dabney and McCreeJudy Whitehead, Governing Board member and former chair, presents Patsy Symons, Tom Dabney and Heidi McCree with plaques in honor of their service on the Governing Board.

The District’s Governing Board recognized two former Governing Board chairs and a former member for their dedication to public service.

During the May meeting, the Governing Board honored Tom DabneyHeidi McCree and Patsy Symons.

Patsy Symons became familiar with the District and its Governing Board after she was assisted through the District’s Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) Program. Staff helped her address saltwater intrusion in her groves’ wells. After that, Symons applied to serve on the Governing Board. The DeSoto County resident was appointed to the Governing Board in 2004.

“Four and a half years ago I drove up here to thank the Governing Board for the District’s help with my groves,” said Symons. “I had a good feeling then, and I have a good feeling now about having been a Board member and my service to the District, the Governor and DeSoto County.”

As a Governing Board member, Symons was known for championing the needs of agriculture, and she also served as co-chair ex officio of the Peace River Basin Board.

Heidi McCree has a long history of community service and in dealing with environmental and conservation issues. She was first appointed to the Governing Board in 2000, and she was reappointed in 2004.

McCree will be remembered as the Governing Board’s first female chair, after she also served as the Board’s vice chair and secretary.

“As chair, she assured the continued partnership with Tampa Bay Water and was instrumental in renegotiating the desalination plant contract,” said Judy Whitehead, Governing Board member. “I know she spent many extra hours working on those issues.”

During McCree’s time on the Board, she was also known as a staunch supporter of land conservation and education. As a Governing Board member, McCree also served as chair ex officio of the Hillsborough River Basin Board.

“This Board is entrusted with protecting water resources for today and the future,” said McCree. “To be a part of the Board for eight years was a rewarding and enriching experience that will be a lifelong memory for me.”

Tom Dabney was also first appointed to the Governing Board in 2000, and he was reappointed in 2004. During his tenure, he served one term as the Board’s chair and two terms as vice chair. As a Governing Board member, Dabney also served as co-chair ex officio of the Manasota Basin Board.

“Tom realized the effort to promote Xeriscaping was failing,” said Whitehead. “He suggested and was instrumental in moving the state toward promoting Florida-friendly landscaping to help conserve water.”

Dabney is known for his contributions in a variety of other areas, including his work on regulatory and well construction issues as well as the District’s settlement with Weeki Wachee Springs.

He spoke about the importance of regional partnerships in the development of alternative water supplies.

“The joint effort of Tampa Bay Water, with the District’s willingness to fund projects, has exceeded what any of the individual governments could do,” said Dabney. “Without this effort, we would not have the desalination plant, the reservoir and the other alternative water resources that are helping us get through the drought.”

Hugh Gramling, a recent addition to the Governing Board, agreed with Dabney’s perspective when he addressed the outgoing Board members.

“Your efforts and decisions during the drought of 2000 have made going through this drought easier.”

Dabney said he hopes the other regional water supply authorities in the District will follow Tampa Bay Water’s lead.

As the current Governing Board members said their final farewells, Sallie Parks had a fitting analogy.

“You are like the graduating seniors who are leaving the school to the rookies, but we are guided by your words and your accomplishments,” said Parks.