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Templeton leaves as DNR chief to head oil spill trust

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 30, 2010 - This just in: Gov. Jay Nixon just named Kip Stetzler acting director of the state Department of Natural Resources following the resignation today of Mark N. Templeton.

According to Nixon: "Templeton will become the executive director of the Office of the Independent Trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust. In that role, he will be responsible for ensuring that funds are available to address the claims of those affected by BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Templeton has been DNR director since 2009."

More from the release:

"I appreciate Mark’s service and leadership of numerous projects critical to the protection of Missouri’s natural resources -– from our state parks and historic sites, to the safety of our wastewater treatment systems." Nixon said. "Mark’s effective use of Recovery Act funds made it possible for thousands of Missouri families, farms and businesses to reduce their heating and cooling bills and conserve energy."

"I am confident that Kip Stetzler will provide solid leadership and continuity while we undertake a national search to find a highly qualified person to lead our Department of Natural Resources," the governor added.

Nixon noted that Stetzler has worked for him for a decade, in various roles. He initially worked eight years as an assistant attorney general, from 2000–2008, serving as chief counsel of the Financial Services Division of the Office of the Missouri Attorney General and chief counsel for the Western Region.

Since Nixon took office in 2009, Stetzler was initially acting director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. He was later appointed director of the Taxation Division of the Missouri Department of Revenue, and then director of reporting for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009."

Stetzler's latest job has been as the governor's director of his Western Regional Office.

Templeton's tenure with the Department of Natural Resources has seen its highs and lows. As Nixon noted in today's announcement, "During Templeton’s tenure, DNR targeted more than $265 million for wastewater and drinking water system improvements across the state, and for the remediation of underground storage tanks. Templeton administered about $200 million in grants and programs to promote the use of renewable energy and to help communities, small farmers, businesses and consumers become more energy efficient. He also oversaw the reopening of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and began work on the expansion of the Katy Trail into the Kansas City area."

A year ago, Templeton also was punished with a two-week suspension when his agency found itself in the midst of a controversy over tardy public disclosure and closing of beaches because of E coli contamination. The DNR's deputy director, longtime Nixon ally Joe Bindbeutel, lost his job. Nixon later reinstated Templeton, saying he was trying to fix many of the department's systemic problems. Even so, Republican legislative leaders attacked Templeton.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.