Texas Government Insider
Volume 12, Issue 29 - Friday, July 18, 2014

Presidential initiatives aimed at more public-private partnerships


Build America Investment Center seeks to increase U.S. infrastructure investment

Roadway Work
Successful P3s such as this $1.1B Port of Miami tunnel project could be duplicated nationwide. (FDOT photo)
The case for public-private partnerships (P3s) just got a little bit stronger. Cities and states will now have a "one-stop shop" as they seek financing options and partnerships with the cash-flush private sector for much-needed transportation infrastructure projects.     

President Barack Obama Thursday announced the creation, by executive order, of the Build America Investment Center, geared toward increasing infrastructure investment in the United States and partnering of government and the private sector to meet those growing infrastructure needs.


Part of the new Build America Transportation Investment Initiative, the President sees the center and his other transportation-related initiatives as both an investment in the nation's transportation infrastructure and an investment in job opportunities for Americans.


The center will be located within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). It will provide a "Navigator Service" for both the public and private sectors to make DOT credit programs more accessible and easier to understand for state and local government officials while providing assistance and resources for private-sector developers and investors.


Many states have been extremely successful in partnering with the private sector. One of the most prominent is the $1.1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel project. The public-private partnership included the Florida Department of Transportation, Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and a private-sector developer. Florida has completed more than $6 billion in P3s since establishing the state's Office of Public-Private Partnerships in 2007.


Florida was successful in taking advantage of a $340 million loan for the project from DOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance And Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program. How to utilize this program as well as sharing of best practices from other states successful in using P3s will be part of the center's role. Information will be provided relating to DOT credit programs, case studies on successful P3 projects and information on how deals are structured. Investors will learn how DOT credit and grant programs can be used with government entities to develop projects. 




Wakeman now highest-ranking female Texas Ranger

Wende Wakeman You can call Wende Wakeman (pictured) "Lieutenant" Wakeman now. Wakeman, a veteran officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) since 1988 and a member of the elite Texas Rangers law enforcement division since 2008, was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant, effective Aug. 1. With that promotion, she is the highest-ranking female member of the Texas Rangers in the storied history of the oldest state law enforcement body in the United States.


Wakeman's career with DPS began in 1998, when she began serving as a trooper in the Texas Highway Patrol, serving in Sulphur Springs and New Caney. She was promoted to narcotics sergeant in 2003, and in 2008, joined the Texas Rangers, serving in Conroe. Her new assignment following her promotion to lieutenant will be in Laredo.


DPS Director Steven McCraw said Wakeman's promotion is "the direct result of her exemplary service and unwavering commitment to protecting Texans and upholding the department's core values of integrity, excellence, accountability and teamwork."


Wakeman is a graduate of the National Forensics Academy and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Women's Leadership Institute. She also is a certified forensic hypnotist.  


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Aaron J. Bovos Aaron J. Bovos, CGFM, CTP, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Financial Management Services, City of Fort Worth


Career highlights and education:  Fifteen years in public-sector management; BS in Business Management; Masters of Accountancy (in process); Certified Government Finance Officer (CGFM); Certified Treasury Professional (CTP). Led a start-up municipality in the state of Georgia - the City of Sandy Springs. This new municipality was the first city created in the state in several decades. Negotiated the economic downturn and maintained a AAA bond rating for the government I was working for. Speaker at the national Government Finance Officers Association annual conference on three occasions. Featured in the Government Finance Review magazine for the creation of a Lean/Six Sigma team to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes.

What I like best about my job is: The ability to make a difference by applying a comprehensive approach to local government budgeting, accounting and financial practices. Putting all of the pieces/components of the picture together for the executive team and the Mayor and Council brings me a great sense of accomplishment.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: To pace myself to be successful over the long-term - you can't fix everything in one day.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: To always find passion in what you do. We can all be good, but to be great at our profession takes significant dedication and commitment. This is always easier when you love what you do and are passionate about your contributions.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: jogging on the beautiful trails of the Trinity River. I find great peace in being outdoors where you can have time to think.

People would be surprised to know that I: am a World Champion horseman. In fact, I competed at the 2012 Appaloosa World Show and won four of the seven events I participated in.

One thing I wish more people knew about my city: The City of Fort Worth is ripe with opportunity - both internally and externally. We are a progressive organization which strives to provide an outstanding quality of life for our community. This spirit can be seen in everything we do.

COMTO honors Capital Metro's President/CEO Linda Watson

Linda Watson The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) recently honored Linda S. Watson (pictured), president/CEO of Austin's Capital Metro, with the 2014 Executive of the Year award. The award was in recognition of Watson's aggressive outreach in Capital Metro's hiring practices.


According to COMTO, Equal Employment Opportunity program data from 2013 shows the Capital Metro workforce had 38 percent minorities and 38 percent female in executive management and 36 percent minorities and 49 percent female among professionals with the agency. Watson was also a driving force in the establishment of the Capital Metro Office of Diversity, which ensures compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program and other law related to civil rights.

This honor marks the second award Watson has received from COMTO, winning the Executive of the Year  award in 2011 from the Austin COMTO chapter. Watson said her agency 
is committed to being "all inclusive" and that has become the mantra for the agency. 

Nelson appointed to chair powerful Senate Finance Committee

The budget-writing Senate Finance Committee has a new chair. Sen. Jane Nelson was this week appointed by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to head the powerful committee. She replaces former chair Sen. Tommy Williams, who resigned his Senate seat months ago to take a position with Texas A&M University. Nelson, who is a longtime chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, will be replaced as chair of that committee by Sen. Charles Schwertner.


Nelson was also appointed by Dewhurst to the Legislative Budget Board, along with Sens. Craig Estes, Kevin Eltife and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa.

Eight recent graduates commissioned as new TABC agents

Daniel Hodge The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) recently commissioned eight new training academy graduates as TABC agents. The new graduates had previously attended law enforcement academies and are certified Texas peace officers. 


Their eight weeks of training includes law enforcement and subjects such as organized crime on TABC-licensed premises, the Alcoholic Beverage Code and the Texas Penal Code. They also received training on the use of force, firearms, arrest and control tactics, driving procedures, communication skills and physical fitness.


Keynote speaker for the event was First Attorney General Daniel Hodge (pictured). Hodge spoke of the successful collaborative efforts between TABC and the Attorney General's Enforcement Division regarding major cases dealing with human trafficking, money laundering and narcotics.


These new agents will report to locations throughout the state in the coming weeks and work extensively with Field Training Officers to complete on-the-job training.   

Judge rules for TxDOT in road funding distribution suit

Road funds authorized more than a year ago to help counties repair and rebuild roads damaged by increased traffic related to the Eagle Ford Shale exploration could at long last start flowing. Legislation from 2013 allocated $225 million to be spread out among Texas counties, but that funding has been sitting idle because of a lawsuit filed by LaSalle County.


The county argued that the distribution method for the Transportation Infrastructure Fund money planned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) was flawed. LaSalle County officials said some of the money was appropriated to counties that are virtually unaffected by the increase in oil exploration and production.


However, a Travis County judge this week ruled that TxDOT's method of distributing the funds was lawful, in spite of the fact that $41 million of the $225 million in the fund was distributed to counties with oil and gas production declines or no active wells. All of the 91 counties that applied for funding were approved. The grants ranged from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

Texas sales tax holiday slated Aug. 8 - 10

The Texas Comptroller recently reminded shoppers of the opportunity to save money on certain items costing under $100 during the annual sales tax holiday scheduled to begin Friday, Aug. 8, and continue through Saturday, Aug. 9, and Sunday, Aug. 10. Items exempt from state sales tax during the three-day tax holiday include clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks costing under $100. Shoppers can save $8 dollars in sales tax for $100 spent on qualified items, the comptroller said. A complete list of apparel and school supplies exempt from state sales taxes during the three-day tax holiday can be found at www.TexasTaxHoliday.org


Goben appointed TCC Northeast Campus president

Allen Goben Allen Goben (pictured), previously a senior executive for Community College Partnerships with Western Governors University (WGU), has been selected as the new president of Tarrant County College (TCC) Northeast Campus. He is replacing retiring President Larry Darlage, who served the college for the last 18 years.


Goben has more than 25 years of education experience in positions that include faculty member, coach, college recruiter, counselor and administrator. He served as the inaugural chancellor of WGU Missouri and was president of Heartland Community College in Illinois.


Goben attended Indian Hills Community College in Iowa and later earned his bachelor's degree from Iowa State University. He holds a master's degree from Drake University and an Ed.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, Community College Leadership Program.

TWDB announces financial assistance of $2.92M for projects

More than $2.9 million in financial assistance has been approved by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for water and wastewater improvement projects around the state.


The assistance included:

  • A loan of $375,000 from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund went to the city of El Campo, which will be used for the planning, land acquisition and design of construction of a 12-inch potable water distribution line and 300,000-gallon elevated water storage tank and booster pump station;
  • A loan of $2.375 million from the Texas Water Development Fund went to the city of Iraan in Pecos County to construct a new 175,000-gallon-per-day wastewater treatment plant and will include installation of new water lines, fire hydrants and valves; and
  • Loan forgiveness of $170,000 from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to the city of O'Brien in Haskell County to rehabilitate its main pump station and replace the existing well pump and all customer meters within the system. The project is the result of collaboration between the city, North Central Texas Municipal Water Authority and Knox City.
Accenture Seminar - Cloud Services

UT System picks Milstein as associate vice chancellor, CIO

Marc Milstein With more than 30 years of experience managing information technology in the health care and academic communities, Marc Milstein (pictured) will put that experience to work in his new post as associate vice chancellor and chief information officer for The University of Texas System.


Milstein comes to the UT System from Yeshiva University, where he was vice president, information technology and CIO. Prior to joining Yeshiva, Milstein was corporate vice president and CIO at a health-related, private-sector firm, where he managed information systems and telecommunications functions while overseeing an $80 million budget for a five-hospital system in New York. He has also worked for several other public-sector firms, two of them in Dallas.


Milstein holds a Master of Business Administration degree in systems management from Baldwin Wallace College in Cleveland, Ohio.


Procurement award presented to Houston Community College

HCC Logo Houston Community College (HCC) is the sole winner among institutions with more than 15,000 students of the National Association of Educational Procurement Award for Excellence. The award is presented annually and is based on the winning institution procurement department's contribution to and support of the mission of their institution.


HCC's Procurement Operations Department was singled out for its efforts to maximize competition in bids, deliver best processes and best use of taxpayer dollars to advance the college mission. The HCC department continues to improve working relationships with internal and external stakeholders and has put in place a mandatory certification process and instilled cost-saving measures. The awards were presented at a ceremony held at the Association's 93rd Annual Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, in May with Rogelio Anasagasti, HCC Executive Director of Procurement Operations, accepting the award.  

Gemini Global Group

Abbott estimates $50M in costs due to illegal immigration

The federal government is not the only entity keeping an eye on expenses related to immigrant children crossing United States borders. Attorney General Greg Abbott has warned that costs associated with taking care of these often unattended minor children crossing into Texas could be up to $50 million - with the state's taxpayers picking up the tab.


Abbott has indicated that he is prepared to sue the federal government if Texas is not reimbursed for its expenses related to caring for the immigrant children.


The San Antonio Express-News reports that the Attorney General's Office has sent letters to state agency officials asking them for an estimate of the money they have spent dealing with unauthorized immigration. The Attorney General told the San Antonio newspaper that he is seeking an accurate figure regarding these amounts so he can ask the federal government for reimbursement. Abbott said he has heard nothing about the federal government planning to reimburse any Texas state agencies for costs incurred.


According to the Express-News, the letters from the Attorney General's office to state agency officials asked for documentation, data, analyses and cost estimates incurred by the respective agencies since June 2012 and estimates of any anticipated costs through the current budget cycle. Agencies have until Aug. 1 to supply that information.

SPI teams continue to expand...


Experienced newcomers added; two veterans take on new roles

Casey Kelly Anna Scott The team of experts at Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) continues to grow as two new employees with research and client service experience were recently added to the SPI team. Additionally, two veteran members of the team have been moved into new roles with the firm.


Former Senior Associate Casey Kelly (top left) has been promoted to consultant and Anna Scott (top right) has been moved into a new role in corporate/external relations. The two newcomers to the SPI staff are Senior Associate Colby Harrell (bottom right) and Executive Assistant Anne Marie Willsey (bottom left).


Kelly specializes in business and competitive intelligence research, business development and client services. With research experience relating to a wide range of industries, Kelly is adept at identifying and Colby Harrell Anne Marie Willsey analyzing future opportunities for clients as well as geographical trends with business strategy implications. Her research skills encompass due diligence, market-sizing research, market validation, sales pipeline development, competitive analysis and data requests.


Scott helps to coordinate the company's public affairs and business development outreach activities. She is a member of the marketing team and also a member of the Consulting division at SPI. She has more than seven years of experience in project management and government research and works closely with clients on issues that relate to the state, local and federal governments.  


A member of the SPI Consulting division, Harrell works with client teams representing a broad range of products and services. He is also a member of the research team and is adept at gathering information and analyzing the various aspects of public-private partnerships. His experience working in the nation's capital for a member of the U.S. Congress helped him to increase his knowledge of government and prepared him for a career that allows him to interact with governmental agencies at all levels of government.


Willsey is responsible for managing the SPI offices and providing administrative support to all divisions of the firm. As the first point of contact when anyone contacts SPI, she understands all aspects of the company and where to quickly route a caller with questions, a prospective client or someone requesting a meeting. She is also a member of the SPI Communications team and oversees various projects such as conferences, training sessions and other SPI events.


UNT picks CPA Dan Edelman as new VP of finance, CFO

A Certified Public Accountant, Dan Edelman, Ph.D., is the University of North Texas at Dallas' next vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer. Edelman most recently was associate provost and vice president of academic affairs and interim dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Agriculture at Texas A&M-Commerce. He was also previously interim provost and vice president of academic affairs and head of the Department of Accounting.


Edelman also served at the Illinois Institute of Technology, St. Xavier University and Roosevelt University in Chicago. Prior to his career in education, he served in the private sector. Edelman holds a bachelor's degree from Loyola University, a master's from Roosevelt University and his Ph.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Shelledy to serve as UTHSCSA health professions school dean

David Shelledy When David Shelledy, Ph.D. (pictured) takes over as dean of the School of Health Professions at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, it will be a return engagement. Shelledy served as a founding dean of one of the UTHSCSA departments from 1994 to 2004.


Shelledy returns to UTHSCSA after having served as dean of the College of Health Sciences and a professor of health systems management at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He also held appointments there in the Clinical Sciences and Respiratory Care departments. Before moving to Rush, Shelledy was associate dean of academic and student affairs at UTHSCSA. He also is a former associate dean of academic and student affairs in the College of Health Related Professions at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science.


Shelledy is a past president of the American Association for Respiratory Care and currently serves as a director for the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions.

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Griffith to fill new vice president position at Blinn College

Cynthia Griffith Cynthia Griffith (pictured) will fill the newly created vice president position to oversee Blinn College's Health Sciences and Technical and Workforce Education divisions. A former vice president for instruction, Griffith will be vice president for instruction for technical and workforce education and an interim vice president to fill her previous post will be named soon.


Griffin began her career at Blinn as vice president for Allied Health Sciences in May 2013 and was named vice president for instruction in November. She previously served as dean of public service, health and behavioral sciences at Lone Star College-CyFair. She is also a former dean of workforce and community education at Alamo College-Northeast Lakeview. Griffith served as director of radiologic technology at Lone Star College-Montgomery and at Angelina College in Lufkin.  

UT System picks Sharphorn as VP, general counsel

The University of Texas System has picked an attorney with experience in higher education leadership and law as the new vice chancellor and general counsel to the System. Dan Sharphorn, who joined the UT System in 2007 as associate vice chancellor and deputy general counsel, has been serving as interim general counsel and vice chancellor for the last year.


Before joining the UT System, Sharphorn was on staff of the vice president and general counsel's office at the University of Michigan. He left the university after 25 years with the title of associate vice president and deputy general counsel. He also is a former instructor with the Judge Advocate General's Corps at the U.S. Military Academy. Sharphorn earned his bachelor's degree from West Point and master's degree and law degree from the University of Michigan.  

Sherri Bays Bays leaves WNMU for West Texas A&M position

Western New Mexico University's (WNMU) Sherri Bays (pictured) is leaving that university to accept the position of vice president of business and finance at West Texas A&M University in Canyon. Bays, who is a Certified Public Accountant, has been with the university for the last 18 years, most recently as vice president of business affairs.


Before taking over the vice president position at WNMU, Bays was an associate vice president for business affairs. She has also served the university as director of fiscal services and internal auditor/budget analyst. 

Westerfeld new interim president of Lone Star College campus

Penny Westerfeld Lone Star College (LSC) officials recently named Penny Westerfeld (pictured) as the interim president of the North Harris campus. She replaces Dr. Steve Head, who will begin his new duties as chancellor of the Lone Star College System on Aug. 1.


Beginning her career at LSC as a faculty member, Westerfeld also has been the dean of the Business and Technology division and dean of  Community Education in addition to serving as vice president of Community and Economic Development. Westerfeld also was the interim president of LSC-Montgomery and the interim chief executive officer of LSC-University Park. She also is an associate vice chancellor.


LSC officials expect to select a search firm soon to help with a national search for a new president of the LSC-North Harris campus. 

SPI Training Services

Bailey new public information specialist for San Antonio airport

Evelynn Bailey Evelynn A. Bailey (pictured), a 20-year veteran marketing specialist, has been selected as the senior public information officer for the San Antonio Airport System. She will serve in the Marketing and Community Relations Department, coordinating local and national media inquiries and assisting with community outreach initiatives.


Bailey previously has worked on education, corporate, marketing, agency and government teams. She is a former communications manager for the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau and has also been public information officer for the City of San Antonio Office of Art and Cultural Affairs. Her most recent engagement was as a fine arts educator in the Southwest Independent School District.


Bailey holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas and a master's from the University of the Incarnate World. 

Raymondville to use sales tax for police station, sports complex

The city of Raymondville is preparing to officially notify residents of the city that it plans to use $3 million in sales tax receipts to help pay for a new $18 million police station and a $1.2 million sports complex. The funds are under the oversight of the Raymondville Economic Development Corp. Officials say there was no opposition expressed to the proposal during a comment period. The proposal calls for a 9,000-square-foot police station that will include a jail at the site of the old headquarters that was demolished in April. 

Contracting Opportunities

Pearland allots $350,000 for library expansion

The city council in Pearland recently agreed to spend about $350,000 to add an additional 4,000 square feet of space at the Pearland Westside Library.


Located in a shopping center, the Westside library already encompasses about 6,000 square feet of space under lease with a seven-year agreement with options to renew for three-year terms. The proposed expansion will provide more communal space, add 12 new data ports, three new computers and workstations and a new office for the children's librarian. The expansion also includes an adult reading area, study tables for teens, two more study rooms, lounge seating and an expansion of staff work and break rooms, city officials said.

AFD Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr elected First VP of IAFC board

Rhoda Mae Kerr
Kerry Howell Photography
Austin Fire Department Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr (pictured) was recently elected to the position of First Vice President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs' (IAFC) Board of Directors, the first woman to be elected to that post in the institution's 140-year history. She is slated to be installed later this summer at the IAFC's annual Fire-Rescue International Conference in Dallas. 


"Chief Kerr has been breaking glass ceilings and paving the way for generations of women in the fire service since she began her career more than 30 years ago," said Austin City Manager Marc Ott. 


The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are international experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue and public safety legislation.


Kerr is a veteran of 30 years in the fire service and a fourth-generation firefighter who began her fire service career in 1983. Prior to becoming chief of the Austin FD, Kerr was chief of the Little Rock, Arkansas, Fire Department and assistant chief of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Fire Department. Kerr holds bachelor's degree from William Paterson University and a Master's in Public Administration from Florida International University. 


Katy ISD bond group urges $748 million bond proposal

Katy Independent School District bond committee members recently recommended that trustees ask voters to approve $748 million in bonds in November to pay for new facilities and upgrade existing facilities.


Committee members urged board members to allot nearly half, $356.8 million, of the $748 million bond proposition to building new facilities, including six new elementary schools, two junior high schools and a high school.  The group also included two projects rejected in a recent unsuccessful bond election, a $22.5 million agriculture science facility and a $58 million football stadium.

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Corpus Christi ISD now eyeing $100.5 million bond proposal

Corpus Christi Independent School District trustees recently began considering asking voters to approve a $100.5 million bond proposition in November after first discussing a more expensive $246.6 million bond proposal.


Trustees estimate spending about $22.8 million each in bonds to renovate two elementary schools and propose spending about $4.5 million to add eight new classrooms at an elementary school to consolidate two existing campuses. Board members also plan to ask voters to approve funding to replace the roofs at two high schools and install new air conditioners at three high schools.

Lee resigns from board of trustees for VIA Metropolitan Transit

Gerald Lee Gerald Lee (pictured), a member of the board of trustees for VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, recently resigned. 


Lee previously served as regional vice president for the South Texas American Cancer Society, a vice president for the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and a vice president for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.


He cited the demands of his growing consulting business as the reason for resigning from the VIA board. 

Poth ISD eyeing $15 million bond election in November

Superintendent Scott Caloss of Poth Independent School District recently recommended that board members ask voters to approve up to $15 million in a November bond election.


While the exact amount of the bond or the projects to be included are yet to be determined, Caloss said, trustees discussed the feasibility of a November bond election at a special meeting in early July.


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Check out our Public-Sector Job Board!

Dozens of public-sector jobs available. Some of the new jobs added this week: Texas Higher Ed Coordinating Board - Administrative Assistant II; Ector County - Deputy Clerk - Compliance Dept. Click here to view jobs. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public-sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com


Beaumont ISD gets interim superintendent, board of managers

Vernon Butler A new superintendent and a seven-member board of managers have been appointed for the Beaumont Independent School District by Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. The board of managers includes Beaumont community members and will be the decision-makers after the entire elected school board was removed following determination by the Commissioner that the district's deficiencies warranted an appointed oversight board.


Named as the new interim superintendent was Vernon Butler (pictured). Butler is the former interim superintendent who served the El Paso Independent School District and its appointed board of managers following a highly publicized scandal involving test scores. Conservator Fred Shafer was told by Williams to remain in his role as conservator to support the board of managers and interim superintendent


The seven-member board of managers, who will perform all the duties of the elected trustees, include: Longtime community and business leader A.B. Bernard; Lenny Caballero, director of event facilities for the city of Beaumont; Jack Carroll; partner in a Beaumont law firm; Joe Domino, former president and CEO of Entergy Texas; Vernice Monroe, longtime children's advocate and former director of the Social Work program at Lamar University; Jimmy Simmons, former president of Lamar University; and Robert Turner, business leader and former chair of the Greater Beaumont Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Waco wins $600,000 to improve wastewater treatment plant

Waco and area cities within the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System (WMARSS) recently won a $588,000 grant to improve the wastewater returned to the Brazos River. Part of a $1.8 million project to establish about 12 acres of wetland to naturally filter-treated effluent before entering the river, construction on the treatment plant upgrades is expected to begin in early 2015.


The WMARSS treatment plant is located southeast of Waco and also provides service to the cities of Bellmead, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Lorena, Robinson and Woodway. Discharges from the plant already are within both state and federal environmental standards, city officials said.

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Corpus Christi eyes proposal for regional youth sports complex

Several months following a proposal to develop a regional youth sports complex using a public-private partnership, Corpus Christi city officials recently unveiled a plan to request proposals from developers by the end of this month.


Developers will have 60 days to outline their vision and plans for a youth sports complex that supporters say will draw more sports tourism to the city, according to Michael Morris, parks and recreation director. The proposals also require information on the appearance of the sports complex, how the complex would be operated and the estimated economic impact, Morris said.


Preliminary plans call for evaluating the proposals by the end of October, negotiating a contract with the winning developer by the end of the year and presenting a contract to city council members for approval by mid-January. 

NASW/Texas State Conference set for October in San Marcos 
More than 1,000 social workers are expected to for the 38th Annual National Association of Social Workers (NASW)/Texas State Conference. This year's even will be Saturday through Monday, Oct. 18-20, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Spa and Conference Center in San Marcos. In addition to networking opportunities, the event will feature presentations by presentations by NASW Assurance Services, Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners, Texas Association of Social Work Deans and Directors, Texas Field Educators Consortium and Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Early bird rates apply through Aug. 20. Up to 19 hours of Continuing Education can be earned by attending. For more information on the conference, how to exhibit or to register, visit the NASW/Texas Web site or check out the main conference page.

TEXAS DESAL 2014 event slated for Sept. 11-12 in Austin 
The Texas Desalination Association's conference, TEXAS DESAL 2014 - Best Practices & Emerging Technology, brings together a diverse array of topics, presenters and attendees to build understanding and opportunities for desalination in Texas. Attendees are assured lively and informative discussions among industry experts, policymakers, regulators, researchers and water planners on the leading edge of new water supplies. Confirmed special guests include Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Director Bech Bruun and State Reps. Todd Hunter and Lyle Larson, who will address desalination from policy, funding and legislative perspectives. For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, contact kford@waterpr.com. Full conference details at TexasDesal.org. Earlybird registration ends July 15. For more information and to register, click here.

Desalination Summit planned for Aug. 5 in Corpus Christi 
Three statewide hearings regarding water desalination are planned in June by the Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination, co-chaired by State Rep. Todd Hunter and Sen. Craig Estes. The three hearings will lead up to an Aug. 5 Desalination Summit in Corpus Christi at the Town Club. The remaining two hearings are set for June 23, 10 a.m., Ortiz Center-Nueces Room, Corpus Christi; and June 30, 11 a.m., the Kemp Center for the Arts, Great Hall - Wichita Falls. The Corpus Christi summit is designed specifically to discuss local issues and solutions. The half-day event will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is organized by the local task force on water in Corpus Christi and Rep. Hunter. The event is free, but registration is required.  
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Job training funds available...
why are some communities not participating?


Mary Scott NabersBy Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.


Unemployed individuals are usually desperate for jobs, but thousands of job openings languish because skilled and/or trained workers cannot be found. Every community in Texas wants a robust local economy, yet industry cannot survive in a region without skilled employees.  Jobs are the lifeblood of every part of Texas, so what's stopping the communities that don't offer job training programs?


Throughout Texas, industry and community leaders are joining forces to form innovative partnerships with colleges and government to meet job training needs. Many development corporations have provided financial assistance to community colleges so that classes can be offered. And, government agencies are awarding funds for career training. The resources are available, only innovation and collaboration are required.


These types of career development programs are changing the landscape for employment in Texas. The outcomes are remarkably successful both for job seekers and the economic vitality of local communities.


There are dozens of successful examples:

  • Alamo Colleges, with funding from the Texas Workforce Commission, is training 270 students for jobs in the solar energy industry.
  • San Jacinto College is working with UpSkill Houston, a workforce development program organized by the Greater Houston Partnership, to churn out skilled workers for the Gulf Coast region. The training at San Jacinto College is for jobs in industries such as manufacturing, health care, maritime and construction. 
Follow Mary on Twitter Like Mary on Facebook View Mary's profile on LinkedIn View Mary's YouTube Videos

Conroe officials approve $55M 

in certificates of obligation, bonds

The cost of road widening projects, updating a park access and entrance and a new water treatment plant will come from the more than $55 million in certificates of obligation and revenue bonds approved recently by the Conroe City Council. 


More than $20 million of the amount will be for water and sewer projects, including the new treatment plant, while the road and park projects will be paid for with $34.7 million of the bond proceeds.


City officials say the road projects include not just roads, but other related ancillary projects such as traffic signals. The bonds could be approved by Aug. 28, with funding available for the projects a month later.

Mitts resigns executive post 

with Texas A&M-San Antonio

Kenneth Mitts The vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer at Texas A&M University-San Antonio has resigned. Kenneth Mitts (pictured), who has been with the university since 2008, resigned to pursue other opportunities, according to his letter of resignation. His resignation is effective Aug. 31.


The university has already moved to fill Mitts' position on an interim basis. Rick Trefzer, associate vice president for finance and administration and chief information officer, has been named to replace Mitts when Mitts leaves until a full-time replacement is chosen.

Brownwood gets TxDOT grant

to research possible businesses

A $75,000 grant from the Aviation Division of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will be used by the city of Brownwood for research into what businesses would be a good fit for the city. The TxDOT grant requires a 10 percent matching grant from the city.


Officials note that having a business development plan will help the city when it applies for grants for infrastructure improvement. The plan is also expected to include a proposal to begin aviation programs for local colleges. 

Frisco selects John Bonnot as

economic development director

John Bonnot Frisco Economic Development Corp. officials recently selected John Bonnot (pictured) as director of economic development.


Previously director of economic development and business recruitment for the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, Bonnot is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and attended the Institute for Organization Management at Southern Methodist University.


Nancy Windham, a vice president for the Frisco EDC, also is retiring. Directors expect to post that opening soon, the EDC marketing director said. 

Collaboration Nation

UT-Rio Grande Valley plans 

to complete hiring by December

Reacting to faculty and staff concerns about the future of their jobs, President Guy Bailey of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa of the UT System recently answered job-related questions. They assured UTRGV and UT-Pan American employees that the goal is to complete hiring by the end of this year, according to The Brownsville Herald.


Bailey, however, said he must hire a chief business officer and human resource officer to assist with budgets and hiring decisions before beginning the hiring process resulting from the merger of the two institutions. UTRGV currently has only two employees, Bailey and Francisco Fernandez, the dean of the School of Medicine.


Faculty and staff at UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American have only one semester remaining before those institutions are closed. Current plans are to advertise the open positions at UTRGV on the UT System Web site relatively soon, Bailey said.

Allen taps Bowman as chief executive officer of EDC

Dan Bowman Following a three-month international search, officials of the Allen Economic Development Corporation recently tapped Dan Bowman (pictured) as the new chief executive officer of that organization.


A former executive for the San Antonio Economic Development Corporation, Bowman will replace the former executive director, Harry Whalen, who resigned earlier this year.


Bowman has a bachelor's degree from Trinity University in San Antonio and a master's degree from The University of Texas at Dallas. He also graduated from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. 

Kristi Gilbert resigning 

as city secretary in Murphy

Kristi Gilbert, the city secretary in Murphy, resigned to accept a new job as city secretary and human resources manager for Argyle. City officials in Murphy have begun a search to find a new city secretary.

HDI Solutions

Dublin approves $3 million 

to improve wastewater system

Dublin City Council members recently agreed to issue more than $3 million in certificates of obligation to upgrade and repair the wastewater system.


Without the upgrades, the city faces up to $300,000 in fines from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to city officials. 


The upgrades include replacing 16 miles of clay tile pipe and correcting inflow and infiltration problems, according to Cory James, director of public works. The repairs and upgrades will be done in phases, he added.

Zimmer withdraws resignation

as city manager in Alpine

Erik Zimmer

After a large show of support from the public and his family, Erik Zimmer (pictured) recently withdrew his resignation as city manager in Alpine after his previous unexpected decision to leave the job he has held for less than a year.


Audience members reminded council that the city charter calls for the city to have a strong city manager government and complained that council members sometimes interfere with city staff. Zimmer also noted that he and Megan Antrim, the finance director, have initiated more financial control measures, including separate budgets by departments. Those separate budgets came about  following allegations that the city lacked proper accounting of city expenditures, provided payday loans for employees and that $30 million was missing.


Zimmer, who was selected as city manager in November after several city staff members were terminated, said he can accomplish the goals he set for improving the city if allowed to do his job.

El Paso County studies three options to control budget

El Paso County commissioners recently began discussing three options to improve control over the county budget. Commissioners expressed support of removing budget responsibilities from the auditor's office to gain more direct control of the budget process.


The county's resources director outlined three options to reorganize job duties and positions to assist commissioner's court to more directly control the budget process. The first option is to create a new administrative department led by a new county administrator similar to a city manager to help oversee the budget process. This option is estimated to cost about $80,000 a year.


The second option, estimated to cost about $114,000 annually, would include creating a new administrative department with a new administrator and expand the ability of commissioners to create policies to administer and allocate funding. The third option, with an estimated price tag of about $254,000 annually, would include creating a position of a chief administrator, who would report directly to commissioners while overseeing the county budget and departments assigned by the court. This options also includes hiring a new executive budget director to work with the chief budget administrator. Commissioners are expected to discuss and vote on one of the three options are their next regular meeting.

Houston Public Works

Director Krueger resigns

Daniel Krueger Daniel Krueger (pictured), public works and engineering director for the city of Houston, has resigned, effective in August. He gave no reason for his resignation.


Krueger, who has held his post for four years, was appointed by Mayor Annise Parker in 2010, managing a department with close to 3,900 employees. 


Before joining the city, Krueger was a supervisor for construction of a Dallas light rail line. The city plans to name an interim director by the end of this month. 

Health Information Designs

Paris moves forward with $1.2 million airport hangar project

Paris City Council recently authorized city staff to enter into an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to build a $1.2 million T-Hangar at Cox Field Airport.


The airport now has about 23 applicants on a waiting list to rent hangar space at the airport, noted Shawn Napier, director of engineering. 


The city is required to contribute only 10 percent of the project cost over a two-year period, he said. Work on the hangar project will not begin until the Transportation Board at TxDOT approves the agreement.

Wilcox tapped as lone finalist for superintendent at Red Lick ISD

Dave Wilcox Dave Wilcox (pictured) recently won selection as the lone finalist for superintendent at Red Lick Independent School District. Wilcox has been superintendent of the Smackover-Norphlet School District in Arkansas since April 2013. 

How helpful is this?

Montgomery County allots $1M

to upgrade its technology

Montgomery County commissioners recently approved $1 million to upgrade the county's computer network system after a recommendation by the director of information technology.


The upgrades to technology are necessary to increase the capacity of the network to meet demand, said Marshall Shirley, director of information technology for the county. The funding for the technology upgrade will come from unspent funding from other projects, according to the county auditor.

Save the date! 
Save The Date

The Ninth Biennial Legislative Communications Conference is set for Oct. 1. More information will be made available as we get closer to that date.

Almanzan resigns from El Paso ISD to join El Paso Electric

Robert Almanzan Associate Superintendent Robert Almanzan (pictured) recently resigned from El Paso Independent School District to accept a new job at El Paso Electric. 


Joining the school district in 2007 and overseeing human resources, Almanzan will be director of human resources at El Paso Electric.


School district officials expect to begin interviewing candidates to serve as the interim associate superintendent for human resources this week, district officials said.

Research Analysts - States

Chandler to establish new

public works department

Chandler city officials recently created a new public works department and hired a new public works director, Jon Hall. City officials also agreed to use money from a 2010 utility revenue bond account to buy equipment for the public works department.


City officials agreed to create the new public works department when a contractor who had provided that service notified council members he plans to retire.  

Grapevine approves 

one-cent hike in hotel tax

P.W. McCallum Grapevine City Council members recently agreed to increase the occupancy taxes at hotels and motels in the city by one cent for each dollar to help fund more activities to increase tourism.


Increasing the hotel/motel tax from 6 percent to 7 percent is critical to raising sufficient revenue to compete with other cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex tourism market, said P.W. McCallum (pictured), director of the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new funding could be used to attract new hotel construction, he added.


Dallas, Fort Worth, Irving and Arlington have a 9 percent hotel/motel tax, while Frisco, Addison, McKinney and Plano set their tax at 9 percent and are Grapevine's strongest competitors for tourism, McCallum said. The hotel tax increase becomes effective on Oct. 1 and also expands the definition of "hotel" to include airport terminals that offer "minute suites" to allow travelers to lodge between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in single rentable time blocks, he added. 

City of Taylor identifies 

six finalists for city manager

Taylor City Council members recently narrowed their search for a new city manager by selecting six finalists from 90 candidates who applied.


Scheduled for interviews with council members on July 25 and 26, the six finalists are Kim Foutz from Temple; Michael E. Morrison from New Braunfels, Himanshu Patel from Florence, Arizona; Philip A. Rodriguez from Rockwall; Jeffrey J. Straub from Taylor; and Isaac Duane Turner from North Venice, Florida.

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Byrd announces leaving Kountze ISD for water control district job

Marylyn Byrd, business manager for the Kountze ISD, has given up her position with the school district to go to work for the Jefferson County Water Control and Improvement District No. 10. 


Her resignation follows that of former Superintendent Reese Briggs, who left the district to lead the Hemphill ISD. Byrd called the two resignations in such a short period of time "coincidental." 

Recent Reports

Bullard ISD selects Lee 

as interim superintendent

Trustees for Bullard Independent School District recently selected Joe Don Lee as the interim superintendent.


A 30-year veteran of public education, Lee also was a superintendent for school districts in Redwater, Pine Tree and Georgetown. He begins his new duties in Bullard on Aug. 1 when he replaces Keith Bryant, the former superintendent. Bryant resigned to become the new superintendent for the Lubbock-Cooper ISD.


Lee has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce. He also holds certificates for superintendent, mid-management and educational administration.

Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-12 Archives - 11/7/03 - 7/11/14
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Aaron W. Bangor of Austin, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Rodolfo "Rudy" Becerra Jr. of Nacogdoches, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Joe Bontke of Houston, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Marilou Fowler of Katy, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Rames Gonzalez Jr. of Plainview, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Heather Griffith of Fort Worth, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Faye Kuo of Austin, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Margaret Larsen of Austin, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Linda Millstone of Austin, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • David Ondich of Fort Worth, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Shawn Saladin of Edinburg, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Marco Trevino of Edinburg, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities;
  • Wesley "Scott" Smith of Murphy, Texas Funeral Service Commission.


In the July 11 edition of the Texas Government Insider, a story regarding Ashby Johnson being named executive director of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization failed to include that he earned a master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin. We regret the omission. 

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