State officials cite strength of health system to contain Ebola
Seek to allay growing public concerns as situation in Texas continues to develop
Two nurses being treated in a Dallas hospital after they were infected with the Ebola virus have been moved from a Dallas hospital to other facilities outside the state. One was transferred to a high-level containment facility for treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The other was transferred
to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both nurses contracted the disease from an Ebola-infected patient hospitalized in Dallas last month who later died. The two nurses are said to be receiving experimental drugs to help improve their conditions.
Just Thursday evening, officials in Williamson County revealed that a Georgetown resident was on the same flight as one of the nurses who is now being treated in Maryland. Although not showing any Ebola symptoms, the resident has voluntarily quarantined himself. Three children of the man attend Georgetown public schools and will be kept at home, but GISD officials said they did not intend to close schools today, Friday.
However, three schools in Belton were closed in an abundance of caution when it was discovered that two of its students had been on that same flight with the infected nurse. School officials ordered classrooms and school buses disinfected.
Also on the education front, The University of Texas System Board of Regents met Thursday night in a special called meeting, with one of the agenda items being to receive a time-sensitive update on infectious diseases, including the provision of specialized health care and the current state of preparedness across the UT System. The System includes nine academic institutions and six health institutions that educate more than 213,000 students.
In Dallas County, commissioners met Thursday with items on the agenda that, if approved, would have created a Declaration of Disaster and Declaration of Emergency in the county as a result of the Ebola events.
And, the state has asked The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to take a leadership role on several fronts to help combat Ebola. UTMB President Dr. David L. Callender said the medical branch is ready to provide clinical care for Ebola patients and to dispose of medical waste.
"UTMB is uniquely positioned to help Texas deal with the Ebola situation," said Callender, noting that the medical branch has been conducting Biosafety Level 4 research for 10 years without infections among thosewho work in its labs, UTMB runs a Level 1 Trauma Center capable of dealing with most complex health emergencies and is experienced in safely destroying medical waste.
Government and health care officials are finding themselves not only having to deal with the medical and public health and safety sides of the Ebola issue, but also with the growing concern of the public.
Dallas County commissioners sent a message of confidence to the people in that region by declining to instate
the disaster and emergency declarations. "We just don't think we need it at this time," said Dallas CountyJudge Clay Jenkins (top), citing the ongoing relationship among the county, the city of Dallas and the state in dealing with the Ebola situation. "We need to save that tool in our tool box until we need it."
Dr. Alex Eastman, Dallas Parkland Hospital's Disaster Medical Director, urged "calm, rational thought" by local government officials.
"We can do this," he said regarding managing the Ebola issues. "We have the right people to do it. We just need to make it happen."
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (bottom) attended the commissioner's court meeting Thursday to offer support from the city. Rawlings said what is of paramount importance is "the safety of our citizens". He said the city agrees that officials should "do whatever is necessary to make sure our citizens are taken care of." The mayor said that up to this point, efforts have been successful in dealing with those individuals who have come in contact with the patient who died. He said it is imperative that the hospital workers who provided his care and others who came in contact with him are safe. He said those who were in contact with the infected individuals should be asked to voluntarily restrict their travel, make sure they monitor themselves for symptoms of the disease and stay away from all public places.
Robinson announces retirement from leadership role at DIR
Executive director, State CIO has served agency since 2009 appointment
The State of Texas will have a new Chief Information Officer (CIO) for 2015, following the announced resignation this week of Karen Robinson (pictured), executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). Robinson, a veteran of more than two decades of state government work and who is also the state CIO, announced she will retire on Dec. 31.
Robinson was named head of the agency in 2009, charged with overseeing data center consolidation for some of the state's largest agencies. As state CIO, the longtime state employee has statewide authority over information and communications technology planning, procurement and service delivery. DIR manages information technology (IT) for more than 4,400 publicly funded entities and operates the state's IT Security, Communications Technology Services, Cooperative Contracts, Data Center Services, and Texas.gov - the official Web site for the State of Texas.
Prior to joining DIR, Robinson was Director of Administration and Technology in Gov. Rick Perry's office. She also previously served as a technical advisor to former Gov. George W. Bush as well as to the Lt. Governor's Office and the Texas State Senate.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Allen Owen, mayor, City of Missouri City
Career highlights and education: Graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and Southern Methodist University Graduate School of Finance & Banking. I have been serving my city for the past 35 years. Started out serving on a Bond Committee, then five years as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner, eight years as a Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem, and am beginning my 21st year as Mayor. My career highlight has been seeing the city become one of the Best Cities in the USA to live, rated 6th safest city in Texas and one of the safest in the United States, most diverse city in the entire Houston Region according to Rice University study and just a great place for families to call home. We are now exceeding 70,000 in population and when I began we were less than 25,000. We have two of the fastest growing and best Master Planned Communities in the United States.
What I like best about my job is: The thing I like best about my job is having a top-notch Council to work with, a tremendous team of employees that serve our citizens and the absolute joy in seeing us be a place that people are proud to call their home.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: Be honest and remember who put you in office. We are there to serve our community and do our best to represent the citizens.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Do the best job you can, and never forget that when you do, people will appreciate that in you.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: playing golf.
People would be surprised to know that I: played semi-pro baseball in my college days.
One thing I wish more people knew about my city: That we are a great place to work and make a career. A lot of our employees have spent their entire working years with us. We treat our employees as family members.
Rallo to become Louisiana's next higher education commissioner Texas Tech System administrator Joseph C. Rallo (pictured) has been selected as Louisiana's next higher education commissioner. Rallo succeeds former higher education Commissioner Jim Purcell, who didn't seek a contract renewal. Purcell held the position for three years before leaving to serve as commissioner of higher education in Rhode Island.
Rallo taught at Rutgers and the University of Southern Colorado and was director of the West European Program and Associate Professor of International Relations at the United States Air Force Academy. He is a retired Air Force colonel and previously served as an intelligence officer in the Navy. He also served as Director of International Programs and Associate Professor of International business at Michigan Technological University. Since his entrance into college administration, he has served as the Dean of Business at Ferris State University, Dean of the College and Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, director of the Colorado Institute for Technology Transfer and Implementation and provost and academic vice president at Western Illinois University.He has also served as a Fulbright Scholar and a NATO fellow.
In 2007, Rallo was named president of Angelo State University. He served in that capacity until 2012, when he was named vice chancellor for academic affairs for the Texas Tech University System. Rallo holds doctoral and master's degrees from Syracuse University, a law degree from Western New England University and a bachelor's degree from Lafayette College. As Louisiana's higher education commissioner, he will oversee implementation of state-level policies, as well as coordination between Louisiana's college and university systems that include 38 institutions, a $2.6 billion budget and more than 217,000 students. He is expected to take over his new position early next year.
TWU studying list of projects that could soon be on drawing board
With a need for more residential and academic space and on-campus parking, officials at Texas Woman's University (TWU) in Denton are likely to take their list of needs to the university's Board of Regents soon.
The wish list is long - needs include a new student union, parking garage, satellite utility plant, science and technology center and residence halls. From estimates of two years ago, the wish list carried a $231 million price tag. Brenda Floyd, university vice president for finance and administration, said with interest rates low for the university, now is a good time for construction projects. Floyd said the satellite utility plant, part of the science and technology center and the first phase of a student union could be paid for with bonds. Another part of the funding mechanism - cash - could be used for a parking garage, renovations to the Old Main Building and part of the science and technology center.
With the move among many universities toward public-private partnerships, TWU could possibly go that route for residence halls and another parking garage. Under that scenario, a private partner would build facilities and the university would pay to use them. Right now, the projects remain on the wish list. Officials will begin updating the plans and putting together cost estimates to take to the Board of Regents in the near future.
Nabers to address P3s at upcoming IEDC conference in Fort Worth Mary Scott Nabers (pictured), president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and co-founder of the Gemini Global Group, will be among the speakers for the Oct. 19-22 International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Annual Conference in Fort Worth. Nabers, recognized as an expert on public-private partnerships (P3s), will participate in a session titled "Your Public-Private Partnership (P3) Dollars at Work: The New Trend in Infrastructure Investment."
The session will feature Nabers and Robert Hinkle, director of Corporate Affairs at North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners, LLC in Fort Worth. Moderating the session will be Robert Farley, principal of Greyhill Advisors, a public-sector real estate and economic development firm in Austin.
Billed as the world's largest annual gathering of its kind, the IEDC conference is expected to draw more than 1,500 economic development officials, private-sector representatives and professionals from local, state and federal government subdivisions.
Bike, pedestrian projects in DFW area benefit from $38M in fundsMore than $78 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects will soon get under way in the Dallas-Fort Worth area following allocation of $38.2 million from the Regional Transportation Council (RTC). A total of 25 cities and seven counties are recipients of the funding, with those entities contributing more than $40 million to the overall project costs. The funding is part of the RTC Transportation Alternatives Program. The money for these projects comes from funds that were allocated to the region from the current federal transportation bill, Moving Ahead of Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).
As a result, 33 bicycle and pedestrian proposals in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Hunt, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties were funded. Once completed, more than 46 miles of sidewalks, trails and on-street bikeways will be built. Other projects are aimed at improving bicycle and pedestrian safety near schools. Regional trails will connect cities and other projects provide access to transit stations and major employment centers.
Some examples of the projects funded are a 4-mile extension of the Northaven Trail in Dallas to the WalnuHill/Denton Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail station, a 2.1-mile extension of the Dudley Branch Trail in Carrollton linking to the North Carrollton/Frankford DART rail station, a 1.9-mile extension of the Cottonwood Creek bicycle trail in Plano and a 3.1-mile extension of Trinity Trails in east Fort Worth. To view the complete list of projects with a brief description and the dollar amount for each, click here.
City of Austin's Elkins named public sector IT executive of year The honor of being the Public Sector Information Technology Executive of the Year this year goes to City of Austin Chief Information Officer Stephen Elkins (pictured). The award is announced annually by the Association of Information Technology Professionals and recognizes achievements by IT professionals in the public sector.
Elkins, CIO for the city of Austin, Communications and Technology Management Department, oversees the use of information technology to improve performance across the city. The Executive of the Year award recognizes leadership and achievement in innovation, creativity and process transformation.
Elkins was named CIO for the city of Austin in 2010. He came to the position with more than 17 years of senior management experience at Applied Materials. His most recent engagement prior to being named CIO was as director of the Small, Minority Business Resources department at the city. Elkins holds bachelor's and master's degrees from St. Edwards University.
Infectious disease state task force to meet on Oct. 23In an effort to better prepare the state to manage the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases, the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response recently scheduled the first meeting of the group for Oct. 23.
Dr. Brett P. Giroir, M.D., will chair the 15-member panel comprised of experts in infectious diseases and public health, biodefense leaders and state agency professionals beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday in room E1.004 in the extension of the State Capitol in Austin. The task force agreed to present initial draft assessments and recommendations on managing Ebola by Dec.1 for the governor or legislators to consider.
Task force members will focus on medical and public health preparedness in identifying and isolating patients with Ebola or other dangerous infectious diseases. The initial discussion will include hospital preparedness and the potential role of improved rapid diagnostics, command and control issues, organizing and implementing epidemiologic investigations and monitoring, decontaminating and disposing of infectious waste, care of patients being monitored and handling of domestic animals in contact with patients.
San Antonio to seek proposals for $45 million Alamodome upgrade San Antonio City Council members recently agreed to seek a design architect and contractor to oversee a proposed $45 million renovation of the Alamodome (as seen in accompanying artist's rendering) in order to meet standards of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The renovation will proceed only if the NCAA selects San Antonio as one of the open slots for the NCAA Final Four expected to be announced in November, city officials said.
Preliminary plans call for adding a 24,000-square-foot multipurpose room, new technical equipment and new locker rooms. Those items would be funded by increased user fees, such as raising the parking fee from $10 to $15 and adding a ticket service charge of $2, city officials said.
Live Oak partners with developer on new hotel, conference centerLive Oak city officials recently approved a public-private partnership with a San Antonio-based developer and a Grapevine-based investment group to build a new hotel with a conference center at the corner of Loop 1604 and Interstate 35.
City officials agreed to provide a grant and tax abatement for the proposed 138-room hotel that includes a 12,000-square-foot conference center. City officials also agreed to a 20-year lease for the conference center.
Helen Spencer named chief communications officer for HISD The Houston Independent School District has named Helen Spencer (pictured) as the district's new chief communications officers. Spencer has previously been serving as HISD Superintendent Terry Grier's chief of staff.
Spencer succeeds Tiffany Davila-Dunne in the communications position. Davila-Dunne left HISD to take the same role in the Spring ISD. Spencer began her new role in the district this week.
Spencer joined HISD communications in September 2011 after a 13-year career in journalism and corporate communications. She is a former news editor for the Houston Chronicle, and also is a former internal communications specialist for BBVA Compass. Grier has launched a search for a new chief of staff.
TWDB Board planning work session to be held in AbileneThe Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is planning a work session on Oct. 21 in Abilene. The session, which will be used to hear updates on the rule development process for state water plan funding and on drought conditions across the state, will begin at 10:30 a.m. on that date at the Moody Center, Room 108, Hardin-Simmons University, 2317 Hickory Street. Board members also will hear an overview of the State Water Plan Interactive Web site.
Also in the work session, the Board will consider approving financial assistance for a water reuse system in Wichita Falls and a storage tank project in Laredo. Board action also will include authorizing solicitation for applications for two grant programs, one for flood planning and another for regional water and wastewater facility planning. The public and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend. More information is available on the TWDB Web site.
Reef, restoration projects in Texas to benefit from BP fundingTwo artificial reef and two state park restoration projects have been approved for $18 million in funding to the state for lost human use of natural resources as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These projects are part of a total of 44 that total close to $627 million across the Gulf. Close to 65 percent of the projects, or $397 million, address ecological losses. The remaining 37 percent, or $230 million, address recreational services losses. The restoration efforts are led by state and federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees. In 2011, BP agreed to provide up to $1 billion to fund early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico to begin addressing injuries to natural resources caused by the spill.
The five Texas projects all address lost recreational services. The Galveston Island State Park Beach Redevelopment project, valued at $10.7 million, includes new multi-use campsites, tent campsites, equestrian facilities, beach access via dune walk-over boardwalks and other recreational enhancements on the Gulf side of Galveston Island State Park. At Rim State Park in Jefferson County, $210,000 has been allocated for a fish cleaning station, vault toilet and two wildlife viewing platforms. Two alternatives exist for Ship Reef/Corpus Reef in federal waters in Nueces County. The Ship Reef project will enhance fishing and diving opportunities by sinking a suitable ship at least 200 feet long to create an artificial reef approximately 67 miles offshore of Galveston. The alternative reef project would increase the amount of concrete pyramids (artificial reef materials) at an existing artificial reef site.
In Brazoria County, an artificial reef project at Freeport, valued at $2.2 million, would increase the amount of reef materials in a currently permitted artificial reef site, approximately 6 miles from Freeport, placing concrete pyramids at a water depth of 55 feet. A project in Matagorda County valued at $3.6 million would create a new artificial reef site approximately 10 miles offshore by adding concrete pyramids at a water depth of 60 feet.
Richardson OK's plan to buy 60 acres of park land for $11 million Richardson City Council members recently agreed to pay $11 million to buy 60 acres of land to expand Spring Creek Nature Reserve.
The park is adjacent to CityLine, a development featuring a facility for State Farm Insurance expected to have almost 12,000 employees in addition to featuring retail space, a hotel and more than 1,000 apartments.
The agreement calls for the city to allow entitlements for Galatyn Properties Ltd. to develop 1,850 apartments on land the developer owns near the Galatyn Park DART rail stations and to rezone the land for those apartments, noted City Manager Dan Johnson (pictured). The agreement is part of the city's goal to locate multifamily units into certain areas to enhance the city's new focus on transit-oriented development.
Harlingen ISD wins $100,000 grant to buy computer tabletsHarlingen Independent School District officials recently won a $100,000 grant from the Technology Lending Program of the Texas Education Agency to purchase 171 computer tablets. The district plans to provide portals for students with the computer tablets access in November, according to district officials.
The new computer tablets will be available to students at two high schools and are a part of a redesign of district high schools that will enhance a Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) program and a project-based learning program, district officials said.
Waco library buys tablets and e-readers for readers to check outThe Hewitt Public Library in Waco recently bought 10 tablet computers and e-readers for use by residents who will be able to check out the devices just as they check out books. The library also used grant funds to buy a computer programmed for video chats by residents who would like to talk with a business partner, an old friend or a family member serving in the military.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provided a $5,000 grant to the library as part of a national initiative to improve technology systems and public libraries. Waco residents can begin checking out the new tablet computers in November, according to library officials.
The devices to be purchased include a range of technology such as Sony-e-readers, Kindle readers and iPads. Library personnel plan on testing public response to each of the devices before selecting which brand or brands to buy in the future. The e-readers will be downloaded with about 100 books to each e-reader, which will feature a theme such as children's literature, crime or fiction for young adults.
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Montgomery County OKs plans for road and bridge road projectMontgomery County commissioners recently approved plans for a $40 million to $60 million project to expand Rayford Road and build a bridge to bypass railroad tracks in an effort to ease congestion in the quickly growing area east of Interstate 45.
Commissioners, however, have not designated any funding for the project to add two lanes to the existing four-lane road or for the new bridge to bypass railroad tracks.
The Rayford Road project is one of the mobility improvements commissioners are considering for a possible $100 million to $150 million bond election in May 2015. The project would take two years to complete if voters approve the bonds, noted one commissioner. It was recommended in the South County Mobility Study released in September by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, he said.
Houston police department to receive $3.13 million federal grantThe U.S. Department of Justice recently awarded a $3.13 million grant from its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to the Houston Police Department.
The grant, one of $123 million in COPS grants awarded this year, will allow the Houston police department to hire or rehire 25 police officers. The grant pays the salary and benefits of newly hired or rehired officers for three years. Nationwide, COPS grants are expected to create 900 law enforcement jobs, according to the Office of Communities Oriented Policing Services.
Criteria for the COPS grant include fiscal needs, the local crime rate and plans for advancing community policing.
Klein ISD eyeing rising costs in plans for possible bond electionWhile planning for a possible 2015 bond election, a steering committee for Klein Independent School District recently expressed concern over the increased cost of building materials and a decline in qualified construction firms while planning for a possible bond election in 2015.
The committee, comprised of parents, district staff and community members, is reviewing plans approved in June to build a fifth high school in addition to looking at technology upgrades, renovations and repairs to existing campuses and construction of other new campuses, noted Robert Robertson, assistant superintendent for facilities.
The district has $65 million remaining from a 2008 bond that included plans for the fifth high school and expects to need from $100 million to $115 million in funds from the proposed 2015 bond proposal to pay for the new high school, Robertson said. Committee members plan two more meetings before scheduling a community meeting to hear public input on projects selected to be included in a 2015 bond proposal. The next step is decide whether to pursue a bond proposal in May and to agree on projects to include on the ballot. The committee expects to provide a recommendation to trustees in December. Board members will decide in January 2015 whether to ask voters to approve bonds in May 2015 and the projects included in the proposal.
Southwest Region Executive Directors Assn. conference slated
The Southwest Region Executive Directors Association will hold its annual conference Nov. 12-14 at the Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk. The theme of the conference is "Change: Do we...React? Respond? Retire?" The nation is still early in a cycle of perpetual change and challenges dealing with issues ranging from funding, to relationships with state and federal agencies, to the rapidly changing political dynamic on all levels of government. And leaders all face internal organizational challenges such as succession, personnel management and demonstrating continued value and relevance for their communities and their competitiveness. These issues are faced at some level by association members in all five of the Southwest Region states, whether small or large, rural or urban. The upcoming conference not only offers training, but also peer learning and engagement and how to address, redress, face and overcome challenges. Economic developers, planners, EDA and other grant recipients, public works managers, elected officials and leaders throughout the Southwest are encouraged to participate in this interchange. To register, click here. For more information about the conference, contact Heather Smoak Urena at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 487-5454.
EWTG plans 28th Annual Professional Development ConferenceThe Executive Women in Texas Government 28th Annual Professional Development Conference, "Building Careers and Developing Leaders" will be held Monday, Nov. 24, at the Embassy Suite -SanMarcos Hotel, Spa, and Conference Center. The conference is the premier educational forum for government professionals interested in developing practical, comprehensive and real-world solutions for managing changing rules and standards, new business practices and technological advances and bring greater efficiency to government operations. Experts from state government, higher education and industry experts will discuss topics relevant to leadership trends, governance practices and emerging management models in the public sector. The evening before the conference, a networking reception will be held to commemorate ETWG's 30th anniversary. Keynote speakers will include Amy Henry, the "last woman standing" on NBC's first season of "The Apprentice" and author of What it Takes: Speak Up, Stand Up and Move Up, and Ambassador Karen Hughes, Worldwide Vice-Chair of Burson-Marsteller communications strategists. Early bird registration is open through Oct. 31. Regular registration rates available Nov. 1-14. For more information on the conference and registration is available here.
NTTA hosting Dallas Co. Vendor Outreach Symposium on Oct. 22The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), in partnership with the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council, will host a Vendor Outreach Symposium in Dallas County on Wednesday, Oct. 22. The "Open for Business" Vendor Forum will be from 4 to 6 p.m. on that. date at 8828 North Stemmons Freeway, 5th Floor, Suite 550, Dallas, 75247. The event is an outreach effort by the NTTA Business Diversity Department, whose mission is to strengthen the NTTA by the inclusion of minority- and woman-owned business enterprises in the procurement of goods and services. The symposium provides information about contract opportunities on future projects and how to do business with the NTTA. Participants will have the opportunity to meet NTTA's project delivery staff and information technology, maintenance, diversity and purchasing personnel. Those already doing business with NTTA will have the opportunity to get reacquainted with NTTA staff and network with stakeholders and other businesses. For more information and to RSVP, click here, or contact VendorOutreach@NTTA.org.
Texas EMS Conference set in Fort Worth Nov. 23-26
Texas EMS Conference, one of the largest EMS conferences in the nation, kicks off Nov. 23 in Fort Worth. Texas EMS Conference draws emergency medical services personnel for three days of emergency medical education, including continuing education for EMS, nurses, firefighters and physicians. The conference also features a 170,000-square-foot exhibit hall filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment, EMS supplies and services, job opportunities, ambulances and helicopters. Preconference classes, ranging in length from four hours to three days, feature cadaver anatomy labs, wilderness rescue and response to bombing incidents. For more information, go to www.texasemsconference.com.
NASW/Texas State Conference set for October in San MarcosMore 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. 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.
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What's all the buzz
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
"Future-proofing" is a new 'buzz word' in many cities. One of the hottest topics among leaders at the local levels of government is how to ensure that a community has the capacity to rebound quickly after a disaster.
As a result, many cities have added a new position on municipal org charts - a chief resilience officer (CRO). Responding to the fact that most cash-strapped cities don't have funds to hire such officers, the Rockefeller Foundation created a 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge and allocated $100 million to be used for future-proof cities. The Challenge creates competition for the funding and 32 cities throughout the world were initially selected to receive funding. The next round of winners will be announced in December.
El Paso was the only city in Texas chosen. Four cities from California were selected, including Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. Other cities in the United States were Boulder, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York City and Norfolk, Virginia. Oakland, Boulder and Norfolk already have put CROs in place and El Paso just last month advertised for candidates to apply for the position.
The Rockefeller Foundation funding is designated for specific purposes. It can be used for CRO salaries, for assistance in the development of a resilience strategy, and for access to a platform of innovative tools and for membership in a network where best practices, new ideas and workable solutions are shared.
A CRO is a high-level advisor who usually reports to the city's top leadership. CROs should be forward thinkers and visionary because they are charged with ensuring resilience for a city. That is best done by bringing all departments together with a community for planning and executing a strategy that covers all aspects of a disaster.
Lubbock approves $40 million airport improvement projectLubbock City Council members recently authorized officials of the Lubbock International Airport to approve a construction contract for a $40 million project.
Current plans call for rebuilding a runway, installing a drainage system and sealing cracks in pavement throughout the airport. A grant from the Federal Aviation Administration is covering $21 million of the cost of the airport upgrade. Revenue from the airport will pay any remaining costs, airport officials said.
Voter ID decision apparently
in hands of U.S. Supreme CourtThe latest action involving the on-again, off-again Voter ID law in Texas has the law requiring registered voters to show one of seven forms of identification to be eligible to vote in the upcoming Nov. 4 election still in effect. A U.S. District judge just over a week ago ruled that Texas' Voter ID law was unconstitutional, saying that the legislation creating the new law (SB14) constitutes a poll tax.
The Texas Attorney General's office appealed the ruling and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos' ruling, thus reviving the photo ID enforcement for the November election. Since that time, opponents of Voter ID in Texas earlier this week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the lower court order. Justice Antonin Scalia gave the Attorney General's Office until 4 p.m. Thursday to respond.
As it stands this morning, the Voter ID law will be in effect when early voting for the November election begins Monday. The 2011 law created a new requirement for voters (with a few exceptions) to show one of seven forms of photo identification when voting in person - a Texas driver's license issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), a DPS-issued Election Identification Certificate (EIC), a DPS-issued concealed handgun license or Texas personal ID card, a U.S. passport, U.S. military identification or a U.S. citizenship certificate.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has since resumed issuing Election Identification Certificates. Texans can obtain an EIC at any Texas driver license office, at some selected offices on Saturdays, at EIC mobile station locations and at alternate approved locations in select counties.
Davis to retire as U.S. District Judge of Eastern District of Texas U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis (pictured) recently announced plans to retire in May 2015 as the chief judge of the Eastern District of Texas.
Davis previously served as an attorney in Tyler and as the chief judge of the 12th Court of Appeals. He won Senate confirmation in 2002 to serve as a U.S. district judge for the Eastern District following his 2002 nomination by the president.
Corpus Christi to annex land adjacent to proposed wind farmCorpus Christi City Council members recently cited potential problems with a proposed wind farm for their decision to annex 16 square miles of land to discourage development of the wind farm or gain the ability to regulate it.
City officials said the proposed wind farm to be built in the Chapman Ranch area could cause problems with operations of U.S. Navy bases in the area.
Argyle appoints Petty
as new acting town managerFollowing approval of the resignation and settlement agreement with former Town Manager Charles West, Argyle City Council members appointed Trent Petty as the acting town manager.
A former city manager in Grapevine and Westlake, Petty also has served as an economic development consultant for Argyle. He also worked for the Tarrant County Hospital District Board and served on the board of directors of Baylor Regional Medical Center in Grapevine.
Argyle city officials plan to advertise for candidates seeking to serve as town manager, according to the city secretary.
Abilene names Vela as its
new interim city manager Abilene City Council members recently appointed David Vela (pictured) as the interim city manager to replace Larry Gilley, who is leaving that post.
Most recently a deputy city manager in Abilene, Vela previously served as an assistant city manager in Alice, as an analyst for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and a public affairs specialist for the Office of the Texas Attorney General.
Vela earned a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree from Texas State University.
Marshall names seven semi-finalists for city manager jobMarshall city commissioners recently selected seven semi-finalist candidates from a pool of 105 applicants for city manager.
After reviewing those seven candidates, commissioners plan to select three or four finalists to be interviewed for the job.
The new city manager will replace Frank Johnson, who resigned in January. Buzz Snyder has served as interim city manager since January.
Current plans call for commissioners to interview finalists for city manager on Oct. 24 and to name a new city manager by the end of October.
Galveston delays taking vote
for city's new city manager Galveston City Council members recently agreed to postpone until Nov. 4 a vote to choose a new city manager from the two finalists who previously were interviewed.
Interim City Manager Brian Maxwell and Stephen Rasmussen, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, are the two finalists for city manager being considered by council members.
Mart agrees to hire city administrator to work part-timeMart City Council members recently agreed to hire a city administrator to work no more than 30 hours a week without benefits to serve as the city administrator, the first the city has had since 2000.
A city administrator is needed because city officials have applied for five separate grants to fund approximately 13 new projects that could overwhelm current city staff, the mayor said. City officials are expecting to hear on the status of the grants by the end of the year. The new city administrator also would supervise all city staff, the mayor said.
City officials set no deadline for hiring a part-time city administrator and said the salary will depend on the qualifications of the candidate. The city manual already contains a job description for a city administrator so the search for a city administrator can begin without further council action, the mayor said.
Texas A&M looking at possible
on-campus hotel, center
A request for proposals (RFP) for demolition of a former dormitory-turned-administration
building on the Texas A&M University campus may be the first step toward the addition of an on-campus hotel and conference center. The RFP calls for demolishing Cain Hall on the A&M campus, with plans for a full-service, 150-bed hotel and conference center with a 1,000-space parking facility to follow. The proposed facility would be connected to the football stadium site by a pedestrian bridge.
A pre-proposal conference was held Thursdayto hear developers offer ideas on the project. According to the Bryan-College Station Eagle, the proposals are being sought simply to see if such a project is viable. If deemed to be so, the project would then continue through the approval stage.
Beginning Nov. 13, A&M's business development office will sift through the proposals and recommend a developer's plan to Interim President Mark Hussey, who will make his recommendation to A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. Sharp will then make a recommendation to the Board of Regents, who would consider the proposal and possibly vote on their choice for developer.
Klussmann to resign as superintendent at Spring BranchSpring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussmann (pictured) recently announced he plans to resign from that job in August 2015.
A 26-year veteran in public education, Klussmann has worked with the Spring Branch school district for 18 years. He said he plans to remain active in public education, but has not made a decision regarding future employment.
District officials expect to discuss plans for searching for a replacement for Klussmann at their next scheduled meeting.
Frisco EDC selects Whalen new director of business development Frisco Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officials recently selected Harry Whalen (pictured) as director of business development, a newly created position to work with companies considering a move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Whalen, who also will work with international businesses interested in relocating to the area, joins two other newly hired employees at the Frisco EDC. The board selected Dave Quinn as a vice president in September and named John Bonnot as director of economic development in July.
Previously the executive director at Allen EDC, Whalen also was director of the Caldwell County EDC in North Carolina and of the State of Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he also was a vice president of international development.
Athens seeking proposals to design upgrades to waterlines
Athens City Council members recently authorized city staff members to seek proposals from engineering firms to design improvements to water lines on three streets in the southern area of the city.
City Administrator Pam Burton said the city will advertise soon for proposals to design the water line project.
Keller selects Police Chief Hafner
to serve as interim city manager Keller City Council members recently selected Police Chief Mark Hafner (pictured) as the interim city manager. He replaces City Manager Steve Polasek, who is resigning effective Nov. 9 to become the city manager in Roswell, New Mexico.
City officials also appointed three police captains, Tommy Simmons, Brenda Slovak and Michael Wilson, to serve as the acting police chief on 30-day rotations once Hafner assumes the duties as city manager.
David Ellis selected as new
assistant director of Allen EDC David Ellis (pictured) recently won selection by board members of the Allen Economic Development Corporation to serve as the assistant director of economic development.
Ellis will assist in oversight of the business retention and marketing programs and implement a business attraction program to attract new investment and jobs to the city. He previously worked with economic development in Plano.
Executive Director Daniel Bowman also appointed Geneva Aragon as director of marketing and research and Tracey Cline as the business retention and expansion coordinator for the Allen EDC. Aragon previously worked in marketing for several private companies and for the American Heart Association. Cline has served as a senior administrative assistant at the Allen EDC for almost eight years.
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
- Steve Hughes of El Paso as justice of the 8th Court of Appeals
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