Texas Government Insider
Volume 13, Issue 25 - Friday, June 26, 2015

U.S. Conference of Mayors report urges collaborative efforts


Officials laud public-private partnerships as force shaping 21st century cities

Partnerships The nation's cities never seem to get enough credit for the heavy lifting they do to improve the quality of life in their communities - and doing it when dollars are stretched thin. Cities are the heartbeat of America and the major drivers of the nation's economy, but the economic challenges they face can often be overwhelming.

The first-ever U.S. Conference of Mayors Business Council Best Practice Report: Mayors and Businesses Driving Economic Growth was released this week in conjunction Kevin Johnson with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) 83rd Annual Meeting. It outlines innovative practices and public-private partnerships that have been successful in American cities, and sharing best practices that other cities and communities can adapt to their own situations. Their efforts have focused on the gains that can be realized through good working relationships between cities and businesses.

"Mayors and business leaders agree that creative public-private partnerships are a major force in shapingcities of the 21st century and experience has shown when businesses and local governments work together, our cities benefit and our nation is stronger," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (pictured), USCM President. 

Many of the examples of innovative solution in the report include information about the challenge encountered, a description of the solution and the positive impact the solution had on the city, from financial to delivery improvement to job creation. Projects also provide information on how to accomplish the task and general tips that might be incorporated to ensure success.

The projects address a number of issues and needs, from creating summer jobs for youth in the community to the largest transportation project in one state that is also the largest public-private partnership in the country. They all show the benefits that can be gained by city government-business collaborations.



DPS adds new class of 77 Academy graduates to Highway Patrol
New Troopers
The latest DPS Academy graduates are sworn in as Texas Highway Patrol troopers at their graduation ceremony. (DPS photo)

Seventy-seven men and women - graduates of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Academy - were recently commissioned as Texas' newest Highway Patrol Troopers. 

To be certified, each cadet went through a 23-week training academy that began in January. They received instruction in more than 100 subjects, including counterterrorism, traffic and criminal law, arrest and control procedures, accident reconstruction, first aid and Spanish. They also received training in use of force, communication skills, firearms, driving, criminal interdiction, cultural diversity and physical fitness. 

Now that they have been sworn as troopers, they will begin reporting to duty stations across Texas and spend the first six months in on-the-job training. 

"The specialized training and instruction you have received over the last six months will be indispensable in fulfilling your duties as a Highway Patrol Trooper," DPS Director Steven McCraw told the new troopers at their graduation ceremony, "and we are grateful for your courageous and selfless commitment to protecting and serving the people of Texas." 


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Rita Jonse Rita Jonse, mayor, city of Manor 


Career highlights and education: Graduated from Manor High School and Nixon Clay Commercial College. Retired from the public sector in July 2009 and able to pursue my passion of serving the community.  Serve on Chamber of Commerce Board, past treasurer of the East Rural Travis County Advisory Board, president of the Finance Council at my church, member of Saint Vincent DePaul ministry and for the past 18 years have served as administrator for St. Joseph's Catholic Church. My career highlight was having been awarded the Lumen Gentium Award by the Bishop of the Diocese. Served as City Council Member and on Planning and Zoning Commission, and serving my second term as Mayor for the City of Manor.

What I like best about my job is: Flexibility because I set my own hours. I work mainly from home and I like that part of the job.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Always be yourself, tell it like it is, be assertive.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Working in the office, a new hire cannot be timid. They need to speak up and make the person that they are counseling or serving comfortable. Let them feel and know that you have the knowledge to help them.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: having lunch with an old friend, meeting with a developer, or attending a grandchild's activity of some kind.

People would be surprised to know that I: love to garden with flowers and plants. Not vegetables, I leave that to my husband.  I was taught by my mom to embroider as a child and I especially like to make baby blankets and give them away as gifts.

Appointed in 2012...


Rister plans to retire as executive director of Railroad Commission

Milton Rister Milton Rister (pictured), executive director of the Railroad Commission of Texas, has announced his retirement, according to a statement released Thursday by Railroad Commission Chair David Porter. "The Railroad Commission will immediately begin a nationwide search for a new executive director," the statement read, noting that Rister announced that he will retire "later this summer."

Rister was named executive director of the agency in September 2012, coming to the Commission after having served as Director for Administration for then-Gov. Rick Perry. Rister has a long history in Texas politics, having not only served in the Governor's Office, but also having served as Director of Research for then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and as chief of staff for Sen. Jane Nelson. He also is a former executive director of the Texas Legislative Council and former executive director of the Republican Party of Texas.

Rister holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Attorney General Ken Paxton appoints senior staff members

Three veteran state employees bring expertise to new leadership roles

David Maxwell Adrienne McFarland Rudy Montoya Changes in senior staff at the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) have put three public service veterans with years of state experience into leadership positions at the agency. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week named David Maxwell (right) as the Director of Law Enforcement, Adrienne McFarland (center) as Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice and Rudy Montoya (left) as Chief Information Officer (CIO). Montoya's placement as CIO for the agency moves the Information Technology division to a deputy-level position. 

Maxwell's experience includes 43 years in Texas law enforcement. He joined the OAG in 2010 as Deputy Director of Law Enforcement after 38 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). He began his law enforcement career as a highway patrolman in 1972 and was promoted to DPS Narcotic Investigator in 1981. He was promoted to Texas Ranger in 1986, a position he held for 25 years. Maxwell attended Principia College in St. Louis and the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater.

McFarland has been division chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Division since 2011. She has previously served as the deputy division chief of the newly-created Criminal Prosecutions Division and was head of the Violent Crime and Major Offender Section. She has also been deputy division chief of the Prosecutor Assistance Division and division chief of the Prosecutor Assistance Division. A former assistant county attorney for Brazos County, McFarland joined the OAG in 1993 as an assistant attorney general in the Prosecutor Assistance Division. She holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and a law degree from South Texas College of Law.

Montoya became the OAG chief information officer in 2012, after 25 years with the agency. He oversees the IT systems for the Child Support, Administrative and Legal divisions supporting more than 4,200 staff members. He has also served on a number of state technology initiative workgroups, as well as the Department of Information Resources' Information Technology Leadership Committee and the State Strategic Planning Committee. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University. 


Grow your business

Fifteen projects totaling $239 million to share Proposition 1 funding
Fifteen more transportation projects throughout Texas have been announced for Proposition 1 funding by the Texas Transportation Commission. The Commission met Thursday and approved the funding. The combined cost of the projects approved is $239 million.

Proposition 1 was approved by Texas voters last November, and dedicates a portion of oil and gas tax revenue to the State Highway Fund. Since its passage, the Transportation Commission has approved funding for 200 projects statewide. Already, final contract awards have been entered into on 75 of those projects.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director Joe Weber said the message from community leaders, planning organization and voters who approved Proposition 1 is that, "Transportation concerns must be addressed in a manner that is both efficient and effective. Our efforts continue to prove we hear and understand that message."

The Proposition 1 funding will rehabilitate 800 miles of highways, provide nearly 500 miles of new highway lanes, replace or widen and rehabilitate 114 bridges and add nearly 160 miles of passing lanes on rural highways. The project list was put together with input from Metropolitan Planning Organizations and TxDOT districts. Some of the funding will be used to repair and rehabilitate roads that have been damaged by increased truck traffic in areas where oil and gas exploration is under way. Safety projects are also planned to share some of the funds.
Transportation Commission studies funding for US 183 toll project
The Texas Transportation Commission has given preliminary approval to a package of $200 million in funding for the proposed U.S. 183 tollway in Austin. The $875 million project of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority would benefit from a $143.4 million grant and a $3 million loan from the Texas Department of Transportation state infrastructure bank and $30 million in general revenue from the agency. The Commission will decide on final approval of the proposed funding next month. The project includes eight miles of a six-lane tollway.
City of Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr named for elite honor

reaks 142-year-old tradition by becoming first female IAFC president
Rhoda Mae Kerr
City of Austin/Korey Howell photo   
Calling it the "pinnacle of my career," Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr (pictured) recently ended a tradition that has lasted for 142 years. Kerr, a fourth-generation firefighter who began her fire service career in 1983 and has served as Austin's fire chief since 2009, was recently named president and board chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Established in 1873, the IAFC is one of the oldest professional associations in the United States. Since its establishment 142 years ago, every president of the organization has been a male - until now.

When she is sworn in as president in August, Kerr will become the IAFC's first female president. "I am pleased that I get to be 'the first,'" said Kerr, "and I certainly keep saying I don't want to be 'the last' or 'the only.'"

Calling her "one of the best hires I ever made," Austin City Manager Marc Ott had high praise for his city's fire chief. "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," he said.

Before joining the Austin Fire Department, Kerr was fire chief of the city of Little Rock for five years. She also is a former deputy chief for the city of Fort Lauderdale, where she began her firefighting career. Before choosing her career in firefighting, Kerr was a public school teacher for a dozen years. 

Kerr holds a master's degree from Florida International University, a bachelor's degree from William Paterson University, an associate's degree in fire science technology from Broward Community College and two certifications from the Harvard University program - one for senior executives in state and local government and the other for the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. She is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program.
DISD board gets recommendation for $1.6B improvement plan
Dallas Independent School District voters could face a bond issue of up to $1.6 billion in November if the school board approves the Future Facilities Task Force recommendations. The plan was presented to the board this week and is a first draft.

Included in the package is $550.3 million for new school buildings. Five new or replacement schools are included, three replacement buildings and one partial replacement. Another $172 million would be for classroom additions, including 116 classrooms, two gyms and a library expansion at six high schools; 36 classrooms and a cafeteria expansion at two middle schools; 24 classrooms, a cafeteria and gym lockers at a K-8 school; and 78 classrooms, four cafeteria expansions and two pre-kindergarten programs at six elementaries.

Other renovations and upgrades total $208 million. That includes technology upgrades, science labs for middle and high schools and gym, locker room, library and cafeteria improvements. New programs would be allocated $74.6 million for such issues as additions and renovations and conversion of some classrooms for different programs. The plan proposes $500 million for upgrades such as roofing, HVAC systems and windows, doors and paint. The recommendations also include $85.2 million for land purchases and some building demolition.
Bexar County, San Antonio eyeing citywide broadband network
Bexar County and San Antonio officials recently began eyeing the possibility of using a dormant fiber optic cable network to build a citywide high-speed broadband network. The cost to activate the buried fiber optic cable would be about $750,000 for the initial work and about $350,000 annually to operate.

Because state law does not allow municipalities, including the city-owned CPS Energy, to market broadband service, the city could provide the service to public institutions such as the county, city offices, University Hospital, The University of Texas at San Antonio, schools districts and other public institutions, a council member said. A county commissioner noted that using a municipal broadband network to train students for jobs in cyber security would present a great option for those who do not want to attempt a four-year college degree. A city council member said he would introduce the broadband proposal at the first budget session of the council.
Navigating Public Sector Procurement

Bexar County grants tax break for new 242-unit apartment complex
Bexar County commissioners recently authorized an economic development grant that is equal to 40 percent tax abatement for 10 years for a new $28.1 million, 242-unit apartment complex planned near downtown San Antonio.

Commissioners agreed to pay the developer 10 annual payments equal to a 40 percent tax abatement for the mixed-use apartment complex to be built on West Commerce Street, near El Mercado.

Current plans call for the project to include market-rate rental units, parking garage and retail spaces at street level.
University Medical Center taps Banos as CEO, Webb to pediatrics
Ed Banos University Medical Center officials recently appointed Edward "Ed" Banos (right) as the chief operating officer and executive vice president of the health care system operated by Bexar County. UMC officials also named Mark Webb (left), most recently the interim chief Mark Webb operating officer of the UMC, as the new chief operating officer of pediatrics.

Banos replaces Christann Vasquez, the previous CEO who resigned earlier to become president of Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, a new teaching hospital scheduled to open in 2017, and president of University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Banos, with 27 years in health care administration, previously was chief executive officer of the Upper Peninsula Health System teaching hospital in Marquette, Michigan. He also served as CEO and president of the Good Shepherd Health System in Longview.
Texas Woman's University accepts largest gift in school history
A gift of nearly $10 million from a foundation created by world-renowned psychologist and psychometrician Richard W. Woodcock will put Texas Woman's University (TWU) at the center of interdisciplinary research into cognitive and achievement assessments and advancing effective clinical practice for two-year-olds to octogenarians. The gift from the Woodcock-Muñoz Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee, is the largest single donation in TWU history.

"Improving the tools by which cognitive abilities are measured has been my life's work," Woodcock said. "Texas Woman's University, with its multidisciplinary approach to education, research and clinical practice, is ideally suited to continue advancing this field and making a profound difference in the lives of others."

Woodcock, the senior author of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities and Achievement, is dissolving the Tennessee-based foundation to create an endowment that will fund the new Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice at TWU. Annual interest generated from this endowment fund, along with about $1 million in annual royalties from his newly updated tests measuring cognitive ability, oral language skills and achievement, will support the growth of this new institute on TWU's Denton campus.
SPI Training Services

Allen ISD whittles down proposed bond package to $272 million
Trustees for Allen Independent School District recently reduced a $302 million bond proposal recommended by a citizens committee to a $272 million proposal to go to voters in November. Projects on the reduced bond proposal include a new freshman center, new elementary school and science and technology center for Allen High School.

District officials now plan to use $30 million from the general fund to pay for projects omitted from the bond package, including renovating an elementary school, adding a gymnasium at Allen High School and buying new school buses, according to Superintendent Lance Hindt.
Midland weighing two options for planned new convention facility
Courtney Sharp Midland City Council members recently agreed to pay $2.75 million to an architect for architectural and engineering services on a proposed downtown convention facility.

The council, however, is still in the process of deciding whether to proceed with a 20,000-square-foot, $29 million facility or building a new 26,000-square-foot exhibit hall at a cost of $39 million. The second option includes demolishing the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and building a new convention center facility on a half-block, according to City Manager Courtney Sharp (pictured).

Once the engineering and preliminary architecture plans are completed, council should have more accurate information on which to base a decision, Sharp said. The city has about $14 million from the hotel-motel tax fund to pay for the convention facility, but will need to issue debt to be paid back through future hotel and motel taxes to pay the remaining costs, he added.
Taylor County moving forward to renovate Expo Center in Abilene
Taylor County commissioners recently moved forward on plans to renovate the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene. Commissioners have discussed building a new equestrian area to be used for events needing a dirt floor, while keeping the remaining areas of the Expo Center to more available events that do not want or need dirt floors.

Commissioners are working with an architect for preliminary drawings and cost estimates to renovate the Expo Center. Board members for the Expo Center have asked county officials to allot $20 million to improving the events center.

The proposal included building a new main entrance on the east side of the coliseum, new ticket booths, upgrading dressing rooms and offices for event promoters, improving concession areas and remodeling restrooms to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The president of the Expo Center board of directors said the greatest need is to upgrade the horse stalls, which are now in "terrible" shape.
Contracting Opportunities

Plano finalizing plans for up to $6M in upgrades to Carpenter Park
Plano city officials recently began meeting with area residents to finalize plans to upgrade Carpenter Park using about $6 million in previously approved bond funds.

Current plans include improved lighting, more parking, upgrading the irrigation system and the possibility of adding the city's first outdoor skate park, noted Robin Reeves, chief parks planner for the city. Other renovations at the park include removing some baseball fields to provide more soccer fields that also can be used for lacrosse and football. Renovating the swimming pool, adding water slides, a birthday party room and "lazy river" also are included in long-range plans for upgrading the park. City officials may need to seek approval of new bonds to complete the proposed park upgrades, she said.
Coppell ISD considering bond election in May 2016
Sid Grant Coppell Independent School District officials recently began studying the possibility of asking voters to approve bonds in May 2016 to accommodate enrollment growth.

Sid Grant (pictured), assistant superintendent for business and support services, said that members of the Facilities Visioning Committee found a need to provide more parking at the high school and a new ninth-grade center at New Tech High School. District officials also said they must consider the cost of operating new facilities. Those yearly operating costs range from about $3 million for an elementary school, to $4.5 million for a middle school and at least $9 million for a new high school.

The next step, according to Superintendent Mike Waldrip, is to develop cost estimates for possible solutions and form a bond committee this fall to present two to three options for a bond proposal to trustees in December. Any construction would take at least two years to begin, Waldrip said.
Collin County, McKinney to build new public safety training facility
McKinney city officials and Collin County commissioners recently approved an agreement to build a new public safety training facility at an estimated cost of $13.4 million to serve as the only comprehensive training site in the county for fire and police personnel.

To be built near the intersection of Redbud Blvd. and Bloomdale Rd., the new public safety training facility is expected to begin in about a year and be finished a year later, according to city and county officials. The new facility is planned to feature an indoor, virtual firearms training center with adjustable walls to permit simulated and living firing capabilities, an emergency services training center, two burn structures and classroom space.

Collin College is overseeing construction of the public safety training facility after demolishing a previous training facility to expand its Central Park Campus. The college also is building a new health sciences center on the previous location of the public safety training facility. Current plans are for the city to lease the 25-acre site for the training facility and build roads and other infrastructure to serve the facility at a cost of about $2.2 million, which will be reduced when college officials pay half of the total project cost and another $1.1 million when it issues a certificate of office.
Collaboration Nation

Jacksboro looking at bond election to upgrade streets
Jacksboro City Manager Mike Smith recently urged council members to consider asking voters to approve a bond issue to pay for street repairs. Repairing streets as city funding now allows does not solve the problem of decades of neglect, Smith said. The city's financial condition is in good shape to take on additional debt, he said.

The city manager also told council that the city would need to have an engineering study to help determine the cost and asked for a committee to work with the engineer to be appointed by council members.
Pisors in new vice president post at University of Houston-Victoria
Jesse Pisors Jesse Pisors (pictured) is leaving his job as executive director of development and alumni relations at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown to return to Texas. Pisors, who previously worked at The University of Texas-Pan American before heading to Pittsburgh, was recently named vice president for advancement and external relations at the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV), effective July 13.

While at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pisors was in charge of alumni relations, development and advancement services, along with seeking grant funding. At UHV, he will provide leadership for the university's corporate and foundation relations, planned giving, major gift procurement, comprehensive and capital campaigns, alumni relations, development, constituent relations and community affairs.

Pisors holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Oral Roberts University. He also is currently working toward a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Oklahoma in Norman.


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Rockwall ISD agrees to move forward with bond vote in November

Rockwall Independent School District trustees recently agreed to continue with planning for a bond election on Nov. 3.


The vote followed a recommendation from a citizen's committee to seek approval of $256.8 million in bonds in November to pay for upgrades to facilities, technology, safety and security throughout the school district.

Texas State facilities on two campuses benefit from private gifts
A $5 million donation from the St. David's Foundation will help Texas State University build a new health professions building on the university's Round Rock campus. Texas State University President Denise Trauth said the funds will help expand necessary health-related programs and health care delivery to a rapidly increasing state population.

The facility is expected to be 107,000 square feet and will house three programs being relocated there from the San Marcos campus - communication disorders, physical therapy and respiratory care. It will also be home to research labs and public clinics. The facility is expected to open in 2018 and will cost $67.5 million.

Additionally, an $82 million engineering and sciences building on the university's San Marcos campus will also use a major gift and other sources to help defray its costs. Gloria and Bruce Ingram, longtime supporters of the university, earlier this year pledged $7.1 million that was contingent on passage of the tuition revenue bond (TRB) legislation in the recently concluded 84th Texas Legislature.
City managers group selects Stafford as Administrator of Year
Brad Stafford The Texas City Managers Association recently selected City Manager Brad Stafford (pictured) of Navasota as the winner of the Administrator of the Year award. Based on his contributions to local city government management in the past 18 months, the award noted that Stafford led the city during times of transition since he became city manager nine years ago.

Among the accomplishments listed were adoption of the city's comprehensive plan, building a new municipal building, facilitating positive dialogue across multiple community organizations such as the county, school district and citizen's groups.
Hunt County utility district seeking permit for wastewater plant
Hunt County Municipal Utility District No. 1 officials recently applied for a permit for a new wastewater treatment plant to serve a large residential development west of Greenville. The utility district is a part of Walton Texas L.P, which is developing the master-planned community. The developer applied to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to discharge treated wastewater not to exceed 300,000 gallons per day from the new plant to be built on County Road 1154. Current plans are to discharge the treated wastewater via pipe into Elm Creek and eventually into Lake Tawakoni.

TASSCC announces annual conference for Aug. 2-5 in San Antonio

The Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) 2015 Annual Conference will be held Aug. 2-5 in San Antonio at the La Cantera Resort. This year's theme is "The Marvel of IT." The event will be highlighted by an opening session keynote address from inspirational speaker Carey Lohrenz, an author and the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy. Because of her challenging work aboard an aircraft carrier, she can speak to such issues as winning under pressure, reducing errors and overcoming obstacles - problems that are also found in day-to-day business. The keynote address for the Monday session will be former Olympic track and field medalist Marian Jones. Among the breakout sessions for the event are applications and modernization, data management and analytics, leadership and human capital and managing enterprise services. Each will include a discussion of subjects from "How to make your agency a social media super hero" to "User experience design: methodology, artifacts, acumen." Registration information and the agenda are now available. More information about the conference is available here.

TSABAA planning 46th Annual Summer Conference for July 29-31
Registration is now open for the Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) Summer Conference, set for July 29-31 at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. This will be the 46th year for the annual event and will once again feature the announcement of the TSABBA Administrator of the Year. Newly retired state employees will also be recognized. TSABBA membership includes business administrators from state agencies. It was founded in 1969 as a means for individuals to get together and discuss mutual goals and objectives for more effectively carrying out the state's business administrative functions. The annual summer conference provides for discussions and focus on issues affecting the business operations of Texas state government.

Annual Aging in Texas Conference (AiTC) slated July 29-31
The 2015 Aging in Texas Conference (AiTC) will be held July 29-31, 2015 in Austin. The AiTC is an annual gathering of individuals who work within the aging community to promote excellence in service delivery for the aging population by sharing technical assistance, best practices and management tools with educational programming covering a variety of areas. The conference is beneficial to everyone involved with caring for Texas seniors- from administrators to service providers. Hosted by the Texas Association of Regional Councils, the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the Department of Aging and Disability Services, this event builds on the momentum from previous successful conferences and recent initiatives focusing on healthy aging in the community as Texas strives to better serve the growing senior population. The AiTC supports professionals in the field of aging with the most current research, unparalleled trainings and tools and resources. For additional conference details or to register as an attendee, exhibitor or sponsor visit www.txregionalcouncil.org. Questions? Contact tarc@txregionalcouncil.org.
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Transportation technology rescuing frustrated U.S. motorists


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

Traffic congestion - is anything more frustrating?  Time is wasted.  Stress levels rise. Motorists are in danger when emergencies occur. Drivers become erratic. Something must be done!


With inadequate transportation funding, cities and states throughout the United States are searching for solutions.  One of the latest trends is a "smart" traffic signal system. Some cities adopted this technology early.  Others are just beginning to use it.


The technology can be used in various ways, but one of the more common uses is to adjust signal light timing to traffic flow. In other words, lights turn green when there is no traffic approaching from another direction. And, lights stay green longer when there is an abundance of traffic from one direction and not the other.


Traffic lights, in smart systems, are tied to software that makes adjustments without manual assistance.  There are a number of ways that signals are sent. For instance, inductive wire can be imbedded in the highway pavement or cameras can be used. Radar is another option and there are others.


One of the more common uses of smart traffic signal technology is to automate traffic lights when fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles are detected. When this happens, lights switch to green to provide access for emergency vehicles through intersections.  The lights will then stay green for whatever period of time it takes for the vehicles to pass without having to stop or slow down. Not only does the technology allow emergency vehicles to reach destinations faster, but it also affects safety. The city of Plano, using this technology, reduced the number of emergency vehicle accidents from 2.3 per year at intersections annually to less than one every five years.

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Texas Government Insider 
will not publish next week
In observance of the July 4 holiday, the offices of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. will be closed on Friday, July 3, and we will not publish the Texas Government Insider on that date. We will resume our regular Friday publication dates on July 10. After closing on July 3, our offices will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 6. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.
Mart wins $22 million in federal funds to improve roads, water 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded a $5 million grant and $17 million in low-interest loans to Mart to help pay for upgrades to infrastructure.

City officials plan to upgrade roads, build a new water treatment facility and install a new water line as well as upgrade the water well and water storage tower. City staff are currently developing final designs and planning the infrastructure upgrades on which work should begin in about six to eight months, according to the mayor pro tem of Mart.
Miles resigns as superintendent
of Dallas ISD after three years
Mike Miles The three-year controversial tenure of Mike Miles a superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District came to an end this week. Miles announced his resignation at a news conference Tuesday. While rumors whirled that the resignation was due to failed contract negotiations, Miles said he needed to be closer to his family, who moved back to Colorado from Dallas.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ann Smisko will serve as acting superintendent while the DISD trustees search for a new leader. A meeting has been called for today, Friday, for the Board of Trustees to choose a search firm to assist with their efforts. The board will officially accept Miles' resignation at that meeting and name an official interim superintendent.

Miles became DISD superintendent in 2012. He received a two-year contract extension last year. Before joining the DISD, he spent six years as superintendent of the Harrison School District in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Bonner named assistant superintendent at Lewisville 
Buddy Bonner After having been part of the Lewisville Independent School District since 1991 in a variety of positions, Buddy Bonner (pictured) has been chosen to fill the position of assistant superintendent of human resources and employee engagement. He will have oversight of the district's human resources services, benefits and risk management, federal programs, grants, legal and policy and leadership development and new employee induction.

Bonner's career at LISD began as a classroom teacher. He later served as assistant principal at a middle school and later was principal at another of the district's middle schools.

The longtime educator was subsequently chosen as director of the district's employee relations and administrative services and then was named executive director of human resource services. Bonner holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Tyler and a master's degree from the University of North Texas. He is working toward a doctorate from Dallas Baptist University.
HDI Solutions

Marble Falls ISD taps Allen 
as lone finalist for superintendent
Chris Allen Marble Falls Independent School District board members recently selected Chris Allen (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. He will replace Superintendent Rob O'Connor, who is resigning in July to become superintendent at Sharyland ISD.

Currently a deputy superintendent at Lake Travis ISD, Allen has worked at school districts in Birdville, Grapevine-Colleyville and Midway during his 17 years in public education.

Allen has a bachelor's degree, master's degree and a doctorate from The University of Texas.
Northrop Grumman

Center for Women in Business to be part of TWU's Denton campus
Carine Feyten A new Center for Women in Business will be launched by Texas Woman's University (TWU) thanks to $2.2 million in state funding over the next two years. The center, which will be located on the TWU Denton campus, will be the first of its kind in the region.

"We believe that women-owned businesses are an economic resource yet to be fully developed, and that TWU, which is the nation's largest university primarily for women, is well positioned to be at the forefront in making a difference in the lives of so many women in Texas, as well as having a huge economic impact on our state," said TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten (pictured). The center will both provide leadership opportunities for women and support business ownership and success for women.

The Center will provide information regarding business creation and ownership, engagement and mentorship while being mentored by successful women business owners and a learning lab that will address leadership among women. The goal of the Center will be to provide for small business development by women that spurs economic growth. Plans are to expand the Center to include all three TWU campuses.
Wehmeier steps down as president/CEO of McKinney EDC
Jim Wehmeier The president and chief executive officer of the McKinney Economic Development Corporation has resigned. Jim Wehmeier (pictured), who has served in that capacity since November 2012, announced earlier this week that he would step down.

McKinney EDC Vice President Abby Liu has been name to serve as interim president while the board finds a replacement for Wehmeier.
LeFleur Transportation

Marble Falls selects Avenue N 
site for new public safety facility
Marble Falls City Council members recently selected a two and one-half acre site on property adjacent to Marble Falls Fire Rescue to build a new public safety facility.

Estimated to cost about $500,000, the new police facility is being funded with previously approved bond money. A larger facility is needed to house almost double the number of public safety employees who moved into the department's current space in 1990, city officials said.

The goal is to select an architect in August to design the new police station and seek construction bids in mid-2016. Also under consideration is moving the municipal court from city hall on Third Street and into the new public safety facility.
Vargas resigning position as superintendent of Goliad ISD
Emilio Vargas Superintendent Emile Vargas II (pictured) of Goliad Independent School District recently resigned from that post.

A 17-year employee at the Goliad school district, Vargas was a teacher and principal prior to serving as superintendent.

Board members are expected to meet this week to discuss the resignation and selection of an interim superintendent.
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Beaumont ISD selects new assistant superintendent, CFO
Superintendent John Frossard of Beaumont Independent School District recently selected Matilda Orozco as the new assistant superintendent for elementary administration and Cheryl Hernandez as the new chief financial officer. Orozco previously served as an area superintendent and teacher for Houston ISD. Hernandez previously was the business manager for the Port Neches-Groves ISD and an accounting manager for the Beaumont school district.

Frossard also selected Robert Calvert, who was the chief information officer for Fort Bend ISD and an interim chief technology officer for Humble ISD, as the chief operations officer for the Beaumont district. He also appointed Karen Newton, currently the executive director of Community in Schools of Southeast Texas, as the new director of title programs for the school district. Also named as director of information services technology is Jarod Parnell, who previously was the interim director of information services technology.

The new superintendent also reassigned Dwaine Augustine, previously the assistant superintendent for secondary administration, as the new assistant superintendent for human resources. He also named Shirley Bonton, previously assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, as the deputy superintendent for academics/administration.
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Killeen ISD names Manley as director for secondary schools
David Manley Killeen Independent School District officials recently selected David Manley (pictured) as the new executive director for secondary schools. He replaces Robin Champagne, who was named as assistant superintendent for instructional leadership for Killeen ISD.

A public educator for 28 years, Manley most recently was executive director for athletics at the Killeen district and previously was a teacher, coach and principal.

Manley has a bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University and a master's degree from Tarleton State University. He completed his superintendent certification in August 2012.

Brownwood seeks bids for $2.3 million treatment plant upgrades
Brownwood city officials agreed to accept bids this week on an estimated $2.3 million project to upgrade the city's wastewater treatment plant.

City officials plan to add a new tank, pumps, lift stations and a belt press to remove solid items from the water. Plans call for using a combination of grant funding and issuing certificates of obligation to pay for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant that has not had a major renovation in 20 years.
HCDE selects Jonathan Parker 
as assistant superintendent
Jonathan Parker Jonathan Parker (pictured) has been chosen as the new assistant superintendent at Harris County Department of Education (HCDE). A veteran educator for more than two decades, Parker is the former principal of the Dallas Independent School District's Benjamin Franklin Middle School. He has been part of the DISD as a teacher and administrator since 1994.

In his new position at HCDE, Parker will oversee the Head Start, Therapy Services and Special Schools divisions.

Parker holds a bachelor's degree from Prairie View A&M University and a master's degree from the University of North Texas.

Brenda Craft retiring as 
city secretary in Royse City
Brenda Craft, who served as city secretary in Royse City for 20 years, recently announced she is retiring from that job.

Craft previously served as a clerk for the city of Garland and joined Royse City as an administrative assistant in September 1993.
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Roxton ISD selects six finalists 

in search for new superintendent

Board members for Roxton Independent School District recently selected six finalists from a field of 21 applications received from those seeking to be selected as superintendent. District officials declined to release the names of the six finalists for superintendent.

Texas Government Insider Archives  

Craig Lemin retiring from 

job as city manager in Azle

Azle City Manager Craig Lemin recently told city council members he is retiring effective on Jan. 8, 2016. Lemin said he plans to continue as a leader during the six months before his retirement.

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