Texas Government Insider
Volume 12, Issue 30 - Friday, July 25, 2014

The transportation clock is ticking...


Congress has only days to address Highway Trust Fund solvency

Construction "I will support this legislation because we are at the 11th hour - and now it's not the 11th hour, it's a few minutes before midnight."


That was the take of Congressman Sander Levin (pictured) on a bill passed in the U.S. House last week - yet another stop-gap measure to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent only through May of next year.


The clock is ticking down - transportation department officials say that the fund will go belly-up in August without some kind of congressional action. But, most me

Sander Levin

mbers of Congress are not prepared to pass a long-term solution...mainly because the options are few. Congress could increase the federal gas tax - but tax increases don't sit well with taxpayers and there's the November elections to worry about if you're a politician.


The money in the Highway Trust Fund comes from the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax. The tax has not increased since 1993. And with motorists driving less because of the price of gas at the pump and buying less gasoline because today's motor vehicles are more fuel-efficient, the gas tax rate remains the same.

So, Congress has until August to at least come up with some kind of solution - even if it's only short-term. And, it's come down to an "anything is better than nothing" situation. If Congress doesn't act by the end of this month, estimates are that 100,000 transportation projects could be delayed nationwide, putting up to 700,000 jobs at risk.


The nearly $11 billion House bill would be funded by changes to pension laws, customs fees and money from a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks.




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


James Stokes
James Stokes, city manager, city of Deer Park 


Career highlights and education: Graduated from Abilene Christian University (B.A.) in 1992. Graduated from Baylor University (Masters in Public Policy & Administration) in 1994. Worked for five cities over the past 21 years. Served as city manager for the cities of Jefferson, Gladewater and Deer Park.

What I like best about my job is: I have long said the best outcome a city manager can hope for is to work for good people and with good people. In Deer Park, I am very blessed in both regards. We have a wonderful mayor and City Council who care deeply about Deer Park, combined with a city staff who have a long history of providing exemplary customer service to our citizens. 

The best advice I've received for my current job is: My predecessor, the late Ron Crabtree, served as the city manager of Deer Park for 22 years. I sought his wise counsel many, many times and always heeded his advice. I would sum it up simply as "Take care of Deer Park, and Deer Park will take care of you." 

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: The City of Deer Park is a place where you can spend your entire career. Work hard, listen to those with experience and take advantage of opportunities to educate and better yourself. Come to work each day with a smile on your face, prepared to serve our residents. They expect and deserve a lot from you.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: jogging along the sidewalks in Deer Park.

People would be surprised to know that I: love trivia - especially useless 80s trivia. I am sure I drive my staff crazy with my incessant dumb trivia questions.

One thing I wish more people knew about my city: Deer Park is a wonderful place to live. We offer municipal services that are second to none. 

Stuckly takes on new role as TSTC Vice Chancellor for Operations

Elton Stuckly Dr. Elton E. Stuckly, Jr. (left), president of Texas State Technical College (TSTC) - Waco, has been named to the position of Vice Chancellor for Operations, serving statewide in leading campus operations for TSTC's 11 campuses. The leadership change is a result of TSTC moving to a single accreditation. When Stuckly takes over his new position on Aug. 1, TSTC-Waco will be led by the campus Executive Vice President Rob Wolaver (right), who will serve as acting president.


Following the direction of TSTC's Board of Regents, TSTC is pursuing a single accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. While a successful effort toward that goal would save money, TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser notes the main benefit Rob Wolaver will be the efficiencies that can be achieved by "a more effective, coordinated and seamless experience" for students and the industries the college serves.


Before joining TSTC, Stuckly worked for 12 years in industry as a senior electrical designer and as an industrial controls specialist. For the last 27 years, he has been involved in higher education at TSTC Waco. He has been instructor, department chair, technology cluster director and dean of instruction before becoming president in 2003. He holds an Associate of Applied Science degree from Texas State Technical Institute, bachelor's and master's degrees from The University of Texas at Tyler and a doctorate from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.


Wolaver is a veteran of more than 25 years in higher education, beginning his career as a graduate assistant in the Dean of Students Office at Tarleton State University, where he later held positions from Financial Aid counselor to director of Student Activities. He joined TSTC in 1992 and at the Waco campus has held positions that include Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, Corporate College Associate Vice President, Vice President for Student Development and Executive Vice President. 

TWDB approves $4.1 million in financial assistance for projects

The Texas Water Development Board has approved more than $4.1 million in financial assistance for water system improvements for the Lake Kiowa Special Utility District in Cooke County and the city of Alice. The money will be used to address issues related to the two communities' water transmission lines. It will also reduce the amount of money lost from leaking distribution lines.


The Greater Texoma Utility Authority, on behalf of the Lake Kiowa Special Utility District, was awarded $3.695 million. The water lines in the utility district are deteriorating and leaking, and there have been operational problems with elevated storage tanks. The TWDB assistance will finance the planning, design and construction costs for replacing about four miles of water line and building a new 250,000 gallon elevated storage tank.


The city of Alice will benefit from $423,000 to  finance planning, acquisition and design costs for rehabilitating the city's main water transmission line. The city's main transmission line was built in 1964 and is leaking and suffering water loss. The funds will allow the city to rehabilitate 22.5 miles of the water line by slip-lining it, reducing the city's water loss and its operation and maintenance costs. 
San Antonio Council selects Ivy Taylor as new mayor

Ivy TaylorIn a 5-3 vote, San Antonio City Council members recently appointed Ivy Taylor (pictured) as the new mayor. She will serve out the unexpired term of former Mayor Julian Castro, who resigned to become the new U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. 

A council member since 2009, Taylor won selection over another council member, Ray Lopez. She previously was employed by the Housing and Community Development Department of the city. Taylor also indicated she has no plans to run for election as mayor in 2015. Taylor has a bachelor's degree from Yale University.


TxDOT awards contract for oversight of P3 transportation projects

A $25 million contract has been awarded to Atkins to provide contract oversight of public-private partnership projects for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The six-year contract calls for Atkins to provide right-of-way oversight, compliance review and utility coordination services. Atkins will be the agency's program management consultant for projects developed under comprehensive development agreements (CDAs) and design-build contracts.


The firm could be involved in the $850 million project to replace the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge and the $585 million project on State Highway 288 in Harris County for construction of managed lanes. Atkins has worked previously with TxDOT on a variety of right-of-way projects, including $7 million and $18 million projects since 2008.


Grow your business

Tyler Junior College OKs master plan with new residence halls

Tyler Junior College trustees recently approved a 10-year master plan calling for the construction of six new residential halls over the next 10 years to handle a projected growth in enrollment.


College officials also approved $17.7 million as the guaranteed maximum price for the construction of a new 68,000-square-foot residence hall with 250 beds. The new residence hall is expected to be completed in fall 2015.


Current plans are to build five of the six halls on the west side of the campus and the sixth residence hall on the east side to meet the demands of 15,000 students expected to enroll in the next 10 years, said Michael Johnson, a campus planner. The college needs about 2,000 beds to handle the projected enrollment of 15,000 students, he said. TJC officials also plan to renovate or demolish existing residence halls during the next 10 years to ensure the residence halls meet safety standards, he said.

Jefferson Co. prosecutor expects to indict Beaumont ISD officials

Cory Crenshaw District Attorney Cory Crenshaw (pictured) of Jefferson County recently said he expects to indict officials of Beaumont Independent School District for fraud within a week, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Crenshaw, however, declined to identify which school district officials might be indicted or the nature of the indictments.


Speaking at a local service club, Crenshaw said a special grand jury and a regular grand jury are investigating fraud at the school district dating back seven years. The special grand jury, impaneled in May by Judge John Stevens, is authorized to serve through November, three months longer than the regular grand jury. The district attorney also said all evidence and testimony presented to the grand jury remains secret unless at least 9 of 12 grand jurors agree to issue an indictment in that case.


Following an order by the Texas Education Commissioner, a Board of Managers recently replaced the elected school board and an acting superintendent was appointed to provide oversight over the Beaumont school district.

TEF awards $3.9 million to California-based company

Texas Enterprise Fund officials recently awarded $3.9 million to Omnitracs LLC, a California-based fleet management company that is relocating to the Dallas area.


The company has agreed to create 450 jobs and spend $10 million in capital investment to relocate to Dallas. The company plans to continue offering services to trucking businesses that include GPS fleet tracking, software applications, platforms and information services in return for the $3.9 million investment from the state.

Need Federal Contracting?

Bryan ISD to ask voters to approve $132M in bonds in November

Bryan Independent School District trustees recently scheduled a $132 million bond election on Nov. 4 asking voters to approve funding to upgrade schools and other district facilities.


If approved, district officials plan to spend about $31 million to improve elementary schools and $58 million to upgrade intermediate, middle and high schools. Trustees also propose using $34 million to improve district facilities with a goal of eliminating portable buildings and updating each campus in the district.

El Paso County to hire new county administrator, budget officer

Veronica Escobar El Paso County commissioners recently created a new county administrator position to supervise county departments and a chief budget officer to assist commissioners in managing the county. Neither the county administrator nor the chief budget officer will be able to make funding and budget decisions without approval from commissioners.


Shortly after her election in 2011, County Judge Veronica Escobar (pictured) urged commissioners to create the new positions for a county administrator and chief budget officer to assist commissioners to more efficiently manage the county. Commissioners failed to approve her proposal with a 2-2 tie vote. The two new positions and restructuring the department would cost the county an estimated additional $254,000 in funding each year, according to human resources staff.


Escobar asserted that the county administrator and budget officer could help commissioners save money in the long run by more efficiently managing county resources. Commissioners instructed the human resources director to present an organization plan, a proposed budget and a timeline to commissioners for approval before the final county budget is approved. 

Port Arthur ISD bond panel considering $200M bond election

A Port Arthur Independent School District bond committee recently began considering capital improvement projects of about $200 million to include in a November bond election.


One of the major projects under study is a plan to rebuild or renovate three elementary schools. The committee also is considering a project to build an auxiliary field with a track and renovate a former middle school campus used currently as a performing arts campus to upgrade and add more classrooms.


Committee members expect to provide trustees a recommendation in August on whether to ask voters to approve bonds in November and projects to include on the ballot in November.

Houston ISD selects Harrison Peters as chief high schools officer

Harrison Peters The former chief of schools in the Chicago Public Schools system has been named chief high schools officer in the Houston Independent School District. Harrison A. Peters (pictured) will oversee 51 campuses in the HISD with a combined enrollment of nearly 50,000 students.


Before joining HISD, Peters managed a unique K-12 network of 37 schools on the south side of Chicago in his role as chief of schools. He also served as a middle school principal in Orlando and a high school principal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He began his career as an elementary teacher in Orange County Public Schools in Florida.


Peters holds a bachelor's degree from University of West Florida and a master's degree in from Nova Southeastern University. He is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

P3 Opportunities

Kilgore going back to drawing board on $1.5M ball park plans

After receiving bids reaching almost $3 million to build a new baseball complex, Kilgore city officials recently urged council members to reject those proposals. They were asked to review design plans and attempt to eliminate any frills in the proposed design for the ball park project before seeking new bids.


The local boy's baseball association needs new baseball fields because existing fields are not in condition to host tournaments or expand the number of games scheduled, noted the director of public works. Hosting tournaments should bring more visitors to the city to dine in local restaurants and stay in hotels during the tournaments.


The goal, he said, is to bring the baseball field project in under the budgeted cost after examining the bids previously submitted and determining which items are necessary and which are "nicety."

Hewitt approves $4.5 million in debt for new municipal complex

Hewitt Building Hewitt City Council members recently agreed to the issue of $6.8 million in certificates of obligation and to use about $4.5 million of it to build a new city hall and library complex (see accompanying artist's rendering). City officials also plan to spend about $2 million to improve infrastructure and streets, including improvements to Warren Park.


Current plans are to begin construction in 2015 of the new, 26,500-square-foot city hall complex next to a new public safety building that should be completed late this year or early 2015. City officials plan to issue a request for proposals for a construction-manager-at-risk to oversee the city hall/library complex project and award the winning proposal in the fall.


About 65 percent of the building will house the library with separate areas for pre-school children, young children, teens and adults, more seating, study areas, meeting rooms and computer stations. The city hall will have a larger council chamber and new room for council work sessions, but the city hall and library will share a foyer, employee break room and public restrooms. 

Sherman to issue $1.78M in bonds to upgrade sewage system

City council members in Sherman recently agreed to issue up to $1.78 million in debt through a contract with the Greater Texoma Utility Authority to pay for three upgrades to the city's sewer system.


The largest share, about $1.6 million, will be used to pay for replacing ultraviolet treatment equipment at the Post Oak Wastewater Treatment Plant, city officials said.

Research Analysts

Pflugerville directs city staff to prepare for November bond election

Pflugerville City Council members recently directed city staff to prepare official bond propositions for the Nov. 4 ballot with as much as $61 million in capital projects. Council members will be required to vote on the final bond package language to appear on the ballot for the bond election to be officially scheduled.


In discussing the bond proposal, council members urged $28 million to upgrade streets and roads, $25 million for park improvements and $8 million for a new animal shelter. Road projects include rebuilding Pecan Street and two other lanes and widening Pflugerville Parkway. The largest item in the park proposal is an $11.3 million sports complex with sports field and seating located on up to 120 acres of land and $8 million in upgrades to Lake Pflugerville.


Council members are expected to vote on the finalized list of projects and decide whether to schedule a bond election at a meeting on Aug. 12.

Odessa works deal to sell treated wastewater to business

Larry Long An agreement was recently signed between the city of Odessa and a local industry that will provide advantages for both. The city has agreed to sell its treated wastewater to Pioneer Natural Resources. The 10-year agreement will allow Pioneer to purchase close to 5 million gallons of treated wastewater from the city's water reclamation plant to use in its oil and gas recovery operations.


In return for the treated water, the city will get $100 million that could be provided for much-needed utility upgrades. The wastewater Pioneer seeks to buy is from the nearly 1.5 billion gallons per year that is treated but not for residential uses. Windfall from the sale can only be used for water improvement projects.


City Attorney Larry Long (pictured) said the need for the wastewater is a combination of the increased oil and gas activity in the area and the ongoing drought. "We just hadn't seen the demand for water like we have recently," he said. The goal of the purchase is to reduce fresh water use. 

Arlington master plan could give Ditto Golf Course new life

The city of Arlington is due to review the Ditto Golf Course master plan as early as September. There is a need for a larger clubhouse with a restaurant and banquet accommodations, replacement of putting greens and cart paths and more. The older style course needs to be updated, say officials.


Officials have not identified sources for enough money to make necessary upgrades, but are talking about using at least $3 million of a proposed $235 million bond package expected to be decided by voters in November. The banquet room and restaurant would be open for public use, allowing the course to make money even when bad weather prevents playing golf. 

Missouri City OKs policy to help small business win contracts

City council members in Missouri City recently approved a new policy to assist small businesses, especially local businesses, to secure contracts with the city.


Following a study and recommendation by a consultant, the policy states that if a small business demonstrates a good faith effort to subcontract with one or more businesses owned by someone from Missouri City, that business will earn an additional five points on a 100-point scale toward contracts of $50,000 or more when solicited through the competitive sealed bid process.


The owner of the business must have 51 percent or more interest in the business and pay taxes to the city to be eligible to receive the additional credit when awarding bids, the mayor said. The policy also requires the city to notify qualifying businesses and allows the owner to attend two annual workshops or seminars that offer opportunities for small business to bid on city contracts, he added.

Your Ad Here!

Keller ISD panel proposes $169.5M bond election in November

Following five months of meeting and reviewing 300 potential projects, Keller Independent School District bond advisory committee members recently recommended trustees ask voters to approve $169.5 million in bonds in November.


The bond committee urged $37.8 million in additions and upgrades to an intermediate school to transform the facility into a career and technical center for students from all four high schools in the district. Also included in the proposal are $40.5 million to build a new campus for fifth through eighth grade students, $20.8 million for a new elementary school and $23.5 million to enlarge and renovate a high school.


Council members have an Aug. 18 deadline to decide whether to schedule a bond election and which capital projects to include on the ballot.

Johnson wins presidential appointment at Dept. of Education

Lucy Johnson Lucy Johnson (pictured), former mayor of the city of Kyle, has won a presidential appointment as the deputy assistant secretary in charge of the U.S. Department of Education's rural outreach.


Johnson is expected to begin her new job on July 28 and will be charged with ensuring that rural school districts and rural students have access to the best possible education and to 21st Century technology.


Johnson was elected mayor of Kyle in 2010 to fill out the unexpired term of the previous mayor. She was elected to a three-year term in 2011. Johnson holds a bachelor's degree from Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

Salado exploring four options for new sewer system

Village Administrator Jim Reed of Salado recently outlined four options ranging in cost from $1.6 million to $11.7 million to create a sewer system for the village.


Two of the options include providing sewer service only to business owners on Main Street. Several business owners have complained that lack of a municipal sewer system has limited downtown development. Reed, however, recommended the $10.5 million option that includes sewer service to all residents of the newly adopted overlay district located west of Interstate 35 as well as the downtown area.


Reed said he is working with the local school district, a large grocery store and local hotels to agree to contribute to extending the sewer line in exchange for concessions on service or inspection fees. A municipal sewer system is a necessity, Reed said. Declining sales tax revenue in the village could result in residents paying higher property taxes to maintain services, he added.


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Ector Co. kicks off $190K study to determine courthouse future

An architecture company recently kicked off a $190,000 study to determine whether to update and renovate the current Ector County Courthouse or build a new courthouse.


County commissioners approved the study that will survey county employees and residents in addition to producing a three-dimensional modeling of the current courthouse to evaluate how to best use the facility after voters rejected a $95 million bond proposal last November.


Once the results of the modeling and employee surveys are available, the consulting company plans to hold several public meetings to gather more public input on what to do with the aging courthouse.

Denison looking at $28 million in water, wastewater upgrades

Jared Johnson Close to $28 million in water and wastewater projects over five years are likely to warrant the first rate increase in Denison in seven years. "We have an aging system that needs upgrade and repairs, said Denison Mayor Jared Johnson (pictured). The projects would be carried out in phases, with the first phase costing $7 million. The projects will require a $26.7 million, 20-year bond. If a rate increase were to be instituted, it could start as early as December and would likely be spread over five years.


The city is looking at construction of an $8 million new water pump station on Lake Texoma, and an extension along Highway 691 to facilitate growing demands. Close to 15 percent of the bond proceeds would be used to build a new trunk sewer to increase capacity. Another pipeline would be installed along FM 1417 to serve businesses and a $4.5 million upgrade to the city's water meters would also be part of the upgrades.  

Huntington approves plans to upgrade wastewater plant

City council members in Huntington recently approved a recommendation by the project engineer for design plans using an activated sludge wastewater treatment process to upgrade the wastewater plant. The project manager provided council members with three options to consider and council agreed on the option for which the treatment plant was originally designed when built in 1984.

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Laredo, United ISD may partner in building new swim facility

Officials of the city of Laredo and United Independent School District recently began discussions on forming a partnership to build a new $7 million to $11 million swim facility to be used by the school district and residents of Laredo.


Current plans are for the proposed natatorium to be used for organized events such as swim classes, lap swimming, water aerobics and safety classes, a council member said. The swim facility would be open for the general public after the swim season ends for the school district, he said.


Voters in United ISD rejected a bond proposal in 2007 that called for building a swim facility. However, a recent bond proposal approved by school district voters will not be used to pay for the new swim facility, said the council member. He also said city officials plan to pay part of the cost of the swim facility from proceeds from the sale of the civic center. The new facility most likely will be located at the United ISD Student Activity Complex to provide a more central location, he said.

New sports complex on drawing board for city of Denison

Robert Hanna The Denison City Council is considering the addition of an $8 million baseball complex to the city's sports facilities. Earlier this year, council members discussed possible capital projects and City Manager Robert Hanna (pictured) offered designs for a possible baseball complex. The site would require $2 million in infrastructure upgrades. The complex would feature four competition-level fields with one for championship play. "Sports facilities are a good, and much-needed amenity in the community and region as well," said Hanna.


A previous discussion on  a possible sports complex included baseball, softball and soccer. Also discussed were a community playground and walking trails so that the facility would appeal to the entire community and not just young people involved in sports. 

TEF funds two Charles Schwab projects in Texas

The state has invested a total of $595 million in Texas Enterprise Funds (TEF) in The Charles Schwab Corporation, which is opening a new operations center in El Paso and increasing its footprint in Austin. The two projects are expected to create more than 1,200 jobs and more than $230 million in capital investment in the state. 


Some $145 million of TEF funding is going toward the El Paso project, which will create 445 jobs and $21.5 million in capital investment over the next 10 years. Contingent upon finalization of a local incentive package, the $4.5 million TEF investment in the Austin project is expected create 823 jobs and $210 million in capital investment over the next 10 years.


"We are very pleased to be expanding our footprint in Texas," said Joseph Martinetto, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Schwab. "We've already started the process of recruiting new talent, and we're excited to become a part of the El Paso community, as we have in Austin where we already have approximately 1,000 employees."

Poteet requests proposals for water system upgrade project

Poteet City Council members recently authorized city staff to seek proposals for professional services for a project to upgrade the city's water system. 


City officials already have authorization to use grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve well number 8.

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 were held 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 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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Facilities on college campuses 
in dire need of attention


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

Public colleges and universities in Texas have critical construction-related needs that escalate with each passing year. Classrooms, dorms and administration buildings in short supply and sports complexes, research labs and multi-purpose centers are in high demand. Competition for students is keen and recruiting is much more successful when facilities are modern, adequate and attractive. Facilities also are a factor in retaining top professors, attracting new research funding and increasing attendance to campus sports events. All in all, facilities are a key component to the success of every education institution.

Construction is under way on many campuses throughout Texas, but it is minimal compared to long-standing needs. Texas has an abundance of aging college buildings, particularly those built from 1950 to 1990, which have reached "critical life-cycle threshold," according to a report from the facilities consulting firm Sightlines. What's holding up construction? Funding, of course.

Renovation and renewal projects are of little interest to legislators. Other state spending needs take precedence. In the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Capital Expenditure Plans (FY 2013 to FY 2017), critical renovation needs now exceed $3.6 billion. 


Texas institutions submitted 830 projects in capital expenditure requests just for FY 2013. Almost half of the funding requests were for new construction and everything else represented repair and renovation projects. 

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Graham to serve as interim city manager for city of Temple

Jonathan Graham Temple City Attorney Jonathan Graham (pictured) will serve as interim city manager, effective Aug. 29, while the city looks for a replacement for David Blackburn, who is retiring from that post. City attorney since 1989, Graham served as city manager from 1990 to 1991 and again from 2004 to 2005. Graham is a graduate of Trinity University and The University of Texas School of Law.


Graham will relinquish his city attorney role while serving as interim city manager. Kayla Landerson, deputy city attorney for the last two years, will serve as interim city attorney. Landerson, who was in private practice before joining the city, is a graduate of Texas A&M University and Baylor Law School.

Castro to be sworn in 

as HUD Secretary on Monday

Julian Castro, former mayor of the city of San Antonio, will be sworn in Monday as the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


Castro officially resigned his position as mayor last week, with the San Antonio City Council appointing former District 2 Council member Ivy Taylor to fill his unexpired term.


Castro was nominated earlier this year by President Barack Obama to replace former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, after Donovan was tabbed by the President and recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the new director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.


Castro was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the HUD Secretary position on July 9.

Fort Bend ISD names Brewer 

as dean of instruction

Trustees for Fort Bend Independent School District recently named Elizabeth Brewer, chair of the social studies department at Ridge Point High School, as the new dean of instruction at Marshall High School.


During her 16 years in public education, Brewer has worked for the Fort Bend school district as a teacher and a campus improvement specialist. She has a bachelor's degree from Clarion University in Pennsylvania and a master's degree from Lamar University.

Collaboration Nation

San Marcos CISD selects

Griffith as new financial officer

Karen Griffith Trustees for the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District recently selected Karen Griffith (pictured) as the district's chief financial officer. She replaces Jason Gossett, who left the district in June.


Previously an assistant superintendent for business and support services for Kingsville ISD, Griffith also was the finance director and an accounting supervisor. She also worked for a bank in Kingsville before joining the school district.


Griffith has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.


Graham appoints Kirkwood 

to position as chief accountant

Graham City Council members recently appointed Sharon Kirkwood to the newly created position as chief accountant. Kirkwood will report to David Maddy, the city's finance director, and will be paid with funding previously budgeted for a public works administrator.


City Manager David Casteel served as the public works administrator before being selected to replace former City Manager Larry Fields, who left in April. An accountant is needed as the accounting function has grown, Casteel said. Kirkwood previously was a vice president of a bank.

Dallas ISD selects Landry as new special assistant to Miles

Garrett Landry Trustees for Dallas Independent School District recently selected Garrett Landry (pictured) as the new special assistant to Superintendent Mike Miles. The special assistant is a top advisor to the superintendent and travels with him to meetings and visits to schools.


Replacing Justin Coppedge, the former special assistant who won promotion to deputy chief of staff, Landry previously was employed with a nonprofit education organization, Teaching Trust.


Landry also was chief of staff for a justice of the peace in Dallas County and an unsuccessful candidate for the Irving school board. He has a bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University. 

Northrop Grumman

United ISD names three new directors for school district

Superintendent Roberto J. Santos recently selected three new directors for the United Independent School District in Laredo. Santos appointed Christina Casanova as the director of student assessment, Judith M. Garcia as director of instructional technology and Elouisa Diaz as director of elementary education.


Casanova currently serves as a testing coordinator and has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio and a master's degree from Texas A&M International University. Now a technology coordinator, Garcia has a bachelor's degree from Laredo State University and a master's degree from Texas A&M International University. Diaz is an elementary school principal with a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Texas A&M International University.


District officials also selected David Canales, director for high school education, as the executive director of middle school education and Dolores W. Barrera, currently a high school principal, as the executive director for high school education. The new directors are all expected to begin their new duties before school begins on Aug. 25, district officials said.

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.

Edna terminates Knight

from post as city manager

Ken Knight Edna City Council members recently voted to terminate the contract of Ken Knight (pictured) as city manager, a post he had held since July 2011.


Previously a city manager in Flatonia, he also has worked as a city manager or administrator in cities in Maine, Florida, Oregon and Washington. Knight has a bachelor's degree from California State University-San Francisco and a master's degree from California State University-Sonoma.


City officials plan to discuss the appointment of an interim city manager and hiring a new city manager at their next council meeting.

City of Castle Hills taps 

Pfeil as interim city manager

City council members in Castle Hill recently tapped Diane Pfeil to serve as interim city manager for up to 120 days. A former director of the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program, Pfeil also was an administrator for the Bexar Metropolitan Water District, which no longer is in operation. She replaces former City Manager Rita Hoyl, who resigned.

LeFleur Transportation

Bynum ISD names Mynarcik 

as new superintendent

Bynum Independent School District trustees recently named Larry Mynarcik as the new superintendent to replace former Superintendent Brenda Spear, who is retiring. Mynarcik has a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University and a master's degree from Tarleton State University. He previously served as a teacher and principal.

Belton ISD selects Lovesmith 

as new assistant superintendent

Deanna Lovesmith Belton Independent School District trustees recently selected Deanna Lovesmith (pictured) as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.


A former principal, Lovesmith also was director of curriculum for Connally ISD and a director of special programs for La Vega ISD. She has been a teacher and counselor during her 20 years in public education.


Lovesmith has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Baylor University and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. 

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Hill selected as deputy superintendent for Bullard ISD

Jan Hill Jan Hill (pictured) recently won selection as the deputy superintendent for Bullard Independent School District.


A six-year employee of the district, Hill has been the director of curriculum, federal programs director, a principal and teacher. Her new duties include managing administrative functions of the district and supervising and evaluating the performance of instructional supervisors and support staff in the Curriculum and Personnel Department.


Hill has a bachelor's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and a master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Derrick resigns Hitchcock

ISD superintendent post

After two years on the job, Superintendent Barbara Derrick of Hitchcock Independent School District recently resigned. Trustees are expected to select an interim superintendent. After accepting the resignation of Derrick, HISD trustees selected Assistant Superintendent Carla Vickroy as the acting superintendent.

HDI Solutions

Deer Park selects Bennett 

as deputy city secretary

The Deer Park City Council recently selected Shannon Bennett as the deputy city secretary. Bennett, who began her career with the city 13 years ago as a technician, recently earned her certification as a city secretary.

Corpus Christi ISD selects Hernandez for superintendent

Roland Hernandez Corpus Christi Independent School District board members recently selected Dr. Roland Hernandez (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Once his contract is finalized, Hernandez will replace Superintendent Scott Eliff.


The chief administrative officer for the Corpus Christi school district since 2010, Hernandez previously served four years as superintendent for Waco ISD. He also has been a deputy superintendent for Tyler ISD and Belton ISD in addition to working for the Texas Education Agency and the Charles C. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin.


Hernandez has a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University, a master's degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas. 

Midland asks for proposals from nonprofits for affordable housing

Midland city officials recently asked nonprofit organizations to submit proposals to create affordable housing for residents. The city has community development block grants available to build and maintain affordable housing, said David Diaz, director of the Midland Community Development Corporation.


Housing, especially affordable housing, in Midland is rarely available and new apartment complexes are fully occupied as soon as completed, Diaz said. The federal grants provide the opportunity to request proposals to create affordable housing. Council members can decide to accept or reject the proposals, Diaz said.

Mann retiring from finance 

director job for Weslaco

Bret Mann Weslaco Finance Director Bret Mann (pictured) has announced his retirement, effective this fall, after having worked for the city since 2010.


Mann said he has completed his goal of moving the city from operating at a deficit when he took the job to having a $5 million reserve last October.

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Stephenville ISD appoints Underwood as superintendent

Stephenville Independent School District trustees recently appointed Matt Underwood as the new superintendent. Currently superintendent at Lago Vista ISD, Underwood begins his new duties in Stephenville on Aug. 4.

Recent Reports

Copperas Cove ISD picks 

Welch as new director

Sheri Welch Trustees for Copperas Cove Independent School District recently picked Sheri Welch (pictured) as the new director of assessment and accountability.


Previously a high school and elementary teacher, Welch also served as an instructional coach, an assistant principal and an elementary school principal during her nine years with the district. 

Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-12 Archives - 11/7/03 - 7/18/14

Zermeno resigns as city administrator in Goliad

City Administrator Larry Zermeno of Goliad recently resigned, effective July 31. He has served in that post since 2012, but said he could not serve under a newly elected mayor. Two city council members also resigned from their posts following the resignation of the city administrator, as did the city attorney.

Hillsboro adopts time line to appoint interim city manager

Hillsboro City Council recently agreed to a time line of Aug. 11 to have an interim city manager assume those duties. Council members also agreed to accept competitive sealed proposals from candidates interested in serving as interim city manager.

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