State contracting, procurement practices come under scrutiny
Agency officials say training key to improvements, better outcomes
Training, training and training... That was the near-unanimous recommendation from a panel of state agency officials addressing proposed improvements in how agency staff monitor and rate performance of state contracts.
Problems relating to public-sector contracts are making headlines throughout the country - from school districts to state agencies, and Texas state government is no exception. The Texas Legislature is out to curb the state's problems, and a Senate committee is looking into improving state agency training, policies and procedures related to state contracts.
"The state's procurement and contracting functions are widely decentralized and operate with limited oversight," said Sen. Judith Zaffirini (top), who chairs the Senate Committee on Government Organization. She said that over the last two decades, more than 10 reviews and audits of state contracting and procurement practices had been performed and while there has been some progress made, "Legislative agencies continue to record problems and the press continues to report state contracting scandals."
Progress has occurred, said the Laredo senator, who added, "I don't understand why that progress has been so slow...or why that issue has been so controversial."
Zaffirini asked some of the panel members if they had recommendations for the 2015 legislative session regarding contract management legislation that is likely to result from the committee's interim charges.
"I'm a strong advocate of training," said Texas State Auditor John Keel (middle), one of the members of a panel giving testimony before the committee on Thursday. His recommendation was supported by two other panelists, P.J. Vilanilam, lead on the Statewide Project Delivery Program at the Texas Department of Information Resources, and Ron Pigott, director of Texas Procurement and Support Services with the State Comptroller's Office. Vilanilam suggested mandatory annual training for contract managers and ensuring that they are made aware of the training they must have. Keel added what he said was "pretty elementary," noting that records retention is a "huge issue." The state auditor said records need to be retained from the time of a needs assessment to the time a contract is completed. Thus, he said, he would like to see a strengthening of the need for records retention in new legislation.
Another panel addressed exemptions that are allowed to certain state agencies. Some such exemptions are in place for institutions of higher education. Longtime state employee Billy Hamilton (bottom), who currently serves as executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer for the Texas A&M University System, said that when he worked for a state agency, he realized that higher education institutions "have freedoms state agencies don't enjoy" relating to contracting. But, now that he is working in higher education, he said he sees that these institutions and systems are governed by another statute relating to contracting that "parallels the state in most respects."
First in collections, cost effectiveness...
Texas AG's Child Support Division named best in nation
The nation's best child support program - the one that has collected more child support than any other state in the nation - is located in Texas. The Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division was recently recognized as the nation's best by the National Child Support Enforcement Association. Charles Smith (pictured), deputy for the Child Support Division, was in Portland, Oregon, recently to accept the Outstanding Program Award at the association's annual training conference and expo.
The Outstanding Program Award recognizes a child support program that exemplifies excellence in child support enforcement. Texas met those qualifiers by ranking first in the nation in total collections, first in the nation for collections per full-time employee and first in the nation for cost effectiveness.
The Texas program earned its first in collections moniker by collecting more than $36 billion in child support for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013. It's an honor the AG's Child Support Division has held for the last seven years. Between 2012 and 2013, Texas collections grew by $226 million and accounted for more than 72 percent of the $312 million increase nationwide.
Performance data for 2013 showed Texas led the country in collections per child support employee, averaging $1.35 million, more than double the national average of $560,000 per employee. And, by collecting $11.61 for every dollar spent, the state also ranked first in cost effectiveness, beating the national average of $5.47 by more than 200 percent.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Helen Young, Deputy Commissioner of Coastal Resources, Texas General Land Office
Career highlights and education: I earned an MBA from UT Austin in 1991 after having my two children, Rachael and Grady, while in graduate school. Since that time, I've served the State of Texas in various roles and have been with the General Land Office (GLO) since 2000. I am a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified in Controls Self-assessment (CCSA). I've been in my current position as Deputy Commissioner of Coastal Resources since 2010 and was honored to have served on the Gulf Coast Restoration Task Force following the 2010 BP oil spill. Based on that experience, I became dedicated to helping people understand the importance of our coast and that Texas is a coastal state, not just a state with a coast. I then led a team in developing "The Texas Coast: Shoring Up Our Future." [www.shoringuptexas.org] This photo-laden, fact-filled brochure provides an overview of the economic and ecologic value of our Texas coast and the threats to it, such as erosion, wetlands/habitat loss, coastal storms, water quality and quantity, population growth and development pressures. In Coastal Resources, I oversee a team of professionals who operate the federally-authorized Texas Coastal Management Program (CMP) and numerous federal and state grant programs that fund projects and studies to address critical coastal issues, perform long-term marine planning, conduct water quality testing at recreational beaches, ensure public beach access and enforce dune protection.
What I like best about my job is: having the opportunity to advocate for the Texas coast and work with dedicated professionals.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: from Barry Bales and Joyce Sparks at the Governor's Executive Development Program. To paraphrase, they said, "If you complain about something once, you're venting. If you say it again, you're whining. Let it go!"
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Be professional, productive and positive, aim for excellence, work hard, enjoy humor and be thankful for your blessings, including your job!
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: walking my dog, Sophie, in the hills, the woods or on the beach.
People would be surprised to know that I: met my husband, Holland, after winning a little contest at an Austin Songwriters' Group meeting, and we still sing and play music together almost every evening that we're in town.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: That it was the first Texas state agency, and we make money for K-12 education, operate several veterans benefit programs, serve as stewards of the Texas coast and do a whole lot of other things, even including managing the Alamo!
Represent more than 50 years of state service...
Mireles, Warren announce retirement from ERS positions Chief Information Officer Mel Mireles (top) and Debbie Warren (bottom), director of Customer Benefits at the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) have announced their upcoming retirements, effective at the end of this month. Together, they have more than 50 years of service to the State of Texas.
Warren is a veteran of more than 29 years of public service, the last 21 at ERS. She graduated from the 2010 Governor's Executive Development program, served on the Statewide Considerations Workgroup, contributed to the success of the Texas Enterprise Resource Planning effort and earned the Certificate of Achievement in Public Plan Policy in Employee Pension.
Mireles' tenure at ERS began in 2007. Prior to joining ERS, he served as the chief executive officer of HBMG, Inc., a technology consulting firm. Prior to joining HBMG, he served as director of the Enterprise Operations Division at the Texas Department of Information Resources. In addition, Mireles served as chief advisor to the Governor's Homeland Security Division concerning technology initiatives, was information resources manager at the Texas Railroad Commission, manager of IT Security Operations at the State Treasury and IS Auditor in Charge at the State Auditor's Office. Mireles holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas State University. He is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM) and is certified in Homeland Security, Level III (CHSIII).
During the interim until full-time replacements are found, Robin Hardaway will serve as interim Director of Customer Benefits and Chuck Turner will serve as interim Chief Information Officer. Hardaway has been with ERS since 2001 and is currently assistant director for Benefits Processing and Specialty Retirements. Turner is the assistant director for Business & Process Analysis and has been in that post since 2009.
Morgan retires from Teacher Retirement System after 19 years
After nearly two decades as chief information officer and information resource manager for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), Amy Morgan (pictured) is calling it a career, with her retirement ending 37 years of public service. Morgan's career at TRS began in March 1995, when she was named director of the Information Systems Department.
As CIO, Morgan was responsible for the strategic direction, implementation and support of the agency's information technology needs. She was one of the driving forces behind the TRS program to modernize its legacy information systems. In addition to her service at TRS, Morgan has more than 15 years of experience in technology, including mainframe performance and capacity planning, strategic and operational planning, systems analysis and design and programming.
She is past president of Public Retirement Information Systems Management (PRISM) and a member of the Executive Council and Executive Steering Committee at TRS. She is a member of Executive Women in Texas Government. Morgan holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.
Craddick elected new chair of Texas Railroad Commission First-term commissioner for the Texas Railroad Commission, Christi Craddick (pictured), has been elected chair of the Commission. She will fill the post being vacated by former Chair Barry Smitherman. Smitherman, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Texas Attorney General, decided not to seek re-election.
Craddick was elected to a six-year term on the board of the agency that regulates the state's oil and gas industry in 2012. A native of Midland, she is an attorney specializing in oil and gas, water, tax issues, electric deregulation and environmental policy.
Craddick holds a bachelor's degree as a Plan II graduate and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from The University of Texas at Austin.
DPS selects Percy as chief information officer for agency
Jon Percy, who for the last year has served the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as emerging technology architect with the department's Intelligence and Counterterrorism division, has been named the new DPS chief information officer. In his previous job with DPS, Percy assisted with identifying and developing new methods and solutions to improve DPS intelligence capabilities.
Prior to joining DPS, Percy spent 15 years as a senior research engineer with Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. He also served six years as senior vice president and chief operations officer with Synthesys Technologies Inc., and spent nearly a dozen years in a variety of positions with Overwatch Systems Ltd, including program manager, business area manager, vice president of business development and strategy and vice president of homeland security and cyber.
The new DPS CIO holds a bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo. He also holds certification as a Program Manager Professional.
Legislative committee censures UT Regent Wallace Hall
A member of The University of Texas System's Board of Regents this week was censured by a legislative committee, which had previously contemplated impeachment. Regent Wallace Hall came under scrutiny when he made massive numbers of records request of The University of Texas at Austin in what many called an effort to oust UT President Bill Powers.
The Select Committee on Transparency accused Hall of abuse of power in making the records requests. Hall, who chose not to testify at any of the committee hearings, has previously said he did nothing wrong.
TASSCC 2014 Annual Conference held Aug. 3-6 in Houston
Numerous awards were presented at the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC) 2014 Annual Conference held last week in Houston. The honorees were cited at the Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 5.
The TASSCC President's Award for IT Excellence went to Amy Morgan, chief information officer at the Employees Retirement System of Texas, and Dr. Pierce Cantrell, chief information officer at Texas A&M University.
Cantrell (second from right in the top photo) is shown receiving his award from (from left) George Rios, David Cook and Rudy Montoya. Amy Morgan (second from right in bottom photo) also received her award from (from left) Rios, Cook and Montoya.
Also announced were three winners of TASSCC Excellence Awards. This year's honorees included the Excellence Award Winner for High Value Business Impact - EfileTexas.gov - a statewide election court filing project from the Office of Court Administration. The Excellence Award Winner for Innovative/Inventive Project was the FAST Tracker Project from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The Excellence Award Winner, President's Award, went to an Enterprise Content Management Initiative Virtual Case File project from the Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division. Charles Smith, deputy for Child Support, accepted the award with Lisa Petoskey, deputy director for Information Technology at the Office of Attorney General, Child Support Division. For more photos, click here.
El Paso seeking bids for downtown convention hotelEl Paso city officials recently asked for proposals from developers to build a 250-room convention hotel near the downtown convention center. The proposals are due on Dec. 10 and call for the developer to be solely responsible for financing, building and operating an upscale hotel with a well-known brand. It would be in the downtown area within walking distance of the convention center, according to Bryan Crowe, manager of the city's convention and visitor's bureau.
A committee will evaluate the proposals and present a short list of the most competitive proposals to council members, who will decide whether to make the final award. City officials did not set a deadline for awarding the proposal or for construction on the hotel to begin, Crowe said.
Cotton tapped as associate VP at University of North TexasUniversity of North Texas officials recently selected Beverly Cotton to a newly created post as the new associate vice president of budget and analytics. The appointment is part of a system-wide reorganization of high-level finance employees following an investigation that alleged the UNT system finance employees mismanaged university finances by withdrawing $83.5 million in state funds not allowed to the system and overstating its income for two years.
Cotton previously worked for Texas Christian University, where she was vice president of business and finance for Brite Divinity School. She also served at Texas Tech University as interim vice president of administration and finance and director of special projects for administration and finance.
Manor Expressway enjoying extraordinary early success Open for just three months, the new Manor Expressway (the 290 Toll) is already exceeding estimates for both traffic and revenue, according to officials with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
The Mobility Authority reports that within weeks of the May 17 grand opening, average weekly transactions reached nearly 47,000. The toll road originally was not expected to reach 41,000 transactions until 2015.
The Manor Expressway links east Travis County and southern Williamson County and the SH 130 Corridor to downtown Austin. The Expressway features six new tolled lanes allowing for more capacity on this busy roadway. It also improves capacity with six non-tolled frontage lanes.
Mobility Authority officials note that the success of the Manor Expressway has helped increase the overall average weekday transactions throughout the system to 170,000, more than twice the amount from this time two years ago.
Sunnyvale seeking $6.1 million to upgrade water systemSunnyvale Town Council members recently agreed to schedule a $6.12 million bond election in November to pay for upgrades to water infrastructure.
A majority of the money will be spent to prepare infrastructure enabling the city to change to another water supplier, Dallas Water Utilities. Sunnyvale now contracts with the North Texas Municipal Water District. Changing to the new water supplier will allow tapping into a plant within the town limits and using water from a nearby lake, city officials said.
TWDB offers financial assistance for water, wastewater projectsWater and wastewater improvement projects in three areas of the state got a financial boost administered by the Texas Water Development Board. The funds will allow for water system improvements and water treatment plant expansions and construction of a new wastewater treatment plan. The assistance includes:
- Brazosport Water Authority (Brazoria County) - $15.5 million for water system improvements, which includes the expansion of its water treatment storage capacity by designing and constructing a 10 million gallon clearwell and a high service pump station. The Authority will also be able to construct a new maintenance building and conduct electrical and yard piping improvements.
- Lake Palo Pinto Water Supply Corporation (Palo Pinto County) - $1.48 million for water treatment plant expansions. The Corporation will be able to finance construction costs associated with rehabilitating and expanding its water treatment plant. With the planning and design phase of the project completed, construction can now begin. The improvements will allow for increased capacity of the water treatment plant and the raw water pumps and provide additional system improvements.
- City of Laredo - $10 million for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. The city will construct a new 1.75 million gallons-per-day wastewater treatment plant and plans to expand the plant to 6 million gallons per day.
Lone Star College to ask voters to approve $485 million in bonds Lone Star College board members recently scheduled a $485 million bond election in November to pay for upgrades to facilities to meet the needs of growing enrollment and increased demand for job training.
College officials plan to upgrade health care training, classroom size and buildings that are deteriorating, noted Steve Head (pictured), chancellor of the college. Plans call for opening three new centers to provide technical training in growing industries such as in information technology and petrochemical as well as upgrading technology and security at campuses, he said. Voters last year rejected a $497.7 million bond proposition that included similar projects.
Abilene eyeing construction of new senior living facilityAbilene city officials recently began discussion on using a recently awarded tax credit to help build a senior living facility on land abandoned after a 2003 fire destroyed an apartment complex.
City and zoning staff urged council members to grant approval to build on the vacant land on North 6th Street, but the council has not yet granted approval. City Manager Larry Gilley also pointed out that the city has participated in several tax credit projects that have all been successful and recommended approval of this senior living facility project.
Brazosport ISD approves $175 million November bond election
Brazosport Independent School District board members recently scheduled a $175 million bond proposal for the Nov. 4 ballot. The bond proposal asks voters to approve funding for construction of five new elementary schools to replacing aging campuses and upgrades at other schools.
Arlington to seek approval of $236M in November bond electionArlington City Council members recently agreed to place a $236 million bond proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The largest share of the proposed bonds, $160 million, would be allotted to transportation and public works projects, including $40 million to rebuild residential streets. Other projects include reconstruction of several major roads and upgrades to sidewalks gutters and drainage.
Other proposals are $60 million to build a new recreation center, to renovate a recreation center to integrate it with the new East Library and to renovate several parks. The bond proposition also includes $9.7 million to rebuild a fire station and remodel the fire training center in addition to $6.1 million to upgrade two libraries.
Parkland CEO says hospital needs 10-cent property tax hike
Six years ago, Dallas County voters agreed to add 1 cent to their property tax rate at a future date to help underwrite the new $1.3 billion Parkland Hospital that was being built. Now, with that 1-cent increase scheduled to go into effect next year, Parkland CEO Fred Cerise (pictured) went before the Commissioners Court this week saying the hospital would need an additional 10-cent property tax hike next year.
Although Parkland officials will continue to look for other revenue sources, the lack of state and federal funding is taking its toll on the new facility. The latest financial estimate, said Cerise, is that the hospital deficit could be as high as $13 million.
The Parkland CEO said the hospital's financial ills could be resolved if Texas had allowed the expansion of Medicaid. That would have allowed coverage for more than 1 million poor, working-age adults, many of whom would be Parkland patients. Gov. Rick Perry refused to expand the program, fearing the long-term costs to the state. But non-expansion left more than $100 billion that Texas could have claimed over a 10-year period.
Garland ISD delays action on proposed $450M bond proposalBoard members of Garland Independent School District recently agreed to postpone a vote on a proposed $450 million bond proposal in November, the largest bond proposition in the history of the district.
A 61-member bond committee recommended spending $75 million to upgrade technology, including purchasing an iPad for each student in secondary school, $33.6 million for a career and technology facility and upgrades to band and choir rooms in the district.
Eight Texas teachers named finalists for PAEMST awardsEight classroom teachers in Texas are among the finalists for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams said the teachers are "spotlighting on a national level the outstanding work taking place in our classrooms." PAEMST recognizes K-6 math and science teachers whose teaching methods create "life" in the classroom. It is the highest recognition math and science teachers can receive for exemplary teaching in the United States. PAEMST is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Texas finalists in elementary mathematics include: Anne Born (Richardson ISD) - Kindergarten mathematics teacher at Lake Highlands Elementary School; Jennifer Cundieff (Georgetown ISD) - Fifth-grade mathematics teacher at Raye McCoy Elementary School; Erika Hassay (Round Rock ISD) - First-grade mathematics teacher at Live Oak Elementary School; and Suzanne Nguyen (Katy ISD) - Third-grade mathematics teacher at Roosevelt Alexander Elementary School.
Texas finalists in elementary science include: Lisa Baum (Fort Bend ISD) - Third-grade science teacher at Colony Meadows Elementary School; Nancy Gardner (Frisco ISD) - Fifth-grade science teacher at Elliott Elementary School; Nicole Grygar (Midway ISD) - K-4 Science Lab teacher at Woodway Elementary School; and Celena Miller (Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD) - Science Lab teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
A panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators may select one mathematics and one science teacher from each state and United States jurisdiction for the national award. National award winners will be announced during summer 2015. Winners receive $10,000, a citation signed by the President of the United States, and a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities.
Longview ISD seeking proposals for $1M softball field upgrade
Longview Independent School District trustees recently agreed to ask for proposals for a renovation of the girls softball field to comply with Title IX, following a complaint filed in 2013.
The renovation includes moving the field further out and changing its orientation to meet regulation size, adding a press box, restrooms, covered dugouts, batting cages and additional seating. The changes are needed to comply with Title IX regulations that require institutions receiving federal funding to treat male and female athletes equally.
The Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education is requiring the renovation to bring the softball field into compliance be completed by March 1, said Assistant Superintendent Lynn Marshall.
Del Valle ISD to ask voters to approve $134 million in bonds Trustees for Del Valle Independent School District recently scheduled a November bond election asking voters to approve $134 million to upgrade facilities.
Included in the bond proposition is funding to buy land and to build two new elementary schools, one school immediately and the second when needed, said Superintendent Kelly Crook (pictured). The bond proposal also includes funding to build a new career and technology building, practice gym, field house and fine arts building to the existing 14-year-old high school, Crook said.
Other projects included in the bond proposal are upgrades to technology, renovations and repairs to most campuses and the administration building and the purchase of new school buses.
Port Arthur ISD chief urges $200M bond election in NovemberMark Porterie, superintendent at Port Arthur Independent School District, recently recommended that board members ask voters to approve $200 million in bonds.
Porterie also proposed renovations to facilities throughout the district and to allot $23 million each to rebuild two elementary schools and almost $14.3 million to rebuild another elementary school.
GBRA names Smith to its executive management team LaMarriol Smith (pictured) has been promoted to the Executive Team of the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA). Smith, who has been serving the agency as chief strategic communications and public affairs officer, has been promoted to Executive Manager for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs. Smith has been with the GBRA since 2007.
Smith has 28 years of experience in includes public affairs, media relations, higher education administration, marketing, project and event management, speechwriting, publications management, Web site development and social media communications. Before joining the GBRA, Smith was executive director of College Relations at Austin College in Sherman, and before that was director of communications for three years St. Edward's University in Austin. She also previously worked in the Agency Communications Division of what is now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. She also held positions with Southwestern University and with the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Smith holds a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas in Austin.
Lamar CISD proposing $240.6 million in bond projects
Trustees for Lamar Consolidated Independent School District recently agreed to ask voters to approve $240.6 million in bonds to pay for new schools and upgrades to existing campuses.
Projects included in the bond proposition are $121.9 million for construction of five new elementary schools, $22.3 million to build a new middle school, $20 million to buy more land for new schools and $15.3 million to renovate and maintain existing facilities. The proposal also includes funding for three new practice swimming pools.
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Bridge City ISD looking at $25 million November bond electionSuperintendent Mike King of Bridge City Independent School District recently urged trustees to schedule a $25 million November bond election to upgrade district facilities.
King urged board members to ask voters to approve $22.6 million to pay for a new Student Activities and Performance complex that would include seven new classrooms. It also would spend $1.4 million to renovate the baseball/softball complex, $505,078 for a parking lot with 140 spaces and about $417,492 to renovate field houses at the high school.
Del Mar College to use grant to construct campus pilot plant The Corpus Christi Business and Job Development Corp. has awarded Del Mar College a $1.3 million grant to build a process and instrumentation pilot plant on its West Campus. The plant will be used to train students for high-paying technical jobs with a plant or refinery. The pilot plant will be the same size as a fully functioning plant and will train students to be technicians.
Lenora Keas (pictured), vice president of the division of workforce development and strategic initiatives for Del Mar, said industry officials are constantly asking Del Mar officials how they can help train workers for plants and refineries. The plant will turn out graduates with a technical degree in two years that they can translate into a $57,000-per-year job. Plant operators with some technical experience can earn up to $90,000 per year.
Several companies in the area are providing either financial support for the pilot plant, technical assistance, or training, said Keas. She added that the Del Mar College Foundation will pay for the construction of the pilot plant and the city will reimburse the college after the plant is built.
Seabrook voters to decide on four proposals in $8.5M bond
Seabrook City Council members recently voted to schedule an $8.55 million bond proposal with four separate propositions on Nov. 4. The most expensive project on the ballot is proposition one, calling for the issue of $6.85 million in bonds to pay for a new public works complex and a new animal shelter/adoption center to replace aging facilities.
The second proposition seeks $725,000 to buy a new fire engine to replace a vehicle near the end of its life expectancy, while the third proposition asks for approval of $525,000 to connect all city facilities with a fiber optic network with increased speed. The fourth proposal seeks $450,000 to update existing splash pads at one city swimming pool and install new splash pads at another pool.
Murchison ISD seeking bids to replace floors, renovate plumbingTrustees for Murchison Independent School District recently authorized Superintendent Richard Jones to seek bids to renovate the west wing of the district's historic campus serving students from kindergarten through the eighth grade.
Jones estimated the renovations would cost $300,000 or less. He also said he will not proceed with the renovation projects if the bids are more than the estimate. The projects include repairing and replacing floors in four classrooms, restrooms, offices and the data room, repairs to a wall and door and renovating
plumbing. Other projects include upgrades to the heating and air conditioning system, installing new exterior windows and adding insulation to exterior walls and the attic, Jones said.
The bids should be submitted by Sept. 1. Trustees will review the bids and then decide whether to move forward with the renovation projects, he said.
Kendall County approves $39,250 for jail feasibility study Kendall County commissioners recently approved $39,250 to hire a Plano-based company to study whether to expand or replace the existing 54-bed jail and construction options for building a new jail.
Voters in 2004 rejected a $7 million bond proposal to build a new 106-bed jail. Sheriff Al Auxier (pictured), however, told commissioners that expanding the current jail would require the facility to be closed for up to two years, forcing the county to rent jail space in other counties.
He also warned that the existing jail has structural and mechanical issues and is too small to meet the county's growing population.
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.
TML plans 102nd Annual Conference, Exhibition in Houston
Billed as a "program packed with topical concurrent sessions, engaging speakers and chances to network and share ideas with your colleagues from around the state," the Texas Municipal League (TML) 102nd Annual Conference and Exhibition is scheduled for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The event will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. This year's event will feature best-selling author and former leader of the Disney Institute, Simon T. Bailey, who will address the topic "Shift Your Brilliance" during the opening general session. Keynote speaker for the Delegate Luncheon will be John Foley, former lead solo pilot for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, whose topic is "Your High Performance Climb." Former TV news anchor Gloria Campos will address the Woman in Government Breakfast speaking on "Everything is Fair in Love, War and Politics." Six concurrent session tracks are available, including such issues as quality of life, transportation and infrastructure and finance. Elected city officials can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attending. Registration is now open and the agenda is available.
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.
NASW/Texas State Conference set for October in San Marcos
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 Water Development Board member 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Full conference details at TexasDesal.org. For more information and to register, click here.
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Collaboration has never
been needed more
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
It is happening throughout the United States.
In California, a nearly 100-year-old water main ruptured, ripping a 15-foot hole in Sunset Boulevard, sending 8 million gallons of water onto the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. In Atlanta, Georgia, a 70 year-old sewer line collapsed, resulting in a three-month road closure that has become a traffic nightmare in the city's busy medical district area.
These types of incidents are not unusual and they are occurring throughout the nation at an alarming pace. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are at least 250,000 water main breaks each year - one every two minutes. Millions of gallons of treated drinking water are being lost because of antiquated infrastructure.
With budget cuts at the federal level, money for repairs and replacement of water and wastewater systems is almost non-existent. And, because customers are adhering to conservation mandates, city revenues from the sale of water are significantly reduced. Money is no longer available for maintenance and upgrades to infrastructure. Rates increases and impact fees are becoming the norm in many communities.
Texas Government Insider
will not publish next week
The Texas Government Insider will not publish on Friday, Aug. 22, as our editor will be on vacation. We will resume our regular Friday publication on Aug. 29.
City hall complex, street
upgrades in Buda $55M bond A $21 million proposition to build a new library, city hall and municipal court building and a $12.25 million proposition for street upgrades are among the five separate propositions Buda City Council members included in a $55 million bond election called for Nov. 4.
Council members also are asking approval of $8 million to pay for improvements to parks and trails, $7 million for drainage upgrades and $6.75 million for police and emergency facilities.
Clack selected communications director for San Antonio mayor
Cary Clack (pictured), a former newspaper columnist in San Antonio, recently won appointment by Mayor Ivy Taylor as her new director of communications.
After leaving the local newspaper in October 2011, Clark worked for U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, as his district director in his San Antonio office.
Clack will join Jill DeYoung, chief of staff; Leilah Powell, policy director; and Lou Miller, policy advisor, on the newly appointed mayor's staff.
Hays County looking at $188M
bond election in NovemberHays County commissioners recently agreed to call a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 18, to decide whether to call a $184.4 million to $188.5 million bond proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.
A new jail, a new law enforcement center and a co-located law enforcement dispatch facility also are projects commissioners are considering to include on the November ballot.
Allen ISD makes three
administrative appointmentsAllen Independent School District trustees recently appointed Brent Ringo as the new director of finance, Kenneth Gregorski as the assistant superintendent for human resources and Phyllis Spain as the executive director of school leadership.
Ringo replaces the former finance director, Marlene Harbeson, who accepted a new job with Highland Park ISD. Ringo previously was a teacher and principal at the Royse City school district. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin, a master's degree from Texas State University in San Marcos and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M-Commerce.
Previously an assistant superintendent for the Stafford Municipal School District, Gregorski also was a teacher and principal at school districts in Fort Bend, Katy and El Paso. He has a bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University and a master's degree from Sul Ross University. Gregorski replaced Robin Bullock, who is now the assistant superintendent for student support services for the Allen district. Spain, currently the director of student services, has worked as a teacher and principal for the Allen district.
Plainview economic development group selects Fox as director Plainview/Hale County Economic Development Corporation officials recently selected Mike Fox (pictured) as the new executive director effective on Sept. 2.Fox will replace Kevin Carter, who resigned to serve as director of the High Ground regional economic coalition, also based in Plainview.
A banker since 2002, Fox served as a business relationship manager for a bank in Plainview. He also served as a manager of radio stations in Amarillo before moving to Plainview and purchasing local radio stations in 1986. Fox has a bachelor's degree from West Texas A&M University.
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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says the state's 12-Year Transportation Program has gotten a boost in funding that will result in contracting opportunities and jobs in the future. The beneficiaries will be Pennsylvania roads, bridges, transit systems, airports and railroads. Read more.
New $10.55M sewer system
on the bond ballot in Salado
The board of aldermen in Salado recently agreed to ask voters to approve $10.55 million in bonds on Nov. 4 to pay for a new sewer system in that village. Officials of the village also plan to seek grants and contributions from the Salado school district and area businesses to help pay for the sewer system.
Hidalgo voters will decide proposed hospital district fateFollowing acceptance of a petition for a referendum on the November ballot, the Hidalgo County commissioners will add to the ballot an item that will allow county voters to decide if they want to create a county hospital district. If approved, the hospital district would set a property tax rate of 8 cents per $100 valuation to the existing property tax rate. That rate is expected to generate close to $20 million in revenue. Those funds would be added to close to $30 million in a federal match that will help to develop the medical school that will be part of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
If approved, the district would be managed by a nine-member board. The government entities within the district would appoint the board members. In a memorandum of understanding, the entities agreed to cap the district's tax rate at 25 cents per $100 of valuation.
Nolanville names five finalists
in search for new city managerNolanville city officials recently named five finalists to interview in their search for a new city manager. City officials declined to identify the five finalists who council members plan to begin interviewing during an executive session on Aug. 21.
The city manager finalists, four men and one woman, can chose to conduct the interview with a conference call or schedule a personal interview at a later date if the candidate is unable to attend the council meeting on Aug. 21, said Crystal Briggs, the city secretary.
Briggs has assumed the duties of city manager since former City Manager Stephen Pearl resigned on July 18 to accept a post as human resources director for Nacogdoches. Council members plan to narrow the field of city manager candidates to two or three finalists before selecting the new city manager, the mayor said.
Sugar Land names May as
head of economic development Sugar Land city officials recently named Jennifer May (pictured) as-the director of economic development.
Previously the director of public affairs for the city, May has served as interim director of economic development since the former director, Regina Morales, resigned in April. May also has worked as an administrative assistant and an assistant to the city manager during her eight years with the city.
May has a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas and a master's degree from the University of Kansas. She also graduated from the Center for Houston's Future Business/Civic Leadership Forum.
Guthrie selected as interim
city manager in Tyler
Susan Guthrie, an assistant city manager and communications director for the city of Tyler, recently won selection as the interim city manager.
When she begins her new duties on Aug. 19, Guthrie will replace former City Manager Mark McDaniel, who is resigning to become an assistant city manager in Dallas.
Guthrie joined the city in 2007 as the communications director. She previously worked for the city of Mesa, Arizona, the University of Arizona and a private company. She expects to receive a master's degree this spring when she completes four more classes, but completed the Public Executive Institute at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
Aubrey ISD selects Sanders as lone finalist for superintendentAubrey Independent School District trustees recently selected Debby Sanders, currently the interim superintendent, as the lone finalist for superintendent.
Sanders joined the district almost 30 years ago as a teacher and a coach before becoming an administrator for the Aubrey district. Sanders was the only applicant for the job, which was posted for internal employees of the school district.
During the required 21-day waiting period for the appointment to become officials, board members plan more interviews with Sanders and to negotiate a final contract before finalizing the appointment. Sanders replaced former Superintendent James Monaco, who resigned last year from that post and remained with the district as the chief financial officer.
Wiggins to retire as head
of Calhoun County ISD Superintendent Billy Wiggins (pictured) of Calhoun County Independent School District recently signed an agreement to retire from the school district and as superintendent effective on Dec. 19.
The vote occurred at a special called meeting of board members of the school district based in Port Lavaca.
McCloud resigns as director
of public relations at JISD
Marc McCloud, currently director of public relations at Jacksonville Independent School District, recently resigned after six years in that job.
McCloud joined the district in 2003 as a webmaster in the technology department and became director of public relations in 2008. He resigned to accept a new job with a private media company in Palestine.
Pilot Point ISD delays search
for new superintendentPilot Point Independent School District trustees recently voted to delay a search for a new superintendent after finding no candidates who board members believed were right for the district. The new superintendent will replace former Superintendent Byron Terrier, who resigned in June 2013 after signing a voluntary separation agreement.
Interim Superintendent Dan Gist, who previously was an assistant superintendent, will continue to serve in the temporary post until a new superintendent is selected, the board president said.
Trustees plan to begin a new search for a superintendent in early 2015, when more qualified candidates should be available, he added.
Vela retiring from post as city
attorney for city of Weslaco Ramon Vela (pictured), the city attorney in Weslaco for 33 years, recently announced plans to retire by the end of September.
Following a recommendation by the city manager, city council members selected Juan Guerra of Guerra & Farah to serve as the city attorney for a transitional period while city officials begin a search for a new city attorney.
Fox named interim director of Texas Tech-FredericksburgKelly Fox, currently a director at Texas Tech University, recently won selection as the interim director of Texas Tech University-Fredericksburg.
Fox replaces the former director, Julie Martenson, who resigned. She is slated to oversee fall classes at TTU-Fredericksburg when the semester begins on Aug. 25. The goal of TTU-Fredericksburg is to help students in rural areas earn degrees and certification in course work that contributes to the growth and economic development of the Fredericksburg area, Fox said.
Texas Tech officials plan to begin soon on a search for a permanent director for the Fredericksburg campus.
Pearland promotes three
new administrative postsCity Manager Clay Pearson of Pearland recently announced the selection of three new administrators to his staff. Pearson named Jon Branson as the new deputy city manager, Trent Epperson as the new assistant city manager and Matt Buchanan as the executive manager of Development Services in addition to his current duties as director of the Pearland Economic Development Corporation.
In his new job as deputy city manager, Branson will oversee human resources, finance, the city secretary, communications, parks and recreation, the municipal court and the convention and visitor's bureau. He has been with the city since 2006, when he first served as director of parks and recreation. Branson also served as interim city manager earlier this year.
Epperson, who joined the city in 2006 as director of capital projects, will lead public works and engineering in his new job as assistant city manager. Epperson has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University. A city employee for four years, Buchanan has a master's degree from Creighton University in Nebraska and a dual degree from the University of Iowa.
Salvato picked as assistant
city manager in Midland
City Manager Frank Salvato (pictured) of Bee Cave recently won selection to the newly created post as an assistant city manager in Midland, effective on Oct. 1. Salvato will oversee infrastructure and development services, noted Midland City Manager Courtney Sharp.
With 29 years of experience in municipal government, Salvato previously served as a health and code enforcement inspector, assistant city manager and city manager in Fort Stockton, Llano and Taylor.
Salvato earned an associate's degree from Midland College, a bachelor's degree from Angelo State University and a master's degree from Sul Ross University.
Hillsboro selects Hatchel
as interim city managerHillsboro City Council members recently selected John K. Hatchel of Woodway as the interim city manager. Hatchel previously served as a deputy city manager and assistant city manager in Waco, an assistant city manager in Abilene and city manager in Plainview.
Since retiring as a full time city administrator, Hatchel has served as an interim city manager for Ennis as well as an interim administrator for other cities and municipal utility districts.
to retrofit school busesGrant applications for funding to retrofit eligible diesel-powered school buses with emissions-reduction technology are being accepted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The funding application is open to all public and charter schools in Texas that operate one or more diesel-powered school buses. The funding available totals $3 million and will be used to reimburse school districts for installing pollution-control retrofits on older school buses. Applications can be for any amount of the available $3 million, but applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Deadline for applying is Nov. 21. For detailed information, please visit the Clean School Bus Web page, or call 512-239-3100.
Mission will install Wi-Fi
to assist student Internet accessMission city officials recently agreed to move forward with installation of a municipal wireless network to assist students who own a notebook, smart phone or other computing devices, but have no Internet access at home.
City officials plan to survey residents to help determine which neighborhoods have the least access to the Internet. They also plan to meet with area school district officials to ask them to participate in the project, according to the mayor. Neighboring cities of McAllen, Pharr and Rio Grande City all provide public Wi-Fi programs and Edinburg is developing one, City Manager Martin Garza said.
Victoria County emergency management coordinator resigns
Jeb Lacey, longtime Office of Emergency Management coordinator for Victoria County, has announced that he will leave that post for a job in the private sector. Lacey, who has served as coordinator for the county since being appointed by Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi in 2008, will be leaving the county on Sept. 6.
Lacey plans to continue to serve as president of the Emergency Management Association of Texas. Richard McBrayer, deputy emergency management coordinator, will likely serve in the coordinator post until a full-time coordinator is named, said Pozzi.
Four cities in North Texas
to merge 911 dispatch centers City officials in four North Texas cities - Farmers Branch, Addison, Coppell and Carrollton - recently agreed to merge their 911 emergency dispatch operations into one dispatch center to reduce response time and achieve long-term savings of up to 15 to 20 percent over the next 20 years.
The new North Texas Emergency Communications Center will be located in Carrollton and will allow all dispatchers in the area to be in the same room rather than in separate facilities, noted Farmers Branch Police Chief Sid Fuller (pictured).
Current estimates are that radio equipment for the new 911 dispatch facility will cost about $30 million, but no estimates are available on the cost of creating the combined 911 dispatch center, Fuller said.
Belton ISD selects Lovesmith
as assistant superintendent
Belton Independent School District trustees recently selected Deana Lovesmith as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. Lovesmith previously was a director of grant projects for the district and the principal of the Belton New Tech High School.
China Grove selects former city administrator to return to jobChina Grove City Council members recently selected Susan Conaway, a former city administrator who resigned in May 2013, to again serve as city administrator. Conaway had worked for the city for 29 years and was the only city employee from 1984 until 2005.
Her duties include preparation of a city budget, recommending a tax rate and assisting with organizing city elections now conducted by Bexar County, city officials said.
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