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  Volume 8, Issue 5 · Friday, February 5, 2010
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Transportation: Texas faces serious financial challenges

Delisi says state must seek 'stable, long-term financing source'

Deirdre Delisi

When Texas Transportation Commission Chair Deidre Delisi (left) testified this week before members of the House and Senate committees that deal with the state's transportation issues, she brought little new information. Maybe a few more statistics to shore up her testimony, but not a whole lot that was startlingly new. But she was quick to remind committee members of a warning they'd heard before - the state's population is growing, traffic congestion is increasing and the money to keep up with the needs of Texas' motoring public is fast declining.

Road Funds

"Our financial resources are declining in proportion to our needs," said Delisi. "Transportation funding that is provided in 'fits and starts' does not substitute for a stable, long-term financing source." Delisi said most observers "conclude that Texas is facing serious financial challenges with respect to transportation."

And the chairs of the two committees - Rep. Joe Pickett on the House side and Sen. John Carona on the Senate side - agree.

"We hear from one expert after another that there's an urgent need to address other methods of funding," said Carona.


Texas could gain billions from president's budget

Schools, transportation infrastructure big winners in 2011 proposal

There are a number of important investments specific to Texas in the President's proposed 2011 budget announced this week, ranging from tax cuts to transportation investments.

According to the White House, the following Texas-specific benefits are in the proposed budget:

  • Tax cuts for 8.4 million families;
  • $5 billion for schools, students and teachers;
  • $2.5 billion in new Pell Grant funding to help families pay for college and an increase in the maximum Pell award to $5,710;
  • $1.5 billion for housing assistance;
  • $603.1 million in child care assistance;
  • $18.7 billion for increased health care coverage for low-income children and families;
  • $3.7 billion for construction and improvements to roads, highways and airports in Texas; and
  • $169.9 million to modernize and expand clean, safe drinking water throughout Texas.

Other funding that would be made available nationwide in the proposed budget would also impact Texas - such as a proposal to make Build America Bonds from the Recovery Act permanent, allowing more public entities (local governments, universities and nonprofit hospitals) to use the bonds and receive a federal subsidy of 28 percent of the total bond interest paid to investors. Some of the other programs from which Texas could benefit are the addition of millions of dollars to the Recovery Act's grants for broadband deployment in rural areas, more money for high-speed rail nationwide, billions nationwide for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and lending assistance for small businesses.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

Katherine Yoder Aldredge

Katherine Yoder Aldredge, Adviser to the Governor

Career highlights and education: I have had the absolute privilege to work for three of the best bosses in all of state government. For the past year, I have been working for Gov. Rick Perry as an advisor for health and human services-related issues in the division of Budget, Planning and Policy. Prior to my current job, I served as a senior policy advisor for Sen. Jane Nelson in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, where I focused on human services issues. I also worked for nine years for former Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp. I started as an unpaid intern in her office and eventually became her chief of staff during the latter part of her tenure while she served on Appropriations and as the chair of the House Human Services Committee. I earned my bachelor's degree in government from The University of Texas at Austin. Yes, I am a proud Longhorn working for an Aggie.

What I like best about my job is: developing policies that can truly have a positive impact on Texans. I work with some of the most dedicated public servants both inside the Governor's Office and in the legislature. Their support and guidance through the years has helped shape who I am today.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Go with the flow.

Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Don't ever forget that you work for the people of Texas. They pay your salary and they deserve your respect. Be a good listener; you can learn a lot from what other people are saying and even more from what they are not saying.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Spending time with my new husband.

People would be surprised to know that I: love horses. As a child, I spent many an afternoon riding and taking care of one of my Arabians. I hope to someday get back into riding, the busyness of life has so far prevented it.

Book, magazine or newspaper article I've read recently that really influenced my thinking: I am currently reading Stop Paying the Crooks: Solutions to End the Fraud that Threatens Your Healthcare, edited by James Frogue of The Center for Health Transformation. The book is a collection of chapters written by experts who believe that no meaningful healthcare reform can be achieved without including significant strategies to decrease waste, fraud and abuse within the system.

Each week, the Texas Government Insider profiles a key government executive or decision-maker. If you would like to suggest a "Lone Star," please email us at

Salone retiring from DIR post on March 31

Ginger Salone

Ginger Salone (pictured), deputy executive director of Statewide Technology Services at the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), is ending her 24 years of public service. She will retire from DIR on March 31.

Salone's information technology career covers more than three decades, beginning as a programming intern with East Texas State University while a student there. More than 20 years of her public service career were spent with the State Comptroller's Office. Before joining DIR in June 2007, she was Deputy Director of Information Technology for Child Support in the Office of the Attorney General.

Salone chaired the Telecommunications Planning and Oversight Committee, was president of the Texas Association for State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC), was a member of the Texas Online Authority and chaired the Data Center Services Advisory Council.

DADS names Sandberg new Information Resource Mgr.

Judy Sandbert

Judy Sandberg (pictured), director of Business Operations at the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), has been named Information Resource Manager for the agency, effective immediately.

Sandberg has previously served as Project Management Office Director for Health and Human Services Enterprise IT and Department of State Health Services IT, Business Improvement Manager for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Center for Program Coordination and as Systems Development Director for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission.

Sandberg holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas State University and is a certified Project Management Professional.


Millwee permanent Medicaid/CHIP director

Billy Millwee

Billy Millwee (pictured) has been named the permanent associate commissioner of Medicaid/CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), a post otherwise known as the State Medicaid/CHIP director.

Millwee, who has extensive experience with Medicaid and CHIP, previously served as the agency's interim associate commissioner. He has also served as director of Texas Medicaid Policy and Operations, Managed Care and the Texas Health Steps and Medical Transportation programs.

Millwee holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and master's degree from Central Michigan University.

TPWD names Coastal Fisheries Division director

Robin Riechers

Robin Riechers (pictured) has been tapped to serve as director of the Coastal Fisheries Division at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

Riechers helped develop commercial fishing limited entry programs for shrimp, crab and finfish during his tenure at TPWD as well as implemented strategies for conservation of sea trout and flounder in recreational fishing. He began working for TPWD as an economist in the Coastal Fisheries Division. Since 2000, he has represented the department on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and served as the council's first ever two-term chairman in 2006 and 2007.

Riechers earned his master's degree from Texas A&M University.


TPWC grants more than $2.5M for boat ramp projects

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWC) has approved $2,545,249 in grants to fund 10 statewide boat-ramp projects. The funds will cover the purchase, construction, renovation and maintenance of boat ramps, access roads and other related projects.

Grants include:

  • $215, 628 to the Aransas County Navigation District for a new walkway, covered picnic tables and expanded parking at Copano Bay;
  • $397,600 to the City of Bastrop to replace an old boat ramp at the Colorado River;
  • $82,500 to the Brazos River Authority for the renovation and expansion of a boat ramp on Lake Granbury in Hood County;
  • $500,000 to the City of Corpus Christi to renovate Clem's Boat Ramp and improve access to the Laguna Madre and Intracoastal Waterway;
  • $126,000 to Calhoun County to build a rock jetty to protect a public boat ramp on Magnolia Beach;
  • $198,750 to the City of Grapevine for the construction of a pavilion and restroom at Meadowmere Park;
  • $75,000 to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority for renovation of a boat ramp at Lake Wood;
  • $361,500 to the City of Jefferson for construction of a boat ramp and amenities at Big Cypress Bayou;
  • $388,330 to the City of Port Isabel to renovate and improve a boat ramp and other amenities at Pompano Street on the Laguna Madre; and
  • $199,941 to Tom Green County for the construction of a new boat ramp on the South Concho River.

12 million pounds of computer equipment recycled


More than 12 million pounds of computer equipment has been collected during the first year of Texas' computer recycling program. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said the first year results are from the period from Jan. 1. through Dec. 31, 2009. The program requires computer manufacturers who sell in Texas to offer consumers convenient, free recycling for their brands of computer equipment. What they collect can then be reused or recycled.

There are 81 manufacturers representing 116 brands in the program. Among the reusable materials in the computer equipment being recycled are copper, lead and steel.

TCEQ offers free print ads and Web banners for download at for cities, counties, schools and community groups to promote the recycling program. It also encourages cities and counties to have its residents take advantage of the program. More information on the program and links to each manufacturer's recycling program is available at

Natalicio will serve on Mexico Bicentennial Committee

Diana Natalicio

Diana Natalicio, Ph.D. (pictured), president of The University of Texas at El Paso, is one of 40 individuals named to the Mexico Bicentennial Committee in the United States. She was chosen for the appointment by Arturo Sarukhan, ambassador of Mexico to the United States. Natalicio said UTEP has had a longstanding relationship with Mexico since its establishment in 1914 as the Texas State School of Mines and boasts many Mexican alumni and students.

She is part of a list of distinguished members of the committee that will help celebrate the Mexican history and culture, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

UT-D School of Management unveils master's program

Joseph Picken

The University of Texas at Dallas School of Management has unveiled a master's program designed for individuals piloting business startups and for those already leading established organizations. The 36 credit-hour Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE) program debuted this spring semester.

Program Director Dr. Joseph C. Picken (pictured) said the dual emphasis and a focus on technological innovation differentiates the UT-Dallas program from the others, noting the school's curriculum "has always been focused primarily on technology-based entrepreneurship."

TWU nursing school wins $480,000 in grants

The College of Nursing at Texas Woman's University recently won two grants totaling $480,000 to improve training for health care professionals.

The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation from New York awarded the College of Nursing a $278,000 grant for a collaborative project in which faculty from TWU use simulated environments and mannequins to train both medical students from Baylor College of Medicine as well as nursing students at the Nursing Education Center of TWU.

The Texas Workforce Commission awarded a $205,000 grant to support the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Faculty Development project to increase the use of patient stimulation in nursing education in the Gulf Coast region as a method to respond to the shortage of nurses.

Sid W. Richardson Foundation VP awarded honor

Val Wilkie Jr.

The Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and the Texas Association of Community Colleges recently joined together in Austin to award Valleau "Val" Wilkie Jr. (pictured) the Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal in Austin.

The award recognizes Wilkie's efforts in support of education as executive vice president of the Sid W. Richardson Foundation in Fort Worth, a position he has held since 1973. In the mid-1980s, Wilkie and the Foundation board instituted a grant initiative aimed at building and sustaining human resource capacities at the state's schools and universities. Since then, the Foundation has issued more than $40 million in awards.

Wilkie was also instrumental in establishing the Sid Richardson Forum, a think tank devoted to examining and objectively reporting on education issues.

WTAMU planning $71M in construction projects

Officials at West Texas A&M University are planning $71 million in construction projects. Salvage efforts are already under way at the old Fine Arts building and Hudspeth Hall, where furnishings and fixtures are being removed and recycled for use elsewhere.

Danny Smith, associate vice president for physical facilities, said officials are doing "everything we can not to waste and fill up landfills."

A campus parking lot will replace the old Fine Arts building, and Hudspeth Hall will be torn down to make way for a four-story, 400-bed residence facility - a $32.5 million project. Once completed, a new, $21.8 million recreational sports complex will be home to the largest grouping of synthetic athletic fields in the nation.

Amarillo College selects Shawn Fouts as new dean

Shawn Fouts

Officials of Amarillo College recently selected Shawn Fouts (pictured) as the new dean of career and technical education. Fouts, who holds a bachelor's degree from Nazarene Bible College and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, will establish his headquarters on the East Campus of Amarillo College.

He previously served as a corporate development consultant for the work force and economic development division of Amarillo College.

Texas A&M-Central Texas to begin construction

Officials of Texas A&M University-Central Texas recently revealed plans to begin construction on their new campus in Killeen this fall. The new campus will be located on a 672-acre site at the intersection of SH-195 and SH-201. Fort Hood officials provided the new land for the campus.

The Texas A&M System, which recently took over operation of Tarleton State University-Central Texas in Killeen, plans to begin classes at the new campus in January 2012, officials said. The first building, expected to cost about $25 million, will include space for admissions, student area, academic offices, a 100-seat lecture theater, a commons, bookstore and cafe. The 20-year plan calls for 19 academic buildings, a student union, a wellness center, dining hall, residence facilities, a football stadium, baseball stadium, indoor arena and 22 acres of outdoor recreational space to be located on the campus.

Texas A&M-Central Texas currently has 2,300 students enrolled and officials expect that the enrollment will grow to 6,500 full-time students, which would increase the economic impact of the new campus to $106 million annually and create about 2,000 jobs.

DFW Connector in Grapevine may get leftover funds

Maribel Chavez

A $1 billion-plus upgrade of the DFW Connector is set to receive millions of extra federal funds if other Texas metro areas aren't able to spend all of their stimulus dollars. Construction on the set of Grapevine highways is slated to begin Feb. 15.

It is not known yet how much statewide funds will remain unspent by the March 3 deadline. More than $300 million remained unspent last December.

Maribel Chavez (pictured), Fort Worth district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, said she doesn't expect the project to receive a large sum of money, predicting many metro areas will scramble to spend the funds before the deadline.

Richardson names first communications director

Greg Sowell

Greg Sowell (pictured) has been selected to serve as the City of Richardson's first director of communications, beginning Feb. 15. In his new role, Sowell will manage the activities of the newly formed Communications Department, a product of the City's Citizen Information Services (CIS) group and Citizen Information Television (CITV).

Sowell's work experience includes nine years as a local government correspondent and 11 years in television, working both in front of and behind the camera at affiliate stations in Lubbock, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and West Palm Beach, Fla. Before working for the City of Mesquite, he served as an information specialist in Martin County, Fla., for almost six years.

Sowell holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University and a master's degree from Florida Atlantic University.

THC awards Comal $3M for courthouse upgrades

Jan Kennady

The Texas Historical Commission has awarded $3,438,000 to refurbish Comal County's downtown courthouse, marking the second-largest amount given to 20 Texas counties as part of a statewide initiative to refurbish and enhance historic courthouses.

"I can't tell you how happy I am," said County Commissioner Jan Kennady (pictured). "Now we can get it (the courthouse) back to where it needs to be."

City of New Braunfels Historic Preservation Officer Cherise Bell worked with a courthouse preservation committee to convince the state the dilapidated facility was in need of repair. The county narrowly missed out on courthouse-restoration funding in 2008 after lobbying for five years.

EPA installs SMU professor to lead Region 6 office

Al Armendariz

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sworn in South Methodist University professor Al Armendariz (pictured) as its Region 6 administrator as the agency acts to toughen Texas pollution enforcement standards to meet federal Clean Air Act requirements.

Armendariz will retain his appointment at SMU's Lyle School of Engineering while overseeing EPA's Region 6, which includes Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and 66 Indian tribes.

UH will receive five-year ETF grant for $3.5M

Renu Khator

The Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) has awarded a five-year, $3.5M grant to help establish the University of Houston's Texas Center for Superconductivity's (TcSUH) Applied Research Hub (TcSUH-ARH). The funds will allow the center to recruit top scientists and researchers in superconductivity and related fields.

Renu Khator (pictured), University of Houston president and chancellor of the UH System, said the research hub "expands the worldwide recognition of the leadership role TcSUH plays in the science, discovery and applications of high temperature superconductors (HTS)."

She said the hub's creation marks a "clear indication that the University of Houston is on the road to becoming a Tier-One University."

USDA awards $24M to three Texas universities

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded $24 million in grants to study animal heath, reproduction, breeding, genetics and nutrition at three leading Texas universities.

The awards will be allocated to four program areas of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), including: the Animal Reproduction Program, the Animal Genome, Genetics and Breeding Program, the Animal Growth and Nutrient Utilization Program and the Integrated Solutions for Animal Agriculture Program. These programs address a host of issues, ranging from efforts to reduce childhood obesity to climate change to the reduction of antibiotics and hormones given to domestic animals.

Schools receiving a portion of the awards include: The University of Texas at Austin ($325,000); Texas A&M University (three grants totaling $1,278,275); and The University of Texas Marine Science Institute at Port Aransas ($124,610).

Tech University College acceps scholarship applications

Matt Baker

Texas Tech University College is accepting scholarship applications from Texans who wish to earn their bachelor's degree online or at an off-campus location. Students who have earned a grade point average of 2.0 or higher may apply for a $50-per-credit-hour scholarship for as many as four terms.

Programs include the distance and off-campus Bachelor's of General Studies, the online Bachelor's of Horticultural and Turfgrass Sciences and the off-campus Bachelor's of Multidisciplinary Studies, which is only available to transfer and current students.

Matt Baker (pictured), dean of University College, said the awards represent another step toward the elimination of cost barriers for students.

Lamar Institute unveils 10-year, $63M master plan

Lamar Institute of Technology officials have unveiled a 10-year master plan to accommodate their expanding student population - which increased more than 10 percent last year - and the number of technical degrees offered.

Faculty member Dr. Paul Szuch said the plan is set to occur in three phases - to take place over the next 10 years - which incorporates renovations, upgrades and the construction of new structures.

Phase 1 includes construction of a new classroom/lab building and plaza area. Phase 2 comprises a new technology center and Phase 3 will add a student services/learning support building. Total cost of the projects rings in at approximately $63 million.

Applications sought for $1M in veteran's assistance

Lottery Ticket

The Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) is taking applications for $1 million in grants from the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans' Assistance (TVCFVA). Recipients will be announced in March. Funds will be awarded to selected organizations to help veterans and their families with mortgage and rent payments, food assistance and utility payments.

To provide a secure, non-revenue source for the funds, the Texas Lottery Commission (TLC) introduced the Veterans Cash scratch-off ticket (pictured) last November. The tickets have so far provided more than $2.5 million to the TVCFVA.

Grants will be awarded to organizations that have demonstrated experience assisting veterans. The TVC will evaluate applicants based on the effectiveness of their outreach efforts.

"It is critical that we help (veterans) through these tough economic times," said Texas Veterans Commission Executive Director James Nier, adding the funds will help provide essential services and aid to the most vulnerable veterans throughout the state.

Arlington considers increases to impact fees

Mel LeBlanc

Looking for revenue streams to help pay for roads, water and wastewater projects that are expected to total $300 million in the next 10 years, City of Arlington officials are studying the possibility of increasing impact fees they charge developers. Some of the possibilities discussed recently would triple costs, but Councilman Mel LeBlanc (pictured) said even if the fees increase, they will not increase that dramatically.

The city's impact fees are low, relative to other cities in the area, but small increases could help the city avoid bond issues, general fund spending increases or increased utility fees. The council will give the idea a second airing at its Feb. 16 meeting and will have a public hearing to hear from stakeholders on March 9.

Fredericksburg science group wins $250,000 grant

The Fredericksburg Education Initiative (Ignite, Inc.) recently won a $250,000 grant from Houston Endowment to implement its aerospace science program in several Houston area high schools.

A Fredericksburg high school science teacher developed the project-based science and engineering curriculum, using rockets to teach students about research, design and development. The teacher also created Ignite, Inc. as a nonprofit organization to provide curricula and training to other high schools wanting to use the SystemsGo Aeroscience program at their schools.

Currently, about 40 high schools and 900 students in Texas participate in the SystemsGo program. Rockets built by Texas students in the program hold national records for size, speed and altitude. The Space Foundation has certified the program and is recognized by NASA, the U.S. Army and the Johnson Space Center, said Carson Dickie, president of Ignite, Inc.

West Texas A&M wins $77,000 wind energy grant

Emily Hunt

The Texas Workforce Commission recently awarded a $77,000 Texas Youth in Technology grant to the Department of Engineering and Computer Science at West Texas A&M University.

Dr. Emily Hunt (pictured) will lead the 18-month project to design and build three 1 to 2Kw wind turbines. Phase one of the program calls for a team of WTAMU engineering students to design and construct one turbine for the campus while later in the year, the team will work with students at two selected high schools to design and build wind turbines at the two high school campuses. The grant also will pay for developing lesson plans for wind energy and a workshop for high school teachers who want to incorporate wind energy into their curriculum, Hunt said.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board eyes office in Houston

Officials of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board recently proposed expanding their Office of Investigations by establishing a new regional office in the Houston area to be closer to one of the country's largest oil and petrochemical sites. The CSB, similar to the National Transportation Safety Board, investigates when serious accidents occur at refineries and chemical plants.

The estimated cost to open a five-person investigative office is about $765,000 and includes one-time costs for relocation, recruiting, furniture, computers and safety equipment as well as compensation costs for part of the year. Officials estimate it will cost about $1.02 million annually to operate and maintain a field office in the Houston area.

The Texas field office is needed because the CSB in the last 10 years has conducted 13 major investigations into chemical and petroleum accidents in Texas. These investigations comprised about 20 percent of the board's total investigations. The agency also has several ongoing investigations in Texas at three oil refineries, a chemical site and a state university, officials said.

International water board selects Drusina commissioner

Ed Drusina

Officials of the International Boundary and Water Commission recently selected Ed Drusina (pictured) of El Paso as the agency's new commissioner. The IBWC is a bi-national agency based in El Paso that oversees water treaties and flood levees on the Rio Grande River along the 1,954-mile United States border with Mexico. Drusina is a civil engineer who previously served as the public works director in El Paso.

The IBWC has received $220 million in stimulus funding from the American Recovery Act to address storm water flood zone issues along the Rio Grande. Of that total, the agency has $144 million of that funding currently under contract for projects in New Mexico, El Paso, Presidio and Hidalgo County. Agency officials plan to issue contracts for projects using the remaining $76 million in stimulus funds, Drusina said.

Southlake ISD approves $850,000 electronic scoreboard

Trustees for the Southlake Independent School District recently approved a contract with a sports marketing firm to design and install an electronic scoreboard that shows commercials and instant replays at Dragon Stadium.

The agreement calls for the South Dakota-based marketing company to pay for the $850,000 scoreboard and work with the district's communications and marketing department to sell advertising rights for the scoreboard. Advertising and sponsorship revenue will pay for the scoreboard project, said a spokeswoman for the district.

The new high-tech scoreboard, which should be completed before the 2010 football season, is expected to generate about $280,000 in annual revenue, of which the school district will earn $115,000 a year for its general fund. District officials also are moving forward with adding another 1,600 seats to the home team side of the stadium.

Woodall Rodgers Park group nabs $3M for deck park

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation in Dallas recently received a $3 million contribution from a national banking firm to pay for a promenade through an $80 million deck park project linking downtown to uptown Dallas. The tree-lined promenade will run through the 5.2-acre park's crescent-shaped main mall, a spokesman for the foundation said.

The park, which will be built over a freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets, is a partnership between the public and private partners, noted Jody Grant, chairman of the park foundation. The city of Dallas contributed $20 million to the project, the Texas Department of Transportation allocated $20 million, federal stimulus funds provided another $16.7 million and the Caruth Foundation contributed a little more than $5 million to the project, he noted. Work already has begun on the park's footings and piers and completion of the deck park project is expected in early 2012.

Seguin kicks off $2.1 million creek restoration project

Betty Ann Matthies

Seguin city officials recently began the first phase of a $2.1 million project to restore Walnut Branch Creek in addition to adding hike-and-bike trails, lighting, walkways, landscaping, a pedestrian bridge and removing debris and stabilizing the creek's banks.

The first phase will be the development of a 2.5-mile linear park from Court Street to Nolte Street, said Mayor Betty Ann Matthies (pictured). The goal is to develop a park along the creek from Interstate 10 through town to Starke Park, she said. A portion of the funding for the creek restoration and park project is being provided by a grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and proceeds from bonds approved in 2006.

City officials have signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps to design the remaining Walnut Branch area for restoration of the economic system. Once that design is complete, city officials will try to secure funding to complete the project, said Assistant City Manager Rick Cortez.

Hardeman Co. wins $1.9M for courthouse renovation

The Courthouse Preservation Program of the Texas Historical Commission recently awarded a $1.9 million grant to Hardeman County to help pay for preserving the county courthouse. The grant will be used to renovate the exterior of the courthouse, including masonry repair, a new roof, repair to the dome and new windows and doors, said County Judge Ronnie Ingram.

County officials had applied for $6 million to pay for renovating both the interior and exterior of the courthouse, Lee said. He expects to continue seeking grants to help pay for renovating the interior of the courthouse. The county is required to contribute $300,000 in matching funds. Once county officials accept the grant, construction on the courthouse renovation must begin within six months, Lee said.

Pine Tree ISD group urges bond for athletic complex

Mariann Strauss

An advisory committee for the Pine Tree Independent School District recently agreed to urge trustees to approve a bond election to pay for a new athletic complex. The recommendation does not include a suggested amount for the bond or propose a site for the new athletic complex, said Superintendent Mariann Strauss (pictured).

Trustees created the 21-member advisory committee in early January with each trustee appointing three persons to serve on the committee. The committee is scheduled to deliver its recommendation to trustees at the next board meeting. An architect also told trustees that the current football stadium has multiple structural and safety issues that cannot easily be solved with renovations or repairs because of the aging structure. A bond consultant reported that selling bonds ranging from $10 million to $15 million would increase the district's tax rate from six to eight cents.

Grey Forest approves plan for city hall renovation

Grey Forest city council members recently approved a plan to renovate the city hall to increase security and solve traffic concerns. The new plan calls for visitors to the city hall to park in front of the building while prisoners will be escorted through the back, city officials said.

The renovation plan also includes the addition of a new roof, blocking off direct entrance to the city hall from the jail, adding a 500-square-foot area to the police department that will include a locker box, an interrogation room and providing a window so police personnel can observe what is happening outside, city officials said.

More federal money on the way to Texas soon!

Mary Scott Nabers

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

We can expect congressional haranguing over many items in the President's recently announced 2011 federal budget proposal. But then, what else is new!

Few can - or will - argue to cut money allocated for military construction and family housing. Most budget watchers expect these allocations to remain in the budget.

In the proposed budget, Texas military installations would get more than $797 million in military construction and family housing allocations. This amount would cover National Guard and Reserve facilities, too.

Fort Bliss in El Paso is in line for another $149.95 million under the proposed budget. Some of the projects would include:

  • $6.7 million for an automated multipurpose machine gun range;
  • $18.5 million for company operations facilities;
  • $22 million for a digital multipurpose training range;
  • $15.5 million for an indoor swimming pool;
  • $31 million for a transient training complex; and
  • $8.7 million for a vehicle bridge overpass.


Austin approves energy-saving measures

The Austin City Council this week authorized a number of energy conservation measures for city-owned facilities that are expected to save up to 5 million kilowatt hours each year. Some of the measures include retrofitting old lighting systems with new technologies, replacing generators with equipment to generate renewable energy from methane and optimizing energy systems in as many as 15 city facilities.


Marshall ISD selects McGinnis finance director

Trustees for the Marshall Independent School District recently selected Melinda McGinnis as the district's new executive director of finance. McGinnis, who will replace Carrie Alexander, previously served as business manager for Union Grove ISD and also taught for three years.

FEMA allocates more than $72K to Collin County VFD

The Nevada Volunteer Fire Department in Collin County is set to receive $72,200 in federal grant dollars to help support firefighters and their work as first responders.

The grant, provided through the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will be used to train and support operations and purchase firefighter equipment.


Waco FD receives more than $136K in DHS grant

The Waco Fire Department will receive $136,579 in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant, allocated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), that can be used for training and support and to purchase safety and rescue equipment.

The funds will help ensure the department has the resources it needs as emergency first-responders.

Parnell to lead Community in Schools in Ector County

Officials of Ector County Community in Schools recently selected Dawn Parnell as the new executive director of the agency that serves 11 school campuses with about 1,065 students. Five of the campuses are in Midland ISD and five are in the Ector County ISD. Parnell will replace Tina Holmes Pitzer, who left that position.

Parnell previously served as director of the Education Foundation for the Killeen ISD. She holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of North Texas in Denton.

Venus VFD lands $64K grant for equipment, training

The Venus Volunteer Fire Department recently received a $64,838 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The funding will be used to pay for training, support operations and to purchase safety and rescue equipment for the department, a spokesman said.

Where are they now?

Where do folks go when they leave state government? Some go to work in the private sector or for nonprofits. Some transition to executive-level positions in higher education while others may seek elected local government positions. And some just retire and spend a lot of time with their grandkids at the fishin' hole. This column focuses on where former state government officials and employees are now.

Ray Martinez

Ray Martinez began his public service career in 1989 as legislative director in the office of a Texas State Representative. From 1989 to 1992, he served in a variety of positions at the Texas Attorney General's Office, including assistant to a senior field attorney, legislative liaison and program auditor. He then began service with the federal government, serving as White House Liaison and Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1996, Martinez served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Political Affairs. He returned to Texas and from 1998-1999 was regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Dallas. It was back to D.C. from 1993-2000, when Martinez was named Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House under President Bill Clinton. He was in the private practice of law from 2000-2003 and from 2003-2006 was commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Martinez dabbled in consulting from 2006 to 2007 and in 2007 was named director of government relations for Rice University. Martinez was recently named director and chief of staff of the Senate Higher Education Committee and general counsel to the committee and committee chair.


Abilene ISD mulling renovations to stadium

Trustees for the Abilene Independent School District recently began considering making minor renovations to the football stadium following the rejection of a 2008 bond proposal to pay for extensive stadium renovations.

The two stadium projects under consideration are repairing the roof of the press box at a cost of about $140,000 and mounting metal bleachers blown loose during an August storm. The bleacher work could include paving the north side of the stadium below the scoreboard and is expected to cost about $70,000. Funding from the projects would come from proceeds the school district earns from the city venue tax and from the district's maintenance fund, district officials said.

Grayson Co. agrees to $20M bond election to upgrade jail

In a narrow 3-2 vote, Grayson County commissioners recently agreed to ask voters to approve a $20 million bond proposal to pay for remodeling and expanding the county jail. Commissioners are expected to decide on whether to hold the bond election in May or November before the March 4 deadline for scheduling a bond election in May of this year.


Goliad sheriff seeks $500,000 for technology

Kirby Brumby

The Goliad County Sheriff's Office recently applied to the U.S. Justice Department for a $300,000 grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance program and for a $200,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

The $300,000 grant, if approved, will be used to place mobile data terminals in each patrol car, to buy a new vehicle for the K-9 unit, a new van to transport prisoners and an electronic ticket writer, said Sheriff Kirby Brumby (pictured). The $200,000 grant will be used to update software used by the sheriff's office to be more compatible with the software used by the Texas Department of Public Safety, he said.

Midland ISD agrees on superintendent timeline

Trustees for the Midland Independent School District recently agreed to a timeline for their search for a new superintendent. Working with a consulting firm, trustees agreed to begin advertising for applicants in several Texas publications targeting educational professionals and to close the application period on March 25. Board members will begin interviewing selected candidates on April 5, identify a finalist for the position by April 26 and approve an employment contract by May 17.

Board members also agreed the district will not hire an interim superintendent since the retirement of Superintendent Sylvester Perez is not effective until June 30. No internal candidates from the district are being considered for the position, board members said.


Joseph Stafford returns
to SPI consulting team

Joseph Stafford

Joseph Stafford, who has some 40 years of experience in higher education, has rejoined Strategic Partnerships, Inc.'s consulting team and will assist SPI clients interested in both higher education and state government business opportunities. Stafford most recently served as assistant commissioner for Academic Affairs and Research at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Stafford has a long list of administrative positions held at institutions of higher education in Texas and other states. He served The University of Texas at San Antonio as Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies and Senior Advisor for Academic Affairs. At The University of Texas System Administration, Stafford held a variety of posts, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Executive Associate for Planning and Academic Programs, Assistant Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Executive Director for Planning and Analysis. Stafford also held administrative positions at the University of Florida and the State University System of Florida and teaching positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Arp VFD wins $40,000 grant for training, equipment

The Arp Volunteer Fire Department recently won a $40,024 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to pay for new equipment and training.

The department will use the money to purchase a new Jaws of Life, three suction units, three automatic defibrillators, eight traffic vests, a stabilization kit and rams and training for firefighters and emergency medical technicians to use the new equipment, said Penny Wilson, an EMT and firefighter with the fire department.

Strategic Edge 2010

Bell County to apply for $15,966 grant for program

Bell County commissioners recently authorized the county to seek a $15,966 grant from the Governor's Criminal Justice Division to pay for teaming police juvenile officers and juvenile probation officers in the Temple Police Department to meet with juveniles and their families.

The county will be required to provide $1,777.33 in matching funds to qualify for the grant, which is scheduled to be awarded on Aug. 1, 2010.

Harrison approves $349,912 grant for new generators

Harrison County commissioners recently accepted a $349,912 award from the Disaster Recovery Texas Community Development Block Grant program to install emergency generators.

The county expects to purchase three to four generators to install at several locations, said County Judge Richard Anderson (pictured). While the county proposed buying portable generators, officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said grant funding can no longer be used to buy portable generators because so many of the portable generators disappeared immediately following Hurricane Katrina.


Rockwall ISD superintendent Gene Burton steps down

Gene Burton

Rockwall Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Gene Burton (pictured) is stepping down after a nine-year tenure. The resignation will also serve as his retirement from education. He will continue to serve until June.

Burton joined Rockwall ISD as assistant superintendent of operations in July 1994. He was soon promoted to deputy superintendent and finally superintendent in 2001. He also served as a coach, teacher and principal in the Waxahachie ISD and as superintendent of Frost and Giddings school districts.

Elgin digital radio tower to improve communications

Bastrop County officials recently finalized an agreement with the City of Elgin to provide a site for a new, 460-foot digital radio tower that will allow Bastrop County law enforcement agencies to communicate with those in neighboring counties using a new, digital radio system.

County officials paid for the new tower and antenna with a $900,000 grant provided by the Public Safety Interoperable Communications program. Currently, the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office uses an analog radio system unable to communicate with counties to its north or west. The new digital system should be operating at the tower site in May, county officials said.


Williamson County shows off new command vehicle

William County officials recently showcased their newly acquired $342,500 incident command vehicle for responding to local, regional and state disasters with a display at the Georgetown Square.

The 38-foot-long, 13.5-foot-high vehicle features a camera system with night vision and thermal imaging capabilities, cellular and satellite communications systems, video displays and a restroom. The command vehicle can accommodate 18 personnel and can serve as a functioning command center. Funding for the new vehicle was provided by grants, a matching contribution from Williamson County and donations from the Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council and the Williamson County Fire Chief Association.

Orange County to seek federal grant for patrol boat

Keith Merritt

Orange County commissioners recently authorized the sheriff's office to apply for a port security grant to pay for a new patrol boat. The new boat will be from 27-29 feet long and will be equipped with spotlights, a depth finder and sonar. It will also have forward-looking infrared cameras to help navigation in the dark and assist personnel in detecting criminals trying to hide in the forests and foliage along waterways, said Sheriff Keith Merritt (pictured). A decision on the grant should be available by the end of March, he said.


Governor's appoinments

Governor Rick Perry has made the following appointments:

  • Billy Ray Stubblefield of Georgetown, presiding judge, Third Administrative Judicial Region

Texas Government Insider Archives

Volume 1 - 8 Archives · 11/7/03 - 1/29/10

Tahoka ISD announces new superintendent Burleson

Steve Burleson

Tahoka Independent School District has announced Steve Burleson (pictured) as lone finalist for the position of superintendent. He will replace interim Superintendent Gary Harrell. Burleson, assistant superintendent for Frenship ISD since 2005, begins his new charge in April.

During his tenure at Frenship, Burleson helped open three new campuses and played an instrumental role in developing Willow Bend Health Center, a facility providing certain healthcare services to families in the district.


Crane ISD pondering $7 million bond election

Larry Lee

Trustees for the Crane Independent School District recently began discussions on whether to schedule a $7 million bond election in May to help pay for a new $8.5 million elementary school.

Board members have made no final decision to call the bond election, but are discussing asking voters to approve $7 million for a new elementary school to house third, fourth and fifth graders, said Superintendent Larry Lee (pictured). The new facility would be built with the latest in technology, a new cafeteria and a new multipurpose room from the space now housing the cafeteria, he said. The district will use reserve funds to pay the remaining $1.5 million needed for the new school if voters approve the bonds, Lee said.

Richardson ISD names new superintendent sole finalist

Kay Waggoner

Dr. Kay Waggoner (pictured) has been named sole finalist for superintendent of Richardson Independent School District. She was chosen after a nationwide search using focus groups and feedback from staff, parents, students and members of the community. Waggoner has served as superintendent of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD since 2004. She has more than 28 years of experience in public education. Prior to her tenure at Grapevine-Colleyville, she served as superintendent in Red Oak ISD, beginning in 1997. She has also worked as a teacher, curriculum director and assistant superintendent in various Texas districts.

Waggoner holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin.


In the Dec. 18, 2009, edition of the Texas Government Insider, it was erroneously reported that Dr. Dale Tampke was named vice president for Student Affairs at Angelo State University. Dr. Tampke was a finalist, but the position has not been filled. The Insider regrets the error.

The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly e-newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.

Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers

The Insider is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1994 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.

To learn more about SPI services click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900.

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TML sets March date for Economic Summit

M. Ray Perryman, president of The Perryman Group, and Billy Hamilton, consultant and state revenue expert, will be among the featured speakers at the Texas Municipal League's Economic Summit, set for Friday, March 5, at the Dallas Marriott Las Colinas. Perryman will address "The Economic Outlook for Texas" while Hamilton will address "Texas Revenue Sources and the Economy." This educational opportunity for both elected and appointed city officials is designed to help them better understand the future economic outlook in the state, to learn about the state budget and how it affects cities, to find out about Texas revenue sources and to study regional plans for economic development. There is a discount for early registration and elected officials can earn Texas Municipal League Institute (TMLI) credits. For more information, click here. To register online, click here.

Region 4 ESC plans Leadership Fusion Summit 2010

The Region 4 Education Service Center will present its Leadership Fusion Summit 2010 on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 17 and 18. Leadership Fusion brings together recognized experts from business and education areas with educational leaders to explore the universal principles of leadership to accelerate learning and success in 21st-century schools. This innovative program has six national speakers: Dr. Todd Whitaker, Dr. Shannon Flumerfelt, Jim Winter and WAVELENGTH, Pegine Echevarria, Garrison Wynn, and Ako Kambon. The times for the two-day workshop (Session #365881) are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. Cost is $400 and includes lunch both days. Participants should visit the e-catalog to register or FAX a registration form found on the Web site to Registration Services at 713-744-2723.

TxPPA planning annual spring workshop for February

The Texas Public Purchasing Association Spring Workshop 2010 is slated for Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 24-26, at the Crowne Plaza in Austin. The three-day event features concurrent sessions on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Basic and Intermediate Contract Management, Wisdom from the Attorney General's Office, AP and Purchasing P-Card Partnership and Public and Private Partnerships. There will also be a legislative roundtable and a discussion of the state economy. For more information, click here. To register online, click here.

Statewide 2010 Conference on Aging set in March

The statewide 2010 Conference on Aging will be held Sunday through Wednesday, March 21-24, at the Inn of the Hills in Kerrville. The conference, whose 2010 theme is "Deep in the Heart of Aging," is designed for professionals who deal with aging with both administrative and direct service responsibilities and who work in a broad range of community-based settings. The conference features technical assistance, best practices and management tools sharing to help promote service delivery excellence. The conference is hosted by the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Texas Association of Aging Programs and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, click here. To register online, click here.

Last two BOP sessions with TxDOT are announced

The last two sessions of the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Business Outreach and Program (BOP) Services Small Business Briefing conferences have been announced for April 1, 2010, in Dallas and June 15, 2010, in Texarkana. The conference goal is to provide small and minority-owned business communities an opportunity to learn more about contracting opportunities with TxDOT. Information will be available to help them do business with the agency and the State of Texas. The sessions not only allow small businesses to be introduced to TxDOT and other state agencies, but also allows them to learn more about the economic development opportunities in their regions. It also allows the agencies to show the myriad of opportunities available for small and minority businesses in the state. For more information, click HERE or call 1.866.480.2518, Option 2.