Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 2 - Friday, January 13, 2012

Two long-time state employees in new posts in Texas government


Green chosen as new CFO at TRS, Townsend to head new Juvenile Justice agency

Don GreenTwo long-time state employees are now in new executive-level positions at a pair of state agencies. The two - Cherie Townsend and Don Green - represent collectively more than 60 years of experience in Texas State Government.


Green (left), former senior advisor to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, has been chosen as the new chief financial officer for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). In his new position, Green will be responsible for budgeting, accounting, purchasing and building services for TRS, which serves active and retired Texas public education and higher education employees.


Cherie TownsendGreen, a veteran of more than three decades in Texas state government, also previously served as director of budget and policy for the House Speaker's Office and as CFO for the Health and Human Services Commission. He has also been CFO for the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and was on staff at the Legislative Budget Board. Green also was a member of the Employees Retirement System of Texas Board of Trustees for almost eight years, having served as both chair and vice chair.


Green holds two master's degrees from The University of Texas at Austin.


Townsend (right), the former head of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), has been named executive director of the new Texas Juvenile Justice Department.


The department is the product of a merger between the TYC and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, which were combined last year.


Townsend, who was hired to run TYC after top executives were fired, previously served as director of the Clark County Juvenile Services in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also worked 18 years at the Youth Commission, where she developed and updated programs for at-risk youth and their families.


TPWD fundraising effort gets $500K donation from Foundation

Carter SmikthThe Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has kicked in $500,000 toward the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) fundraising effort to help the agency as it faces a $4.6 million revenue shortfall. Prior to the $500,000 donation, TPWD officials had raised $460,000 in donations that were made online, mailed or contributed through the new Texas motor vehicle opt-in donation program.


TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith (pictured) thanked the Foundation and other donors who are helping the agency as it deals with decreasing revenues due to heat, drought, wildfires and lower park visitations. "We have a long way to go yet, but with this gift we have raised close to $1 million toward our $4.6 million goal, a remarkable achievement in a short time," said Smith.


In announcing the donation, Foundation Board Chair Kelly Thompson encouraged others donors "large and small" to do what they can to ensure Texas state parks stay open. She said the Foundation will be seeking donations from private individuals, corporate partners and other foundations. "Our mission is to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and there has never been a greater need for private support of our parks," said Thompson.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Stan ReidStan Reid, chief information officer, Texas Association of Counties 


Career highlights and education: There really have been many.  I practiced law - of various flavors - for over 20 years.  I served 32 years in the Naval Reserve. I started out as an enlisted man on active duty and retired as a Captain in the Reserves. I am the Texas Association of Counties' first CIO. I passed the test and became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) several years ago. I have a history degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from St. Mary's in San Antonio. 
What I like best about my job is: The mission and the people - both here at TAC and those we serve. You would be hard-pressed to find nicer, more appreciative folks anywhere.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: Nobody is sure what I do. However, they aren't short on advice, just not about my current job.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Be a team player. Take every opportunity to learn everything you can, whether or not it is in your job description. Serve your customers promptly and with a smile. Take the initiative and keep me posted. Be a team player.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  at the Dog and Duck Pub or in my truck on the way back home to Wimberley.
People would be surprised to know that I:  I don't think anyone I know would be surprised to know anything about me. People I meet are usually surprised if they discover that my father was Ace Reid, cartoonist, who drew 'Cowpokes' cartoons.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Texas Association of Counties: I wish more people knew how dedicated the TAC staff is to our mission and county government.


State sales tax revenues of $495 million distributed by comptroller

Figures released this week by the State Comptroller show that sales tax revenues in Texas have increased for 21 consecutive months. Comptroller Susan Combs said sales tax revenue in December of last year was $1.98 billion, up 9.5 percent over December 2010.


Combs attributes the recent sales tax increase to increases in retail trade and restaurant activity and from tax revenue in the oil and natural gas sector. She will send January sales tax allocations that total $495 million to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts. January tax allocations represent sales that occurred in November. The tax allocation is up 9.1 percent compared to January 2011.


January tax allocations represent sales that occurred in November.


January sales tax allocations to Texas cities will be $328 million, up 8.3 percent over January allocations last year. Counties will receive $33 million, up 15.3 percent from last year, transit systems will be allocated $110.2 million, up 6.9 percent, and special purpose taxing districts will garner $24 million, up 25.1 percent.


To view the allocations by city, click here. To view the allocations by county, click here.


Register now!


SPI sets another highly popular 'Results-oriented Procurements' workshop Feb. 2

SPI Sr. Vice President Tommy Huntress will be among those leading the upcoming procurement workshop.

Government procurement professionals looking for "a great learning opportunity, " as described by previous workshop attendees, should register now for another of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.'s highly popular "Results-oriented Procurements" workshop. Offered by SPI and The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs, the next workshop is planned for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, at the SPI offices in Austin.


At this one-day training opportunity, government procurement professionals will hear from SPI experts with decades of experience in partnering private and public entities. They will address such issues as how to communicate effectively to improve bid response quality, how vendors decide on which projects to bid and methods for attracting quality competition on every procurement.

This course was developed with extensive input from corporate vendors, government procurement experts and sales executives who sell to government. The course is designed for proposal development team members, financial and business operations personnel, contract managers, purchasers and others who are involved in proposal evaluation or procurement.


Don't miss this opportunity as veterans who have been on both sides of the procurement process share their experiences and perspectives. For more information and to register, click here, or contact Reagan Weil at rweil@spartanerships.com or 512-531-3917.



Denton County approves guidelines for expanding Interstate 35E

Andy EadsDenton County commissioners recently approved four guidelines for the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) to consider when planning a 28-mile expansion of Interstate 35E from Carrollton to Denton. Recent legislation authorizing the expansion permits the use of public-private partnerships for the expansion project.


Commissioner Andy Eads (pictured), who represents the county on the RTC, said he plans to ask council members to place the guidelines in their resolution to Texas Transportation Commissioners who will greatly influence how to expand I35E and finance that expansion.


The guidelines directed to the RTC are:

  • Any managed toll lane revenue is directed toward the entire corridor and then will stay in the county of origin once the corridor is complete;
  • Begin construction of bridges and service roads across Lewisville Lake that could eventually be part of the expansion project;
  • Acknowledge that regional toll revenue generated in Denton County cannot be spent without the authorization of the Denton County Commissioners Court; and
  • Request Texas Transportation Commissioners to approve supplemental funding to expand general-purpose freeway lanes in direct proportion to the number of managed toll lane improvements in the initial expansion of I-35E in Denton County.
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Texas State reclassified as Emerging Research University

Denise TrauthTexas State University-San Marcos has joined the ranks of universities such as Texas Tech, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas and three other major universities in Texas in being classified as an Emerging Research University. Before the reclassification by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board this week, Texas State was among six state-supported universities in the Doctoral Universities category, including Sam Houston State, Texas Southern University and Texas Woman's University.


Texas State President Denise Trauth (pictured) called the reclassification "a very important moment" for the university and "the start of a new era." Emerging Research Universities are institutions that offer a wide range of baccalaureate and master's degree programs, serve a student population within and outside the region, are committed to graduate education through doctoral programs in targeted areas of excellence, award at least 20 doctoral degrees per year, offer at least 10 doctoral programs and/or enroll at least 150 doctoral students and have research expenditures of at least $14 million per year.


Trauth said Texas State remains deeply committed to undergraduate student success, even as the university broadens its mission to include doctoral programs and an expanded research agenda.


San Antonio prepares to call nearly $600 million bond election

San Antonio City Council is expected next month to call for a nearly $600 million May bond election, the largest in the city's history, after this week approving a list of projects for the bond issue that were recommended by city staff and citizen committees.


The big ticket item in the proposed bond election is more than $337 million for city streets, with $128.1 million in funds set aside for drainage projects. Parks would get $66 million if the referendum passes and facility and community initiatives would garner more than $63 million.


Among the other proposed projects are $15 million for street and park improvements at HemisFair Park, $2.2 million for Animal Care Center kennels, $4 million for the Witte Museum, $4 million for the Central Library, $11.8 million for two fire station replacements and $10 million for a senior center.


UT-Brownsville, San Benito PD studying police academy

The University of Texas at Brownsville and the San Benito Police Department may team up to launch a police academy, which could open as early as April.


The decision depends on demand, which university officials are currently researching.


If OK'd, the academy could train 20 cadets from Rio Grande Valley police departments, including up to five from San Benito. The San Benito cadets currently take classes at a Harlingen academy.


UT-Brownsville currently partners with the Brownsville Police Department to run an academy that has a 100 percent graduation rate.


Texas State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado resigns position

Paul MaldonadoTexas State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado (pictured) recently resigned - just as the Texas Forensic Science Commission begins an unprecedented review of arson cases.


The review was sparked by concerns of alleged misconduct and professional negligence in the Cameron Todd Willingham arson investigation. Willingham was executed in 2004 for the deaths of three young girls.


A spokesman for the agency said the personnel change will not affect the work of the State Fire Marshal's office.


San Antonio gets first peek at $595 million bond proposal

San Antonio City Council members recently began reviewing a $595 million bond proposal that includes $340 million for streets and bridges and $130 million for drainage projects. A 120-member citizens committee developed the bond proposal after holding 20 community meetings in fall 2011 and presented the proposal to council for consideration.


Committee members proposed spending $65 million for parks and $61 million for facilities and community initiatives. Some of the larger projects recommended are $40 million for reconstruction of downtown streets, $30 million for reconstruction of Hausman Road from Loop 1604 to I-10, $30 million for a new interchange at US281 and Loop 1604, $23 million for bridge replacement and $15 million for redevelopment of Hemisfair Park. Council members are expected to discuss the bond proposal and could vote on whether to schedule a bond election in May at their next scheduled council meeting.


Tatum ISD group urges $29.9 million bond election for new school

A bond committee for Tatum Independent School District recently urged trustees to schedule a $29.9 million bond election in May to raise funds for a proposed $18.3 million elementary school for three grades and upgrades to technology and career education at other schools.


The district will repay a 2008 bond issue next year and enrollment projections point to several campuses reaching capacity soon, Superintendent Dee Hartt said. Using bonds to finance new facilities also allows the district to maximize state funds and avoid property wealthy recapture payments, he added.


Other projects that may be included in the proposed bond issue are upgrades to the cafeteria at a middle school, additions to classrooms, expanding the band hall and agriculture complex, upgrading career technology at the high school and extending a driveway and adding parking spaces at the primary school. Trustees are expected to vote on the bond proposal recommendation in February.


Results-oriented Procurements

Orange County commissioners OK advertising for bids for tie-ins

The Orange County commissioners recently OK'd the advertising for bids for installation of on-site sewage in several locations throughout the county.


The court will also advertise for bids on installation of tie-ins at locations in the Vidor and Mauriceville areas.


Both projects are through the Coastal Impact Assistant Program (CIAP) Grant.


San Antonio school district approves pro-sized soccer field

Soccer BallThe San Antonio school board recently voted 4-2 to build a professional-sized soccer field at Alamo Stadium, which would cost about $3 million.


The decision went against the recommendations of district staff and a citizen's oversight committee, which watches over projects from a $515 million bond issue approved by voters in November 2010.


As part of the bond issue, the stadium and the nearby Convocation Center are to receive $35 million in renovations. Staying within budget could mean the Convocation Center receives less funding for repairs.


Big Spring agrees to allow vote on $11 million water plant upgrade

Big Spring City Council members recently took the first step in asking voters to decide whether to spend $11 million in economic development funds to pay for upgrading water treatment and wastewater facilities. The council passed on first reading an ordinance calling for the election to be scheduled in May despite some objections from citizens who opposed using so much in economic development funds. They said doing so would mean that little funding will remain to attract new businesses to the city.


The mayor proposed spending $7.1 million for repairing and upgrading the existing water treatment facility and $3.7 million to improve the wastewater treatment plant as a 4B project requiring voter approval. Council members are expected to take a second and final vote on the ordinance calling for the election for voters to decide whether to use sales and use taxes set aside for economic development to upgrade the water facilities at their next scheduled meeting.


San Antonio businessman, rancher appointed to CPRIT board 

Mark WatsonSan Antonio businessman Mark Watson (pictured) has been appointed to the governing board of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Watson's term expires Jan. 31, 2017. The institute awards grants in the fields of cancer research and prevention.


Watson, a businessman and rancher, is a University of Notre Dame graduate.


He joins Walker Moody and Alex Meade as new members to the CPRIT Oversight Committee.  Moody and Meade were appointed in November and will serve until 2013 and 2015 respectively.


Premont ISD to stay open after TEA eases demands

After receiving an amended agreement from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Premont Independent School District trustees voted to accept the agreement that extends the deadline for closing or merging at least a year for the district to meet requirements for improvements. The district will remain open at least one more year and possibly longer under the new amended agreement, Superintendent Ernest Singleton said.

The closure or merger were recommended because of academic and facility problems. The agreement also calls for the district to maintain an acceptable attendance rate, open two functional science labs at the high school, evaluate and develop a plan to remove mold damage at the high school and comply with all federal law and requirements, including special education.


TEA officials will review the district's progress in meeting the demands of the agreement in early 2013. If academic performance remains unacceptable based on the 2012 state standardized exams, TEA officials can extend the review until May 2013. TEA also agreed to extend the deadline to Dec. 31 to allow district officials to fully repay a $400,000 line of credit. TEA is still able to shut down the district at any time.


Need Federal Contracting?

Oak Ridge North eyes $2.476 million cost to upgrade water plant

Oak Ridge North City Council members recently approved an engineering report on upgrades to the water plant with an estimated cost of $2.476 million. Plans call for demolishing two tanks with capacities of 420,000 gallons and 210,000 gallons and installing two new tanks, each with a 427,000-gallon capacity. That cost does not include a $164,000 surface water connection with the San Jacinto River Authority.


The engineering report also offered an alternative option featuring two tanks each holding 320,000 gallons.


Council members authorized the engineering firm to prepare the proposal for the surface modifications to present to the river authority. The plans should take about six months to finalize and go out for bid in about nine months, a representative of the engineering firm said.


DISD's Blackburn applied for Louisiana superintendent job 

Lew BlackburnDallas school board president Lew Blackburn recently applied for superintendent of Louisiana's East Baton Rouge Parish, but is not a semifinalist for the position.


Since that time comes word that Blackburn is also among a list of 21 candidates for superintendent of the Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida.


Blackburn, a former principal, has previously applied for the top executive job in the DeSoto district. Blackburn was one of 43 candidates identified by an Illinois-based search agency, which is also leading the search for a Dallas superintendent.


Jim Wells County to use $500,000 grant to upgrade sewer systems

Jim Wells County officials plan to use $500,000 from the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program to upgrade existing wastewater systems for low-income residents in several areas of the county.


County officials will provide workers and a matching contribution of $25,000 to upgrade existing wastewater systems. To qualify for an upgrade, residents of eight neighborhoods must make below 80 percent of the area's median family income, have proof of ownership, be up to date on taxes and have no health or safety violations


Reed will take on new position with College Station ISD 

Buddy ReedHigh school principal Ernest "Buddy" Reed (pictured) has been named director of student activities for the College Station school district, effective Feb. 2. Reed has served as principal of A&M Consolidated High School since 2008 and previously was superintendent of Lafourche Parish Schools in Thibodaux, La.


Reed received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Gwen Elder, the current AMCHS associate principal, will take over as interim high school principal. She will be a candidate for the permanent position.


Willacy County wins $8.4 million grant; Sebastian gets $1 million

The Texas General Land Office recently awarded a total of $8.4 million in grants to Willacy County and another $1 million to Sebastian. As recommended by Land Office officials, the county will use the grant for drainage, street improvement and lighting projects in five colonias, County Judge John F. Gonzales, Jr. said.


The grant funds are from a 2008 Supplemental Recovery Fund established after a series of storms caused extensive damage in Willacy County. The $1 million grant to Sebastian also will be used for street improvements, drainage and streetlights, Gonzales said.



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Financing options for several major Cleveland projects discussed

Cleveland city leaders recently discussed plans and financing for several major projects, including a new city park and upgrades to the water system.


The city has selected an architectural firm to design the city park, which will be built with revenue-generating options such as event rental space. The city hopes these options will offset future maintenance costs.


Other projects include:

  • Drilling a water well and installing a water plant for the city's industrial park;
  • Upgrades and expansion of the water system to add more lines and increase water pressure;
  • Building 10 new hangars at the Cleveland Municipal Airport at a cost of about $400,000.

All projects could be built with money from certificates of obligation.


Friendswood requests renovation and expansion options for library

BooksFriendswood City Council members recently approved $14,000 to pay an architectural firm to prepare plans for renovating and expanding the Friendswood Public Library.


The architect will prepare three options, a plan costing $500,000, a second plan for $1 million and a third option with a $2 million price tag. Once a plan is adopted, council members are expected to ask voters to pass a bond proposal to pay for the expansion and upgrades at the public library.


Kilgore ISD to clear land for new middle school, elementary school

Kilgore Independent School District board members recently approved an $85,000 contract with a Longview-based contractor to oversee the clearing of 103 acres of land for construction of a new middle school and a new elementary school.


The price of the approved contract includes clearing the land on US259 and burning any leftover trees and brush so that construction on the two new schools can begin in about one month, the superintendent said. Voters approved $55 million in bonds in May 2011 to pay for the new schools and other facility upgrades.


Contracting Opportunities

Willacy County to build $2.2 million multi-use emergency shelter

Willacy County officials recently purchased 100 acres of land to build a new $2.2 million, domed emergency shelter that can also serve as an events center when not needed as an emergency facility. County officials also plan to seek a public-private partnership, grants and a special district for funding to build an athletic complex with baseball and softball fields and a large covered open-air arena. It will be on the same site as the emergency center about one-half mile east of Expressway 77 near Raymondville, the county judge said.


County officials are using $2.2 million in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build the dome shelter, but are borrowing funding to pay for the land for the shelter, sports complex and arena, the county judge said. The arena will be available for use by the Willacy County Livestock Show and other community and commercial events, he said. The county also is considering the possibility of creating a sports revenue district to raise funding to help pay for the sports complex and arena facility and to use revenue from events such as Little League tournaments, softball tournaments, concerts and rodeo events that charge admission.


Brownwood council votes to proceed with water plant design           

Bobby RountreeBrownwood city leaders recently OK'd proceeding with the design of a water treatment facility, which could recapture 1.5 million gallons of water a day when complete.


The vote commits the city to up to $230,000 for the facility, which is expected to cost $6 million to $8 million.


The project, which is expected to take a year to complete, could be put on hold if rains replenish the city's water supply. The city currently has about 18 months' worth of water.


Williamson County commissioners approve new park near Hutto        

Williamson County commissioners recently adopted a $10 million plan to develop a 348-acre park, which has no timetable and has not been funded.


State grants might cover some of the costs, but voters will likely have to approve the county's sixth park in a bond election.


Blackland Heritage County Park, which fronts the San Gabriel River north of Hutto, would include cabins for camping, a catch-and-release pond for fishing and trails for hiking.


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Austin eyes $3.4M promenade near Waller Creek for hikers, bikers

Austin city officials are considering moving ahead with part of a 2010 master plan for the Waller Creek district that includes building a $3.4 million promenade or "great street" along a four-block section of Sabine Street now divided into two short segments east of downtown near Interstate 35. City officials are using a $2.7 million federal grant and $700,000 in bonds approved in 2010 to begin the design process for the promenade, said Jim Robertson, the urban design manager for the city.


A project to build a flood control project and river walk along Waller Creek as a way to revitalize the east side of downtown Austin currently is under way. The proposed promenade project could be an anchor for the Waller Creek project and attract more retail and entertainment development in the area somewhat isolated from the rest of downtown, Robertson said. While still preliminary, city officials are studying a plan to use 55 feet of 80 feet of right-of-way on Sabine Street between East Fourth and East Seventh streets to be transformed into broad sidewalks with one side lined with a double row of trees and a single row on the other side of the "great street." The promenade would be oriented to pedestrians and bicyclists, but cars and trucks would be able to use the "great street" as businesses in the area need access to deliveries, Robertson said.


City officials plan to hold a series of community meetings in the next three to six months to firm up plans for the promenade project and then hire a design firm to develop a final design and cost estimate for the project, Robertson said. Construction could begin as early as six months and the promenade project could be completed in 2014 at the same time as the tunnel included in the Waller Creek flood control project, he added.


Denton approves architect to design $5 million animal shelter

Dog_CatDenton City Council members recently approved a $440,532 contract with an Austin-based architectural firm to design and perform construction management for a new $5 million animal shelter. The architectural firm previously designed and managed construction of animal shelters in Carrollton and Flower Mound.


Plans call for the proposed 15,000-square-foot animal care and adoption facility to be completed in about 22 months after construction begins in early spring. A foundation raised $2 million for the shelter facility that will replace a 32-year old, 7,000-square-foot shelter. The city is spending $3 million on the shelter project.


Gilmer agrees to apply for grants to build new water treatment plant

Gilmer City Council members recently authorized the city manager to apply for grants to build a new water treatment plant at Lake Gilmer to ensure future water needs for the city. About seven years ago, the city received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a water treatment plant at the lake, but did not move forward with the project because of unstable city finances and returned the grant funds, said City Manager Jeff Ellington.


After experiencing a year of drought conditions along with establishing improved city finances, Ellington said now is the time to ensure the city has adequate water supply in the future and start the long process of seeking grants for the project. He plans to again seek grant funding from the Farmers Home Administration grant program of the USDA for the water treatment plant.


Gregg Co. looks at using Longview ISD school for community center

Longview Independent School District and Gregg County officials recently began talks about the possibility of the county transforming the former Mozelle Johnson Elementary School into a community center for the northern area of the city.


After voters approved a $267 million bond issue in 2008, school district officials consolidated the Johnson campus with the Doris McQueen Primary School into one new campus and have renovated, sold or demolished several other schools. District officials also met with a representative of a civic club about using the former Johnson campus, but have made no decision on the future of the Johnson campus. The Gregg County judge confirmed the county is in discussions with school district officials about the possible renovation.


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Garland reviewing options for replacing emergency warning system

With all 18 emergency sirens inoperable, Garland City Council members recently debated options for the best way to warn citizens of emergencies.


The options discussed in the workshop session included replacing the 18 emergency sirens and adding 10 more to provide coverage throughout the city at a cost of about $1 million, using sirens to gather people outdoors for about $500,000 or using a reverse 911 system to send automated message alerts to telephones to warn of emergencies.


One council member raised concerns that even spending $500,000 for sirens was too much and that city officials should focus on using newer technology for a warning system. A representative from emergency management said the ultimate goal is to use a combination of warnings to notify residents of emergencies. These include the use of broadcast media, weather radios, a telephone warning system, social media and possibly sirens. Council members also discussed the possibility of buying weather radios for citizens who could not afford to buy the emergency radios themselves.


El Paso ISD proposes $3 million upgrade phone system

Terri JordanEl Paso Independent School District staff recently presented a $3 million proposal to upgrade the district telephone system during the next school year. The upgrade is needed because of consistent failures of the system and inoperable voice mail on some campuses, the chief technology officer for the district said.


Plans call for installing three main voice servers at the central office, Coronado High School and Andress High School that will connect with all campuses and other building networks. Plans also are to update the core of the phone system at each campus, use the network to consolidate voice circuits and implement a five-digit dialing plan throughout the district.


To pay for the upgrades, district officials are seeking about $2.87 million in grants through the E-Rate program administered by the Federal Communications Commission, said Terri Jordan (pictured), interim superintendent. The E-Rate program provides discounts to assist libraries and schools to obtain affordable telecommunications equipment and Internet access. The cost of the upgrade to the district will be less than $500,000 if the FCC approves the grant request as expected during the first quarter of this year. Technology department staff will present other options for a telephone system upgrade if the FCC does not approve the grant funding, Jordan said.


Waelder to seek $400,000 loan to build new fire station

Waelder City Council members recently agreed to pursue a $400,000 federal loan to help pay for a new air conditioned and heated fire station featuring four new bays for fire trucks and heavy duty laundry equipment. The city attorney will apply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for the loan to replace the current station built in 1936. The ceiling is falling in and the building has no air conditioning or heating.


The city has a bid for $216,000 for all building materials and preparing the concrete slab for the proposed 10,720-square-foot fire station, a spokesman for the fire department said. The loan also will cover the cost of buying air tanks for firefighters, a 20-foot concrete driveway and an exhaust system, a spokesman said. The goal is to have the new fire station completed by the end of the year, he added.


Hidalgo County Irrigation District tags Aguilar as general manager

Hidalgo County Irrigation District #6 board members recently selected Joe Aguilar, the interim general manager, as the new general manager after interviewing five applicants for the job. The irrigation district oversees the delivery of water from the Rio Grande River to about 2,000 farmers near Mission, the Agua Special Utility District and Frontera Energy Center.


Aguilar, who served 16 months as interim general manager prior to taking the permanent post, managed a 4,000-acre family farm before accepting the interim position, but had served on the board of the irrigation district for 10 years in the early 1980s and 1990s. He replaces the former general manager, Cornelio Morales. The other finalists interviewed included: Ismael "Kino" Flores, a former state representative; Mike Kirby, a farmer and manager; Tito Nieto, a former manager for another water district; and Gloria Salinas, a former manager of a water supply district.


TxDOT sets Small Business Briefing series in Austin, Houston

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will conduct its Small Business Briefing Series in Austin and Houston. The briefings are designed to provide small businesses with information regarding how to do business with TxDOT and other major state agencies such as the Department of Information Resources, Health and Human Services, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and others. The Small Business Briefing will provide information on how these agencies procure services and purchase products. General industry sessions will include an overview of TxDOT construction projects, professional services (engineering), consulting contracts and state contracting for information technology products and services. Those attending will also have an opportunity to bid on On-the-Spot contracts under $25,000. To participate in the On-the-Spot contracting, participants must register online at http://tti.tamu.edu/conferences/sbb12/. The Austin briefing will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Norris Conference Center http://www.norriscenters.com - 2525 West Anderson Lane, and the Houston briefing will be Thursday, March 1, at the OMNI Houston Hotel Westside- 13210 Katy Freeway. For exhibitor and individual registration, click here. For more information, contact Alta Alexander at 512- 486-5524. 


Leadership Fusion Summit planned for Feb. 15 in Houston

In its fourth year, Leadership Fusion 2012-Lead Empower Transform builds on a strong tradition of presenting some of the nation's foremost leaders and change makers in business and education. The event will be held on Feb. 15, 2012, at the Region 4 Education Service Center, 7145 W. Tidwell Road in Houston. This year's lineup includes visionary leaders who are recognized for shaping and altering their respective industries and professions and achieving success through turbulent times. Featured speakers include Howard Putnam - Former CEO of Southwest Airlines and author of The Winds of Turbulence: A CEO's Reflections on Surviving and Thriving on the Cutting Edge of Corporate Crisis; Desi Williamson - CPAE Speaker's Hall of Fame Inductee (joining such notable figures as General Colin Powell and Zig Ziglar), motivational coach for the Minnesota Vikings and author of Where There's a Will, There's a Way; and Jennifer James, Ph.D. - world renowned cultural anthropologist, educator and the author of Thinking in the Future Tense: Leadership Skills for a New Age. Click here to learn more or e-mail leadership@esc4.net .


P3 workshop planned in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 25

Recent revisions in Texas law provide for additional opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) at all levels of government. The new law addresses a wide range of project types that include public buildings, water and wastewater systems, transportation and energy projects. The National Council for Public-Private Partnerships will host a workshop in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 25, 2012 on "PPPs and Texas SB 1048: New Tools for Meeting Facilities and Infrastructure Needs. Among the topics are fundamentals of PPPs, an outline of the statute, first steps in the process, examples of how they have worked and financing tools. The workshop will be at the Hilton Austin, 500 E. Fourth Street, 78701. Sponsorships are available. More information on the workshop will be announced at a later date. To view the agenda and to register, click here.


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Waste-to-energy technology
being explored by cities


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


Many Texas municipalities are being approached by firms with technologies that produce energy from organic waste. Landfill gas (LFG) recovery technology, which collects methane gas from landfills for use as an energy source, is relatively new. But, public sector interest is at an all-time high as municipalities move to implement sustainability goals. Landfill gas recovery not only provides an energy source, but also prevents landfill by-products such as carbon dioxide and methane from escaping into the air. Another technology, Waste to Energy (WtE), diverts organic waste from landfills that is instead heated or burned. The process can produce electricity through the combustion process or produce a combustible fuel such as methane, ethanol or synthetic fuels.


Municipalities, including the City of San Antonio, have reported receiving unsolicited proposals from WtE companies interested in providing this service. Several cities in Texas have also commissioned studies into the technologies to determine the feasibility of their implementation. A few municipalities have already moved forward with LFG and WtE initiatives, often as public-private partnerships. Here are some Texas examples:

  • In October 2011, the City of Harlingen announced interest in finding a partnership with a private sector vendor to construct and operate a $25 million waste-to-energy plant. Called "Project Green," the initiative will release the city from its current landfill agreement with the City of Edinburg, saving Harlingen fuel costs related to transporting the waste. The project will also reduce the total volume of landfill waste as well as produce a green energy product.



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Italy approves sale of $360,000

in bonds for community center

Members of the Italy City Council and Italy Economic Development Corporation recently approved the sale of $360,000 in sales tax revenue bonds to pay for a community center in a building on West Main Street.


Two of the 12 financial institutions responded with offers, and funding for the community center project should be available on Feb. 2, a financial advisor said.


Henry takes reins as Cypress-Fairbanks ISD superintendent 

Mark HenryMark Henry recently took the reins as superintendent of the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. He replaced former Superintendent David Anthony, who retired from that post.


Henry previously served as superintendent of Galena Park ISD, Sulphur Springs ISD, Collinsville ISD and Milford ISD. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of North Texas.


Kilgore group urges $1.86 million to $2.68 million Streetscape Plan Kilgore Main Street Advisory Board members recently sent a proposed phase two of the Streetscape Plan with a price tag ranging from $1.86 million to $2.86 million for city council to consider.


The $2.86 million in improvements include new sidewalks, concrete work, landscaping, benches, trash cans and cables to be added along Kilgore Street from Main to Danville for about $1.86 million. The same would be added on South Street from Kilgore to Commerce for about $471.000 and on Gregg Street for about $406,339.78, the project manager said. Final bids could be much as 15 percent lower as contractors may price some work less than the estimate, he said.


The goal of the proposed plan is to spur development along the portion of Kilgore Street that has two vacant theaters by making the property more marketable, said City Manager Scott Sellers. The area is within the city's Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone that will provide some recapture to the city, he said. Council members will make the final decision on whether to proceed with a part of the streetscape project, tackle the entire project or postpone it, Sellers said.


Health Information Designs

Greenville seeking bids

for park renovations in city

Greenville City Council members recently agreed to seek bids for renovations and improvements to Graham Park. Bids for the Graham Park project will be accepted until the afternoon of Feb. 8, city officials said. Once staff reviews and evaluates the bids, council members will decide whether to proceed with awarding the contract for the renovation project.


Kolb tells Whitesboro ISD trustees he intends to retire

Steve KolbSuperintendent Steve Kolb (pictured) recently told trustees for the Whitesboro Independent School District that he intends to retire at the end of the current school year after serving 30 years as an educator. Trustees plan to discuss the retirement and discussing the search process soon, district officials said.


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Woerner takes administrative position with Marble Falls ISD

Marble Falls Athletic Director Cord Woerner has been named to fill the position of director of special programs in central administration in the MFISD. Woerner began his career with the district as a football coach and served eight years as athletic director. District officials hope to begin interviews with candidates for athletic director as early as February, Superintendent Rob O'Connor said.


McKinney EDC President Jim

Young announces retirement

Jim YoungMcKinney Economic Development Corporation President Jim Young (pictured) plans to retire, effective Jan. 31.


Young, who has served with MEDC since 2003, previously worked as director of marketing and redevelopment for the Plano Economic Development Board for five years.


Young, who will continue to serve MEDC as a consultant, holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a master's from The University of Texas at Dallas.


New airport fee would help construct transportation facility

San Antonio airport officials have plans to build a $127 million facility where all rental cars will be housed.


Car rental customers will likely pay up to $4.50 in fees to finance the building, which will eliminate the need for shuttle buses and provide more space for drivers.


City Council could vote on the plan by March. If approved, the new facility would be located about 30 feet from Terminal B.


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Six candidates being interviewed for Crowley city manager spot

The Crowley City Council has begun meeting with the six candidates for city manager and will likely narrow the field down to two or three finalists.


The selected candidate, who is expected to be named next month, will replace the retiring Truitt Gillbreath. Crowley officials want to hire someone who will stay in the position for at least five years. The position pays between $80,000 and $100,000.


Willman retiring as community relations director for Lamar CISD

Christy WillmanChristy Willman (pictured), the director of community relations for Lamar Consolidated School District, recently announced she is retiring from that position on Jan. 31. Willman previously was a teacher at Cypress-Fairbanks CISD, Austin ISD and the Lamar CISD prior to being named director of communications for the district in 1996 and executive director of community relations in July 2004. Willman has a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University.


Austin Community College

gives Hays campus update           

The initial design of the Hays County campus of Austin Community College has been completed and is currently under review by building and ACC department officials.


This second phase, which includes plans for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and security systems, is now in development. The construction manager-at-risk is developing the first budget estimate, which will be used to make design adjustments.


Llano Municipal Airport garners $430,000 grant to build hangars

The Llano Municipal Airport recently won a $430,000 grant from the Aviation Facilities Grant program of the Texas Department of Transportation. The grant, which requires a $43,000 contribution from the city, will be used to build four new hangars at the airport, an airport representative said. City officials expect to seek bids for the new hangars and begin construction about 60 days after a winning bid is selected.


Gemini Global Group

Nearly 60 applicants seek Breckenridge city manager post

Breckenridge city officials will soon select finalists for the city manager position, which has been held in the interim by City Secretary Linda Knight. The city has received 59 applications since the position was advertised in October.


The previous city manager, Brad Newton, was released "without cause" and earned an annual salary of $82,000.


Rose Cameron to retire as superintendent at Copperas Cove Rose CameronDr. Rose Cameron (pictured) recently told trustees for the Copperas Cove Independent School District she plans to retire as superintendent at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Cameron has served as superintendent for almost six years and as a deputy superintendent for three years.


Cameron also was a teacher, a principal and an assistant superintendent at Joshua ISD. She has a bachelor's degree from Texas Wesleyan College, a master's degree from Tarleton State University and a Ph.D. from the cooperative program at Tarleton State University and Texas A&M University-Commerce.


Marshall ISD picks Nichols to serve as interim superintendent

The Marshall school board recently named former superintendent Brian Nichols interim superintendent to replace Bruce Gearing.


Gearing, who has served as superintendent since 2009, leaves at the end of the month for a position in Dripping Springs.


Water district issues RFP for developers for 34 acres of land

 The Tarrant Regional Water District recently requested proposals from developers who would want to temporarily lease 34 acres just north of downtown Fort Worth.


The development must make money, be compatible with the Trinity Uptown neighborhood and be temporary, such as module buildings that could easily be moved. Water district officials are also partial to an entertainment project that will create excitement about the area and the $909 million Trinity Uptown project that features a town lake and 12 miles of waterfront property.


Officials hope the permanent development of apartments, offices, shops and restaurants will happen when the area is more built up - an estimated 10 years.


Holmes retiring from post with City of Beaumont after 30 years

Ingrid HolmesCity of Beaumont Public Health Director Ingrid Holmes (pictured) plans to retire after 15 years in the position and more than 30 years with the city.


Under her leadership, the city was recognized with a heart-health award from the Department of State Health Services. She also helped establish the city's first wellness program, an immunization clinic and a HIV/STD prevention program.


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Seguin ISD reviews architects' proposals for school renovations

At a recent workshop meeting, Seguin Independent School District trustees began a review of six proposals from architectural firms seeking a contract to create the design plan for renovations and upgrades to Seguin High School. The design firm that wins the contract also will help district staff research a bond election and help the district educate voters on the need for the bonds. Trustees plan to select the winning design firm at a future board meeting.


Angelina County names Morris  emergency management head

Angelina County commissioners recently appointed Don Morris as the new emergency management coordinator. Morris is a former interim police chief in Diboll. He retired as a Texas Ranger after 34 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Morris replaced Ricky Conner, who was named police chief.


Port Arthur selects Comeaux

as its acting city manager

John ComeauPort Arthur City Council members recently appointed John Comeaux (pictured) as the acting city manager. An eight-year city employee, Comeaux previously was the assistant city manager for operations.


Vasquez is chosen new city

of Donna finance director

Donna city leaders recently named David Vasquez the new finance director. Vasquez, who previously served as senior financial analyst for a Harlingen health system, succeeds longtime finance director Dan Downs who resigned in November.


Vasquez holds a master's degree from The University of Texas-Pan American.


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Two chosen to fill senior slots with City of Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi city leaders recently hired two new department heads - Yasmine Chapman will serve as director of human resources and Constance Sanchez will become director of finance.


Chapman, who has about 20 years experience in human resources, has previously worked in the private sector as well as for the state of Colorado and city of Independence, Missouri. She begins Jan. 30.


Sanchez, who began with the city in 1991, has worked as an auditor, chief accountant, controller, assistant director of finance and deputy director of finance. She will oversee a department of 121 employees and a budget of $12.2 million. 


Fort Worth tags Lamers as new chief of staff for mayor, council

In a recent reorganization of the city's media and public affairs office, Fort Worth city officials appointed Jason Lamers as the chief of staff for the mayor and city council. Lamers began his career with the city in June 2000 when he was a communications and planning coordinator in the health department. In December 2005, he became the media and public affairs manager.


The reorganization calls for Lamers to oversee media requests involving the mayor and council members, while Bill Begley will oversee generalized questions about city government. Mary Gugliuzza will work with media for the water department and Tim Hardeman will work with media requests for the fire department.


Nueces Canyon CISD names Howard interim superintendent

Rick HowardNueces Canyon Consolidated Independent School District officials recently selected Rick Howard (pictured) as the interim superintendent. Howard, who has 34 years experience in education, previously served as superintendent at school districts in Comanche and Ira.


Recent Reports

Diboll chooses Alston as associate municipal judge

Diboll City Council members recently appointed Julie Alston as the associate municipal judge. Alston previously was an assistant district attorney for Angelina County. She has a law degree from Baylor Law School. Alston will handle all municipal court cases until the ailing current municipal judge is able to return to work, the city manager said.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives -11/7/03 - 1/6/12

Van Alstyne selects Figueroa

as new director of public works

Van Alstyne city officials recently selected Andrew Figueroa as the new director of public works. Figueroa previously was employed in Little Elm in Denton County, said City Manager Phil Rodriguez.


Dear will serve as Godley

ISD's new superintendent

Rich DearGodley Independent School Districttrustees have named Rich Dear (pictured) as the new superintendent. Dear, a district employee for almost seven years, replaced Paul Smithson, who retired as superintendent in December. Dear served as a principal, vice principal and deputy superintendent prior to being named superintendent.


Tom Bean ISD to use $975,241 grant for energy efficiency

Tom Bean Independent School District officials plan to use a $975,241 grant from Texas Cool Schools to pay for replacing heating and air conditioning systems to increase energy efficiency throughout the district. The grants are from federal stimulus funding for energy efficiency programs managed by the Comptroller's State Energy Conservation Office.


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Saenz retires after 37 years

as city secretary in Beeville

Tomas Perez Saenz Jr. recently retired as Beeville city secretary, a post he held for 37 years. Saenz began his 42 years of service with the city as a police dispatcher in August 1969. City council members plan to meet this week to discuss the search for a new city secretary.


Humble ISD selects Monbaron as community development director

Jerri MonbaronTrustees for the Humble Independent School District recently selected Jerri Monbaron (pictured) as the director of the Office of Community Development. Previously the assistant director of community development, Monbaron replaced Dr. Karen Perkins, who retired from that post.


Prior to joining the school district in 1999 as a grant coordinator, Monbaron was employed 15 years in management of nonprofit organizations. Her duties include administration of the Humble ISD Education Foundation, grant funding, coordinating community events and training for volunteers and staff.


Mesquite Metro Airport to build new $1.8 million control tower

Mesquite City Council members recently cleared the way for construction of a new $1.8 million control tower by approving an ordinance changing zoning to allow the construction of the 85-foot-tall tower at the Mesquite Metro Airport. City officials expect the new control tower will attract more businesses to the airport because it will improve safety by controlling flights in and out of the facility. The municipal airport currently has no control tower and pilots are able to fly in and out in the pattern of their choice.


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
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