Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 4 - Friday, Jan. 27, 2012

TxDOT reorganization continues:


Wilson adds to his leadership team; Carr divides IT into two divisions, three offices

Russell ZapalacScott HaywoodSuzanne MannOngoing efforts aimed at reorganization and modernization of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are continuing. Having served as executive director of the agency for only three months, TxDOT chief Phil Wilson continues to make staff changes as he puts together his leadership team. And Chief Information Officer Louis Carr, who was named to that post last March, recently unveiled a new organizational chart for the division that divides IT resources into two divisions - Operations and Services - and three offices - Customer Relations, Strategy and Project Management.


The reorganization is the result of a May 2010 audit report of the agency by a major auditing firm. Major challenges were identified by the audit, and TxDOT officials have been actively engaged in planning and implementing activities to change the agency culture from the top down and to change the public's perception of the agency.


Herman HornMargo RichardsCarlos SwonkeIn the last several weeks, Wilson's leadership team is starting to shape up with his appointments. Russell Zapalac (top left) comes to TxDOT from the private sector as a former senior vice president and director of transportation at HDR's 17-state central region. He will serve TxDOT as its new chief planning and project officer. Scott Haywood (top center), former director of corporate communications for Astrotech Corp., was chosen by Wilson as the executive director's chief of staff. Bob Kaufman, former senior manager for corporate affairs at Dell, Inc., has been named chief communications officer.


Additionally, Suzanne Mann (top right), formerly an attorney in the Office of General Counsel, has been selected by Wilson as director of the Office of Compliance and Ethics. She is a 22-year veteran employee with TxDOT. Carlos Swonke (bottom left), former senior project manager for Blanton & Associates, Inc., has returned to TxDOT as the agency's new director of the Environmental Affairs Division. Swonke was a TxDOT employee for 11 years, including five years as manager of the Water Resources Section, before leaving for the private sector in 1998. Wilson tapped Margo Richards (bottom center), former director of tourism at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, as director of the Travel Information Division. Herman Horn (bottom right), former chief diversity officer and director of equity and access for Texas State University-San Marcos, is the newly named director of the Office of Civil Rights.




Austin Women in Technology...


Group celebrates 10 years of personal, professional successes

Megan MaldonadoIt's difficult to argue with success.


And for that reason, the Austin Women in Technology (AWT) organization has been doing what it does best for the last 10 years. This organization is not just about technology, according to President Megan Maldonado (pictured). It's more about ensuring personal and professional success for women interested in technology by providing opportunities that ensure chances to excel through its four cornerstones - connect, learn, grow and lead.


AWT's membership, which includes representatives of both the public and private sectors, "runs the gamut," said Maldonado, as does its board. One board member is a former biomedical engineer, one is a consultant for a major financial advisory group and another comes with a marketing background. Maldonado herself is a contract manager for the Texas Health and Human Services Information Technology division. And while she admits she is not a tech professional, her interest in AWT is the result of wanting to be better able to understand technology contracts in which the agency she works for is involved.


Although the organization's membership hovers at around 150, its distribution for its mailing list exceeds 1,000. "Some of those people are really technical, some are management and some are people who are not technical, but work with people who are," said the AWT president.


AWT is a spinoff from the Women in Technology International (WITI) organization, according to Maldonado. "WITI didn't have the same 'character' that we wanted AWT to have," she said. "It didn't have what was necessary for us to fulfill our mission."




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Ed EmmettEd Emmett, county judge, Harris County 


Career highlights and education:  Ed Emmett is the county judge of Harris County, the third most-populous county in the United States. Emmett's previous public service includes eight years as a member of the Texas House of Representatives and three years as U.S. Interstate Commerce Commissioner in Washington, D.C. In the private sector, Emmett has held several positions in the transportation policy arena and has been widely recognized for his expertise in transportation and logistics. Emmett has a B.A. (economics) from Rice University and an M.A. (public affairs) from The University of Texas at Austin.
What I like best about my job is: Every morning I wake up to face a wide range of issues. Transportation, budget, criminal justice, mental health and indigent health care are just some of the issues for which the county judge must provide guidance. 

The best advice I've received for my current job is: The best advice I was ever given for any public office was to never "permanentize" an enemy. The longtime legislator who used that word explained that the person with whom I disagree on one issue might be a potential ally later.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  All new hires must understand they are part of a team. Things will go wrong, but we should always figure out how to move forward without dwelling on mistakes.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  Prior to taking this office, I played golf two or three times a week. No more of that. In the spring, if I left early, you would likely find me watching Rice baseball or tennis.

People would be surprised to know that I: Most people who know me are aware that I love to play tennis and read. They would be surprised to know that I have a strong interest in Arthurian literature.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: I am constantly having to explain my job. County judge, in an urban county particularly, is an administrative or executive position, not a judicial post.


Adam Jones announces departure from Texas Education Agency

Adam JonesAdam Jones (pictured), Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), is leaving state service to join Weaver and Tidwell, the largest independent accounting firm in the Southwest. Jones will serve as the firm's director of state government services.


Having served as the COO for TEA since 2003, Jones has extensive experience in executive management, budget and procurement, organization development and information technology. He currently serves on the DIR Business Executive Leadership Committee. Jones is also the former director of the Senate Education Committee, was a revenue analyst for the Legislative Budget Board, a House Appropriations Committee education analyst and a legislative aide to a member of the Texas House of Representatives.


Jones holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree from Duke University.


Judy Skeen retiring from TxDOT after 28-year career with agency

Judy SkeenA Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) career that has spanned nearly three decades will come to an end on Jan. 31 with the retirement of Judy B. Skeen, P.E. (pictured), the agency's Technology Services Division director.


Skeen began working with TxDOT in 1983 after earning her bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University. She began her public service as an engineering assistant in the Lubbock Traffic Operations Section and later worked for the Lubbock Resident Engineer's Office. She transferred to the Automation Division in Austin in 1985, holding technical and management positions in the Engineering Systems Section, including as director from 1991 to 1993. Skeen was certified and registered as a professional engineer in Texas in 1988. 


In 1993, Skeen was named director of the Information Systems Division, later called the Technology Services Division, a position she held until her announced retirement.


Schulze, Humphries in new posts with Texas A&M AgriLife

Jennifer HumphriesSteve SchulzeSteve Schulze (left), chief human resources officer and director of special projects for Texas A&M AgriLife, has been appointed assistant vice chancellor of administration. Jennifer Humphries (right), director of human resource services, has been named to succeed Schulze. Both appointments are effective Feb. 1.


Before becoming chief human resources officer, Schulze was assistant agency director of human resources for The Agriculture Program and associate human resources officer at Texas AgriLife Research. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Texas A&M.


Humphries brings two decades of experience in her field to her new position. She is a certified professional in human resources and holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's in human resource management, both from Texas A&M. 


Krause, Shepard to serve on Texas Historical Commission

Sheri KrauseThe governor recently appointed Sheri Krause (pictured) of Austin to serve as the chair of the Texas Historical Commission and Robert "Bob" Shepard to be a member of the commission. The terms for both are effective on Jan. 28, with Krause serving a term to expire at the pleasure of the governor. Shepard's term is set to expire on Feb. 1, 2017.


Krause is a managing partner of JBS Holdings, a former development director for a children's home and a past president of the Seton Development Board. She has a bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University. Shepard is a rancher and a retired airline pilot, a former air traffic controller and captain in the U.S. Air Force. He also served on the board of the North Texas Tollway Authority and holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University.


Grant funding for school bus projects available through NCTCOG

Clean BusThe North Central Texas Council of Governments is taking grant applications for school bus projects that reduce emissions. Projects can include school bus replacement, repower, retrofit and idle reduction projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides.


Public and private schools, school districts and school bus operators in the 16-county NCTCOG service area are eligible to apply.


For more information about the 2012 Call for Projects, or to sign up for the NCT Clean School Bus Program e-mail distribution list, visit www.nctcog.org/CleanSchoolBus or contact Russell Garner at 817-704-2508 or rgarner@nctcog.org. Applications are due March 16.


Results-oriented Procurements

Lone Star College SBDC hires Mogollon as new consultant

Danny MogollonOfficials at the Lone Star College System Small Business Development Center, which helps entrepreneurs make sound decisions and succeed, recently named Danny Mogollon (pictured) as a consultant.


Mogollon, a former business owner, has more than 10 years experience in business development, project management and related fields. He is also bilingual, an asset officials say will help the center serve Hispanic entrepreneurs.


Mogollon received a bachelor's degree from DeVry University and a master's from Keller Graduate School of Management. 


Tarrant County College approves $2.8M to design technology center

Tarrant County College (TCC) trustees recently approved a $2.8 million contract for architecture and engineering design services for a new energy technology center at the South Campus.


TCC officials have not yet determined the cost of the new energy technology center, but a magazine published by TCC described the proposed facility as a sustainable building that would meet the needs of technology training such as air conditioning, heating and refrigeration studies. The proposed energy technology center architecture and engineering firm is tasked to provide an accurate cost estimate for the new technology building.


In August, board members approved a $348.9 million budget for 2012 and discussed funding for projects such as the technology center, a new performing arts center for the Northeast Campus and avionics program at the Alliance Center. 


UTPA picks Laura Saenz as associate vice provost

Laura SaenzOfficials at The University of Texas-Pan American recently named faculty member Laura Saenz (pictured) associate vice provost for Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment.


Saenz will continue her responsibilities as faculty in the College of Education's educational psychology department.


She holds a bachelor's degree and teaching certificates from UT-Pan American and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. She taught in the McAllen and Weslaco school districts before moving into higher education.


State invests TEF funds into the Advisory Board Company

The Advisory Board Company will collect $500,000 in state funds to expand services provided by its Austin-based Crimson division. The expansion is expected to create more than 200 jobs.


The state money comes through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), which was created by the Legislature in 2003.


The Advisory Board Company is a research, technology and consulting firm that specializes in health care and higher education. The Crimson division, which supports more than 500 hospitals and 300,000 physicians, will expand its software development and technical support divisions.


ACC names architecture finalists for Highland Mall project

Officials at Austin Community College have selected three Austin-based architecture firms as finalists for the renovation of the former J.C. Penney store at Highland Mall.


Each firm was to have delivered a presentation to the ACC board on Jan. 23. The board expects to name the chosen firm Feb. 6.


Officials would like to begin construction on the 200,000-square-foot facility by the end of the year and open it to students by 2014.


Redevelopment project at George Bush Intercontinental begins

Annise ParkerThe Houston Airport System and United Continental Holdings - in a public-private partnership - recently broke ground on a $1 billion redevelopment project at George Bush International Airport.


Phase one of the three-part project will create a new 225,000-square-foot Terminal B south concourse, to be used for regional jet operations. The new $160 million terminal will feature modern and expanded gate lounge areas, concessions and restroom facilities.


The entire three-phase project is expected to be complete in the next seven to 10 years.


"As I noted in my inaugural address, creating jobs for Houstonians is my number-one job for the next two years," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker (pictured) regarding the jobs created by the project.


University of North Texas at Dallas hires new IT manager

Officials at the University of North Texas at Dallas recently named Michael White the new information technology manager, effective Feb. 1.


White, who has more than 13 years IT experience, currently works for the Administrative Information Technology department at UNT.


UNT, UNT Dallas and the UNT Health Sciences Center share resources for their information technology needs.



Amarillo updated on $113 million downtown redevelopment project

Gary Pitner, president of the Amarillo Local Government Corporation (LGC), recently updated city commissioners on a $113 million public-private partnership downtown redevelopment project. City commissioners created the LGC to manage construction on the redevelopment project. Plans call for a convention center hotel, baseball stadium and parking garage to be built near the civic center and city hall with revenue provided by private investments, fees and rebated sales and hotel-motel-tax revenues.


Pitner told city officials that a LGC subcommittee member also worked with a legal consultant and city staff to review a proposed contract that will control the city's interest in the $69.3 million hotel and parking garage included in the redevelopment project. The 110-page agreement outlines deadlines for completion of the project, a budget agreed to by all parties and design details of the project.

The company that owns the local baseball team also signed a contract to operate the new baseball stadium. It is studying options to ensure the facility can host other events and city staffers are conducting research on utility infrastructure that might be needed, he explained.


Contracting Opportunities

Texas A&M Health Science Center honors Dr. Nancy Dickey

Nancy DickeyThe Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) recently hosted an academic convocation at which officials honored Nancy Dickey, M.D., (pictured) by establishing a scholarship recognizing her 10-year service as president of the health science center. Dickey also is vice chancellor for health affairs for The Texas A&M University System.


As part of the convocation, which was broadcast by satellite to campuses in Dallas, Temple, Kingsville, Round Rock, McAllen, Houston and Corpus Christi, A&M officials also held a gala later in the evening to raise donations to the Nancy W. Dickey, M.D. Endowed Scholarship.


Midland to issue up to $31.15M in bonds for fire station, upgrades

Midland City Council members recently agreed to issue up to $31.15 million in bonds to pay for a new fire station, road improvements, updates to the water and sewer system and improved emergency communications.


Plans call for the bond funds to pay about $8.5 million for one new fire station and half the cost of replacing another fire station. Another proposed bond issue planned for 2014 will be used to pay the remaining cost of replacing the second fire station and the full cost of replacing a third. City officials also plan to spend $4.8 million to complete the first phase of an upgrade to the emergency communications system required to be in place by 2015. City officials also will use about $2 million to update information technology systems throughout the city.


City officials will use $2.5 million to pay for about $5 million in planned street improvements that include paving, maintenance, traffic signs and upgrades to sidewalks, gutters and curbs. Another $2 million in bond funds will be used for parks and recreation, including $1.2 million for pool renovations, $200,000 for the first two miles of a hike and bike trail and $600,000 to renovate six neighborhood parks.


Arts Center may seek public-private partner, reduced overhead

Mike SimpsonUnable to raise needed donations to meet financial goals, Arts Center of North Texas board members recently agreed to seek other funding methods, not ruling out a public-private partnership and reduce overhead costs before the end of March, said Mike Simpson (pictured), the executive director of the project. Voters in the cities of Plano, Allen and Frisco approved bond proposals to pay the costs of developing the 100-acre project originally named the Arts Center of Collin County at its inception in 2001. The bond proposal, however, narrowly failed in McKinney, which withdrew financial support from the project. Last year, voters in Frisco revoked the city's ability to issue the remaining $16.4 million needed to pay for construction, leaving the project underfunded.


Currently, only Plano and Allen remain as owner cities and the cities of Melissa and Fairview remain as member cities that have provided some financial support to the complex. It called for a performing arts center, sculpture gardens, walking trails, galleries, restaurants and other retail shops. In response to reduced funding, Arts Center board members, along with Plano and Allen City Council members, approved a budget requiring certain benchmarks to be met at the end of six months to move forward as planned.


While arts center supporters met benchmark requirements such as renaming the project and completing a portion of the six-city trail, supporters raised only $3.5 million of the $11 million goal needed to move forward. Plans to sell naming rights to the arts center also failed. Simpson said he and arts center staff are working to reduce the operating budget prior to the March 31 benchmark. He also said he has met with some companies interested in entering a public-private partnership, but has not yet finalized any agreement. Simpson also said he is approaching other cities in the region about providing funding for the arts center project if and when construction on the long-delayed project begins.


Texas high court clears way for new ACC campus; questions remain

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that will allow Austin Community College (ACC) to finance and build a new campus in Kyle. The ruling, however, leaves unclear whether ACC officials complied with state law prior to the annexation election in November 2010 by failing to provide the maximum property tax rate that the board may adopt.


A resident of Kyle sued ACC, citing a failure by the college district to conform to a new state law requiring disclosure of the maximum property tax rate. ACC officials, however, claimed the college met the requirements of the new law because voters must approve any decision to raise the current property tax rate. They said that made it unnecessary to list the $1 per $100 of assessed value as the maximum rate. The ruling was unclear whether ACC and other community colleges provide sufficient transparency about the implications of annexation during the election process.


ACC officials claimed the Hays County legal case delayed construction of the new campus in Hays County, causing the college to proceed without federally subsidized loans that would have reduced principle and interest payments by millions of dollars.


Rusk to seek public-private partners, grants for new business park

Angela RaibornRusk city officials recently agreed to consider seeking a public-private partner, state and federal grants and economic development funds to help pay for a new, 82-acre business park the city plans to develop across the road from the Texas State Railroad on US84.


Council members have contracted with a Longview-based engineering firm to prepare preliminary drawings, cost estimates and a highway sign for the proposed business park, Mayor Angela Raiborn (pictured) said. City officials plan to kick off the project by providing infrastructure such as Internet access, water, electricity and sewer to the business park site, the mayor said.


Once the estimated cost of the proposed business park is available, city officials will begin seeking funding from grants and city economic development funds as well as consider entering into a public-private partnership to develop the business park, Raiborn said. City officials may pursue the project in increments by developing small sections at a time, the mayor said.


Daingerfield-Lone Star ISD approves study for $5.4 million bond

Board members of the Daingerfield-Lone Star Independent School District recently approved a facilities study to help in their efforts to use a $5.4 million loan from the Qualified School Construction Program (QSCB) to renovate and expand district facilities.


The district received a $5.4 million QSCB bond offer two years ago and received extensions on that bond offer, Superintendent Sandra Quarles said. While district officials are barred from using the QSCB bond to pay for a parking lot or athletic facilities, Quarles told trustees the bond can be used for new construction such as a new school, a new science lab, upgrades to plumbing, roofing and other facility repairs. Voters in May rejected a $28.8 million bond proposal to pay for several large facility projects.


The next step is for trustees to appoint a committee to work with district staff to determine the priority of facility needs, Quarles said. Trustees have a March 5 deadline to call for a bond election.



Pflugerville approves $1.68 million for streets, technology and parks

Pflugerville City Council members recently agreed to spend approximately $1.68 million to upgrade technology, streets, sidewalks and parks. With higher revenue collections than expected, the city now has $2.46 million from sales taxes and franchise fees in the General Capital Reserve fund and will use that revenue to pay for the capital projects. This will leave about $1 million in the fund for future projects, city officials said.


Included in the approved upgrades are $285,000 for street repairs, $260,639 in upgrades to park amenities, $247,000 to improve the deck at a city pool, $170,000 for a fiber connection from city hall to the public works facility, $98,000 for a new telephone system at the public works facility, $25,915 for security cameras at the justice center and $98,000 for a new telephone system for the justice center.


Council members also approved $60,000 for a street sign program, $50,000 for a study to assess regulatory codes, $75,000 for a feasibility study on a proposed athletic complex, $55,000 to supplement funding for Mountain Creek Trail, $11,000 to upgrade school zone signals and $45,000 for repairs to the animal shelter.


Need Federal Contracting?

Premont ISD to cancel high school sports to help improve grades

As part of an effort to remain operating after the Texas Education Agency (TEA) ordered the school district to cease operation, Premont Independent School District trustees recently agreed to eliminate high school athletic programs. The move is aimed at strengthening its academic programs and remaining operating rather than having to merge with another school district.


The decision means that the school district will not have baseball, track, tennis or football seasons next year to make time and release funds for additional tutoring and test preparation The district will complete the basketball season that has already begun, Superintendent Ernest Singleton said.


Board members also agreed to send the superintendent, a constable and the high school principal to the homes of students believed to be truant in an effort to improve attendance required by an agreement district officials signed with TEA. TEA placed the South Texas school district on probation nearly a year ago and then ordered the district to close by July 1, but recently signed an agreement to allow the district another chance to meet state criteria.


Bushland ISD may ask voters to approve bonds for facility upgrades

Don WoodBushland Independent School District officials recently began considering asking voters to approve bonds to build a new school, a new community center, improve athletic facilities and upgrade technology.


The district is expecting to grow by nearly 280 students in the coming five years and will need more space for those students, Superintendent Don Woods (pictured) told trustees when urging the board to schedule a bond election in November 2012 or May 2013. More study will need to be done before district officials can estimate the cost of the facility upgrades, Woods said.


The board president suggested the district could use $1 million from its fund balance to pay for some of the most immediate needs such as upgrading technology or a new track, but will need to issue bonds to pay for larger projects. Board members took no action on the superintendent's recommendation and expect further discussions about a bond election at future meetings.


Speed limits to increase on certain interstate highways in Texas

Things are going to speed up in 60 Texas counties - literally.


The Texas Transportation Commission Thursday approved 75 mph speed limits for approximately 1,500 miles of Texas interstate highways. The increase in the speed limit is the result of legislation from the last legislative session allowing the increase in speed after studies showed it could be done safely on some roadways.


The new speed limit, however, will not go into effect until the Texas Department of Transportation installs new speed limit signs in affected areas, which include:

  • I-10-289 miles across El Paso, Gillespie, Kerr, Kendall, Bexar, Guadalupe, Caldwell, Gonzales, Fayette, Colorado, Austin, Jefferson and Orange counties;
  • I-20-423 miles across Crane, Ector, Midland, Martin, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, Eastland, Erath, Palo Pinto, Van Zandt, Smith, Gregg and Harrison counties;
  • I-27-109 miles across Lubbock, Hale, Swisher and Randall counties;
  • I-30-139 miles across Hunt, Hopkins, Franklin, Titus, Morris and Bowie counties;
  • I-35-106 miles across Webb, Medina, Atascosa, Bexar, Hill and Cooke counties;
  • I-37-130 miles across Nueces, San Patricio, Live Oak, Atascosa and Bexar counties;
  • I-40-166 miles across Deaf Smith, Oldham, Potter, Carson, Gray, Donley and Wheeler counties;
  • I-44-11 miles across Wichita County; and
  • I-45-143 miles across Walker, Madison, Leon, Freestone and Navarro counties.

More information on the locations of the new speed limits is available here.


Austin ISD approves $16.1 million for renovations, expansions

Austin Independent School District trustees recently agreed to spend $16.1 million from bonds approved in 2008 to renovate an elementary and a high school to open charter schools and make other facility upgrades and expansions.


Board members will use approximately $5.4 million of the bond funds to renovate, perform site improvements and purchase portable classrooms for four of the six academic and facility recommendations the board approved late last year.


Included in the plans are to expand two high schools for a charter operator offering a program for students having difficulty graduating, to create a pre-kindergarten center at a middle school and to upgrade the interior at several secondary schools for creating alternative education learning support centers.


Kerr County hires architect to assess future detention needs

Rusty HierholzerIn an effort to adopt a capital improvement plan, Kerr County commissioners recently hired an architect to assess future detention needs of the county. Commissioners are considering whether to issue certificates of obligation to pay for several capital improvement projects.


The 192-bed county jail is often overcrowded and needs to be expanded by 96 beds to resolve space concerns for about 20 years, Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer (pictured) said. Commissioners also are considering demolishing the current show barn and replacing it with a $1 million, 50,000-square-foot show barn. Commissioners also are expecting public contributions to pay about one-half of the $1 million needed to build a 22,000-square-foot exhibit hall next year, county officials said.


Other capital projects under consideration are building a bridge on Cade Loop and buying equipment and vehicles for several county departments. Commissioners trimmed costs of some of the proposed capital projects included in the plan from $9.7 million to $8 million, excluding the cost of the jail project. Commissioners are expected to discuss a final capital improvements plan at a workshop meeting prior to their next regular meeting next month, county officials said.


Capital improvement plan in Lakeway includes $12.4M in projects

Lakeway city officials recently discussed a capital improvement plan that comprises $12.4 million in projects to be carried out over the next 15 years.


City Council will adopt and prioritize the plan, then review it on an annual basis.


Projects, which likely won't get started for at least two years, include the following:

  • 22,500-square-foot police building ($6.8 million);
  • Parks and recreation building ($1.6 million);
  • Animal holding shelter ($512,160);
  • New irrigation system and landscaping on Lakeway Boulevard East ($208,929);
  • Addition of concrete walking trail on Lakeway Boulevard West ($543,000);
  • Replacement of damaged culverts on Rolling Green Drive ($374,913);
  • Work on Lohmans Crossing Road to repair deteriorating pavement ($841,992); and
  • Renovation of municipal court building ($363,275).

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Lakeway looking at $12.4 million for capital improvement projects

Lakeway city officials recently began gathering input from residents on a list of $12.4 million of capital improvement projects, including a new $6.78 police building, to be included in a bond election council may schedule as early as November. City officials also are proposing $2.67 million in road projects and $416,050 in park projects in the proposed bond issue.


Preliminary plans call for a new 22,500-square-foot, $6.7 million police building to replace the current facility built in 1982 as a city hall and renovated in 2004 to house the municipal court and the police department.


Other facility projects included in the $9.3 million in proposed facility projects are:

  • A new parks and recreation building to cost $1.6 million;
  • An animal holding shelter estimated to cost $512,160;
  • Renovations to the municipal court building to cost about $363,275; and
  • An expansion of the public works facility for more efficient space use at a cost of about $28,223.

Harris, Eliza Kempner Fund pledges $1M to Jennie Sealy Hospital

David CallenderThe Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, a nonprofit family foundation in Galveston, recently pledged $1 million to help The University of Texas Medical Branch build a new hospital.


The $438 million Jennie Sealy Hospital, expected to be complete in 2015, will feature 310 patient rooms, 20 surgical suites and a 28-room day surgery center. A prominent space on the second floor - The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund Concourse - will be named to honor the Galveston foundation.


"The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund Concourse will serve as a bridge between UTMB's past and its future - a fitting tribute to the fund's longtime relationship and its profound influence on this institution," said UTMB President David L. Callender (pictured).


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State awards closed Ron Jackson Unit 2 to Brown County

Texas Juvenile Justice Department commissioners recently awarded the now-closed Ron Jackson Unit 2, the former Brownwood state school, to Brown County.


County officials want to move the county's juvenile lockup and juvenile probation offices into Unit 2, which is constructed better than the current facility and is not in a flood plain. Officials want to make the move before March.


Unit 2, which can house 120 people in cells and dorm rooms, includes a medical facility, kitchen, offices and several portable classrooms behind the main building.


The extra space could be used to house juveniles from other counties or as a facility for juvenile offenders with mental health issues, county officials said.


Denton County expects estimates for I-35E upgrade next month

Mary HornDenton County officials recently learned that Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials expect to receive a cost estimate in mid-February for a planned expansion of I-35E from Dallas to Denton. The expansion calls for the freeway to be increased to eight regular lanes, four-tolled HOV lanes and from four to six lanes on frontage roads on a 28-mile stretch of I-35E. Those cost estimates will provide county officials with a clearer picture of how to proceed with its share of the project, said Denton County Judge Mary Horn (pictured).


Once that estimate is available, TxDOT officials will meet with the 1420 Committee, authorized by recent legislation that also permits the use of public-private partnerships in the project, in mid-February, a consultant reported to commissioner's court. After learning the scope and estimated cost of the freeway expansion, committee members plan to decide by April who will build the additional lanes on I-35E. It currently has only six regular lanes and four lanes on the frontage road, the consultant said. Committee members will review the companies responding to the TxDOT request for qualifications and recommend a short list of companies to TxDOT officials, who will then select the winning proposal.


Denton County officials have created partnerships with several cities such as Carrollton, which pledged $5.4 million, Lewisville, which agreed to contribute $2 million, and Denton pledging $250,000 to the freeway project, Horn said.


AACOG hosts meeting on proposed funding for solid waste grant

The Alamo Area Council of Governments will discuss the regional solid waste plan at a public meeting on Feb. 1.


The officials will discuss proposed funding and the grants program, as well as project priorities, the project selection process and any private industry considerations.


Cities, counties, school districts, river authorities and other local governments with solid waste responsibilities are eligible for grants. To view the agenda for the meeting, click here.


21 firms offer ideas for planned Travis County civil courthouse

Travis County officials recently met with an advisory firm to discuss the planned civil courthouse, which will be built in downtown Austin as a public-private partnership.


The international advisory firm will evaluate the 21 responses from developers and then present recommendations to the Commissioners Court March 20. The county is paying the advisory firm up to $425,000.


The new courthouse, which developers say could take two to five years to complete, will be built at 308 Guadalupe, a parking lot bound by Third, Fourth, Guadalupe and San Antonio streets.


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Fate delays vote to begin building new city hall

Fate City Council members recently agreed to delay asking for requests for qualifications from companies seeking to design and build a new city hall. Postponing the request for qualifications is needed because funding for the project is not finalized, as an agreement with a development company is not signed, the mayor said.


City officials also agreed to hire a consultant to conduct a search for a new city manager to replace City Manager Vickie Mikel who is unable to work because of an illness. While the mayor urged council to move forward with issuing the request for qualifications, council members voted to postpone that action until the financial agreement is signed and a new city manager is on board to oversee the project.


Woodward named Sam Houston Memorial Museum director
Mac WoodwardHuntsville Mayor Walter "Mac" Woodward (pictured) was recently named director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, effective Jan. 1. He succeeds Patrick Nolan, who retired from the position.
Woodward previously served as the museum's curator of collections and, before that, as a historical interpreter. He has also worked with the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Institute of Texan Cultures.
Woodward earned a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University and a master's degree from the University of Houston.

Marion ISD approves design for new science, technology building

Board members for Marion Independent School District recently approved one of three proposed designs for a new two-story, science and technology building. The proposed two-story design will provide 1,000 square feet of additional space and cost about $87,000 more than the one-story building option, but will allow future expansion without the district buying additional land, the president of the board said.


South San Antonio ISD to run advertisements on school buses

South San Antonio Independent School District board members recently joined two other Bexar County school districts by agreeing to allow the selling of ad space on its fleet of 30 school buses. District officials hope to gain from $13,000 to $27,000 a year in additional revenue with the bus advertisements.


District officials, who are expecting a $5 million reduction in revenues next year, agreed the bus ad revenue is only a very small amount compared to the projected revenue loss, but are pleased with the $9,000 to $16,000 in bus advertising revenue the district already has generated.


Judson ISD and Comal ISD officials previously agreed to sell advertisements on district buses after legislators eliminated $5.4 million in state funding for public schools. Judson ISD began selling advertisements on some of the district's 141 buses in May and has collected $16,000 in revenue. The district could generate, as much as $84,000 a month if it is able to sell the maximum number of ads, a spokeswoman for Judson ISD said. Comal ISD has earned $8,847 from ads on 20 buses operated by the school district and hopes to sell ad space on all 245 district buses to raise about $300,000 a year, district officials said.


Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement set in July

The 2012 Summer Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement will be held July 17-21 at the Grand Hyatt Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. The event is being offered by The Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE), Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN) and The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. Pre-Conferences are planned for July 18 and the Call for Abstracts is currently open, with a submission deadline of March 12. For more information, click here or contact Kandice Hall at HallKM@uthscsa.edu. 


AACOG to host February Notary law, procedures quarterly seminar

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) will host its Quarterly Texas Notary Law and Procedures Seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The event will be from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Classroom 1-01 at the AACOG offices, 8700 Tesoro Drive in San Antonio. The three-hour event is for current notaries and new, non-notary participants seeking their Texas Notary Commission. The course will include the application and renewal process to become a Texas Notary, legal certification procedure for documentation, state record keeping requirements,liability protection for the employee and the employer, new legislation from the 82nd legislative session, prohibited Acts and a question and answer session. A registration form is available here. For more information, contact Dixie Lucey at dixielucey@prodigy.net.


2012 North American Workforce Symposium scheduled in April

The 2012 North American Workforce Symposium, hosted by North America's Corridor Coalition, is slated for Thursday, April 26, at the Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. The event will bring together business leaders, educational partners and community organizations to help ensure trained and certified personnel for the manufacturing, supply chain and logistics industries. The symposium will also emphasize the necessity of partnerships between regional business, economic and education organizations. Among the keynote speakers is Jennifer McNelly, senior vice president of The Manufacturing Institute. The symposium is being presented in cooperation with Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council. Sponsorships are available. For more information and to view the tentative agenda, click here. To register, click here. 


Huntsville to host 16th Annual HUB/Vendor show

The 16th Annual HUB/Vendor show in Huntsville is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, at the Veterans Complex - Walker County Storm Shelter at 455 State Highway 75 North in Huntsville. Sponsored by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University's Small Business Development Center, the City of Huntsville and Walker County, this year's event seeks to expand the vendor base of the sponsoring entities and increase HUB (Historically Underutilized Businesses) participation in the government contracting arena. Purchasers and end-users from the sponsoring entities will be attending, as well as representatives of invited state agencies. Registration and setup will begin at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the event. Vendor training sessions will follow from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. To register, contact Lani Maness at 936-437-7061.


DIR to host 12th Annual Information Security Forum

The 12th Annual Information Security Forum, hosted for government personnel only by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), is slated for Tuesday, May 15. The free, one-day event is co-sponsored by the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC). Conference focus this year is "Security Program Maturity," with possible topics to include security assessment process, threat landscape/risks, legal and privacy landscape, why it's important to improve security program maturity, implementing enterprise solutions and governance. Interested vendors are invited to exhibit and/or provide speakers. Sessions should be purely educational and not promote products or services. The event is targeted to Information Resource Managers and other IT and security decision-makers. For more information, contact Joy Hall Bryant at joy.bryant@dir.texas.gov or Sue Atkinson at sue.atkinson@dir.texas.gov or click here.


E-Learning Symposium 2012 planned for June 13 in Austin

Professionals who manage and design E-Learning programs in health care, government, higher education, energy and corporate settings will not want to miss this year's E-Learning Symposium 2012 Austin. The symposium is an interactive conference designed to help professionals and key decision-makers learn how to execute E-Learning programs within their organizations. The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at the Omni Southpark Hotel, 4410 Governors Row in Austin. The event features leading industry experts who share their knowledge on of-the-moment topics, processes and technology within E-Learning. For more information, click here


TxDOT sets Small Business Briefing in Houston

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will conduct its Small Business Briefing in Houston on Thursday, March 1. The briefing is 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 Houston briefing will be 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.


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Public-private partnerships becoming attractive options for government projects


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


Not many years ago, public-private partnerships (P3s) were little-known, often misunderstood and rarely used by public officials. That changed dramatically with the national recession. Budget deficits at every jurisdiction of government brought about numerous changes and P3s became attractive options for critical projects when there was limited funding. Alliances between the public and private sectors are now expected to become the new norm.


Just last week at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Dallas and Workforce Solutions officials told attendees that a P3 resulted in a city-owned parking lot becoming a multi-million-dollar hotel. That hotel is expected to infuse $2.5 billion into the local economy over 30 years. P3s have become such a mainstay in government officials' revenue toolkits that the Conference of Mayors has established awards to encourage businesses and cities to work together to benefit the nation's communities.


At the conclusion of the conference, three mayors were honored - Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Scott Smith of Mesa, Arizona. They were singled out on the national news for their forward thinking approaches to P3s related to transportation infrastructure. The mayors were named by ABC News as the network's "Persons of the Week." Diane Sawyer reminded the audience that the infrastructure in America dropped from "the envy of the world" to 20th in the world behind Cypress and Malaysia. She praised the mayors for their support of innovative P3s.




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Wichita Falls plans to build

new $5.4 million travel center

Wichita Falls City Council members recently began making plans to begin construction of a new, 6,700-square-foot, $5.4 million travel center to serve the Wichita Falls Transit System, regional transportation providers and intercity bus lines. City officials purchased a former site of a motel on Scott Avenue for the new travel center.


The city secured nearly $3 million to pay for the travel center and city officials hope to win a $2.1 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to help with costs. Construction could begin this fall, said John Burrus, director of aviation, traffic and transportation. If the grant is not awarded to the city, plans call for city officials to remove some elements to reduce costs and proceed with the project in phases, Burrus said.


State parks donations

top $1 million mark

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's statewide appeal for donations to help the Texas State Parks system deal with budget cuts, declining park visits and damages caused by last year's drought Parksand wildfires has topped the $1 million mark. However, officials are hoping donations will continue as they try to raise up to $4.6 million to meet the shortfall. The first $1 million was bolstered by a $500,000 donation from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and a $250,000 gift from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. The remaining funds came from individual donations by mail, via the Internet and at state parks offices.


Donations may be made online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/helpparks or through donations when motor vehicle and boat registrations are renewed. TPWD officials also encourage continued use of state parks because visitor fees pay for about half of park system operating costs.



Hidalgo County to solicit bids to privatize rural trash collection 

Hidalgo county leaders want to privatize rural trash collection, a move expected to save $6 million each year.


County administrators will begin soliciting bids in the spring and hope to have a contract in place by April. The county will prepare two separate proposals - one for servicing the entire county and the other for specific regions. Smaller companies may have a better chance to compete for the regional contracts, said Sergio Cruz, Hidalgo County's budget director.


"We want to get some cost comparisons so the county can make the best choice," he said.


Carrol Thomas to retire as superintendent of Beaumont ISD

Carrol ThomasDr. Carrol Thomas (pictured) recently announced he plans to retire as superintendent of Beaumont Independent School District in January 2013. Thomas has led the district for 16 years.


Thomas came to Beaumont from North Forest Independent School District in Houston. Thomas earned his bachelor's degree from Texas A&I, his superintendent's certificate from Texas Tech University and his doctorate from Texas Southern University.


Crowley narrows list of city manager candidates to two

Crowley City Council members recently narrowed a list of six city manager applicants to two final candidates following interviews with each of the candidates.


Once selected, the new city manager will replace Truitt Gilbreath, who will retire on May 1 after serving as city manager since December 2003. Council members plan to conduct interviews with the final two candidates for city manager in February, the mayor said.



Leander Independent School District to issue RFP for roof work

Leander school district officials are now requesting bids for low-sloped roof work at various campuses.


Officials will hold a pre-proposal meeting at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 at the district's Support Services Building.


Proposals from qualified bidders should be submitted by 2 p.m. Feb. 7.


Lewis to retire as director of counseling at Denton ISD

Melanie LewisMelanie Lewis (pictured), director of counseling for the Denton Independent School District, recently said she plans to retire in June. When she assumed the post seven years ago, Lewis was the first to serve as director of counseling services, a post requested by counselors who said they needed an advocate for the department.


Lewis previously worked as a counselor in Redmond, Washington, and at the school district in Guthrie, Oklahoma, during her 32-year career as an educator.


Dillingham resigns as

city administrator in Troup

Jed Dillingham recently resigned as city administrator for Troup, effective on March 6. City officials expect to seek applicants and accept resumes immediately in an effort to find a new city administrator, the mayor said. Dillingham, who became city administrator in November 2009, has been on leave since mid-December.


Four bridges targeted for replacement in Ellis County

Ellis County will receive an estimated $1.24 million in federal funds to replace four area bridges.


The money, administered by the Texas Department of Transportation, comes through the Federal Bridge Program. The county has agreed to an in-kind match of $67,000.


Bridges to be replaced are located on Richland Bend Road, Whiskers Road, Cowan Road and Holder Road.


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Dublin ISD taps Schneider

as new superintendent

Trustees for the Dublin Independent School District recently tapped Interim Superintendent Rodney Schneider to serve as the new superintendent. Schneider will replace Shaun Barnett, who accepted the superintendent job in the Stamford ISD.


Schneider, who has been with the district for two and-one-half years, previously was the assistant superintendent. He does not plan to fill the now-vacant position as assistant superintendent as he oversaw district finances in that post and plans to continue with those duties.


A 25-year veteran in education, Schneider also served as superintendent at O'Donnell ISD and Plemmons-Stinnett-Phillips Consolidated School District. He has a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.


Mauldin tapped as assistant superintendent for Marble Falls

Marble Falls Independent School District officials recently selected Janice Mauldin as the new assistant superintendent of academic programs.


Mauldin will replace Amy Jacobs, who is leaving her post in mid-spring to be the superintendent at Coahoma ISD. Mauldin serves as the "grant shepherd" to assist the high school achieve the goals required by the Texas Title I Priority School grant received by the district.


Alvarez starts next month as president of RGV Partnership

Julian AlvarezOfficials at the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, a regional chamber of commerce, recently named Julian Alvarez (pictured) president and chief executive officer, effective Feb. 1.


He currently serves as the South Texas district office director for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.


Alvarez, who holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, previously worked 12 years in the Student Services Division at Texas State Technical College.


Henderson ISD revisits bond proposal to replace campus

After learning that a foundation at a middle school cracked, trustees for Henderson Independent School District recently revisited the possibility of asking voters to approve funds to address infrastructure and security needs at the middle school campus built in 1953.


Trustees at the workshop meeting agreed to ask for more information on a possible bond issue from a bond committee created to help pass a failed $39.2 million bond proposal in November 2011. That defeated bond proposal included $27 million for the middle school. Board members also are concerned about security at the middle school campus that includes 10 buildings and 44 entrances.


Dominguez offered city

manager post in Colorado

San Angelo City Manager Harold Dominguez recently was named a finalist for the post of city manager in Longmont, Colorado. Colorado law requires that council make hiring decisions in open meetings and Longmont city officials are currently negotiating with Dominguez on his contract. Longmont council members are expected to take an official vote on hiring Dominguez within 30 days of the selection.


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County, city, schools plan meeting to discuss joint efforts

Officials of Del Rio, Val Verde County and the San Felipe Del Rio school district will soon discuss working together on issues such as protecting water resources and beautifying area parks.


Each entity will bring one or two issues to the table, where everyone can discuss how working together will improve the project.


Officials hope the partnering improves all entities.


Collier to retire as superintendent of Pottsboro school district

Kyle CollierSuperintendent Kyle Collier (pictured) recently announced plans to retire after 10 years with the Pottsboro Independent School District. His retirement is effective at the end of this school year.


Trustees have begun interviewing internal candidates to replace Collier as superintendent, but have not determined whether to also seek candidates from outside the school district for superintendent, district officials said.


Conroe reviewing eight  to design city transit system

After entering into a $2.1 million agreement with the Brazos District, Conroe city officials recently received eight applications from companies to design a transit system for the city.


City officials plan to interview representatives from the eight companies and select three finalists by Feb. 2. Conroe received a $2.1 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration as a sub-recipient to Brazos Transit to help pay for upgrades to benefit bus passengers and pedestrians, the project manager said.


Current plans call for Brazos District officials to oversee the selection of the contractor to build bus stops and pedestrian improvements on a 5-mile stretch along Frazier Road to the Conroe Regional Medical Center, the manager said. Construction on the project is slated to begin by May, he said.


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Cleveland selects Miller

as new city manager

Cleveland City Council members recently selected Dion Miller as the new city manager. Miller, who has experience in economic development, downtown improvements and financial management, plans to begin his new duties on Feb. 21. He will replace Interim City Manager Kelly McDonald, who will remain in her post as city secretary.


Ledbetter chosen as lone finalist for Graham superintendent

Lane LedbetterThe Graham school board recently named Lane Ledbetter (pictured) the lone finalist for superintendent.

Ledbetter currently serves as assistant superintendent of curriculum in the Birdville school district in Tarrant County.


He has also held positions as a teacher, coach and high school principal.


Port Arthur selects four

finalists for city manager 

Port Arthur City Council members recently began considering four applicants for city manager recommended as finalists for the position by a consultant.


The four finalists, who council members declined to identify, are from diverse backgrounds. At least one applicant has experience in a city with 1 million residents and other finalists work with cities similar in size to Port Arthur, a council member said. City officials have set a goal of finding a new city manager by the end of February.


Kaye selected for Midland planning, development director

Midland officials recently named Brad Kaye the city's new director of planning and community development, effective Feb. 20.


Kaye has more than 22 years of planning and community development experience. Most recently, he served as director of planning at the Charter Township of Garfield in Michigan, and previously worked in the private sector as a community planning consultant.


Kaye holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners.


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Woodlands Township considers $50K for sports fields study

The Woodlands Township officials recently discussed spending $50,000 to study the feasibility of sports fields in the community.


Township staff has identified four potential sites that range in price from $3.8 million to $24.2 million and in size from 19 to 150 acres. Results from the study would be brought back in May.


Additionally, staff wants to solicit quotes for field lighting and artificial turf for established parks.


Perez resigns as treasurer

in Matagorda County

Amy PerezMatagorda County Treasurer Amy Perez (pictured) recently resigned from that post effective Jan. 27 to accept a position with Harris County. In response to the resignation, county officials selected Suzanne Kucera, a former treasurer for the county, to serve as interim treasure until the next election when voters choose a new treasurer. Kucera agreed to begin her new duties on Jan. 30.


Aransas County hires project manager for venue tax projects

Aransas County commissioners recently selected Richard Thompson as the project manager to supervise constructions of the Aransas Pathways projects and all venue tax projects being undertaken by the county.


County officials originally selected Thompson in October to supervise only the Pathways project, but commissioners modified the job description in late October to place the manager in charge of all venue tax projects.


Thompson previously was a horticulturist for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and a superintendent for Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation department. He has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M-Kingsville.


Recent Reports

Galveston's county parks

chief heading to Texas City

Galveston County Director of Parks and Senior Services Dennis Harris will step down Feb. 29 for a position in Texas City.


Harris, who has headed the Galveston department for 16 years, will become co-director of Texas City's recreation and tourism department. He begins March 5.


Harris will focus on the administrative management, while co-director Jay Williams oversees the department's programs.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 1/20/12

Harris County commissioners looking at toll road to Tomball

Peter KeyHarris County commissioners recently OK'd a study to determine if building a tolled segment of State Highway 249, known as the Tomball Parkway, would decrease traffic.


The 10 miles of toll road would run from Spring-Cypress Road north to Farm-to-Market 1774, said Harris County Toll Road Authority Executive Director Peter Key (pictured).


More than 64,000 vehicles travel between Beltway 8 and FM 1774 each day, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Terri Bauer of Richardson,Council on Sex Offender Treatment;
  • Margarita de la Garza-Grahm of Tyler, chair, Correctional Managed Health Care Committee;
  • Joe Edd Boaz of Anson, district attorney of the 259th Judicial District Court in Jones and Shackelford counties
  • William McCrae of San Antonio, State Committee of Examiners in the Fitting and Dispensing of Hearing Instruments;
  • Jesus "Jesse" Rangel Jr. of Longview, State Committee of Examiners in the Fitting and Dispensing of Hearing Instruments;
  • Barbara Willy of Sugar Land, State Committee of Examiners in the Fitting and Dispensing of Hearing Instruments;
  • Carlos Gallardo of Frisco, Texas Medical Board;
  • William "Roy" Smythe of Belton,Texas Medical Board;
  • Paulette Southard of Alice, Texas Medical Board;
  • John B. Walker of Houston, Texas Tech University System Board of Regents.

Bryan ISD selects Willett

as director for testing

Bryan school district officials recently named Donna Willett director of student assessments and planning, a new position aimed at overseeing changes to state-mandated testing.


This school year, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test is being replaced with the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.


Willett's former position as the high school dean of instruction will not be filled.


Longview ISD seeks Wilcox

as interim superintendent

James WilcoxTrustees for Longview Independent School District recently agreed to authorize the board president to ask former Superintendent James E. Wilcox (pictured) to serve as interim superintendent.


Wilcox, who joined the district in 2007 after serving as superintendent at Waxahachie ISD, retired on Dec. 31 of last year. On Jan. 1, board members asked Deputy Superintendent Andrea Mayo to assume the duties of interim superintendent.


Board members are expected to vote on hiring Wilcox as an interim superintendent at the next scheduled board meeting Feb. 6.


Tyler moves forward on new downtown parking garage

Tyler City Council members recently agreed to hire a company to design a new, multi-level parking garage to serve the downtown area.


Preliminary plans call for the parking garage to have from 300 to 400 parking spaces. A recent study indicated the 12-block downtown area might not provide sufficient parking for those who visit, attend events or do business as efforts to redevelop the downtown area continue.


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Bandera ISD kicks off search

for new superintendent

Bandera Independent School District officials recently began reviewing the qualifications of 20 candidates who submitted applications to serve as superintendent.


The new superintendent will replace former Superintendent Kevin Dyes, who left that post this summer. Assistant Superintendent Regina Howell began serving as interim superintendent on July 1.


Trustees have not adopted a timeline for selecting a new superintendent, but the board president noted most school districts prefer new superintendents to begin their duties between June 1 and mid-August.


Hensley retiring as city

secretary in Shenandoah

Susan HensleyShenandoah City Secretary Susan Hensley (pictured) recently announced plans to retire from that post following 16 years of service. Hensley previously worked for the Town Center Improvement District that helped create The Woodlands Township and as a city secretary in Oak Ridge North. Shenandoah city officials have not announced when a search for a new city secretary will begin.


Lindsay ISD eyes new facility plan with additions, renovations

Consultants recently urged trustees of the Lindsay Independent School District to approve a master facilities plan that includes expansion of the high school, building a 12,600-square-foot agriculture facility, a new administration building, a new cafetorium and a new covered walkway connecting the lower elementary school with the upper elementary school.


The preliminary design calls for adding 12,000 square feet of additional space to the high school for three new science labs, six classrooms and workspace for teachers. The courtyard will be transformed into a library and media center. Board members, who took no action on the recommendation, also heard a presentation by a financial adviser on calling a bond election. Trustees are looking at scheduling a bond election in May or November of this year.


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.
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