Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 40 - Friday, Oct. 12, 2012

Local governments encouraging foreign investors for projects


EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program providing jobs, new sources of revenue

Alex MeadeAs the country slowly recovers from the Great Recession, some local governments in Texas are looking to foreign investors as a new revenue source for major capital projects they otherwise could not afford. In turn, those projects are creating local jobs, resulting in a much-needed economic stimulus for their areas.


The foreign investments are part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Although more than 20 years old, the previously little used program is starting to gain momentum statewide. Congress extended the program for three more years in September.


The up-side of the program for local government is that no taxpayer funds are obligated for these development projects. And in exchange for a $1 million investment in the United States that creates at least 10 jobs (or an investment of $500,000 in an economically disadvantaged area), the investor will be granted a visa. If the number of jobs required from the investment is achieved, the investor can subsequently be issued green cards for permanent residency in the United States - for the investor, a spouse and any of their unmarried children under age 21.


Alex Meade (pictured), CEO of the Mission Economic Development Corp., said when the financial crisis began impacting the country and especially parts of Texas, and when banks backed off on making loans, government entities began looking for outside capital. They began, he said, to look closer at existing financial tools - and the EB-5 program was one of them.


Meade said about 75 percent of the projects the Mission Economic Development Corp. has sought funding for have looked to either fthe EB-5 program or Mexican nationals for investors. "The banks are a little tight right now," he said, "and are being conservative with their loans."




Ghahremani takes over as state's Medicaid/CHIP director


Most of veteran's 17-year career at HHSC spent in policy area on these issues

Kay GhahremaniKay Ghahremani (pictured), deputy director of the state's Medicaid and CHIP services for the last five years, has been named director of the division. New HHSC Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek said Ghahremani knows Medicaid policy "inside and out."


Janek said Ghahremani has already been working on initiatives aimed at helping the Medicaid program "increase the quality of services and be even more accountable with tax dollars."


Holder of a master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs, Ghahremani has worked in the Medicaid and CHIP policy area for most of her 17 years at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She has led numerous initiatives for Medicaid and CHIP, including implementation of the Nurse-Family Partnership Program in Texas, management of the Medicaid Buy-In programs for adults and children with disabilities and development of a model for health care services for children in foster care. She also has been involved in health and human services issues at the federal and local levels.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Sylvester TurnerState Rep. Sylvester Turner, Houston, District 139 


Career highlights and education: Sylvester Turner was raised in Acres Homes and attended the University of Houston and Harvard Law School before founding The Law Office of Barnes and Turner in 1983. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1988 and ran for Mayor of Houston in 1991 and 2003. Turner has received numerous awards and honors over the years, most recently by a number of organizations and associations for his staunch advocacy to prevent the massive state budget cuts which drastically cut services essential to schools, the disabled, the elderly as well as to children and the low-income. In this most recent session of the 82nd Legislature, Turner received "Honorable Mention" from Texas Monthly magazine and was also awarded with the "2011 Legislative Leadership Award" from AARP for his dedication to protecting seniors. He was also recognized by a number of organizations and associations for his staunch advocacy to prevent the massive state budget cuts which drastically cut services essential to schools, the disabled, the elderly as well as to children and the low-income. Turner served as Speaker Pro Tempore from 2003 until 2009 and also served as Chairman of the Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. He serves on the Legislative Budget Board and for the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature, serves as vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee and is a member of the State Affairs Committee. Turner is also chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. He has been successful with initiatives and community-wide events and town hall meetings. 
What I like best about my job is:  Speaking out on behalf of those who I know may not be in a position to advocate for themselves, advocating for laws or policies that can advance or improve the lives of my constituents in a significant way spending time with my constituents by getting to know them and understand what they are going through.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Stay focused on the purpose of serving my constituents and not to be distracted with anything that might take me away from that.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Your purpose is to do everything you can possibly do to help the constituents of District 139.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: spending time with my daughter, mother and family, spending time at a community event or church or watching youth baseball games at the Major League Baseball Youth Academy in Acres Homes.

People would be surprised to know that: my greatest passion is to serve, inspire and assist others who are struggling. 

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: People are impacted by the laws and policies enacted by the Texas Legislature and there are a variety of ways they can speak out and request changes in these laws. Right now, our public schools and higher education systems are struggling and our prisons and jails continue to fill up. I have no doubt that if more teachers, parents and college students became involved in the legislative process, positive changes would result.


(EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Turner is one of the participants in the 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference on Oct. 16. For more information, click here.) 


Hurry! Only a few seats left!


Call now about 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference

Evan SmithAre you new to following the Texas State Legislature? Or a veteran political junkie? Or perhaps a recently appointed member of a state board or commission? Or a new state agency employee?


Whichever category you fit into, you'll want to mark your calendar next Tuesday for the 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference. But if you plan to attend, better call now! There are only a few seats left for this perennial sell-out event!


Who better to address the upcoming state budget than State Rep. Jim Pitts, House Appropriations Committee chair and one of the conference keynote speakers? Three other budget experts comprising a panel to discuss "2013-2014 Budget: Half Empty or Half Full," include Legislative Budget Board Acting Director Ursula Parks, Lt. Governor's Office Director of Budget John Opperman and House Speaker's Office Budget Director Andrew Blifford.


Sherri GreenbergLooking for some insight into the Texas Legislature? The conference features a pair of legislative pros who between them have more than three decades of legislative experience - seven-term House member Rep. Geanie Morrison and former member of the House and Senate and now legislative director for the Governor's Office, Ken Armbrister.


Even our panel moderators are high-octane legislative veterans, including Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith (left) and former State Rep. Sherri Greenberg (right), who now is director of the Center for Politics and Governance at The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.


Other presenters include agency executives, House and Senate members, state agency board members and the ever-popular media pundits - Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune and Texas Weekly, the Quorum Report's Harvey Kronberg and Patti Kilday Hart with the Houston Chronicle.


This is one conference you won't want to miss! Call now!


Speaker appoints committee to study GR dedicated accounts

Joe StrausHouse Speaker Joe Straus (pictured) this week appointed a new committee that will study General Revenue dedicated accounts. Straus said the committee will seek to make the state budget more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. Saying the amount of money in GR-dedicated funds has grown over the years and currently is at $4.9 billion, Straus also noted that some of those funds are used to certify the remainder of the state budget.


"The practice of 'funds consolidation' has evolved from a one-time accommodation and turned into a  decades-long bad habit in our state's budget process," Straus said during a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting earlier this summer. He said it is time for a fair, simple and more straightforward approach to issues regarding the budget and these funds.


Reps. Drew Darby and John Otto will chair the new interim committee. Other members of the committee include Reps. Rafael Anchia, Larry Gonzales, Patricia Harless, Donna Howard, Jose Menendez, Jim Pitts and Sylvester Turner.


TxDOT named nation's safest transportation agency

With the department's lowest-ever number of injuries per year on record, the lowest number of lost-tme injuries and the lowest number of lost-production days, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has for the third year in a row been named the nation's leader among all reporting state departments of transportation.


"Every single TxDOT team member played a crucial role in delivering their commitment to safety, and it's because of their dedication that we can celebrate this amazing achievement," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. Fiscal Year 2012 will be recorded as the safest in the department's 95-year history.


TxDOT launched its Mission Zero Campaign last year, a public outreach program designed to reduce work zone construction accidents, injuries and fatalities. The campaign was recently named the 2012 winner of the American Road and Transportation Builder Association-Transportation Development Foundation's Roadway Work Zone Safety Awareness Award.


Workshop offers vendor perspective on government procurements


Learn from the insiders how to get the best solutions at the best price

Procurement Workshop
SPI Vice President for Public Affairs Gay Erwin (center) visits with attendees at a recent procurement workshop.

If you're in the public sector and have ever wondered about the vendor perspective on procurements, we've got the answer to your questions. The upcoming Best Solution, Right Cost: Insider's Guide to Vendor Relations workshop is designed to give public sector staff an insider's view of what makes successful public-private procurements and partnerships. Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) recently paired with the Texas Department of Information Resources to offer a webinar titled Seven Reasons Vendors Don't Bid. The upcoming all-day workshop, hosted by SPI and The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs, expands on the one-hour webinar and examines a number of other procurement issues such as how effective communication can improve bid response quality, how vendors decide on which projects to bid and the methods that can be used to attract quality competition on every procurement.


From our most recent webinar and previous training sessions, in post-workshop/webinar evaluations, participants offered these comments about what they liked most from the event:


"Lots of information I never considered before."


"It was very insightful."


"There was good information providing specific things to think about from a vendor's point of view."


"As more of a contract monitor, I appreciated the insight from the vendor viewpoint and several of the suggestions offered."


One participant even noted that, "Executive management-type folks need to hear this presentation because they often don't listen to agency procurement folks who try to provide advice on why a specific approach is good or bad for a situation."


Anyone interested in gaining more insight into the vendor perspective on procurements and how to get the best solution should take advantage of the upcoming Best Solutions, Right Cost class on Oct. 25. The interactive workshop is at the SPI offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with lunch provided. For more information and to register, click here.


SOA Governance - An 8-step Program for Aligning Business and IT

Porter selected for Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission

David PorterRailroad Commissioner David Porter (pictured) was recently appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve as the official Texas representative to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).


A multi-state government agency created 70 years ago, the IOGCC is charged with ensuring that United States oil and natural gas resources are conserved and maximized while still protecting safety, health and the environment.


Porter is set to host the group's 2012 annual meeting in San Antonio opening on Oct. 29 and continuing through Nov. 3.


State sales tax receipts increase for 30th consecutive month

For the 30th consecutive month, sales tax receipts have increased in Texas, reports State Comptroller Susan Combs. This week Combs announced that revenue from sales tax throughout the state for September was up $1.96 billion, 11.6 percent higher than for September 2011.


Combs credits "continued strength" in the manufacturing and oil and gas industries for the increase, but also said consumer spending was up and was a contributor as well.


As a result, cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts in Texas will share $551 million in sales tax allocations for October, up 9.1 percent from last October. Cities will share $369.1 million, up 7.5 percent from last October. Counties will share $38.1 million, an increase over October 2011 of 12.8 percent. Some $123.7 million will go to transit systems statewide, representing a 10.6 percent increase over figures for the same month last year, with special purpose taxing districts seeing an increase of 19.2 percent over last October and sharing $27.3 million. To view the allocations by city, click here. To view the allocations by county, click here.


Dickey resigns as president of Texas A&M Health Science Center

Nancy DickeyDr. Nancy Dickey (pictured), president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health affairs, recently resigned from the post she has held since January 2002. Dickey cited a decision by Texas A&M University System officials to transfer control of the health science center from System offices directly to Texas A&M University and her desire to return to teaching as reasons for her resignation.


A&M System officials selected E. J. "Jere" Pederson, a former executive vice president and chief operating officer at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, to be the interim president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, which manages six colleges training doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals in Texas. Regents expect to take a formal vote on the interim president post in November. Before Texas A&M University officials take control of the health science center, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools officials must approve the transfer.


Dickey was the first female to serve as president of the American Medical Association and also won a spot in the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 2010 along with receiving many other medals, awards and honorary degrees during her career.


Oct. 2012 Procurement Training

Northeast Texas Community College wins $232,532 grant

The Jobs and Education for Texans program in the Texas State Comptroller's Office recently awarded a $232,532 grant to Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) to help pay for a new mobile laboratory.


The grant will be used to create a Mobile Industrial Technology Lab that will allow NTCC to make training in industrial technology accessible to more students, said Jonathan McCullough, vice president for advancement at NTCC.


The mobile unit will permit the college to take training opportunities into businesses and offer dual credit courses to students who are not able to travel to the Industrial Technology Training Center in Mount Pleasant, McCullough said. The training programs include electrical operations, manufacturing engineering, electrical technology, robotics, video game programming and drafting, he said.


Saathoff leaves Port of Freeport for Port of Houston Authority

Phyllis SaathoffPhyllis Saathoff (pictured), who has served as interim executive port director/CEO of Port Freeport since April 2012, will now fill the role of managing director of corporate projects for the Port of Houston Authority. In her new role, she will concentrate on asset management and Texas Sunset Commission matters.


Executive Director Len Waterworth said Saathoff is a good fit for the new post because of her experience in management and strategic guidance of a major port. She joined Port Freeport in 1992 and was serving as managing director before being moved to the interim top executive position there. Port Freeport ranks 16th among ports in the United States in international cargo tonnage.


Among Saathoff's responsibilities while at Port Freeport were direction of overall port operations, management and financial performance, including long-range strategic planning and development, negotiation of long-term leases and development and management of its Foreign Trade Zone. She holds a bachelor's degree magna cum laude from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, is a Certified Public Accountant and is certified as a Professional Port Manager.


Alamo Colleges nabs $1.15M federal grant for automotive training

The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded a $1.15 million grant to Alamo Colleges to upgrade automotive manufacturing education programs. The grant from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training Grant Program will be used to implement a curriculum designed for the study of mechatronics.


The new curriculum is a mix of mechanical, electronic, software and other forms of engineering currently used by technicians who are badly needed to fill jobs in the automobile industry, said Bruce Leslie, chancellor of Alamo Colleges.


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Register now

Austin ISD may spend up to $177 million to upgrade athletic facilities

Austin Independent School District trustees recently began consideration of a recommendation to ask voters to approve bond proposals ranging from $80 million to $176.9 million in 2013 to pay for upgrades to sports facilities.


Committee members appointed to study possible bond projects also asked the board to increase the athletic program budget by $2 million a year. Several athletic facilities have not been renovated since 2004, the board president said. The smallest bond proposal under consideration is for $80.1 million and includes $33.6 million for locker rooms and $8 million for a swim facility. The next, a $110.7 million proposal, would include all the projects in the smaller proposal and $24 million to install artificial turf at 11 high schools. The $176.9 million proposal would include all projects in the first two and $26 million to pay for a natatorium and $27.4 million to pay for gymnasiums for wrestling programs.


Bowman, Jakeway chosen as Arlington deputy city managers

Theron BowmanDon JakewayTheron Bowman (left) and Don Jakeway (right), have been selected as deputy city managers for the city of Arlington. They will oversee Neighborhood Services and Economic Development/Capital Investment Service Teams.


Bowman has been an acting deputy city manager since the spring, after being elevated to that post after serving as the city's police chief since 1999. He began his law enforcement career in 1983 and earned a bachelor's, master's and doctorate from The University of Texas at Arlington. His appointment is effective immediately and Acting Police Chief Will Johnson will continue in that role until a new chief is selected.


Jakeway, who comes to Arlington after having served as president and CEO of Brooks Development Authority and Brooks City Base Foundation in San Antonio. He is also a former president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, was director of the Ohio Department of Development, director of development services for the city of Sarasota, Florida, and economic development director in Lakewood, Ohio. Jakeway holds a bachelor's degree from Ashland University in Ohio and a Master of Business Administration from Sarasota University. He will start his new job Oct. 15 and Acting City Manager Jim Parajon will return to his position of Director of Community Development and Planning, where he will not only lead the department, but also oversee the city's capital improvement program.


TxDOT eyeing $1.6 billion expansion of Interstate-35W

Officials of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently began negotiating an agreement with NTE Mobility Partners Segments 3 LLC (NTEMP3) to add two managed lanes in each direction of Interstate-35W and rebuild part of existing roadway, which tops the list of the 100 most congested roadways in the state.


Motorists on I-35W near downtown Fort Worth now spend more than 2 million hours waiting in traffic and the proposed project should address that problem, said Phil Wilson, executive director of TxDOT. The project is a partnership involving the North Central Texas Council of Governments, which has committed about $89.5 million and identified another $40.5 million for contingencies, Wilson said. The U.S. Department of Transportation also suggested the developer apply through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act for a loan of up to $537 million to help pay for expanding I-35W.


Current plans are to spend about $234 million to improve Segment 3B of the freeway that runs north of I-820 to US81/287 by rebuilding and widening the existing roadway and adding two lanes of managed traffic, Wilson said. Once that project is completed, TxDOT plans to turn over operations and maintenance to NTEMP3 under the proposed agreement. TxDOT officials plan to sign the final Facility Agreement in early 2013 with construction to begin in mid-2013 and completed in 2018, he said.


Nov. 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Gilmer new director of UH Institute for Regional Forecasting

Bill GilmerRobert "Bill" Gilmer (pictured), former senior economist in charge of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, has been chosen to serve as the new executive director of the University of Houston's Institute for Regional Forecasting. He succeeds Professor Emeritus Barton Smith. While at the Federal Reserve Bank, Gilmer oversaw operations in West Texas and southern New Mexico.


Gilmer will join the forecasting institute as it is making a move from its current home at the university's Hobby Center for Public Policy to its new location in the C.T. Bauer College of Business.


"I'm excited to join the college as executive director of the IRF and look forward to focusing on Houston's unique business cycle, driven by the U.S. economy, oil and global growth," said Gilmer.


City of Sugar Land takes top award at H-GAC leadership luncheon

The city of Sugar Land was awarded the "Best All-Around Clean Air Leadership Award" at the Houston-Galveston Area Council's recent 12th annual Clean Air Action Leadership Awards Luncheon. Some 180 attendees, including transportation stakeholders and elected officials, were on hand to honor employers and local governments leading the way in offering commuter benefits to their employees and for adopting clean fleet policies that mitigate congestion and improve air quality in the region.


Phil Wilson, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, was the keynote speaker for the event. A diverse group of employers from various industries was spotlighted this year from petrochemical, medical, transport, waste management, school districts, retail and federal, state and local governments.


In addition to the Sugar Land award, Air Quality Leadership Awards went to Humble ISD for public sector and Trimac Transportation and Clean Energy Fuels in the private sector. The "Best Management District Partner Award" was presented to the Energy Corridor District for promoting commute alternatives to commuters, businesses and other organization within their district. For more information on qualifying for next year's awards, click here.


Pega Texas Conference 2012

Smith named top superintendent; McAllen board also tops in state

Greg SmithGreg Smith (left), chief executive of Clear Creek ISD in League City, was recently named Superintendent of the Year and the McAllen school board (right) was named School Board of the Year during the Texas Association of School Board (TASB)/Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) annual convention in Austin.


Smith has been superintendent of CCISD for four years and has 27 years of administrative experience. He holds a bachelor's degree from Oakland University, a master's from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and his doctorate from Texas A&M University. The award honors a candidate who has shown dedication to improving educational quality, board/superintendent relations, student achievement and commitment to public support and involvement in McAllen School Board education. Other finalists included: Rene Gutierrez, Edinburg CISD; Charles Dupre, Pflugerville ISD; Dennis McEntire, Presidio ISD; and Michael Zolkoski, Ysleta ISD.


Members of the McAllen ISD school board went home with the Outstanding Board of the Year award. Members of the board (as seen in the accompanying photo) are (seated, left to right) Erica de la Garza, Hilda Garza-DeShazo and Debbie Crane Aliseda and (standing, left to right) Daniel Vela, Dr. Joseph Caporusso, Sam Saldivar Jr., Javier Faria and Superintendent Dr. James Ponce.


Board members gave much credit for the award to the employees of the district. The district has become known in both the education community and to citizens in the area and region for its efforts in ensuring the use of mobile learning devices for its students so they can prepare for the 21st century workforce. Members of the board have criss-crossed the state speaking on their district's success with technology, addressing town hall meetings, civic groups and education conferences.


Parker resigning as manager of VIA to move on to Atlanta

Keith Parker, president and chief executive officer of VIA, San Antonio's transit agency, recently said he plans to resign to accept a new job as general manager of the public transit agency in Atlanta, Georgia.


VIA board members appointed Jeff Arndt, the deputy CEO of the agency, as the new interim CEO and president to work with Parker until Parker leaves for Atlanta in December. Parker set a goal of finding another source of funding to replace $92 million in transportation sales tax revenue that agency officials had planned to use for a proposed streetcar project. While Parker said the streetcar project is not a form of light rail and could legally use the funding, the issue of public trust is serious and Parker said he plans to find another funding source for the downtown streetcar project before he moves on to the Atlanta transit agency.



Texas Flag   Looking for job openings outside of Austin?


Our Public Sector Job Board includes jobs both in Austin and throughout the state. Among our most recent postings - benefits coordinator, accountant, legal assistant and more. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com. To view job openings, click here.


Alice wins $1.2 million grant for $12M training center, natatorium

John LemonAlice recently won a $1.2 million federal grant to help pay for a $12 million training center, natatorium and hotel project being developed by the city in partnership with a private company, ZJZ Hospitality.


The grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will be used to help pay for new sewer and water line extensions on the west side of the city at US281 and SH44, the site of the new multi-purpose facility, said Mayor John Lemon (pictured). A $3.5 million truck stop also is being built in the same area and is expected to create an additional 30 jobs, Lemon said.


City officials also are seeking other federal and state grants to help the city respond to increased growth and business activity as the city is a hub of activity for Eagle Ford Shale drilling activity, the mayor said.


Lampasas seeking grant for $535,000 hangar project at airport

Lampasas city officials recently applied for a federal grant to pay 90 percent of the cost of a $535,000 project to add six to eight hangars at the Lampasas Municipal Airport.


The grant, which will be awarded through the aviation program at the Texas Department of Transportation, will allow city officials to build the additional hangars to augment the 27 hangars now located at the city-owned airport and perform the asphalt work to access the new hangars, said Micky Tower, director of parks and recreation for the city. Tower estimated the asphalt work would cost about $125,000 and the hangar expansion project about $410,000.


Plans call for using grant funding to help pay for design and construction to provide hangar access, a taxiway and apron area, install a gate and remove a pole barn and concrete slabs from the proposed site for the new hangars. TxDOT officials view the proposal as separate projects, Tower said.


Greenville eyeing water, sewer upgrades along new parkway

Massoud EbrahimGreenville city officials recently began gathering public opinion on a proposal to add new water and sewer lines to meet the demands of increased development expected by improvements to the Monty Stratton Parkway.


Massoud Ebrahim (pictured), public works director, urged the City Council to approve $36,251 for a preliminary design for a new 6,300-foot, 12-inch water line to be built in conjunction with the construction on the parkway. He also requested $94,830 to pay for a preliminary design of a regional lift station capable of processing 1 million gallons per day.


The parkway project opened more opportunities for commercial and private development along the parkway and the I-30 corridor. That caused the need for a new lift station and a water main line from I-30 to Paris Junior College to make water more accessible in the area expected to develop quickly, Ebrahim said. Council also would need to grant a utility easement for about 20,000 feet of force main and an easement for sanitary sewer trunk lines, he said. Council members scheduled a public hearing this week prior to the regular council meeting to hear public opinion on the proposal that also would require amending the Utility Capital Improvement Project fund.


Subscribe to the Government Contracting Pipeline

San Jacinto to seek $275,000 grant to upgrade sewer system

San Jacinto County commissioners recently authorized staff to apply for a $275,000 community block grant to pay for upgrades to sewer systems throughout the county.


The grant will allow residents with low to moderate incomes to receive the assistance. If the grant is approved, county officials plan to compile a list of 10 residents with low to moderate incomes from each precinct to submit to the state in the application process, the county judge said. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality staff will make the final decision on the residents who will receive a sewer upgrade if the grant is approved, he added.


Dallas ISD chief proposes long list of problems to be solved

Mike MilesMike Miles (pictured), the new superintendent of Dallas Independent School District, recently outlined a long list of problems he said must be addressed and solved before the district can move forward.


Miles proposed improving the district's human resource management systems, streamlining the hiring process, upgrading bus transportation and routes, reorganizing custodial services, creating a system to prioritize non-bond work orders and increasing standards for cleanliness and maintenance of schools.


He also urged board members to support upgrading the district's system for tracking purchasing contracts. The superintendent said he plans to present trustees with an estimate in mid-November of the costs for the upgrades he proposed.


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Lower Rio Grande Valley development group wins $1.6 million grant

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently awarded a $1.6 million grant to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVD) to help pay for expanding a building in Weslaco to house the Center for International Economic Development Opportunities.


The grant allows the international development group to expand into a permanent facility and move forward with implementing the group's strategic plan for international development, said Ken Jones, director of the LRGVDC. Council officials plan to use a loan to match the federal funding from the Economic Development Administration grant program, Jones said.


Plans call for construction to begin early next year on a proposed 10,000-square-foot building to house offices for economic development, disaster recovery, homeland security and health and human services offices, which will free up about 6,000 square feet of existing space in the building the council moved to last year when its lease was canceled by McAllen city officials, Jones said.


Downtown Development, Revitalization Conference dates announced

The 2012 Texas Downtown Development and Revitalization Conference, presented as a cooperative effort of the Texas Downtown Association andn the Texas Main Street Program, will be held Nov. 6-9 in Wichita Falls mostly at the Holiday Inn at the Falls. The conference offers educational workshops, roundtable discussions, tours and evening events for attendees interested in downtown and commercial district development and revitalization. The majority of sessions will be held at the Holiday Inn at the Falls, although evening events and tours are scheduled for multiple locations around Downtown Wichita Falls. Keynote speaker will be Jon Schallert, who specializes in teaching businesses and communities how to turn themselves into consumer destinations.  Other sessions will explore fundraising, business incubators, social media, cash mobs, culinary and agri-tourism, modern architecture, preservation as economic development and more. For more information, please visit the TDA Web site at: www.texasdowntown.org.


TSABAA Mid-Winter conference to be held in December

The 33rd Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) Mid-Winter conference is on tap for Dec. 6 and 7 at the YO Ranch Hotel and Conference Center in Kerrville. Registration and hotel reservation deadline is Nov. 6. Following a welcome reception on Wednesday, Dec. 5, the conference program will begin on Thursday, Dec. 6, and will conclude before noon on Friday, Dec. 7. An agenda is posted on the TSABAA Web site. Some of the topics include: The Business Side of People Management, Funds Consolidation Bill, Maximizing Productivity on a "Stone Soup" Budget, ERS Update, A Word from the Wise - A Panel Discussion on Dealing with Challenges in Your Office and the always popular Political Panel.   


Clean Fleet Technologies Conference to be held Nov. 15 in Houston

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) and Houston-Galveston Clean Cities/Clean Vehicles Program are hosting the Clean Fleet Technologies Conference on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. This day-long event, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., will highlight opportunities and experiences across the full spectrum of clean alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. Speakers, exhibitors and vehicle displays will highlight the latest technologies, infrastructure, and funding for cleaner on- and off-road vehicles and fleets. Keynote speaker is Jon Coleman, Ford Motor Company Fleet and Technology Manager. City of Houston Council Member Oliver Pennington will give welcoming remarks. A number of breakout sessions will highlight the experiences of existing alternative fuel vehicle fleets and opportunities. The afternoon panel discussion will focus on smarter driving and maintenance opportunities through ecodriving, idle reduction and optimizing vehicle performance with GPS. For more information on the event, click here. Sponsorships and exhibitor opportunities, click here. To register online, click here 


TxDOT to host 2013 Small Business Briefings across Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Office of Civil Rights-Supportive Services Section will conduct briefing conferences around the state for small, minority- and women-owned businesses providing contract opportunities and information on how to do business with TxDOT and the state. Corpus Christi is the location of the first of four briefings events being offered in fiscal year 2013. The day-long briefings include general industry sessions and specific information on how to do business in the construction, goods and services, information technology and professional engineering service industries. Breakout sessions will cover small and minority-owned business certifications, resources for business development, marketing for state contracts and information on TxDOT toll projects. Each briefing also includes a contracting opportunity fair, industry sessions and a multitude of networking opportunities. Please join us! The Corpus Christi event will be Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Holiday Inn Hotel-Emerald Beach, 1102 S. Shoreline Drive, 78401. Other briefings include Wednesday, March 20, in Arlington; Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Lubbock and Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Odessa. To register, click here. For more information call 1-866-480-2518, Option 1. For questions regarding the Office of Civil Rights-DBE/HUB/SBE and Supportive Services programs, click here or call 512-486-5510.


P3C, public-private partnership conference, in Dallas in February

P3C, the Public-Private Partnership Conference, is scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22, 2013, at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The event brings together real estate community development professionals and municipal leaders to highlight the latest development trends and opportunities involving public-private partnerships across the United States. The conference is a high-profile setting for municipalities to announce, unveil and discuss upcoming development projects. More than 30 cities and public agencies from across the country will take the stage next year at P3C to showcase their capital projects to a nationwide audience of developers, builders, architects and investors. P3C attendees participate in multiple networking elements within the conference, which provides presenters broad industry exposure to their projects. The agenda is designed to touch upon the most relevant and pressing issues vital to today's successful public-private partnership ventures. The event will bring together more than 65 thought-provoking and engaging speakers to exchange valuable insights with the country's leading development organizations. For more information and to register, visit www.P3C2013.com.


TASSCC announces Dec. 11 as date for State of State Conference

The Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) State of the State Conference is a one-day event set for Dec. 11 that brings together technology directors from Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education to discuss the strategic direction of technology in Texas. At the conference, members will examine the role of IT in state government and higher education, explore future trends and hear in-depth discussions on topics currently impacting public sector IT. Among the speakers will be Texas Tribune Editor in Chief and CEO Evan Smith and Executive Editor Ross Ramsey, who will discuss the state of the state. Richard Froeschle of the Texas Workforce Commission will address the changing face of the Texas labor market and Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is also a guest speaker. Sponsorships are available. To register, click here.


Free Pega Texas Conference slated for Austin on Oct. 26

The Pega Texas Conference, a free, educational, one-day conference on systems modernization and business transformation, is slated from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. The event will be held at The Commons Center, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, The University of Texas at Austin, 10100 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758. The conference should be of special interest to agency executives, IRMs/CIOs, program managers, business managers, business analysts, IT project managers, IT developers, solution partners and team members who are passionate about reducing costs, improving customer services and increasing operational efficiencies. Information will be provided on business transformation through intelligent BPM, BPM and CRM technology in the enterprise ecosystem and success stories of legacy system modernization. The event is free, but pre-registration is required as space is limited. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), co-sponsor, will award three hours of continuing education credit for the morning session. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. For more information and to register, click here.


National Procurement Institute hosts annual conference, expo

The National Procurement Institute, Inc. (NPI) will hold its 44th Annual Conference and Exposition on Oct. 21-24, at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston. Hear from the experts, such as the Opening Ceremony keynote speaker Patrick Snow, who will give you the tools for "Creating Your Own Destiny" and taking charge of your future. This year's conference also features sessions focused on leadership, the Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award and other professional development topics geared toward helping you and your agency achieve procurement excellence. The conference program also has networking opportunities, including a Welcome Reception, Opening Ceremony, Presidential Gala Dinner and a Buyer/Supplier Roundtable Luncheon. The conference is an excellent opportunity to obtain 14.25 continuing education hours (CEH) and network with your peers. Register online at www.npiconnection.org. Questions? Interested in being an exhibitor or sponsor at the conference? Contact Craig Rowley, NPI Executive Director, 702-989-8095, or executivedirector@npiconnection.org


Youth-serving partners to host youth, family conference

The Strengthening Youth and Families Conference is slated for Nov. 6-9 at the Omni Southpark Hotel in Austin. It is an annual event sponsored by a collaboration of youth-serving partners, including Prairie View A&M University's Juvenile Crime Prevention Center, Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments and the State Volunteer Resource Council for Texas Youth. The conference will offer workshops related to the prevention of high-risk problem behaviors for youth, early intervention for youth who have just begun to engage in indicators of those high-risk behaviors and treatment for those youth who become trapped in those behaviors. Workshops will be geared to a multi-disciplinary audience of youth-serving professionals, volunteers and family members. Online registration only for the conference. For more information, click here.


Texas Municipal League 100th Annual Conference, Exhibition set

A century in the making, the Texas Municipal League will hold its 100th Annual Conference and Exhibition on Nov. 13-16 in Grapevine. Hear from the experts, such as the Opening General Session keynote speaker Jim Carroll, a futurist who will discuss trends affecting public service and how to turn challenge into opportunity. Dive into concurrent sessions on leadership, smartphone apps, health care, youth, retail development, parliamentary procedure, legislation, water management and community meetings...just to name a few. And not to be missed is a walk through the exhibit hall, where delegates will find more than 300 vendors equipped with services and products to help public servants serve better. With an agenda so full, we also carved some time to celebrate 100 years of municipal excellence - join us on Nov. 14 for the TML Centennial Gala. A conference like this only comes around once every 100 years. So what are you waiting for? Register now at www.tmlconference.org.


Executive Women in Texas Government set November conference

The Executive Women in Texas Government will sponsor its 2012 Annual Professional Development Conference on Monday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will be held at the Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel-Spa and Conference Center located at 1001 East McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666. This full-day event features prominent keynote speakers as well as more than 35 workshops to provide participants with opportunities for hands-on learning and development of leadership skills for multiple career levels. The conference is open to all interested professionals and is designed for those working in government and for organizations that collaborate with government agencies. Members and non-members are encouraged to view the EWTG Web site for conference details.


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Student 'no-shows' cost school districts millions in lost revenue


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


"Missing school matters!" That's the message Austin's E3 Alliance and the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) are delivering regarding the impact of an empty desk in any public school classroom in Central Texas.
School absences not only result in a loss of valuable teaching and learning time for teachers and students, but state revenues flowing to the school districts are significantly impacted. In fact, millions of dollars can be lost in state funding because of students who don't show up for class. At a time when public schools face profound state and federal funding cuts and looming deficits, every single dollar lost has a significant impact.
In Central Texas alone, according to the E3 Alliance (Education Equals Economics), there are 2.4 million student absences each year. The alliance says if schools in Central Texas could increase average attendance by only three days, the school districts in that region could gain as much as $34 million in annual revenue. That's because most school district funding is based on average daily attendance of students.
Multiple absences and multiple-day absences by individual students can have long-term effects. E3 officials say student performance is directly related to absences. Their research shows that half of the students in Central Texas schools are absent more than six class days per year, which accounts for 85 percent of all absences. And ninth graders miss three days more than students in other grades. Of those ninth grade students who are "kept back" a grade, dropout rates are 10 times higher than those students who were promoted.
Central Texas school officials have told E3 that the top priority for how local communities can help their schools is to increase student attendance. And it is in the best interest of every community to join in this effort. Today's students are tomorrow's business leaders and their success, or lack of it, will shape the economic well-being of their hometowns.
AARO and E3 are looking for ways to involve the community in addressing - and improving - attendance numbers for public school students. They hope to involve all aspects of the community - educators, businesses, health care providers, community groups and those that can make financial commitments.


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Collaboration Nation

San Angelo awarded grant

to help defray center cost

The city of San Angelo will use a $1.2 million federal grant to help fund its planned $2.6 million fire training center. The grant was awarded by the Economic Development Administration and will help defray the costs of the Concho Valley Regional Training Center, a 12-acre complex that will replace the current training facility and tower. The new facility will include a multi-story burn building, a classroom and training staff offices.The new center will also serve Coke, Crockett, Irion, Kimble, Mason, McCulloch, Menard, Reagan, Scheicher, Sterling, Sutton and Tom Green counties. It is expected to be completed and operational by fall 2015. 


Strategic Partnerships names Hilgers VP of operations

Paul HilgersPaul Hilgers (pictured) has been named vice president of operations at Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Hilgers brings to the SPI team a long history of public service at the local and state level as well as experience in the private sector. Hilgers spent three years as deputy general manager of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) and later established his own consulting firm.


Hilgers also is a former director of the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department for the City of Austin. He was district director for U.S. Congressman Jake Pickle for nearly 10 years and was chief liaison with community leaders and elected officials regarding programs of the federal government. Hilgers later served the Lower Colorado River Authority with responsibilities for federal government relations and customer and community relations.


Hilgers holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Whittier College and a Master of Public Affairs from The University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

ARMA considering spending millions on toll system

Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) officials could soon vote to use $130 million of the agency's available funding to fund a toll system on Loop 1604 and U.S. 281. The ARMA estimates such a system would cost more than $700 million, but the board is considering ways to leverage its $130 million to complete the project.


The two sections of U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 being considered for tolling are high-congestion roadways in high-growth areas. Last year, the ARMA spent $86 million of its $216 million on hand to add free and toll road lanes on U.S. 281 and part of Loop 1604. That left the agency with its current $130 million. ARMA officials are studying adding toll lanes from Bandera Road to U.S. 281 and on U.S. 281 from Loop 1604 to the county line, connecting the toll projects on each of those corridors.


Interested in P3s?

Dripping Springs ISD to begin program to conserve energy

Dripping Springs Independent School District trustees recently hired a specialist in energy education to oversee a new energy conservation and management program throughout the district.


A former executive assistant in the business services department of the district, Jaime Dydalewicz, is charged with conducting energy audits of district facilities and working with consultants to ensure practices to save energy are in place and equipment is operating properly.


Arlington ISD looking at interim superintendent to fill post

Marcelo CavazosTrustees for the Arlington Independent School District recently decided to interview Marcelo Cavazos (pictured), who has served as interim superintendent at the district since June, for the permanent post of superintendent.


The new superintendent will replace the former superintendent, Dr. Jerry McCullough.


Canton taps Lonny Cluck

as new city manager

Canton City Council members recently voted to appoint Lonny Cluck as the new city manager. Cluck previously served as the human resources director for Canton First Monday Trade Days and has served as interim city manager since April.


Cluck, who was selected from a field of 38 candidates, will replace the former city manager, Andy McCuistion.


Nabers C-Radio interview Oct. 16

C-RadioStrategic Partnerships Inc. President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers, one of the nation's leading experts on business opportunities, will be the guest for an upcoming interview on C-Radio, a live national talk radio show dedicated to business and personal finance news and information. The program's theme will be "Public and Private Collaboration That Work." The interview will air live here at 11:30 a.m. (CST) on Tuesday, Oct. 16.


Bay City group urges vote

on change to city government

The Bay City Charter Review Committee recently urged its City Council to ask voters to approve the creation of a city manager-council form of government rather than the strong mayor-council form of municipal government now in place.


Committee members cited pros and cons for each form of municipal government, but unanimously supported a city manager form of government and asked Council to place the proposal on the ballot.


Gemini Global Group

Chisum ISD votes against proposed schools merger

Chisum Independent School District trustees recently voted to oppose a proposed merger with two other Lamar County school districts. Paris ISD officials proposed merging the North Lamar and Chisum school districts into the Paris school district. North Lamar ISD officials also voted to oppose a merger with Paris ISD.


Gonzales approves $18,500

study to expand park complex

Allen BarnesGonzales City Council members recently approved an economic feasibility study for upgrading a park complex with a goal of expanding the JB Wells Park using private funding.


City Manager Allen Barnes (pictured) told council that a group of citizens are interested in helping find private funding to help pay for a community and exposition center and a cutting horse arena at the city-owned park.


The Gonzales Economic Development Corp. agreed to pay for half of the study on the possible economic impact of the park facilities in addition to an analysis of how the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas formation will affect the area. The new study along with a study being conducted by The University of Texas at San Antonio will offer a more complete and professional perspective to businesses that may decide to move to Gonzales, Barnes said.


How helpful is this?

Missouri City postpones

bond election proposed in 2013

Missouri City officials recently agreed to postpone a bond election planned for May 2013. Council members plan to consider whether to ask voters in 2014 to approve a bond referendum, the mayor said.


The mayor cited how bond elections in May 2013 scheduled by the local school district, the county, the Houston Community College District and the Houston Independent School District could impact residents of Missouri City. A 25-member bond steering committee urged a bond proposal to include funding for a new fire station, upgrades to drainage, streets and sidewalks and improvements to parks and hiking trails. Committee members no longer will meet weekly, but will continue to meet monthly to help prioritize projects for a bond election in 2014, the mayor said.


Grindstaff resigns as

city manager in Crowley

Alan GrindstaffAlan Grindstaff (pictured), city manager in Crowley, recently resigned from that post after only six months on the job. Effective on Oct. 12, Robert Loftin, the fire chief, will become the interim city manager.


Grindstaff previously worked in city administration in Jasper, Union City, Georgia, and Ephraim, Utah. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah and a master's degree from Brigham Young University.


Railroad Commission sponsors seminar on natural gas fleets

Central Texas fleet managers can learn how to save money on fuel costs and reduce vehicle emissions at the Texas Railroad Commission's upcoming fleet seminar. The Commission's Natural Gas Vehicle Seminar is set for Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to noon in Room 1-100 of the William B. Travis Building, 1701 N. Congress in Austin.


Participants will hear from local fleet managers as they describe their experiences with running natural gas fleets and will also hear about the latest innovations in home refueling for natural gas vehicles. Commissioners note that there are a variety of natural gas vehicles available to help reduce emissions - from passenger sedans to garbage trucks to 18-wheelers.  Fleet managers also will be allowed to ride in and drive these vehicles at the seminar.


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Garcia tapped to lead Eagle

Ford Shale industry group

Omar GarciaThe South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable (STEER), an industry group organized by 10 of the largest gas producers in the Eagle Ford Shale region, recently tapped Omar Garcia (pictured), as the new chief operating officer of the group.


As CEO, Garcia will be responsible for recruiting businesses to the area and retaining existing companies as well as initiating international efforts and acting as a clearinghouse for information on drilling for oil and gas. Garcia also plans to work with media and public officials in the region to help shape public perception on the impact of drilling in the area.


Garcia, who has previous experience in private business, also helped create the first Business Retention and Expansion program in San Antonio and worked with the city of Corpus Christi to recruit a double-A baseball team to that city. He also served on the Texas Economic Development Corp. after being appointed by the governor in Dec. 2010. Garcia earned a degree from St. Edward's University in Austin.


Arlington eyeing pilot

project for bus service

Arlington city officials recently began working with The University of Texas at Arlington to study the feasibility of hiring a contractor to operate a bus service connecting the university to the Trinity Railway Express at the CentrePort station near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.


The two-year pilot project may permit buses to stop at a few other areas where people work, but will not circulate widely in the city, said Jim Parajon, interim deputy city manager. Because Arlington is one of the largest in the country without a mass transit system, supporters of mass transit said the pilot bus service program could help establish a real demand for public transit in the city.


Flower Mound terminates Jefferson's contract as manager

Harlan JeffersonAfter placing City Manager Harlan Jefferson (pictured) on administrative leave in September, Flower Mound City Council members recently terminated Jefferson from the post he has held since 2006.


Jefferson, who joined the city in 1997 as the finance director, agreed to a mutual confidentiality and nondefamation agreement with the council. Jefferson also will receive severance pay for 22 months of base pay in addition to benefits, according to his attorney.


Council members expect to begin immediately a search to find a new city manager and expressed confidence that Chuck Springer, the interim town manager appointed earlier, will continue to perform well in the job.


Forsan ISD begins planning for bond election to upgrade facilities

Forsan Independent School District trustees recently agreed to begin looking for an architectural firm to help decide whether to renovate an existing elementary school or build a new elementary campus closer to the secondary school. Board members also are exploring whether to ask voters to approve bonds to pay for the facility upgrades.


Superintendent Randy Johnson asked board members to consider the benefits if the current elementary school, which is located about 15 miles from the secondary school, were located closer to allow staff of each school to work together. District officials plan to interview two architectural firms this week to conduct a facilities study and report those findings to trustees. The goal is for council to decide in February or March whether to schedule a bond election in May 2013, Johnson said.


Check our Web site for additional press releases

It probably comes as no surprise that we get dozens of press releases from a variety of state agencies, colleges, universities, nonprofits and local government entities seeking inclusion in the Texas Government Insider each week. Space limitations prevent us from using them all. However, we recently began posting a select number of those that didn't make it into TGI on the Strategic Partnerships, Inc. Web site. Each week, we pick out some of the press releases that feature information we think will be of interest to the majority of our readers and post them under Government News on our Web site. Readers are encouraged to bookmark and check that page often, as we attempt to post new information there as it is received.

Robstown ISD taps Aldridge as lone finalist for superintendent

Morris AldridgeRobstown Independent School District trustees recently selected Morris Aldridge (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Aldrige currently is the assistant superintendent of operations for Clint ISD, a post he has held since 1989.


While the board president, Osvaldo Romero, was expected to ask board members to name Interim Superintendent Leobardo Cano as the lone finalist, another board member nominated Aldridge as the lone finalist for superintendent instead of of Cano.


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Check the GOVERNMENT NEWS section of the SPI Web site for these press releases:

  • New TxDOT Web site easier, more friendly to use
  • TDA awards $225K to DPS for Operation Drawbridge expansion
  • Texas A&M Forest Service showcases firefighting team
Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 10/5/12

Brief by TSTC outlines forecast

for unmanned aircraft industry

Michael BettersworthA technology forecast on the unmanned aircraft industry has been released by the Texas State Technical College. According to the study, current job demand, while limited in Texas today, is expected to grow over the next three years as the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) regulations.


"Unmanned systems have gained popularity mainly in the context of military applications overseas, but commercial variants of this technology are likely to see broad domestic and civilian applications for things like precision farming, civil engineering, wildlife management, in addition to law enforcement applications," said Michael Bettersworth (pictured), TSTC associate vice chancellor for technology advancement. He said the report provides insights into this sector through interviews with industry experts, online searches of training activities and analysis of employment demand data.


The full TechBrief on Unmanned Aircraft Systems is available as a free download at http://forecasting.tstc.edu/


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Kathy Irwin Wood of Austin, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • James H. Dickerson, Jr. of New Braunfels, Texas Medical Board District Four Review Committee;
  • Phil Worley of Hebbronville, Texas Medical Board District Four Review Committee;
  • Shelby Ellzey of Midlothian, Texas Board of Nursing;
  • Glenn T. Martin of Edna, Lavaca-Navidad River Authority Board of Directors.

San Antonio ISD kicks off

first of 22 capital projects

Using $515 million in voter-approved bonds, San Antonio Independent School District trustees recently kicked off construction on the first of 22 capital projects that feature new schools and major renovations to many facilities.


Construction began in September on a $12.3 million upgrade of an east side elementary school. District officials now expect to complete 22 capital improvement projects through 2014. These projects include a new $65 million Highlands High School, $36 million for Burbank High School, $21 million for Brackenridge High School and $18.6 million for Japhet Elementary School.


Corpus Christi transit group to spend $2.1M for street repairs

Scott NeeleyRegional Transportation Authority (RTA) officials recently agreed to spend more than $2.1 million in 2013, or $500,000 more than in 2012, to repair and maintain streets in Corpus Christi. RTA officials also agreed to increase funding for street repair and maintenance in Port Aransas and Robstown.


The agreement for the additional 25 percent in funding for street upgrades occurred after Corpus Christi suggested RTA surrender part of its dedicated sales tax revenue to pay for $1.2 billion in badly needed street repairs in Corpus Christi, said Scott Neeley (pictured), chief executive officer of RTA. Transit officials also plan to spend about $17,000 more on street repair and maintenance in Port Aransas and $19,000 more in Robstown, Neeley said. Funding for street repairs and maintenance in the other six cities in RTA will not be increased until the level of funding now received reaches the same percentage as funding now going to Corpus Christi


Nueces County accepts land

for new sports complex

Nueces County commissioners recently accepted a donation of 18 acres of land from the Tuloso-Midway Independent School District to use for a new 100-acre sports complex.


Commissioners also approved an agreement with the city of Corpus Christi to reimburse the county $300,000 for work performed to develop the 48 acres of adjacent land donated by a private company for the sports complex.


Plans call for beginning the first phase of the sports complex project by building six soccer fields, a football field, restrooms and parking complex. A $68,000 grant from the Coastal Management Program will help pay for work on a retention pond in late October, county officials said.


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Brownsville creates group to work with spaceport group

Tony MartinezBrownsville city commissioners recently agreed to support creation of a Brownsville Spaceport Development Corporation to help develop a commercial launch site to serve the International Space Station.


City officials plan to work with county officials to convince a California-based company to build a rocket launch site near Boca Chica Beach that would create jobs and improve the quality of life in Brownsville and throughout the area, said Tony Martinez (pictured), the mayor.


Space Exploration Technologies Inc. officials are looking at sites in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico to establish a launch site for rockets to deliver supplies and personnel to the international space station.


The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly e-newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
The Insider is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1994 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.
To learn more about SPI services click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900.
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