Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 43 - Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

Texas voters to decide more than $5.6B in bond issues Tuesday

 

Harris County voters face nearly $2.7B in city, school and community college needs

School Bonds
Work is progressing on the new Liberty Hill High School after a successful bond issue last November. More than $5.6 billion in bond issues statewide, 25 of them public schools, will be decided Nov. 6.

More than $5.6 billion in bond issues statewide will be decided in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election in Texas. The bond referendums will benefit 25 public school districts, six counties, 11 cities, one community college district and one water authority.

 

More than $2.7 billion - nearly half of the total - is a result of bond elections in Harris County alone. Voters there will decide a $1.9 billion Houston Independent School District bond vote, a $410 million City of Houston referendum and a $425 million Houston Community College District bond vote.

 

While the Houston ISD bond vote is the largest to be decided in the state next Tuesday and the largest in the school district's history, the amount of funding sought in the school referendums elsewhere in the state varies widely. Among the smallest is a $1.6 million bond vote for a small district in far North Texas that has one school building that houses grades Pre-K through 12 and serves fewer than 200 students. A growing population because of the increased oil and gas activity in West Texas has two large school districts in that area seeking to pass bond elections of $163 million and $129 million.

 

Faced with dwindling state funding and lower tax revenues, many school districts are biting the bullet and asking taxpayers in the district to help fund projects from new construction to meet growing student populations to taking care of deferred maintenance projects and upgrades to athletic facilities. Numerous school districts are also seeking bond funding for safety and security issues, technology upgrades, additional science labs and numerous renovation projects.

 

Two of the larger cities in the state will seek to pass bond issues of $385 million and $642 million. The city elections across the state seek bond funds for parks, libraries, fire stations, streets, transportation projects and public safety issues, to name a few. Among county bond issues, one county is trying to pass a $15 million bond vote to build a new jail, while another seeks to also build a new jail with $6.8 million in bond proceeds. Another is seeking $10 million in bonding authority for a new recreation center with a competition pool. Other county projects throughout the state that would benefit from successful bond issues include road projects and drainage improvements.

 

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. has compiled a comprehensive list of projects that are part of the various bond elections statewide that will also feature election results after the Tuesday voting. This research is available for purchase.

 

New DADS commissioner:

 

Jon Weizenbaum, former deputy commissioner, named to lead state agency

Jon WeizenbaumJon Weizenbaum (pictured), deputy commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) since 2006 who has served as interim commissioner twice during that time, has been named the agency's next commissioner. Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, M.D., made the announcement this week. Weizenbaum's appointment was effective immediately.

 

Weizenbaum has been serving as interim DADS commissioner since Sept. 1 when Chris Traylor left the commissioner's post to become deputy executive commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Weizenbaum also was interim DADS commissioner in late 2009. The new commissioner joined DADS in 2004 as the director for the Center for Policy and Innovation, with responsibility for overseeing policy development and oversight, quality assurance and improvement.

 

The new DADS commissioner is a former legislative policy director for the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, where he specialized in aging and disability services. He also is a former clinical social worker.

 

Weizenbaum earned master's degrees from The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work and the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

 

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

 

Whitney BrewsterWhitney Brewster, executive director, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) 

 

Career highlights and education:  Prior to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, I spent the past 12 years working for the state of Alaska. Most recently, I served as the director of Alaska's Division of Motor Vehicles. Before that, I led the state's Division of Elections, was deputy chief of staff for the lieutenant governor and worked for the Alaska State Legislature. I received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Brigham Young University and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Alaska. I know that moving from Alaska to Texas sounds like quite a drastic change in weather. But actually I feel right at home in Texas. I grew up here and have extensive family here, so I'm ecstatic to be back. 
 
What I like best about my job is:  The best thing about working in public service is exactly that - serving the public. The work that we do at the TxDMV impacts and ideally improves the lives of Texans we serve. Throughout my career in public service, it has always been most rewarding to see and hear firsthand how the work we're doing has helped the people and economy of the state. While this is one of the best parts of my job, it is also the most challenging because I know that sometimes the decisions we make can affect people's livelihood. That's why I will always work hard not to make decisions in a vacuum. If I keep an open line of communication with customers and all stakeholders, and seek valuable input from industry experts and associations, then I know in the end we will make sound decisions.

The best advice I've received for my job is: I will always remember the two best pieces of advice I received early in my career: (1) Always be sure you know who your customers are. (2) As a manager, never be sorry for having high expectations. 
 
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Everyone who comes to work for the TxDMV must remember our mission: to promote and protect the interests of the motoring public and all citizens in the state of Texas. We are here to serve our customers and must be focused on them at all times. I would also remind a new hire that we must be transparent with our communications, both inside the agency and with our external stakeholders. Communication is a building block for trust.
 
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  If you had asked me this five months ago I would have said snowmobiling. But right now if you don't see me at work, I'm probably at home ripping out old carpeting or standing on a ladder painting the walls as my husband, two young children and I get settled into our new house.

People would be surprised to know that I: Moved to Alaska on my own without ever having been there before and not knowing a single soul in the state. Although many questioned my sanity (particularly my parents), it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I built a solid career, made lifelong friends, met my husband and started a family.  
 
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The TxDMV has only been operational for three years, so I think there's plenty that people don't know about us. We're a net revenue generating agency for the state. During the 2012-2013 biennium, the TxDMV will collect about $3 billion in total revenue, while our total biennial budget is about $293 million. The most common encounter Texans have with our agency is when they register or title their vehicles. They can do that online in most counties, by mail or at their county tax assessor-collector's office. We register more than 22 million vehicles, issue more than 5 million titles and distribute more than 17 million license plates annually. But there's plenty more. We license more than 27,000 motor vehicle and salvage dealers and issue more than 580,000 commercial motor carrier permits each year. We also play a major role in protecting and educating the public by investigating complaints and prosecuting administrative violations committed by motor vehicle and salvage dealers, and motor carriers including moving companies. If Texans need advice before buying a car or hiring a mover, we're here to help. And through the Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), we distribute grants to law enforcement agencies for theft and burglary prevention programs. With all these services, the TxDMV is focused on being the most efficient, effective, transparent and customer-driven agency in Texas.
 

Driver license Mega Center celebrates opening in Pflugerville

Cynthia LeonThe Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon (pictured) recently joined other community leaders for a ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring the new DPS Driver License Mega Center in Pflugerville. The Mega Center, designed to increase driver license capacity in and around Austin, opened to the public Tuesday at 8 a.m. The facility is expected to employee 36 workers and serve more than 700 customers per day.

 

The DPS was able to open six mega centers throughout Texas thanks in part to $63 million in funds provided by the 82nd Legislature, which will also help officials hire 266 new employees and purchase time-saving technology equipment.

 

Leon said the ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a "historic day for DPS, the citizens of Texas and the residents of Central Texas," adding new equipment in the mega centers will allow customers to reserve a place in line "without stepping foot in the office."

 

TWDB to launch new Water Data for Texas Web site on Nov. 8

TWDBThe Texas Water Development Board will launch a new Web site www.waterdatafortexas.org on Nov. 8. The Web site will provide comprehensive information available on Texas reservoir conditions. The agency has compiled extensive records from federal, state and local partners to generate current and historical information on reservoir levels, storage, surface area and elevation-area-capacity curves. In many cases, the Web site provides data for the entire history of the reservoir.

 

TWDB officials say the site is designed for easy access to data and allows downloads by end users as well as third-party applications. The Water Data for Texas site will consolidate and replace information from other TWDB Web sites. The result will be the decommissioning of these sites: Reservoir Information System, Reservoir Storage Summary, Texas Water Conditions Regional Storage Map and Texas Water Conditions Reservoir Storage Map. The Web site will be updated for several months after the launch, so users should check back often for more features.

 

Nov. 2012 Tx Bond Elections

White leaving Comptroller's Office to join campaign

David White, senior policy advisor to State Comptroller Susan Combs, is leaving the Comptroller's Office to join Combs' political campaign.

 

Before joining Combs' state agency staff, White was political director for Gov. Rick Perry's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. He also is a former chief of staff for State Rep. Wayne Christian. 

 

Booher gets Governor's Trophy for helping workers with disabilities

The Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities recently honored Stephen Booher, the organizational development specialist for the City of Arlington, with a 2012 Lex Frieden Employment Award. The award recognizes employers who go beyond federal and state guidelines in regard to hiring, training and maintaining working relationships with employees with disabilities.

 

Booher, a member of the Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities, was honored with a Governor's Trophy, the top Lex Frieden honor bestowed to individuals who have achieved considerable success empowering employees with disabilities.

 

Exhibit coming to Bullock Museum examines role of women in Texas

Bullock Museum"Women Shaping Texas in the 20th Century" is the newest exhibit coming to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The new exhibit, which will be on display from Dec. 8, 2012 through May 19, 2013, is hailed as the first major exhibition in 30 years to tell the story of the critical impact that Texas women have had on forging the development of Texas.

 

Among the women standouts featured in the exhibit are pioneering politician Barbara Jordan and All-Everything athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias. The exhibit also examines the history of African-American opera singer Barbara Smith Conrad who faced racism and prejudice while enrolled at The University of Texas. There are also stories of women in Texas who were willing to fight for rights and improve public services and their achievements, crusades and dedication.

 

The exhibit is guest-curated by Dr. Paula Marks, associate professor of American Studies at St. Edward's University and an author on women's history.

 

There is information about women and women's groups in business, education, civil rights, health care, government, the arts and the preservation of both natural and historic landmarks. The exhibit uses all of these stories to look at the changing role of women throughout the 20th Century. The exhibit will be on view in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Hall of Special Exhibitions at the Bullock Museum.

 

Annie's List - Grossman Solutions

Luna will serve SFA as director of marketing, public affairs

Shirley LunaThe Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) Board of Regents has appointed Shirley Luna (pictured) executive director of marketing and public affairs.

 

Luna served as associate director of SFA's Office of Public Affairs before taking on her current position on an interim basis in July 2011. Before joining the SFA staff, Luna worked as a freelance writer and print-media journalist.

 

In her new role, Luna will lead the university's strategic marketing efforts.

 

UNT Foundation selects Monticino as VP of advancement

Michael MonticinoMichael Monticino (pictured) is set to take over as vice president of advancement and director of development for the University of North Texas (UNT) Foundation after serving in the post on an interim basis.

 

Monticino joined the UNT faculty in 1990 as a mathematics professor after working in the private sector as a mathematical and computer science consultant. He was appointed to associate dean of administrative affairs at UNT's largest school, the College of Arts and Sciences, in 2004 and became dean of the university's Toulouse Graduate School in 2009. In 2010, he began serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

In his new role, Monticino will work to raise funds and grow private support for UNT, the largest public research university in North Texas.

 

Contracting Opportunities

UT-Arlington announces Cason to serve as vice president of research

Carolyn CasonCarolyn L. Cason (pictured) has been appointed vice president of research at The University of Texas at Arlington (UT-Arlington), a role in which she will oversee the school's research budget, valued at more than $71 million annually. In her new post, Cason will also lead various divisions within UT-Arlington and oversee compliance with federal funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She replaces Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, who was promoted to serve as UT-Arlington's provost and vice president for academic affairs last fall.

 

After serving as a registered nurse in an Austin-based intensive care ward, Cason pursued administrative positions and eventually faculty positions at Texas Woman's University in Houston, The University of Texas at El Paso, Temple University in Philadelphia and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She joined the UT-Arlington College of Nursing in 1997.

 

Cason holds a master's degree from The University of Texas System School of Nursing (now known as the UT-Austin School of Nursing) and a doctoral degree in educational psychology from UT-Austin.

 

Edgewood ISD leads group of schools seeking $40 million grant

Trustees for the Edgewood Independent School District recently joined with nine rural school districts to apply for a $40 million federal grant through the Race to the Top competition. The consortium of school districts include Cotulla, Devine, Dilley, Floresville, La Pryor, Natalia, Pearsall, Poteet and Poth, with Edgewood ISD taking the lead position.

 

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding the four-year grant with a goal of creating equity for all students and closing achievement gaps in student populations. The consortium led by Edgewood ISD plans to focus its application on using more technology in the classroom and using "blended learning" as a new method for instructing students.

 

Federal officials expect to award from 15 to 25 grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million from the Race to the Top program in December to eligible school districts.

 

Research Analysts - Contracts

Frayser chosen to lead Texas State's STAR Park site

Stephen FrayserBeginning Nov. 5, Stephen Frayser (pictured) will take over as executive director of Texas State University's Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park, a 38-acre site hosting Texas State's first incubator building, known as STAR One.

 

Frayser most recently served as president of Nebraska Technology Park after working as the interim director of technology transfer for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1997 until 2003.

 

Frayser holds a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University and a master's degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

 

College of the Mainland selects Lewis as new president

Beth LewisBeth Lewis (pictured) is set to take over as president of the College of the Mainland (COM) after fulfilling a required 21-day term as lone finalist for the position.

 

Lewis currently serves as vice president of academic affairs at Alamo College System's Northeast Lakeview College.

 

Her first charge as president will be to meet with staff to prioritize an agenda and find out which programs are working.

 

Harris County housing authority opens search for new CEO

The board of the Harris County Housing Authority recently agreed to search for a new chief executive officer to head that group. Housing authority officials bought out the contract of former CEO Guy Rankin IV in March and appointed Tom McCasland as the interim CEO of the housing authority.

 

Pressure built on Rankin and several of his top staff to leave the board of the housing authority after a local newspaper published a series of stories on the sharp increase of executive salaries, alleged lavish spending and Rankin reportedly hiring a large number of friends and family in some of the top positions at the housing authority. Board members recently praised the work of McCasland and described him as a strong leader.

 

Applicants for the CEO job must submit their applications to the housing authority board before the Nov. 6 deadline, board members said.

 

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Harris County to use public-private partnership for Exxon campus

Harris County commissioners recently approved using a public-private partnership to build roads and other infrastructure for the new Exxon-Mobil North American headquarters to develop the area faster than the county could without private partners. Commissioners capped reimbursement to the developer at $82 million plus interest and agreed to fund only seven specific projects.

 

The developer agreed to pay for the cost of public infrastructure in the master-planned Springwoods Village, the new North American headquarters for Exxon Mobil and about 10,000 employees. County officials plan to repay the developer using the new property taxes generated by the 1,900-acre development to be repaid via the local public improvement district.

 

Included in the seven projects are:

  • Three, four-lane roads totaling 5.7 miles with two grade separations at a cost of $64.4 million;
  • Two parks with a total of 175 acres of trails, ponds, amphitheaters and restrooms costing about $11.9 million;
  • Improvements to the Spring Creek Greenway park system costing about $3 million; and
  • Relocating an electrical transmission line for about $2.5 million.

Alamo Colleges to provide student housing in San Antonio

Bruce LeslieOfficials of Alamo College in San Antonio recently approved a partnership with a developer for a $30 million project to provide housing and commercial space for community college students. College officials also have a goal for the housing project to generate some revenue to replace diminished state funding, said Chancellor Bruce Leslie (pictured) of Alamo Colleges.

 

Plans call for the Tobin Lofts at San Antonio College to take up two blocks along North Main Avenue with 225 one-, two-, and four-bedroom units along with 14,000 square feet of commercial space anchored by a cafe. Construction on the project began this week and the first apartments should be available to students in August 2013, Leslie said. The developer estimated the apartments alone would produce about $3.8 million in revenue to the college over a 12-year period.

 

College officials also are negotiating for another project using a public-private partnership to build a mixed-use administration building at the old site of Playland Park, Leslie said. If these two projects are successful, the chairman of the board said the college district might use similar proposals to develop projects at other Alamo Colleges locations. Almost one-third of the member schools of the American Association of Community Colleges now offer residential options, according to a spokeswoman for the association.

 

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Former Tech president Bailey steps down at University of Alabama

Guy BaileyGuy Bailey (pictured), who was instrumental in moving Texas Tech University toward tier-one status as president of the institution, has stepped down from his most recent role as president of the University of Alabama.

 

Bailey said he made the decision to leave with his wife, whose health, he said, is foremost among their priorities.

 

Bailey served as president of Tech from 2008 through 2012. His former role is currently filled by Lawrence Schovanec, Tech's dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

Port of Houston Authority set for staff shake-up

Port of Houston Authority officials are set to reorganize staff in an effort to trim costs and approve efficiency following a 24 percent increase in general and administrative expenses since 2009.

 

Executive Director Leonard Waterworth pinned the increase on management salaries, describing the Authority's 600-member organization as top-heavy.

 

Waterworth will revise the Authority's pension plan to include a voluntary early-retirement program as part of the reorganization effort. If all eligible workers aged 55 and older who have worked for the Authority at least 15 years take the early retirement option, the agency could potentially save $4 million per year. Waterworth said he does not anticipate a 100 percent early retirement participation rate, however.

 

Lubbock seeking $500,000 state grant to renovate major thoroughfare

Victor HernandezLubbock City Council members recently agreed to apply for almost $500,000 in state grants to help pay for a proposed $1.2 million to $1.3 million project to beautify and improve North University Avenue. City officials previously allotted $765,000 in bond funds to the project to improve and beautify the roadway, noted Victor Hernandez (pictured), a council member.

 

Deadline for applying for the grant from the Texas Department of Public Transportation is Nov. 16, city officials said. Marsha Reed, chief operations officer for the city, urged council members to adopt a plan committing to about half of the work by renovating a half-mile section of North University Avenue from Marsha Sharp Freeway to the 100 block of University Ave. Council members expect to consider a final plan for the street renovation this week.

 

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Andrade tells Novice officials to stop considering election cancellation

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade has sent correspondence to the Novice school district board instructing officials to stop considering the cancellation of the district's consolidation election with Coleman. The school board had proposed cancelling or postponing the election. Novice Superintendent Dale Freeman said the item was put on the board's agenda simply to provide the board members with all its options for them to consider.

 

Following a public hearing to vote on a petition to detach more than half of the district for annexation into the Jim Ned district, board members held a meeting in the Novice cafeteria.

 

Andrade said in the letter that "to cancel the election at this point would amount to an immediate and irrevocable disenfranchisement of all the voters [who] have ... voted" as well as those who would vote between now and Nov. 6.

 

South Texas economic development groups taps Colleli as director

Alma Puente ColleliThe Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) recently selected Alma Puente Colleli (pictured) as the new executive director of the economic development group that represents Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties. Members of RSTEC include the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, the Port of Brownsville, the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation and the San Benito Economic Development Corporation.

 

Previously serving as director of the San Benito Economic Development Corporation, Colleli replaced Raudel Garza, the first executive director of the group who resigned in August to lead the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation. Colleli is a founding member of RSTEC and previously served as secretary and vice president of that group. Colleli also managed facilities planning and development at The University of Texas at Brownsville, The University of Texas-Pan American, The University of Texas-San Antonio and The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

 

Colleli also worked for several financial and pharmaceutical firms. She has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and is certified by the International Economic Development Corp.

 



National Education Partnerships Conference planned Dec. 9-11

The Texas Association of Partners in Education (TAPE) and the National Association for School and Community Engagement (NASCE) will host the National Education Partnerships Conference Dec. 9-11. Held at the Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio, the conference is designed for anyone involved in partnerships for student success, including school partnership coordinators, business partnership professionals, community involvement specialists, parental involvement specialists, principals, education foundation staff, parents and school volunteers.  Sponsors anticipate up to 200 attendees from across the United States. Workshops will provide partnership coordinators in schools, businesses and agencies with helpful tools and best practices for effective partnerships that align resources for student success in school, career and college. Registration is as low as $239/person and special conference hotel rates are available through Nov. 19. More information on the conference, including a draft agenda, session and keynote speaker descriptions and links for registration and hotel reservations, is available on the conference Web site: http://www.partnershipsconference.org/. Questions? Contact Jennifer Peters at jpeters@tape.org.
 
Downtown Development, Revitalization event dates announced

The 2012 Texas Downtown Development and Revitalization Conference, presented as a cooperative effort of the Texas Downtown Association and 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, set in Dallas

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.

 

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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Education trends will surprise many

 

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

 

In the world of public education, things are changing rapidly. And most of the changes are totally foreign to taxpayers and individuals without children in public classrooms. A trend that will likely surprise some is this - students are being asked to help initiate even more change as Texas schools strive to become national leaders in quality education.

 

School administrators are also asking parents to get more involved. In the Mansfield school district, teachers work with parents to teach them how to help their children learn more and learn quicker. Sessions are scheduled for parents to learn how their children are using district-issued iPads and to hear about the role technology is playing in classrooms.

 

In the Montgomery ISD, the superintendent is actually asking students what they believe the school's leadership is doing right - and wrong. A Student Leadership Council has been formed. It is made up of high school juniors and seniors and the superintendent seeks their input on how to make school programs more beneficial. They also discuss issues related to improving the school systems.

 

A "schools of choice" curriculum is being offered to students in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District. The district has developed a Spanish-language immersion program that begins in the elementary schools and extends through sixth grade. The program takes a class of English-speaking students and teaches them in a classroom where only Spanish is spoken. Children not only learn another language, but they are also taught about other cultures as well. School officials believe speaking more than one language is almost a necessity in the changing world.

 

The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) has launched a Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute. The program seeks to develop education leaders who will work together to define the future of public education throughout the state - not just in their local school districts.

 

[more]

 

 

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Collaboration Nation

Rockwall approves $1.3 million remodel of city hall, police station

Rockwell City Council members recently agreed on a maximum price of $1.3 million to remodel the municipal court and police station. City officials plan to remodel a 7,200-square-foot building purchased by the city to relocate the municipal court. Once the municipal court remodeling project is completed and court staff moved out of the police department, that area would then be expanded and rearranged for the police station, the city manager said.

 

Block grants awarded by TDA for rural area sewer system upgrades

Stephen PearlThanks to $275,000 in Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Community Development Fund block grants, wastewater systems in

Nolanville, Gatesville and Florence are set to receive some much-needed upgrades.

 

Nolanville City Manager Stephen Pearl (pictured) said the grant funding sewer system renovations in the city's Plaza Mobile Home Park includes more than 4,200 linear feet of sewer lines as well as manholes and cleanouts.

 

Fort Bend trustees approve nearly $3M in upgrades, vehicle buys

Trustees at Fort Bend Independent School District have approved nearly $3 million in building upgrades and vehicle purchases. The money will be divided among roof replacement projects ($1.9 million) at Elkins High School and Wheeler Field House, and restroom renovations and terrazzo repairs at Christina McAuliffe Middle School for $410,000. Additionally $615,000 will be spent on new vehicles for the district's police, transportation facilities and design and construction departments. Trustee Susan Hohnbaum said that while district officials are also purchasing 14.8 acres of land, it will not be developed for a new school.

 

"There are no funds in our current budget or from our last bond to build any facility [there]," Hohnbaum said.

 

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Hays County to merge sewer systems in Hillside Terrace, Buda

Hays County commissioners have approved $60,000 in Infrastructure funds to merge sewer systems in Hillside Terrace and the City of Buda.

 

Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said the $400,000 process to complete the design and engineering phases of the project will only cost the city and county $60,000 each if a 70 percent forgiveness grant from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund is approved.

 

Jones said the project, expected to cost $5.6 million overall, will represent "a big health and safety improvement."

 

Fall back!

Fall Back

Daylight Savings Time will

begin early Sunday morning!!

 

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4. You'll "fall back," so don't forget to set your clocks back one hour. And check your electronic devices. Many, but not all, will automatically adjust when Daylight Savings Time begins or ends. The time will change back on March 10, 2013, when the nation (except Arizona and Hawaii, which do not observe Daylight Savings Time) will "spring forward" with clocks set forward one hour.

 

TxDOT awards $687,534 grant

to Olney Municipal Airport

The Aviation Facilities Grant program of the Texas Department of Transportation recently awarded a $687,534 grant to the Olney Municipal Airport. The grant is expected to pay for about 90 percent of the cost to build eight new hangars at the airport.

 

The new hangars are needed to respond to requests from aircraft operators to provide more hangar space to protect aircraft from thunderstorms and high winds, said Robert Stark, airport manager.

 

Northrop Grumman

Brownwood appoints Haney

as new municipal court judge

Brownwood City Council members recently appointed Lee Haney as the new municipal judge and Emily Miller as the associate judge for the municipal court.

 

Haney previously served as district attorney for the 35th Judicial District and is a municipal court judge in Early. Haney has served as a temporary municipal judge in Brownwood following the retirement of Don Clements, the former municipal judge.

 

Liberty-Eylau ISD selects Carson as finalist for superintendent

Ben CarsonTrustees for the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District recently selected Ben Carson (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Carson currently is the assistant superintendent of human resources at Hutto ISD.

 

Development group approves $7.75 million for projects

The board of the Midland Development Corporation recently allocated up to $7.75 million to pay for several infrastructure projects and studies to expand business development in the city.

 

Plans call for spending $6 million for paving and drainage improvements in addition to extending utilities for areas between Thomason Dr. and Gateway Place and up to $1.5 million for developing an extension of Briarwood Ave., said Pam Welch, the director of MDC. The majority of the funding is from a reallocation of $6 million from the Tradewinds Corridor Project, Welch said. MDC also agreed to pay up to $250,000 to the city to conduct drainage studies of two areas north and northwest of the city

 

City council members also agreed to help find a company to oversee paving, utility and drainage improvements for the Tradewinds Corridor.

 

Ison-Newsome to retire as administrator for Dallas ISD

Shirley Ison-NewsomeShirley Ison-Newsome (pictured) recently announced she plans to resign her post as one of the top administrators for the Dallas Independent School District. Ison-Newsome is the third high-level administrator at the school district to resign or retire in recent weeks.

 

Ison-Newsome, who has a 37-year career in education, at first announced she planned to resign immediately, but later requested to rescind that decision in order to plan a retirement date, Superintendent Mike Miles said.

Two El Paso administrators resign in wake of cheating scandal

Myrna Gamboa, former director of the Secondary and Priority Schools Division in the El Paso ISD who was reassigned following investigation of a cheating scandal in the district, resigned Thursday. The action came just hours before the school board was set to consider firing her. Her resignation comes on the heels of the resignation of former Bowie High School Principal Jesus Chavez, also reassigned, who quit on Monday. School board officials said Chavez would likely have been examined for firing as well. Former EPISD Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia earlier this month was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison for his role in the alleged cheating scandal.

 

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Angelina and Neches River Authority OKs partnership

Officials of the Angelina and Neches River Authority recently approved a new public-private partnership with an infrastructure group to give exclusive rights to acquire 47 percent of the water rights to a $330 million regional water supply project, Lake Columbia. The new lake has been in planning stages since the 1970s, river authority officials said.

 

The partnership agreement will allow construction to begin soon on the new lake projected to cover up to 10,000 surface acres to create a lake about 15 miles long with a dam site about five miles southeast of Jacksonville. The new lake is expected to yield a water supply of about 85,500 acre-feet a year. The partnership between the developer and river authority will allow the environmental permitting process and the permit process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue to move forward, the managing partner for the developer said.

 

El Paso ISD hires Perez as temporary public relations head

Vincent PerezVernon Butler, interim superintendent of El Paso Independent School District, has hired El Paso County commissioner candidate Vincent Perez (pictured) to serve as a temporary public relations director.

 

Butler bypassed the school board to hire Perez after asking members to hold off on appointing an interim public relations director. He said he asked the board to refrain from the appointment because he had not decided what was best for the district at the time.

 

Perez' run as public relations director is set to end in late December. The position had been empty for almost two years before his arrival.

 

Navarro County can pay for  restoration without tax hike

A Navarro County financial advisor recently told commissioners the county could finance as much as $9.5 million to pay for restoring the county courthouse without impacting the current tax debt rate.

 

Commissioners authorized $5,000 to pay for an architect to review plans for the historic renovation project to find more space for employees at the courthouse following the restoration that may eliminate several existing office areas. County officials received a $4.5 million grant to help pay for the restoration project, but also must find funding for the county's required matching contribution and the cost of relocating courthouse operations for up to three years while the restoration work is being performed.

 

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.

Caddo Mills airport nabs

$525,000 federal grant

The Caddo Mills Municipal Airport near Greenville recently won a $525,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation. Plans call for using the grant from the Aviation Facilities Grant program to pay for engineering and construction for pavement improvements at the airport.

Plans call for selecting a consultant to perform the engineering and preliminary design work for the pavement project in late 2012 or early 2013, airport officials said.

 

This year TxDOT plans to award about $60 million in grants for planning, construction and maintenance of the 275 community or municipal airports in Texas eligible for the grants.

 

Taylor City Council seeks

additional funds for center

Jim DunawayTaylor City Council staff members are on the hunt for more funds since a recreation center officials want to build is projected to cost $270,000 more than the $3.6 million originally budgeted. Some funds for the YMCA-operated facility will be drawn from unused utility-project bond money.

 

City Councilman Jim Dunaway (pictured) told the council the city has approximately $515,000 in general fund coffers that may possibly be tapped to help pay for the 8,500-square-foot building, which includes a swimming pool. Mayor Don Hill said he wants city staff members to consider engaging corporate sponsorships from private retail companies to offset costs.

 

Voters have twice turned down bond propositions for the center in 2003 and 2010.

 

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Government News

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

  • ERCOT says plenty of power for winter
  • Tech to assist DOD on Vietnam War commemoration
  • Howard Payne promotes Kirk to associate VP

Corsicana wins $550,000

grant to build airport hangar

The Texas Department of Transportation recently awarded a $550,000 grant to the Corsicana airport to build a new hangar. City officials also agreed to contribute $55,000 in matching funds for the hangar project.

 

Plans call for building a hangar measuring 50 feet by 270 feet to be divided into four equal parts to house aircraft for four tenants, said Terry Franks, public works director for Corsicana. Construction on the hangar most likely will begin in about a year, Franks said.

 

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Schertz City Council opposed

to proposed new MPO

The Schertz City Council has passed a resolution in support of the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The measure opposes the formation of a separate MPO, which would also serve cities in Guadalupe and Comal counties. Schertz has been a member of the San Antonio-Bexar County MPO since 1974.

 

Meanwhile several cities - including Cibolo, Seguin, Marion, Santa Clara and New Berlin - have banded together to back an effort spearheaded by New Braunfels to create a new MPO.

 

Sid Martinez, director of the San Antonio-Bexar County MPO, said as a result of the new MPO, his organization would not receive as much federal and state funding for major transportation projects. Proponents of the measure to form a new MPO believe the move could give smaller cities a better chance to secure federal and state funding.

 

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Bastrop County, other cities

share $1.4M in recovery funds

Bastrop County will share $1.4 million in federal recovery funds with the cities of Florence, Llano and Seymour. The county and cities will each net $350,000 in grants to remove debris, restore vegetation and improve drainage following damage caused by wildfires. The fires claimed about 95 percent of all trees in Bastrop State Park.  

 

Florence officials are looking to improve drinking water supplies, while Llano will use the funds to develop wells that will pump water to an upstream reservoir. Seymour leaders will use the money to retool idle wells that have struggled with depleted groundwater levels.

 

Live Oak accepting bids

for city's Civic Center property

Officials in Live Oak are accepting bids for the city's 36,000-square-foot Civic Center situated on 3.6 acres of land. The property also includes .81 acres of paved parking lot.

Sealed bids for the Center were due last week, and City Council members are looking to approve the winning bid in late November with a closing set to occur no later than

Dec. 11.

 

Council members are searching for a team to redevelop the land for retail use. The property has been appraised at $1.7 million.

 

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