Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 47 - Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

'University for the Americas in the Rio Grande Valley'


UT System regents approves plan for consolidation, addition of medical school

Francisco CigarroaA long-sought medical school in the Rio Grande Valley just moved a step closer to becoming a reality. The University of Texas System Board of Regents Thursday approved what System officials called "a bold new plan for advancing excellence in education and health in South Texas." UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa (pictured) explained during the meeting in Austin that the proposal includes combination of UT schools in the Valley as well as adding a medical school.


"We must think big," Cigarroa said in making his presentation before the Regents. "If we accomplish this, we will forever change the educational landscape of South Texas."


His proposal includes placing The University of Texas-Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville into a new university. It would have administrative offices in McAllen and campuses at UT-Brownsville, Harlingen and UT-Pan American. Cigarroa called the proposed project "University for the Americas in the Rio Grande Valley." In addition, the university would house a new health sciences center that would include a four-year medical school. A new campus would be built in Brownsville.


UT SystemAlthough the Regents approved the proposal, it will still require the blessing of the Texas Legislature.


Cigarroa called for the UT System to commit $100 million over a decade to pay for operational costs of both the new university and the health science center. Because it would be a new university, it would quality for funding for infrastructure needs from the Permanent University Fund.


Residents of the Valley have for years sought a medical school in that area of the state. The population in South Texas and the Valley has been expanding rapidly in recent years, citing the need for providing both educational opportunities and health care for those in the area. While the area is one of the fastest growing in the state, it is also one of the poorest and its health needs often are under-served.


If approved, the new university would be the largest Hispanic-serving university in the country.

Cigarroa estimated that the merger and addition of the medical school could result in $70.5 million in endowments. And as an Hispanic-serving institution, the UT System would be able to leverage more federal funds.


Cotton Belt Rail Corridor project continues to move forward


64-mile rail project likely to be financed, built through public-private partnership

Cotton BeltThe Cotton Belt Rail Corridor project, the state's first rail project likely to be financed through a public-private partnership (P3), continues to move forward. The 64-mile rail project will run from Fort Worth to Plano, through Tarrant, Dallas and Collin counties.


The project's P3 roots date back to 2010 when Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) requested the Regional Transportation Council and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to take the lead in developing innovative financial mechanisms and revenue sources to implement passenger rail service in the Cotton Belt Corridor.


Thanks to SB 1048 from the last legislative session, which expanded the use of public-private partnerships for government transportation projects, the Cotton Belt Rail Corridor is bringing together the COG as the governmental entity that has the power to develop or operate a qualified P3 project, and the local government entity, DART/The T, in a joint project. The two will seek a private sector partner to help finance and develop the project.


Officials are hoping that a P3 arrangement might allow the project to be completed as much as 25 years ahead of its original schedule.




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Mike GriffithsMike Griffiths, executive director, Texas Juvenile Justice Department


Career highlights and education: Griffiths received a Master of Public Administration degree from Texas Christian University and his undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University. He served as Chief Juvenile Probation Officer in Dallas County for 15 years and held the same position in Nueces County for five years. He began his career while obtaining his undergraduate degree, servings as a dorm caseworker at a nearby youth treatment center. Griffiths is proud of the fact that he has worked his way up the career ladder in the Texas juvenile corrections system, holding positions as juvenile detention officer, juvenile probation officer, detention center-program director, assistant chief probation officer and chief probation officer.
What I like best about my job is: Having the opportunity to work with dedicated professionals who are focused on positively changing the lives of youth involved in the juvenile corrections system.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Surround yourself with competent individuals that complement your professional strengths and weaknesses.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Our decisions affect not only the youth in the juvenile corrections system, but also the welfare of the community and the restoration of victims affected by our clients.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: watching a baseball game.

People would be surprised to know that I: worked two seasons for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club in the Promotions Department.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The complexity of providing youth corrections at the local level and state-operated secure programs. The majority of professionals working in the Texas juvenile justice system are talented, caring individuals who dedicate their lives every day to help youthful offenders and the citizens of Texas.

Railroad Commissioner Buddy Garcia resigns, effective today

Buddy GarciaRailroad Commissioner Buddy Garcia (pictured) is resigning his spot on the Commission, effective today, Friday. In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry earlier this week, Garcia said that because his term would be ending soon and because his successor was elected last month, he would step down today.


Garcia was appointed to the Railroad Commission by the governor on April 12, to fill the term of former Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, who resigned to mount an unsuccessful campaign for the Texas Senate. Garcia had previously served as a commissioner at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 2007 to 2012.


Garcia will be succeeded by Commissioner-elect Christi Craddick, who was elected in November.


Williams makes staff additions, changes at Texas Education Agency

When Michael Williams was appointed Texas Commissioner of Education in September, he announced former Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Programs, Lizette Gonzalez Reynolds, as his new chief deputy commissioner.


Since that time, Williams has made a number of staff additions and changes at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Named as senior policy director is William Fullerton. Julie Kopycinski is the new director of governmental relations, Gene Acuna is charged as director of communications and Ryan Franklin is new senior policy advisor.


Other appointments find Michael Berry, former education policy advisor to the governor and former staff member at TEA, in the position of Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Programs. Michele Moore, policy advisor to Reynolds, was promoted to Associate Commissioner for Educator Leadership and Quality and Lisa Dawn-Fisher, a TEA school finance expert, was promoted to Chief School Finance Officer to oversee two new divisions at the agency - State Funding and State Financial Reviews. Debbie Ratcliff, former director of communications, now serves as Director of Media Relations. Alice McAfee is the new director of Enforcement Coordination and Governance and Ron Rowell has joined McAfee in that new unit.


Mary Scott NabersA $3 trillion opportunity your company

may be missing out on...


"How well we perform as a nation in the next decade or so will depend on how well business and government collaborate on the inevitable Collaboration Nation transfer of an estimated $3-$6 trillion in government operations to private and semiprivate entities. The challenge will be to find creative, efficient, and profitable ways to continue providing services."


- From Collaboration Nation, How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government, by Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.  


For more information and to order your copy, click here.


Bugg selected as president of Texas Economic Development Corp.

J. Bruce Bugg Jr. of San Antonio was recently appointed by the governor as the new president and chairman of the Texas Economic Development Corp.


Bugg will act as a senior adviser to Gov. Rick Perry while overseeing TEDC programs in addition to working with the Texas Secretary of State's office and the state office of Economic Development and Tourism. He also is board chairman of TexasOne, a TEDC program raising marketing funds for Texas. The Economic Development and Tourism office manages the Texas Enterprise Fund that awards incentives to businesses relocating to Texas and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund that invests in companies in high technology.


Bugg is chairman and chief operating officer of Southwest Bancshares, Inc., Bandera First State Bancshares, Inc., San Antonio Capital & Trust Holdings LLC and Argyle Investment Co. LLC. He is also chair of the Bank of San Antonio, chair of the Tobin Endowment and president of the Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation.


Brandon Harris chosen as Texas Railroad Commission CIO

Brandon HarrisAfter spending the last three years as director of the Information Resources Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Brandon Harris (pictured) is moving to the Texas Railroad Commission, where he will be the agency's chief information officer. In his new role, Harris will help oversee efforts to increase efficiencies at the agency through new technology initiatives.


Harris will lead the agency's efforts toward using information technology to enhance its regulatory functions, including moving all its regulatory forms online. By doing so, the agency hopes to reduce its reliance on paper mailings and manual data entry.


Harris began his information technology career with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. He holds a bachelor's degree from Southeastern Louisiana University.


TWDB approves $20M to finance water projects

The Texas Water Development Board this week approved financial assistance totaling $20,926,336. The funding includes:

  • $375,000 loan to the city of Castroville from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to finance sewer system improvements;
  • $562,788 in loans to the city of Mount Vernon, including a loan of $525,000 and $37,788 in loan forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to finance wastewater system improvements;
  • $500,000 loan to the Orange County Water Control and Improvement District No. 2 from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to finance wastewater system improvements;
  • $227,500 in loans to the city of West Tawakoni, including a loan of $115,000 and $112,500 in loan forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to finance wastewater system improvements;
  • $6,493,865 in loans to the Bistone Municipal Water Supply District, including a loan of $6.13 million and $363,865 in loan forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance water system improvements;
  • $350,000 loan to the city of Castroville from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance water system improvements;
  • $8,756,308 in loans to the city of San Juan including a loan of $6.17 million and $2,586,308 in loan forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance water system improvements;
  • $2,995,875 in loans to the Union Water Supply Corporation, including a loan of $1.665 million and $1,330,875 in loan forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance water system improvements;
  • $575,000 loan to the Baylor Water Supply Corporation from the Rural Water Assistance Fund to finance water system improvements; and
  • $90,000 grant to the city of Silverton from the Economically Distressed Areas Program to finance water system improvements.
Need Federal Contracting?

Lang chosen as senior advisor on Charter School Turnaround

Gay LangeDr. Gaye Lang (pictured) has been chosen by Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams as senior advisor relating to Charter School Turnaround. Lang has served the last three years as the Texas Education Agency's director of Campus Turnaround. In her new post, she will work to identify and assist struggling charter schools in Texas with a goal of preventing potential disruptions in education to students and parents.


Lang's education career began as a fourth-grade teacher in a gifted and talented program. She brings more than 40 years of experience to her new post. Among her previous assignments are assistant principal and principal in Houston, a stint as field service representatives for Region IV and project manager for Houston ISD's Virtual School Project. She also has served as the deputy secretary's regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education and was later appointed Acting Regional Representative by the U.S. Secretary of Education.


The longtime educator holds an undergraduate degree from Dillard University in New Orleans, a master's degree from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and a doctorate from the University of Houston. She also received a science certification from Texas A&M University. 


Municipalities will unveil upcoming P3 development projects

Designed to connect municipalities with businesses that develop, capitalize and operate public-private partnerships, the Public Private Partnership Alliance is hosting its annual P3 Conference (P3C) in Dallas at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Hotel on Feb. 21-22, 2013. There is a large and growing appetite for public-private partnerships (P3s) across the country. These partnerships have become important vehicles for public agencies to bring essential real estate projects to fruition.


P3C brings together real estate community development professionals and municipal leaders to highlight the latest development trends and opportunities involving public private-partnerships. Their platform has become a high profile setting for municipalities to announce, unveil and discuss upcoming development projects. P3C's agenda is filled with more than 65 thought-provoking and engaging speakers and 30 municipal presentations. Over two days, attendees will exchange insights with municipal leaders looking to connect with new development partners.


The nation's top developers, builders, architects, financiers and consultants will be in attendance to address fresh innovations for accelerating public-private partnerships. A variety of networking resources to help generate more business in the upcoming year will be offered. Attendees will discover multiple partnering possibilities and receive exposure to many upcoming development projects.


To learn more about P3C, visit www.P3C2013.com. The agenda and list of speakers are available now.


Peppers chosen to fill UT System Chief Audit Executive post

J. Michael PeppersVeteran internal audit professional J. Michael Peppers (pictured), who has served two University of Texas System institutions, has been named Chief Audit Executive for The University of Texas System. Peppers became chief audit executive ad interim at UT System earlier this year from his post of vice president and chief audit officer for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he has been since 2005.


A 25-year veteran in public accounting, Peppers has worked in higher education since 1993, joining the UT System in 1999 as the director for audit services at the UT Medical Branch - Galveston, where he served for five years.


Peppers holds bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting from the University of South Florida. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor. He also holds a certification in risk management assurance and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.


Research Analysts

Richard to chair board of Austin Community College

Jeffrey RichardThe board of trustees for Austin Community College recently elected Jeffrey Richard (pictured) as the new chair for 2012 and 2013. The board also tapped Dr. Vic Villarreal as vice chair and Guadalupe Sosa as secretary.


Richard, a management and business development consultant, joined the ACC board in 2004 and served as vice chair from 2010 to 2012. He previously was chief executive officer for the Austin Area Urban League and vice chairman of education for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce in addition to working almost 12 years in Washington, D.C., in various positions in the United States Senate, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.


Richard has a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University and a master's degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


HISD announces construction timeline for bond program

The Houston Independent School District has announced its construction timeline for the 40 schools scheduled for new construction or renovation as a result of the successful $1.89 billion bond program passed earlier this month. Seventeen of the 40 schools will be part of the first phase of projects, which expect groundbreakings no later than the end of 2014. The first two schools to break ground will be North Early College and South Early College, with design work expected to begin in early 2013 and construction starting this summer.


The remainder of the schools will be phased in over the next five years and all construction is expected to be under way by 2017. Officials are hopeful all of the work will be completed by 2020.The planning stage for the first phase schools is early 2013. The remaining three groups of schools will have construction projects phased in every year thereafter.


In addition to construction and renovation projects, the bond issue also includes  $100 million for district-wide technology improvements that will be done between 2012 and 2015. Some $35 million will be used to renovate middle school restrooms, with those projects to be completed during the summers of 2014 through 2016. District-wide safety and security improvements worth $17.3 million will be divided evenly among 32 quarters. As with the 2007 bond program, all new schools in the 2012 program will be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards. These facilities will be energy efficient and environmentally responsible, resulting in lower operating costs for the district.


P3 Opportunities

Anderson exiting Parkland Hospital after 30 years

Ron AndersonRon Anderson (pictured), former chief operating officer of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, recently informed board members he is leaving the hospital. Last year, following several failed inspections, Parkland board members rejected Anderson's request to remain as CEO. Anderson, however, continued to work as a senior advisor to the interim CEO Bob Smith.


During this time, Anderson performed a variety of tasks, including fundraising and assisting with Medicare funding, in an office away from the main hospital. Smith said he plans to split the duties performed by Anderson during the last year to other executives, especially Walter "Ted" Shaw, the interim chief financial officer.


Anderson joined Parkland Hospital as a resident in the 1970s and became medical director of the emergency room in 1979. In 1982, he became the CEO of the largest health care provider in Dallas County. Board members currently are in the process of holding a second round of interviews with four finalists for CEO, but have announced no deadline for naming a new leader.


Sabine ISD group eyeing bond election up to $23.3 million

A Sabine Independent School District bond steering committee recently began a review of three options presented for asking voters to approve bonds ranging from $20.6 million to $23.3 million. The bond proceeds would be used to upgrade the campus of Sabine Elementary School.


The first option carries a $20.6 million estimate for demolishing some sections of buildings and renovating other areas of the campus and the second option with a $23.3 million estimate calls for removing more sections of the oldest buildings and changing the front of the school. The third option, also estimated to cost about $23.3 million, is to replace the building to accommodate 750 students.


Committee members will meet in early December to discuss and possibly determine which option to recommend to the board of trustees.


Pankratz selected as new vice president for UT-Dallas

Terry PankratzUniversity of Texas-Dallas officials recently selected Terry Pankratz (pictured) as the new vice president for budget and finance after a year-long search for someone to fill the position created last year to help position the university as a national research university.


Currently the vice chancellor of finance for the University of North Texas System, Pankratz served more than 20 years at Texas A&M University, where he was vice president for finance managing a $1.2 billion annual operating budget. He has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and a master's degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce.


Contracting Opportunities

Tyler selects construction manager for $7 million parking garage

Tyler city officials recently selected Manhattan Construction as the construction manager to oversee a public-private partnership project to build a four-story, $7 million downtown parking garage. The building will have 427 parking spaces on property donated to the city by the Fair Foundation.


The Dallas-based construction company submitted the winning bid of $447,084 and expressed a commitment to using qualified suppliers and constractors from the Smith County area, said Carter Delleney, the city engineer. City council must still review and approve the parking garage before the project is finalized, he said.


Texas Southern University to build $41.5 million housing complex

TSU FacilityTexas Southern University regents recently approved a plan to build a new $41.5 million student resident housing complex (see accompanying artist's rendering) as part of a two-year plan in part aimed at attracting students and increasing graduation rates.


The new housing complex is part of a pilot project that has freshmen students living on campus in a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week environment and includes community, cultural and education events, said Dr. John M. Rudley, president of TSU.


The 215,000-square-foot, seven-story building will feature social and study areas on each residential floor, a dining hall, locker storage, laundry on each residential floor, a convenience store and roof terrace. The rooms are double occupancy with a shared bathroom. TSU officials expect to select a general contractor for the housing facility this year and begin construction in May 2013. The new complex should be completed in July 2014.


Austin Community College studies bond election for November 2013

Trustees for Austin Community College recently voted to work toward a bond election for November 2013 seeking from about $400 million to $600 million to renovate and expand campuses.


While trustees have discussed a bond proposal of up to $600 million, ACC officials have not yet decided on the amount of bond funding to ask voters to approve. Voters in the ACC district last approved $99 million in bonds in 2003.


ACC officials also agreed to create a panel to work with other advisory committees on various campuses to gather more information on improvements that would draw public support, a spokeswoman for ACC said. Some projects discussed, but not finalized, include expanding campuses in Round Rock, Elgin and Kyle and renovating the Rio Grande and Riverside campuses as well as developing classroom, office and conference spaces at the newest Austin campus at the former Highland Mall.



Job Board   Need a part-time or full-time job? Got a job opening?

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The Public Utility Commission has an opening for a file clerk, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has an opening for a data analyst and Ector County has three openings for custodial/maintenance tech positions. View these and other jobs. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com.

Gunter ISD to offer incentives for early retirements, resignations

Trustees for the Gunter Independent School District recently approved a plan to offer incentives to employees who notify administration officials early if they plan to retire or resign before the next school year begins.


The plan does not require anyone to resign or retire but encourages employees who plan to leave the district with a financial incentive to help with financial planning, said Superintendent Jill Siller. Only 15 incentive packages will be approved for employees and range from a one-time payment of $4,000 for full-time employees and $2,000 for part-time employees.


Because of declining enrollment, property values and state funding, district officials are considering a variety of measures to reduce the budget from $500,000 to $700,000 for the next academic year. This could translate into reductions in salaries or the number of employees as well as other reductions, Siller said.


CCRTA's natural gas-powered bus makes its inaugural trip

New bus
CCRTA CEO Scott Neeley (left) speaks in front of one of the agency's new compressed natural gas-powered buses.

The first South Texas compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) bus was on display recently by the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA). A slate of local, state and CCRTA dignitaries were on hand for a ribbon cutting and dedication held on the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi campus.


CCRTA CEO Scott Neeley (seen in the accompanying photo at the ceremony) said the agency is "moving in a new direction" by using the new CNG buses. He said the new buses represent a future that will benefit bus riders and the community.


The decision to move the CCRTA fleet to an affordable, domestically-produced fuel source was reinforced in 2011 when the board approved purchasing 10 of the buses for fixed-route service. Five 40-foot and five 35-foot buses were added to the fleet.


The agency is busy making modifications to existing maintenance facilities and building a new fueling station. When completed, the fueling station will be the largest in South Texas and will support three 500-horsepower compressors capable of fueling 12 buses in six minutes. The CCRTA expects to save approximately two-thirds of its operating fuel costs by converting to CNG.


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DFW hoping for additional 2,550 new parking spaces

Officials of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport are discussing the addition of 2,550 new parking spaces. The facility recently opened 1,150 new covered parking spaces and has plans to add another 1,225 covered spots in the Express North lot by November of next year. The cost of that project could be in the neighborhood of $9 million, according to Perfecto Solis, vice president of development and engineering for the airport. Another 1,325 covered spaces could be completed by November 2014 at a cost of up to $9.25 million.


At a recent meeting, the airport board also OK'd plans for the first phase of a development that will include a Hyatt Place hotel and new airport staff headquarters. The owner cities involved with the airport have committed to paying for part of that project with public improvement facility corporation fund monies, collected from the two current hotels and the rental car center. 


Friendswood to form committee for bond election in 2013

Friendswood city officials recently agreed to form a citizens committee to help set priorities for a proposed bond election in November 2013 to pay for capital improvements.


The city's five-year capital improvement plan includes projects for street improvements, drainage and building renovations. City officials also are studying a $2 million plan to upgrade the library and a $3.5 million park improvement plan that could be considered for a bond proposal, City Manager Roger Roecker said.


Council members requested the city manager begin finding residents to serve on the committee and set a goal of recruiting 50 community members to serve on the bond committee that will prioritize bond projects and help convince voters to support the measure.


Did you miss Government Contracting Pipeline?

Midland Center renovations could have effect on downtown

Midland officials are considering renovations to Midland Center that will cost more than originally planned, but also help secure improvements to the downtown area. An architectural firm came to the city with three options that range in cost from $2.16 million to more than $8 million.


The first option is a simple renovation of the center, including renovations to mechanical systems and restrooms, roof and plumbing repairs and a new ground-level sprinkler system and fire alarm. That is the $2.16 million option. Option two carries a cost of $6.3 million and would include the same renovations as the first option, but also with gutting the basement and adding new restrooms and administration and concession areas in a ground-level addition. Option three, with a cost of $8 million, would work within the scope of other plans for the downtown area.


The proposed renovations could take up to three years, said city officials, because the work would be done in multiple phases so that the center could remain open during the renovations.


Canyon seeking architect to move forward with plans for city hall

Canyon City Council members recently ranked three architect firms to conduct a study of city hall and authorized city staff to begin negotiations to select an architect for the project.


City Manager Randy Criswell said he plans to begin negotiations with the architecture firm ranked first by council members and if not successful, will negotiate with the firms ranked two and three until a satisfactory agreement is reached.


The study is needed because the current city hall is crowded and some city offices are located elsewhere, Criswell said. The study will explore the affordability and feasibility of renovating the Randall County Courthouse, built in 1909, to serve as city hall.


Centex ASPA plans Holiday Mixer, Toy Drive Dec. 13

The Centex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration will holds its Holiday Mixer and Toy Drive on Thursday, Dec. 13. The event will be at the Nuevo Leon Mexican Restaurant, 1501 E. 6th Street, Austin, 78702, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event is open to non-members as well and there is no admission charge. Free appetizers and non-alcohol beverages will be served. Toys will be distributed to children at SafePlace Shelter. For more information and a list of toys that SafePlace will accept, check the Calendar at CenTexASPA.org or visit SafePlace. Attendees may RSVP at CenTexASPA@gmail.com.

Leadership Fusion Summit to address educational trends

Join educational leaders from across Texas for Leadership Fusion 2013 - Learning in the 21st Century, Leading in Tomorrow's World. Each year, Leadership Fusion focuses on topics that are relevant to current educational trends. This year, the summit explores how emerging technology is motivating and engaging students, how brain-based research can impact higher learning and how the universal principles of exemplary school leadership can accelerate student success. Participants will gain best practices and innovative strategies to help them excel as educational leaders. Featured speakers include: Eric Jensen, a leading authority on the science and applications of brain research in education; Alan November, international leader in educational technology; and Lonnie Moore, leadership development expert and author of The High-Trust Classroom. Visit www.leadershipfusion.net to learn more or e-mail solutions@esc4.net.


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. 


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 was 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! 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.


Media Notice

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Critical water needs will result
in abundance of public-private partnerships


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


Throughout Texas, in both rural and urban areas, there is growing concern regarding the quality and availability of water. One critical service local governments must provide is a sufficient supply of water and a reliable way to access it. This poses large challenges because most of the state's water infrastructure was built more than 50 years ago and public officials lack the funds needed for upgrades and expansion.


WeiserMazars LLP, a New York-based tax and advisory firm, recently released the U.S. Water Industry Outlook report that examined the nation's water industry. Most of the industry professionals surveyed agreed that the entire country is challenged to keep water systems in safe working order. The report predicts that capital spending for water delivery and wastewater treatment infrastructure will continue to increase and that water needs will far outweigh available funding. The result will be deferred maintenance or higher user rates or both. Industry experts say it will take a combination of government grants, loans, bond issues and private investments to meet even basic water needs.


In Austin, city officials realized the need for a new water treatment plant a few years ago and found a way to finance it. However, as is the case in many new construction projects, there was no way to accurately predict costs and there have been overruns totaling millions of dollars.


In South Central Texas, five area cities formed a coalition to drill wells, construct a new treatment plant and transport water from another county. Already, however, one of the cities has pulled out of the agreement, citing increasing costs as the reason. 


Another group of Central Texas rural and semi-rural area residents recently told a legislative committee that their water rates had increased in ranges from 108-300 percent in the last decade. In Marlin, residents were placed under strict water restrictions and told to boil water for nearly a month while the city dealt with repairs to its water treatment plant.

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Research Analysts - Solutions

Houston Airport System

upgrades Bush Terminal D

Officials of the Houston Airport System recently began efforts to select a final design for renovating and upgrading Terminal D, which handles international flights at the Bush Intercontinental Airport. Officials expect to seek construction bids for the estimated $30 million terminal project in late 2013.


The renovations are needed to add more concessions, lounges and gates to handle the increasing number of international airlines now serving Houston, said Jarret Simmons, assistant director of aviation. Construction on the renovations and upgrades to Terminal D will begin in 2014 and the project should be completed in early 2015 or early 2016.


Moran resigns administration, regulatory affairs post

Alfred MoranAlfred Moran (pictured) recently resigned a director of the Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department in Houston. He said he plans to remain on the job at the department created at his urging in January 2008 until his successor is found. Before joining the city, Moran worked at Harvard Business School and 70 national and international companies while in the private sector.


The administration and regulatory affairs department oversees 16 separate functions that often are controversial, including animal control, the 311-information line, the purchasing system, payroll and protocols for employee attendance and parking. 


Layne Christensen Co. gets

TEF investment from state
Layne Christensen Co., a global water management, construction and drilling company providing solutions for water, mineral and energy challenges, has earned a $1.3 million investment from the Texas Enterprise Fund and will move its global headquarters to The Woodlands. The firm is expected to create 210 jobs and $6.7 million in capital investments. The move is contingent on finalization of local incentives.


Some of the company's customers include agencies, investor-owned water utilities, heavy civil construction contractors, oil and gas companies and agribusiness. The firm is currently headquartered in Kansas.


"We are thrilled to welcome Layne Christensen as the newest member of The Woodlands area's corporate community," The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership CEO Gil Staley said. "The decision to relocate their corporate headquarters to our community reaffirms that The Woodlands area is uniquely positioned to provide the best business environment, from its vibrant economy to a superior quality of life."


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Greater San Marcos Partnership taps Kamerlander as VP

Greater San Marcos Partnership officials recently selected Mike Kamerlander as the new vice president of business attraction for the nonprofit partnership created by public and private investors in Hays and Caldwell counties. Kamerlander previously was director of business retention and expansion with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.


In his new duties, Kamerlander will be responsible for new business development, recruitment, marketing trips, strategic inquiry, corporate site selection visits and other efforts to diversify the economic base of the region and attract a wider diversity of jobs with higher salaries.


He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.


Suprintendent Carbajal retiring from post at Flour Bluff ISD

Julie CarbajalDr. Julie Carbajal (pictured) recently announced plans to retire as superintendent of Flour Bluff Independent School District on March 8, 2013, after 33 years with the school district.


To find a new superintendent, trustees hired a consultant and held a community meeting to gather public opinion on the qualities the new superintendent should display.


Bastrop uses $300,000 grant to upgrade water, sewer service

Bastrop city officials are using a $300,000 grant from the Community Block Grant program to replace 3,000 feet of 12-inch wastewater line with an 18-inch line along with installing 18 manholes. The new wastewater line will be located east of the Union Pacific Railroad from the Gils Branch lift station to Farm Street. The city is contributing approximately $41,000 to the new project, said city manager Mike Talbot.


Health Information Designs

Tyler ISD plans to name sole finalist for superintendent soon

Trustees for Tyler Independent School District plan to name the sole finalist for superintendent by mid-December. The district received three applications for the post, including interim Superintendent Gary Mooring, who previously served as superintendent at two other Texas school districts, a district spokesperson said.


Board members plan to conduct interviews after the Dec. 8 deadline for accepting applications for superintendent and select the lone finalist within a week after the deadline, she said. The new superintendent will replace Dr. Randy Reid, who resigned in August to serve as superintendent for Keller ISD.



Huntsville taps Matt Benoit

as its new city manager

Matt BenoitAfter a seven-month search, the Huntsville City Council recently selected Matt Benoit (pictured) as the new city manager. Benoit previously worked as an assistant city manager in Farmers Branch and Wichita Falls. He replaces Bill Baine, who resigned as city manager in April.

Education commissioner names

El Paso ISD board of managers

A five-member board of managers has been appointed by Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams to oversee management of the El Paso Independent School District. The board will have oversight over the district's plans to take care of deficiencies identified in the school district and to implement strategies for improvement for long-term, positive changes in the district.


Vernon Butler also was appointed to continue in his current role as interim superintendent when the board of managers is installed. The appointment of the five-member board must be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ clearance is needed because the appointed board replaces a seven-member elected board of trustees. That process could take 60-90 days. Dr. Judy Castleberry has been elevated from TEA monitor to conservator and will oversee the operations of the district until the board of managers is installed. She has been serving as monitor since August. The district is trying to dig its way out of a scandal that resulted in its accreditation status being lowered after fraudulent data was reportedly sent to TEA to inflate state and federal accountability scores.


Members of the board of managers include Ed Archuleta, president and CEO of the El Paso Water Utilities and a longtime community leader; Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, CFO for the city of El Paso who has three children in the EPISD; Dee Margo, State Representative and president, chairman and CEO of John D. Williams Company; and Castleberry, the TEA monitor who is a former executive director of the Region 20 Education Service Center. The fifth member of the board will be appointed at a later date.


Lamesa city manager

Fred Vera plans to retire

Fred VeraFred Vera (pictured), the city manager in Lamesa, recently told City Council members he plans to retire from that post in May 2013. Vera, who was employed with the city for 42 years, began as a police officer and served in several administrative posts before becoming city manager. He has a master's degree from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview.


Council members plan to begin researching applicants for city manager in February and the city has already received 10 applications. The goal is to hire a new city manager by mid-April, city officials said.


SPI seeking veteran marketing/inside sales professional

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. is seeking an experienced marketing/inside sales professional. As a growing and expanding firm that has been successful in offering government procurement consulting, governmental affairs and customized research for more than 15 years, SPI is looking for an individual with a proven record of success in sales. To read the job description and information on how to apply, click here.


Goliad reviews applications

for new city administrator

Officials in Goliad are moving forward in their search for a new city administrator. Mayor Jay Harvey said the city received 18 applications. Among them is city finance officer Larry Zermeno. A committee that includes council members and the city attorney will review the applications and name five finalists to sit for interviews. City officials are hoping to have the position filled in about a month.


Neeley resigning as city

manager in College Station

David NeeleyCity Manager David Neeley (pictured) of College Station recently announced he plans to resign from that post on Jan. 11, 2013.


A former city manager in Plano and Sugar Land, Neeley joined the city as an assistant city manager in 2008 and became city manager in February 2011.


El Paso Water Utilities

selects four finalists for CEO

El Paso Water Utilities (EPWU) officials recently selected four finalists for chief executive officer to replace Ed Archuleta, who is retiring after 24 years with the municipal utility.


The finalists for CEO are Roger S. Bailey, a director of San Diego Public Utilities; John E. Balliew, a vice president of operations and technical services for EPWU; Dennis B. Porter, director of utility services for Henderson, Nevada; and Gregorio Ramon, an assistant general manager for the Central Arizona Project in Phoenix, Arizona.


Public Service Board members plan to interview the four finalists and select a new executive in early 2013 in order to give the new CEO time to work with Archuleta before he retires in July 2013.


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.

Upshur County reassigns IT director to another department

Upshur County commissioners recently reassigned Carmen Kelley, the director of information technology, to the building maintenance department. Commissioners also approved an agreement with a technology company for computer and network-related services to manage information technology for the county.


The agreement, which commissioners estimate will save the county about $20,000 annually, also is expected to resolve network and security issues, commissioners said. The dismissal of the supervisor for building maintenance and the promotion of another employee opened a position for Kelley in the three-person building maintenance department, county officials said.


Hays County CISD selects

Scherff interim superintendent

Carter ScherffHays County Consolidated Independent School District board members recently selected Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff (pictured) as the interim superintendent.


Scherff will begin his new duties as soon as Superintendent Jeremy Lyon officially resigns to serve as superintendent of Frisco ISD, where he has been named as lone finalist. Scherff, who previously served as interim superintendent in 2009, joined the district in 2003.


Board members also began soliciting bids from consultant and search firms to help find the most qualified candidate for superintendent. Trustees plan to select the search firm or consultant in January 2013.


Canutillo ISD votes to suspend superintendent Damon Murphy

Canutillo Independent School District Superintendent Damon Murphy has been suspended without pay and steps are being taken by the school board to terminate his employment. The action came Thursday after an internal audit revealed alleged possible attempts of cheating on state and federal accountability measures.


The board received a report from the district's internal auditor at a special meeting called Thursday. Canutillo apparently is in the same boat as nearby El Paso ISD, which just this week had a board of managers appointed to replace the elected school board following a similar cheating scandal in that district. Murphy previously served as an associate superintendent in the El Paso ISD before joining Canutillo.


The El Paso Times reports that Internal auditor Hector Rodriguez said the audit found that Murphy reportedly directed former Canutillo High School Principal James Fry, who resigned in June, and the district's special education director, Janine Hammock, to reduce the number of limited-English speaking students and special education students enrolled in the 10th grade, apparently so they would not be counted in state and federal accountability measures.


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Government News

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

  • Texas A&M AgriLife groups win water awards

  • TAMU-Corpus Christi pushes energy conservation

  • DPS program saves lives, protects children

  • CPRIT announces $85M in grant awards

  • UT-Dallas, city of Richardson awarded for transit plan

Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 11/30/12

Plainview process progressing toward new superintendent

A field of 62 applicants for superintendent of the Plainview Independent School District has been narrowed to three. School officials say the remaining candidates are being carefully vetted and will make site visits. School board President Brandon Brownlee said the board is looking for someone who will be a "perfect fit" for the community and the school district.


Trustees hope to name a lone finalist at their Dec. 20 meeting. The person chosen will replace retiring Superintendent Dr. Ron Miller.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Joe Campos of Dallas, Texas Industrialized Building Code Council;

  • Randall "Randy" Childers of Hewitt, Texas Industrialized Building Code Council;

  • Steve Fitzpatrick of Tyler, Texas Industrialized Building Code Council;

  • Mark Remmert of Liberty Hill, Texas Industrialized Building Code Council;

  • Jesse Rider of Tyler, Texas Industrialized Building Code Council;

  • William F. "Dubb" Smith of Dripping Springs, Texas Industrialized Building Code Council;

  • Michael K. "Mike" Griffiths of Austin, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board;

  • June Scogin of Cedar Park, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board;

  • Michael Willson of Midland, justice of the 11th Court of Appeals.

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Goliad taps Sahadi as new municipal court judge

Goliad city officials recently appointed Reagan Sahadi as the new municipal court judge. Council members created a municipal court as part of a new strategy to strictly enforce environmental and building codes. Hiring Sahadi as a municipal judge will help with enforcement, city officials said.


Sahadi previously worked at a law firm and served on a Corpus Christi Crime Control and Prevention District commission that helps determine how money and resources in the police department are allocated and spent. He is a graduate of St. Edward's University and the University of Houston Law Center.


Martinez resigns from Hutto economic development corp.

Scott Martinez, the executive director of the Hutto Economic Development Corporation, recently resigned to serve as the new president for the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. Board members of the Hutto EDC plan to develop a plan to replace Martinez in the coming weeks.


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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