Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 6 - Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

Next phase of $1.4 billion Grand Parkway to be design-build option


TxDOT expects contract award this year, groundbreaking in early 2013

TrafficGround could be broken early next year on a $1.4 billion project that will complete the next phase of the Grand Parkway (State Highway 99) in Harris and Montgomery counties. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has announced it is moving forward with a design-build strategy that it is confident will accelerate plans for the project.


And 2.5 million people in the greater Houston area breathed a sigh of (traffic) relief.


"This is a win-win situation for drivers and businesses in Houston," said Ned Holmes (pictured), Texas transportation commissioner. "The design-build option is an ideal approach for this project to provide a high-quality facility and the best value for the state."


Ned HolmesTxDOT officials expect to issue a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) early next month for the project. The project includes development of approximately 37 miles of new toll road for segments F1, F2 and G of the Grand Parkway. This section will create a major link connecting US 59 North to US 59 South. Officials see this as a major link in the regional transportation system.


Last November, TxDOT officials received a number of responses to a Request for Qualification (RFQ) from teams entering into a design-build contract or concession agreement. Those RFQs were due earlier this month. As a result of the responses, TxDOT has chosen to use the design-build method and later this month will review and select what it deems are the best teams to compete for the contract.


Legislation from the last session of the Texas Legislature gave TxDOT authority to develop nearly a dozen specific projects, among them the Grand Parkway, through comprehensive development agreements. Under that scenario, TxDOT can partner with the private sector for the design, construction and possibly even the financing, operation and maintenance of a project. 




Texas A&M regents approve millions of dollars in construction


Vet school expansion, renovation among largest projects in school history

R. Bowen LoftinThe College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University will be expanded and renovated to the tune of a $120 million price tag, following action Thursday by the TAMU System Board of Regents. Another $12 million was appropriated for pre-construction services and project costs.


The Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences expansion will be one of the largest construction projects in the university's history, according to TAMU President R. Bowen Loftin (pictured). It will create a new classroom building for the vet school and increase the size of the Small Animal Hospital. A new road will be built connecting the building to the Raymond Stotzer Parkway. Three buildings in the area - the veterinary teaching hospital, veterinary medicine administration building and the veterinary sciences building - will either be demolished or renovated. Loftin said some of those buildings are "dysfunctional."


Regents also approved another $38.1 million in other construction and renovation projects on the System's flagship campus. They include an $8 million renovation of Francis Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus. When renovated, it will be used as a headquarters for the Construction Science Department. Another $1.9 million was approved for renovation of the Corps of Cadets dormitories. Lacy Hall will be renovated by building it into 110 two-bed dorm rooms. A new 115,000-square-foot Physical Education Activity Program building was approved at a cost of $21 million.


None of the projects will require tuition revenue or state appropriations, according to university officials.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Anwar KarimAnwar Karim, chief information officer, Texas A&M University-Commerce


Career highlights and education:  Anwar Karim has had wide-ranging information technology-related experiences, both from institutions of higher learning and corporate sectors. Previously he has served three different, both private and public, institutions as Chief Information Officer, Director of IT Services, Director of Networks & Computing, and Information Systems faculty. Karim's corporate experiences include working for global Fortune 500 company as Manager of IT Infrastructure Capacity Management, Manager of IT Sourcing, Manager of Web and Application Engineering Services and Architect of Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management. Karim earned his BBA in mathematics from Southern Arkansas University, his MBA in finance from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a Master's in Information Systems from DePaul University. 
What I like best about my job is: that I am in position to directly and positively contribute toward the goals of Texas A&M University-Commerce. Being the first chief information officer of an institution that is growing fast and striving to be a regional leader under President Dan Jones' leadership is very exciting. 
The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Looking out for institutional dynamics and finding ways to work with the existing systems to advance organizational goals.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Change is the only constant in life. Accept it.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  at home. Time with my family is very important to me. My leisure activities revolve around my family.

People would be surprised to know that I:  speak four languages. How well I speak any of those languages is entirely a different matter.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: is that Texas A&M University-Commerce is on the move. It is very exciting to see the amount of activities ranging from increased student population, addition of new programs, hiring of new faculty, increase in research and scholarly activities, etc. that are happening on the campus.


Sales tax receipts:


January collections total $2 billion; revenues up for 22nd consecutive month 

MoneyFor the 22nd consecutive month, sales tax revenue in Texas has increased. State Comptroller Susan Combs this week announced that sales tax revenue in January was $2 billion, up 9.5 percent over the January 2011 amount. As a result, the comptroller will send out February local sales tax allocations totaling $708.5 million. Those funds are headed to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts. That $708.5 million represents an 8.2 percent increase over February 2011 figures.


Combs said most major economic categories continue to see increases in sales tax revenues, led most recently by oil and natural gas-related sectors. She said restaurants and services sectors showed "significant" gains.


For the February tax allocations, cities in Texas will share $470.1 million, up 6.7 percent from the same month last year and counties will share $44 million, up 10.7 percent. Transit systems will share $160.9 million, representing an increase of 10.2 percent from February of last year and special purpose taxing district allocations total $33.5 million, up 16.9 percent from February 2011. The sales tax figures represent monthly sales from December and sales by businesses that report quarterly or annually.


To view sales tax allocations by city, click here. To view allocations by county, click here.


 DIR's Robinson takes leap into social media with Twitter account

Karen Robinson"Hello world! I'm Karen Robinson, CIO for Texas. Looking to connect with folks interested in egovleadership."


That was the first tweet from the new Twitter account of Karen Robinson, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) and the state's chief information officer. Robinson recently became the latest executive-level state agency employee to jump into the digital age and use of social media to promote their agencies, events and general news items.


Look for Robinson to tweet about DIR events, technology news related to government, retweets of news from other CIOS, sharing leadership tips and more. Robinson's leap into the Twitter world corresponds with DIR's lead on a multi-agency collaborative effort to create a Social Media Toolkit for all Texas agencies, which is expected to launch during the spring.


Twitter users can find Robinson at @kwrobinsonTXCIO.


Prison officials may choose local hospitals for inmate care

State prison officials, who want to move some inmate health care to local hospitals, will contract with Huntsville Memorial Hospital to provide nine beds for sick and wounded prisoners.


For the last 18 years, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Texas Tech University have provided all inmate health care. Now, state officials believe they can save taxpayers millions by contracting with local and regional hospitals.


The contract with Huntsville Memorial may be expanded and prison officials are negotiating with at least two other hospitals - Palestine Regional Hospital and The University of Texas at Tyler Health Sciences Center - to also care for inmates.


Ground broken for DPS driver's license megacenter in Pflugerville

Rebecca DavioState and Pflugerville city officials recently broke ground on a new driver's license "megacenter," which is expected to generate 57 jobs in the Central Texas town.


The Texas Department of Public Safety plans to build six of the centers, part of a $63 million plan aimed at decreasing wait times.


"Drivers license centers serve people of all ages and income levels and with an increasing population, the legislature noticed there was a need for more resources," said Rebecca Davio (pictured), assistant director of the Texas DPS driver license division.


San Antonio Council approves plan to redevelop HemisFair Park

HemisFair Park, made famous by the 1968 World's Fair, is about to be brought back to the glory it enjoyed more than 40 years ago - but with a few new perks. The San Antonio City Council Thursday approved a master plan for the park that will transform the area to include open spaces, sustainable water features, a Children's Square area for kids and mixed-use development that includes park areas, retail and residential space.


Officials say the project, which could take a decade to complete, will benefit from $30 million if a successful $596 million bond program expected to be called next week, is successful. That funding would kick off the project with street projects, rehabilitation and stabilization efforts and initial redevelopment of open spaces. Officials expect the long-term economic impact to exceed $1 billion.


Arlington school district plans center for at-risk students

The Arlington school district plans to transform a former community center into a center for at-risk students. The 31-year-old east Arlington building will house about 575 students enrolled in the district's dropout prevention, family literacy and career tech programs. The center, which the city will deed to the district, is expected to open in the fall at no cost to the district.


Title I federal funding and grants will pay most of the remodeling and furnishing costs, an estimated $1.2 million. The city will also give a $250,000 block grant.


Free tree giveaway planned for residents of Bastrop 

Free treesThe city of Bastrop will host an upcoming tree giveaway, thanks to a collaborative effort between the city, the Texas Forest Service, Apache Foundation and the nonprofit organization Tree Folks.


Trees will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis at 9 a.m. Feb. 11 at 1209 Linden St. in Bastrop. City residents and others affected by recent wildfires are welcome to the 5-gallon trees.

A massive wildfire killed about 1.5 million trees across more 34,000 acres last September.



Texas Agrilife Extension tags Nelson as regional program manager

Renda NelsonOfficials of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service recently choose Renda Nelson as the regional program manager for the north region of the extension service. She began her duties on Feb. 1 and will support Better Living for Texans (BLT) programs in Amarillo, Lubbock and Vernon districts.


BLT programs are a cooperative effort between the AgriLife Extension, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and food and nutrition service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help families with limited incomes by providing educational programs on health food choices.


Nelson previously was employed by a nutrition program with the University of Missouri and as an education and customer services supervisor for Western Missouri Medical Center. 


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Lubbock Christian University picks Perrin as president

Tim PerrinOfficials at Lubbock Christian University recently named native son Tim Perrin (pictured) president of the university, effective June 1.


Perrin, who currently serves as vice dean of the Pepperdine School of Law, has extensive ties to LCU. His parents were both faculty members and Perrin and his wife are LCU graduates.


"Lucy and I feel most fortunate to be called to return to our alma mater to join in this grand enterprise," Perrin said.


MD Anderson names major building on campus for Mendelsohn

John MendelsohnOfficials at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are honoring the leadership of the former president of the nation's largest cancer center. Dr. John Mendelsohn, a pioneer in the field of personalized cancer therapy and the third full-time president of the center from 1996 to 2011, is being honored by having a major building on the campus take his name. Mendelsohn called the honor "humbling and gratifying."


Following a six-month sabbatical at Harvard and MIT to get back into research, Mendelsohn will return in March to MD Anderson to become co-director of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy. There he will continue the clinical and translational research he started more than 30 years ago. He will also join Rice University's James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy as the L.E. and Virginia Simmons senior fellow in health and technology policy.


The John Mendelsohn Faculty Center opened in the fall of 2000 as the institution's first building dedicated to serving faculty. The 13-story, 225,000-square-foot professional office building provides space for nearly 1,500 faculty and staff representing more than 30 departments plus ancillary and support functions. 


Austin Community College names architect for first mall renovation

Ben FerrellAn architect/engineering team has been selected by Austin Community College for the renovation of the former J.C. Penney property at Highland Mall. That area will be used for instruction and is expected to be open in the fall of 2014. The college also owns the former Macy's and Dillard's women's store at the mall and has not yet decided how those spaces will be used. ACC also owns the land under the core of the mall. Buildings there are subject to ground lease through 2070 with the company operating the mall.


The college will be seeking community input upon how the space will be used. Ben Ferrell, executive vice president of finance and administration at ACC, noted, "Community input is extremely important on all our projects, and ACC looks forward to continuing to work with the Highland neighborhood groups throughout this process."


Texas Tech chooses Huffaker as vice chancellor, general counsel

John HuffakerTexas Tech University System officials recently named former regent John Huffaker (pictured) vice chancellor and general counsel, effective Feb. 13. He replaces Pat Campbell, who is retiring after 30 years with Texas Tech.


Huffaker, who served on the TTUS Board of Regents for three years, stepped down in January. He previously practiced law at an Amarillo firm, where he specialized in bankruptcy, banking, commercial litigation and employment law.


Huffaker earned his bachelor's degree and law degree from Texas Tech University.


Gonzalez appointed interim vice provost at UT-Pan American

Miguel GonzalezUniversity of Texas-Pan American recently named Miguel Gonzalez (pictured) interim vice provost for Research and Sponsored Projects.


Previously, Gonzalez served as UTPA's associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He has been with UTPA since 1998.


In his new role, Gonzalez will help faculty seek external funding for research projects.


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UH students overwhelmingly support fee increase for new stadium

Mack RhoadesUniversity of Houston students recently voted in favor of increasing student fees $50 per semester to pay for a new football stadium.


Of the 9,923 votes cast (26.1 percent of the student body), 7,334 voted in favor of increasing student fees.


The UH System Board of Regents must approve the fee hike, which would begin in the fall semester.


"This is a great day for our university," said UH Athletics director Mack Rhoades (pictured). "Years from now, we will look back on this day as a significant moment and a turning point for our university and its athletics program."


UH System partnering with HCC to develop new university centers

Renu KhatorThe University of Houston System and Houston Community College are partnering to develop university centers at two major branches of the HCC district.


At HCC Northwest, which serves the Katy, Spring Branch and Alief communities, UH System officials plan to add academic programs, especially those that address workforce needs for the energy industry.


At HCC Northeast, which houses an Energy Institute and a Public Safety Institute, officials will consider expanding programs in energy and technology-related fields to meet the needs of the region.  


"This strategic initiative will advance the most important goal of the UH System, which is to benefit students," said UH System Chancellor Renu Khator (pictured).


Harvey-Livingston named UT Tyler student services director

Kim Harvey-LivingstonOfficials at The University of Texas at Tyler recently named Kim Harvey-Livingston (pictured) director of student services.


She has been serving as interim director and previously worked as a UT-Tyler counselor. As director, Harvey-Livingston will oversee the counseling, testing and disability services offices.


Before starting at UT-Tyler in 1998, Harvey-Livingston was non-resident services director for the Women's Center of East Texas in Longview. She holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from UT-Tyler.


Tatum ISD could call bond election at next board meeting

Dee HarttTatum school district leaders plan to call a $29.9 million bond election, which would pay for a new three-grade elementary school as well as upgrades and additions across the district.


If passed, the bond would raise the tax rate 11 cents from the current $1.04 per $100 valuation. The average homeowner would pay $63 more a year.


The district tax rate is now - and would remain - among the lowest in a four-county area, said Superintendent Dee Hartt (pictured).


Tarrant County College picks Day to lead research and planning

Terri DayTarrant County College officials recently selected Terri Day (pictured) to be the new director of Institutional Research and Planning. Day previously was the associate director of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at The University of Texas at Arlington.


In her new job, Day is charged with developing and leading a research program that supports the mission and strategic initiatives of Tarrant County College. Day, who also led school-age service programs for the U.S. Army for multiple sites in Germany, has a bachelor's degree from State University of New York, a master's degree from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the University of Dayton in Ohio.


Arlington moving toward annual fee for gas wells in city

Don CrowsonAt the urging of Fire Chief Don Crowson (pictured), Arlington City Council members recently agreed to assess an annual fee of $2,454 per gas well. The estimated $800,000 raised annually from the fee will be used to upgrade emergency readiness for responding to gas leaks and other hazards as the 15 gas wells once found in the city have grown to 326 gas well sites.


Part of the proposed fee also will be used to hire a program manager at the level of captain to oversee the program, a safety and security inspector and six additional firefighters. More specialized training also will be provided to firefighters on mechanical problems such as leaks as well as guarding against vandalism, storms and other events that might lead to a gas leak or explosion, the fire chief said. The gas well fee will be the first such fee assessed in the Barnett Shale and most likely will take a year to implement, he said.


DISD chief of staff joins list of officials to leave district

Claudia RodriguezDallas school district chief of staff Claudia Rodriguez (pictured) is the latest of several high-ranking officials to step down from their jobs in the school district in the last year.


Rodriguez, who served as second in command, did not give a reason for her resignation. She oversaw several departments including police, human resources and communications.


She was recently a top candidate for interim superintendent, but the school board instead selected the chief financial officer to head the district. Interim superintendent Alan King said he did not ask Rodriguez to step down.


Fort Worth urged to spend $20 million for five new aquatic centers

An outside consultant recently urged Fort Worth City Council members to spend $20 million in the next 10 years to build five aquatic centers throughout the city. An advisory board for parks also recommended last month the city construct and operate five new aquatic centers. The mayor has looked for public-private partnerships to help develop and pay for upgraded swim facilities in the city, but has been unsuccessful in finding a private partner to help pay for remodeling or replacing a pool at Forest Park.


Council already has approved $147,000 to repair the Marine Park pool that later will be demolished when city officials build a new $3.85 million aquatic center at that site to be open in the summer of 2013. The aquatic centers are planned with multi-use pools, water slides, shade structures and play features.


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Texas Border Coalition calls for $6 billion for border infrastructure

The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) recently issued a report on border security asking for a $6 billion investment in infrastructure at entry ports along the border with Mexico. The TBC is comprised of mayors, county officials and economic development organizations located near the border from Brownsville to El Paso. Mayor Ramsey Cantu of Eagle Pass chairs the group.


The TBC report claims that problems and concerns about violence and drug cartels have grown in spite of the nearly $90 billion spent to secure the border in the past 10 years. According to the report, "Without Strategy: America's Border Security Blunders Facilitate and Empower Mexico's Drug Cartels," Mexican drug cartels continue to experience commercial success. The cartels are smuggling more drugs than in the past via legal border crossings despite the fact that apprehension rates are up to 90 percent for undocumented persons crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the report noted.


Citing reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the report also noted that Department of Defense officials are concerned that there is no comprehensive security strategy for the border and that  the role of the National Guard has been "ad hoc." To succeed in controlling the drug cartels and increase border security, the federal government needs to spend about $6 million for infrastructure and technology at ports of entry along with hiring 6,000 new inspectors over the next four years to improve security.  


Aransas Pass ISD holds public meeting on $30M bond proposal

Royce AveryAransas Pass Independent School District officials recently held a public meeting to build support and provide more information on a proposed $30 million bond election on May 12.


Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery (pictured) noted that every air conditioner, lighting and bathroom in all campus facilities would be upgraded if voters approve the bond issue.


Board members are expected to vote this week on whether to officially schedule the bond election to pay for two new campuses, a special events center and new administration building. Plans also called for using the bond funds for a district-wide upgrade in technology and renovations to every district facility.


Borger to study feasibility of new, multi-purpose events center

Borger City Council members recently approved a proposal to conduct a feasibility study costing as much as $50,000 on whether to build a new multi-purpose events facility.


Funding from a tourism fund will pay for the study to be conducted in two phases over a 12-week period. The first phase, costing about $33,000, is designed to determine if a market exists and the type of facility that would be supportable. The second phase will explore the level of events and provide a financial, economic and ownership/management analysis at a cost of about $11,000. The contract also includes $6,000 to pay for travel, postage, printing and other costs of the study.


Members of the Borger Multi-Events Center Committee worked with the Borger Economic Development Corporation during the past two years to secure a pledge in August for land to be donated as a site for the proposed events center. 


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Corsicana officials don't feel support for animal shelter

Chuck McClanahanCorsicana city leaders recently said they do not expect to hold a bond election to support a new animal shelter.


To hold the May 12 election, which is estimated to cost more than $15,000, a majority of the City Council must vote to put it on the ballot.


Mayor Chuck McClanahan (pictured) said he doesn't want an election because local business owners and managers have said they can't afford the higher taxes needed to pay for the shelter.


Denton eyeing series of bond sales to upgrade, build new streets

Denton city officials are studying the possibility of asking voters in November to approve $20 million in bonds to pay for a street improvement project. City staff also is discussing the possibility of selling $9 million in certificates of obligation in 2013 or 2014 to pay the city's portion of a project to widen two streets and of asking voters in 2015 or 2016 to approve a $40 million to $50 million bond package. The latter would include $20 million for projects to upgrade streets over a five-year period.


Council members agreed to increase street maintenance spending to $3.5 million this year. Council also created a separate fund with two income streams, bond debt savings and franchise fee revenue increases. That would raise $5.8 million a year for the next five years for street improvements. Council also agreed to appoint a bond advisory committee by March 5 to recommend which street upgrades to include in the proposed $20 million bond election planned in November.


City officials also plan to issue $58.6 million in bonds to pay for utility projects and are considering selling bonds to pay for a proposed convention center project that is still in negotiations.


YMCA of Austin proposes partnership with city for aquatics center

Proposed CenterOfficials of the YMCA of Austin recently unveiled a plan to form a public-private partnership with the city of Austin to build a new $38 million to $42 million outdoor aquatics center (as seen in accompanying artist's rendering) on city-owned land near Lady Bird Lake. City council would need to ask voters to approve a $25 million bond proposal in November for the project to move forward, YMCA officials said.


Current plans call for building a 25x75 meter pool for swimming laps, swim competitions, diving and water polo. Another pool would be for families, a water slide, rock climbing wall, an area for picnics and public events such as a farmers market. The project also calls for removing a softball field near West Cesar Chavez Street and replacing that field with three fields located further west, creating an entrance to the YMCA facility and providing 550 parking spaces.


YMCA officials plan to raise about $15 million to pay for the proposed facility and to pay operating costs by managing the aquatics center including some retail space and concessions to produce cash flow. The city will retain ownership of the land and the aquatics center would be open to the public who would pay a usage fee. Parks and recreation officials said the city has no current plans to participate in developing the aquatic facility with the YMCA, but confirmed discussions about the project. Construction on the center would not begin until 2015 at the earliest, YMCA officials said.


Lumberton ISD eyeing new construction, campus renovations

Lumberton Independent School District officials are making plans to begin their five-year plan to renovate several campuses and build new facilities to meet future growth.


The first stage of the plan is to move first grade students from the Early Childhood campus to the Lumberton Primary School, said Superintendent John Valastro. District officials also may swap the campuses of the middle school and the intermediate school with a goal of middle school students using the campus next to the high school and sharing some facilities, he said.


To accomplish this goal, district officials first plan to renovate the cafeteria at the intermediate school to accommodate middle school students and replace the field house at the intermediate school with a new field house. Construction should begin on the new field house before late August, Valastro said. District officials also plan to build new home stands at the football stadiums, a new press box, new classrooms at the middle school and primary school campuses, a new agriculture building and a new practice facility under the current five-year plan.


Pearland ISD to spend $4.3 million for upgrades and repairs

Pearland Independent School District trustees recently agreed to spend about $4.23 million from a previous bond vote to pay for repairs and to upgrade technology in campus facilities.


District officials plan to spend $2.3 million for virtual desktop infrastructure, $588,250 to install projectors in each classroom in the district and $345,408 to replace computer monitors. Trustees also approved $300,000 to replace band and choir equipment, replace tile in the choir rooms with carpet and install new lockers at a junior high school and a middle school. The district also plans to spend $75,000 to replace a generator serving one campus.


Trustees also discussed spending $3 million to build a satellite bus station in an effort to save $300,000 but took no action.


Marble Falls selects finalists for study for new sports complex

Marble Falls City Council recently selected a Round Rock-based company to study the viability of building a new sports complex. The firm was selected from five finalists recommended by members of the Parks and Recreation Commission who reviewed 20 firms that responded to the request for qualifications.


Supporters of the proposed sports complex claim that building a sports facility will attract more visitors and sports tournaments to the city and provide more revenue for area businesses. Council members authorized Robert Moss, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, to negotiate the contract with the consulting firm. The goal is to finalize the contract for the study in March and receive results of the study by September.


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Keller to spend $814,000 for design of $8.6 million jail, animal shelter

City council members in Keller recently approved $814,000 to hire a Dallas-based architect to design a 12,000-square-foot jail and expand the existing jail into a larger animal shelter and court facilities. Plans call for enlarging the animal shelter to 9,000 square feet. The new animal shelter will have room for 48 cats and 57 dogs compared to the current center that houses only 12 dogs and 15 cats, according to Police Chief Mark Hafner.


The new jail will house 39 prisoners one or two to a cell compared to the current jail that can accommodate 13 prisoners, Hafner said. The new jail also will have upgraded health and safety features. The police chief said he also is meeting with Southlake, Colleyville and Westlake city officials about shared use of the animal shelter and merging municipal courts as a cost savings measures. Because it most likely will cost about $3.4 million to build a new court facility plus operational costs, officials are hopeful other entities will agree to build a facility for shared use, city officials said.


Construction on the new jail and the upgrades to the animal shelter should begin in October and be completed in phases by November 2014.


Fredericksburg ISD may seek bids for $5 million in facility projects

Fredericksburg Independent School District board members recently discussed asking contractors to submit bids for about half of the projects included in a $10 million bond proposal approved by voters in 2011.


District officials expect staff members to perform about half of the planned facility projects, but are planning to call for bids in future months to complete the remaining $5 million in facility projects included in the bond issue, Superintendent Marc Williamson said.


Arlington athletic areas to benefit from leftover bond money

O.J. KempThe Arlington school board recently OK'd $6.5 million from a 1999 bond election to upgrade athletic areas at all high schools.


Approved projects include: $4.8 million for artificial turf at Arlington, Bowie, Martin and Seguin high schools; $515,000 to replace the track at Bowie; and $400,000 to replace six tennis courts at Sam Houston.


Athletic Director O.J. Kemp (pictured) welcomed the upgrades, but said indoor athletic facilities like weight rooms and locker rooms also need improvements.


Privately funded stadium sought in next two years for league team

After a 13-year hiatus, professional baseball is returning to Abilene.


The North American Baseball League recently announced that the Abilene Prairie Dogs will play this summer in the Southern Division against teams from San Angelo, Fort Worth, McAllen, Edinburg and Rio Grande Valley.


This year the team will play at McMurry University's Walt Driggers Field, but league officials have plans to construct a new ballpark for the 2013 season.


The 4,500-seat stadium, at an estimated $4 million, would be funded with private money.


Galveston awarded $4 million grant for water service

The City of Galveston was recently awarded a $4 million government block grant to help construct a new water line.


The line, expected to be complete by late summer, would help maintain water service during a hurricane.


The 20-inch line will run under the ship channel from Galveston to Pelican Island. 


Sweckard chosen for interim director of Dallas Public Library

Kris SweckardDallas city officials recently named Kris Sweckard (pictured) interim director of the Dallas Public Library, effective Feb. 15.


Sweckard, managing director of the Office of Environmental Quality, started with the city in 2004. He previously worked in the private sector as a management consultant for a global professional services firm.


Sweckard succeeds interim director Corinne Hill, who will step down for a job in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Family detention center will not be built in Texas after all

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has decided to forgo its previous plans to build a family detention center in Texas, after seeking private prison companies to submit bids. Civil rights groups protested the facility and this week announced that ICE had decided against building.


The facility had originally been planned as either a 100-bed or two 50-bed facilities that would have replaced an 85-bed detention center in Pennsylvania. ICE officials confirmed they had sought bids and gotten four offers before deciding against going forward with the project. Officials said they would instead continue their operations in Pennsylvania.


Report says Houston should reduce pensions, privatize

An advisory group has sent its suggestions to Houston Mayor Annise Parker relating to how the city can save money as it faces budget shortfalls and $13.1 billion in debt and an increasing population seeking services. Among the proposals was privatization of the city's ambulance service, reducing survivor pension benefits, ending cost-of-living increases to those on pensions and turning some services, such as libraries, over to the county.


The report identified 110 cost-saving recommendations. Union leaders already are objecting to many of the recommendations. Union and pension representatives who served on the task force have offered their own recommendations, including refinancing city debt, doing away with redevelopment zones and using some of the drainage fee funds to pay employees instead of the general fund.


Other recommendations not likely to draw favor from city employees include reducing pension benefits for future city employees and doing away with paid sick days.


UT to host 19th annual HUB/SB Vendor Fair in April

The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas System will host their 19th Annual HUB/SB Vendor Fair, Tuesday, April 17.  The event will be held at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center, 1701 Red River St., Austin, TX 78701 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The HUB/SB vendor fair is designed to give Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) owners an opportunity to market their products and/or services to UT departmental purchasing representatives, as well as to the many other State of Texas agencies located in the capital city. The vendor fair is FREE for exhibiting vendors and open to the public. Online registration and a list of participating vendors is available here.


Eagle Ford Consortium planning inaugural conference

The Eagle Ford Consortium will hold its inaugural conference in San Antonio. Pre-conference activities will be on Wednesday, Feb. 29, with the main conference on Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 2. The conference will be at the Omni Hotel Colonnade, 9821 Colonnade Blvd. in San Antonio. The consortium includes community leaders and stakeholders in the 24-county Eagle Ford Shale who will use the conference to develop sustainable models of long-term development. Highlights of the conference will include regulatory oversight, education and workforce development, advances in drilling and hydraulic fracturing, economic development and infrastructure development. The pre-conference session on Feb. 29 will focus on housing challenges and opportunities. Among the speakers will be Laredo Energy CEO Glenn Hart; The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Architecture and Program Policy Dr. Azza Kamal; Eagle Ford Consortium Chairman Leodoro Martinez; Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken; San Antonio River Authority Board of Directors Dr. Darrell T. Brownlow; Middle Rio Grande Foundation Chairman Judge Joe Luna and others. To register or sponsor the conference, click here or contact Cindy Taylor at 210-912-5868. Hotel reservations should be made by Feb. 14.


Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement set in July

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


AACOG to host February Notary law, procedures quarterly seminar

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


2012 North American Workforce Symposium scheduled in April

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


Huntsville to host 16th Annual HUB/Vendor show

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


DIR to host 12th Annual Information Security Forum

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


E-Learning Symposium 2012 planned for June 13 in Austin

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


TxDOT sets Small Business Briefing in Houston

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will conduct its Small Business Briefing in Houston on Thursday, March 1. The briefing is designed to provide small businesses with information regarding how to do business with TxDOT and other major state agencies such as the Department of Information Resources, Health and Human Services, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and others. The Small Business Briefing will provide information on how these agencies procure services and purchase products. General industry sessions will include an overview of TxDOT construction projects, professional services (engineering), consulting contracts and state contracting for information technology products and services. Those attending will also have an opportunity to bid on On-the-Spot contracts under $25,000. To participate in the On-the-Spot contracting, participants must register online at http://tti.tamu.edu/conferences/sbb12/. The Houston briefing will be at the OMNI Houston Hotel Westside- 13210 Katy Freeway. For exhibitor and individual registration, click here. For more information, contact 1-866-480-2518.


Leadership Fusion Summit planned for Feb. 15 in Houston

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


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Unsolicited proposals likely
to become more common


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


Presenting unsolicited proposals to public officials in Texas has not been the norm in the past. That is going to change.


The legislature passed what is called The Public and Private Facilities and Infrastructure Act during the last legislative session and, as a result, procurement processes are being revamped. Unsolicited proposals will become much more common because the new legislation clearly states that if a state agency receives an unsolicited proposal, it must be considered.


The bill authorized state and local governments to privatize almost every kind of public infrastructure project except roads. That includes schools, water supply facilities, libraries, state agency buildings, ports and telecommunications, to name a few. The legislation has generated a lot of interest, according to Aundre Dukes, portfolio manager at the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC), and he said that unsolicited proposals, which are often tied to public-private partnership (P3) opportunities, will help streamline procurement processes.


In the past, most contractors were reluctant to develop a business case for an unsolicited proposal when they had solutions to offer. There was no guarantee that their proposal would be taken seriously. And, there was the danger of angering a public official or decision-makers. Other contractors worried that their good ideas might be stolen.




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LeFleur Transportation

Brazosport ISD to seek voter approval for $40.26M bond issue

Board members for the Brazosport Independent School District recently agreed to place a $40.26 million bond proposal on the May 12 ballot. Trustees said they plan to use the bond money to fund upgrades to security, maintenance and technology throughout the school district.


Keffler announces retirement

as Richardson city manager

Bill KefflerBill Keffler (pictured), city manager in Richardson, has announced that after 35 years with the city - 17 years as city manager - he will retire at the end of May.


Keffler was named Richardson's city manager in April 1995, after already having dedicated nearly 18 years to the city. He joined the city staff in 1977 as an administrative assistant and in 1979 became assistant to the city manager. He was elevated to the assistant city manager role in 1981, deputy city manager in 1985 and then took over as city manager in 1995 when former City Manager Bob Hughey retired.


Keffler holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame, and a master's degree from Texas Tech University.


Gemini Global Group

Harris Co. housing agency delays employment action on CEO

Guy RankinAction on the employment of Harris County Housing Authority CEO Guy Rankin was delayed by the board of commissioners in a meeting earlier this week. Discussion of the status of his employment was an agenda item for the meeting. The authority's legal counsel will now work with Rankin's attorney to discuss possible termination terms between Rankin and the authority.


At question in the termination proceedings is the fact that a newspaper expo showed salaries and bonuses for some of the employees of the authority had as much as tripled and Rankin's pay is higher than the pay of CEOs in even larger housing authorities.


Henry retires as Chambers 

County tax assessor-collector

Chambers County Tax Assessor-Collector Margie Henry recently stepped down from her post. Henry has served 15 years in the position and worked 37 years for the county. She is credited with modernizing an antiquated tax collection system.



Longview ISD officially rehires Wilcox as superintendent

The Longview ISD school board recently rehired James Wilcox as interim superintendent, effective immediately. He will earn an annual salary of $103,750 plus a $250 monthly travel stipend. As a permanent superintendent, Wilcox earned $207,500 annually and received $550 per month for travel expenses. As interim superintendent, Wilcox will help officials find a permanent top official.


Pasadena ISD selects Fornoff

as associate superintendent

Kkevin FornoffPasadena Independent School District officials recently named Kevin Fornoff as associate superintendent for facilities and construction to replace Julian Garcia, who retired from that post.


Fornoff, who previously was director of facility development for Crowley ISD, is a graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington.


Nominees sought for 2012

Texas Women's Hall of Fame

The Governor's Commission for Women is accepting nominations for the 2012 Texas Women's Hall of Fame. Nominees are being sought who have made significant contributions to the state.


Deadline for nominations is Friday, March 9. The nominations will be reviewed by a panel of judges with a formal induction ceremony in the fall of this year.


To download a nomination form with instructions and an application, click here.


Sharyland schools chief resigns, effective in June

Sharyland school superintendent Scott Owing recently resigned after seven years in the position. The school board accepted his resignation, effective in June. His contract had recently been extended until July 2015


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San Antonio seeks public input on spending transportation funds

With approximately $50 million in federal transportation funds in hand, the San Antonio Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization is seeking public input on how to spend the funds. They will host several gatherings to hear from residents of San Antonio and Bexar County about how the dollars should be spent.


Entities already have submitted requests for funding that total $964 million, $914 million more than is available. The requests have come from the Port of San Antonio, VIA, the Texas Department of Transportation and area cities. The projects selected will become part of the MPO's Transportation Improvement Program for 2013-2016. This year's funding will allow for new projects to be added. Some of the projects seeking funding are highway ramps, road construction and maintenance and alternative modes of transportation. Each project must include a minimum 20 percent local funding match.


The projects will be heard and rated on a scoring criteria. The final list will be voted on in April and sent to TxDOT in May. Contracts for the projects are then expected to be let in 2015 or 2016.


Dallas selects King as new

convention, events director

Ron KingDallas City Council members recently selected Ron King (pictured) as the director of Convention and Events Services for the city. King plans to begin his new duties in mid-February.


King previously was director of event services in San Diego, California, general manager for the convention center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and general manager of the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.


HDI Solutions

League City narrows list of city manager candidates to 10

Council members in League City recently got their first look at 10 candidates for city manager selected by a search firm from the 42 applications received. The new city manager will replace Marcus Jahns, who resigned in July 2011.


The search firm originally selected 13 candidates, but three applicants withdrew their applications after learning their identities would be revealed in an open city council meeting. Council members will study and discuss the 10 candidates and select a short list of applicants for further consideration for the post. The goal is for the new city manager to assume those duties by March or April.


The applicants selected for further study are: Larry Deetjen, village manager in Oak Lawn, Illinois; Robert Herrera, city manager in Hondo; Thomas Moton, assistant city manager in Greenville, North Carolina; Rich Oller, acting city manager in League City; and James Palenick, former city manager in Gastonia, North Carolina. Also selected for further consideration are: Susan Stanon, former city manager in Lake Worth, Florida; Tom Steele, former city manager in West Jordan, Utah; Isaac Turner, former city manager in Venice, Florida; John Whitson, town manager in Morrisville, North Carolina; and Melissa Byrne Vossmer, former city manager in Angleton.


Cernak to take Florida post

after leaving port position

Steve CernakSteve Cernak (pictured), the chief executive officer at the Port of Galveston, recently announced he plans to resign that position to accept a position heading a new $72 million railroad yard for the Broward County Commissioners in Florida.


Cernak has served as CEO and port director for the Port of Galveston since 1999 and oversaw programs that helped Galveston become the top cruise home port in the Gulf of Mexico, said port authority officials in Galveston.


San Angelo tags Dane

as interim city manager

San Angelo City Council members recently selected Michael Dane as the interim city manager. Dane, currently the director of finance for the city, will work with City Manager Harold Dominguez until Dominguez leaves to begin his duties as the new city manager in Longmont, Colorado.


Dane previously worked as an accountant for the city of Lubbock, at a bank and as a certified public accountant in Clovis, New Mexico. He became director of finance in San Angelo in August 1998. Dane has a bachelor's degree from Eastern New Mexico University and expressed interest in serving as the new city manager.


Beaumont to reinstate position for assistant police chief

Following the elimination in 2009 of the assistant police chief position, Beaumont City Council members recently agreed to amend the city code to allow the police department to reinstate the position and hire a new assistant police chief. The police chief said three captains are being considered for the reinstated position and expects to make a decision within days on his selection.


Burger withdraws as lone finalist for superintendent at Burnet CISD

Jerry BurgerJerry Burger (pictured) recently notified officials of the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District that he has withdrawn his name as lone finalist for superintendent after being selected on Jan. 25. Board members chose Burger, a superintendent at Normangee ISD, from 70 applicants.


Interim Superintendent Ann Dixon announced that Burger notified district officials by e-mail that he was withdrawing. Board members will continue their search for a new superintendent and update residents on the progress, Dixon said.


SPI on Twitter

DISD discussing allowing advertising at school campuses

The Dallas Independent School District is considering allowing companies to advertise at campuses within the district. Like many other school systems, DISD is exploring all ways of cutting costs and finding new revenue sources.


The ads could be written, graphic or digital and the district would have control of the editorial content of the ads and to determine what might be inappropriate for schools and students. The ads would require approval of the school superintendent or his or her designee before being placed in a school.


Seguin approves contract for design of $2.37M hike, bike trail

Seguin City Council members recently approved a contract with an engineering firm to design a $2.37 million, 14-foot-wide walkway to serve as a hike and bike trail. The paved trail will stretch about three miles along the city's south side.


Plans call for the new hike and bike trail to be completed in 2013 and the project to begin as soon as the city manager signs the engineering contract, city officials said. The Texas Department of Transportation awarded a grant to cover 80 percent of the cost of the trail and allowed the city to use some of those grant funds to acquire rights-of-way in park areas.


Tyler mayor to organize Council of Cities to improve planning

Barbara Bass, mayor of Tyler, recently told council members she is forming a new organization, the Council of Cities, comprised of area city council members, elected officials, city administrators and Smith County commissioners to provide an active forum for discussing regional issues.


The mayor invited representatives from Bullard, Chandler, Chapel Hill, Lindale, Noonday, Troup, Whitehouse and Winona to attend the first meeting of the group - scheduled on March 18 in Tyler. Council members will focus on regional economy, management of natural resources and discussions of mutual concerns at their quarterly meetings, Bass said.


Recent Reports

Kilgore selects Sorensen to head public works department

Seth SorensenKilgore city officials recently selected Seth Sorensen (pictured) as the new public works director. Sorensen, who currently leads the public works department in Centralia, Illinois, will begin his new duties on March 19, said City Manager Scott Sellers.


Sorensen, who has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Wyoming, also served as an assistant city manager in Centralia, a public works director in Montrose, Colorado, and worked for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.


Puente resigns position as

city secretary in Waelder

City Secretary Norma Puente of Waelder recently resigned as city secretary. Council members have not yet selected a new city secretary or an interim city secretary to replace her.


Hewitt selects retired police

chief as assistant city manager

After accepting the resignation of Jim Martin as police chief, Hewitt City Council members recently appointed the former police chief as the new assistant city manager to oversee operations of the police and fire departments. Council members also reduced the budgets for the police and fire departments by $150,000 because the positions of fire chief and deputy chief of police will remain vacant while Martin studies methods to cut spending without reducing police and fire services. More study is necessary to help determine whether another patrol officer is needed more than administrative personnel, Police Chief Jim Devlin said. Martin, the former police chief, is the ideal candidate for that task, Devlin said. Martin also will work with Deputy Fire Chief Lance Bracco to explore any changes for the fire department. City officials have not made a decision on how to use the expected $150,000 in savings from leaving vacant the posts of fire chief and deputy police chief.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 2/3/12 

Dallas County seeking bids to assess community health services

Officials of the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department recently agreed to seek bids from companies qualified to conduct a health assessment of community health services in Dallas County. County officials plan to use $42,200 in federal grant funds to pay for the assessment. The deadline for submitting bids is March 5. 


Copperas Cove ISD hires search firm to help find superintendent

Trustees for Copperas Cove Independent School District recently hired a New Braunfels-based company to help find a new superintendent. The new superintendent will take over for Superintendent Rose Cameron, who is retiring.


Trustees approved spending $10,000 to the search firm for services that include meeting with staff and board members to help determine the qualifications and personality desired in the new superintendent and to make select a narrow list of applicants for trustees to review.


Gomez resigns as head of secondary education for DISD

Dorothy Gomez recently submitted her resignation as the interim division director leading the secondary school program for Dallas Independent School District. She joins several other top district administrators, such as Claudia Rodriguez, chief of staff; Donna Micheaux, chief of schools; and Phil Jimerson, director of construction services, who recently resigned from Dallas ISD.


Crowley selects Grindstaff

as new city manager

Alan GrindstaffCrowley City Council members recently selected Alan Grindstaff (pictured) as the lone finalist for city manager to replace Truitt Gilbreath, who is retiring on May 1.


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


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • William "Bill" Elliott of Ravenna, North Texas Tollway Authority Board of Directors;
  • John T. Steen Jr. of San Antonio, Public Safety Commission;
  • James Brody of Lufkin, Texas Bioenergy Policy Council;
  • Paul Dickerson of Houston, Texas Bioenergy Policy Council;
  • Kevin Land of Lake Jackson, Texas Bioenergy Policy Council;
  • Danny Vines of Lufkin, Texas Bioenergy Policy Council;
  • Donna Lord Black of Fulshear, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists;
  • Jo Ann Campbell of Abilene, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists;
  • Doris Couch of Burleson, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

Lt. Governor's appointments

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has made the following appointment:

  • Jimmy Mansour, reappointed to the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Oversight Committee.

Sherman names Connell to lead economic development corp.

Scott ConnellSherman City Council members recently selected Scott Connell (pictured) to be president of the Sherman Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO). Connell currently is employed by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and will begin his new duties in Sherman on Feb. 15.


Connell, who was selected from 60 applicants, will replace John Boswell, who resigned from SEDCO more than a year ago. Connell also worked in the research triangle in Winston Salem, North Carolina.


Coldspring-Oakhurst to begin bond election discussion

Coldspring-Oakhurst school district leaders will during a public forum on Feb. 13 discuss holding a bond election for campus renovations.


Community members are invited to listen to a presentation about district needs.


Items to be discussed include: expansion of the Coldspring-Oakhurst High School library, a redesign of Trojan Field and upgrades and replacements of heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems across the district.


Kampfer resigns as city

manager in Colorado City

Pete Kampfer, city manager of Colorado City since October 2009, recently resigned to become city manager in Raton, New Mexico. Kampfer previously was employed in Tucumcari, New Mexico. City officials in Colorado City have not yet announced plans for replacing Kampfer.


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Martin resigns as CEO

of HEDCO organization

Bill Martin recently resigned as chief executive officer of the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation to accept a position as president of Quad Cities First, which assists four counties in Iowa and Illinois with economic development. Martin previously worked in economic development projects in North Carolina, Washington, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas.


Tyler ISD approves $450 million long-range plan for upgrades

Randy ReidTrustees for the Tyler Independent School District recently approved a long-range plan outlining program changes and facility upgrades to be completed by 2020 at an estimated cost of about $450 million.


Current low interest rates provide a good opportunity to ask voters to approve bonds this year to pay for the facility upgrades, Superintendent Randy Reid (pictured) said. District officials plan to build two new high schools, a new advanced technology and career center, create four intermediate schools for fifth- and sixth-grade students, create four middle schools for seventh- and eighth-grade students and build two new elementary schools, Reid said. The plan calls for several campuses, such as the Robert E. Lee High School, to be converted into another campus, such as a middle school, he added.


District officials plan to separate the projects and time bond elections throughout 2020, but have not yet adopted a timeline for the proposed projects, he said.


El Paso selects Holguin and Gibson for development team

El Paso city officials recently selected Annaelisa Holguin and Elizabeth Gibson to join the city's economic development team.


Holguin, who has worked in Europe and South America, has a master's degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a J.D. degree from Georgetown University. Gibson, who has a bachelor's degree, previously worked as an economist for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General in Virginia.


Denman to serve as new

city manager in Albany

Albany City Council members recently selected David Denman as city manager, effective Feb. 15. Denman, a city manager in Dimmitt for seven years, will replace former City Manager Dave Ramon, who resigned in October.


Denton County transit agency backs out of partnership with city

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) officials recently withdrew from a planned partnership with the city of Denton to share a vehicle maintenance facility.


The decision followed the receipt of an $8.2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration that placed restrictions on the grant that rule out the partnership with the city, said Jim Cline, president of the DCTA. The grant also requires the DCTA to provide matching funds, a requirement that would be difficult to meet with a jointly owned maintenance facility, Cline said.


DCTA officials now plan to build a new 22,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance facility on a 15-acre site on Teasley Lane and Shady Oaks Drive rather than maintaining buses at a shop at the city landfill. The goal is to begin construction this summer and complete it in early 2014.


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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