Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 7 - Friday, Feb. 17, 2012

President proposes $8 billion for community college training


TACC president says focus will be on creating high-wage/high-skills workforce 

Welding could be one of the high-wage/high-skills training programs community colleges will offer under the President's proposal.

Details are sparse, but the dollars are plentiful in President Barack Obama's budget proposal to distribute $8 billion in training funds to the nation's community colleges. It's certainly garnered the attention of community college officials in Texas, according to Dr. Rey Garcia, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC).


U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan said Obama's proposed Community College to Career Fund is part of the President's strategy to "educate our way to a better economy."


While community college officials are wide-eyed about the possibility of increased funding, Garcia said if it is approved, it will probably take at least a year for the money to trickle down to community colleges nationwide. And the impact the funding would have? "It's way too soon to know that," he said. "We don't even know if it's going to be a national competitive process or if the funds will be given to the states to let them distribute the dollars to the institutions."


Federal programs aimed at workforce training focus on high-wage/high-skills jobs, said Garcia, from emerging and growing industries such as high-tech to allied health jobs. But in rural areas, even welding is a high skills occupation, particularly in areas like oil field process technology.


While administrative and legislative details have not been laid out yet, Garcia said community colleges are well aware that the proposal "will require congressional action." And that's never a given, particularly during a campaign season.




TAMU-San Antonio will build nation's first veterans' facility


New space will transition veterans to higher education, civilian workforce

Maria Hernandez FerrierThe first of its kind in the country collegiate building dedicated to the military student community is in the works for Texas A&M University-San Antonio. The 20,000-gross-square-foot building was one of two approved recently by the TAMU System Board of Regents. The veterans building - Patriot's Casa - will provide a space to guide veterans, who represent more than 11 percent of the university's student population, and their families through the transition from military life to higher education and into the civilian workforce.


The second building approved was a 170,750-gross-square-foot academic building. The Central Academic Building will offer multiple floors of classrooms, lecture halls and an auditorium. There will be space for various student services, student lounge areas and an "Opportunity Mall/Hall" for events and club activities.


Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier (pictured), president of Texas A&M-San Antonio, said the university is the fastest-growing campus in the TAMU System. "We are excited to provide a place for learning and engagement that will continue to reflect the culture, diversity and historic architecture of San Antonio in these new, iconic facilities," she said. The Kell Munoz architectural firm will design the buildings and Bartlett Cocke General Contractors will serve as construction manager-at-risk.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Eddie HadlockDr. Eddie Hadlock, president, North Cental Texas College 


Career highlights and education: After graduating from Hardin-Simmons University in 1967, I joined the U.S. Navy and went to Navy OCS. Upon completion of OCS, I served as a supply officer on the USS Charleston (LKA 113). My first teaching assignment was with the Virginia Beach, Virginia, ISD. In the summer of 1970, I returned to Texas and began graduate school at East Texas State University, now Texas A&M Commerce. I received both a master's and doctorate degree in counseling and guidance, 1971 and 1974. During the 1973-74 school year, I taught career education for the Plano ISD while completing my dissertation. My first higher education job was as vocational counselor at Cooke County College in Gainesville, now North Central Texas College. Except for a nine-month stint as registrar at Odessa College, I have spent my whole career at North Central Texas College. Positions held at NCTC include vocational counselor, director of counseling and testing, director of admissions and registrar, dean of students, vice president of instruction and president.  

What I like best about my job is: the community college philosophy and environment. During graduate school, I took a course in The American Community College and fell in love with the philosophy of the community college. One of my minors was in community college education. I knew then that I wanted to work at a community college.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: when tempted to write a blistering letter, memo or e-mail to someone, save it as a draft and review it a few hours later or the next day before sending. It's amazing that after I have had time to think about it, I have always found a better, more appropriate and more effective tone with which to communicate my message. 
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Never lose sight of the fact that the most important people on our campus are our students. We are here to serve them, and the community college represents to many of them their last hope to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to better their lives. Each one of us on staff, from the custodial workers up to the president, plays a crucially important role in making that happen. Each of us represents this college to the public, and it takes all of us working as a team to provide the quality educational experiences our students expect and deserve.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  playing a round of golf or working in my glass-fusing workshop.

People would be surprised to know that I: like to make fused glass objects including jewelry.
One thing I wish more people knew about North Central Texas College: I wish more people really understood the mission and purpose of a community college. Community members are always asking when NCTC is going to become a four-year college. It's like we have not "grown up" yet. My response is always that "I hope we never become a four-year college," and then I give them my reasons.


Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones resigns her post

Elizabeth Ames JonesElizabeth Ames Jones (pictured) has resigned her seat as a commissioner on the Texas Railroad Commission after defending her move and establishing residency in San Antonio to run for a seat in the Texas Senate. Her move has drawn the ire of Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who has called on her to return the salary she earned since moving from Austin, citing law that requires commission members to live in Austin.


Jones is a former member of the Texas House of Representatives, having been elected in 2000 and twice re-elected. In 2005, she was appointed to the Railroad Commission and served the agency as chair from 2005-2007. She was elected to serve a six-year term in 2006. Jones holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.


Jones' replacement will be appointed by the governor. She had previously announced she would not seek another term on the Commission. 


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New oral health care center approved for UTHSC-SA

A $95 million oral health care center has been approved for The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. UT System Regents approved the project this month. It will be located adjacent to the university's Medical Arts and Research Center (MARC).


Officials at UTHSCSA noted the facility will help improve dental education and training and enable the Dental School to sustain its top-tier ranking. The new facility will be named the Center for Oral Health Care at the MARC. The building is expected to be approximately 172,000 gross square feet on four levels and a 450-car parking garage. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.


Mengler chosen as new president of St. Mary's University

Thomas MenglerThe St. Mary's University trustees recently named Thomas Mengler (pictured) the university's next president, effective June 1. Current president Charles Cotrell will return to teaching after 13 years as top administrator.

Mengler has served as dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis for the last 10 years. He previously worked at the University of Illinois, where he was dean of the College of Law and interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.


Mengler received his bachelor's degree from Carleton College and his master's from The University of Texas at Austin, where he also earned his law degree. 


San Antonio sets five-proposition, $596 million May bond vote

The San Antonio City Council made it official Thursday - voters will face a $596 million bond issue in May. The proposed bond includes funding for 140 projects and will be in the form of five propositions.


The largest portion of the bond proposal - $337.4 million - will go toward 41 street, bridge and sidewalk projects. The bond referendum also includes funding for:

  • 17 drainage and flood control projects valued at $128 million;
  • 68 parks and recreation-related projects valued at $87 million;
  • 11 library and arts-related projects valued at $29 million; and
  • three public safety projects valued at $14.4 million.

Diaz to serve as board chair of Texas Commercial Airports Assn.

Mario DiazHouston Airport System Director Mario Diaz (pictured) has been named chair of the board of the newly organized Texas Commercial Airports Association (TCAA), which was formed as a means of collaborating on airport issues which will aid economic development and benefit travelers throughout the state. "By coming together as an organization, the passenger airports in Texas can speak through one clear, strong voice," Diaz said of the new association. "Collectively, we believe we have greater influence than any one of our airports can have individually."


The TCAA is also designed to inform lawmakers and policy makers regarding the economic contributions of airports in their respective regions. All of the Texas commercial airports are addressing many of the same issues - airport funding mechanisms, development and infrastructure needs, security policies, business initiatives and operational concerns.


TCAA is modeled after similar associations in California and Florida. In addition to the state's two major airport hubs - Dallas/Fort Worth International and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston - membership is open to all commercial airports with scheduled airline service in Texas.


Former state Sen. David Cain will serve as executive director of the organization. Board members in addition to Diaz include: Monica Lombrana, Director of Aviation El Paso International Airport, Vice Chairman; Jeff Fegan, Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport CEO, Secretary; and Frank Miller, Director of the San Antonio International Airport, Treasurer.


Transportation chief backs $15.2M for El Paso transit project

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recently expressed support for including $15.2 million in the 2013 fiscal year federal budget to help pay for the proposed $35.25 million Dyer-Corridor Rapid Transit System project in El Paso. The proposed 12-mile transit corridor is designed to improve public transportation, reduce use of cars and improve air quality in El Paso.


The proposed plan begins the project at the Sun Metro downtown transfer station and terminates at a new terminal planned in the northeast to replace a mall and a smaller bus station to be demolished, a spokeswoman for Sun Metro said. The buses using the corridor also will serve the terminal at Five Points and stop near a gate at Fort Bliss, she said.


Plans call for using buses with the latest technology, lengthening and shortening red and green light signals to increase efficiency, requiring passengers to prepay fares and stopping each mile rather than at every block. City officials plan to use a combination of city and state funding along with federal funds to create the transit corridor scheduled to be completed by fall 2014, the spokeswoman said. Sun Metro officials also are developing transit corridors along Mesa set to be completed at the end of 2013 and another along Alameda, expected to be finished at the beginning of 2013 and plan a fourth transit corridor for Montana planned to open in late 2015.


Prince to take on role as associate director of Marshall Center

Heath PrinceOfficials with the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs recently named Heath Prince (pictured) associate director, effective in mid-March.


Prince succeeds Deanna Schexnayer, who stepped down last year to focus on her new role as assistant dean of finance at the LBJ School.


Prince previously served as a senior policy analyst for workforce development at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C. He has also worked as a senior researcher with Jobs for the Future and as an adjunct lecturer at Brandeis University.


Prince holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a master's from the LBJ School. Later this year, Prince will complete his Ph.D. research through Brandeis.


Aguirre takes over at El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence

Veteran educator Armando Aguirre has been named the new assistant provost overseeing the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence. It is based out of The University of Texas at El Paso's College of Education and operates several outreach programs. 

The group partners with El Paso schools to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready to enter a four-year college or university.

Aguirre, a 21-year veteran of the El Paso school district, earned a bachelor's degree, master's degree and an Ed.D. from UTEP. He most recently served as principal of the new Mission Early College High School in the Socorro district.


Lee College tags Mbonisi as new director of STEM program

adiagha_mbonisiLee College officials recently selected Dr. Adiagha Mbonisi (pictured) as the new director for the Hispanic Serving Institutions Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (H.S.I. STEM) program.


The college received an $840,000 H.S.I. STEM grant this year from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is awarded to institutions serving Hispanic students and is used to pay for programs to increase the total number of STEM graduates. College officials expect the grant will be funded for five years and total more than $4 million in revenue for the Baytown-based college.


Mbonisi previously was a teacher at Houston Independent School District and an assistant program director at the University of Houston. She has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. from Capella University.


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Midland ISD superintendent urges $158 million bond election

Superintendent Ryder Warren of Midland Independent School District recently urged trustees to schedule a $158 million bond proposal for the May 12 ballot to ask voters to approve badly needed building renovations and technology upgrades.


Warren said the $158 million bond proposal is phase one of a two-phase plan he has developed to achieve academic success for all students, deal with enrollment growth, maintain facilities that promote learning and use technology to educate students for the 21st century. The first phase of the initiative will focus on elementary schools and will feature 29 projects divided into four major projects, he said. The four categories are:

  • $72.6 million to pay for upgrades to 21 elementary schools that include new classrooms for nine campuses, major upgrades to technology and hardware systems at all campuses and maintenance that has been delayed;
  •  $44.9 million to build two new elementary campuses to relieve overcrowding at some elementary campuses that will create, along with the new classrooms planned at existing schools, 174 new classrooms at elementary schools;
  • $33.4 million to upgrade specialized elementary campuses such as the Carver Center and three magnet schools, the Bowie Fine Arts Academy, Washington Math & Science Institute and the Pease Communication & Technology Academy; and
  • $6.8 million to improve technology throughout district facilities.

Anguiano chosen as new member of Port San Antonio board

Andrew AnguianoSan Antonio businessman Andrew Anguiano (pictured) was recently named to the Port San Antonio board of directors.


Anguiano, who represents City Council District 3, is chief operating officer of a San Antonio-based advertising firm with international clients.


Anguiano earned a bachelor's degree from Texas State University in San Marcos.


Aransas County approves $21,250 to rewire Public Safety Center

After viewing a slide show featuring a maze of tangled wires, Aransas County commissioners approved spending $21,250 to rewire the Public Safety Center.


The director of information technology and a senior technician urged commissioners to approve the rewiring project as the current wiring does not meet cabling standards, is poorly labeled or has no labels, is the wrong size and is hazardous. The poor state of the wiring could cause a loss in connectivity, especially with the installation of a newly purchased radio communications systems for dispatchers expected to occur soon, the director of information technology said.


Work cannot proceed on the wiring project at the public safety center until city officials in Rockport, which partners in operating the public safety center, approves an additional $21,250 to pay for the wiring project that carries a $42,500 price tag, county officials said.


Diboll to sell $2.5 million in bonds to pay for street upgrades

Dennis McDuffieDiboll City Council members recently authorized the issue of $2.5 million in certificates of obligation to pay for several street upgrade projects.


Plans are to improve Lumberjack Drive to the new school this summer so the road will be ready when school begins, said City Manager Dennis McDuffie (pictured).


More upgrades are planned for streets on the east and west side of the city, he said.


Tatum ISD schedules $29.9 million bond election in May

Tatum Independent School District trustees recently scheduled a $29.9 million bond election on May 12. If voters approve the bonds, district officials plan to use the bond funds to build a new $18.3 million elementary school on 23 acres of land on SH149.


District officials also plan to upgrade the cafeteria, improve career and technology education at the middle school, upgrade the band hall, classrooms, career technology and expand the agriculture complex at the high school. Plans also call for building a driveway extension and adding parking at the primary school, providing more parking at the community park and upgrading transportation and technology throughout the district.


The school district has held five successful bond elections totaling $42 million since 2000, Superintendent Dee Hartt said. The timing is right to ask voter approval of bonds as the district will have repaid bonds approved in 2008 and must add more classroom space for large increases in enrollment expected during the next few years, he added.


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Port of Corpus Christi to try to sell former Naval Station Ingleside

After terminating a contract to purchase the former Naval Station Ingleside, Port of Corpus Christi commissioners recently selected the deputy port director, a sales consultant and a real estate consultant to begin a search for a new real estate broker to sell the former naval base.


Commissioners voted to terminate a previous contract with a Houston-based company to buy a 187-acre tract of the former naval station. The company could not make a required $19 million down payment in January on the property that was to be developed into an offshore drilling services facility.


Port officials would like to sell the entire 910-acre property in one piece, but will consider selling smaller pieces of the property to a suitable buyer, port officials said. The next step is to work with the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation to prepare a bid request to find the best broker for the former naval station. Port staff also plan to update advertising brochures and market the port at various trade and industry conferences, port officials said.


Stephenville ISD contemplating calling bond vote

Darrell FloydStephenville school board members may call a bond election for as much as $25 million to overhaul the district's two oldest campuses.


Much of Central Elementary, which was built in 1939, would be demolished and rebuilt in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and fire code. The campus would also receive a new gym, cafeteria and more for an estimated $9.3 million.


At Chamberlin Elementary, the main building would be torn down and rebuilt to hold 660 students. The estimated cost is nearly $14 million.


The bond election, which may also include technological upgrades across the district, would be held in May, said superintendent Darrell Floyd (pictured).


CAMPO: Austin to Houston rail route has potential

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials are exploring the construction of a $1 billion passenger rail service that would connect Austin and Houston.


The TxDOT Rail Division recently presented four connection options, with most running through Elgin and Giddings, to members of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.


The next step is conducting a statewide ridership study, which should determine demand for the train route.


LBJ School's King named to elite Ascend program

Chris KingDr. Chris King (pictured), senior research scientist, lecturer and director of the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs, has been chosen for the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute's Ascend Fellowship program. He is one of only 20 leaders from across the country who will be pioneering two-generation approaches to move families beyond poverty.


King is a labor economist with four decades of experience in conducting policy and program analysis, design of innovative programs and evaluating the impact of education and training intervention. He will lead a team that designed and is analyzing implementation and outcomes of a jobs strategy for low-skilled, low-income parents of children in Tulsa's Head Start and Early Head Start programs.


Ascend had its beginnings last year and supports breakthrough ideas and proven strategies that help move both parents and children toward economic security together, with education a key element of that strategy.


Park funding options discussed by city of Corinth officials

Corinth city officials recently met to discuss the 116-acre Corinth Community Park, which would cost about $5 million to complete under a new master plan.


While City Council does not want to issue bonds to pay for the improvements, the city's economic development corporation will give about $50,000 per year to fund the city's parks. The EDC will give an additional $1.5 million, if officials feel that's where the money is best spent.


Under the new plan, Corinth park would contain several athletic fields including two to four football fields, five to six soccer fields and 12 baseball fields. 


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Rockwall asking voters to approve $59 million bond proposal

Rockwall City Council members recently agreed to place a $59 million, four-proposition bond proposal on the May 12 ballot to pay for four capital projects. The propositions are:

  • $25,089,878 for a new athletic complex;
  • $19,163,032 for street upgrades;
  • $10.2 million for improvements to downtown; and
  • $4,947,458 for Heritage Park.

Council members also approved $131,000 to pay for construction of a parking lot with 43 spaces to alleviate parking issues expected because of the relocation of the driver's license office to the downtown area.


Harrison County mulling more T-hangars at airport

Hugh TaylorThe airport advisory board recently recommended that Harrison County commissioners approve a project backed by County Judge Hugh Taylor (pictured) to build 10 new hangars at the airport.


The new hangars will be in addition to the 10 T-hangars built in 2010 and could create more revenue for the county, Taylor said. A Texas Department of Transportation official said the county could be eligible for state and federal grants that would pay 90 percent of the cost of the new hangar project. The county would be required to contribute only 10 percent of the cost. Some business owners who support the hangar project have pledged to donate the funds needed for the county match, Taylor said.


To pay for the 10 new T-hangars, airport officials agreed to a two-year delay on terminal renovations that were scheduled as the next capital improvement project at the airport. Revenue from the rental of the new hangars will repay local participants who agreed to pay for the county's 10 percent required contribution to the project, he added.


Midland eyeing site to build new $8 million municipal court facility

Midland City Council members recently authorized city staff to begin negotiations to purchase property across the street from the city hall to serve as a site for a new municipal court facillity currently estimated to cost about $8 million. The Midland Appraisal District appraised the value of the property on Loraine Street at $462,940.


The 90,000-square-foot property is large enough to build the proposed 24,000-square-foot municipal court facility in addition to adding 130 badly needed parking spaces, landscaping and setbacks required by city code, the director of general services said. City officials plan to demolish the building on the property if council approves the purchase, he said. If the city cannot purchase the lot on Loraine Street at or below the appraised value, city officials have other options for locating the new municipal court, one council member said.


Construction on the new courthouse, which is being designed to be more efficient and provide better access for the public, could begin in early 2013, he said. Council members still must approve before the land purchase is finalized.


FEMA awards almost $944,000 to historic library in Galveston

Officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently awarded a $944,000 grant to the Rosenberg Library in Galveston to help pay for repairs caused by flooding from Hurricane Ike.


The funding will pay to repair flooring, walls and other components in addition to reimbursing some of the cost of emergency steps taken just after the storm three years ago to protect the building that opened in 1904, It is the oldest public library in continuous operation in Texas. This latest grant brings the total to almost $1.5 million in grants awarded to the Galveston library by FEMA.


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Lone Star to seek grants, loans for $3.1M water, wastewater upgrade

Lone Star City Council members recently approved $25,000 to pay for a study needed to qualify for a loan and/or grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pay for upgrades to water and wastewater systems.


The USDA has been offering cities and counties from 65 percent to 70 percent of the estimated cost with a loan and 25 percent from a grant, but can decide a different ratio when deciding on grants and loans, a consultant told city officials.


The city would need to apply for a $2.2 million loan and work through the process before the ratio of loan to grant is determined, he added. The consultant also urged council members to consider a significant increase in water rates to indicate the willingness of city officials to proceed with upgrades to water and wastewater systems.


Pflugerville eyeing development of water reuse program

Tom WordPflugerville city officials recently requested city staff to develop a master plan for a water reuse program that could be implemented quickly.


If adopted by council, the water reuse program could provide an additional 3 million gallons a day and save about $537,000 in water costs, said Tom Word (pictured) assistant city manager. Reused water is retrieved from bathrooms sinks, toilets, bathtubs, shower drains and washing machine drains and is then recycled for landscaping and industrial uses.


More water capacity may be needed due to a new data center opening that is expected to be a heavy water user, said Word. The wastewater plan can produce 3.2 million gallons of water for reuse each day, he said. City officials would need to spend about $9 million to run five miles of pipes, build elevated storage and pump that water into a tank. Word noted the additional water from a reuse program could delay the cost of building another wastewater treatment plant when the current plant hits capacity. The city already supplies reused water from the wastewater treatment plant to the community garden and to a Travis County park to water athletic fields, Word said.


Walker County reviewing options for jail facilities

Following the escape of a high profile jail inmate, Walker County commissioners recently began reviewing architect plans to renovate the current jail or build a new jail facility with costs ranging from $15.5 million to more than $17 million. Texas Commission on Jail Standards officials warned the county for years the jail was too small to meet state standards and found that crowded conditions contributed to the escape. The jail would need to provide at least 68,840 square feet of space to accommodate at least 260 inmates to meet state standards, state officials said.


While renovating and expanding the current jail would cost about $13.8 million, the county also would need to spend $4 million to transport prisoners to another jail facility, bringing the total cost to more than $17 million, the architect said. The current jail also lacks sufficient space for a 30,800-square-foot expansion and the additional parking needed, he said. Building a new jail would cost more than $15.5 million and could be designed to add more space in the future, according to the architect.


County officials plan to hold public meetings to provide an opportunity to learn more about the need for upgrading the county jail and help commissioners decide whether to schedule a bond election or issue certificates of obligation to pay for improving and expanding the facility.


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. 


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.


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Reader feedback leads to one of most-read sections
of Texas Government Insider


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


A couple of summers ago, one of our readers contacted us and asked if we had a Job Board in the Texas Government Insider. At the time, we did not.


He suggested that we consider adding one, as he thought it would both be helpful to employers and job seekers - and that it would probably be well read.


He was right on both counts!


We began our Public Sector Job Board shortly afterwards and invited the public sector - state and local governments, nonprofits and other public sector entities - to send us their job openings to be posted free in the newsletter.


Response was immediate. What started out as a simple public service gesture has now grown into one of the most-read sections of the newsletter. Within a short amount of time, we were posting hundreds of job openings. The postings have included everything from part-time building security guards to one for an executive director of a major state agency. And, there are numerous job openings for nonprofits, cities, counties, state agencies and councils of government.


Rarely does a week go by that we don't hear from some state or local government subdivision about our Job Board. Their first question is usually, "Is it really FREE?" Yes, it is. And then, callers often ask us to provide a link to their Web site employment pages where not one, but all, of their job openings are posted. We are glad to oblige since that makes it easier for our readers to see even more postings.





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Gemini Global Group

Three Rivers ISD approves $14.2 million bond election in May

Trustees for Three Rivers Independent School District recently voted to call a $14.2 million bond election on May 12. If voters approve the bonds, district officials plan to build a new elementary school to replace the current facility that has classrooms failing to meet state standards. Plans also call for building a new gym and cafetorium, but not a full kitchen, the superintendent said.


Owings resigns as superintendent of Sharyland school district

Scott OwingsScott Owings (pictured) recently resigned as superintendent of Sharyland Independent School District effective in June. Owings served seven years in that post and has submitted a retirement letter to district officials. Owings is taking all available leave and has indicated he does not plan to return to work.


Burleson selects Cheatham

as its new city manager

Burleson City Council members recently selected Dale Cheatham as the new city manager. Cheatham, who is the town manager in Brownsburg, Indiana, expects to begin his new duties in April.


A veteran of the U.S. Army, Cheatham also served as a city manager for The Colony and in Watauga in addition to holding several administrative positions in Dallas. He has a bachelor's degree from Bradley University and a master's degree from Northern Illinois University.


Northrop Grumman

Wharton airport nets $800,000 grant for taxiway upgrades

The Wharton Regional Airport recently won an $800,000 grant from the Aviation Facilities program of the Texas Transportation Commission. The grant will be used to build a new south entrance taxiway to the terminal apron, replace and upgrade nine taxiway culverts and widen the north taxiway to the terminal apron. Construction on the taxiway project is scheduled to begin in about two months, airport officials said.


Bandera finds top superintendent candidate in-house with Howell

Regina HowellThe Bandera school board recently named interim superintendent Regina Howell (pictured) the lone finalist for superintendent.


Howell, who was hired into the district as a Spanish teacher in 1996, was selected from a pool of 20 applicants.


Previously, Howell has served as elementary assistant principal, elementary principal and in 2000 became personnel director/assistant superintendent.


Arlington begins reviewing candidates for city manager

Arlington City Council members recently begin reviewing the qualifications of applicants for city manager to replace Jim Holgersson, the former city manager who resigned in September.


The goal is to select four to six applicants from the 53 candidates who sent applications and select a new city manager by mid-March, the mayor said. Bob Byrd, the former deputy city manager, is serving as interim city manager until a new city manager comes on board, he said.


York announces his retirement from Goose Creek district

Toby YorkDr. Toby York (pictured), superintendent of the Goose Creek Independent School District, has announced his retirement, effective in July. York will leave the district after a 36-year career in public education.


York joined the Goose Creek ISD in 2001 as executive director of school administration. He served as assistant superintendent for personnel and student services from 2002 to 2005 and as deputy superintendent for personnel and student services from 2005 to 2009. He was hired as the GCISD superintendent in May 2009. His career in public education includes having served as a teacher, coach, principal, assistant principal, athletic director and superintendent.


How helpful is this?

Paris narrows list of city manager candidates to three applicants

Paris City Council members recently narrowed their search for a new city manager to three finalists, two men and one woman, from the 34 applicants from 19 states who applied for the job.


One of the finalists is from Texas and two are from out of state. Council members declined to reveal information about where the three finalists are now employed as city managers, the mayor said.


Plans are to bring the final three candidates for interviews this week and select a lone finalist following the interviews, the mayor said.


Port Arthur to ask voters

to decide on park funding

Port Arthur City Council members recently agreed to ask voters to decide on May 12 whether to permit the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to spend $500,000 a year for three years on parks and recreation projects.


Council will have the option to extend the EDC funding for three more years if voters approve the proposition to use EDC funds to pay for upgrading parks. While EDC members are considering using some of the funding to pay for new soccer fields at the Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Park, city officials also plan upgrades to many of the other 23 parks in the city.


Grindstaff removes name from consideration in Burleson

Elizabeth GrindstaffSan Angelo city official Elizabeth Grindstaff (pictured) was recently named one of two finalists for the Burleson city manager position, but has now pulled her name from the competition.


Grindstaff decided to keep her current position as San Angelo assistant city manager after many friends and coworkers asked her to stay.


Coincidentally, the San Angelo city manager recently announced he will step down. Grindstaff has not said whether she will run for the position, but wants to see what type of candidate City Council seeks to hire.


Pecos planning multi-million-dollar bond vote for road rehab

Pecos officials are discussing holding a multi-million-dollar bond election to fund numerous road repairs.


Although the city spends about $500,000 each year on road repairs, the infrastructure has deteriorated over the last 30 years.


A recent oil boom that has spurred the local economy could help fund improvements.


HDI Solutions

Johnson selected as new

Richardson's new city manager

Dan JohnsonThe Richardson City Council recently named veteran city administrator Dan Johnson (pictured) city manager, effective June 1.


Johnson, who succeeds the retiring Bill Keffler, has served as Richardson deputy city manager since 1996. Previously, Johnson worked for 11 years at the City of Carrollton, for three years at the North Central Texas Council of Governments and in Sherman for five years.


Johnson holds a bachelor's degree from Austin College and a master's from the University of North Texas.


SPI on Twitter

Port Arthur to start over on

search for new city manager

Bobbie PrinceThe Port Arthur City Council recently canceled finalist interviews for city manager, instead opting to begin the entire search process again.


The search had been narrowed to three candidates, but Mayor Deloris "Bobbie" Prince (pictured) said City Council wanted more choices.


The management firm leading the search will continue in that role.


Royce City ISD reviewing 56 applicants for superintendent

Royce City Independent School District board members recently received 56 applications to be considered for superintendent to replace Superintendent Randy Hancock, who is retiring from that post on June 30.


Board members plan to review qualifications of all of the 56 applicants and select finalists to interview by the end of this month. City officials plan to perform any follow-up interviews in March and name a lone finalist for the top post on March 5.


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

Fort Worth ISD tags Walter

Dansby as new superintendent

Walter DansbyTrustees for the Fort Worth Independent School District officially welcomed Walter Dansby (pictured) as the new superintendent this week. A district employee for 38 years, Dansby served as interim superintendent following the resignation in May of Melody Johnson, the previous superintendent.


Dansby was a teacher, coach and principal before he assumed the post of area dean of instruction for the district. Dansby has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master's degree from Tarleton State University.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Emily Willeford of San Antonio, State Board of Dental Examiners;
  • Jean "Jeanne" Olinger of Wichita Falls, Texas Funeral Service Commission

Anderson County creates new post as bond supervision officer

Anderson County commissioners recently created a new position as a bond supervision officer after state officials warned that adult probation officers could no longer perform monitoring duties for the county.


The new bond supervision officer will monitor inmates released on bond and if they are meeting conditions such as curfews and monitoring requirements, said County Judge Robert Johnston. Persons released on bond normally pay a monthly fee that the county can use to pay the salary and benefits for the new bond supervision officer, Johnston said. The new supervision officer should be able to collect more than the $22,000 in probation fees received last year to help defray the cost of adding a new employee, he added.


County officials requested the district attorney to instruct a staff member to perform a salary survey and write a job description and qualifications for the new bond supervision officer.


League City selects Loftin

as new city acting manager

Mike LoftinLeague City officials recently selected Mike Loftin (pictured), the assistant city manager for management services, as the new acting city manager. Loftin replaces Rich Oller, who recently resigned as interim city manager.


Loftin has served on the League City staff since 2009, when he was hired as director of finance. He was named assistant city manager for finance services in 2010. He previously served as a consultant for the Finance Department for the city of Houston, as a budget and financial planning officer for the city of Pasadena and an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. He has a master's degree from UH. City officials are working with an executive search firm to find a new city manager.


Carlisle ISD approves $7.5M to upgrade high school, field house

Carlisle Independent School District trustees recently approved a maximum price of $7,510,052 to upgrade the high school, the field house and agriculture building as well as create 25,000 square feet of new classroom space. Trustees awarded the contract to WRL Contractors of Flint. While most of the renovation projects should be completed before school begins in 2013, renovations to the high school campus are set to begin this summer and be completed before students return to school this fall, Superintendent Mike Payne said.


Jordan to remain as interim superintendent at El Paso ISD

Officials of the El Paso Independent School District recently voted to retain Interim Superintendent Terri Jordan in that position until at least September.


Board members plan to perform no search efforts to find a new superintendent before September and also expect to re-examine Jordan's performance as an interim superintendent. Following the performance assessment, board members then will decide whether a search for a new superintendent is necessary, district officials said.


Previously the chief of staff, Jordan became interim superintendent in August after former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia resigned following his arrest on fraud charges by federal authorities. Jordan has worked for the school district for 26 years. District officials said they do not plan to hire a new superintendent until the ongoing federal investigation of alleged fraud is completed, the president of the board said.


Land purchase in Killeen

likely for new elementary

Robert MullerThe Killeen school board recently voted to spend $550,000 to buy land for a new elementary school, the district's 33rd.


The new school would accommodate projected growth in the southwest portion of the district, said Superintendent Robert Muller (pictured).


The school is projected to hold about 1,000 students, cost about $14 million and open in the fall of 2013.


Anderson County tags Lightfoot

as emergency coordinator

Anderson County commissioners recently selected Tammy Lightfoot as the new emergency management coordinator for the county. Lightfoot previously served as a bailiff for the sheriff's department and replaces Schelby Wells, who resigned to take a similar post for the city of Palestine. A county employee since 1993, Lightfoot attended Kilgore College and completed training at the police academy in 1985.


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Andrews gets government

grant for cleaner drinking water

Andrews officials recently received a $388,000 federal grant to improve the quality of drinking water.


The Environmental Protection Agency will foot the bill for a new filtration and reverse osmosis system that cuts levels of arsenic and fluoride from the water.


Arsenic can cause kidney, liver and lung damage, while fluoride can cause nausea and vomiting.


Grayson County approves $144,000 for telephone system

Grayson County commissioners recently approved $144,000 to buy a new telephone system for the county to replace a system the city bought eight years ago at a cost of $348,000.


The current telephone system now must be rebooted several times during a 24-hour period and has become so unreliable that it needs to be replaced, the director of information and technology told commissioners. 


Oller resigns as acting city manager in League City

Rich OllerRich Oller (pictured), the interim city manager in League City,recently resigned from that post effective immediately. Oller also withdrew as a candidate for the city manager position that has been vacant since July.


Oller, who previously was director of public works in League City, assumed the duties of interim city manager in July 2011 when council appointed him to replace former City Manager Marcus Jahns when he resigned.

City council has not yet selected a new interim city manager and could select a new city manager as soon as the end of this month, the director of human resources said.


Lone Star selects new city secretary, public works director

Lone Star City Council members recently selected Ruth Nash to serve as the new city secretary. Council members also selected Kenneth Harris to be the new director of public works for the city.


Reyes promoted to Pecos

city manager position

Pecos city officials recently promoted Federico Reyes to city manager. Reyes, a native of Lamesa, has served as assistant city manager since August 2011.


Pecos has not had a city manager since March 2011.


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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