Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 5 - Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

$500 million in TIGER grant funding announced by USDOT


State, local, other government entities to compete for transportation project funding

Transit Center
The proposed VIA Westside Multimodal Transit Center in this artist's rendering was awarded $15 million in TIGER grant funds last year toward the $35 million project.

The fourth round of the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is soliciting applications from qualified state and local government and quasi-government subdivisions for $500 million in available program funding.


The funds are for surface transportation projects nationwide such as highways, ports, commuter rail, streetcars, buses and high-speed rail.


Applicants can include state, local and tribal governments, including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other political subdivisions of state or local governments, and multi-state or multi-jurisdictional groups applying through a single lead applicant.


Texas projects have been awarded collectively $97 million in TIGER grants since 2009. Because the funds were just announced this week, TxDOT spokesperson Mark Cross said TxDOT officials are unsure if they will apply for projects in Texas. "It's too early to tell," said Cross.


Nationwide, the three previous rounds of TIGER grants provided $2.6 billion for 172 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


In Texas, 2009 TIGER grant funding included:

  • $20 million to support a direct Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan of approximately $400 million for the Texas State Highway 161 project, sponsored by the North Texas Tollway Authority. The total cost of the project, which was designed to improve the region's transportation network and service level, was estimated at $1.3 billion.



Kimbrough chosen for homeland security position at DPS


Recruited by McCraw for new post as assistant director for homeland security

Jay KimbroughJay Kimbrough (pictured), former deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M System, has been hired by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the newly created position of assistant director of DPS. As such, Kimbrough will oversee homeland security for the state's law enforcement agency.


Kimbrough is no stranger to security issues, after being named the state's director of homeland security following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. DPS Director Steve McCraw indicated that was one reason he recruited Kimbrough for the position at DPS.


In addition to his deputy chancellor spot at the A&M System, Kimbrough also has previously served the state as a consultant to the Texas Department of Transportation. When allegations of abuse and a cover-up cropped up at the Texas Youth Commission, Gov. Rick Perry named Kimbrough, his long-time friend and confidant, as conservator of the agency. Kimbmrough also was called in when another state agency - the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse - had its ox in the ditch. The longtime state employee has served Perry as deputy chief of staff and then chief of staff. He once headed the governor's Criminal Justice Division and was special adviser to the Texas A&M Board of Regents. Kimbrough is also a former executive director of the Texas Commission on Private Security. 


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Timothy IrvineTimothy K. Irvine, executive director, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs 


Career highlights and education: I have been blessed with a number of truly extraordinary opportunities. After being educated in California (Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University) and taking the express route through law school (Willamette University and University of Washington), my bride's ties to family in Texas helped me avoid a career as fodder for Garrison Keillor skits (yes, I was an English major); instead, I have had a career that has been a series of intersections between regulation and finance. It began at the Fed, regulating bank holding companies, and next I moved to Houston to join the legal department of Texas Commerce Bancshares. I treasure the memories of TCB and folks like Ben Love and the unparalleled opportunities. Although I joined TCB as the junior lawyer, my role in mergers and acquisitions gave me a lot of face time with the Chairman. So through some quirks and twists of fate, my role changed quickly. Where else could a 29-year-old kid be secretary of an NYSE company and have regular interaction with the likes of that board (perhaps the all-time ultimate "name dropper" list), be general counsel in an organization doing gazillion-dollar deals and get to live in a place as idyllic as West University? After TCB plighted its troth with Chemical and was on track to be a Texas presence for an out-of-state banking organization, I eventually found my way to Franklin Federal here in Austin. When our owner, ClubCorp, decided to sell the franchise, I went to what is now Locke Lord. That was a great experience, a lot like coming home since they had been principal outside counsel for both Texas Commerce and Franklin Federal. Eventually a midlife recalibration took me into state government, working at Savings and Mortgage Lending, the Real Estate Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. State government has had a ton of highlights. It was fun starting with a clean blue screen to draft rules for mortgage brokers. Being around lots of totally positive and upbeat people (real estate folks) was energizing. As we continue to find ways to improve, I am in the middle of the things that I hope I will look back on some day and say, "Those were the TDHCA highlights." 
What I like best about my job is: The list is long. I like the people I work with and the people we serve. I share a lot of their frustrations and feel immense gratification when I can help get things off of dead center or find better ways to do things. I enjoy taking complex and intricate issues and working to distill them into a nugget of truth or to discern the pivotal policy issue to be considered. I like watching others latch onto challenges that excite them and propel them to be impact players. 
The best advice I've received for my current job is: "Just follow the law." The challenges are that there are so many laws (and rules), state and federal and they are intricate and not always as straightforward as one might hope. Still, it always helps to go back and re-read the statute, carefully and without preconception. 
Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Be forgiving. That is the key ingredient that lets people stretch and take risks. Be willing to jump in and help someone fix things when they aren't working right. Adding blame just makes the cleanup take longer. If everyone will make an intentional effort to be forgiving, civil and supportive, we will be able to create an environment where we can each and all stretch a little and have a real and positive impact on effectiveness and efficiency.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Either sneaking back in or, if I actually made it home, riding my bike. 
People would be surprised to know that I: ...have actually read Finnegans Wake and love it. I first read it in a grad school course on Joyce, sitting on the back stoop of Professor Darcy O'Brien's apartment reading it to a two- or three-year-old girl. It is hilarious, it is maddening, it is poignant and it is beautiful, just like life. 
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: When you share good ideas with us, it takes a while to digest them and turn them into change. Just because you don't get instantaneous feedback does not mean that we did not love your ideas. We really do want people to let us know what they believe will make us better.


Strategic Partnerships, LBJ School host successful workshop


Government officials hear tips from experts on 'Results-Oriented Procurement'

Procurement workshopGovernment officials who deal with commercial bidding and procurement as part of their jobs learned how better to understand private sector firms and how to approach the procurement process at another highly successful Results-Oriented Procurement workshop this week. The workshops are jointly hosted by Strategic Partnerships and The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. With a goal of increasing competition and proposals that address the procurement process more effectively, attendees heard about the procurement process from the commercial vendor's perspective. Taught by SPI executives who have been on both sides of the procurement process, the course includes input from corporate vendors, government procurement experts and sales executives who sell to government.


In the accompanying photo, workshop attendee Brett Bray (left), general counsel for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, visits with Strategic Partnerships Senior Vice President Tommy Huntress (center) and Senior Consultant David Duncan during a break in the morning half of the workshop. Watch the Texas Government Insider weekly for announcements regarding future workshop dates. For more photos, click here.


Geise named administrator of Texas Governor's Mansion

Liz Geise, who worked as project manager for the Governor's Mansion Restoration Fund that helped raise private funds to restore the mansion after it was damaged in 2008 by an arsonist, has been chosen administrator of the mansion. As administrator, she will be responsible for the operation, use and maintenance of the Governor's Mansion and its grounds. She will work with the governor and first lady and coordinate efforts with the State Preservation Board, Texas Historical Commission and Friends of the Texas Governor's Mansion to preserve the property.


The 2008 fire resulted in substantial damage to the mansion, which has served as the official residence for Texas governors and their families since 1856. It is the oldest governor's mansion west of the Mississippi and the fourth oldest continuously occupied governor's residence in the country.


Geise served as the first human resources director for the Public Utility Commission and helped establish the Governor's Management Training and Development Center. She holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.


Could increased motor vehicle registrations be in Texas' future?

Ted HoughtonTexas Transportation Commission Chair Ted Houghton (pictured) has suggested that a higher motor vehicle registration fee could be in the future for Texans. With funding deteriorating for state transportation projects, Houghton said at a recent transportation-related event that he is likely to suggest to members of the Texas Legislature that revenues need to be increased for highway construction and maintenance and other transportation projects.


Houghton noted that a $50 per car increase in the registration fee would result in up $14 billon additional dollars to dedicate to transportation projects in the state. Houghton said an increase in the state gas tax has remained constant at 20 cents per gallon for 20 years and lawmakers have shown little interest in increasing it. Federal taxes are at 184 cents per gallon. With more fuel-efficient vehicles on the roads now and less driving because of increasing prices at the pump, revenues from gas taxes at the pump are down.


Houghton's suggestion of a $50 increase would nearly double what the average car owner pays in registration fees annually.


Company to relocate part of its production to Seguin with TIF funds

With a $1.2 million investment from the Texas Enterprise Fund, Continental Automotive Systems, Inc. will move production of its sensors and actuators from Europe and Asia to its plant in Seguin. The move is expected to create 300 new jobs and $113 million in capital investment.


Continental is one of the world's largest automotive industry suppliers. It manufactures engine, transmission and hybrid control units at its plant in Seguin, and will begin producing sensors and actuators. Continental AG, the parent company, also has facilities in Houston and Uvalde.


"We are extremely excited by this announcement and look forward to continuing our long and mutually beneficial relationship with Continental," Seguin Mayor Betty Ann Matthies said. "The recruitment of this project was made possible by seamless cross-jurisdictional coordination, and is another great example of how our community is able to aggressively utilize its economic development resources and pro-business approach to create a win-win public private partnership."


AISD reviews design for $26.6 million performing arts center

Austin CenterTrustees for Austin Independent School District had on their consent agenda to approve design plans for a new $40 million performing arts center to be built on land located near the intersection of Mueller Blvd. and East 51st Street. Trustees paid $4 million for the 3.5-acre tract of land next to the Dell Children's Medical Center for the center. It is designed to serve students throughout the district.


Voters in 2008 approved bonds for the performing arts center that will feature a 1,200-seat auditorium, a 225-seat black box theater, administrative offices and a parking garage with spaces for 400 vehicles. District officials plan to begin construction on the new performing arts center in June and complete the facility by August 2013. 


Historical Commission's courthouse awards top $21 million

The Texas Historical Commission recently awarded more than $21 million in grants to help preserve historic county courthouses.


From 40 applications, 13 counties were selected to receive grants. Those counties are Bexar, Cameron, Colorado, Edwards, Franklin, Hardeman, Marion, Mason, Navarro, Polk, San Saba, Upshur and Throckmorton.


In the previous six rounds of the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, the state has awarded $227 million to help restore almost 50 courthouses.


Lamar Medal for higher education contributions goes to Tyler couple

Award ceremonyHigher education benefactors Joseph Z. and Louise H. Ornelas of Tyler recently received the prestigious Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal, which is awarded to individuals, foundations, and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to higher education in Texas.


The Lamar Medal, which was created in 1977, is presented each year by members of the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and the Texas Association of Community Colleges. The Ornelas were nominated for the annual award by officials from East Texas Baptist University, Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler. The couple has contributed more than $30 million combined to these institutions over the years.


In the nomination letter, ETBU President Dub Oliver noted that the couple has "made an unmistakable mark on higher education in Texas." Oliver credited the couple for giving more than 25,000 college students places to learn, live and interact.


The Ornelases have provided funding to ETBU for the construction of a residence hall, a gymnasium, a stadium, a physical facilities building and a student center. They have also helped pay for numerous renovation projects. At TJC, the couple donated the largest gift in the institution's 85-year history - the lead gift to help fund construction of the Rogers Student Center on the main campus. At UT-Tyler, the couple has donated about $12 million that provided for the first and only dormitory, the first Fine and Visual Arts Complex and the Louise Herrington Patriot Center, which includes the first Health and Kinesiology Wing.


Standing behind Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal winner Louise Ornelas in the accompanying photo are (from left): Bill Holda, president of Kilgore College; Rod Mabry, president of UT-Tyler; Mike Metke, president of Tyler Junior College, Dub Oliver, president of East Texas Baptist University, and Kirk Calhoun, president of UT Health Science Center Tyler.


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Denton eyes change to building code for new convention center

After working on plans to build a new 120,000-square-foot convention center and hotel to serve the University of North Texas campus in Denton, city officials recently learned that development code must be amended to allow a new 11.5-acre convention center and hotel to be built as planned.


Planning and zoning commissioners recently raised no objections to proposed changes to the zoning code to accommodate the proposed 250-bed, full-service hotel and convention center. City officials will hold a public hearing on the proposed code changes in February before making a recommendation to city council, which must approve the code changes before the convention center and hotel project can proceed.


A Missouri-based company recently sent an unsolicited proposal to university officials about reviving a former plan to build a full-service, 250-room hotel, a city-owned convention and exhibition center and another hotel near the intersection of Interstate 35E and North Texas Blvd. Denton city officials also must negotiate details regarding funding and management of the convention center before the project can move forward, the economic development director for the city said.


DETCOG's Diggles honored with with Road Hand Award

Road HandOfficials of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association recently honored Walter Diggles (pictured) with a prestigious Road Hand Award.


One of five recipients of this year's award, Diggles is the executive director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments.


He also served on the board of directors for the Alliance for the I-69, the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition and helped establish the Deep East Texas Rural Transportation Planning Organization. Diggles played a vital role in developing viable transportation projects to East Texas, said Dennis Cooley, district engineer for TxDOT in Lufkin.


In the accompanying photo, Diggles (center) accepts the Road Hand Award from Dennis Cooley, TxDOT Lufkin District Engineer (left) and Lawrence Olsen, Executive Vice President, Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association.


Allen eyeing public-private partnership to develop historic farm

Tim DentlerTim Dentler (pictured), director of parks and recreation in Allen, recently presented a plan to city council backed by two advocates of local and sustainable food sources to enter into a public-private partnership to develop a historic farm into a research facility. It would be used for food production and as an education center for home gardeners as well as a recreation facility.


City officials in 2005 purchased the 52-acre Moisen Farm for a public park featuring programs about the area's agricultural history, organic gardening and sustainable farming. The farm, however, has remained closed to the public and is leased for cattle grazing, hay production and a tree farm. However, Steve Carlson and Kenny Chandler, advocates for sustainable food, would like to help city officials find nonprofit foundations and business ventures to provide private funding for the farm project. A master plan for the proposed park completed in 2010 placed a $9.7 million cost estimate on the first farm project. But Dentier told council members the two advocates claimed their plan will reduce costs by using cost-saving designs for some buildings, cutting overhead costs and increasing the profile of the project. Council members took no action on the recommendation.


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Marshall chosen vice chancellor for IT services at TCC

Timothy MarshallTimothy Marshall (pictured), former chief information officer/senior executive director for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida, has been selected as Tarrant County College's vice chancellor for Information and Technology Services. Marshall brings more than 25 years of experience in technology and executive management to his new post. He has also worked in higher education at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Florida.


Marshall's background includes multiple industries including defense and electronics manufacturing and banking. He earned his bachelor's degree cum laude in computer information systems and graduated summa cum laude with his master's degree in management information systems from the University of Baltimore.


Dallas to move forward on Trinity Horse Park

Dallas City Council members recently agreed to permit city staff to request bids from private companies to operate the Trinity Horse Park, despite the failure of a nonprofit group to raise $15 million in matching private funds for the project.


Voters in 1998 approved a bond package that included $2.56 million for an equestrian center as part of the Trinity River Corridor and in 2006, approved $14 million for the Trinity horse park project. City officials spent $2 million in bond funds to buy land for the horse park and plan to buy more land for a scaled-down version of the equestrian center. The plans call for an arena, horse barns and trails to be built using $12 million in bond funds. Consultant reports indicate the horse park would generate about $46 million in revenue over a 10-year period from concessions and vendors and by staging events.


Several council members, however, expressed deep concern that the non-profit organization had raised only $1 million, saying the absence of private funding could threaten the viability of the project. Other council members, however, noted the success of the Dallas Zoo, a city-owned venue managed by a private company. They supported continuing the horse park project to draw more tourists and visitors to South Dallas. The mayor said he plans to look into whether more private donors will agree to support the project and urged council to move ahead with the requests for proposals.


Fredericksburg to ask voter approval for $3.1M pool project

Tom MusselmanFredericksburg City Council members recently agreed to ask voters to approve a $3.1 million public pool project, a one-pool facility at Lady Bird Park and a two-pool project at Town Pool. Council members, however, remained undecided whether to list both pool projects separately or for the propositions to remain together on the ballot.


Mayor Tom Musselman (pictured) said he supports voters making the decision about the pool projects. The chair of a citizens committee, Linda Langerhans, noted that a recent survey indicated 48 percent of voters favored a one-pool option compared to 45 percent of voters who supported two pools. Some citizens also showed support for reducing the features on one pool to lower the cost. Committee members support listing two pools on the bond proposal, Langerhans said.


Tyler planning to build new downtown parking facility

To ease the lack of convenient downtown parking, Tyler City Council members recently agreed to begin design work on a plan for a parking facility with 298 parking spaces close to popular downtown destinations.


Once the design for the proposed three-story building is done, construction on the parking project should be completed in about nine months, the city engineer said. The facility can be designed to provide more parking in the future by adding a fourth floor, bringing the total to 428 parking spaces, he said. City officials also are considering adding a pedestrian bridge extending to a building across the street from the top level of the parking facility.


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Rockport City Council puts brakes on community center project
Paul LippkeThe Rockport City Council recently denied funding for the construction of a $3.2 million community center.


Although some community members spoke in favor of building the center, the council ultimately decided construction and operation costs were out of the city's price range. The city has more than $2 million set aside for construction, but would need an addition $1.2 million for building and $330,000 a year for operation costs.


"I hate to start something when we may not be ready," said councilman Paul Lippke (pictured). "I don't think it is a good thing right now. I believe it is eventually going to be built."


Travis County eyeing ways to pay for $250 million hospital upgrade

Greg HartmanTravis County officials recently began eyeing options, including a public-private partnership, for how to pay for replacing or upgrading University Medical Center-Brackenridge, the public hospital in Austin. County officials created Central Health as the taxing authority to manage a contract with the Seton Healthcare Family to operate the public health hospital and major trauma facility.


Greg Hartman (pictured), chief executive officer of UMC Brackenridge and an official with Seton Healthcare Family, proposed creating a public-private partnership in which Seton provides half the proposed $250 million cost of replacing the facility and Central Health contributing the remaining $125 million in taxpayer funds needed to replace the aging hospital with a new facility.


The option of seeking private funding to help pay for a new facility to serve needy patients and treat trauma patients has been discussed for some time because of concerns that taxpayers cannot fully fund replacing or upgrading the hospital built in the 1970s, Hartman told the Austin American-Statesman. Central Health officials also are looking into securing federal funding to pay for upgrades to the health care facility, said Patricia Young Brown, the CEO of Central Health.


A state senator for Austin also has proposed a 10-point plan to create a medical school, a new teaching hospital at UMC-Brackenridge and other improvements to health services in Austin. To pay for upgrades to the hospital or replace the facility, Central Health officials would need to increase property taxes, use some of the $100 million in reserves or issue bonds, said Young Brown. Brown supports building a new, state-of-the-art hospital with upgraded technology as costs to upgrade the old hospital would exceed new construction costs.


New Caney ISD group urges $97.5 million bond election

The Facilities Services Committee of the New Caney Independent School District recently urged trustees to schedule a $97.5 million bond election in May to build new facilities and upgrade campuses throughout the district.


Citing increased student enrollment, committee members suggested the bonds be used to pay for a new middle school, a new elementary school to replace an existing campus, a new agriculture science center, renovations and an addition to the stadium, additions to four elementary schools and renovations and additions to the high school. The committee also recommended renovations to the sixth-grade campus, additions to a middle school, transportation and maintenance projects, upgrades to child nutrition programs and the purchase of more land.


District officials plan to hire a construction manager to oversee the bid and construction process if voters approve the bonds in May, said Jim Grant, director of operations of New Caney ISD. Trustees have a deadline of Feb. 20 to call a bond election in May.


Victoria County receives $1.8 million grant funds for safe shelter

Nim KiddVictoria County recently received a $1.8 million grant to build a community storm shelter in Bloomington.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency money comes through the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative, which plans to open 50 similar shelters across the state, said Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief W. Nim Kidd (pictured).


The Bloomington shelter, which will be between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet, will be built to withstand 200 mph winds. During most times, the building will be used as a school gym.


Austin ISD gets look at design for $14.8 million elementary school

Austin Independent School District trustees recently got their first look at proposed design plans for a $14 million elementary school on East Rundberg Lane. Voters approved bonds in 2004 to build the new campus to relieve overcrowding at two elementary schools. District officials, however, only recently agreed to purchase 18 acres of land for the new campus.


Current plans call for a facility with 32 classrooms that can be expanded to 40 classrooms, new parking lots, a bus circle, fields for students to play on and space for four portable classrooms. Trustees plan to seek bids for a facility with 32 classrooms plus an alternate bid for a 40-classroom facility, district officials said. Trustees also increased the construction budget from $12.7 million estimated in 2004 to $14.8 million. District officials expect to begin construction on the new elementary school in June 2012 and complete the project in August 2013.


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Water Development Board OK's assistance totaling $191.11 millon

The Texas Water Development Board this week announced financial assistance totaling $191.11 million. The assistance includes:

South Texas exploring option of privatizing Ag Center in Weslaco

Ray PrewettResponding to plans to close the USDA Agriculture Research Center in Weslaco in June, several leaders in the Rio Grande Valley are exploring the possibility of raising funds to privatize the research center to keep the research and jobs in the area.


Ray Prewett (pictured), president of Texas Citrus Mutual, said supporters plan to work with universities and private companies to develop a plan to continue research on pest and disease controls at the center. Recent outbreaks of a citrus greening disease that is moving into Texas from Northern Tamaulipas in Mexico make it critical for research into citrus to continue in the area, Prewett said.


USDA officials are expected to reassign almost 70 full-time employees at the Weslaco center to other research centers throughout the country, Prewett said. Those employees will have five months to begin their new assignments, making it critical that supporters for privatizing the facility make arrangements with the center to continue the research being performed by those employees.


San Diego ISD eyeing options for junior high, career school

San Diego Independent School District officials recently began looking at whether to renovate or replace a 52-year-old junior high campus, including the gym structure and plans for the second priority project, a facilities upgrade for Career and Technology Education (CTE). Board members reviewed options for both projects presented by a member of the facility committee.


Committee members reported the study identified several concerns including the condition of the gymnasium, lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and roof and foundation problems at the junior high school. The committee urged two options for the junior high school. The first option is to build a new middle school campus on the site of the current facility and an old elementary school along with extensive renovations to the existing gym/auditorium area at an estimated cost of $9.2 million. Option two is to build a new campus on 17 acres behind the current junior high to serve 302 students at a cost of about $9.54 million, including a new, but pared down gym. The second option also would require water and sewer lines to be installed and access provided to the undeveloped land.


Committee members also advised that CTE facilities originally planned for the high school when built 10 years ago are outdated and should be reexamined as opportunities for welders and agriculture-related education have grown. The welding program and others need more space to accommodate all the students interested in the program. Voters in May 2010 approved $12 million in bonds comprised of $6 million in Instructional facilities allotments and $6 million in existing debt allotment to upgrade district facilities.


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Jasper ISD may ask approval of up to $21 million bond proposal

Chris ColemanJasper Independent School District trustees recently met with community leaders to discuss a new approach to convince voters to approve from $15 million to $21 million in bonds to pay for badly needed upgrades to facilities throughout the district.


Projects currently discussed to be in the bond proposal are consolidating two schools into one existing campus and using the closed campus for an administration building, demolishing the gymnasium and band hall at the junior high and building a new band hall and gym and addressing issues regarding aging school buses and other transportation issues, said Chris Coleman (pictured), assistant superintendent and human resources director.


Voters in May 2011 rejected a bond proposal, but Coleman predicted prospects are good that trustees will schedule another bond election in May to ask voter approval to sell bonds, including Qualified School Construction bonds, to upgrade facilities. The district is eligible for $6.2 million in low- or no-interest loans from the federal government, Coleman said. Trustees are scheduled in March to receive cost estimates for the proposed projects and make a decision on which projects to include in the proposal. They will stage open houses at several campuses to allow voters to see the need for facility upgrades, he said.


Kaufman Co. selects architect for county annex renovation

Kaufman County commissioners recently approved a $37,500 contract with an architectural firm to oversee renovation of the second floor of the county annex located on the town square in Kaufman.


Under the contract, the architect will produce drawings of the facility that are no longer available, provide design services and information needed for permits and the bid process, county officials said. Preliminary plans call for adding an elevator and improving restrooms on the second floor of the annex to comply with federal regulations regarding access by disabled persons, the county judge said.


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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In spite of less funding, public sector marketplace
to remain robust in 2012


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


There have definitely been significant public sector budget cuts. Government officials have been forced to reduce costs and lay off valued employees. But, in spite of less funding, the public sector marketplace will be robust for contractors in 2012. That's primarily because government must continue to provide essential services such as fire and police protection, health care, parks, water and wastewater services. And, to provide those critical services, public officials need private sector partners.


A quick bit of research provided an interesting overview of what was happening in the last quarter of 2011 at the local levels of government. More than $313.1 million in contracts were executed. The contracts covered a range of products and services including technology, telecommunications, construction, architectural and engineering services, marketing and advertising services, employee search assistance, real estate management, security services and more.


Of the $313.1 million, here's the type of purchasing that took place month by month. In October, public officials signed 36 technology/telecom contracts, 29 architectural/engineering and construction contracts and 14 other services contracts.


Some local government contracts considered during October included:

  • Capital Metro - $2.4 million (2 year contract with three one-year options) for marketing, advertising and promotional services.
  • City of Arlington - $135,000 for professional benefits counseling and advertisement.



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Lubbock approves $81 million for public works, safety projects

Lubbock City Council members recently authorized the sale of $81 million in bonds approved in 2009 to pay for several public works and public safety projects.


The largest project is a $33.35 million drainage upgrade in Maxey Park and in northwest areas of the city that are designed to stem flooding. The bonds also included funding from the final 34th Street Reconstruction bond and $300,000 for improvements to city hall.


Goliad taps Bise as new director for economic development

Bridgette BiseGoliad City Council members recently hired Bridgette Bise as the director of community and economic development for the city. Bise, the former executive director for the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau, began her new duties in Goliad on Feb. 1. She previously served as executive director of convention and visitors bureau in Elk City, the Grand Lake Association and for an aquarium, all in Oklahoma.


Burnet CISD tags Burger as finalist for superintendent

Board members for Burnet Consolidated Independent School District recently selected Jerry Burger as the lone finalist for superintendent. Burger currently is superintendent at Normangee ISD.


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Dominguez accepts offer to become Colorado city manager

San Angelo City Manager Harold Dominguez recently accepted an offer to become the city manager of Longmont, Colorado, effective in April.


Dominguez, who will continue to work in San Angelo until March 9, has served as city manager for seven years and previously served as assistant city manager.


The Longmont council unanimously selected Dominguez from six applicants. 


Presidio County garners $100,000 loan for new medical clinic

Presidio County officials recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a $100,000 loan to the Presidio County Health Services Inc., which operates a medical clinic in the county.


The Rural Development Program of USDA approved the facilities loan to help pay for construction of a new $1.2 million medical clinic. County officials previously transferred a $591,000 community facilities loan and a $500,000 economic impact initiative grant to the group operating the medical clinic.


Gemini Global Group

Burleson selects Cheatham, Grindstaff as finalists for manager

Burleson City Council members recently selected Dale Cheatham and Elizabeth Grindstaff as the two finalists for city manager. The new city manager will replace City Manager Curtis Hawk, who is retiring in March.


Cheatham is a town manager in Indiana, a former city manager for The Colony, an assistant city manager in Watauga and worked in budgeting and public works positions in Dallas, Greenville and DeKalb, Illinois. He has a bachelor's degree from Bradley University and a master's degree from Northern Illinois University.


Grindstaff is an assistant city manager in San Angelo. She previously was an interim planning director in Abilene and director of economic development in Hillsboro. Grindstaff has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Texas A&M University. Council members expect to conduct interviews with the two finalists for the post and make a decision early this month on the new city manager.


Thompson retires from post

as Lufkin city secretary

Renee ThompsonRenee Thompson (pictured) recently retired as city secretary in Lufkin. She began her career with the city 34 years ago in the parks and recreation department and became city secretary in 2004.


City officials appointed Kara Atwood, who previously was administrative assistant to the city manager, to serve as the new city secretary.


Bexar Metropolitan Water

District officially dismantled

A recent decision by the U.S. Justice Department to uphold the results of an election in November to dissolve the Bexar Metropolitan Water District officially closed the book on the water district that had operated 65 years.


The board of the water district was dissolved at midnight on Friday, Jan. 27, said Tom Gallier, the interim general manager of the Bexar Metropolitan district. Operations of the dissolved water district will be merged with the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) in a 90-day process to transfer all of its assets and liabilities.


This week, 250 of the former water district employees will report to work and discuss with SAWS executives how the transition will proceed. Eleven water district employees were not offered employment with SAWS because those employees earned more than $50,000 a year, were deemed unnecessary to operations or previously fired by SAWS.


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Seguin ISD selects Lewis to head information systems, technology

Seguin Independent School District trustees recently selected Bill Lewis as executive director of information systems and instructional technology. Lewis, who was director of instructional technology, replaces Vickie De La Rosa, who retired from that post.


Lewis previously served as technology director for New Braunfels ISD, as project coordinator for Austin ISD as well as a teacher and a principal for Round Rock ISD. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin, a master's degree from Texas State University-San Marcos and completed his superintendent's certification from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.


Corpus Christi group urges new utility fee to help pay for streets

Joe AdameA street finance committee appointed by Corpus Christi Mayor Joe Adame (pictured) recently recommended that city council members approve a new $20-a-month utility fee to be dedicated to street repairs and maintenance.


The city would need to spend about $55.7 million a year, or five times the current street funding, to pay for street maintenance and upgrade projects already identified, the city manager said. To pay for those upgrades, each residential utility customer would be charged about $20 a month for about 22 years to bring city streets to a manageable condition, he said.


While council members took no action on the recommendation, three council members supported scheduling an election to ask voters how much they are willing to pay for improved streets.


Point Comfort to ask voters

to create development district

Point Comfort City Council members recently agreed to add a proposition to the election on May 12 to ask voter approval of a one-half-cent increase in the sales tax to raise a minimum of $5,000 a year to create and operate a municipal development district.


Revenue from the development district can be used for projects related to an auditorium, parking, sports and entertainment, affordable housing, water facilities, public safety facilities, recycling, streets, drainage and to promote business development, the city attorney said.


The extraterritorial jurisdiction of the proposed development district will extend one-half mile outside the city limits if voters approve creation of the new taxing district. Council members will appoint a board to manage the development district and oversee its operation, the city attorney added.


Health Information Designs

Jacksonville selects site

for new convention center

Jacksonville city officials recently selected a site on US69 for a proposed convention center estimated to cost between $2 million to $3 million.


City officials have not yet determined the size of the proposed convention center, but council members who visited similar facilities in Texas favored a convention center similar to the one in Center, the city manager said.


Preliminary plans call for the convention center to be used primarily for meetings and conventions, but also could be used for some sporting events, he said.


To help fund the proposed convention center, chamber of commerce officials agreed to receive less funding for advertising from the hotel/motel occupancy tax and direct funds to the convention center project.


League City gets peek at list

of finalists for city manager

League City council members recently got their first look at a list of finalists to be considered for city manager to replace Marcus Jahns, who resigned in July.


Council members plan to review the list and to further narrow it after conducting interviews with the finalist candidates, the human resources director for League City said. City officials hope to select a new city manager by early March.


Rich Oller, former assistant city manager for public works, was appointed in July as interim city manager and has expressed interest in serving in the post permanently, city officials said. Oller will continue as assistant city manager if not selected for city manager according to the terms of his contract.


Stevens resigning post

as CEO of El Paso Electric

David StevensDavid Stevens (pictured) recently said he plans to resign as chief executive officer of El Paso Electric on March 2 to pursue other employment opportunities. Stevens assumed the post in El Paso in November 2008 and previously served as CEO of a natural gas corporation in Seattle.


Board members appointed Thomas Shockley, a retired executive for electric utilities and a board member in El Paso since 2010, to serve as interim director until a new director is selected. Shockley retired from American Electric Power in Ohio and previously was employed by Central and South West Corp. a Dallas-based utility. El Paso Electric officials plan to conduct a wide-ranging search to find a new CEO, a spokesperson for the city-owned utility said.


Northside ISD sets goal to name finalist for superintendent by May

Northside Independent School District board members recently adopted a timeline setting a goal of selecting a finalist for superintendent by May 1. The district hired a consulting firm to help in the search for a qualified candidate to replace Superintendent John Folks, who announced he is retiring in June.


District officials began advertising this week in Texas and throughout the United States in publications targeting educators and administrators and hope to select from five to seven candidates to interview by early April. The timelines also sets a goal of having the new superintendent on the job by July 2.


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Kingsley retires as building official for Harker Heights

David Kingsley, who was employed by Harker Heights as an assistant police chief, fire marshal and building official for more than 42 years, recently retired as the city's chief building official.


City officials appointed Steve Philen, a former firefighter and licensed plumbing inspector to replace Kingsley. Philen also is certified as a residential and commercial code inspector.


Meyersville kicks off search

for new superintendent

Board members for Meyersville ISD recently hired a search firm to help find a new superintendent to replace Laura Whitson, who is retiring. Board members requested that the search firm include school staff and residents when deciding on the qualifications for a new superintendent.


Recent Reports

Gilmer shifting duties to take over work of retiring employee

Following the retirement of Mike Catron, the director of community development in Gilmer, city officials announced a reorganization of staff duties. Catron also performed food inspections, code inspections, worked with the census and helped at the airport in addition to his community development duties, the city manager said.


Under the reorganization, Public Works Director Brian Rodgers will take over duties of Streets Superintendent Danny Lancaster. Rodgers will oversee streets and public works as well as managing both crews. Lancaster will perform most of the duties of community development as well as manage Lake Gilmer, the city manager said.


Because Lancaster is not licensed or certified for food inspections, the city manager appointed Fred Lawton, an employee of the water and sewer department who is licensed to perform food inspections, to oversee restaurant inspections.


Planners unveil details of new study of downtown Galveston

A team from the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) recently unveiled a study of a 15-block area in downtown Galveston to improve livability and economic development in that area. The Galveston Housing Authority provided a $40,000 matching grant to The Livable Centers, which contracted with HGAC to perform the study. The Historic Downtown Strand Seaport Partnership also participated in the study of downtown Galveston.


Results of the study suggested that adding better lighting, sidewalks, transportation and other upgrades to the 15-block downtown area would create an improved sense of community as well as improve economic development.


The study also urged city officials to consider improving bike routes to the seawall, creating a neighborhood plaza, encouraging a neighborhood grocery store to be built and adding medians to Harborside Drive to provide a better link to The University of Texas Medical Branch.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 1/27/2012

Pottsboro ISD selects Matthews as finalist for superintendent

Kevin MatthewsPottsboro Independent School District trustees recently selected Kevin Matthews (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Matthews, a principal at Pottsboro High School, will replace Superintendent Kyle Collier, who is retiring when the school year ends. Matthews, who has a doctorate degree, previously served as an assistant principal at Denison High School.

Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Phil Jenkins of Palestine, Upper Neches River Municipal Water Authority Board of Directors;
  • J. Bruce Bugg Jr. of San Antonio, Humanities Texas;
  • Paula Peters of Dallas, Humanities Texas;
  • Polly Sowell of Austin, Humanities Texas;
  • Sen. Jane Nelson, chair, Medicaid Reform Waiver Legislative Oversight Committee;
  • Darby Byrd Sr. of Orange, Finance Commission of Texas;
  • H. "Jay" Shands III of Lufkin, Finance Commission of Texas;
  • Victor Leal of Amarillo, Finance Commission of Texas.

College Station may try new approach to $8.4 million library

After examining how residents are now using the public library, College Station city officials recently agreed to consider more options for a proposed $8.4 million expansion to the public library. Voters approved bonds in 2008 to pay to enlarge the current facility by 15,265 square feet and add new parking spaces. But plans stalled as the economy shrunk causing a delay in construction expected in 2011 and delayed again to 2013.


Because more residents are using the library differently and many now check out e-books, access online databases and use portable electronic devices to load audio books and other information, the public works director presented three options for the library developed by city staff. These options are to build a new satellite library in another area of town, spend more of the money on technology or continue with the original expansion plan. The city has grown and adding another library facility could allow more people access to the library, he added.


The president of the board that oversees library operations, however, urged council members to remain with the original expansion plan as the current facility does not provide sufficient space for meeting rooms, children's activities or for books. Council members made no decision on library plans at the workshop meeting, but council members plan to consider all options when the planning and design process for the library begins next year. Council also will seek feedback from professionals, residents and members of the library board.


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Alvin ISD director of public information will retire

Long-time Alvin school district employee Shirley Brothers recently announced that Jan. 31 was her last day as director of public information.


Brothers, who has worked for the district for 40 years, served 14 years as a special education teacher before stepping into the public information position.


During her career, Brothers has earned numerous awards that include the Longfellow Elementary Teacher of the Year Award, the Alvin ISD District Teacher of the Year Award and the Texas School Public Relations Association Professional Achievement Award.


Petrolia, Byers school districts approve school merger plan

Trustees from the Byers and Petrolia school districts recently met to discuss and approve a consolidation agreement, which will go to voters May 12.


A dwindling student population at Byers prompted the move, which will be made available to the public by April 16. Additionally, each district will hold at least one public hearing.


Currently, the agreement states that:

  • Byers faculty and staff may apply for empty positions in the consolidated district;
  • Byers school district facilities will go to the City of Byers, which must use them for public purposes; and
  • The Petrolia School Board will continue to serve in at-large seats, while Byers residents can seek election during the consolidated district's first election next May.

Port Arthur delays naming

city manager finalists

Following the early departure of two city council members, the Port Arthur City Council adjourned their recent meeting without releasing the names of applicants for city manager and without designating those applicants as finalists. The lack of a quorum forced the adjournment before council discussed the search for a new city manager. City officials have selected four of the 15 candidates who applied for city manager as finalists, but declined to identify them.


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