Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 12 - Friday, March 23, 2012

Sharp: Protection of employees important part of RFP responses


Meets with current TAMU System employees to try to allay fears of privatization

John Sharp"You will be judged by your commitment...and your signing of a contract to treat equitably and fairly the current employees - and that is not just wages, that is health insurance and that is retirement."


That was the message that was made "abundantly clear" and "crystal clear," said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp (pictured), to vendors responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) recently issued for privatization of certain campus services on the campuses of Texas A&M and the institutions of the Texas A&M System. Sharp met this week with hundreds of often-angry, mostly fearful System employees in dining services, landscaping, building maintenance and custodial services to discuss the four RFPs that could affect their jobs if those services are turned over to private sector companies.


TAMU LogoSharp first apologized to the employees that he was not able to discuss the RFPs with them and the reason for their being issued before a leak to the media put the news on the front pages of Texas newspapers. He said at the time the information was leaked, he was in Galveston. But he reminded them that, "Just because an RFP is issued doesn't mean it's going to be accepted."


Facing state funding cuts, it became apparent, said the chancellor, that it was time that the System and its member institutions began to look for spending efficiencies. He said the goal was to "figure out how we can operate as good or better than we have with more efficiency and less cost."


That, too, was the goal in issuing the four RFPs, Sharp said. He noted that the System wants to become "the best steward of tuition and taxpayer dollars of any other institution in Texas."


The chancellor equated issuing an RFP to commissioning a study - only the RFP is free. The responses to the RFP will show if the services can be done by a private sector firm while maintaining the current level of service at a lesser price. He cited how an RFP addressing energy efficiency revealed that the private sector could not perform the service better, or cheaper, than the university's own service. "We may be the best in the country at controlling energy costs," he said to thunderous applause.




Lottery director Grief earns lifetime achievement award


Recognized for 'integrity, dedication' in contributions to industry success

Gary GriefGary Grief (pictured), executive director of the Texas Lottery Commission, has been awarded the Major Peter J. O'Connell Lottery Industry Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented in New York City by Public Gaming International Magazine.


The award honors Major Peter J. O'Connell, first director of the Rhode Island Lottery. Recipients annually are those who are recognized for their service to the lottery and their contributions to the success of the industry and the causes they support. Grief was singled out for his "integrity and dedication" the award was created to recognize, said Paul Jason, publisher of the magazine. Recipients are selected by their peers. Texas Lottery Commission Chair Mary Ann Williamson said Grief's "knowledge, experience and leadership are unparalleled" and contribute to the continued success of the Texas Lottery.


Grief has been at the helm of the Lottery Commission since his appointment in March 2010. During his tenure, the Texas Lottery has reported record sales and contributed more than $14 billion to the state's Foundation School Fund that supports public education in Texas. Grief's tenure with the lottery industry covers two decades, after having been appointed to the original Lottery Task Force that was named by the State Comptroller to research and launch the lottery in Texas. In 1992, he was selected as statewide manager of claim centers and in 1997 was elevated to the post of director of lottery operations. In 2002, Grief was appointed to his first of three separate terms as acting executive director, also serving between and after these appointments as deputy executive director until taking over the leadership in 2010.


Grief is a graduate of The University of Texas at the Permian Basin.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Lucy JohnsonLucy Johnson, mayor, City of Kyle 


Career highlights and education: After graduating with a bachelor's degree in communication design from Parsons School of Design in New York, I moved back to Texas to pursue a Master's in Public Administration at Texas State University in 2007. While at Texas State, I bought my first house in my hometown of Kyle, just 10 miles north of campus. In August of 2008, I was elected to the Kyle City Council, becoming the youngest council member in Kyle's history. A year and half later, after the resignation of former Mayor Miguel Gonzalez, I was elected mayor of Kyle in a special election. Since becoming mayor, I have strived to grow Kyle into a thriving city, while preserving the best of the small town I remember growing up in.

What I like best about my job is: Nothing satisfies me more than when the City Council comes together and agrees on a solution to a problem in the city. The tougher and more controversial the problem, the bigger the relief when we've come together as a group of leaders to solve it.

The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Always tell the truth. That way, you never have to remember what you said.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Customer service is everything. At City Hall, we all work for the public. Treating them right is 90 percent of the job. 

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  at one of our downtown restaurants having an appetizer or two and a cold drink. 

People would be surprised to know that I: still love to play video games on my days off!

One thing I wish more people knew about my city: Our City of Kyle Web site has become a great source of information for our residents. I wish more people would utilize the site to learn more about our budget, city code, commercial property for sale, parks programs, city leadership and more. It's the fastest way to get information about Kyle. 

Campbell to retire as manager of freshwater fisheries center

David CampbellDavid L. Campbell (pictured), hatchery manager of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, recently announced he is retiring from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), effective at the end of this month.


Campbell, the coordinator of TPWD's ShareLunker program since its inception, joined the agency 46 years ago at the Lewisville State Fish Hatchery and later became hatchery manager at the Tyler Fish Hatchery and at the freshwater fisheries center. He is recognized for introducing Florida largemouth bass into Texas and for stocking fish in most public reservoirs in the state.

Drought-related ag losses climb to record $7.62 billion

"2011 was the driest year on record and certainly an infamous year of distinction for the state's farmers and ranchers," said Dr. David Anderson, Texas AgriLife Extension livestock economist. His statement was related to updated totals from his agency that show Texas agricultural losses in 2011 due to drought conditions reached a record $7.62 billion.


That figure is more than $3.5 billion higher than the 2006 drought loss estimates, which held the record previously. The 2011 losses represent approximately 43 percent of the average value of agricultural receipts over the last four years, said Anderson.


Officials note that the intensity of last year's drought that included record high temperatures, record low rainfall and unprecedented winds over an extended length of time were devastating to the state's ag production. They note that millions of acres of Texas crops never got enough rain to germinate the planting seeds.


Drought losses for 2011 included $3.23 billion in livestock, $750 million in host hay production, $2.2 billion in cotton, $736 million in corn, $314 million in wheat and $385 million in sorghum.


Parkland Board of Managers elects Branson as new chair

Debbie BransonDebbie Branson (pictured) has been selected by the Board of Managers of the Parkland Health & Hospital System as chair of the board. She replaces Lauren McDonald, M.D., who resigned last month. Patricia Rodriguez Gorman was chosen as vice chair.


Branson has served on the board since 2011, after being appointed by County Judge Clay Jenkins. She is currently an attorney at a private law practice, where she has served since 1983. She holds a bachelor's degree from Arkansas State University, a master's from The University of Texas at Dallas and a law degree from the University of Arkansas.


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TPWD officials say drought relief should help state parks


More donors, increased park visits could help close agency's budget gaps

Drought Effects
A boat ramp at Lake Texana State Park last year shows the effects the drought had on park facilities. (Chase Fountain photo for TPWD)

Recent rains have officials of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hopeful that visitors to state parks will increase. They report visitation is climbing back toward previous levels after a significant drop-off as a result of a record drought statewide and wildfires that heavily damaged three popular state parks. Visits in January of this year were down 9 percent over January of 2010. Although the number of visits continues to increase, they are still 4 percent lower than last year.


After a $4.6 million budget gap was reported partly due to that drop in visitation, TPWD officials launched a statewide appeal, asking for donations to help bridge that budget gap. Since it started, approximately $1.4 million in donations have been collected, both from big business and industry as well as individual citizens. But TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith points out that one way to help is by visiting state parks, which will in turn increase park revenues through fees. "If enough people go enjoy their state parks, we're hopeful we can reverse the losses we experienced in the first six months of our fiscal year." Smith said that while some lake levels remain low, recent rains have greened up previously drought-parched parks.


Individuals who wish to donate can make donations online or by mail to TWPD and through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. Individuals may also donate when registering motor vehicles or when they renew boat registrations. Smith also said private businesses and nonprofits are also helping, noting that Whole Earth Provision Company, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Toyota dealers in Houston and Dallas and others are readying plans for promotions and other efforts this spring and summer to help raise donations for state parks. Local park friends groups and associations, such as the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association, are mounting their own fundraising efforts.


U.S. Senate confirms Burke as assistant secretary of Interior Dept.

Marcilynn BurkeThe U.S. Senate recently confirmed Marcilynn Burke (pictured) as the assistant secretary for land and minerals management for the U.S. Department of the Interior.


Burke, who is an associate professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center, is taking a leave of absence to serve in the post that oversees public lands.


Burke taught environmental law courses centering on natural resources, property, land management and land use at the UH law school.


Fort Worth eyeing new $100 million facility for police and firefighters

Confronted with a deadline to relocate the police shooting range by the end of 2013 and facing crowded public safety facilities, Fort Worth city officials are exploring plans for a new headquarters to house all administrative staff of the police and fire departments. The facility, at an estimated cost of $80 million to $100 million, would likely be located next to a new training facility.


The question is whether to proceed with the public safety project in phases or build the entire headquarters and training complex at one time, said Mark Rauscher of the planning and development office. City officials are in the process of reviewing 15 proposals for the design, construction and financing of the police and fire training center and plan to select a company that offers the best value if council members decide to proceed with the design-build model, Rauscher said.


El Paso County approves first capital improvement plan

Veronica EscobarAfter years of approving each capital improvement project individually, El Paso County commissioners recently agreed to adopt the county's first comprehensive capital improvement plan.


The new plan, which focuses on capital improvement projects for 2013 to 2017, is a more thoughtful process in which commissioners will prioritize capital improvement projects and discuss plans for funding those projects over the next five years, said County Judge Veronica Escobar (pictured).


The capital improvement plan will allow department heads and elected officials to recommend projects that need to be included in the five-year plan, Escobar said. The deadline for submitting capital improvement projects for the plan in 2013 is April 15.


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Conroe ISD approves $7.7 million to renovate junior high school

Conroe Independent School District trustees recently agreed to spend nearly $7.7 million to pay for the first phase of a project to convert a junior high school into the Conroe High School Ninth Grade Campus. Plans call for the full conversion that includes four main areas of upgrades and construction to be completed in July of next year.


The first phase of the project calls for building a new drop-off and pick-up area for buses and cars, remodelling the athletics department and building new science laboratories at Peet Junior High School. Reconfiguring the athletics department is necessary because the discovery of a geological fault line under the gym and locker room area that made it necessary to move those facilities out of the influence zone of the fault line, district officials said. Board members also agreed to spend $167,220 for a new agriculture barn.


Houston reveals design for new animal shelter, adoption center

BARC CenterThe mayor of Houston recently released design plans for the first phase of a new animal shelter and adoption center (see accompanying artist's rendering) expected to cost about $4.1 million.


Current plans call for a parking lot with driveways, a lobby to greet visitors featuring display windows allowing views of free-roaming cats, two suites for adoption of dogs and a nursery area for young dogs available for adoption. The new facility, located on 2.2 acres of land next to the existing animal shelter, also will have a courtyard and an enclosed green space for animals to exercise and interact with those seeking to adopt an animal.


The four remaining phases of the animal shelter project include adding more adoption suites for dogs and cats and administrative space for events and training volunteers as well as a clinical area to provide low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter services for animals. The first phase of the new Adoption Center at BARC will be paid for with capital improvement funds set aside in 2009, but the Houston BARC Foundation will seek private donations of about $8.5 million to pay for the remaining four phases of the animal shelter project.


San Jac purchases land for site of mariner training facility

Benda HellyerSan Jacinto College (SJC) has purchased a 13-acre site on the waterfront of the Port of Houston to be the site for a U.S. Coast Guard-approved maritime vessel operation training facility. The facility, funded in part by a $400,000 congressional appropriation, additional funds from the Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund and local industry, means local companies will no longer have to send their workers to other parts of the country for training and certification in this field.


"We look forward to offering mariners the vital certification training necessary for their requirements in maritime and to assisting the industry with its employment needs," said SJC Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer (pictured).


The center is expected to house multiple classrooms, engineering labs, RADAR, Automatic Radar Positioning Aid, Electronic Chart Display and Information System, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and advanced navigation labs together with the industry's interactive, full-mission ship, towboat and tugboat simulators. It will include a dock for lifeboats, fast rescue boats and room for visiting vessels that will allow for customized, company and vessel-specific training The need for additional workers in this industry is being brought about by the expansion of the Panama Canal opening in 2014, the aging workforce in the industry and the impact it will have on the Houston Port region.


Big Spring seeks approval of $16 million to upgrade water system

Big Spring city officials are asking voters to approve $16 million in bonds to update the city's wastewater treatment plant and upgrade water pipes. Voters also will decide in May whether the city can use economic development sales tax revenues to pay for updates to the city's water system.


Upgrades to the water system are necessary as aging pipes resulted in two major water leaks in the last year, a 1.3 million gallon leak and a 350,000 gallon spill, the mayor said. City official also may use funding from a bond that will be repaid in 2014 to upgrade water lines, he said.


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Smith County Council of Cities adopt three goals for next year

Veronica EscobarThe Council of Cities, a group formed by Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass (pictured) to provide a forum for administrators and elected officials in Smith County to discuss regional issues, recently adopted three priority issues for the next year.


The three top priorities agreed upon by officials of Tyler, Bullard, Chandler, New Chapel Hill, Lindale, Noonday, Whitehouse and Winona along with Smith County commissioners are a regional recycling center, a long-term water supply and economic development. Tourism ranked fourth from the list of regional issues that also included public health, roads and public transportation, homelessness, regional tourism and a regional air system.


Council members added the issues of signage regulation, air quality and health care for retirees to the discussion list and then voted on the priority items. Council members ranked regional tourism as the fourth priority.


Pecos eyeing bond election in November to upgrade water system

Pecos city officials recently began discussion on asking voters to approve an estimated $30 million in bonds. Funding from the bonds would be used to pay for replacing aging water pipes and related infrastructure in the city's water system and to improve streets, the mayor said. Upgrading the water system could cost as much as $30 million, the mayor said.


Belton ISD sets $60 million bond election to build three schools

James PonceBelton Independent School District board members recently approved a $60 million bond election in May to build three new schools.


Two new elementary schools and a new middle school are needed in order to proceed with plans to move the high school from its current facility into the Belton Middle School campus. That would allow the currently overcrowded high school to grow by another 1,000 students, said Eric Haugeberg (pictured), assistant superintendent of finance and operations. The two new elementary schools, one located in the north of the district and the other in the south, also are needed to handle the projected growth in elementary students, Haugeberg said.


Cameron County names group to move forward on border bridge

Cameron County Commissioners recently appointed a committee to evaluate engineering companies to develop plans for the proposed Flor de Mayo International Bridge near FM 3248 in the western area of the county.


Four firms submitted proposals to provide cost estimates, a schematic design, engineering plans and specifications for the new international bridge. The engineering firm also will coordinate with the General Services Administration, provide an environmental assessment and coordinate with federal agencies in the United States and Mexico as well as provide construction inspection services.


Commissioners appointed County Auditor Martha Garza, Budget Officer Xavier Villarreal, Pete Sepulveda, an administrator, and David Garcia, an assistant administrator, to the committee to review the proposals. Current plans call for the county initially to be the sole owner of the bridge, which would be the fifth international bridge located in the county.


McAllen ISD eyes five-year, $6.4 million plan to upgrade facilities

James PonceAt a recent workshop meeting, McAllen Independent School District trustees recently began discussion of a proposed five-year, $6.4 million plan urged by district administrators to pay for improvements and maintenance for 40 facilities used by the district.


Trustees also voiced no objection when asked if anyone opposed allocating almost $7 million to replace the roof at two elementary schools in addition to replacing or repairing air conditioners, upgrading the electrical systems, resurfacing parking lots and the tennis court and building a new pavilion for a total of $15.8 million for facilities, maintenance and district operations.


Superintendent James Ponce (pictured) said trustees will need to find a way to balance the cost of nearly $15.8 million in recommended facility upgrades with what appears to be another $3 million estimated reduction in state funding next year. That loss of funds could affect raises for employees, staffing ratios and extracurricular programs. The district has about $33 million in cash reserves and could use about $3 million and stay within the state recommendation of keeping at least two-and-one-half months of operating costs in reserve, district officials said.


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Cameron to use $1 million EDA grant for events center

The Cameron Economic Development Corp. will use a $1 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to develop infrastructure to support building a new special events center. The EDA awarded the grant is expected to help fund a center that it is estimated will generate $167.5 million in new economic activity and create or retain more than 125 jobs.


The EDA funds will help pay for site development and utility work that has to be done before construction of the center can get under way. The work includes water and wastewater lines, irrigation and water reuse systems and pavement marking.


Alice seeking state approval to sell effluent water

Rau De Los SantosAlice city officials are seeking approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to sell effluent water to companies to use for drilling oil and gas wells.


City officials plan to sell portions of the wastewater produced in two wastewater treatment plants operated by the city, said City Manager Ray De Los Santos Jr. (pictured). Effluent water from the city is currently used to water the municipal golf course, he said.

The city must provide TCEQ officials with how much water the city plans to sell, who wants to buy the wastewater and how the company plans to use it before the request is approved, De Los Santos said. Several companies have shown interest in purchasing the wastewater, but the city manager said staff have not yet prepared requests for proposals and are still researching some of the information needed for approval from TCEQ.


Wichita Falls ISD hopes to save money by changing contractors

The Wichita Falls Independent School District is hoping that changing the owners of two contracts that are expiring. One of the five-year contracts is for custodial janitorial services and the other is for grounds maintenance. Officials have estimated that changing to another provider for janitorial services should save the district $300,000 in the first year. The contract is valued at $2.8 million for the first year. The previous contract was for $3.11 million.


The new grounds maintenance contract is expected to save the district $26,000 in its first year. The previous contract was for $450,000, while the new contract is for $424,000.


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Fort Worth approves $3.2 million for aquatic center at Marine Park

Fort Worth City Council members recently agreed to spend $3.2 million for a family aquatic center to be built at Marine Park. They will use $2 million originally in the capital projects reserve fund and $1.85 million in funds from Community Development Block Grants to pay for the facility. City officials also approved $147,000 to repair the current pool at Marine Park so the pool can reopen in time for the summer season.


Current plans call for the aquatic center at Marine Park to feature a multi-use pool, a water slide, play features, a pool for young children and shade structures when completed in the summer of 2013. Council members also approved a revised aquatic master plan calling for spending an additional $20 million to be spent over the next decade to build five family aquatic centers at Como, Hillside, Kellis, Sycamore and Sylvania parks. Pools at all six of those parks were closed in 2009 because of budget concerns.


City officials also are looking for a public-private partnership to develop the pool at Forest Park, which was closed in 2010, to join in repairing or replacing that pool. An unidentified donor has agreed to pay for an engineering study of the Forest Park pool, city officials said.


Colleyville agrees to merge municipal court with Keller

Michael MuhmColleyville City Council members recently agreed to combine operation of its courts with Keller that will be staffed by a judge selected by a subcommittee of council members from both cities and five employees hired by Colleyville. The two cities already share jail services and dispatch services


If council members in Keller also approve the agreement at their meeting on April 3, the merger of court operations will become effective on Oct. 1 of this year, said Michael Muhm (pictured), a council member in Keller.


The agreement, which is expected to save Colleyville about $53,819 annually, could remain in effect for as long as six years. Officials in Keller, who agreed to be responsible for building maintenance and other costs, expect to save about $146,875 a year from the merger. The agreement calls for court proceedings to be held at the Colleyville Justice Center, while Keller officials expect to retain a kiosk at the police department for citizens to pay citations, Terry Leake, an assistant city manager in Colleyville, said. Texas legislators amended state law in May that allows the two cities to share operation of their municipal courts.


Arlington city, schools planning for joint meetings

Officials with the city of Arlington and the Arlington Independent School District are proposing the two entities hold two regular joint meetings that they are hopeful will create a stronger relationship. They are hopeful that could result in shared resources, from physical facilities to tutoring and mentoring, would be financially beneficial for both entities. They are also looking at discussions regarding the possibility of bulk-rate discounts and negotiations on services they purchase.


Officials are also looking at services of the two entities that may overlap and could be consolidated to serve both.


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.


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. For more information, click here or contact Kandice Hall at HallKM@uthscsa.edu.


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 Sam Houston State University, 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.


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Higher education discussions in Texas likely to include P3s


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


It's hard to believe, but the next session of the Texas Legislature is 10 short months away. Between now and Jan. 8, 2013, legislative committees in both the House and Senate will continue to study a variety of topics that will become key issues when the session begins. One of the issues being studied jointly by the Senate Finance and Higher Education committees will result in recommendations for addressing long-term capital needs in higher education. That conversation is bound to include public-private partnerships (P3s).


Colleges and universities can no longer rely on state funding as a primary source of income. P3s are an attractive option because they provide a new source of outside revenue.


P3 engagements have provided new revenue streams in numerous areas - energy efficiency, parking garages, student housing, athletic facilities and hotels on campus. Some are even partnering with private firms to build mixed-use facilities. Texas lawmakers won't have to look far to find examples of successful higher education public-private partnerships.


The University of Michigan at Flint recently partnered with a foundation to turn a former hotel into student housing. Once built, the foundation went one step further and contracted with another private sector firm for the facility's programming and management. It is becoming more common for private sector partners to manage and operate new facilities. 



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Cedar Park approves $6.2 million in bonds to upgrade streets

Cedar Park City Council members recently approved issuing $6.2 million in bonds to pay for several road and street projects that are being partially funded with county, regional or federal money.


Road projects include extending BMC drive to connect with a service road of the 183-A toll road, reconstructing Bagdad Road from RM 1431 to the city limits and adding right turn lanes on US183, city officials said.


Simsen resigns as Galveston emergency management head

John SimsenJohn Simsen (pictured), emergency management coordinator in Galveston, recently resigned from the post he has held since 1996. Simsen previously was an editor at newspapers in Galveston and Texas City before joining the county in 1996 as a grants coordinator. Simsen said he plans to consult in Colorado and Virginia until he makes a career decision.


Needville to spend $1.25 million

to build new water well

Needville City Council members recently agreed to spend $1.25 million to pay for construction of a water well. The new water well is expected to be located on SH36 at the city barn, city officials said.


Rollingwood expects to vote on wastewater bond issue in May

Plans for a bond election in May to allow the city of Rollingwood to purchase the city wastewater system from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) are firming up. The balloting would allow the city to sell up to $12.8 million in general obligation bonds to be used toward the purchase.


The purchase is contingent on passage of the bond issue and working out the deal with the LCRA. If the purchase is approved, the city also would be responsible for maintenance and operation of the wastewater system, which officials say could save the city up to $100,000 per year.


Crandall ISD tags Jolly as

its new superintendent

Robert JollyCrandall Independent School District board members recently selected Dr. Robert Jolly (pictured) as the new superintendent to replace Dr. Larry Watson, who is retiring from that post. Jolly currently serves as assistant superintendent of administration and human resources at Kerrville ISD.


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Lind agrees to end contract as superintendent at Cuero ISD

After eight years on the job, Henry Lind recently signed an exit agreement as superintendent of the Cuero Independent School District. Lind's contract as superintendent was to expire at the end of the 2014 school year and board members in January chose not to extend his contract.


Trustees also appointed Pam Longbotham, assistant superintendent for curriculum, as the interim superintendent to replace Lind, whose resignation was effective immediately.


Keller ISD superintendent one of three finalists for Phoenix job

James VeitenheimerSuperintendent James Veitenheimer (pictured) of Keller Independent School District recently became one of three finalists for superintendent of the Deer Valley United School District in Phoenix, Arizona. The two other finalists for the post are from Arizona.


Veitenheimer has served as superintendent in Keller since 2004 and recently signed a three-year contract extension with a pay raise. Deer Valley school district officials set a goal to select the new superintendent by the end of April.


Hill resigns as mayor of Murchison, Benson is interim

Following the resignation of Mayor Mike Hill of Murchison for health reasons, city council members appointed Deanna Benson to serve as interim mayor. She will serve as mayor until Hill's term expires in November and a new mayor is elected.


Hill served as mayor of Murchison since 2009 and retired on Feb. 12.


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Marble Falls ISD chief tags Courville as curriculum director

Dr. Robert O'Connor, superintendent at Marble Falls Independent School District, recently recommended that board members select Lee Courville as the new director of elementary curriculum. To help fund the position, O'Connor said he plans to leave the post of coordinator of gifted and talented programs unfilled and divide those duties between the elementary curriculum director and the secondary curriculum director.


Trustees are scheduled to vote at their meeting on Monday on the recommendation to hire Courville for the post.


Kaminski to take over as

Victoria assistant city manager

John KaminskiJohn Kaminski (pictured), planning director for the city of Victoria has been selected as the city's new assistant city manager. Kaminski is a veteran of 24 years with the city, 14 as development services director. He will now provide administrative support to City Manager Charmelle Garrett and help manage a dozen major city departments.


Kaminski's old position has been posted internally, but a replacement has not been decided. Kaminski earned his certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners. He began his career with the city of Victoria in 1988 as a planner and after numerous other posts was named planning director in 1997. He graduated magna cum laude from Texas State University.


Former Bellaire mayor tapped for Metro Transit Authority board

Former Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel has been appointed to the Metro Transit Authority Board of Directors, replacing Jimmy Stewart, whose term expired. Siegel, a Certified Public Accountant, was elected mayor of Bellaire in 2004, after serving on the council since 1988. She holds a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University and an MBA from the University of Houston.


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Dallas ISD to narrow list of 11 candidates for superintendent

Board members of the Dallas Independent School District recently met to review the qualifications of 11 candidates for superintendent submitted by 89 applicants in an effort to narrow the list to five or six finalists by the end of this week


Trustees then plan to interview the five or six applicants and select a lone finalist for superintendent early in April.


Wiggins to resign as county

judge in Guadalupe County

Mike WigginsGuadalupe County Judge Mike Wiggins (pictured) recently announced he plans to retire on Tuesday from the post he has held since 2007. County officials are expected to select Commissioner Kyle Kutscher as the acting county judge. Wiggins, a former trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor in February while attending a conference of elected officials at a hotel in College Station.


Rankin resigns as CEO

of Harris Co. Housing Authority

Guy Rankin, the chief executive officer of the Harris County Housing Authority for the last eight years, recently resigned from that post after signing an agreement giving him a $137,000 buyout of his contract due to expire in August 2013. County commissioners had criticized Rankin's management of the housing authority. His contract had called for Rankin to be paid $242,000, or one year in salary, if he was fired without cause, but paid no severence if fired with cause.


Commissioners also appointed Tom McCasland as the interim chief executive officer of the housing authority. McCasland previously was employed at a law firm, as a consultant to the Houston Parks Board and as a political consultant.


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Mesquite approves $1 million

for new airport control tower

Mesquite City Council members recently agreed to spend $1 million to build a new tower at the Mesquite Metro Airport.


Originally, city officials planned to build a seven-story control tower at a cost of $2 million, with the Federal Aviation Administration providing $1.5 million in grant funds and the city contributing $500,000 toward the new airport control tower. After determining during the design phase that an eight-story tower is needed in addition to a backup communications room and other technical requirements, the total cost of the tower now totals almost $3 million.


City officials plan to provide the additional funding for the control tower from emergency management grants and capital reserve funds. FAA officials also agreed to provide staff to operate the control tower at no cost to the city. Texas Transportation Commissioners are expected to authorize construction of the new control tower at their meeting in April.


Beard resigns position as

head of HISD Apollo project

Jeremy BeardJeremy Beard (pictured), chief administrator of the Houston Independent School District's Apollo school reform project, is leaving that position for a new national nonprofit that contracts with HISD on the program. He will become vice president of the newly formed nonprofit Blueprint Schools Network. Beard has indicated he will continue to work with schools and principals in the Houston ISD in his new job.


Port Arthur approves $3.5 million in energy, maintenance projects

Port Arthur City Council members recently agreed to issue certificates of obligation totaling $3.5 million to pay for projects to increase energy efficiency and for maintenance upgrades to city facilities. City officials plan to repay the certificates of obligation with revenue realized from energy savings from the reduced energy costs.


Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 3/16/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Mike Cox of Driftwood, Texas School Safety Center Board;
  • Garry Eoff of Brownwood, Texas School Safety Center Board;
  • Daniel R. Griffith II of Pflugerville, Texas School Safety Center Board;
  • Jason Marlin of Dallas, Texas School Safety Center Board;
  • Dawn DuBose Randle of Houston, Texas School Safety Center Board.

O'Leary resigns position as

city manager in Keller

Dan O'LearyAfter deciding Keller no longer needed a city manager and two assistant city managers and that one of the administrators should be laid-off, City Manager Dan O'Leary (pictured) recently said he plans to resign from that post, effective April 20. O'Leary previously served as a city manager in San Marcos before taking the job in Keller in December 2007.


While O'Leary urged council members to appoint either Assistant City Manager Steve Polasek or Assistant City Manager Chris Fuller as the interim city manager, council members took no action on the recommendation. Council members said they would discuss the appointment of an interim city manager at the next council meeting.


Polasek currently oversees finance, information technology, the public library and parks and recreation while Fuller manages community development, economic development, human resources and public works.


Victoria approves $8.3 million contract for water meter system

Victoria City Council members recently authorized the city manager to negotiate an $8.3 million contract with Chevron Energy Solutions Co. in a public-private partnership project to install and use an automated water meter reader system.


The ordinance approved by council calls for the city to transfer about $1.5 million from the general fund to the street department and $2 million from the wastewater fund to the water department to help pay for the new automated water system. The agreement also guarantees that the city will experience an $11.3 million return on that investment over the next 15 years, said Public Works Director Lynn Short.


Alto ISD selects Birdwell

as new superintendent

Kerry BirdwellTrustees for the Alto Independent School District recently selected Kerry Birdwell (pictured) as superintendent. Birdwell has served as interim superintendent for the district since Jan. 2 as well as serving as high school principal. He plans to continue performing both jobs until the district hires a new high school principal.


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Jones resigns as streets,

parks supervisor in Gladewater

Dennis Jones, streets and parks supervisor in Gladewater, recently resigned from that post.


City officials now plan to hire a person capable of overseeing water and sewer duties to become a public works director. City officials do not plan to renew a contract with a private company now managing water and sewer services for the city. That contract is due to expire in 2013 and the city will need a public works director capable of assuming those duties when the contract expires, said City Manager Sean Pate. City officials will take applications from persons interested in applying for public works director for 30 days, Pate said.


Herrera resigns as Hondo city manager to take post in Cibolo

Robert HererraHondo City Manager Robert Herrera (pictured) recently resigned from the post he has held since 2003, to become the new city manager in Cibolo on May 1. Herrera will replace former Cibolo City Manager Bruce Pearson, who resigned in June 2011.


Hondo city officials said they plan to accept applications for the city manager post through the middle of May and select a new city manager by July.


Cleveland chooses Williams 

for convention, visitors bureau

Lindsey Williams has been chosen as the first director of the newly created Cleveland convention and visitors bureau. Among her duties will be the promotion of the Cleveland Civic Center to increase its rental revenues. Her position is funded through revenue from the city's hotel-motel occupancy tax.


Williams previously worked for a marketing consulting firm and was the director of the Conroe CVB. She will begin her new job in mid-February.


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