Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 13 - Friday, March 30, 2012

Ursula Parks selected to serve as acting director of LBB


Longtime financial expert has 20 years experience with budget board

Ursula ParksUrsula Parks (pictured), a veteran of 20 years with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) who has been serving as deputy director since last September, this week was tapped by House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the post of Acting Director of the LBB. She replaces John O'Brien, who retired in April.


Parks' long career with the LBB began as a financial analyst in 1994. She served in that capacity and as senior analyst until 2001, when she was named an LBB team manager, leading a team of technical and analytical staff that developed budget and policy recommendations for the LBB public education team.


In 2007, Parks was elevated to the position of assistant director. In that job, she was responsible for supervising managers who work in the areas of public and higher education, regulatory matters, federal funds and economic development while directing budget recommendations for those areas. The longtime LBB employee most recently served as deputy director, appointed to that position by O'Brien in 2011.


Parks holds a bachelor's degree from American University.


Baker newest commissioner appointed to TCEQ


Trio of other major state agency governing boards to get new chairs

Cindy LeonBilly BradfordThere will be changes in leadership on a trio of governing boards of major state agencies and one agency will have a new commissioner following the announcement of recent gubernatorial appointments. Toby Baker will become the newest member of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), effective April 16. Billy R. Bradford Jr. (top left) of Brownsville, a member of the Texas Water Development Board, will become chair on April 20. A. Cynthia "Cindy" Leon (top right) of Mission, member of the Texas Public Safety Commission, will take over as chair, while Andres Alcantar (bottom left) of Pflugerville will become chair of the Texas Workforce Commission on May 1, after serving as a commissioner since 2008.


Andres AlcantarBaker most recently was a policy and budget advisor on energy, natural resources and agriculture issues for the Governor's Office. He also is a past natural resource policy advisor to Sen. Craig Estes and former director and clerk of the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Coastal Resources. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Service and Administration from the Texas A&M George Bush School of Government and Public Service.


Bradford is a certified public accountant and partner at Hales-Bradford LLP. He holds a bachelor's degree from Abilene Christian University.


Leon is a retired regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She is also a former captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve. She earned her bachelor's degree from Austin College and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Alcantar is former deputy director of the Governor's Office Budget, Planning and Policy Division. He received a bachelor's degree and a Master of Public Administration from Texas Tech University.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Ann StuartDr. Ann Stuart, president and chancellor, Texas Woman's University 


Career highlights and education: I completed my bachelor's degree in education at the University of Florida, my master's in English at the University of Kentucky and my Ph.D. in English at Southern Illinois University. My teaching career began as a middle school teacher, then I taught high school and later became a tenured Professor of English at the university level. I am a published scholar in the field of English Literature and technical communication. My administrative career began as Dean of Arts and Sciences at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Next, I became Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Alma College in Michigan followed by the Presidency of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Graduate School in Connecticut. In 1999, I came to Texas Woman's University as president and the first chancellor. 
What I like best about my job is: The ability to lead strategic planning and implement change that makes a positive difference for students, faculty and staff at Texas Woman's University.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: To understand TWU, its history and culture. Make communication among all constituencies a priority. Always think 10 to 20 years out and keep focused on continuous improvement, accountability and being competitive.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: The person needs to be flexible, smart, dependable, self-motivated, multi-tasked, adhere to confidentiality standards and be able to handle a diverse public. A sense of humor helps.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: at Neiman Marcus Last Call.
People would be surprised to know that I: am an animal advocate and underwrite pet adoption programs.

One thing I wish more people knew about Texas Woman's University: In addition to an excellent nursing program, we are a workforce provider in other health professions, education, the fine arts, counseling, psychology, nutrition, librarianship, etc. TWU has three campuses: the main campus in Denton and Health Science Centers in Dallas and Houston. Our student population is extremely diverse - with over 46 percent minority, 40 percent graduate students and 90 percent women.

TxDOT announces new leadership appointments

Brian Smallwood is the new director of operational excellence at the Texas Department of Transportation. As such, he will oversee the department's reporting and analysis of strategic objectives and goals. Smallwood takes over this newly created position after having served as the chief of strategic transformation, planning and innovation for the Texas Department of Public Safety.


Lynn Isaak has been selected as director of the project management office, overseeing the planning, development and coordination of the department's project portfolio. Isaak has more than 20 years of diverse transportation engineering experience and previously served as construction group manager for Atkins North America, Inc.


Other TxDOT staff announcements include the naming of Melisa Montemayor as the new Laredo District Administrator, where she will oversee all operations for the eight-county district. A 16-year TxDOT veteran, Montemayor previously served as the district's advance transportation planning director. She succeeds Laredo District Engineer Albert Quintanilla, who retired last October.


Bob Bielek has been chosen as the new El Paso District Engineer. Bielek has 42 years of experience in the planning, design and construction of transportation facilities, including highways, airports and mass transit. He most recently was director of project delivery and city engineer for the Houston Airport System. Bielek succeeds Chuck Berry, who retired last August.


Reynolds retires; Ramon interim administrative director for OCA

Mena RamonTexas Office of Court Administration (OCA) General Counsel Mena Ramon (pictured) has been named interim administrative director of the agency, replacing Carl Reynolds, who is retiring. Reynolds is joining the Justice Center, part of the Council of State Governments, where he will be a policy analyst.


The Supreme Court appointed Reynolds as OCA administrative director in 2005. He previously was general counsel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Before that, he served as general counsel to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.


Ramon, who has been general counsel since January 2009 and has worked at OCA for 14 years, will serve until a new OCA administrative director is hired. Prior to joining OCA, she worked in private practice in Austin and with the Texas General Land Office for more than six years. She holds a bachelor's degree and law degree from The University of Texas at Austin.


Willis to serve as communications director for Comptroller

Lauren Willis has been selected to serve as communications director for the Office of the State Comptroller.


Willis is the former Director of Public Affairs for Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, where she was the primary spokesperson for the commissioner. She also is a former vice president in the Public Affairs division of a public relations firm. Willis also worked in both the Texas House and Senate, handling media relations, constituent services and legislative policy before working in Washington, D.C., for the Bush administration in communications roles at both the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House.


Willis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas.


FEMA awards UTMB $90.1 million for repair work

More than $90 million has been awarded to the state of Texas for repairs at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to deal with damages caused to its Healthcare Core Complex by Hurricane Ike. Total cost of the repairs is $100 million.


The money will be used to build a clinical services wing above storm surge level, relocate first-floor functions to the clinical services wing and elevate mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment to allow for continuation of services on upper floors in the event of future floods.


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Sunset Advisory Commission to review five agencies on Tuesday

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission plans to review five state agencies at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, April 3, at 10 a.m.


The commission is scheduled to hear staff presentations and public testimony on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the State Preservation Board, the Texas Ethics Commission, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Lottery Commission.


Jesse Ancira named acting chief of staff to Speaker Straus

Jesse AnciraJesse Ancira (pictured), who has more than 20 years of experience in state government, has been tapped to serve as acting chief of staff to House Speaker Joe Straus. He is taking over temporarily for former Chief of Staff Denise Davis, who stepped down from the post.


Ancira was graduated from Southwest Texas State University and after earning his law degree from The University of Texas at Austin, went to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He has spent the last 20 years working at the State Comptroller's Office, the State Auditor's Office and the Speaker's Office, involving fiscal policy, tax policy and economic forecasting.


Meek resigns as director of dental examiners board

Sherri Meek, executive director of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, recently resigned from that post effective Aug. 31, but is taking personal leave time until her resignation takes effect.


Glen Parker, the current director of administration for the dental board, was selected as the new acting executive director until a new director is selected. Parker previously was executive director of the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners.


Marshall RidlehuberMarlin ISD to spend $190K grant to upgrade technology

Marlin Independent School District trustees recently agreed to spend a $190,719 grant from the Texas Education Agency to upgrade technology.


District officials call for using the grant funds to buy laptop computers for teachers to check in and out, a new electronic white board to allow teachers to write on the board while using a wireless tablet and to install new ceiling projectors in selected classrooms in elementary and middle schools, said Interim Superintendent Marsha Ridlehuber (pictured).


UT selects four finalists for VP of Student Affairs

Officials of The University of Texas recently selected four finalists for vice president of Student Affairs from a field of 77 applicants for the job. The new vice president will replace Juan Gonzalez, who is leaving that post to return to teaching at the College of Education.


The four finalists are Chris Miller, vice president for student affairs at Marquette University; Ajay Nair, a senior associate vice provost for student affairs at the University of Pennsylvania; Gage Paine, a vice president for student affairs at The University of Texas at San Antonio; and Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor for students at University of Hawaii at Manoa.


UH Regents approve old site for new $105 million football stadium

Renu KhatorRegents for the University of Houston recently approved locating a new $105 million football stadium on the current site of Robertson Stadium after briefly considering another site near I-45 and Cullen Blvd. Demolition of Robertson Stadium should begin in December, said Renu Khator (pictured), chancellor and president of UH.


The discussion centered on whether the new site was worth an additional $40 million for freeway visibility in addition to the difficulty of expanding the stadium beyond the planned 40,000-seat capacity if the freeway site was selected. Using the current site also will allow the stadium to be opened for the 2014 football season rather than the 2015 season, regents said.


UH students approved a referendum in February for a new student service fee increase to raise an estimated $24 million to help pay for the new stadium. University officials also plan to spend $24 million from the increased student fee to pay for a planned $38 million to $40 million renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion. UH officials expect to select an architect and construction manager for the new football stadium in April.


UT Health Science Center-Houston appointees to help find president

The board of regents of The University of Texas System recently named a search advisory committee to interview candidates to serve as the new president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The new president will take over for Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., who has served as interim president and dean of the medical school after Larry R. Kaiser, M.D., left that post last year. Members of the advisory committee will interview candidates and recommend a list of unranked candidates for the regents to consider for president.


Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., executive vice chancellor for health affairs in the UT System, will chair the advisory committee comprised of Regent Robert L. Stillwell of Houston; Regent Brenda Pejovich of Dallas; David L. Callender, M.D., of Galveston, president of the UT Medical Branch at Galveston; Ronald DePinho, M.D., of Houston, president of the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Colasurdo; and Thomas R. Cole, Ph.D., the director and a professor at The John P. McGovern, M.D. Center for Health, Humanities and the Human Spirit, UT Health Science Center-Houston. Other members of the advisory committee from the UT Health Science Center-Houston are Patricia Dolan Mullen, a professor in health program and behavioral sciences; Donald A. Molony, M.D., professor of internal medicine and renal diseases; Stephen A. Herrmann, medical school student and vice president of the Student Intercouncil; Melisa Frisby, president of the School of Nursing Alumni Association; and Michael D. Dixon, compliance coordinator and vice chair of the University Classified Staff Council.


Advisory committee members selected to represent the community are Daniel J. Wolterman, president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System; Guillermina Lozano, Ph.D., chair of the department of genetics at the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Wilhelmina "Beth" E. Robertson of Houston, president, Cockspur, Inc.; Jodie Jiles of Houston, managing director, RBC Capital Markets; Fred S. Zeidman, chair, UT Health Science Center - Houston Development Board; Monica Rasmus, Ph.D. , president, School of Public Health Alumni Association, UT Health Science Center- Houston, and assistant professor, Texas Southern University; and Mike Loya of Houston, director, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. A search firm will assist in the national search for the new president.


White to be new provost and vice president at UT-Tyler

Alisa WhiteUniversity of Texas at Tyler officials recently selected Dr. Alisa White (pictured) as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs effective June 1. White, who previously was dean of the arts and sciences college and the communications department at UT-Tyler, has served as provost at Midwestern State University for two years. She will replace Dr. Donna Dickerson, who is now the interim provost at UT-Tyler.


White also was a faculty member at UT-Arlington, University of West Georgia, Louisiana State University-Shreveport and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She holds a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.


Wither to serve as new Bastrop county judge

Bastrop County commissioners recently tapped Jim Wither as the new county judge to replace former County Judge Ronnie McDonald, who resigned on March 5 to run for election to the U.S. House of Representatives.


Wither, a Smithville resident who served as county auditor in Bastrop County before retiring, will serve as county judge until a new county judge is elected in November and sworn in in January 2013. Wither, who said he has no intention of seeking election to the post, has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M at Kingsville. He is currently self-employed as an accountant and real estate agent.


P3 Opportunities

Texas A&M may hire public company to manage golf course

Texas A&M University officials recently began talks with a private company to upgrade and manage an 18-hole golf course currently managed by the university.


The golf course, which serves faculty and students, has lost $600,000 in the last four years and is in need of renovation to the clubhouse and course, a spokesman for A&M said. While no contract has been finalized, work on improving the grass and irrigation system at the golf course could begin as early as this summer, the spokesman said.


Carlos CascosCameron Co. gets proposals for new international bridge

Cameron County officials recently received four proposals for engineering services for the proposed Flor de Mayo International Bridge, the fifth international bridge in the county.


Due to the international nature of the project, construction on the bridge that will link an industrial area in Matamoros with a major shopping area in Brownsville, Cameron County Judge Carlos Casco (pictured) noted it could be several years in the future for construction to begin and as long as five to seven years to open the bridge to the public.


Rice University receives $25 million donation for new building

Robert Klein, alumni of Rice University and director of a renewable energy firm, recently contributed $25 million to the university to build a new social sciences building.


The new Robert A. Klein Hall for Social Sciences will be located near the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Jesse H. Jones School of Graduate Business and will accommodate most of the university's academic departments, institutes and centers. University officials said plans are still in the design phase and expect to determine soon the date for construction to begin.


Espinoza selected as new president of Coastal Bend College

Beatriz EspinozaCoastal Bend College board members recently selected Dr. Beatriz Espinoza (pictured) as its new president from a field of five finalists for the post. Espinoza currently is vice chancellor for educational planning and serves at Yuba Community College District in California.


Espinoza will replace former President Dr. Thomas B. Baynum, who stepped down from that post in 2011, and she is scheduled to begin her new duties the first week of June. She has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas-Pan American and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She also completed the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin and previously served as a vice president at Arizona Western College in Yuma.


Dallas approves $4.7M for proposed retail-residential project

Dallas City Council members recently approved $4.7 million in funding for a proposed public-private partnership to build a new $46.7 million retail-residential project located west of the downtown area. The funding includes $3.2 million in qualifying reimbursements from a tax increment financing (TIF) district and a $1.5 million grant through the Public/Private Partnership Program of the city for the Sylvan Thirty project.


The TIF funding will reimburse the developer for the cost of upgrading sidewalks and pedestrian amenities on Fort Worth Avenue and to create a public plaza at the center of the development. Plans call for the development to include 200 apartments and at least 50,000 square feet of space for retailers and restaurants. Construction is set to begin this summer and the mixed-use development project completed in March 2013.


Perot contributes $1 million to Texarkana College

Ross Perot of Dallas recently donated $1 million to Texarkana College as the institution confronts an expected $3 million budget shortfall. Perot also urged area citizens to raise another $4 million to support the college and said he would match those donated funds for the next four years.


Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems, attended Texarkana College from 1947 through 1949 and then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.


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Students in Alpine ISD to get updates to stadium, new artificial turf

Stephen WhiteThe Board of Trustees of the Alpine (Texas) Independent School District has voted to build a new stadium and to install artificial turf. The stadium project is expected to cost $1.9 million, according to AISD Superintendent Steve White (pictured).


Stadium work could begin as early as April 1, and thus carry an Aug. 1 completion date. The new turf is a large part of the overall project and is expected to reduce the incidence of injuries and save money by not having to reseed grass or water it.


The new facilities will be used by high school and middle school for football games and track activities. The district will no longer have to use the athletic facilities of Sul Ross State University.


TxDOT moves forward with two Hill County bridge projects

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials recently moved forward with plans to replace two Hill County bridges sooner than originally announced.


Construction of a replacement to a flood-damaged bridge west of Woodbury originally was scheduled in 2014 at the earliest, but TxDOT officials now plan to begin construction in August. TxDOT officials also plan to begin work in August on a bridge located on the Old Fort Worth Highway in Hillsboro, according to officials of Hill County.


FTA approves passenger rail line to connect Fort Worth, DFW

Dick RuddellThe Federal Transit Administration recently approved a 37-mile passenger rail line to connect the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Fort Worth. The current estimated cost of the passenger rail line is $758 million.


With 14 stations located from southwest Tarrant County to Grapevine and to D/FW Airport, the passenger rail line is a major milestone in developing commuter rail service for the region, said Dick Ruddell (pictured), president of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA). While FTA approval for the rail line project is required, that approval does not commit funding for the project, he noted.


FWTA officials previously said they would seek federal funding of about $415 million, or 54 percent of the project cost, but Ruddell said the agency would be in a better position to win federal funding if it can boost local funding to 50 percent of the project cost. Another challenge will be securing permission from Dallas Area Rapid Transit and freight rail companies to access some tracks needed for the new passenger rail line. The proposed Fort Worth rail line would comprise about half of a proposed 62-mile Cotton Belt Rail corridor planned from Fort Worth to D/FW and further east to connect with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Red Line in either Richardson or Plano. Winning federal funding for the rail line to the airport should help in obtaining federal funding for the proposed 62-mile Cotton Belt Rail corridor, he said.


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Ken KramerKramer to retire from Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club

Ken Kramer (pictured) has served as director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club in Austin for 30 years. He recently announced he is retiring from that organization on July 31.


Kramer said he plans to continue as a volunteer with the environmental organization to work primarily on water issues.


Edinburg economic development corporation to develop P3s

In an effort to bring new business to town, Edinburg City Council members recently created a new economic development corporation to attract private investors to develop projects such as cultural and tourist attractions, hotels and other businesses to the city.


The new economic development corporation will be able to act on behalf of the city to develop publicly owned facilities funded by private investors in public-private partnerships, said an attorney for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. While the city's master plan calls for reviving the downtown area to attract more visitors to the area at night, city officials said they expect the new corporation to also help spark business expansion in other areas of the city.


City officials also have discussed plans with a developer about building a multi-use development featuring student housing for The University of Texas-Pan American, retail stores, a restaurant and hotel at the site where an old bookstore is located. Edinburg EDC will now continue working with the developer on the proposed public-private partnership project.


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Five federal courts in Texas targeted for closure

In an effort to cut operating costs, federal officials are exploring the possibility of shutting down 60 federal courts located in rural or remote areas of 29 states, including five federal courts in Texas - in Amarillo, Lufkin, San Angelo, Wichita Falls and Pecos.


A committee from the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-making organization for federal courts, compiled the list of 60 federal courts to be considered for closure and forwarded the list to 13 circuit judicial councils to review and return their findings to the committee in mid-April. The committee also recommended five federal courts in Georgia and six court sites in Arkansas as well as the federal court facilities in Juneau, Alaska; Beaufort, South Carolina; and Parkersburg, West Virginia, be shut down.


Currently, 674 federal courthouses and facilities are operated by the federal court system, with some of the sites served by judges based in larger cities rather than a resident judge, a spokesman for the federal court system said. None of the federal courts eyed for closure have a sitting judge, he said. Committee members are expected to forward their recommendations for courts to be closed and report to the Judicial Conference, which is expected to decide whether to close any of the federal court facilities and, if so, how many and which of the federal courts on the list to close.


Cole named research leader at federal agriculture research lab

Andy ColeOfficials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently selected Andy Cole (pictured) as the research leader for two programs at the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory at Bushland.


Cole served two years as the interim research leader for the Renewable Energy and Manure Management Unit, where he has managed a $1.6 million research budget and eight scientists. The research focuses on measuring and reducing air emissions from feed yards and ranches, creating energy from manure and using wind and solar energy for irrigation.


Cole has been an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University, New Mexico State University and Texas Tech University. He has been with USDA since 1976.


Galveston to seek state grants to upgrade parks

Galveston City Council members recently approved a new master plan for parks, recreation and use of open space that will open the door for city staff to apply for state grants to upgrade parks and recreation facilities on the island.


The master plan includes proposed upgrades and additions to parks and recreation facilities totaling about $4 million and maintenance costs of about $1 million, according to the director of parks and recreation. The master plan also indicates the city is short by about 50 acres in land for community and neighborhood parks. In a recent survey of citizens, however, the response indicated that most residents support repairing and upgrading existing parks before adding new park space.


The plan also identified the need to add more tennis courts, volleyball courts, softball and baseball fields and a swimming pool. Residents also said they want more walking and jogging trails, painting of bike lanes, replacement of park benches and an additional community swimming pool. The next step is to identify funding for the projects. The adoption of the master plan was necessary to apply for state grants to help pay for the additions and upgrades to parks and recreation facilities, the parks and recreation director said.


Killeen looking at sites for 10th fire station

Killeen city officials recently began looking at sites for a 10th fire station to serve an area near Stagecoach Road and West Trimmier Road. The area has experienced fast growth in the past few years, the fire chief said.


City officials hope to win council approval for funding to begin construction on Fire Station #9 and some preliminary funding for the proposed 10th fire station following the council election in May, the fire chief said.


Alvin tags Smith as new public services director

Alvin City Council members recently tagged Brian Smith as the new public services director. Smith previously worked for the city of Friendswood.


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.


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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State parks innovative in dealing with shortfalls


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


Few services provided by local and state governments attract as much taxpayer attention as parks and recreation areas. These are "quality of life" issues that provide accessible and affordable family outings and taxpayers expect parks and recreation areas to be open, maintained and in good repair. Parks nationwide are suffering from budget cuts and public officials are exhibiting a great deal of creativity and innovation related to new funding sources.
Texas state parks suffered last year from record-setting heat, a summer marred by unprecedented drought and horrific wildfires - all of which contributed to declines in park visits. The result was a $4.6 million revenue shortfall. That amount of funding shortfall is devastating to any agency. But, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) made a bold move and asked the public to step up and donate funds to help keep state parks open. Earlier this month, TPWD reported $1.4 million in donations have been received from individuals, foundations, nonprofits and private businesses.
The search for additional funding continues. Texans have an easy, effortless way to donate to state parks when renewing motor vehicle registrations. The need is great and the rewards are abundant. Texas's parks and recreational areas draw tourists, incentivize new business relocations and improve the quality of life for all citizens.


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San Antonio group seeks licensed contractors to make home repairs

The Alamo Area Development Corporation (AADC) of San Antonio recently approved a request for qualifications from licensed home improvement contractors to create a pool of home contractors to perform accessibility modifications to privately owned homes and other housing units.


The contractors from the pool will then submit bids to provide materials and labor to modify the homes to increase accessibility and possibly complete more general home repairs, such as electrical, plumbing, roofing, siding and flooring. The home contractors must have knowledge of Texas Accessibility Standards, AADC officials said.


TGI to publish next Thursday

due to Good Friday holiday

The Texas Government Insider will publish a day early next week, on Thursday, April 5. 


The offices of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. will be closed Friday, April 6, in observance of Good Friday. TGI will resume its regular Friday publication date on April 13.

Wakefield to retire as assistant auditor in Grayson County 

Darla Wakefield, the assistant auditor in Grayson County, recently announced she is retiring from the post. Wakefield worked for Grayson County for 25 years.


Miller announces retirement as

superintendent of Plainview ISD

Ron MillerDr. Ron Miller (pictured) recently announced he plans to retire as superintendent of the Plainview Independent School District, effective on Jan. 31, 2013. Miller previously served as assistant superintendent for the district before becoming superintendent in 2002.


Board members plan to interview three search firms to help find a new superintendent. The search should begin in about a month with a goal of naming a new superintendent in six to eight months, the board president said.


After his retirement and a one-month break, Miller will return to the district as a part-time consultant to help with the transition to a new superintendent and with personnel issues, the board president added.


Gemini Global Group

Higher speed limits announced for two Texas highways

Parts of two highways in Central Texas highways will soon see increases in speed limits. New 80 mph designations were approved this week by the Texas Transportation Commission for 54 miles of roadway in the Austin area. TxDOT recommended to the Commission that speed limits be raised on the two roadways after engineering studies showed that higher speeds could be posted safely.


Higher speed limits were approved on segments of SH 130 from Georgetown to Mustang Ridge and SH 45SE from Mustang Ridge to I-35 in south Travis County. TxDOT officials warn that motorists must continue to travel at the posted speed until new signs are installed and the new speed limit is not official until the signs go up.


Keller ISD Superintendent accepts top job in Arizona

James VeitenheimerJames Veitenheimer (pictured), superintendent at Keller Independent School District, recently accepted an offer from Deer Valley Independent School District in Arizona to become superintendent there.


Veitenheimer, who served as superintendent in Keller since 2004, will begin his new duties in July.


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Nueces Canyon CISD selects Howard as superintendent

Rick HowardBoard members of the Nueces Canyon Consolidated Independent School District recently selected Rick Howard (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Howard, who has served as interim superintendent for the district, previously was superintendent at school districts in Comanche and Ira.


Jonestown selects four

finalists for city manager post

Jonestown City Council members recently selected four finalists from 25 applicants to consider for the post of city manager. The new city manager will replace City Manager Dan Dodson, who resigned in April.


The four finalists are:

  • Manuel De La Rose, city manager of Liberty Hill and executive director of the Liberty Hill Economic Development Corp.;
  • David Huseman, a consultant who previously served as city manager in Gonzales;
  • Eric Kuykendall, a former city administrator in Rosebud; and
  • Brenton Lewis, a former city administrator in Minden, Nebraska. 

City officials are in the process of scheduling interviews with the four finalists.


Humble ISD selects Monbaron

for community development job

Jerri MonbarronTrustees for the Humble Independent School District recently selected Jerri Monbaron (pictured) as the new director of the Office of Community Development, which administers the Humble ISD Education Foundation, obtains grant funding and coordinates community events.


Monbaron, who previously was the assistant director of community development, will replace Karen Perkins, who retired last year. Monbaron previously was a manager of a county health care agency prior to joining Humble ISD in 1999 as a grants coordinator. She graduated from Houston Baptist University and Sam Houston State University.


Breckenridge selects McCuistion as city manager

Breckenridge City Commissioners recently selected Andy McCuistion as the new city manager. McCuistion currently is the city manager in Canton and previously served as city manager and finance director in Palestine and as an auditor in Irving.


A veteran of the U.S. Navy, McCuistion has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at El Paso and received certification as a public manager in 2011. He plans to begin his new job on May 1 and will replace former City Manager Brad Newton.


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Fate narrowing candidates for city manager and finance director

City council members in Fate recently narrowed the field of candidates for city manager and finance director and plan to begin interviews this week with four or five finalists for city manager, the mayor said.


The new city manager will replace Vicki Mikel. The new finance director will replace Vivian Leverington, who was terminated from that post in mid-February. Council members narrowed a list of 20 applicants for finance director to seven or eight candidates and may select the new director as soon as next week, the mayor said.


Marshall ISD selects Smith as

lone finalist for superintendent

Marc SmithTrustees for the Marshall Independent School District recently selected Marc Smith (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Smith currently is an assistant superintendent at Fort Bend ISD.


Glen Rose picks Adams as

interim manager of Oakdale Park

Glen Rose city officials recently selected Wayland Adams as the interim manager of Oakdale Park. Adams will assume the duties of Gary Ivy, the former manager who is retiring from that post on April 5, but will continue to work as a consultant to the city.


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Godwin to serve as

new city manager in Paris

The Paris City Council recently selected John Godwin as the new city manager to fill a 14-month vacancy.


He was chosen over two other candidates. Godwin currently is the city manager of The Village at Fairview.


Granbury ISD taps Largent as lone finalist for superintendent

James LargentGranbury Independent School District trustees recently chose Dr. James Largent (pictured), the current superintendent at Rusk ISD, as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Largent served as superintendent in Rusk for 11 years.


Hitchcock ISD selects six finalists for superintendent

Trustees for the Hitchcock Independent School District recently narrowed their search for a new superintendent to six finalists from a field of 36 applicants.


The finalists are Sandra Belcher, principal of the intercollegiate high school at College of the Mainland in Texas City; Barbara Derrick, a director at Pearland ISD; Carla Massa, a principal at Clear Creek ISD; Donald Rhodes, a superintendent and principal at Damon ISD; Brandon Stiewig, a high school principal at Port Lavaca ISD; and Frederick Walker, a high school principal at Spring ISD.


Trustees, who conducted their own search, plan to interview the six finalists on April 7 and select a new superintendent by April 23, the board president said.


Recent Reports

Farmersville hires Ben White

as its new city manager

Farmersville City Council members recently promoted Interim City Manager Ben White to the permanent post of city manager.


White previously was director of public works in Farmersville.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 3/23/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Harold Berenzweig of Fort Worth, Correctional Managed Health Care Committee;
  • Vincent Di Maio of San Antonio, chair,Texas Forensic Science Commission;
  • Don Minton of El Paso, judge of the El Paso County Criminal District Court No. 1;
  • Michael Cooper Waters of Dallas, chair, State Library and Archives Commission;
  • Harold Jenkins of Irving, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Francisco "Frank" Torres of Raymondville, Texas Emergency Services Retirement System;
  • Vandy Anderson of Galveston, Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County;
  • Linda R. Rounds of Galveston, Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County;
  • Elizabeth "Christy" Jack of Fort Worth, Office of Violent Sex Offender Management Governing Board;
  • Leo Longoria of McAllen, Office of Violent Sex Offender Management Governing Board;
  • Sabrina Bentley of Georgetown, Specialty Courts Advisory Council;
  • Denise Bradley of Cypress, Specialty Courts Advisory Council;
  • Keta Dickerson of Richardson, Specialty Courts Advisory Council;
  • Amy Granberry of Portland, Specialty Courts Advisory Council;
  • Patrick McCann of Richmond, Specialty Courts Advisory Council;
  • Leon Pesek Jr. of Texarkana, Specialty Courts Advisory Council;
  • Raymond Wheless of Allen, Specialty Courts Advisory Council.

Beeville selects interim city manager to replace Ginter

Tom GinterBeeville City Council members recently agreed to terminate the contract of Tom Ginter (pictured) as city manager and appointed Assistant City Manager Deborah Balli as the interim city manager.


Ginter has been city manager since November 2009 and previously was the city manager in Aransas Pass and interim public works director in Port Aransas.


Bandera selects Menn

as new city marshal

The Bandera City Council recently hired Kenneth Menn as the city marshal to supervise the city's only police officer and work with tourists.


Menn previously was city marshal in Balcones Heights and a park police officer in San Antonio. City officials eliminated three positions in the police department in November 2011 because of budget concerns.


Dance of Houston ISD to be superintendent in Baltimore

Dallas DanceDallas Dance (pictured), the chief middle school officer for Houston Independent School District, recently accepted an offer from the Baltimore County school district to serve as the new superintendent. Dance, who is from Virginia, joined Houston ISD two years ago. He also was selected recently as a finalist for the post of superintendent of Howard County public school system in Maryland.

Beaumont ISD interviews two

from district for superintendent

Beaumont Independent School District board members recently interviewed two current district administrators to replace the current superintendent, Carrol Thomas, who is retiring in December 2012. The two internal candidates are Timothy Chargois, the assistant superintendent for research, planning and evaluation; and Shirley Bonton, a deputy superintendent.


Trustees agreed to interview internal candidates for the post before searching outside the district for the new superintendent.


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Burnet ISD selects McBurnett

to become superintendent

Keith McBurnettTrustees for the Burnet Independent School District recently selected Keith McBurnett (pictured) as superintendent. An educator for 18 years, McBurnett currently is an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Pflugerville ISD. He also has been a special education teacher and administrator at Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD and Keller ISD.


He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from The University of North Texas.


League City looking at two candidates for city manager

Following a tense discussion on whether to ask one candidate for city manager, John Whitson of North Carolina, to interview for the post, League City council members agreed to that interview, but also decided to consider Acting City Manager Mike Loftin, who did not originally submit an application for city manager.


The search firm hired to help find a new city manager to replace former City Manager Marcus Jahns submitted Loftin as a qualified candidate for the post and Loftin indicated he will accept the post if that is what council members decide, a council member said.


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.
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