Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 10 - Friday, March 9, 2012

Two major Texas state agencies to operate under new leadership


Railroad Commission executive director resigns; Covar takes top spot at TCEQ

Zak CovarTwo major Texas state agencies will be operating under new leadership, following the resignation of the executive directors of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Railroad Commission.


TCEQ already has named a new director, Zak Covar (left), who commissioners said was the only candidate to apply for the post being vacated by former Executive Director Mark Vickery. Vickery in late February announced that he would retire, ending a 25-year career in state government, the last four heading the TCEQ. Covar will take over as executive director on May 1.


John TinteraRailroad Commission Executive Director John Tintera (right) turned in his resignation this week following 22 years with the agency, the last four as executive director. Tintera's resignation comes a week after Barry Smitherman, who has been with the Commission since last July, was named chair. Named interim executive director is Polly McDonald, former director of the Commission's Pipeline Safety Division. Before joining the Railroad Commission, McDonald spent 10 years at the Public Utility Commission of Texas, serving as hearings examiner, administrative law judge, assistant director of hearings and secretary of the Commission.


Covar is a former environmental adviser to Gov. Rick Perry and began working for TCEQ as an adviser to Commissioner and now Chair Bryan Shaw. He moved into the role of assistant deputy executive director and then deputy executive director in 2009. He began his career in state government as a clerk in the Texas House Environmental Regulations Committee. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University. 


Prior to holding the executive director position at the Railroad Commission, Tintera held a number of other positions, including deputy director of Technical Permitting and Administrative Compliance, assistant director of Site Remediation, manager of Special Response and district office geologist in Wichita Falls. Before joining the Commission, Tintera worked for 10 years in the private sector as a petroleum geologist. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Michigan.


TxDOT says $2 billion more available for transportation projects


Variety of factors lead agency to reassess prediction of funding

James BassWhile local governments are holding their breath to see if the federal Surface Transportation Act is extended, allowing for the flow of federal transportation dollars for local projects, they got good news this week from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). TxDOT officials told the Austin American Statesman they will have $2 billion more to spend on road projects than previously expected. Lower construction costs, more borrowing and hopes for additional available federal funding led TxDOT officials to their latest funding availability prediction.


The transportation agency officials, however, have given no indication of how much of the funding will go where. However, Austin District Engineer Carlos Lopez told the Statesman that much of the funding could be allocated for improvements to I-35 in Central Texas. TxDOT CFO James Bass told the Statesman the agency wants to move the money quickly and that metropolitan planning organizations across the state will have to submit specific projects totaling approximately $750 million.


Bass indicated that the extra $2 billion in spending breaks down to: TxDOT's new calculation of $750 million in additional federal funds, pushing the state's federal allocation from the agency's original calculation of $2.1 billion to a new expectation of $2.8 billon; $600 million in long-term borrowing from the Texas Mobility Fund after restructuring or refinancing of some debt to meet legal requirements for debt repayment; and $650 million as a result of construction contracts coming in under budget, freeing up those funds that were saved for other projects.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Giuseppe ColasurdoGiuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., president ad interim, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and dean of the UTHealth Medical School 


Career highlights and education: I grew up in a very small town in Italy and earned my medical degree at G. D'Annunzio School of Medicine. I wanted to receive the best medical training in the world - which can only be found in the United States - and came to Texas in 1988 to pursue my pediatric residency training at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. For my fellowship, I moved to Denver and worked in the lab of Dr. Gary L. Larsen, where I did research in the field of pediatric lung disorders. In 1995, I returned to Texas and joined the Department of Pediatrics at the UTHealth Medical School. My administrative career began in 1997 when I became head of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, and in 2005 I was named chair of the Department. I became dean of the Medical School in 2007 and was named president ad interim of UTHealth last year. It is truly an honor to serve in these roles and to work with our talented and dedicated team providing essential health care services throughout my adopted home state.

What I like best about my job is: I love many aspects of my job - from teaching, to treating patients, to building innovative programs, to working with government and community leaders to address the challenges of health care education and delivery. Above all, I am grateful for the opportunity to support the work of our amazing students, faculty and staff, and to witness the impact they are making across the spectrum of health care.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: When I became president ad interim, The University of Texas System Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. Ken Shine told me to "be Giuseppe," to not focus on the title of "president," and to make decisions based on what is right for UTHealth and the communities we serve. And, of course, I also always take the advice of our great Dr. Red Duke, and "attempt to treat others - be they patients, colleagues or strangers - with the dignity and respect that I can best determine would be their desire."

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: I would tell anyone joining UTHealth - whether they are faculty or staff - to keep their head up, to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and to never shy away from high-risk projects, since those are the ones that truly transform health care. I encourage all members of our community to collaborate with their colleagues and to treat each other with respect and support.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  That would be a rare occasion, but you may find me running, playing soccer or recruiting great people for our university. And if we had ski slopes in Houston, I'd be there.
People would be surprised to know that I: People may be surprised to know that I had a starring role as Don Colasurdo in a short film called "RT Funk's the Godfather" that was produced by second-year students to show at the annual orientation retreat for first-year medical students. You can find the video on YouTube. I will clearly do just about anything for our students!

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: UTHealth is a remarkable institution that is about to celebrate its 40th year of educating health care professionals, making groundbreaking research discoveries and providing comprehensive clinical care to patients of all ages. At our six schools, we educate the largest number of graduate health care professionals in Texas. Our university has simply never been stronger or better positioned to provide outstanding educational opportunities and real solutions to the most pressing health-related challenges of our time.

State sales tax revenues climb; up 14.8 percent over last February


January sales net $473.6 million for cities, counties, transit, special districts

Tax revenueSales tax revenues continue to climb, as the Texas Comptroller's Office this week announced another increase for February. Sales tax revenue in February totaled $2.01 billion, up 14.8 percent over February figures for last year. Comptroller Susan Combs said sales tax revenue in all major industries climbed "indicating growth in both business and consumer spending." The sales tax figures represent monthly sales for January.


Sales tax allocations being sent to cities total $312.7 million, an 8 percent increase over March 2011 checks. Counties will share 432.4 million in sales tax revenue, 15.5 percent higher than March of last year. An 8.5 percent increase over last March's allocation was recorded for transit systems, which will share $106.6 million in sales tax revenue. And special purpose taxing district are to receive a total of $22.9 million, up 9.3 percent over March 2011.


To view the allocations by city, click here. To view the allocations by county, click here.


Former SAISD superintendent new TEA deputy commissioner

Robert DuronA day after his replacement was announced with the San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Robert Duron (pictured) was named as deputy commissioner for finance and administration for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), effective April 1.


Duron brings more than three decades of education experience to his TEA job. He was superintendent at SAISD for more than five years. Prior to joining SAISD, Duron was superintendent of the Socorro ISD in El Paso for three years. He also is a former assistant superintendent in the Clear Creek ISD in League City, where he spent six years, and served as teacher, coach, assistant superintendent and principal in various school districts in the state.


Duron, who holds two degrees from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Ph.D. from Baylor University, has also worked in higher education as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston in Clear Lake and The University of Texas at San Antonio. At TEA, he will oversee the financial and administrative side of the agency, including grants, school funding, financial audits, information systems, accounting, budget and planning, federal program compliance and statewide data systems. He replaces Adam Jones, who left TEA for the private sector.


Water supply corporation awarded funds to make improvements

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has approved a $3.945 million loan from the Rural Water Assistance Fund and a $3.9 million loan from the Texas Water Development Fund to the Central Texas Water Supply Corporation (Bell, Burnet, Coryell, Falls, Lampasas, Milam and Williamson counties) to finance water system improvements and to refinance existing debt.


The corporation will use the Rural Water Assistance Fund loan to construct four high service pumps and to install approximately 25,000 feet of water line to improve water delivery to customers. The Texas Water Development Fund loan will be used to refinance four outstanding loans the corporation has from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development. This refinancing will decrease the annual payment amount required for the four loans by 42 percent. The lower payment will allow the corporation to minimize the need for rate increases.


Victoria College sets $22 million bond election for May 12

Tom ButlerTrustees for Victoria College recently voted to schedule a $22 million general obligation bond election on May 12 to pay for several construction, expansion and renovation projects at the college.


A majority of the bond will be used to build an 80,000-square-foot Emerging Technology Center for corporate and industrial training, said Tom Butler (pictured), president of Victoria College. The center, which will include high bay training labs for industrial applications, is designed to meet current and future needs of new and existing business and industry in the area, Butler said. The areas of study include industrial maintenance mechanic, oil and gas technicians, logistics and operation management, he added.


San Antonio group allots $25 million to nine transportation projects

The San Antonio Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) recently agreed to allot $24.6 million in Proposition 12 funding to nine transportation projects in that area. Proposition 12 authorized the Texas Legislature to issue up to $5 billion in bonds for transportation projects. This round of funding requires the money to be spent on easing traffic congestion on 50 of the most congested transportation corridors in 2010.


The largest portion of the funds, $13 million, will be used for a federal environmental study along I-35 between Schertz and downtown San Antonio, while $6 million is set aside for design work on the Loop 1604 and US281 northern exchange. The I-35 environmental report is required if the MPO moves forward with plans to expand that highway with a possible toll road project, said Sid Martinez, the director of the MPO.


The MPO board also allotted:

  • $2.5 million for a study to expand or improve three sections of Southeast Loop 410, Interstate 10 East and Northeast Loop 1604 to provide alternative routes to I-35 and ease congestion;
  • $1 million for an environmental study for a portion of I-35 between US90 and US281 west of downtown to expand and improve that roadway; and
  • $500,000 for a study to improve and update the TransGuide system of the Texas Department of Transportation and $500,000 for a study along Loop 410, between I-35 and Culebra Road.

TxDOT team wins international award for pavement program

Lynn PassmoreThe International Road Federation recently awarded the 2011 Global Road Achievement Award to a department project team in ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The TxDOT award is one of only nine that were presented for projects in eight countries.


Brownwood District Engineer Lynn Passmore, P.E., accepted the award that was presented for pavement management. He was part of a five-member team of TxDOT engineers who oversaw development of an innovative four-year pavement management plan. The plan establishes best practices for improving pavement conditions in the state. The goal of the program was to continue to manage nearly 200,000 lane miles of highway in spite of reduced funding.


As a result of the program, the percentage of highways rated good or better increased from 85.99 to almost 87 percent in the last year. Before the program, predictions were that the pavement condition scores would drop below 85 percent. 


Knapp resigns as city secretary in Gunter City

Stephani Knapp recently resigned as city secretary in Gunter City. City officials plan to begin interviewing applicants for city secretary soon.


McMullen County ISD sets $11.95 million bond election

McMullen County Independent School District board members recently scheduled an $11.95 million bond election on May 12. If approved by voters, district officials plan to use the bond funding to upgrade student safety throughout the district and make additions to facilities to meet student growth.


While plans may change, board members discussed using the bond funding for building additions for a new agriculture shop, music room, art room and a new maintenance facility.


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Marble Falls approves $50,000 study of sports complex

Marble Falls City Council members recently approved $50,000 to pay for a feasibility study for a new sports complex. Council members also authorized Parks and Recreation Department staff to negotiate with Baker-Aiklen & Associates, a local engineering company, to conduct the study.


The study will examine whether the city can support a regional sports complex and, if so, the size, location and design best suited for the project, said Robert Moss, director of parks and recreation. 


Midland ISD delays proposed $158 million bond election in May

Ryder WarrenTrustees for Midland Independent School District recently took a step back and agreed they would not schedule a proposed $158 million bond election previously planned in May.


Superintendent Ryder Warren (pictured) urged trustees to delay the bond election because district officials do not have sufficient time to educate the public before the May election. Board members then agreed that staging an election on Nov. 6 is better because more voters may participate due to the presidential election, Warren said.


Flores will join Texas State University-San Marcos

Matt G. Flores, assistant director of public affairs for The University of Texas System since 2006, has been selected to serve as assistant vice president for advancement communications at Texas State University-San Marcos, where he will also edit the university's Hillviews magazine. The magazine is the university's award-winning publication published every four months and distributed to Texas State alumni, donors and friends.


While at the UT System, Flores served as media liaison and public affairs official, producing news releases, editorial columns, speeches, internal communications and newsletter. His new job at Texas State will begin April 2.


Floresis also a former reporter and then assistant city editor for the San Antonio Express-News, a job he held for nearly 20 years. He is also a former reporter for the Dallas Times Herald. Flores holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. He replaces T. Cay Rowe, who retired from the university in January.


Howell named as director of agriculture research lab

Terry HowellThe area director of the Southern Plains Area of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service recently selected Terry Howell (pictured) as the director of the agricultural research laboratory in Bushland.


Howell, who has served as interim director since Nolan Clark retired in August 2009, also will remain as the research leader in the Soil and Water Management Research Unit in addition to his duties as a director of the agriculture research laboratory.


Tarleton State, TEEX approve cooperative agreement

Tarleton State University and Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) officials recently approved an agreement in which TEEX credits can be applied toward certain degrees at Tarleton.


A member of the Texas A&M University System, TEEX is one of the largest providers of workforce training in the United States by offering courses and certification in emergency response and preparedness; fire safety; public safety and security; public works and infrastructure; and urban search and rescue.


The agreement provides an opportunity for TEEX students to complete a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences and a Bachelor of Science Applied Science degree at Tarleton State at much less cost and in a timely manner, said Dr. George Mollick of Tarleton's Department of Engineering Technology. The recent expansion of online degree courses will allow students living in other areas to complete a degree without leaving a job or a community, he said.


Yanas new interim president, CEO of Teaching Hospitals of Texas

Teaching Hospitals of Texas, a nonprofit advocacy association, has selected Christine Yanas as its interim president and CEO. She replaces former CEO John Guest, who resigned in February after serving as president and CEO since 2007.


Yanas, director of government relations for the association, brings more than 20 years of experience working on policy and legislative matters to her interim post. She will assist the association's executive committee in developing a selection process to search for a new CEO.


The Teaching Hospitals of Texas represents hospital and health care systems that train the state's future physician workforce and provide high-quality health care to millions of Texans. It is the former Texas Association of Public and Nonprofit Hospitals and was renamed in 2008. Members are hospital districts in Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Tarrant, Nueces, El Paso, Lubbock, Travis, Midland, Ector and Victoria counties, nonprofit health systems CHRISTUS Spohn and  Seton Family of Hospitals, four major University of Texas hospitals at UT Southwestern, UTMB-Galveston, MD Anderson-Houston and UT Health Science Center at Tyler and Children's Medical Center in Dallas.


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Texas A&M System issues RFPs to outsource some services

Over the objections and concern of some students and faculty at Texas A&M, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp has announced that RFPs have been released seeking proposals from the private sector for potential outsourcing of facility support services within the System.


The three services outlined in the RFPs are building maintenance, landscaping services and custodial services in Brazos County. In a press release, System officials noted, "These RFPs are focused on areas where there are no substantial revenue components, but significant cost bases that may benefit from the economies offered by outside companies with significant scale and buying power. However, in most cases, these companies would not have existing workforce to perform the actual services for a new client, such as Texas A&M. Therefore, their preference is to employ the current staff."


Sharp defended his decision saying that the core functions of the university are to "educate students and facilitate research" and said as a state-supported system, the universities must study all options in providing services as efficiently as possible. When the RFPs are received, an appointed panel will review them. An RFP for dining services was previously issued. 


Rice announces pair of new space institute directors

Mike MassiminoDavid AlexanderAn astronaut and a solar physicist have been named to key positions at the Rice (University) Space Institute (RSI). David Alexander (left), a physics and astronomy professor at Rice University, will serve as director of the institute, which coordinates the university's space-related research, education and outreach programs. Astronaut Mike Massimino (right), who is on loan from NASA's Johnson Space Center, will serve as executive director. Alexander will replace longtime director Patricia Reiff, who will remain as associate director of outreach programs.


Alexander said RSI's immediate goal is to increase awareness about the broad scope of space-related research at Rice, including policy studies through Baker Institute for Public Policy and work at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, based at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative.

Massimino has two shuttle missions under his belt, both to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. He has been an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering and materials at Rice since 2004. 


Silsbee ISD seeking approval of $40 million bond proposition

Trustees for Silsbee Independent School District recently agreed to ask voters to approve $40 million in bonds on May 12.


If voters approve, district officials plan to build and furnish a new elementary school for Pre-K to third grade students, convert an existing elementary school into a new campus in addition to renovating, repairing and equipping a middle school to accommodate fourth through sixth grade students. District officials also plan to build and furnish a new junior high school for grades 7 and 8 and demolish an elementary school built in 1957.



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Amtrak, TxDOT to study rail route from Fort Worth to Shreveport

Officials of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Amtrak recently agreed to study the possibility of establishing passenger rail service between Fort Worth and Shreveport, Louisiana.


Preliminary plans call for the proposed new passenger route to follow the Interstate 20 corridor primarily on tracks owned by Union Pacific. It will follow Amtrak's Texas Eagle Route between Fort Worth and Marshall with stops planned in Fort Worth, at the CentrePort-DFW Airport and in Dallas. Amtrak now sells tickets from Fort Worth to Shreveport, but those passengers must leave the train in Longview to complete the trip on a bus, making rail passenger service less desirable for some leisure travelers.


TxDOT received $265,000 in federal funding through the East Texas Corridor Council as part of the group's effort to promote economic development in that area. The study will look at the risks and benefits of making small changes to the Texas Eagle route, review the efficiency of increased passenger rail service for the route and project the cost of the project.


Hurst to seek approval of $16.5 million in bonds for justice center

Alan WeegarHurst city officials recently agreed to place a $16.5 million bond proposal on the May 12 ballot to ask voters to approve funding for a new $18.5 million justice center.


Plans call for building a 97,000-square-foot facility to house the police department and municipal court, said City Manager Alan Weegar (pictured). The new justice center will be built in two phases by constructing a three-story parking garage and four-story justice center in a parking lot and then renovating the existing building during the second phase. The renovated space will house dispatch, the crime lab, property room and a portion of the jail, Weegar said.


San Antonio transit may partner with city to upgrade buildings

VIA Metropolitan Transit officials recently began eyeing a partnership with the San Antonio Conservation Society and the city to rehabilitate three historic buildings on the east side. The goal is to spur economic growth and preservation of history. The three buildings in the Ellis Alley enclave represent the center of the African-American community in San Antonio.


If council members approve the partnership, plans call for an economic development nonprofit group to occupy one floor of the Beacon Light Building rent-free for three years. VIA, which bought the property in mid-1990 after construction of the Alamodome, already has worked to revitalize the area by opening a customer service office and a park and ride facility near the Alamodome and surrounding areas. Transit authority officials now hope to market the remaining space to small businesses that will complement the area.


Plans call for the city to provide a $375,000 grant from the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone as well as a $185,000 loan to fund the renovations. VIA will contribute $190,000 from its capital budget for the project.


Poteet school district officials approve $23.5 million bond vote

Andy CastilloThe Poteet Independent School District has called for a $23.5 million bond referendum in May to pay for a variety of renovation projects and a new football complex for the district. District Superintendent Andy Castillo (pictured) said the bond issue was the result of a report from a facilities commission regarding the need for district improvements.


The state will pay for 68 percent of the bond, with taxpayers to pay the remaining 32 percent of the principal and interest on the funding. Current plans for the bond proceeds include removing portable buildings and building a facility for kindergarten and Pre-K, upgrading the parking lot and pick-up area at the elementary, expanding the junior high cafeteria and a new football field with bleachers, lights, a competition track and field house.


Garner ISD places $2 million bond proposal on ballot

Garner Independent School District officials recently voted to schedule a $2 million bond proposal on May 12. District officials plan to remodel facilities to create separate learning areas, upgrade energy efficiency, correct drainage issues and upgrade facilities to meet federal standards for accessibility and safety standards. The upgrades also will bring all classrooms into compliance with regulations from the Texas Education Agency, district officials said.


Midland may ask voters to extend 4B tax to help sports complex

Wes PerryMidland city officials recently began discussions on whether to ask voters to extend a quarter-cent 4B sales tax levied to pay for building the Scharbauer Sports Complex. Some of those 4B tax funds also are used to maintain the complex and for improvements such as chairs, lights, video boards and upgrades to the control room of the sports complex.


While responding to a request by the chairman of the Midland Football-Soccer and Baseball Complex Development Corporation to extend the tax that taxpayers were told would expire in 2016, Mayor Wes Perry (pictured) said taxpayers would need to decide whether to extend the tax and how the tax should be used.


Council members discussed using part of the sales tax to pay for annual operations, maintenance and upgrades at the sports complex and using part of it on parks and recreation projects if voters agree to extend the 4B sales tax.


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North Richland Hills to ask voter approval of $48 million in bonds

North Richland Hills City Council members recently agreed to ask voters on May 12 to approve $48 million in bonds to pay for a new 180,000-square-foot municipal complex expected to cost no more than $70 million.


The new facility, which has not yet been designed and could be more than one building, will consolidate six city offices now located in different buildings, the mayor said. The proposed city hall will house the police department, municipal court, fire administration, parks administration, neighborhood services and city hall, he added. 


HISD, City of Houston study partnering on energy-related project

Leo BobadillaThe City of Houston is planning to loan three solar-powered generators to the Houston Independent School District to be used as educational tools for students in the district. The generators will be placed at three schools in the district and will be accessible for all students to tour and use for education purposes.


The generators can operate up to five days with no sunlight and will become teaching tools for engineering, science and math classes. Solar panels will be installed on top of metal retrofitted storage containers. "This is an exciting opportunity to engage our students more in the classroom," said HISD Chief Operating Officer Leo Bobadilla (pictured). "These solar panels will be a great visual complement to what the students are learning in class."


Tidehaven ISD approves calling for $50M bond election

The board of the Tidehaven Independent School District recently approved calling for a May $50 million bond vote. The proceeds of a successful bond issue would help build two new elementary schools in the Markham and Blessing areas. It would also build a combined junior high and high school.


Coldspring-Oakhurst continues to explore possible bond election

LaTonya GoffneyOfficials in the Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District are continuing to study the possibility of calling a bond election for next year to deal with facilities issues. Superintendent Dr. LaTonya Goffney (pictured) told school trustees that administrators have held several meetings with community groups to review facility needs.


She said most who attended the meetings were supportive of needed improvements and renovations. She said while a bond election could be called for this year, officials likely would see a better recommendation by waiting until next year.


Leon Valley to ask voters to approve $7 million for fire station

City council members in Leon Valley recently voted to place a $7 million bond proposition on the ballot in May. If voters approve, bond proceeds will be used to build a new fire station and renovate the police station and municipal complex. Plans call for adding about 15,000 square feet of space and renovating 19,714 square feet of space in the 40-year-old municipal complex to provide adequate workspace for city employees.


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Parkland board seeking firm to assist with search for CEO

The board of Parkland Memorial Hospital met earlier this week with expectations of naming a consulting firm to advise them on their search for a new chief executive officer. However, they instead named a subcommittee to develop a short list of consulting firms.


Earlier the same day, Dallas County commissioners postponed their planned appointment of a new board member to replace Board Chair Dr. Lauren McDonald, who recently announced her resignation.


TCC plans renovation to allow move of administrative offices

Administrative offices of Tarrant County College will be moving to a former business space that occupied a floor of the Trinity River Campus. The college plans to spend about $715,000 to renovate the space to house some 80 employees currently working in leased facilities and in the current administrative offices on the other end of the downtown area. The district expects to save approximately $250,000 a year by ending the lease agreement for the existing facility. Officials also approved spending a little over $213,000 for furniture and related systems. The college bought the site to be renovated in 2008 for $238 million. The Trinity River East Campus, which opened in August, is only a few blocks away and is home of the district's Center for Health Care Professionals.


Corpus Christi unveils two designs for bayfront development 

Joe AdameCorpus Christi city officials recently unveiled two design options for a possible public-private partnership to develop Destination Bayfront on 27-acres of city-owned land along the downtown waterfront. The proposed project, which will feature more trees, a central destination for food and retail vendors and a covered walkway at a cost estimated to be as high as $40 million, could be the catalyst for more economic development and revitalization of the downtown area, said Mayor Joe Adame (pictured).


The city paid $1.3 million to Hargreaves Associates to develop a master plan for the former site of Memorial Coliseum. Both design concepts for Destination Bayfront call for five areas of public space that include a children's play area, a family area for lawn games, picnics and birthday parties, an open lawn area to host festivals and an art plaza near an art center. One option calls for five separate areas for public use along Shoreline Boulevard with parking allowed near each of the five public areas The other design incorporates the five public use areas into one continuous space with parking allowed only at the edge of the park and no public parking permitted within the 27-acre development.


The consulting firm is working with architects, engineers, real estate brokers and a public relations company to develop a plan for creating a public-private partnership as well as providing information on the estimated cost of designing, building, operating and maintaining Destination Bayfront. The report also will describe how the proposed development, which could be built in phases, will impact economic development in the area, Adame said.


Bonham ISD sets $7 million bond election for facility upgrades

Bonham Independent School District board members recently voted to schedule a $7 million bond election on May 12 to pay for a project to expand and remodel a school. The project is estimated to cost almost $7.7 million and district officials plan to pay the additional $662,565 cost using reserve funds set aside for capital improvements.


Hewitt plans to spend $7.7 million on water and other projects

Hewitt City Council members recently began discussions on whether to issue $7.7 million in bonds to pay for upgrades to the water supply system and other capital improvement projects.


To avoid problems caused when the city's only water supply was cut off, city officials plan to build a new water tower and water connections so that residents have three water towers and two connections to provide a water source even if one water supply connection is cut off. Council members plan to vote in April on whether to issue the bonds.


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 and the Call for Abstracts is currently open, with a submission deadline of March 12. For more information, click here or contact Kandice Hall at HallKM@uthscsa.edu.


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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Governments turning energy retrofits into revenue


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


While some public officials are struggling to balance revenues against expenditures, others are generating new revenue in innovative ways. One of the most attractive revenue-producing options is energy-efficient retrofits.


In the new P3 world, private sector firms stand ready to partner with public entities to provide energy retrofits - and they are willing to engage at no cost to taxpayers. They provide all the up-front capital and handle installation. They are usually compensated over a period of years as they take a portion of the savings and/or maintenance of the buildings. Governmental entities get much-needed revenue through significant energy cost savings.


Buildings consume about 40 percent of the world's energy and are responsible for approximately 40 percent of global carbon emissions. Government owns thousands of buildings and energy-efficient overhauls benefit not only the building owners, but also the public at-large.


The success of government retrofit projects can be seen nationwide.


The California Department of Motor Vehicles undertook a $130 million retrofit of its 50-year-old headquarters building. The facility was equipped with an energy management system, new double-glazed windows, updated HVAC equipment, new LED lighting and a solar array installed on the roof. The result was 30-50 percent increases in the building's energy efficiency - a significant cost savings to the state.




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LeFleur Transportation

Upshur County wins $215,000 grant to renovate courthouse

Upshur County commissioners recently won a $215,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission to pay for renovations. County officials will use the grant to pay for projects to bring the courthouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


County officials agreed to contribute from $108,000 to $300,000 to the project that includes installing accessible restrooms and correcting a ramp on the first floor of the county courthouse. The project to make the courthouse accessible to persons with disabilities is necessary so the county can quality for future state grants to restore the courthouse, county officials said.


Futrell selected to Corpus

Christi interim position

Toby FutrellFormer Austin city manager Toby Futrell (pictured) has been selected by the city of Corpus Christi to serve as interim assistant city manager. She will replace outgoing Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza, who recently resigned to accept a position with San Antonio's public electric utility.


Futrell brings 30 years of city government experience to the post in Corpus Christi. She indicated she is not a candidate for the job full-time. She retired to Corpus Christi when she left the city manager job in Austin.


Futrell will oversee the city's development services, economic development, the city airport and tourism initiatives.


Three Rivers ISD to seek bids

for new animal facility

The Three Rivers Independent School District has been given approval by its board of trustees to seek bids for construction of an animal facility. The building will be roughly 100 feet long by 44 feet wide. It will include 16 small animal pens for sheep, goats and lambs and four larger pens for steers. It will also feature a wash station, feed storage room and sidewalks on either side of the building.


The walls of each of the pens will be removable so the size of the pens can be adjusted to meet the needs. The facility is estimated to cost approximately $300,000.


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Bullard gains approval to build new wastewater treatment plant

Bullard City officials plan to move forward on a project to build a new wastewater treatment plant after receiving approval for the project from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The new treatment plant should be in operation by next spring, the mayor said.


Beaumont ISD's Harris lone finalist for DeSoto superintendent

David HarrisA Beaumont Independent School District assistant superintendent has been named the lone finalist for superintendent of the DeSoto ISD. David Harris (pictured), assistant superintendent for secondary education in Beaumont ISD, will take over for former Superintendent Kathy Augustine. Augustine served one day before she was placed on paid leave and then had her contract bought out when she was allegedly linked to a cheating scandal in the Atlanta, Georgia, schools.


Harris has been with the Beaumont ISD since the late 1990s. He was originally an assistant principal and was then named as an elementary school principal. He has been an administrator in the district since 2008. He was one of 62 applicants for the DeSoto top job.


Wink-Loving ISD sets $32

million bond election in May

Wink-Loving Independent School District trustees recently agreed to ask voters to approve $32 million in bonds to pay for additions and renovations to existing facilities. Architectural plans and more information on the proposed upgrades will be available to voters soon, district officials said.


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Glenn Heights tags Moore

as new city manager

Glenn Heights City Council members recently named Scott Moore, a former city manager in Peoria, Illinois, as the new city manager. Moore also served as an assistant city manager in Wichita, Kansas; a city administrator in Ellsworth, Kansas; and a financial analyst in Austin. When Moore begins his new duties on April 2, he will replace Interim City Manager Judy Bell.


Morgan resigns from Malakoff ISD to lead Lafors ISD

Bill MorganBill Morgan (pictured), an elementary principal for the Malakoff Independent School District, recently announced his resignation from that position to serve as superintendent for Lafors ISD. Morgan, a former Dallas police officer, plans to begin his new duties in Lafors on April 2.


League City selects five

finalists for city manager

Council members in League City recently narrowed down a list of finalists from eight to five candidates for city manager.


Scheduled to visit with council members on March 22 and 23, the five finalists are:

  • Robert "Bo" McDaniel, a former city manager for Friendswood and Seabrook;
  • Robert Herrera, the city manager of Hondo;
  • James Palenick, a former city manager in Gastonia, NC;
  • Thomas Moton, an assistant city manager in Greenville, NC; and
  • John Whitson, a town manager in Morrisville, NC.

Krum ISD selects Carroll

as assistant superintendent

Cody CarrollKrum Independent School District trustees recently named Cody Carroll (pictured) as the new assistant superintendent.


Carroll, who currently is superintendent at Meadow ISD, has a bachelor's degree from Angelo State University and a master's degree from Lubbock Christian University. He completed his certification for superintendent at Texas Tech University. Krum previously was a coach for Slaton ISD.


Paris tags Godwin for post

as its new city manager

Paris city officials recently offered John Godwin a position as the new city manager. City officials currently are negotiating terms of his contract. Godwin currently is town manager in Fairview in Collin County.


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Wichita Falls ISD eyeing

major changes to classroom

George KazanasWith an eye toward making major changes to classroom strategies and facilities at Wichita Falls Independent School District, Superintendent George Kazanas (pictured) recently scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss a possible bond election.


The forums will focus on helping educate taxpayers about how technology is changing students, how schools should respond to keep up with those changes and an opportunity to exchange views on both topics with a goal of improving secondary facilities, Kazanas said.


District officials plan for facility committee members to begin meeting in August and make a recommendation to board members in February 2013. The goal is to call a bond election in spring 2013 and to continue seeking bond approvals until efforts to repackage and win approval to make facility changes in secondary schools are successful, Kazenas said.


Smith selected by Keene ISD

as district's new superintendent

Keene Independent School Districttrustees recently named Interim Superintendent Wanda Smith as the new superintendent. Smith, who retired after serving as superintendent at Keene ISD for 26 years, requested a one-year contract for her new job at the school district.


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Jilge tagged as economic development director in Keene

Keene City Council members recently selected Keith Jilge for the newly created post as economic development director for the city. The Keene Economic Development Corporation, the Keene Community Development Corporation and the city will each contribute to pay the salary for the new economic development director.


Whitesboro ISD selects Slaughter as finalist for superintendent

Pete SlaughterTrustees for Whitesboro Independent School District recently selected Pete Slaughter (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Slaughter will replace Steve Kolb, who is retiring when the school year ends. Slaughter, who is currently an assistant superintendent at Anna ISD, previously served as a teacher and administrator at school districts in Sherman, Garland and Lovejoy.


Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 3/2/12 
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Ruben Reyes of Lubbock, chair, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Joel Bennett of Austin, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Robb Catalano of Fort Worth, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Alan "Clay" Childress of Lea, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Mary Covington of Houston, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Becca Crowell of Dallas, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Debra "Debbie" Fesperman of Sherman, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Tara George of Houston, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Dibrell "Dib" Waldrip, Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council;
  • Ben Raimer of Galveston, chair, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Joel Allison of Dallas, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Steven Berkowitz of Austin, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Patrick Carter of Houston,

    Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors.

  • Alexia Green of Ransom Canyon, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;

  • Michael "Ted" Haynes of Sachse, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Robyn M. Jacobson, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • John C. Joe of Houston, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Ronald Luke of Austin, Texas Institute ofHealth Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Elena Marin of Brownsville, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Beverly Nuckols of New Braunfels, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Thomas Quirk of Dallas, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Alan Stevens of Belton, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Susan Strate of Wichita Falls, Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors.

Copperas Cove to issue $1.5 million in bonds for infrastructure

Polo EnriquezCopperas Cove City Council members and the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation recently agreed to issue $1.5 million in bonds to pay for infrastructure upgrades to promote economic development in that city. The bond proceeds will be used to develop retail property in the eastern area of the city and to straighten Old Copperas Cove Road to attract more economic development to that area, said Polo Enriquez (pictured), executive director of the economic development corporation.


Lt. Governor's appointments

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has announced the following appointments:

  • Dr. Joseph S. Bailes,Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Oversight Committee

Jerry Ashcraft retiring from

position with Corsicana ISD

Jerry AshcraftJerry Ashcraft (pictured), who has served as executive director of operations for the Corsicana Independent School District for 20 years and has a 31-year career with CISD, has announced his retirement, effective at the end of June. Before moving into CISD administration, Ashcraft was an agriculture teacher for the district. His wife Karen retired from the district last year, ending a 25-year career with CISD.


Victoria ISD sets goal to hire new superintendent by May 31

Victoria Independent School District trustees recently agreed to a plan to name a new superintendent by May 31. The new superintendent will replace Superintendent Bob Moore, who cited health concerns when he announced he would not renew his contract as superintendent. Trustees also agreed to hire an Illinois-based search firm, BWP and Associates, to assist in the search for a new superintendent.


Socorro names Norfleet

as new city manager

Socorro City Council members recently named Willie Norfleet Jr. as the new city manager. Norfleet, who signed a two-year contract, previously was a city manager in Compton, California. He begins his new duties in Socorro this month.


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Austin County Treasurer

gives retirement notice

Austin County Treasurer Cathleen Frank is retiring mid-term. She recently gave notice of her retirement, although she is in only the second year of her four-year elected term. Frank said in her letter that she was frustrated with trying to run her office because of a staff shortage. Her office included just her and part-time deputy treasurer, William Ferguson, who on March 1 announced his resignation to take a full-time position as an assistant auditor.


Hutson returns to work in San Marcos CISD transportation

Carter Hutson, a former school bus driver, trainer and Transportation Safety Officer in the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District from 2003-2007, is returning to the district as the new associate director of transportation.


Hutson left San Marcos in 2007 for Rockwall, where he was the assistant director of transportation from 2007-2009, then worked in the Judson ISD in Live Oak from 2009 until his recent appointment with San Marcos CISD. Hutson is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, having retired in 1996 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He worked in the private sector before joining public school transportation programs.


Royse City selects Worthy as

lone superintendent candidate

Kevin WorthyThe Royse City school board has named Gunter Independent School District Superintendent Kevin Worthy as Royse City's next superintendent. Worthy has been in his current position at GISD for the last four years.


Royse City will consider offering him a contract following a mandatory 21-day waiting period. Worthy would replace current Superintendent Randy Hancock, who is retiring June 30. Worthy brings an 18-year education career to the new post, having worked as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and athletic director. He served three years as a high school principal and six months as assistant superintendent before becoming superintendent of GISD.


Oak Point selects Bockes

as new city secretary

Oak Point City Council members recently appointed Amy Bockes as the new city secretary. Bockes replaced Angie Kelly, who resigned to be the city secretary in Farmers Branch.


Bockes has a bachelor's degree from Ashford University and is certified as a court manager by the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center. She has 10 years of experience in municipal courts and previously was employed in Melissa and Prosper.


Sharyland school board

selects temporary chief

Filomena LeoFilomena Leo (pictured), former superintendent of the LaJoya schools, has been chosen as the interim superintendent for the Sharyland school district. Leo will fill in for former Superintendent Scott Owings, who resigned over a month ago. Leo was chosen over another interim candidate, another former LaJoya superintendent, Robert Zamora.


Officials said Leo was chosen because of her curriculum emphasis, which will be needed as the district seeks to maintain its current academic standing.


Beaumont ISD will look internally for superintendent applicants

With Dr. Carrol Thomas having announced he plans to retire as Beaumont ISD superintendent next January, officials of BISD are looking first at possible candidates from within the district as a replacement. Trustees are expected to name a search firm to help identify possible candidates from outside the district.


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