Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 16 - Friday, April 20, 2012

'America is one big pothole'


Tenth extension of transportation bill OK'd; states seek stability of long-term funding

Local Projects
Texas and other states are hoping for a multi-year federal transportation bill that will ensure long-term funding for projects. What they keep getting, however, are extensions of the current bill.

The federal transportation bill is being held hostage by the 2012 elections. Or at least that's the opinion of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. And the result, he says, is that America is "one big pothole."


While state and local governments await passage of a new federal transportation bill, the House once again failed to pass its sweeping five-year, $260 billion transportation legislation. Instead, for the 10th time since the Surface Transportation Bill expired two years ago, yet another short-term extension has been approved.


State and local government officials were hopeful to have a long-term bill in place by the end of the congressional session so the funding will be assured through the upcoming summer construction period. States are also looking to see if a provision that gives them more flexibility in how they spend federal transportation funds stays in the bill.


Long seen as a jobs creation bill, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia said a long-term transportation bill would give states more stability and encourage them to invest in transportation projects knowing the funding is in place for the long haul. He said it would also "provide the certainty that highway and transit contractors desperately need to give them the confidence to hire that one more worker."


Since the bill expired two years ago, the House and Senate have not been able to settle their differences - with the Senate proposing a two-year, $109 billion piece of legislation to the House's five-year proposal. Officials were hoping for a multi-year plan that would stop the seemingly endless extensions. The last multi-year bill was a $286 billion piece of legislation that expired in 2009. 




TxDOT confirms TxTag Web site victim of cyber-attack

Some TxTag account holders may have gotten sticker shock when they checked the balance on their accounts this month. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has acknowledged that its toll roads account holders were wrongfully charged $46,000 due to a cyber-attack two weeks ago.


According to a story in the Austin American-Statesman today, hackers slowed down the system, but did not obtain credit card numbers of users. A TxDOT official told the Statesman that the agency is working with a credit card clearinghouse to have the erroneous charges removed from the affected TxTag users' accounts. She said it would likely take a few days for that process to be completed.


TxDOT officials said the hacking incident occurred from April 6-8, and that activity caused the TxTag Web site to slow down. TxDOT officials say only those persons who attempted to make a payment to TxTag during the three-day period in question were affected. 



Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Mike CardwellMike Cardwell, information resources manager and director of technology, Texas Department of State Health Services 


Career highlights and education:  I started my career with Motorola working with RF and trunking equipment. After college, I went into IT within health care for a hospital in Texarkana. I joined the State when I moved back to Austin in 2000. I worked at the Texas Department of Agriculture for almost 12 years, starting as a help desk manager and progressing through IT to CIO and then to Chief Administrative Officer. I recently joined the Department of State Health Services as CIO in November 2011. 
What I like best about my job is: It is so clear to see the IT and business impact on citizens and customers through the agency mission: To improve health and well-being in Texas!

The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Ask questions. Ask lots of questions.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Don't be afraid to turn over rocks and to challenge the status quo.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  driving one of my three kids to some sort of soccer game, Boy Scouts, swim team or the like.
People would be surprised to know that I: used to climb and service radio transmission towers in northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas. I have gone up some 500-foot towers just to change light bulbs!
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The scope of what we do. We provide direct care, prevention, disaster response, disease surveillance, nutrition services and education and regulation, just to name a few. From ambulances to zoonosis, DSHS has it covered!

Steen retirement from TABC will end 26-year government career

Alan SteenTexas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) Administrator Alan Steen (pictured) has announced he will retire from the agency on June 1. His retirement will mark the end of a 26-year public service career. Steen is leaving state government to take on the position of executive director of the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) in Fort Worth.


TABC officials say an interim agency head has not been named and the TABC commissioners will select a replacement for Steen, who has served as administrator since 2003.


Steen is no stranger to the NCHA. He is a second generation member of the organization and he and his wife are both successful cutting horse breeders and contestants. He is a two-time world finalist for the National Cutting Horse Association.

Bemporad sworn in as new federal court judge in San Antonio

Henry J. Bemporad, a former federal public defender, was recently sworn in as a new judge in San Antonio federal court. Bemporad was sworn in by Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery and will replace U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Nowak, who retired last month.


Bemporad is now one of three federal magistrate judges, along with John Primomo and Pamela Mathy. The three are among 14 federal magistrate judges in the Western District of Texas serving Waco, Austin, Del Rio, Alpine, Midland/Odessa and El Paso. They serve eight-year terms that can be renewed. Bemporad was chosen by San Antonio's three federal district judges, who are appointed for life by the president.


Bemporad joined the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western District in 1990, rose through the ranks and had headed that office since 2007. He also clerked for then-U.S. District Judge Edward C. Prado.


Texas A&M confirms data breach involving 4,000 former students

Pierece CantrellTexas A&M University is the latest victim of a data breach. Officials at the university recently announced that some 4,000 of TAMU alumni were being notified that their personal information, including Social Security numbers, was inadvertently made public when an electronic file containing that information was attached to an email sent to an unnamed recipient. The recipient notified the university about the attachment. The breach affects students who graduated before 1985 and requested copies of their transcripts.


"We treat this personal information with the utmost care and diligence," said TAMU Vice President and Associate Provost for Information Technology Pierce Cantrell (pictured), "but there is always the possibility of human error, and, regrettably, it occurred in this instance."


Cantrell said the affected students are at "low risk of identity theft," but that they are being contacted and the university has taken "immediate action to restrict access to this file."


State invests $1 million in Dow Chemical Co. through TEF

The state of Texas is investing $1 million in Texas Enterprise Funds into The Dow Chemical Co. The investment is expected to leverage 150 new jobs and $1.7 billion in capital investment with the location of a hydrocarbon cracker in Brazoria County.


Dow is a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of business products such as specialty chemicals, electronics, agrosciences and plastics. This new ethylene cracker will processes natural gas and natural gas liquids to create ethylene, to produce plastic resins and other chemical intermediates that are used to manufacture a variety of materials including transportation, building and construction, infrastructure, wire and cable, medical devices, personal care and food packaging. This will be Dow's largest ethylene cracker worldwide, and will use shale gas and natural gas liquids produced in the United States.


May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

TxDOT seeking small businesses for highway projects

The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking small businesses and small businesses owned by women and minorities, for upcoming work related to both highway and toll projects. Much of the approximately $4 million in projects is in the Dallas area. The projects are comprehensive development agreements (CDAs).


Among the projects likely to be awarded in 2013 are: the Dallas Horseshoe (I-35E/I-30), $818 million; Interstate 35E (I-635 to U.S. 380), between $2 billion and $4.8 billion; Texas 183 (I-35E to Texas 161), $1.5 billion; and Grand Parkway (U.S. 59 North to U.S. 59 South, Houston area), $1.4 billion.


TAMU-San Antonio earns national security designation

Maria Hernandez FerrierThe National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated Texas A&M University at San Antonio as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. The designation is a result of the university's commitment to educating trained professionals who are skilled in cyber security and information assurance.


The designation was aided by the university's Center for Information Technology and Cyber Security. The program was hailed for its community outreach and a depth of courses for students. The national recognition addresses the importance of higher education's role in defending the nation's cyberspace.


TAMU-San Antonio President Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier (pictured) said the designation "opens even more doors" for the university to help meet the needs of San Antonio's growing cyber security fields. "This is something that will make an impact on many lives," she said.


Solis appointed as interim provost for ACC District

Enrique SolisDr. Enrique Solis (pictured), a visiting professor and interim chair of occupational education at Texas State University-San Marcos, has been appointed interim provost of the Austin Community College District, effective mid-May. ACC plans to fill the position permanently next fall.


Solis is a former professor of educational administration and research at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, a visiting professor of education management and development at New Mexico State University, former president of Palo Alto College, former vice president of Academic Affairs and Vice President for Instruction and former dean of Institutional Research, Development and Evaluation at El Paso Community College. He earned his doctorate from New Mexico State.


El Paso could float bond issue for arena, stadiums

El Paso could float a $600 million to $800 million bond issue as early as November, according to a report by the El Paso Times. The bond would support a new multi-purposed arena and stadiums for major league soccer and AAA baseball teams, new parks, a zoo expansion and street reconstruction. Officials will have until July to finalize the list of projects and their costs before calling a bond election.


Among the proposed projects would be a $150 million multi-purpose arena, downtown improvements totaling between $10 million and $20 million and $30 million for new museums and museum upgrades. A stadium that would be home to a AAA baseball team is proposed at $45 million, contingent on the city securing a team, as well as $50 million in upgrades to the Sun Bowl if a long-term commitment to keeping the bowl game is signed. The facility could also be used for major league soccer tourneys. However, if a stand-along stadium is needed to secure a team, another $100 million could be allotted for that. Street projects could total $200 million.


North Texas banking on more transportation funds

Michael MorrisIn a recent presentation to the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, North Central Texas Council of Governments Director of Transportation Michael Morris (pictured) said North Texas could use $500 million in transportation revenue to leverage into $2.5 billion. As the Texas Transportation Commission mulls allocation of one-time state and federal funding this summer, Morris said if the area is the recipient of that funding, the region would likely use financial tools such as public-private partnerships, design-build contracts and transportation reinvestment zones to leverage additional resources.


The Regional Transportation Council of the local Council of Governments recommends where the funds would be allocated. Morris said if the region receives that funding, projects that could benefit are on Interstate 35E and Interstate 35W, as well as Highway 183 in Irving.


Morris said the possibility of increasing vehicle registration fees and putting part of motor vehicle sales tax into transportation funds instead of the general fund are both being talked about and could become a topic for the Texas Legislature when it meets in January 2013. He said those proposals could net $7.5 billion and $1.9 billion respectively for North Texas transportation projects between 2013 and 2035.


Lamar University could have new student center in its future

The first step toward a new student center on the Lamar University campus is in the hands of the university's students. The Lamar University Student Government Association is supporting and student will be asked to vote through April 27 on a referendum. The vote would require students to approve a self-imposed fee increase, the proceeds of which would be used for a new student center.


The student government group is hoping students will back the fee to provide a center where they will have lounge areas, a small theater, games areas and food vendors. The current Setzer Student Center was built in 1971 and offers two dining facilities, ballrooms, televisions and conference rooms. The proposed $15 million new center would be more cost effective to replace than to renovate. Student Center fees would increase from $30 per semester to $100 per semester if the vote passes and would not begin until groundbreaking for the project.


If approved by Lamar students, the Lamar administration and the Texas State University System Board of Regents would also have to give their approval for construction.


Groundbreaking today at UTMB for new Jennie Sealy Hospital

David CallenderGround will be broken today, Friday, on the new Jennie Sealy Hospital at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The $438 million hospital will have 310 patient rooms, including 54 dedicated ICU beds, a 28-bed day surgery unit and 20 state-of-the-art operating suits. Dr. David L. Callender (pictured), president of UTMB called the groundbreaking and the prospect of a new hospital a time of "renewal, restoration and revitalization." UTMB is fighting its way back after suffering close to a billion dollars in damages after horrific flooding touched nearly every building on the campus during Hurricane Ike in 2008.


Callender noted the campus had just reopened its children's hospital before today's groundbreaking and dedicated a new Comprehensive Maternity center. Clinic services have been expanded, the Blocker Burn Unit has been modernized and John Sealy Hospital is being renovated. The new Jennie Sealy Hospital is expected to be completed in 2015 and operational by 2016. Funding includes $150 million in Tuition Revenue Bonds, $18 million in UTMB funds and $270 million in gifts, $170 million of which is from The Sealy & Smith Foundation.


Five liberal arts colleges join Texas Language Consortium

The Texas Language Consortium, a collaboration of five Texas liberal arts colleges, has been organized to allow students more options if they plan to take foreign language classes. The consortium, a pilot program, is under the auspices of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). NITLE is a nonprofit that seeks to assist liberal arts colleges and universities in the use of both teaching methods and technology to augment undergraduate education while continuing the traditions of liberal arts.


Participants in the pilot program are Schreiner University, Concordia University-Texas, Lubbock Christian University, Texas Lutheran University and Texas Wesleyan University.


The students at these universities can enroll in German, French, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish classes. While the courses are supervised at each student's own campus, their universities will provide courses through video conferencing labs. The classes will be assigned faculty and support staff. Officials are hopeful that the program will both enhance the students' educational experience while offering a cost-effective method of delivery aimed at allowing students to develop competency in other languages.



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Developer hired to assess new Lubbock performing arts theater

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce has hired Dallas-based developer Garfield Traub Development Corp. to conduct a pre-development assessment for a new performing arts theater in Lubbock. Although no cost, size, capacity or location has been determined, the study will determine how the city feels about the proposals.


Garfield Traub officials will be in Lubbock on April 24-27 for a formal presentation and to interview constituents, artists, art organizations, city staff and leadership, business leaders and others regarding the possibility of building a theater. New York-based Webb Management Services is part of the team leading the needs assessment.


Chamber officials say they are interested in exploring opportunities as a new performing arts theater could help promote economic development in Lubbock.


Government entities in Copperas Cove consider partnership

John FirthCoryell County, the city of Copperas Cove and the Copperas Cove ISD are discussing the possibility of consolidating parts of their administrative offices into one facility. Officials of all three entities have met recently to discuss how such a move might lead to cost savings, more possibility for modernization and a centralized facility for the public to access.


The discussions came about when the city began looking at the possibility of securing a new city hall, as maintenance costs are continuing to grow. The conversations then moved to the possibility of leasing additional space instead of building a new facility, and possibly incorporating county and school district offices into it as well. Coryell County Judge John Firth (pictured) said this solution would be much less expensive to maintain.


Other topics to consider, said officials, are common-use rooms, consolidation of some staffing and equipment purchase costs and the potential for state-of-the-art facilities. Those involved say a decision on the proposal could be as much as five years away, but discussions will continue.

Longview officials agree to create new finance corporation

Looking for a new revenue source to fund necessary projects in the community, the Longview City Council recently voted to create a new finance corporation. The cultural education facilities finance corporation will be authorized to issue bonds for the development of health care facilities, charter schools, private schools, museums and galleries and performing arts and educational associations.


The action was prompted by a request from LV Medical Properties to create the corporation to issue $10.3 million in bonds for development of Fountain View Estates, a planned 74-bed assisted living facility. Officials say 85 percent of the bonds will be tax-exempt. The developer, not the city, will guarantee the bonds, with no obligation on the city's part to repay the debt.


Sabine ISD anticipating bond election for elementary school

Stacy BryceMaintenance workers are having a hard time keeping up with projects at the Sabine ISD Elementary School and continued maintenance is becoming costly, according to SISD Superintendent Stacy Bryce (pictured). Thus, officials are looking at the possibility of a future bond election for a new elementary school. But officials also are mindful that their last bond attempt, which would have included a new elementary and other projects, was rejected by voters.


SISD has hired Huckabee Architects to perform a needs assessment. School officials will meet with Huckabee representatives next month to set up a timeline and will begin the research and committee process. Bryce said if the needs assessment shows other needs, such as renovations or a need for other buildings, they could become part of a bond issue. But the main concern right now is the elementary school, he added.


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Burnet extends deadline for bids for sewer plant construction

David VaughnThe deadline for submission by contractors of bids for construction of a $22 million sewer plant for the city of Burnet has been extended. The new deadline has been moved from Tuesday, April 17, to Friday, April 20. The city has until May 31 to close on a $12 million zero percent interest rate loan from the Texas Water Development Board. If that deadline is not met, the city could risk losing the funding.


The project has been delayed, said City Manager David Vaughn (pictured), by requests of the project engineer, and the engineering report has to be part of the city's application. Those extensions gave the city even less time to close on the loan, and losing the loan would be a disaster for the city, he said. By extending the bid deadline, the city now is committed to get the loan application to TWDB by April 24 deadline, ahead of the May 31 deadline.


Williamson takes over as interim president of SJC South Campus

Laurel WilliamsonDr. Laurel V. Williamson (pictured), who currently serves as vice chancellor for learning and student success at San Jacinto College, has been chosen to serve as interim president at the college's South Campus, effective June 1. She will be filling in for former President Dr. Maureen Murphy, who has been named president of Brookdale Community College in New Jersey.


Williamson brings to the new position a 25-year career in education and community college leadership. She has been both an instructor and administrator and has experience in budget management, grant development, strategic planning, accreditation, curriculum and program development and community outreach. She also has had responsibility for overseeing programs in technical, academic and community and continuing education and in leading staff development and training.


Williamson is a former academic officer at Valencia Community College in Florida and Lower Columbia College in Washington. She also served as director of curriculum development at Southwest Mississippi Community College. She is a U.S. Army veteran and holds a doctorate in English literature.


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San Antonio approves pilot program relating to parks

Reed WilliamsFashioned after a successful program in Houston, San Antonio officials have approved a pilot program to put playground and other park amenities at an elementary on the south side of the city for use by the community when not in use by the school. The Houston program - SPARK School Park Program - is a nonprofit that has been successfully converting existing green space on school campuses into community parks since 1983.


A San Antonio nonprofit, San Antonio Sports, will oversee the program in San Antonio. Officials are hopeful the council will approve funding for at least one SPARK park in each of the 10 districts over the next 10 years. The result would be 100 new school parks. Councilman Reed Williams (pictured) said the effort required a partnership among the school district, the city and a nonprofit.


Partnership to lead to updates to San Angelo City Auditorium

The City of San Angelo and the San Angelo Performing Arts Coalition (SAPAC) are partnering, and the result will be $2.5 million in funding for improvements to the City Auditorium. The two entities have agreed on an operational agreement in which SAPAC will raise $2.5 million for the upgrades in exchange for space in City Hall from which to operate events in the auditorium.


The $2.5 million fundraiser will be part of SAPAC's $13.7 million fundraising campaign for an overall Performing Arts Campus. SAPAC, with council approval, will seek naming rights for the auditorium and create a maintenance and equipment fund for future improvements through a $2 ticket fee on events held at the auditorium.


SAPAC will also receive 5 percent of the hotel occupancy tax receipts for the first five years of the agreement, with possibility of increasing that amount to 7 percent after seven years.


Liberty County renews contract for operation of its county jail

Craig McNairLiberty County commissioners have privatized the operation of their county jail, contracting with Community Education Centers as the operator. The company has operated the jail for the last five years and the contract has been extended twice since it expired at the end of 2011. The contract will cost the county approximately $4 million per year.


The contract is based on a cost-per-inmate sliding scale. According to County Judge Craig McNair (pictured), the cost per inmate will be $64 when the population is 170 to 180 inmates and will fluctuate depending on inmate population. The county studied operating the jail itself, but it was not a cost-effective option.


FEMA Region VI, University of North Texas co-hosting conference

The University of North Texas (UNT) and FEMA Region VI are co-hosting the 2012 VI Mitigation Conference, Recipe for Resilience, on May 1-3 in the Union on the UNT campus.  For conference registration, which is free, contact FEMA at taran.roddy@fema.dhs.gov. A luncheon on Tuesday, May 1, is a separate ticketed event that features as the speaker Dr. James Kendra, director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. The cost of the luncheon is $13. Contact UNT at 940-565-2165 for tickets. UNT is home to the nation's first undergraduate degree program in Emergency Administration and Planning, established in 1983 as a joint venture with FEMA Region VI. The program, located in the Department of Public Administration, has more than 800 graduates serving in disaster-related positions in local, state and federal governments and with such nonprofit disaster service providers as the American Red Cross.


TSABAA summer conference date set for June 7-8

The Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) Summer Conference will be held June 7-8 in San Marcos.  TSABAA conferences provide state agencies and participating vendors a forum for discussion on issues affecting the business operations of Texas state government. TSABAA has negotiated special room rates with the host hotel, Embassy Suites.  The rates, the procedures to obtain the special TSABAA rate and the state agencies' participants' registration form is on the TSABAA Conference page here. The TSABAA vendors' registration form can be found on the TSABAA vendor's page here.


CenTex ASPA sets 2012 Public Service Recognition Week banquet

The Central Texas Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (CenTex ASPA), a nonprofit, professional organization serving the interests of public servants, is hosting its annual banquet and awards ceremony honoring Central Texas public professionals in several categories. The banquet is May 10 at 6 p.m. at Green Pastures in Austin, Texas. The banquet keynote speaker will be Admiral (Ret.) Bobby R. Inman, former director of the National Security Agency.Celebrated since 1985, Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is a nationwide public education campaign honoring the men and women who serve as federal, state, and local government employees who ensure that the nation's government is the best in the world. Annually the President and Congress designate the first full week of May as PSRW and activities are held nationwide in celebration of public employees who put service above self. For more information please visit www.CenTexASPA.org or email John Sone at vicepresident.centexaspa@gmail.com. To register, click here. Nomination forms are available here.


UK Minister of State, Dept. of Energy, Climate Change, to speak

The World Affairs Council of San Antonio, Mission Verde Alliance and San Antonio Clean Technology Forum will host Gregory Barker, UK Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change and his delegation of sustainable and clean energy UK business leaders on Tuesday, May 8. Their trip addresses strengthening UK-US trade relations and building the economic and business case for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. They will use leading examples of UK sustainable businesses to show the compatibility of green and growth, as well as offering opportunities for companies to connect with new or existing business partners. Barker will speak on "Energy Independence Through Efficiency." Opening remarks will be given by Doyle Beneby, President and CEO of CPS Energy. The event will be at Pearl Stable, 307 Pearl Parkway in San Antonio, beginning with 11:15 a.m. registration and lunch and the program at 11:50 a.m. Tickets purchased before April 27 are $45 and $60 after that date. Table sponsorships are available for $500, $750, $1,000 and $2,000. Register online at http://www.wacofsa.org/ or contact the World Affairs Council: (210) 308-9494 or email rachna@wacofsa.org


LBJ School program on leadership, strategy, decision-making

In serious decision situations, the pressure is on leaders to move quickly to action, often without fully identifying and understanding the background and context that affect the situation. "Leadership, Strategy, and Decision-Making," part of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Executive Education revitalizes leadership skills with practical wisdom drawn from the issues faced by great leaders of our time. This two-day program (May 3 and 4) led by Dr. Jeremi Suri takes leadership training beyond the necessary skills and tactics to a higher and more dynamic level. "Leadership, Strategy, and Decision-Making" offers new insights based on the innovative approach to leadership education in a changing world that is at the core of the LBJ School of Public Affairs. This program immerses participants in an experiential process of redefining your decision-making as a leader. To view the brochure with registration details, click here. For more information on the program, click here.


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 Texasand 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.


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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Local governments spend millions with private sector


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


Public officials, struggling with budgetary constraints, find themselves in dire predicaments. They have the option of reducing almost every aspect of their operations, but they have no authority to reduce mandated services. So, as long as this situation continues, privatization, outsourcing and public-private partnerships will be attractive options.


Local governments in Texas spend millions each month with contractors. In fact, in January of this year, the total topped $352 million. Harris County Hospital District, for example, spent $63,000 to lease and maintain mail equipment. And, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit authority spent $185.9 million for mobility management and services delivery. The totals add up quickly.


Millions of dollars were spent by local governments on engineering projects. The lower end of costs included $252,000 for a flood control capital project for Bexar County and on the higher side, seven separate water line replacements for the city of Houston totaled more than $7 million.


Architectural services for local government in January included $147,000 for the design of a public safety warehouse for the city of Corpus Christi and $869,000 for the design of a new livestock arena at Fair Park for the city of Dallas. Other spending on architectural services included $487,000 by the city of Houston for landscape architecture for esplanades at Hermann Park and $195,000 by Parkland Hospital in Dallas for an architectural firm to provide interior design services for its clinics.



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Copperas Cove issues bond

for water, sewer projects

The Copperas Cove City Council this week voted to issue a $1.8 million, 25-year bond to address water and sewer projects in the city. At the same time, the city voted to refinance two loans from 2003, both of which were mostly used for city water and sewer improvements. The bond proceeds will be used for water and sewer infrastructure upgrades.


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Northside ISD begins with superintendent interviews

Officials of the Northside ISD in San Antonio have begun interviews to fill the superintendent position being vacated in June by Superintendent John Folks, who is retiring. District officials report receiving 25 applications from eight states for the position. Names of the applicants will not be released until a lone finalist is named.


The search firm helping to find qualified candidates reports that of the applicants, 18 are currently serving as superintendent, five are deputy or assistant superintendent, one is a former superintendent and one has a military background. The field of candidates is likely to be whittled down to five to seven candidates after the first round of interviews.


Troup city administrator Cottle

resigns after only weeks on job

Gene CottleTroup City Administrator Gene Cottle (pictured) had been on the job only weeks before recently submitting his resignation. His first day was April 2 and he resigned last week, saying that a buyer of his family businesses backed out of the deal, leaving him to make the decision of staying on with the city or returning to run the family business. Cottle also resigned from his post on the Troup Community Development Corp. when he took over as city administrator and could consider once again joining that board.


New Braunfels holding workshops on Capital Improvement Plan

Members of the New Braunfels City Council are holding a series of workshops to discuss their Capital Improvement Plan. Included in the plan is more than $100 million in drainage projects, and those projects are being separated from other large capital projects. A bond election would be held probably in November of next year to fund the majority of the drainage projects. Some of the other projects that are being considered are a new training facility for the fire department and construction at Fischer Park.


Crowley takes over reins

as city manager in Rockwall

Rick CrowleyRick Crowley (pictured), who has been serving as interim city manager for the city of Rockwall since the previous city manager, Julie Couch, was terminated last November, has been appointed full-time city manager. Crowley is a former assistant city manager who served under Crouch. He has worked for the city since 1984, when he began working there as an administrative assistant. Crowley was one of 61 applicants for the post. That number was reduced to 20, with seven of them being called in for interviews before Crowley was picked.


Whalen named as next

executive director of Allen EDC

Harry Whalen, who has more than 37 years of experience in economic development, has been chosen as the new executive director of the Allen Economic Development Corp. He most recently worked with the Caldwell County, North Carolina, Development Commission. EDC officials hailed Whalen's network of national and international contacts as crucial to the corporation's economic development success.


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Polasek tabbed as new city manager for city of Keller

A little over a week after he was named interim city manager to replace Dan O'Leary, Steve Polasek has been named Keller's new city manager. Polasek was an assistant city manager before O'Leary laid himself off. Polasek has been in city government since 1992. At Keller, he was responsible for oversight of parks and recreation, human resources, finance, administration and information services and the Keller Public Library. He has also been responsible for coordinating the public arts program and trash and recycling.


City of Hewitt plans bond sale

for improvement projects

The Hewitt City Council recently put together a prioritized capital improvement list. The projects, many of which deal with water issues, will be the benefactors of a $7.7 million bond issuance approved this week by Council, with certificates of obligation issued and paid out over 20 years.


The two most expensive projects on the list are a $1.82 million North Side ground storage tank and a $1.33 million North Side elevated storage tank. Some of the other projects include $650,000 for Sun Valley water line replacement, $650,000 remodeling the public works facility, $130,000 for technology needs citywide, $425,000 for a new fire truck and $150,000 for phase one of park and playground improvements.


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New Braunfels officials discuss capital improvement plan

A variety of funding options are being examined by New Braunfels officials as they are holding workshops to discuss the city's proposed capital improvement plan. Among the funding options being considered are cash funding or debt service support from the New Braunfels Industrial Development Corp. Funding, federal and state funding, funds from private foundations, use of current revenues, creative funding options such as lease-back and other public-private partnerships, impact or development fees and debt issuance.


Projects identified in the FY 2011-12 budget include $8.2 million for streets and drainage, $9.3 million for parks and recreation and $4.6 million for municipal facilities.


Pflugerville ISD could be

looking at bond issue next year

A bond issue could be in the future for the Charles DuprePflugerville ISD. School officials are studying needs that could become part of a 2013 bond referendum, including a new fourth high school, expanded high school career and technology education programs, technology needs and a larger high school football stadium at Pflugerville High.


Superintendent Charles Dupre (pictured) said that if a new high school is not built, current facilities will become overcrowded due to an anticipated 3,000-student increase over the next six years


Duron to take over as superintendent of Elgin ISD

Dr. Jodi Duron, current assistant superintendent in the Comal Independent School District, has been selected as the new superintendent of the Elgin ISD. She will replace Bill Graves, who is retiring. She will begin her new post on July 1.


Humble ISD picks Price

for chief academic officer

Thomas PriceSplendora ISD Superintendent Thomas O. Price (pictured) has been selected as the new chief academic officer. Price began his education career as a teacher in the Anahuac ISD. He has since served as an assistant principal at Central High in Beaumont, as a principal at Little Cypress Intermediate School, director of elementary education in the Port Arthur ISD and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and interim superintendent in the West Orange ISD. His first superintendent's job was in the Anderson-Shiro CISD.


Price holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston and a master's and doctorate from Lamar University.


Port Arthur has one less candidate for city manager spot

Five finalists were identified earlier this month for the position of Port Arthur city manager. A search firm had assisted the City Council to find a new leader. One finalist, Isaac Turner, was this week removed from the list. The remaining candidates, all but one of whom have city manager experience, include Rebecca Underhill, Corby Alexander, Floyd Johnson and Gregory Rose. Underhill does not have city manager experience, but currently serves as assistant city manager in Port Arthur and is the only internal candidate. All of the four will be interviewed by City Council.


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Southlake Carroll students face having to pay to ride school bus

The Board of Trustees of the Southlake Carroll school district has approved a fee for students who next year will ride the school bus to district campuses. The district is expanding its Pay-to-Ride program and will charge an annual fee of $250. Students who live within two miles of their campus will be charged a $215 annual fee. All students who live outside a two-mile radius and special education students currently can ride district school buses free.


Officials note that the money charged is only a small portion of the overall cost of transporting students to various campuses. While the school's transportation system costs about $2 million per year, the district only received about $235,000 each year in fees. Fees to families will be $250 per child, up to $500. Officials expect the fee will result in a drop in ridership, which could mean the number of bus drivers needed, whose cost averages $14,000 each per year, would also decline and save the district money.


Beaumont Mayor Ames

to lead new specialized hospital

Becky AmesBeaumont Mayor Becky Ames (pictured) who for the past 15 years has served as executive director of Atria Collier Park, a senior and assisted living home, has been named the new chief executive officer of Victory Health Center. The center is currently under construction, after groundbreaking ceremonies were held in February. Ames will come on board sometime in May. Construction should be completed by late this year or early next year and will occupy 75,000 square feet. 


Huffman ISD approves funds

for study on HVAC system

A $38,300 engineering study by Johnson Controls Inc. on possible upgrades to the heating and air system at Ben Bowen Elementary School has been approved by the Huffman ISD school board. The study is part of an estimated $1 million plan to replace more than 50 rooftop units. The survey will identify the equipment needed and requirement for what goes into the bid for the project.


The survey should be completed by April 25, according to maintenance officials, and work can then begin this summer. The project includes linking the Bowen school to an adjacent elementary with a central air handling system, along with roof replacement. The project is expected to be completed in two phases over a two-year period.


NTTA selects Carrigan to serve

as permanent executive director

Gerry CarriganGerry Carrigan (pictured), who has been serving as interim executive director of the North Texas Tollway Authority since October, has been selected as full-time executive director. Carrigan replaces former Executive Director Allen Clemson, who resigned in October. A contract is being negotiated and will be brought back to the board for its approval. 


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Mathis picked as lone finalist

for Deweyville superintendent

J. Kevin Mathis, currently serving as assistant superintendent for business and finance in the Diboll ISD, has been named lone finalist for the head spot in the Deweyville ISD. He would replace current Superintendent Rick Summer, who has announced he will retire at the end of the school year. Mathis was one of more than 18 applicants for the Deweyville job.


Greater San Marcos Partnership assists new business Grifols

The Greater San Marcos Partnership, a nonprofit public-private partnership, provided a key assist to global health care company Grifols as it chose to locate its new plasma testing lab in San Marcos. The lab began operations this week. The state-of-the-art facility will analyze millions of samples of human plasma prior to its approval and release for manufacturing into life-saving plasma medicines for patients with rare diseases.

The Greater San Marcos Partnership assisted Grifols by creating a custom, full-color relocation guide featuring information about the Greater San Marcos region, quality of life, education, housing, local community profiles, the Round Rock-Austin-San Marcos Metropolitan Service Area and metro comparisons. Materials from the San Marcos Independent School District, the San Marcos and Austin Chambers of Commerce and the San Marcos Board of Realtors were also included to provide Grifols employees with a comprehensive package of information for those considering relocation to San Marcos. 


Recent Reports

Mangla new chief epidemiologist for San Antonio health district

Anil ManglaDr. Anil T. Mangla (pictured) has been appointed as the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District's chief epidemiologist. A former lead epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health, Mangla is also a former director of infectious disease and immunizations and the acting epidemiologist for the state of Georgia.


In his role with the San Antonio district, he will be responsible for public health programs, health care planning and surveillance systems. He also will investigate diseases to determine cause and risk factors, progress, life cycle and transmission as it relates to public health.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 4/13/12

Linden City Clerk Buddy

Erwin resigns post

Buddy Erwin, who has served nearly 12 years as city clerk for the city of Linden, recently resigned his position. He has accepted employment in the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, where he will supervise a fabrication shop and oversee equipment maintenance. He worked in the oil fields in Alaska for nine years before taking the clerk job in Linden.


Stolleis chosen to fill county engineer role in Fort Bend County

Richard Stolleis has been named the new county engineer for Fort Bend County and will replace current County Engineer Jesse Hegemier, who is leaving his post at the end of this month. Stolleis will begin his new charge next week during a two-week transition alongside Hegemier. His first official day as county engineer will be on May 1.


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Robinson top pick for post as

Milano ISD superintendent

Lindy RobinsonThe Rotan Independent School District has named Lindy Robinson (pictured), Milano ISD superintendent, to lead their district as superintendent. Robinson has been at Milano ISD for the last six years. She will replace Rotan Superintendent Kent Ruffin, who is retiring after four years of leading the school and capping a 31-year education career.


Robinson brings 26 years of education experience to Rotan. She could begin her new job as early as May 1, officials said.


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