Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 20 - Friday, May 18, 2012

Successful bond votes net millions in contracting opportunities


More than $1.5 billion in issues passed in elections throughout Texas

Infrastructure Improvements
Infrastructure improvements from streets to sidewalks were approved in last weekend's statewide bond voting.

The majority of more than $1.7 billion in bond issues throughout the state passed last weekend, in spite of an unusually low voter turnout.


Voters in 11 cities, two community colleges, a hospital district and nearly 50 school districts held bond issues. Bond issues totaling more than $1.5 billion passed.


As a result, millions of dollars in contracting opportunities will open up in new building construction, facility maintenance and renovations, technology needs and upgrades, city street improvements and a variety of local initiatives.


The larges bond issue that passed was in San Antonio, where voters said yes to a $596 million bond issue that will provide funding in four categories - streets/bridges/sidewalks, drainage, parks and facilities and community initiatives. The largest public school initiative that passed was New Caney ISD's $97.5 million bond issue. Passage of the bond vote will mean the addition of two new schools, additions and renovations to a high school and maintenance and transportation projects.


The bond issues decided in last Saturday's vote ranged from a $700,000 bond issue by a city in North Texas with a population of about 2,000 to pay for much-needed street improvements to the more than half-billion bond vote in San Antonio.




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Munoz to leave post at Jail Standards Commission in September

Adan MunozAdan Munoz (pictured), executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS), has announced to the commission that he will resign/retire from the director's post on Sept. 30. He offered his letter of resignation earlier this month.


Munoz was named executive director of TCJS on Sept. 25, 2006, and in doing so became the first former sheriff hired to fill that position.


Munoz has more than 35 years in law enforcement. He has served as a police officer, a deputy sheriff and a district attorney investigator. He was elected sheriff of Kleberg County in 1989, and served in that capacity until 1994. He also has been employed with the Governor's Office and the Office of the Texas Attorney General. He was appointed to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education Commission in 1991. Munoz attended Texas A&M University-Kingsville. 


Burford's retirement will end more than 30 years with TxDOT

Scott BurfordScott D. Burford (pictured), General Services Division (GSD) director at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), has announced his retirement, effective May 31. Burford will retire from the state's transportation agency after more than 30 years of service.


Burford began his career at TxDOT in 1981 in what was the former Automation Division. He was appointed director of the former Information Systems Division's Resource Management and Procurement Section in 1988. He was promoted to GSD director in 2003, where he was responsible for overseeing numerous programs, including purchasing and contracting, supply chain management, equipment and fleet management, property management and online information services. He also has been serving as interim chief programs officer.


Oswald named to role of state director of historic Alamo

Stephen OswaldStephen Oswald (pictured) will bring a lengthy list of corporate and nonprofit experience to his new role as State Director of the Alamo. Oswald was named to the position this week by Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. As state director, Oswald will oversee the daily operations and management of the historic San Antonio mission. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Alamo Executive Administrator, who is responsible for managing staff operations, will report to Oswald.


The new state director most recently served as chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance and administration for Haven for Hope in Bexar County, a nonprofit that offers assistance to homeless persons. He also spent more than three decades in the private sector, most of which was spent with AT&T, where he was chief financial officer for various business units of AT&T in San Antonio.


The Alamo is owned by the state of Texas and under the jurisdiction of the Texas General Land Office. At the direction of the Legislature, the Alamo is operated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas under contract to the Land Office.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Scott NeeleyScott Neeley, CEO, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority 


Career highlights and education: I started my public service career as a management intern for the city of Odessa in 1989. Subsequently, my career in transit began in Lubbock at Citibus. I held several positions there before taking my first general manager assignment in Mobile, Alabama, in 1996. Returning to Texas in 2001, I was given an opportunity to work in the corporate office of McDonald Transit (Ft. Worth) while working as a consultant to the newly formed Denton County Transportation Authority (Lewisville). Afterwards, I worked for DART (Dallas) as a consultant before taking the CEO position in Corpus Christi. I have B.A. and M.P.A. degrees from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin and the University of South Alabama, respectively. 
What I like best about my job is: It may sound cliché, but I really enjoy working with the people at RTA. We have a dedicated and professional workforce of just over 300 employees who inspire me every day. Likewise, our volunteer Board of Directors is very connected to our community and we get to work directly with our regional partners to improve services in the Coastal Bend and impact people in a positive way. 
The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Develop a vision of the organization that you would feel proud of...then work to make it so.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Don't be afraid to ask questions; learn all you can about every part of the organization, including those that are not part of your daily functions.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: trying to become the tennis player I used to be.
People would be surprised to know that I: Can actually drive a bus, though not nearly as well as our operators.
One thing I wish more people knew about the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority: We broke an all-time ridership record last year with more than 6 million annual passenger trips provided.

Lagoudas named as interim deputy director, vice chancellor at TEES

Dimitris LagoudasOfficials of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) recently selected Dr. Dimitris C. Lagoudas (pictured) as the new interim deputy director and the associate vice chancellor for engineering research.


Lagoudas begins his duties as interim deputy director on July 1, but assumed the position of associate vice chancellor following the approval of regents of the Texas A&M University System. He replaces Dr. Dennis L. O'Neal, who left the post to become dean of Engineering and Computer Science at Baylor University.


Lagoudas currently heads the Department of Aerospace Engineering and serves as director for the Texas Institute for Intelligent Materials and Structures.


TxDOT seeks proposals for Grand Parkway Project in Houston area

Texas Department of Transportation officials recently asked for proposals for the next phase of the Grand Parkway Project, a 184-mile outer beltway with toll road segments. The proposal for a design-build contract, issued on May 3 to a list of qualified teams, covers about 37 miles of new toll road segments of State Highway 99 (the Grand Parkway Project) in Harris and Montgomery counties.


The toll road segments will form a major link in the region by connecting US 59 North to US 59 South, said Ned Holmes, a TxDOT commissioner. The 82nd Legislature authorized TxDOT to develop the Grand Parkway Project and 10 other specific projects through public-private partnerships, which permits TxDOT to contract with private partners for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and possibly financing of the project. The state retains ownership of the project, Holmes said. TxDOT officials expect to finalize a contract for the project in late 2012 or early 2013, he added.


Flores chosen as Angelo State University's new provost

Javier FloresDr. Javier Flores (pictured) provost at Howard College since 2010, has been selected as the new vice president of student affairs and enrollment management at Angelo State University. Flores brings more than 20 years of higher education experience to his new charge, 13 of those years spent at Howard College in Big Spring. Before being named provost there, Flores first served as dean of student services and then was named vice president of student services. He also served 16 months as interim provost for Howard College's SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf.  Before joining Howard College in 1999, Flores worked as a residence hall manager and assisted with student orientation at New Mexico State University.


As provost at ASU, Flores will oversee Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar's Office, Career Development, Housing and Residential Programs, Student Life and Student Services, Student Government and University Recreation and Intramurals.  He also will provide input in the implementation and coordination of ASU's Title III and Title V HSI Grants. 


Flores holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University, a master's from New Mexico State University and his doctorate from Texas Tech.


May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Patton selected as new dean at Midwestern State University

Terry PattonMidwestern State University officials recently selected Terry Patton (pictured) as the new dean of the Dillard College of Business Administration. Patton, an associate professor of accounting, plans to begin his new duties on July 1. He replaces Barbara Nemecek, who is stepping down as dean of the business college.


Patton previously taught at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and Rutgers University and was the research manager at the Government Accounting Standards Board in Washington, D.C. He has a bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University, a master's degree from the University of North Texas and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.


Gonzales to give up her House seat for post at UT-Pan American

Veronica GonzalesState Rep. Veronica Gonzales (pictured) will resign her seat in the Texas House of Representatives to take on the role of vice president for university advancement at The University of Texas-Pan American. Her new charge at the university will begin on July 1. As vice president of university advancement, Gonzales will oversee the office of development, which is responsible for fundraising for the university. She also will be in charge of the department of marketing and communications, which comprises the offices of alumni relations, public affairs and Studio Twelve01, the University's marketing office.


Gonzales announced last year that she would not seek re-election to her House post. Once she resigns, the governor can either call a special election to fill her post or leave the seat vacant until the next general election.


Gonzales graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and earned her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law. After graduating from law school, Gonzales moved to McAllen, where she began practicing law at Jarvis & Kittleman, P.C., now Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzales, LLP. She became a partner in four years and is currently a name partner.


Matkin resigns from San Jacinto College for post in Louisiana

Neil MatkinDr. Neil Matkin (pictured) recently resigned as president of San Jacinto College Central to accept a position as executive vice president of the Louisiana Community & Technical College System. He joined San Jacinto College in August 2008.


Matkin previously was the vice chancellor for information technology services for the Virginia Community College System and an associate director at the Illinois Board of Higher Education. He has bachelor associate degrees from Ambassador College in Pasadena, California and Big Sandy, Texas; master's degrees from Golden Gate University in Los Angeles and the University of Dallas in Irving; and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University-Commerce.


Winters retires as director from Wiley College

Amanda (Mama) Winters recently retired as director of teacher certification at Wiley College. Winters also served as an associate professor of education and coordinator for evening and weekend classes at the college, where she had worked for 15 years. Winters graduated from Wiley College in 1953. 


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Save the Date

Midwestern State eyeing facility upgrades and expansions

Regents of Midwestern State University recently agreed to ask the legislature to approve tuition revenue bonds to pay for a new library or expand and upgrade the existing library and to fund a $1.6 million expansion of McCoy Engineering Hall. The current library is too small and needs to update technology, said Dr. Jesse Rogers, president of MSU.


Board members also agreed to use funding from the city of Wichita Falls to add lights to the soccer and softball fields to permit the softball team to host a regional tournament that should attract visitors who spend money at local businesses, Rogers said.


El Paso approves $1.25 million to study new trolley system

Steve OrtegaEl Paso City Council members recently approved $1.25 million to pay for a preliminary environmental study on building a downtown trolley system. The study is required to apply for $90 million in funding from the Texas Transportation Commission.


The goal of the study, which began in mid-May, is to develop a two-mile double-track route from the Paso del Norte and Stanton Street international bridges in the downtown area, said Steve Ortega (pictured), council member. The preliminary study also will examine Stanton and Oregon streets as possible routes for the trolley project, he said.


One proposal routes the streetcars through the Rio Grande campus of the El Paso Community College and then loops around The University of Texas at El Paso, Union Plaza and the arts and entertainment areas, said Ortega said. The city once had a popular streetcar system with 63 miles of track, 100 electric cars and 17 routes that was discontinued in 1974.


Corpus Christi eyeing partnerships to create $72.5 million park

After receiving support at a public meeting for a proposed $72.5 million project to develop Destination Bayfront on 27 acres of public land, Corpus Christi city officials recently said they are ready to enter the next phase of the project by creating a variety of public-private partnerships to help develop the park along the bay front.


So far, city officials have spent $1.3 million with a landscape architect firm, local architects, engineers and a public relations firm to develop a plan that includes areas to stage festivals, a board walk, restaurants, an area for concerts, a dog park, retail stores and more trees to provide shade.


The bay front park project most likely will be built in phases and the next step is to develop public-private partnerships and locate grants and other funding to pay for the park, said Trey McCampbell, an organizer of Destination Bayfront.



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Austin residents looking at possible $575 million bond election

A committee appointed to study needs for a proposed upcoming bond issue in Austin has recommended $575 million in projects, after cutting the original "wish list" by more than half. Their recommendations now go to the Austin City Council, which is expected to decide by August what projects will become part of the bond issue.


Among the recommendations are $35 million for improvements on Interstate 35's Riverside Drive overpass, $2.3 million for renovation of the Barton Spring Pool bathhouse; $1.5 million for new bike lanes throughout the city, $3 million for a Mexic-Arte Museum; $46.5 million for street repairs, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, ramps and landscaping on city streets and a $15.7 million new Northwest Austin police substation.


Harrison County to apply for grant for trucks powered by natural gas

Hugh TaylorHarrison County commissioners recently agreed to seek a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to buy three large dump trucks powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). The three new trucks will replace 12-year-old diesel trucks, County Judge Hugh Taylor (pictured) said. The county currently has 24 small dump trucks in service, 11 of which are more than 12 years old, the county judge said.


A company that produces natural gas is close to finalizing plans to build a CNG refueling station near the county facility that will be available for fueling CNG-powered county vehicles, Taylor said.


El Paso economic development groups merging into one

Two private economic development groups in El Paso, the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDCo) and the Paso del Norte Group, recently agreed to join. REDCo has led in recruiting industrial businesses to the area while the Paso del Norte, a group of business and community leaders, has concentrated on regional studies and worked on a downtown redevelopment plan.


The merger occurred following an economic development study commissioned by the city that indicated that economic development efforts needed to be revamped and guided by regional policy analysis, said Susan Melendez, co-chair of the Paso del Norte Group. Russ Vandenburg, chairman of REDCo, noted the merger of the economic development groups promises more aggressive and broader efforts to develop the area into an international center.


Leaders of both REDCo and Paso del Norte have not yet announced who will be the executive director of the merged group. Bob Cook has served as chief executive officer at REDCo since it was created several years ago.


El Paso Co. moves closer to proposed $44M upgrade of jail annex

Richard WilesEl Paso County commissioners recently moved a step closer to approving a proposed $44 million upgrade of the county jail annex. They did so by approving publication of a notice of intent to issue up to $110 million in certificates of obligation to pay for the jail expansion and several other capital improvement projects.


Expansion of the jail annex will allow the county to accommodate an additional 430 inmates at the annex, which has a capacity of 1,480 inmates and is now at capacity about 95 percent of the time, said Sheriff Richard Wiles (pictured). Commissioners are expected to vote on June 11 on whether to issues the certificates of obligation.


Work on the jail expansion could begin by the end of 2012 and be completed in about 18 months to two years if commissioners issue the certificates, county officials said. Plans call for spending about $1.5 million to upgrade security systems at the jail annex, $800,000 to refurbish the port used to load and unload inmates from transport vehicles. Another $720,000 would be used to install video equipment to allow video visits between inmates, attorneys and family members without having to come to the facility, Wiles said.


El Paso County may merge with city for IT services

El Paso County commissioners recently requested the chief technology officer for the county to determine the benefits of consolidating all of its information technology services with the city and sharing a lease for a new facility to accommodate the merger. The county and city have shared some IT services under an agreement approved in 2009.


Commissioners also requested county staff to align job descriptions for county and city IT employees, draw up a draft agreement with an organizational chart and to provide information on legal processes for personnel issues such as hiring and terminating IT employees before discussing the issue again in two weeks. A 2011 study found that the county would need to invest an additional $5.4 million to obtain the same services without the partnership with the city, which the county estimates will cost about $5 million.


Wilkerson retires as general manager of Bryan Texas Utilities

After 34 years with Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU), Dan Wilkerson, general manager, recently announced his retirement effective June 30. Purchased as an electric distribution system by the City of Bryan in 1909 and changing to a generator of electricity in 1919, BTU provides customers in Brazos, Burleson and Robertson counties with electricity.


Interim City Manager Kean Register said he plans to research the best process to find a new general manager for BTU between now and June 30.

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El Paso to present bond proposal in at least two propositions

The Public Finance Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office recently advised El Paso city officials to split a proposed November bond referendum into at least two propositions rather than asking voters to approve only one proposition totaling from $655 million to $835 million. City officials had hoped to ask voters to vote yes or no on only one proposal containing all the projects.


The attorney general's office reviews all proposed bonds to ensure the language on the ballot is legally valid and is working with city officials to ensure the language in the bond proposal is legal, said City Manager Joyce Wilson. The attorney general pays special attention to bonds for sports facilities and economic development issues, Wilson said.


As a result, city officials most likely will group projects by function on the ballot in November, she said. Among the projects under consideration for the bond proposal are a $150 million multipurpose arena, from $45 million to $55 million for a baseball stadium and $100 million to $120 million on a soccer stadium. Other projects are from $10 million to $20 million for upgrades to the downtown area, $125 million for parks, pools and community centers, $30 million for new museums and upgrades to existing museums, $10 million for neighborhood improvements throughout the city and $25 million to improve the zoo. Council members plan to meet on May 24 to begin narrowing down the list of projects and meet again in July to reach an estimate for the total cost of the bond proposal for the November election.


Coryell County delays proposed jail improvement

Johnny BurksCoryell County commissioners recently agreed to table action on two proposals by Sheriff Johnny Burks (pictured) to spend about $149,000 to upgrade the county jail. Upgrades included updating the control system and replacing video equipment with digital video recorders throughout the facility.


The upgraded control system can be transferred to a new jail if county commissioners decide to build one, Burks said. Commissioners tabled the proposal and asked for more information on whether the county is required to seek bids for the digital video equipment and installation. A Waco-based company appears to be the only provider of the control system in Texas, the sheriff said. Commissioners plan to discuss the jail upgrade again in about two weeks.


El Paso approves contracts to privatize part of Sun Metro service

El Paso City Council members recently approved two contracts, a $37.0 million, five-year contract to manage the fixed-routes of Sun Metro and a $5.5 million contract to provide paratransit services.


The fixed-route management contract was awarded to First Transit of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the five-year contract for paratransit services went to MV Transportation of Fairfield, California. Under terms of the contract, MV Transportation will use the city-owned maintenance facility, buses and fuel.


Once the contracts are effective on Nov. 1, about 100 Sun Metro employees will begin working for First Transit. Sun Metro employees who request to remain employed with the city will be assigned to other departments, city officials said. The partial privatization of the transit system is expected to save the city about $1.3 million annually, the mayor said.


National Park Service awards $25K to examine fire damage Todd McClanahan 

The Historic Sites branch of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Park Service. The grant will be used to study the effects of the Bastrop wildfire on Bastrop State Park's historic Civilian Conservation Corp-built (CCC) structures. All of the mostly 1930s-built CCC structures survived the state's worst fire but there is fear that the flames and smoke nearby may have caused damage that cannot be seen.


"With the recent wildfires, I've learned to appreciate these historic structures even more," said State Parks Regional Director Todd McClanahan (pictured), who was also the Bastrop State Park Complex Superintendent at the time of the fire last Labor Day. "They are so much more than historic buildings, they are historic treasures."


In addition to TPWD staff, Fran Gale, teacher in the Historic Preservation Program at The University of Texas School of Architecture and director of the UT Architectural Conservation Lab, and Casey Gallagher, a graduate of the UT program who is now an independent conservator, will help perform the study.


Abilene to spend most of $5.36 million budget surplus on roads

Looking at a $5.36 million budget surplus from last fiscal year, Abilene City Council members recently agreed to spend $1.5 million of the surplus funds on capital improvement projects in 2011 and $1.7 million on capital projects in 2012, with the majority of money to be spent on road repairs.


Council members also agreed to transfer $750,000 of the budget surplus to the Fire Apparatus Fund; to spend $490,000 to demolish a city-owned building and stripe areas for parking at the Civic Center; allot $360,000 for neighborhood initiatives such as adding restrooms in parks, speed bumps to streets and upgrading sidewalks; set aside $226,000 to buy an armored vehicle for the police department; to spend $100,000 to upgrade the capacity of electronic data storage; and $62,000 to repair the parking lot on the east side of city hall.


City officials credited the budget surplus on increased sales tax receipts, an increase in fees from roofing permits and leaving unfilled several city staff positions, the director of finance said.


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Child Protective services staff may move from downtown El Paso

At a time when El Paso city officials are working to revitalize the downtown area, the Texas Facilities Commission recently requested proposals for a new headquarters for the 150 employees of child protective services who currently work in the International Building in downtown El Paso.


State officials have set a goal to move the child protective services employees to a smaller location that is closer to most of the agency's clients in East El Paso by the end of 2012. Two buildings adjacent to the International building are currently unoccupied and if the CPS offices are moved, the businesses in the building such as restaurants and retail stores that cater to the state employees most likely will move to another location or close down, the owner of the International Building said.


Copperas Cove approves $28,000 for facility needs assessment

City council members in Copperas Cove recently approved $28,000 to pay for a joint-use facility needs assessment for the city and five other public entities, including the county, the school district, the economic development corporation, the chamber of commerce and visitor's bureau.


The study will examine space needs for replacing county offices on South Second Street, the economic development corporation staff building and administrative facilities for Copperas Cove ISD. The assessment also will look at developing an old police station and county annex site as a joint-use facility.


Coryell Countycommissioners agreed to pay $9,500 toward the cost of the assessment and school district officials approved paying $11,000 on the assessment, which should be completed in about 14 weeks. The economic development corporation and chamber of commerce will decide in late May whether to contribute $1,500 each to the needs assessment study.


TSABAA announces 43rd Annual Summer Conference in June

The Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) 43rd Annual Summer Conference will be June 7and 8 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in San Marcos. To view the agenda with speakers and topics, click here. Some of the topics include Challenges Facing Employee Benefits; Lead Your Team, Don't Just Manage the Process; the State Audit Plan; and Data Center Consolidation & Technology Sourcing. The conference registration deadline is May 18. Click here to register. Questions should be addressed to Trina Edwards at trina.edwards@dps.texas.gov or by phone at 437-4056.  


PegaWORLD 2012 meeting slated for June 3-5 in Dallas

The Pega Texas User Group (PTUG) will hold its next meeting during the upcoming PegaWORLD 2012 planned for June 3-5 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Pegasystems is the recognized industry leader in business process management (BPM) and a leading provider of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. The PTUG will provide the arena for members to share ideas and best practices while networking with other local Pega users from both the public and private sectors and local service providers. Those attending will meet members of the Pega in Texas Community, discuss structure for collaboration to maximize value of PTUG and discuss goals, structure and schedule for future meetings. The Dallas meeting is billed as the largest gathering of BPM professionals and will feature representatives of leading global organizations involved in "Build for Change" technology. Texas User Group Leader Denny Lowe will be the host for the event. For more information, click here. To register, click here.


Propane Emergencies Program for Emergency Responders in June

The Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT) and the Texas Propane Gas Association have partnered with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) to bring the popular national Propane Emergencies Program to Texas for an Emergency Responder's Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 12 and 13, at the TEEX Brayton Training Field in College Station. The Emergency Responders Conference consists of 16 hours of training, including a half day of classroom and half day of field training exercises each day. To view the full schedule, click here. This session is geared for anyone involved with propane-related emergency and incident response activities including fire fighters, hazmat team trainers and other fire service educators, law enforcement hazmat personnel, propane professional and others. Registration is $140 per person; deadline is May 28. For additional Information or to register, click here, call 800- 325-7427 or email jmason@txpropane.com.


Third Annual Texas Unites Conference planned in June

The Texas Citizen Corps Program and the Texas Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster are sponsoring the 3rd Annual Texas Unites Conference on June 13-15. The conference will be at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk in San Antonio. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has joined the conference by bringing professional speakers and workshops on public health preparedness issues. By bringing these organizations together again for a third time, the Texas Unites Conference will provide additional training opportunities, discipline tracks and continuing education credits to participants. This year's conference is on track to be one of the largest annual professional, volunteer and emergency management training summits in Texas to include all Citizen Corps, VOAD, MRC and other affiliate partner programs. Featured keynote speaker is Scott Huse, personal and team development motivational speaker. Other invited speakers include Tony Russell, FEMA Region 6 Administrator; Steve McCraw, director - Texas Department of Public Safety; and Nim Kidd, chief of Texas Division of Emergency Management. For specific workshop and agenda information, or for online Registration, click here. For hotel information and reservations, click here.


Texas State offering HUB networking, training event

Texas State University-San Marcos' HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) Outreach Program, Facilities Planning Design and Construction and the Hispanic Contractors Association de San Antonio Inc. is sponsoring an afternoon of networking and training from 1 to 4 p.m. on May 22. The event will be at the Embassy Suites San Marcos, 1001 E. McCarty Lane in San Marcos. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. This free event will provide businesses a venue to connect with Texas State staff, prime contractors, other universities/colleges and other government agencies to learn about their procurement opportunities. There will be focused training sessions, which will offer information and education on doing business with the governmental entities. 


AACOG announces three upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has three workshops coming up of interest to government officials. On July 27, from 8:40 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., AACOG will host a Newly Elected Officials Workshop in the A. J. Notzon III Board Room at 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The workshop is for newly elected mayors and city council members or alderman; however, any and all elected officials and city staff are welcome to attend. For information, click here. A Planning and Zoning Officials Workshop is planned for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Tesoro Drive address. Among the topics are comprehensive plans, importance of planning and more. For information, click here. Finally, on Sept 7, AACOG will host a Basics of Economic Development for Elected Officials Workshop. This workshop will also be at the Tesoro Drive address from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Presentations will be provided by Charlie Zech with Denton, Navarro, Rocha, and Bernal, P.C. For more information, click 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.


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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Infrastructure decisions critical, affect generations


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


Of all the decisions government officials make, those affecting infrastructure are more far-reaching. Infrastructure decisions affect generations to come.
A recent report, "Infrastructure 2012: Spotlight on Leadership," by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young, highlights the important role of such decisions at a time when government subdivisions are grappling with budget shortfalls, the uncertainty of federal funding and a fragile economy.
One trend is clear. Public officials are moving forward, and some are doing it in very innovative ways. Another trend is positive. Governmental organizations are working together to solve infrastructure needs. It appears that competition has been replaced by cooperation.
The report suggests that in the future, "infrastructure" will include more than roads and bridges. Infrastructure has been expanded to include projects related to the environment, housing, economic development, energy and water. Sustainability is the critical goal.
Whatever the category of need though, funding must be found.
Many states are generating new revenues from toll roads. According to the report, Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia will add even more HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes in the near future. Pennsylvania has increased the tolls on its east-west turnpike to 8.5 cents per mile, making travel there very costly when compared to the rest of the country. The toll revenues have resulted in $3 billion which is being used for road and bridge repair and maintenance.


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Big Spring to spend $13M for water and wastewater upgrades

Big Spring voters recently approved a proposal to allow the city to use funding set aside for economic development to renovate water and wastewater facilities.


The Big Spring Economic Development Board directors agreed to provide $750,000 a year for two years and then 40 percent of its revenue from the sales tax for 18 years to the city to help pay for the renovations to the water system to attract more business and economic development to the city. The agreement sets a minimum of $500,000 and a maximum of $750,000 a year from the 4B sales tax to be directed to renovating water and wastewater facilities. The city will pay the remaining costs for the upgrades to water and wastewater facilities.


Texas City ISD selects Lusignolo as lone finalist for superintendent

Cynthia LusignoloTexas City Independent School District board members recently selected Cynthia Lusignolo (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. She will replace Bob Brundrett, who resigned from that post last summer.


Lusignolo, the superintendent at Liberty ISD, previously was an assistant superintendent at Barbers Hill ISD and a teacher in the Wichita Falls and Plano school districts. She also was an instructor for the U.S. Air Force.


New Dallas ISD superintendent helping replace top district staff

Mike Miles, who officially starts his new job as superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District on July 1, recently began finding replacements for seven of the district's top 10 leadership positions. So far Miles, who currently leads Harrison School District 2 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has named Interim Superintendent Alan King as chief of staff, Jennifer Sprague as chief of communications and Kevin Smelker as chief of operations. Sprague and Smelker currently are employed by the Harrison School District.


Miles is visiting Dallas to fill his leadership team and plans to modify the team structure by assigning a different name to the position or switching some of the duties. Trustees approved the use of a consulting firm to help find a new chief of human resources. With a goal of having his leadership team in place by mid-June, Miles said he would like the district to use a search firm to help find the best candidates for the chief academic officer, chief of leadership and chief of talent.


Gillespie County to hire law firm to proceed with jail bond election Gillespie County commissioners recently agreed to negotiate with a law firm, Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, LLP, on a contract to provide bond counseling to raise money to pay for a new jail facility. The contract calls for the law firm to advise the county how to manage the bond election and oversee the issue of bonds if voters in November approve issuing the bonds.



San Antonio ISD eyeing search firm to help find superintendent

Trustees for the San Antonio Independent School District recently began interviewing search firms to help the district find a new superintendent to replace Robert Duron, who left that post in February.


Trustees said their goal is to hire a search firm within a week to search for qualified candidates for superintendent and hire a new superintendent by the end of this summer. The school board president, however, noted that the district may find many candidates who have already signed their contracts for this year and be reluctant to change jobs in September. The interim superintendent, Sylvester Perez, has said he is not interested in pursuing the permanent post of superintendent.


Angleton tags Michael

Stoldt as new city manager

Michael StoldtAngleton City Council members recently selected Michael Stoldt (pictured) as the new city manager.


Stoldt has served as interim city manager in Angleton since mid-April.


El Paso ISD wins $13.2 million

to rebuild elementary school

The U.S. Department of Defense recently awarded $13.2 million to the El Paso Independent School District to rebuild Logan Elementary, which is located at Fort Bliss. The school district will contribute $3.3 million in matching funds to rebuild the aging, overcrowded elementary school.


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Travis County approves plan for more parks on Colorado River

TravisCounty commissioners recently approved a plan to upgrade 30,000 acres along the Colorado River east of US183 by adding new parks, hike-and-bike trails, boat ramps and housing developments that are sensitive to the environment. The proposed plan includes the city of Austin, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Bastrop County and includes an area bounded by US183 on the west, Bastrop County on the east, FM969 to the north and SH71 on the south.


A large stretch of the Colorado River east of downtown Austin does not have a dam and runs free through that area, making planning for development critical as population is expected to triple to about 30,000 by 2035, said Randy Nickolson, Travis County planning manager. Travis County officials have already allotted $22.6 million to improve FM969, build a new road connecting FM969 to The Colony and add sidewalks in Hudson Bend, Nickolson said.


Austin city council members have taken no action on the plan, but LCRA officials have reviewed the plan and support it. The LCRA plans to remain involved by contributing in-kind laboratory services for water quality issues, a spokeswoman said. A final version of the plan should be published in about two months.


Rodriguez resigns as city manager in Van Alstyne

Philip RodriguezThe resignation of Van Alstyne City Manager Philip Rodriguez (pictured) was recently accepted by the City Council following an emergency meeting of city council members.


The resignation is effective immediately.


Killeen ISD taps Miller as

new assistant superintendent

Trustees for the Killeen Independent School District recently tapped Diana Miller, the district's chief academic officer, to be the new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Miller will replace Bobby Ott, who resigned in January.


Southwest ISD in San Antonio planning $165M bond election

A new high school, a new middle school, technology improvements, renovations, maintenance projects and new buses are at stake in the upcoming November bond election in San Antonio's Southwest ISD. The school board this week approved taking the $165 million bond balloting to voters in a Nov. 6 referendum.


The board is seeking to keep up with facility needs in anticipation of a tripling in growth of the district from the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas boom in the area and from development around the Texas A&M-San Antonio campus. 


Texas community colleges awarded funding for equipment

Eleven community colleges in Texas have been awarded grant funding through the State Comptroller's Office to purchase equipment to train students so they will be prepared to enter the state's workforce. A total of more than $3.1 million in funding will be split among the college campuses. The funding comes from the Jobs and Education for Texans program administered by the comptroller's office. Approximately $16 million in grant funds have been awarded in Texas since 2009.


Those receiving grant funding, the amount and the related training program include:

  • Frank Phillips College - $142,434 for electrical and engineering technician training;
  • Kilgore College - $349,347 for welding technician training;
  • Texas State Technical College West Texas - $278,712 for welding technician training;
  • Vernon College - $228,048 for EMT or paramedic training;
  • Blinn College - $292,177 for Registered Nurse training;
  • McLennan Community College - $340,918 for Registered Nurse training;
  • North Central Texas College - $332,457 for geological and petroleum technician training;
  • Paris Junior College - $314,520 for maintenance and repair technician training;
  • Texarkana College - $332,250 for industry machinery mechanic training;
  • Northeast Texas Community College - $232,532 for industrial engineering technician training; and
  • Brazosport College - $332,500 for welding technician training.
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Navarro County studying courthouse restoration project

The Navarro County commissioners are looking at plans for the proposed restoration of the county courthouse, but financing is throwing a wrench in the works. The county has received an offer from the Texas Historical Commission that would pay for about half of the $9.5 million that would be needed for the project. In addition to the county then being responsible for more than $5.1 million more of the total cost, there are other related costs that would push that figure even higher.


Among the projects in the proposed restoration are moving the elevator, creating more space in lobby areas, removal of paneling on the interior walls, restoring original walls and floor finishes and complete replacement of electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems in the facility. New air conditioning units also are planned. But commissioners also know that if they wait longer for the project, the costs will climb. One official pointed to the fact that the price tag for the proposed project in 2003 was about $4 million, showing how costs had more than doubled since then. The court is still studying the proposal and will likely take it up again at its May 29 meeting.


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Port Arthur to interview four final candidates for city manager

Port Arthur City Council members recently narrowed a list of applicants for city manager to four finalists and will interview those four candidates next week. Council members then plan to narrow the list to two finalists on May 29 and interview a lone finalist for the post on June 5.


Lebermann Foundation gives $2.5 million for Plan II honors program

Officials of the Lebermann Foundation recently contributed $2.5 million to the Plan II Honors Program of The University of Texas at Austin. The foundation was created by the late Lowell H. Lebermann Jr., a Plan II student at UT-Austin and businessman who served as a regent for the UT System and as a city council member in Austin.


The gifts requires that $2 million of the donation be used to build a suite to house the honors program in the new liberal arts building expected to be completed in January. The remaining gift from the foundation will be used to begin a four-year scholarship program to compete with other prominent honors program such as the Jefferson scholarship at the University of Virginia and the Morehead-Cain scholarship at the University of North Carolina.


Recent Reports

Tax assessor says no to privatizing tax collections

Any hopes of privatizing tax collections in Cherokee County fell by the wayside recently when County Tax Assessor-Collector Linda Little said no. State law requires that both the commissioners court and tax assessor/collector must approve contracting an outside agency to collect county taxes. Little says she opposed the proposal because there is no guarantee that the estimated more than $85,000 in savings that would result from privatization would be passed back to taxpayers in the form of lower taxes. At least one commissioner admitted that it probably would not be, but instead would go toward the county's overall budget to help defray other budget cuts.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 5/11/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Dietrich M. von Biedenfeld of West Columbia, Texas Council on Purchasing from People with Disabilities;
  • Bob McCarn of Port Lavaca, Manufactured Housing Board;
  • Christopher C. Mathewson of College Station, Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists;
  • William "Bill" Heine III of Austin, Texas Military Preparedness Commission;
  • Dennis L. Lewis of Texarkana, Texas Military Preparedness Commission;
  • Jacinto Juarez of Laredo, Texas Institute for Health Care Quality and Efficiency Board of Directors;
  • Dan McCoy of Corsicana, Statewide Health Coordinating Council

Corpus Christi narrows list to finalists for assistant city manager

Corpus Christi City Council members recently narrowed a long list of applicants for assistant city manager to three final candidates - Gregory D. Baker of Kansas City, Missouri, Wesley S. Pierson of Allen and Samuel K. Selman of Laredo.


Baker, currently the president of the National Negro League Baseball Museum, previously was an assistant city manager in Kansas City, Missouri. Pierson is the assistant manager in Allen who oversees planning and economic development and was previously employed by the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. Selman now operates a planning and consulting company in Laredo and previously served as the planning director for Laredo.


Corpus Christi officials plan to interview the three finalists this week and make a decision in a few weeks on the new assistant city manager, City Manager Ron Olson said. The new assistant manager of business support services will oversee the Corpus Christi International Airport, Development Services, Economic Development, Intergovernmental Relations, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History as well as oversee contract management for the American Bank Center and Convention and Visitor's Bureau. The new assistant city manager replaces former Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza who resigned to accept a job with CPS Energy, an electric utility owned by the City of San Antonio.


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Conroe ISD selects three

new department directors

Conroe Independent School District board members recently selected Terry McClaughtery and Terri Ross as directors of the new Technology Department and Hedith Sauceda-Upshaw as the new director of curriculum and instruction.


McClaughtery has worked in the technology department for Conroe ISD for 13 years and Ross began working for the school district in 1996. Sauceda-Upshaw has served as the interim director of curriculum and instruction since December 2011.


Dickinson ISD wins $2.37 million grant for propane-fueled buses

The Dickinson Independent School District recently won $2.37 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to buy 25 propane-fueled buses and build a propane fueling station.


The district is required to destroy and replace 25 diesel buses currently in its fleet of 85 school buses. The school district already has some propane buses in its fleet and has converted several maintenance vehicles to use propane fuel, noted Ken Winters, fleet manager. The conversion to propane buses is expected to save the district about $175,000 a year in fuel costs, he said.


Copperas Cove ISD selects

Burns as new superintendent

Trustees for Copperas Cove Independent School District recently selected Joseph Burns as the new superintendent to replace Rose Cameron, who is retiring at the end of this school year. Burns currently is superintendent at Vidor ISD.


The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly e-newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.
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