Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 21 - Friday, May 25, 2012

Panama Canal expansion to have positive effect on Texas ports


Port of Houston, TxDOT leading efforts to ensure infrastructure needs met

The Port of Houston is planning dredging projects to ensure the port can accept larger vessels once the Panama Canal expansion is complete.

The $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, and ports throughout the country are scrambling to position themselves to be able to accommodate the larger vessels carrying more cargo that are expected to add to the nation's import-export business. In Texas, the Port of Houston, one of the nation's largest ports, is leading the charge.


The Panama Canal expansion will result in more and larger vessels moving through American ports. Some federal funding is available from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for maintenance dredging, but those funds in the past have been limited. Those funds come from the Harbor Maintenance Tax levied on all ports. But those funds in the past have been limited, so the Port of Houston is planning on paying approximately $150 million of its own funds to increase the depth of waterways, including at the Barbours Cut and Bayport terminals.


Ed EmmettThe efforts of the Port of Houston and other Texas ports will be aided by the Texas Department of Transportation, which recently announced that it has created a Panama Canal Stakeholder Working Group to help prepare for the expansion. With the increased vessel traffic come other transportation issues - highway bottlenecks, bridges and links to terminals and support for rail investments for exports.


The group will be led by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (pictured). Emmett, who once served as a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission, is widely considered an expert on freight transportation issues and logistics. The working group will also include representatives of a variety of entities with an interest in the expansion of the canal.


"This collaboration presents us with an opportunity to fully understand the impact of the Panama Canal expansion on Texas' imports and exports and to prepare for that impact." said Emmett.




More than 20-year public service career coming to end


Millwee retiring in August from position as state's Medicaid program director

Billy MillweeBilly Millwee (pictured), the state's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) director, will end a public service career that spans more than 20 years when he retires in August. Eighteen of his more than two decades of service have been involved with Texas' Medicaid program that serves more than 3.3 million Texans who are poor or have disabilities, most of them children.


The veteran Health and Human Services employee has directed the Medicaid and CHIP programs since 2010. Prior to that charge, he was director of a variety of programs, including Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT), Medical Transportation Programs, Program Operations and Policy Development, Managed Care Operations and Claims Administrator Operations.


Millwee holds a master's degree in health care administration from Central Michigan University and a master's in sociology from Texas State University.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


David SlaytonDavid Slayton, director, Texas Office of Court Administration 


Career highlights and education: I began working in the Judiciary in 1998 as a deputy district clerk filing documents in the Lubbock County Courthouse basement. I worked as the 99th District Court Coordinator for Judge Mackey Hancock from 1999-2001. I then moved to the federal court system working in both Lubbock and Dallas, the latter as a supervisor over three departments in the Clerk's Office of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas. From 2004 until the end of April, I served as the Director of Court Administration for the Lubbock County District Courts and County Courts at Law. I began my employment as Administrative Director of the Office of Court Administration (OCA) on May 7. I graduated from Texas Tech University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science. I received my Master's of Public Administration in 2004 from Troy University. 

What I like best about my job is: Even though I have just started my career here at OCA, I look forward to working each day with an extremely talented and professional group of people at OCA. I look forward to working with Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and the Supreme Court to accomplish much for the courts in Texas. To have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the court system, and thus the lives of Texans, is very exciting.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Laugh often and enjoy yourself.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Jump in with both feet and get involved in what is going on at OCA. There are so many projects, and we can use your talents.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: enjoying my family - wife and two kids.

People would be surprised to know that I: play the piano for fun.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: OCA plays a critical role in the proper administration of justice in the Texas courts by providing resources and information to those courts and to many of the committees and boards that serve the Judiciary.

TxDOT reorganization:


Wilson announces more changes to transportation agency structure

John BartonRussell ZapalacThe realignment/reorganization of the Texas Department of Transportation during Phil Wilson's first year as executive director of the agency is continuing. The reorganization of the employee structure began with a transitional organization chart in November of last year, just a month after Wilson's appointment. The TxDOT chief has now announced that he has since taken time to get to know and understand the agency, seek input from its employees and assess agency and personnel strengths and opportunities to fine tune that org chart.


Dee PorterScott LeonardIn an email to agency staff announcing the latest changes, Wilson said the objective of the new organization structure is to "futher improve the transparency and accountability of our operations."


Wilson said some employees will now report to different members of the administration, but the goal will continue to be "maintaining a safe system, addressing congestion, connecting Texas communities and becoming a best-in-class state agency." Among the changes announced by Wilson:

  • John Barton (top left) will now oversee district engineers and right-of-way functions will also report to Barton, who will be responsible for ensuring the districts have the resources and support they need.
  • Russell Zapalac (top right) has been named Chief Projects and Planning Officer. The Environmental Affairs Division will report to Zapalac and the Regional Controls and Resource Coordinators will become part of the Project Management Office and also report to Zapalac.
  • Scott Leonard (bottom left) has been added as Chief Administrative and Strategy Officer. His priorities will include Strategy and Performance Excellence, Human Resources, Information Technology and Programs.  The Chief Program Officer will continue to report into him and will have oversight for GSD, Programs and Regions.
  • Dee Porter (bottom right), Chief People Officer, will report to the chief of staff, and will focus on internal and external customer relations. 
Collaboration Nation

Hummert named TPWD Marine Law Enforcement Office of Year

Marine Officer
Game Warden Michael Hummert (center) accepts the marine officer of the year award from Parks and Wildlife Commission Vice Chair Ralph Duggins (left) and TWPD Executive Director Carter Smith. (TPWD photo by Chase Fountain)

Game Warden Michael Hummert has been chosen as the 2012 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) marine law enforcement officer of the year. He was presented the award Thursday by TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith.  


Hummert has been a game warden for five years and is currently stationed in Grayson County, patrolling Lake Texoma along the Texas-Oklahoma border. He has made six boating while intoxicated cases, including one that resulted in a defendant receiving a third-degree felony conviction after nine prior DWI charges on his record. He also has assisted in several search efforts for drowning victims on the lake, including two in Oklahoma waters where he was the first officer on the scene.


Because of his local award, Hummer is now eligible for the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Association's Officer of the Year Award. Winning that would result in his nomination for the National Association of Boating Law Administrators' Officer of the Year Award.


Moseley stepping down from Greater Houston Partnership

Jeff MoseleyJeff Moseley (pictured), head of the Greater Houston Partnership since 2005, has announced that he will leave that post next month to instead lead Opportunity Houston 2.0.


Moseley was heralded by GHP Chair Tony Chase for his commitment to Houston and the organization and for the "time he has spend promoting our city to people across the country and around the world." GHP officials say they will outline a process for seeking Moseley's replacement in the next several days.


Before joining GHP, Moseley served as CEO of the Economic Development and Tourism division of the Texas Governor's Office from 2003 to 2005. He spent the previous five years as executive director of the Texas Department of Economic Development (the former Texas Department of Commerce). Moseley is also a former three-term Denton County Judge.


Committee named to address building Travis County courthouse

 A dozen community members with expertise in real estate and financial and legal issues have been named to Travis County's new Recommendation Committee to help decide how the county should build the planned new civil and family courthouse. The 12-member committee, and others who might be named later, will be tasked with reviewing the feasibility study commissioned by Ernst & Young LLP.


The goal of the committee will be to recommend whether the county should use a traditional design-build construction method with financing or opt for a public-private partnership. Named chair of the committee is former Austin Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley, with local attorney Martha Dickey chosen as vice chair.

The county owns property at Third and Guadalupe that will be home to the new facility. It is hoped that the committee will make a recommendation to the Travis County Commissioners Court by July, with the county making a final decision by next fall. 


 Two to interview for director of Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Pete GibbsDoug SteeleDr. Pete Gibbs (left) and Dr. Doug Steele (right) will be interviewed for the director position of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. The person chosen for the job will replace Dr. Ed Smith, who is retiring in August from the top spot he has held since 2005.


Gibbs currently serves as the AgriLife Extension associate director of state programs and has worked for Extension since 1974, when he began as a program assistant in Texas. In 1982, he moved to Kansas to become a horse specialist with the Kansas Cooperative Extension. He returned to a similar position in Texas in 1988. He was named associate department head and AgriLife Extension program leader in animal science at Texas A&M University in 2006 and promoted to his current position in 2008. Gibbs earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University.


Steele currently is vice president for external relations and director of Extension at Montana State University. His Extension career has taken him to four states. He is a former 4-H program leader at Colorado State University, where he served from 1997-2004. From 1993-1997, he was Extension 4-H youth development specialist and assistant professor at Purdue University and AgriLife Extension 4-H youth development specialist and assistant professor at Texas A&M from 1990-1993. In Texas, he also was Potter County assistant agent and Hutchinson County Extension director-agriculture program leader. Steele holds a bachelor's degree from Panhandle State University in Oklahoma, a master's from West Texas A&M and a doctorate from Texas A&M.


Officials oppose HR 2146:


Say passage would undermine relations between federal, state, local governments

Officials of a variety of organizations that include governors, members of state legislatures and city and county governments have penned a letter to congressional leaders expressing their opposition to legislation that would restrict participation of federal agency personnel in state and local conferences, meetings and programs.


The bill, HR 2146, according to the letter signed by executive directors of the National Governor's Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors and the International City/County Management Association, said the legislation "would limit the type of intergovernmental dialogue necessary for finding solutions to shared policy problems that are vital for conserving scarce resources and meeting public needs."


The letter notes the organizations' recognition that the bill is designed to reduce wasteful spending and to promote transparency, but adds that by restriction interaction by government officials at a variety of working meetings, training courses, conferences and best practice forums organized by state and local associations, "these bills would severely curtail intergovernmental cooperation, limit the efficiency of government programs and reduce the level of information available to the public."


The section of the bill that is causing heartburn among state and local officials prohibits federal agencies from spending agency funds to attend more than one conference per fiscal year that is sponsored or organized by an individual organization unless the agency is a primary sponsor and organizer of the conference. The local officials note that the language can be construed to prohibit an agency employee from attending more than one event per year of an organizer, thus denying their attendance at meetings covering important topics like criminal justice, homeland security, education and more. "Collaboration, cooperation, information sharing and transparency between governments are critical if we are to address our nation's most pressing issues," reads the letter and signers agree that this legislation would "undermine the intergovernmental relationship between federal, state and local governments."


May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

TxDOT announces two Information Technology division directors

Lisa GreggTwo IT division directors have been named at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). TxDOT Chief Information Officer Louis Carr, Jr. has named Mitch Pope s the agency's IT Services Division director and Lisa Gregg (pictured) as IT Operations Division director.


Pope, who for the last 10 years has managed the agency's IT infrastructure as director of the Technology Infrastructure Management Section, will be responsible for software development, data management and software quality control. Pope began his career with TxDOT in 1979 as an engineering aide intern for the Abilene District. In 1989, he became a programmer in the Consulting and Technical Support Branch. After a short fray into the private sector, he returned in 1995 as a TxDOT network support manager in the Information Systems Support Branch. Pope in 1999 was named Infrastructure Support Branch Manager. He holds a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University.


Gregg, who joined TxDOT in 2009 as the region director of the East Region Support Center in Houston, will now be responsible for engineering solutions, telephones, servers, networks and IT security. She brings more than 25 years of management and operational experience in both the transportation and IT arenas and has both public and private sector experience. She is a former network engineer and then Sales Automation Manager for American Airlines. She also is a former Service Delivery Executive/Team Organization Manager for Electronic Data Systems. Lisa holds a bachelor's degree from Prairie View A&M University and a master's from Southern Methodist University.


UT-Arlington selects Bichel as dean of libraries

Rebecca BichelRebecca Bichel (pictured), a senior Florida State University library administrator, has been selected as the new dean of libraries at The University of Texas at Arlington. Bichel, who has served at FSU as associate dean for public services since 2005, brings expertise in academic services, organization redesign and facility development to her new post, which she will begin on July 16.


Prior to her appointment at Florida State, Bichel served in multiple roles at Pennsylvania State University, including social sciences and information literacy librarian. She also served in various roles at Sam Houston State University and the University of Hawaii. At UT-Arlington, she will head a staff of more than 100 employees and manage a collection of more than 1.2 million print volumes, more than 275,000 electronic volumes and more than 72,000 serial titles.


Bichel holds bachelor's degrees from Valdosta State University and her master's degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Angelo State University to construct $1.07 million ag training center

Following approval by the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents, Angelo State University is preparing to construct a $1.07 million agriculture training center. The facility will be named for the Mayer-Rousselot family, whose donation made the center possible through contributions totaling more than half of the cost.


The 4,372-square-foot Mayer-Rousselot Agriculture Education Center will provide facilities to enhance practical ag education. It will include an open shop for welding, small engine repair and general mechanical instruction. The facility is expected to help meet the state's need for high school agriculture teachers.


New parking structure OK'd for UT-Dallas campus

New ParkingA third parking garage was recently approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents for The University of Texas at Dallas campus. This structure will be in addition to two other garages approved in November as part of the UT System's Capital Improvement Program. Together, the three garages will add 2,250 parking spaces on campus over the next three years.


The first garage will be completed by fall of next year and will have 750 spaces. The five-story, $11.4 million structure (as seen in accompanying artist's rendering) will feature 251,000 square feet. The second garage will be built in conjunction with a new residence hall in 2014 and a third garage will be on the north end of the campus and open in 2015.


The university has added more than 1,100 new parking spaces since 2009. An additional 1,100 spaces will be added this fall with other facilities adding 700 and then 400 new spaces.

Houston voters could face bond issue for Astrodome

If a local sports-related corporation has its way, voters in Harris County could soon be facing a multi-million-dollar bond election that would help pay for renovation of the aging Reliant Astrodome and replacement of the Reliant Arena. The Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. is proposing the spending of $270 million in bond funds to renovate the Astrodome and another $385.4 million to replace Reliant Arena. With tax credits, the final amount of funding that would be footed by taxpayers would be $523 million. An alternative offered to renovation of the 'Dome would be to raze the facility and spend $64 million to replace it with a park plaza.


Consultants give the Reliant Arena the edge in priorities of the two facilities, as it could attract more events, shows and conventions. Proposals call for an arena with 10,000 seats and 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, ballrooms, meeting space and a parking garage.


As far as the 'Dome is concerned, consultants recommend a major overhaul. Plans, too, call for room for a privately financed hotel connected to the 'Dome.


Edmonds could seek reappointment to Port of Houston Authority

Jim EdmondsPort of Houston Authority Chair Jim Edmonds (pictured) told the Houston Chronicle last week that he is considering seeking reappointment to the port post he has held since 1996. His current term expires in June, but Edmonds told the Chronicle that he would very much like to see some port projects to fruition.


Later, Edmonds addressed a luncheon as part of National Transportation Week activities. He outlined some $3 billion in projects that are expected to be completed in the next 15 years, $1 billion of which is expected to be completed in the next five years. The port is planning on self-financing a project to deepen and widen channels that lead to container terminals. That $120 million to $150 million project could take up to 18 years if federal funding assistance was required, he said. The port is expecting increased container cargo after the Panama Canal is widened. He said the port must be prepared for an increase that has been projected anywhere from 15 to 35 percent.


Austin group pares $575M bond recommendation package to $400M

A $575 million bond package committee recommendation of last week was pared down to $400 million this week for the city of Austin. Both recommendations will now go to the Austin City Council. Many of the items in the $575 million recommendation were retained in the $400 million package, but funding for some of the projects was trimmed. The reason for the smaller recommendation was to allow wiggle room in case the city decides to also put on a bond issue ballot an urban rail issue. City officials this week said the first phase of an urban rail project would carry a price tag of $550 million and voters could face shouldering half of that cost through approval of bonds.


Some of the projects that were recommended for the bond package include a new fire station, a police sub-station, library repairs, park improvements and street projects. Affordable housing projects were also included in the recommendations.


Retiring Game Warden Col. Flores earns national honor

 Pete FloresCol. Pete Flores (pictured), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division director, has been awarded the first-ever Legacy Award from the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs. Presenting the award Thursday to Flores at a meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission was Gene Elms, law enforcement director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.


In making the presentation, Elms recognized Flores for"contributions and undaunted work in securing a future for wildlife, conservation and game wardens" in the United States. Flores, who is a graduate of Texas A&M University, began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife after his college graduation. He will retire at the end of this month after more than 27 years of state service.


Chief of Staff David Sinclair, who has worked for TPWD for four decades, has been named acting division director. 


Now HiringNew job postings weekly on our Public Sector Job Board

From this week's Web administrator job for the Office of Court Administration to a program director for a cancer education program of the Texas Nurses Foundation, our Public Sector Job Board lists new jobs weekly. Click here to view jobs. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com

Rallo selected as vice chancellor for Texas Tech System

Joseph RalloDr. Joseph C. Rallo (pictured), president of Angelo State University since 2007, has been appointed vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Texas Tech University System. He will take on his new charge once a new president is named at Angelo State.


In his new position with the Texas Tech System, Rallo will l oversee system-level strategic planning and help manage the academic profile for each of the system's component institutions, handling initiatives such as accreditation, academic policies and programs, international affairs, and distance education and online learning. He also will coordinate efforts at the system's multiple campuses and academic sites, as well as system expansion.


Prior to becoming president at ASU, Rallo was provost and academic vice president at Western Illinois University and dean of the College of Business & Administration and Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. He holds a bachelor's degree from Lafayette College, a J.D. from Western New England College and a master's and doctorate from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He served on active duty in the United States Navy and then cross-commissioned to the United States Air Force, retiring with the rank of colonel after 27 years of active and reserve service.


Texas Tech regents approve El Paso health sciences university

Rick FrancisTexas Tech University System regents recently voted to start the process that will lead to establishing a health sciences university in El Paso. The university would be a part of the Texas Tech System, but have its own leadership. The university would first have to be approved by the Texas Legislature. Tech Regent Rick Francis (pictured) of El Paso said the Tech System is "putting its faith in El Paso."


The medical sciences university in El Paso would also have to be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board before the legislature could take up the issue. If approved, the campus would become the tenth health sciences center in the state and could recruit its own president and board. Francis said the process could take as long as five years.


Paine announced as new VP for student affairs at UT-AustinGage Paine

Officials of The University of Texas at Austin recently appointed Gage Paine (pictured) as the new vice president for student affairs. Paine, who begins her new job on Aug. 1, currently is vice president for student affairs at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). She replaces Juan C. Gonzalez, who is returning to teach at the College of Education after serving seven years as vice president for student affairs.


In her new post, Paine will lead the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center, the Division of Housing and Food Service, Texas Student Media, the Division of Recreational Sports, The Texas Union, the Student Activity Center, Texas Parents and the Office of Assessment.


Previously a vice president at Trinity University and Southern Methodist University and an associate dean at UT-Austin and McMurry University, Paine holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma, a J.D. from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. from UT-Austin.


Howard County Junior College tags Hansen as executive dean

Howard County Junior College Trustees recently selected Terry Hanson as the executive dean for the junior college in Big Spring. Trustees also agreed to retire the title of provost.


Hanson will replace Dr. Javier Flores, the provost who resigned to be the vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at Angelo State University. Previously the director of correctional studies at the Howard County junior college, Hanson also was director of the workforce training program at the junior college.


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Miller resigns as vice president of Blinn College

Van MillerVan Miller (pictured), vice president of administration and chief financial officer for Blinn College, recently resigned to be the new vice president of administration for Temple College.


Miller, who joined Blinn College in August 2008, previously was an administrator at Texarkana College. He has a bachelor's degree from Baylor University, a master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. from Baylor University.


Copperas Cove kicks off $1.9 million water project

Copperas Cove officials recently said they will ask for bids in July for a proposed $1.9 million water project as part of the capital improvement plan that has $16 million in water projects scheduled through 2014.


Phase 2 of the Mountain Top Water Project is linked to an agreement with a developer to give the city some property at the end of Skyline Drive to build water storage tanks to serve the Mesa Verde subdivision, said Wesley Wright, city engineer. Plans call for building a 50,000-gallon storage tank for ground water, a 300,000-gallon elevated storage tank, a booster pump station and a 16-inch water line to run from FM1113 to the new ground storage tank.


The developer plans to seek a permit to extend Skyline Drive by 7,000 feet and the city property is located at the end of the extended roadway. City officials plan to hold public hearings on the proposed water project on June 13 and June 19. They also have a goal to accept the acreage on July 17 with a final reading of the ordinance to annex the land into the city limits on Aug. 7.


Texas A&M officials unsure Crocker to return to lead Bush School

Ryan CrockerOfficials of Texas A&M University recently learned that Ryan Crocker (pictured), who is on leave as the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Administration, has resigned as ambassador to Afghanistan, a post he accepted in July 2011. Texas A&M officials are unsure if Crocker plans to return to the Bush School. Created in 1995 to honor former President George H.W. Bush, the Bush School is a graduate school at Texas A&M in College Station that offers master's programs in public service, public administration and in international affairs as well as extended education programs.


Crocker, who agreed to serve two years as the U.S. ambassador, said he has an agreement to return as dean after his service is completed in Afghanistan. A&M officials said they plan to honor their commitment to Crocker if he decides to come back to lead the Bush School. Crocker served as the ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009. Andrew Card, a former chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, has served as the acting dean at the Bush School since Crocker began his federal service.


Parker announces agreement with Southwest to overhaul Hobby

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced an agreement with Southwest Airlines that will lead to the airlines paying all of the $100 million cost to add five international gates and a customs facility to Hobby Airport. The city and Southwest have inked a memorandum of understanding that ensure that Southwest will pay off the debt incurred by the revamp and will also assume all risk if the endeavor does not realize a profit.


Although Southwest will not have to pay rent on the four gates it will be using (the fifth will be used by other carriers) or for the customs facility, Southwest said the debt will offset those exemptions. Based on figures from Southwest, the airline could receive a rebate of up to $3.9 million related to anticipated passenger use growth.


Bexar County transit group unwraps design for new transit hub

VIA ProposalVIA Metropolitan Transit officials recently unwrapped the conceptual design for the West Side Multimodal Center (as pictured in the accompanying artist's rendering), a long-awaited transit hub project.


VIA board members are expected to vote on the conceptual plan in late summer and then submit the plan to the federal government to obtain environmental clearance. VIA has about $35 million for the transit hub, which has been in planning for about 10 years. That funding includes $15 million from the third round of funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program to spend on the project.


The first phase of the transit hub project, located in an old train depot west of Interstate 35, is scheduled to open in December. The design features a covered outdoor waiting area curving around an open-air plaza.


Construction on the second and larger phase of the multimodal center should begin in about a year and a half and be ready for business in 2015. Supporters of the transit center expect it to be a major hub for buses, a planned streetcar system in downtown San Antonio and LSTAR, a proposed rail line between Austin and San Antonio. The second phase of the transit center, which includes some private development of restaurants and retail outlets, will feature a tree garden with a natural drainage system and a waiting area with a clear view of the train depot.


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McAllen examines plans for proposed $4.9M soccer complex

McAllen Parks and Recreation Department officials recently presented city commission members with the proposed plans for a $4.9 million soccer complex near a middle school.


The plan calls for the new soccer complex to include a 3,000-seat stadium and 10 soccer fields to attract more adult and youth soccer tournaments to the city. The soccer complex will feature nine fields for adults and two youth soccer fields and the plans include $787,000 for synthetic turf, $240,000 for bleachers and about $300,000 for a parking lot with 348 parking spaces and a concrete walkway lined by trees with five fountains along the walkway.


After viewing the plans, City Commission members agreed to bid the synthetic turf, bleachers and fountains as alternatives when the city requests bids proposals for the project this fall. Construction on the new soccer complex could begin as early as next spring, city officials said.


College Station eyeing two options for $25 million road project

The director of planning for the Bryan district of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently outlined two options for a possible $25 million road project in a special meeting of the College Station city council.


The project, which includes building an overpass bridge at Wellborn Road and George Bush Drive, will allow traffic on Bush Drive to travel underneath and will have bridges for pedestrians and bicyclists. The first option, which could begin construction as early as January 2014, will not be completed until August 2016 if the busy intersection remains open to traffic, the TxDOT spokesman said. Even with the first option, the busy intersection would still need to be closed for 10 to 12 months for construction of the overpass during the third phase of the project, he said.


If the intersection is closed throughout construction, the project, which has not yet received committed funding, could be finished as early as July 2015, he said. TxDOT officials plan to hold a public hearing to discuss the two options, but said they are leaning toward the second option to shut down that intersection throughout construction.


Sabine ISD moves forward on November bond election

Following voters rejection of a $20 million bond proposal in 2009, trustees for the Sabine Independent School District recently moved forward with plans to again ask for voter approval of bonds to pay for a new elementary school. Trustees said they plan to build the new school in several phases over the next decade. The estimated cost of the elementary school in 2009 was about $15.8 million.


Trustees are working with an architecture firm to perform an assessment of facilities and to develop a new bond proposal to pay for replacing Sabine Elementary School, built in the 1930s. District officials also plan to appoint a committee in August to help educate voters on the bond proposal. The assessment will review facilities throughout the district, Superintendent Stacey Bryce said.


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. 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.


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.


Media Notice

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Future capital projects mean contracting, P3 opportunities


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


The more than $1.5 billion in successful bond issues in Texas earlier this month represents only the tip of the capital projects iceberg for government subdivisions throughout the state. More bond issues are on the horizon as early as November and many local governments are already scheduling budget workshops and public hearings to discuss capital improvement plans.


Community needs - infrastructure, technology, facilities, public safety, water and wastewater, education, economic development and more - touch all levels of government. Whether it is the need for more public school buildings due to continued student enrollment growth or infrastructure projects that include addressing aging water and wastewater treatment plants and deteriorating city streets, community leaders are faced with increasing needs and decreasing revenues.


The result is an abundance of upcoming contracting and public-private partnership opportunities.


Just three days after nearly 50 school districts across the state held bond elections, the Southwest Independent School District voted to put a $165 million bond issue before voters in November. The San Antonio district is seeking funding for a new high school and a new middle school. Also part of the bond issue are technology improvements, new school buses and renovation and maintenance projects at numerous existing schools.


Last weekend, the Kyle City Council held its second "visioning forum," inviting citizens to give input as the city seeks to develop priorities for road and street improvements, public safety, water and wastewater utility needs, parks, libraries, economic development and other city needs.



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Ben Wheeler moves forward

on new $4 million sewer system

Ben Wheeler city officials recently agreed to move forward with building a new $4 million sewer system after enough residents applied for sewer service and sent deposits to qualify for a federal grant and loan to finance the new system, said Brooks Grennels, a co-founder of the Ben Wheeler Arts & Historic District Foundation. That group has led in renovating the town since 2008.


The city now qualifies for a $2 million federal grant and a $2 million loan to be paid over 40 years at 2.5 percent interest, Grenneis said. The next step is to complete final engineering and surveying so that sewer connections can be completed within two years, he added.


Two added to Beaumont ISD's executive cabinet posts

 Dwaine AugustineTwo posts on Beaumont ISD's executive cabinet have been filled, according to Superintendent-elect Timothy Chargois. Chargois will take over for current Superintendent Carrol Thomas, who has resigned and will leave his office at the end of this year.


Patricia LambertChargois has selected Dwaine Augustine (left), assistant superintendent of the Hamshire-Fannett ISD to serve as the Beaumont district's assistant superintendent for research, planning and evaluation, the position currently held by Chargois.

Named as the new assistant superintendent for secondary schools is Patricia Lambert (right). Lambert currently is principal of Beaumont ISD's Central High School. She replaces David Harris, who resigned to become superintendent of the DeSoto ISD. 


Big Sandy to apply for $45,000 grant to revitalize downtown

Big Sandy City Council members recently agreed to allow the Big Sandy Community Development Corporation (CDC) to apply for a $45,000 grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to revitalize the downtown area.


Council members also agreed to match the grant by allotting $45,000 to the downtown revitalization project if the grant application is approved. Current plans are to use the grant to pay for historical lighting and to make sidewalks accessible to disabled persons, city officials said.


Brownwood to issue $10.75 million in bonds for upgrades

Brownwood City Council members recently approved the issue of $10.75 million in bonds to pay for $4.7 million in road construction, $3.55 million to buy land to build a new fire station and $2.2 million to build new soccer fields. City officials expect that funding from the bonds should be available by the end of June, the city manager said.


Luce appointed to chair

oversight committee of CPRIT

Tom LuceTom Luce (pictured), an attorney and businessman from Dallas, was recently appointed by House Speaker Joe Straus to chair the oversight committee of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Legislators created and voters approved in 2007 the creation of CPRIT, the governing body of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas that awards grants for innovative cancer research in Texas.


Luce retired as the founding and managing partner of Hughes & Luce, LLP in 1997 and is now a consultant. He also served as a chief justice pro tempore of the Texas Supreme Court, chairman of the Texas Superconducting Supercollider Commission and on the Dallas Citizens Council. He also was on the board of trustees at Southern Methodist University, an assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, was a member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund and co-founded the National Center for Educational Accountability. Luce replaces Cindy Brinker Simmons of Dallas, who began serving on the  CPRIT committee in 2008.


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Greenville ISD to buy 1,200

iPads for students, teachers

Trustees for the Greenville Independent School District recently agreed to buy 1,100 iPads for students and 100 iPads with increased bandwidth and more accessories for teachers. District officials have said each student in the district will be issued an iPad during the next school year.


Cogburn leaves Grapevine-Colleyville ISD for Mansfield ISD

Elaine CogburnElaine Cogburn (pictured), who has served as chief financial officer in the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD since 2010, has resigned that post to become associate superintendent of business and finance in the Mansfield ISD.


Cogburn came to Grapevine-Colleyville from the Dallas school district. Prior to that appointment, she was CFO of the Frenship district. DaiAnn Mooney, financial services officer at Grapevine-Colleyville, will serve as interim CFO.


McCuistion to resign as

city manager in Canton

City Manager Andy McCuistion of Canton recently resigned from the post he has held since 2007 to become the new city manager of Breckenridge. McCuiston also served as city manager and finance director in Palestine.


Canton city officials appointed Assistant City manager Lonny Cluck as the interim city manager. A city employee for 10 years, Cluck previously was the grounds supervisor and director of First Monday in Canton.


Galveston Port to ask for bids for $4.5M transportation terminal

Port of Galveston officials recently agreed to request bids for building a $4.5 million downtown transportation terminal. Attempting to meet a July 28 deadline to begin construction on the project, port officials plan to advertise the request for proposals on June 3 and 10.


Plans call for the new transportation terminal to increase the number of parking spaces available to cruise passengers and for short-term visitors. The terminal also will have an information center, a 170-space parking garage, a city bus terminal and public restrooms.


The project also includes about $1 million in renovations to the Shearn Moody Garage to bring it up to code and to connect it to the terminal. The city of Galveston has agreed to lease the transit center from the port for the next 40 years. Port officials expect the transit center to be completed in July 2013.


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Van Alstyne Fire Chief Baker

to serve as interim manager

Van Alstyne Fire Chief Frank Baker has been appointed interim city manager for the city. He will replace former City Manager Philip Rodriguez, whose resignation was effective immediately. Baker is currently working on his master's degree in public administration and has been a part of the fire department for several years.


Lake Travis hires Allen to fill deputy superintendent position

Midway school district Interim Christopher AllenSuperintendent Christopher Allen (top) has been hired as deputy superintendent of the Lake Travis school district. Allen joins another Midway administrative alumnus, Brad Lancaster, who is currently serving as Lake Travis superintendent after being allured away from Midway.


Susan BohnDeputy Superintendent and General Counsel Susan Bohn (bottom) will continue as attorney for the district but will also take on the role of assistant superintendent. In another move in the Lake Travis district, Allison Cobb will become administrator of the district's Disciplinary Alternative Education Program in July.


Houston ISD named finalist for Broad Prize for Urban Education

For the second time in the last 10 years, the Houston Independent School District recently won selection as one of four finalists for the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The prize is awarded by the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles to school districts for improving academic performance, especially among low-income and minority students.


All four school districts named as finalists will receive at least $150,000 in college scholarships to award to students and the winner will take away about $550,000 for student scholarships. The four finalists are Corona-Norco Unified school district in California, the Miami-Dade school district in Florida, the Palm Beach County school district and the Houston district. Houston would be the first to win the prize twice if selected. Houston ISD won the first Broad Prize in 2002.


In naming Houston ISD as a finalist, the nominating board noted that Hispanic and low-income students performed well in state exams. Houston ISD also improved significantly the graduation rate for black students from 2006 to 2009 and increased by 15 percent the rate of Hispanic students who took SAT tests in 2008 and 2007, the nominating panelists noted.


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Lubbock ISD gets $3M gift for naming rights to athletic complex

Karen GarzaPlainsCapital Bank recently gave $3 million to the Lubbock Independent School District in exchange for naming rights to the Lowry Field complex. Bank officials plan to name the sports complex PlainsCapital Park. The sports complex contains a football field, a baseball field and a softball field, which will retain their current names.


The school district will receive about $300,000 per year for the next 10 years from the bank, Superintendent Karen Garza (pictured) said. District officials plan to use part of the $3 million gift to give $250 in additional compensation to classroom teachers, buy a new scoreboard and for improvements to the fine arts department, Garza said.


Austin ISD approves $253,000

for study on using more HUBS

Austin Independent School District board members recently approved $253,000 to pay for a consultant to perform a study on increasing the use of Historically Underutilized Businesses for construction projects.


In support of the study, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen told trustees the school district still needs to complete four building projects with a total estimated cost of about $85 million approved in bond elections in 2004 and 2008 and that those projects need careful consideration before moving ahead with construction.


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Fishback tagged as new executive director of Van EDC

Jerrod Fishback recently assumed the post as executive director of the Van Economic Development Corporation. Fishback attended Howard Payne University and earned a master's degree from Regent University in Virginia. He previously worked with the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development to draft a plan to revitalize retail centers and surrounding neighborhoods in that city.


Recent Reports

Tarrant County College's Greenhill elected to CCATT board

Bill GreenhillBill Greenhill (pictured), president of the Tarrant County College Board of Trustees, has been elected to the board of the Community College Association of Texas Trustees (CCATT). The organization provides information and professional development for member trustees. Greenhill, a Fort Worth corporate attorney, was elected to the TCC board in 2010, representing West Fort Worth, including the cities of Azle, Haslet, Keller, Watauga, North Richland Hills and Haltom City.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 5/18/12 
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Gary Aber of Simonton, Texas Racing Commission;
  • T. Craig Benson of Austin, Interagency Council for Genetic Services;
  • John Swanson of Frisco, Texas Mutual Insurance Company Board of Directors;
  • Anne Boatright of Smithville, Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners
  • Greg Davidson of Lexington, State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee;
  • Trent Marshall of Burleson, State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee;
  • Louri O'Leary of Austin, State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee;
  • Cecile Young of Austin, State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee;
  • Larry Jacobs of Montgomery, State Soil and Water Conservation Board;
  • Eric Garza of Brownsville, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board;
  • Cheryln "Cherie" Townsend, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board;
  • Michele Adams of Georgetown, Texas Early Learning Council;
  • Jonel Huggins of Kyle, Texas Early Learning Council.

New city manager in League City to restructure management team

Mike Loftin, the new city manager in League City, recently announced plans to restructure some of the top leadership positions in the city and begin looking for a new police chief, director of finance and manager of public works. Loftin, who previously was the assistant manager for management services, also appointed Lisha Pattersons, a former manager of human resources, as the new director of human resources. Pattersons replaces Brian Hayes, whose resignation is effective on June 1.


Loftin reduced the number of assistant city managers from three to one and said the police chief and fire chief will assume duties that were held by the assistant city manager for public safety. The assistant city manager for management services is becoming the director of finance. Loftin plans to hire a new director of public works and director of finance and, once those positions are filled, he will begin searching for a new police chief and manager of the economic development department.


Dallas ISD selects Glover

as its chief talent officer

Charles GloverTrustees for Dallas Independent School District recently selected Charles Glover (pictured) to be the chief talent officer for the district. Glover currently manages the Dallas-Fort Worth office of Teach for America. In his new position that begins in June, Glover will oversee nationwide searches for principals, administrators and some high-level teachers as well as work on retaining good employees for the school district.


Glover, a former teacher in North Carolina, has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and a master's degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.


Midland agrees to buy

land for new fire station

Midland City Council members recently agreed to begin negotiations to buy land on Midland Street for a new fire station. City officials hope to begin construction on the new fire station late this year or early 2013, City Manager Courtney Sharp said.


Once construction is completed on the new fire station, city officials plan to close either station five or station six for renovations and once those are completed, shut down the other fire station for renovations. The city plans to spend about $8.5 million to build the new fire stations and to renovate two existing fire stations, Sharp said.


City of Bronte awarded loans

for water system improvements

The cit of Bronte in Coke County has been awarded a loan of $595,000 and $255,000 in loan forgiveness through the Texas Water Development Board. The funding is from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance planning and design costs for water system improvements.


Last year's drought was costly for Coke County and regional efforts are needed to ensure reliable water supplies for communities in the county. The city of Bronte plans to make needed improvement to its system and allow for any further improvements to support the needs of neighboring communities, some of which are requesting city service in their areas.


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Corpus Christi officials propose consolidation, repurposing parks

Corpus Christi city officials recently held two public hearings to reveal a new draft master plan to repurpose and consolidate city parks to encourage better use of public spaces.


The new draft plan proposes dividing city parks into seven categories and reducing the number of parks to 160, including 68 niche parks, 66 neighborhood parks, eight community parks, six regional parks, 12 special-use parks and no city parks,

Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Stacie Talbert said. The plan, which calls for the city to sell some of the shutdown parks, also calls for adding amenities including water features such as splash pools or sprayers, bicycle and jogging trails and places on saltwater for catching fish. Each of the parks will feature a standardized level of amenities according to its category and a schedule for mowing and maintenance, Talbert said.


Caddo Mills anticipating improvements at city airport

More than $500,000 in upgrades is in the works for the Caddo Mills Municipal Airport. The funding will be in the form of a capital improvement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and administered by the Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Division.


The city recently approved spending $52,000 in airport funds as the city's portion of the project.


TxDOT selects Rmeili as district engineer in Brownwood

Elias RmeiliOfficials of the Texas Department of Transportation recently selected Elias Rmeili (pictured) as the district engineer for the Brownwood district, which includes Brown, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, Lampasas, McCulloch, Mills, San Saba and Stephens counties. Rmeili assumed his new duties overseeing a staff of 185 employees on May 21.


Rmeili, who joined TxDOT in 1991, has been a design engineer, director of transportation planning and development and director of operations for the agency. He was previously employed by the Texas Transportation Institute in College Station. He holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Texas A&M University.


South San Antonio ISD selects two finalists for superintendent

South San Antonio Independent School District trustees recently selected two finalists for superintendent to replace former Superintendent Ron Durbon.


Board members plan to visit the school districts now led by the two candidates and select a finalist for superintendent on May 30. District officials declined to identify the two finalists. A spokesperson said Linda Zeigler, who was named as interim superintendent in April 2011 and who applied for the permanent job, is not one of the two finalists.


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