Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue  - Friday, May 4, 2012

$1.8 billion in bond referendums up for vote statewide May 12


Contracting opportunities will be plentiful throughout all areas of state

Technology upgrades for many schools are part of bond issues.

More than $1.8 billion in bond issues will be decided in elections statewide on Saturday, May 12. As a result, millions of dollars in contracting opportunities will open up for new building construction, facility renovations, technology needs, street improvements and a variety of local initiatives.


Statewide, 11 cities, two community colleges, one hospital district and 46 school districts are planning referendums. They range 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 a more than half-billion bond vote for a major city in south Central Texas. That $596 million bond vote would provide for funding in four categories - streets/bridges/sidewalks, drainage, parks and facilities and community initiatives.


Road Work Ahead
City street improvements are among a number of projects that can benefit from bond issues that pass.

Public safety issues also are on some local ballots. One city in North Texas is trying to pass a $16.5 million bond to finance a new justice center that would also house the local police department. A city of 11,000 near San Antonio will attempt to pass a $7 million bond issue that includes funds to build a new fire station and provide renovations for its police station as well. A Texas Gulf Coast community will build a new public safety building if its $6 million bond issue passes. Another North Texas city is hopeful to pass a $48 million referendum that would provide for a new municipal complex that would house the police department and other offices.


Street improvements also would benefit from successful bond issues. Those range from the $700,000 bond vote in North Texas to a more than $5.9 million bond for street upgrades, drainage, sewer and water improvements. Another North Texas city plans to spend $29.5 million on street improvements as part of a $56 million bond proposal that is being put before voters in the form of six separate propositions.




Flores retiring as director of TPWD Law Enforcement Division


Colonel had oversight of more than 500 state game wardens since 2005

Pete FloresCol. Pete Flores (pictured) will close the curtain on more than 27 years of service to the State of Texas when he retires on May 31 from his position as head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division. A native of Laredo, Flores joined TPWD after his graduation from Texas A&M University. He began his career as a game warden after his graduation from the Game Warden Training Academy in January 1985.


"Besides the births of my children and grandchildren, the day that I had the blue badge pinned on my chest at the TPWD headquarters in Austin was the most memorable day of my life," said Flores. He began his game warden career in Chambers County and them was transferred to Brazos County. After being promoted to captain, he began supervisory duties in Beaumont. He later moved to the San Antonio office and transferred to San Angelo after being promoted to major. In March 2005, Flores was elevated from his lieutenant colonel post to colonel and director of the division.


"Pete Flores has had a long, proud, and very distinguished career serving the department and the state of Texas as a state game warden," said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. "I am most proud of all Pete has done to ensure our game wardens are the best trained, the best prepared, the best equipped and the best outfitted they can be to meet the modern day challenges, complexities, and dangers of law enforcement across our state."


Smith said the colonel's successor would be announced as soon as possible.


Education Commissioner Robert Scott announces resignation


Ends five years of service as state's top-ranking public education official

Robert ScottFive years as Commissioner of Education and head of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will come to a close in July for Robert Scott (pictured), who earlier this week announced his planned resignation. "It's time," said Scott of his planned July 2 departure.


Scott was appointed Commissioner of Education in October 2007. But his career with TEA began in 1994, when he joined the agency as an assistant director of governmental relations. He had previously served as an education aide to Gov. Rick Perry and during his TEA career was both interim commissioner and deputy commissioner.


Stott's stint as interim commissioner was from August 2003 to January 2004 and again from July to October 2007, before being appointed as commissioner. He is the only person to have twice held the title of interim commissioner and is the fourth-longest serving commissioner in TEA history. Scott thanked TEA employees he has worked with for the last five years for their "unwavering devotion to Texas children" and also expressed his appreciation for the educators who work in the Texas public schools.



Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Susan K. DursoSusan K. Durso, general counsel, Texas Public Finance Authority 


Career highlights and education: I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a BA in government. After a brief stint as a paralegal, I attended the University of South Carolina, where I received a J.D. and an MPA. I briefly practiced family law with a private firm before clerking for two federal district judges in Charleston, S.C. After returning to Austin, I began my career with the State of Texas. I worked for Rep. Steve Wolens and Speaker Pete Laney during the 74th and 75th sessions of the Legislature. Between those sessions, I was legal counsel to Commissioner Jo Betsy Norton at the Texas Workforce Commission. Over the last 15 years, I have served as the general counsel for the Public Utility Commission, the Texas Residential Construction Commission and now, the Texas Public Finance Authority. 
What I like best about my job is: The variety of work. As an agency general counsel, one never knows from day to day what issue will arise, whether it is legal or policy issue related to an agency's core mission, a personnel issue, a legislative issue and even the odd criminal legal issue - I am always learning something new. 
The best advice I've received for my current job is: "People think that because you are a lawyer you know numbers, so learn how to read the numbers." I first heard this advice as a paralegal - and it is true. I kept it in mind when I took "Accounting for Lawyers" in my last semester of law school at 8 a.m. from an ornery professor and when I took all my electives in public finance and budgeting while in my master's program. It didn't come easy, but at least I am not lost at the table when the balance sheet comes around.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Listen carefully for the goal; it is not always the one stated.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Going to a movie with my husband. It is a delightful and decadent thing to do.
People would be surprised to know that I: throw pots. I no longer have the time to dig into a wet ball of clay, but I still have my potter's wheel and kiln in my garage just waiting for the day that I can do it again.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: Our very small but talented staff manages billions of dollars of state debt very cost effectively.

Speaker announces two new members of his communications team

Erin DalyJason EmbryThere will be two new faces on the communications team of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The Speaker this week announced that Erin Daly (left), former communications director for U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington State, and former Austin American-Statesman Capitol Bureau Chief Jason Embry (right) will join his communications staff.


Although having spent a lot of time inside the Beltway, Daly is an Austin native. In addition to working for Congressman Hastings, she served on two presidential campaigns and was spokesperson on political campaigns in Nevada, California and Washington State and was a member of the George W. Bush administration.


Embry was a member of the Statesman staff for nine years. Before joining the Austin newspaper, he worked at the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Killeen Daily Herald. He is an honors graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown. 


Senate Judiciary Committee confirms two federal judges in Texas

The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate recently confirmed the appointment by President Barack Obama of two federal judges, Gregg Costa of Houston and David Guaderrama of El Paso, to fill vacancies in federal courts in Galveston and El Paso.


An assistant U.S. attorney, Costa is nominated as a federal judge to fill a vacancy on the bench at the federal court in Galveston. Guaderrama, a U.S. magistrate judge in El Paso and former state district judge, is nominated for a vacancy on the federal bench in El Paso. Texas still needs four new federal judges to fill vacancies on several federal courts in the state, including the federal court in San Antonio.


TEEX taps Billy Parker to head Texas Task Force I

Billy ParkerTexas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) officials recently selected Billy Parker (pictured) as director of Texas Task Force 1, an urban search and rescue team that responds to emergencies throughout the state.


Parker, a 30-year employee of TEEX, has served as interim director of the task force following the resignation of Bob McKee, the former director who is the subject of an ongoing investigation of a complaint regarding his management of the group. A state agency within the Texas A&M University System, TEEX receives state funding for 10 percent of its budget and generates more funding by offering training programs throughout the world and with contracts with numerous businesses and organizations.


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Save the Date

State officials point to new Web feature to determine wildfire risk

Tom BoggusTexas Forest Service and Texas A&M University System officials recently announced the availability of two new, free Web applications to help homeowners and community leaders more easily access information to prevent and mitigate hazards of wildfires.


The information is critical to helping prevent the burning of almost 4 million acres of land that occurred last year due to the extreme drought, according to Tom Boggus (pictured), director of the Texas Forest Service, which developed the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, or TxWRAP.


The new free applications, texaswildfirerisk.com, was created to help homeowners, city and county planners, land managers, emergency responders and elected officials better assess wildfire risks, search for solutions to mitigate that risk and submit reports using all the wildfire risk data for their particular region, Boggus said. The Web applications can be used to prioritize wildfire risk, better allocate resources and better respond to wildfires, he said.


Eggleston chosen new president of DCCCD's Richland College

Kay EgglestonDr. Kathryn Eggleston (pictured), who has been serving as interim president of Richland College since January 2010, has been appointed as the college's new president. She succeeds Dr. Stephen Mittelstet, who retired. Eggleston is the first new president at the college in 30 years and was one of 35 applicants.


Eggleston brings 13 years of senior leadership experience at community colleges to her new charge. She also had a career in public education, serving as interim superintendent of Richland Collegiate High School. Prior to being named interim president, Eggleston was executive vice president and chief operating officer from 2008 to 2009, vice president for institutional effectiveness and economic development from 2002 to 2008 and vice president of community and economic development from 1998 to 2002.


The new college president served El Centro College as executive dean of health and legal studies, dean of health occupations, assistant dean of health occupations and faculty member and curriculum chairperson for the Associate Degree Nursing program. Eggleston holds a bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato, a master's from Texas Woman's University and a doctorate The University of Texas at Dallas.


Texas community health centers nab millions in federal funding

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, recently announced funding awards from capital programs for community health centers - and Texas facilities are in line for funding from both. Approximately $629 million will go to 171 existing health centers across the country, 13 in Texas, for longer-term projects to expand their facilities, improve existing services and serve more patients. The second set of awards will provide approximately $99.3 million to 227 existing health centers, with more than $5.7 million going to 11 centers in Texas, to address urgent facility and equipment needs.


Included in the more than $55 million awarded in Texas in Building Capacity Funds is a $5 million grant to the Community Health Centers of South Central Texas in Gonzales to expand a clinic in Seguin. Lubbock garnered a $10 million grant to pay for new buildings for two community health centers. The grant will be used to build a new health clinic on Fifth Street to replace two facilities downtown. About $5 million of the grant will pay for expanding the Larry Combest Center of the Tech School of Nursing from 6,000 square feet to about 9,000 square feet. The new clinic should be completed in about three years.


The remainder of the Building Capacity Funds in Texas was allocated as follows:

  • Brazos Valley Community Action Agency, Inc., College Station - $4,395,730;
  • Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic, Dallas - $5 million;
  • United Medical Centers, Eagle Pass - $3,058,305;
  • Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe, El Paso - $4,290,945
  • Lone Star Circle of Care, Georgetown - $5 million;
  • Fourth Ward, D.B.A. Good Neighbor Healthcare, Houston - $5 million;
  • Nuestra Clinica Del Valle, Inc., Pharr - $2,311,214;
  • Atascosa Health Center, Inc., Pleasanton - $5 million;
  • La Esperanza Clinic, Inc., San Angelo - $1,845,555; and
  • North Central Texas Community Health Care, Wichita Falls - $4,480,660.

Funding from the Immediate Facility Improvement Program in Texas went to:

  • Brownsville Community Health Center, Brownsville - $500,000;
  • Brazos Valley Community Action Agency, Inc., College Station - $349,175;
  • South Texas Rural Health Services, Inc., Cotulla - $500,000;
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Clinic, Inc., Dallas - $500,000;
  • Cross Timbers Health Clinic, Inc., DeLeon - $500,000;
  • Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, El Paso - $498,450;
  • Houston Area Community Services, Inc., Houston, $500,000;
  • South Plains Rural Health Services, Inc., Levelland - $500,000;
  • Presidio County Health Services, Inc., Marfa - $435,000;
  • Mt. Enterprise Community Health Center, Mount Enterprise - $500,000
  • Nuestra Clinica del Valle, Inc., Pharr - $499,225; and
  • El Centro del Barrio, Inc., San Antonio - $500,000.
May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Texas Tech Health Sciences Center puts two in leadership roles

Jannette DufourRonald CookTwo employees of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine have been named to new leadership roles. Jannette Dufour, Ph.D. (right) is the new associate dean for research and Ronald L. Cook, D.O. (left) is the Braddock Chair in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.


Dufour joined TTUHSC in 2005 as a member of the Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry. As associate dean for research, she will be the primary spokesperson and advocate for research programs. She also will develop future research and oversee planning of all aspects related to research, working in conjunction with the TTUHSC executive vice president for research. Dufour earned her doctorate from Central Washington University and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University and in the Islet Transplantation Laboratory of the Surgical-Medical Research Institute at the University of Alberta, where she was also co-director of the Islet Histology Laboratory.


Cook has been serving as the interim chair of the department since April of last year. He joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1996 and is an associate professor. He has served in the department as residency director, director of obstetrics and pediatrics, director of medical education and vice chair. He earned his bachelor's, master's and Master of Business Administration degrees from Texas Tech University. He was awarded a Doctor of Osteopathy from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth and completed a residency in family and community medicine at TTUHSC.  He also completed a mini-fellowship in geriatrics at Mt. Sinai, N.Y.


Grant funds available to convert public fleets to natural gas

The Texas Railroad Commission has announced the availability of approximately $700,000 in grant funds to assist the fleets of public institutions such as school districts, cities and counties to purchase new, ultra-low-emission natural gas vehicles. The funds were originally received for use for propane-fuelled vehicles, but have been expanded to natural gas vehicles as well. The funds can be used to defray all or part of the costs of natural gas fuel systems on a new or retrofitted vehicle.


Recipients who provide matching fund may not use federal-sourced funds for that purpose. The program is open to all statewide fleets, regardless of the air quality classification in the location of the fleet.


Fleet operators are encouraged to use the The Vehicle Cost Calculator for the fleet services to see if the switch would be beneficial for their fleet. For more information on the grant program, click here.


Copperas Cove approves $350,000 engineering, design contract

Polo EnriquezCopperas Cove City Council members recently approved an engineering contract with a Waco-based company, Walker Partners Engineers and Surveyors, for design, survey and administration to projects under the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation (EDC).


The projects are for preconstruction work to straighten Old Copperas Cove Road and to design the 70-acre Narrows Business and Technology Park projected to cost about $1 million. The road project should be out for bid before the end of 2012, said Polo Enriguez (pictured), executive director of the Copperas Cove EDC.


Chancellor wants to move HSC under control of Texas A&M

Saying it would be a "huge boon to the university," Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp confirmed this week in an interview with the Bryan-College Station Eagle that he would like to see the TAMU Health Science Center moved under the control of Texas A&M University. He plans to add discussion of the issue to an August Board of Regents meeting.


Sharp told the The Eagle the absorption of the center's students, faculty, staff and $80 million in externally funded research would increase TAMU's research stature. While TAMU President R. Bowen Loftin and HSC President Dr. Nancy Dickey did not respond to The Eagle's request for an interview, the newspaper reported that Dickey said in an e-mail to HSC employees that HSC is working with Sharp's office to "outline the pros and cons of changing the current structure."


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VIA, Parker earn honors from Texas Transit Association

Keith ParkerVIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio and its President and CEO Keith T. Parker (pictured) have been honored by the Texas Transit Association. VIA was named the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit System for the second consecutive year and Parker is this year's Outstanding General Manager. The awards were presented last month at the TTA's annual conference in McAllen.


Among VIA's projects that led to its award are the completion of the Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan that will help develop future transit corridors in the region, the beginning of construction of the region's first bus rapid transit line, VIA Primo, and the securing of funding from the City of San Antonio and Bexar County for the first five years of capital projects under the Long Range Plan.


Parker was honored for his leadership leading to improved and enhanced safety and the introduction of alternative power sources for transit vehicles.


Abilene eyes options for spending $5.36 million budget surplus

Larry GilleyAbilene City Council members recently began eyeing options for spending more than $5.36 million in funding remaining from the last fiscal year due to decreasing costs and increased revenues from sales taxes and permit fees.


City Manager Larry Gilley (pictured) presented council members with several options for using the funding, including reducing the tax rate next year, using the funding for the fire department or a self-insurance program or allotting some of the money for about $3.2 million in capital improvement projects. Council members discussed spending $750,000 for fire equipment, $100,000 to demolish vacant city-owned property, buying an armored vehicle and saving some of the funding for future spending, but voiced little support for reducing the tax rate.

Hudson Oaks OK's $2.9M for water system, highway median, parks

SHeri Campbell-HusbandHudson Oaks City Council approved $2.9 million in certificates of obligation to pay for five projects to improve the water system, highway medians and upgrade the commercial corridor of that city.


Some $750,000 will be spent to upgrade highway medians along US180 by adding backlit signs to identify the city, reconstruct curbs and install landscaping as part of a $200,000 Green Ribbon Project of the Texas Department of Transportation. Work should begin this summer on the median project and be completed by spring 2013, said Sheri Campbell-Husband (pictured), city administrator.


City officials plan to buy raw water from the Parker County Special Utility District, build a new water plant and replace a water plant on Lake Shore Drive. A 10-year comprehensive study will be performed to analyze future water needs and the estimated fees needed to operate the water and sewer system using some of the proceeds from the certificates of obligation.


Pflugerville ISD approves concept on high school to open in 2015

Charles DuprePflugerville Independent School District trustees recently approved the concept for a proposed new high school that district officials hope to open in 2015 to ease overcrowding.


Currently about 2,300 students attend Hendrickson High School that is designed to house 2,500 students and about 300 new students are expected to enroll in 2012-2013, Superintendent Charles Dupre (pictured) said. District officials have discussed scheduling a bond election to include funds for a fourth high school, expanded career and technology programs for high school students and a new football stadium. The plan calls for the new concept high school to offer a wide range of academic, co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities.


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Lampasas County narrowly agrees to share cost of fire station

Stacy BrackIn a narrow vote, Lampasas County commissioners approved an agreement that will open the way for Lampasas city officials to request proposals from contractors to build a new fire station shared by county and city firefighters. The county owns the equipment of the Lampasas County Volunteer Fire Department, which plans to store emergency vehicles in four of the eight bays planned for the new fire station, said Stacy Brack (pictured), interim city manager of Lampasas.


The new fire station also will have office space for the county fire marshal and volunteer firefighters as well as the ability to use 30 percent of the sleeping quarter space in the new fire station on Fourth Street when necessary. County officials also agreed to pay the city up to 30 percent for major repairs to the fire station building and equipment in return for sharing the space, Brack said.


City officials now plan to receive and begin reviewing construction bids for the new fire station by the end of May as Lampasas city officials approved the agreement on sharing the new fire station in late April, Brack said.


Nueces County planning to build new sports complex

Nueces County commissioners recently began planning for a new sports complex on 48 acres of land donated by LyondellBasell in 1995. The new sports complex will feature fields for baseball, football, volleyball and soccer, a water feature and walking trail in addition to a running track and playground, county officials said.


A $65,000 grant from the General Land Office most likely will be used to begin preliminary work on the athletic compex. That work will include projects such as adding a retention pond to provide drainage as well as an area for nearby high school students to perform science projects. The county will need to spend about $1 million just to prepare the land for development, officials said. If state finances improve, a $500,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that was placed on hold could be released in the next legislative session, a commissioner said.


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El Paso County unveils design for $6 million upgrade to sports park

Anna PerezEl Paso County officials recently unveiled the design plan for a $6 million upgrade of the 30-year-old El Paso County Sportspark, which now is host to 147 teams. There were only 85 teams when county officials took over operation of the sports park.


The initial design plan features a new clubhouse, a concession stand, administrative offices, batting cages, family restrooms and a new front entrance and park exit, noted County Commissioner Anna Perez (pictured). Voters approved $9.2 million in bonds to pay for renovations to the Sportspark and the remaining funds will be used to pay for more county park improvements, Perez said.


County officials continue to explore whether to privatize operation of the Sportpark, but commissioners do not plan to make a decision on turning over operation of the park to a private company until the renovations are completed, Perez said. Plans call for beginning construction on the park in October of this year while continuing to allow the park to be used during the spring season, she said. Much of the major work on the park will be done during the off-season, she said.


Liberty agrees to rebid project to build hangars at city airport

Liberty City Council members recently agreed to rebid a project to build two 10-unit hangars at the Liberty Municipal Airport after modifying wind load requirements for the facility.


Council members had received a $610,000 proposal from Bruce's General Construction Inc. of Beaumont previously ratified by the Liberty Community Development Corporation after staff members changed the required wind load from 130 miles per hour to 150 miles per hour. Prior to changing the wind speed requirement, a Liberty-based construction company had submitted a bid of $655,832 that pointed out the project would need a stamped foundation that could withstand the same 150-mile-per-hour wind speed as required for the structure.


The new bid requests for the hangar project will include detailed engineering plans instead of a generalized request that gave bidders more latitude in submitting proposals for the project, city officials said.


Henderson ISD eyeing $100K to repair foundation at middle school

Keith BoesAfter being forced to close two middle school science labs due to foundation problems threatening the collapse of exterior walls, Henderson Independent School District trustees recently began discussing the issue. They are deciding whether to spend more than $100,000 to repair the building foundation and proceed with recently discussed plans to replace the middle school with a new building.


Repairing the foundation will include replacing the entire slab and interior walks so that the new foundation will rest on piers drilled into the ground, Superintendent Keith Boles (pictured) told trustees. The $100,000 price tag does not include the cost of a survey to indicate what is causing water damage to the foundation, he added. The closed science labs could be moved to another location at the school, Boles said. Trustees requested the superintendent to obtain an accurate cost estimate to repair the foundation before making a decision to proceed with repairs.


Bexar County planning group OK's $7.8M to upgrade Quintana Road

Board members of the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) recently approved $7.8 million to pay for upgrading an intersection at Quintana Road and Dunton Avenue as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Often flooded during heavy rains, the intersection on the city's south side is the scene of frequent accidents because it serves two growing organizations, the southwest campus of St. Philip's College and the Port San Antonio East Kelly Railport, MPO officials said.


Plans call for realigning Quintana Road for several blocks and building an integral drainage infrastructure to reduce flooding during heavy rainfall. The Capital Improvement Management Services Department of the city of San Antonio will manage the project in partnership with the Quintana Community Neighborhood Association, Port San Antonio, VIA Transit and Alamo College.


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 and the hotel reservation deadline is May 7. Click here to register. Nominations will be accepted through April 30 for the TSABAA Administrator of the Year. Submission instructions can be found on the TSABAA Web site. Questions should be addressed to Trina Edwards at trina.edwards@dps.texas.gov or by phone at 437-4056. The TSABAA Past Presidents are also accepting nominations for anyone interested in serving as an officer. Past presidents will review all nominations and consider the nominee's participation and leadership in TSABAA as well as leadership demonstrated within the nominee's respective state agency. To make nominations, contact Cecilia Whitley at cecilia.whitley@dfps.state.tx.us or by phone at 438-4072 by May 3.


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. Those attending should RSVP no later than May 14 by emailing Texas State HUB Specialist Yolanda Strey at ys12@txstate.edu or calling 512.245.2523.


AACOG announces four upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has four workshops coming up of interest to government officials. A Texas Notary Law and Procedures Seminar is planned for 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on May 16. The event will be in AACOG Classroom 1-01. The event is for current, new and non-notary participants. For more information, click here. 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.


CenTex ASPA sets 2012 Public Service Recognition Week banquet

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


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

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


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.


DIR to host 12th Annual Information Security Forum

The 12th Annual Information Security Forum, hosted for government personnel only by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), is slated for Tuesday, May 15. The free, one-day event is co-sponsored by the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC). Conference focus this year is "Security Program Maturity," with possible topics to include security assessment process, threat landscape/risks, legal and privacy landscape, why it's important to improve security program maturity, implementing enterprise solutions and governance. Interested vendors are invited to exhibit and/or provide speakers. Sessions should be purely educational and not promote products or services. The event is targeted to Information Resource Managers and other IT and security decision-makers. For more information, contact Joy Hall Bryant at joy.bryant@dir.texas.gov or Sue Atkinson at sue.atkinson@dir.texas.gov.


E-Learning Symposium 2012 planned for June 13 in Austin

Professionals who manage and design E-Learning programs in health care, government, higher education, energy and corporate settings will not want to miss this year's E-Learning Symposium 2012 Austin. The symposium is an interactive conference designed to help professionals and key decision-makers learn how to execute E-Learning programs within their organizations. The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at the Omni Southpark Hotel, 4410 Governors Row in Austin. The event features leading industry experts who share their knowledge on of-the-moment topics, processes and technology within E-Learning. For more information, click here.


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Governments gearing up
for increased use of drones


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


Technology has caused us to reinvent the way we do things individually, collectively and universally. And, governmental agencies have undergone all kinds of changes. But, some of the greatest innovative changes have been seen in the area of public safety. Here's an initiative that is receiving lots of visibility - and lots of federal funding.


Drones are unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft. They come in all shapes and sizes and have a wide range of uses. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as they are called, are known to be used by such agencies as the FBI, NASA, U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. However, a growing number of state and local law enforcement organizations are now also authorized to use them. And, some research universities, including Georgia Tech, Cornell University and the University of Colorado, have permission to fly unmanned aerial vehicles. The federal government has announced plans to invest billions in UAVs over the next few years.


Law enforcement agencies such as the Ogden, Utah, Police Department, Colorado's Mesa County Sheriff's Office and the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Florida are authorized to fly drones. Other government subdivisions use drones for research, for such things as inventorying wildlife, researching and monitoring weather or to provide surveillance of critical infrastructure.


In Texas, a number of government subdivisions have been awarded drone certifications. Among them are the Arlington Police Department, the Houston Police Department, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University's Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Texas State University-San Marcos.




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LeFleur Transportation

UT regents throw support behind proposed medical school

Bill PowersThe University of Texas System Board of Regents this week threw its support - and a pledge of System funds - behind a proposed new medical school that would be part of The University of Texas at Austin. "The founding of a medical school would be an enormous event in the life of the university, would offer dramatic new opportunities for our students and our faculty and would advance health care in Central Texas," said UT President Bill Powers (pictured).


The regents pledged to allocate up to $30 million per year from the state's Available University Fund. That funding plus a commitment of $250 million from the Seton Healthcare Family for a new teaching hospital, opens the doors for discussion regarding a site for the school and other issues that would have to be resolved.


The funding is contingent on the continued pledged support of Seton toward a graduate medical education residency plus $35 million in public funds each year.

Regents also approved establishment of a medical school in South Texas, but have challenged leaders in the area to raise millions toward such a school. They said they would continue to press the legislature for additional funding as well.


Fair Oaks Ranch to pay $124,000 on new public safety equipment

City council members in Fair Oaks Ranch recently agreed to authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Boerne city officials and Gillespie County commissioners to pay $124,000 on the cost of upgrading public safety communications infrastructure.


A federal mandate requiring emergency responders to be able to communicate through radios with other emergency responders becomes effective in fiscal year 2012-2013, the mayor said. Fair Oaks Ranch officials also will need to allot an additional $125,000 during the next fiscal year to replace its current radio system with radio units compatible with the upgraded public safety communications infrastructure, she said.


Galveston selects Popoff as emergency management head

David PopoffGalveston County officials recently selected David Popoff (pictured), a former regional coordinator for emergency management in Houston, as the new emergency management coordinator. Popoff will replace John Simsen, who resigned from that post in March.


Prior to joining the state emergency management staff in 2007, Popoff also was a fire marshal in Stafford, an emergency management coordinator and fire marshal in Marble Falls and a sheriff's deputy in Galveston County. He will begin his new duties on May 21.


Palumbo selected to serve as

new city attorney in Galveston

Dorothy Palumbo, who has served as interim city attorney in Galveston, recently was selected as city attorney for the island city. Palumbo previously served as a city attorney in Highland Village, Abilene, Midland and Denton. She replaced Susie Green, who resigned in February to accept another position.


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Airports in North Texas awarded TxDOT funds for construction

Three airports in North Texas have been allocated funding from the Texas Department of Transportation for construction projects. The Denton Municipal Airport was approved for $1.2 million in funds for an apron improvement project and a wildlife assessment. Funding of $1.98 million was approved for the Mesquite Metro Airport to construct a control tower and the Addison Municipal Airport was awarded approximately $100,000 for a control plan study.


Midland Development Corp. selects Welch as new director

Board members of the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) recently selected Pam Welch (pictured) as the new executive director of that group.


Welch previously was director of business retention and expansion at MDC and named as interim president following the resignation of former president Mike Hatley in February. She also was assistant director of the Big Spring Economic Development Corporation. Welch attended Howard College and Texas Tech University and requested the title be changed from president to executive director to reflect her role of ensuring the policies of the board of directors are upheld.


Hale Center ISD selects Krug as lone finalist for superintendent

Carl KrugTrustees for Hale Center Independent School District recently selected Carl Krug (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Krug, currently an assistant superintendent at Muleshoe ISD, will replace former Superintendent Rick Teran, who resigned in December to serve as superintendent at Childress ISD.


Bee County taps Gonzales

as new road and bridge manager

Bee County commissioners recently selected Ray Gonzales as the new administrator of the road and bridge department. Gonzales, who was the assistant road and bridge manager, replaces Frank Montez, the former administrator who recently died following a long illness.


San Benito may borrow $3 million to help pay for repairing roads

San Benito city officials recently began discussions on whether to borrow $3 million to pay for long-needed street repairs. City commissioners plan to discuss which streets to improve after the elections in May and are considering issuing certificates of obligation to pay for repairing and maintaining streets, the mayor said.


Gladewater requests study

of streets and infrastructure

Sean PateGladewater City Council members recently requested a Longview-based company, KSA Engineers, to provide a proposal to perform a study of streets and infrastructure in order to adopt a long-range plan to upgrade infrastructure.


It is critical that council members decide which projects are priority as city officials allotted $170,000 for the street program in this year's budget, with $150,000 set aside for street repairs, said City Manager Sean Pate (pictured). Pate also said he expects to hire a new director of public works by June to oversee street maintenance and repairs. Engineering firm officials will return to council on May 17 with a cost estimate for the study they said will take several months to complete.


Killeen ISD receives applications for deputy superintendent

Trustees for Killeen Independent School District recently received 27 applications for the post of assistant superintendent. The new assistant superintendent will replace Deputy Superintendent Bobby Ott, who is resigning in June. Of the 27 applicants for the post, 24 were from out of the district, officials said. Trustees have not set a timeline for hiring a new deputy superintendent.


Hitchcock ISD taps Derrick

as new superintendent

Trustees for Hitchcock Independent School District recently selected Barbara Derrick as the lone finalist for superintendent. Derrick currently is the director of career and technology for Pearland ISD and recently received a Ph.D.


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Coleman City Council agrees

to help fund airport project

The Coleman Municipal Airport is about to undergo a transformation. The City Council recently approved its part of funding that totals $700,000 for the entire project. The City Council agreed to pay its share of the 90-10 percent grant to help fund the improvements. The state will pay 90 percent of the costs with the city paying the other 10 percent. Some of the improvements in the project include $40,000 to replace a rotating beacon and tower, $240,000 to replace medium intensity runway lights, $55,000 to install runway hold and exit signs, $15,000 to install lighted wind indicator and more. The total cost to the city will be $71,750 toward the project.


Haterius chosen as lone finalist for Mineral Wells ISD post

Gail HateriusDr. Gail Haterius (pictured), an education consultant in the Cedar Hill Independent School District, has been named the lone finalist for superintendent of the Mineral Wells ISD.


Haterius is a former superintendent in the Clyde and Italy ISDs. She began her education career as a teacher in the Stamford ISD and later served as assistant superintendent in Mexia ISD. 


Travis County approves $6.4M incentive package for Apple Inc.

Travis County Commissioners recently placed their stamp of approval on a $6.4 million incentive package to help Apple Inc. decide to expand company facilities in Austin and create 3,600 new jobs over the next 10 years. City of Austin officials previously approved an $8.6 million incentive plan that includes another 1 million square feet of office space if Apple expands its facility in Austin to serve as the North American customer service operations center. If negotiations are finalized, Apple officials could begin construction on the expansion project in June and complete the first phase next year.


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Bryan merges job of CFO

for public utility with city

With an eye toward expanding oversight of its utility company, Bryan City Council members recently agreed to combine the duties of chief financial officer for Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) with the position of chief financial officer for the city. The former financial officer for the city resigned in 2010.


City Manager Kean Register appointed Joe Hegwood, the chief financial officer at BTU to move his office into city hall to perform the duties of both positions in an effort to increase financial transparency at the city-owned utility company. Hegwood has worked at BTU for six years and will now be in charge of overseeing the city's $50 million general fund in addition to other auxiliary funds, Register said. City Auditor Bob Schultz, who has served as the interim CFO since the resignation, will return to his audit position after Hegwood assumes his new duties as the chief financial officer for the city and the public utility.


Siler selected as sole finalist for superintendent at Gunter ISD

Jill SilerDr. Jill Siler (pictured) recently won the support of trustees of the Gunter Independent School District as the lone finalist for superintendent at that district.


Siler is the executive director of academic and organizational development at Lake Travis ISD near Austin. She will replace Kevin Worthy once her contract becomes final. Worth resigned to serve as superintendent at Royse City ISD.


Valley International Airport expecting funds for new apron

Valley International Airport (VIA) is anticipating receipt of a $1.6 million grant to build a north apron. The funding from the Federal Aviation Administration would allow Sun Valley Aviation to operate at VIA, giving the airport two fixed-base operations. The city commission this week approved acceptance of the anticipated grant.


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Plano sells name to private company to help generate money

Plano City Council members recently agreed to sell rights to the city's name and logo for $64,730 to a private company as endorsement of its services. Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) seeks to sell warranties for sewer line work to city residents. The city also will receive an additional 12 percent share of the fee for each new customer in Plano who signs up for the service. This share could generate another $100,000 during the first year and eventually total more than $236,000 in annual revenue to the city,


The company used the city logo on a letter signed by City Manager Bruce Glasscock, who endorsed the $6-per-month warranties offered to homeowners to cover the cost of repairs to sewer lines under homes. The city also promotes the warranty company on its Web site. The Pennsylvania-based company has similar partnerships with 20 cities in Texas and about 125 cities throughout the United States.


Northside ISD taps Brian

Woods as new superintendent

Brian WoodsBoard members for Northside Independent School District recently selected Brian T. Woods (pictured) as the new superintendent to replace former Superintendent John Folks, who is retiring. Woods currently is the deputy superintendent for administration at Northside ISD.


A 20-year district employee, Woods previously was a high school principal and an assistant superintendent for secondary administration. He is expected to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at San Antonio in August.


University Health launches Web site regarding Medicaid waiver

A Web site to provide information regarding the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program has been launched by University Health System. The online site is designed to provide regularly updated news and developments related to the Medicaid 1115 Waiver. The site, TexasRHP6.com, will allow hospitals in Region 6 Regional Healthcare Partnership (RHP) - that includes Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Blanco, Comal, DeWitt, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Kinney, LaSalle, McMullen, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Val Verde, Wilson and Zavala counties - to receive e-mail updates, send comments and connect with other hospital partners.


Data will be collected, proposed health care improvement projects will be compiled and a regional plan produced as a result.


Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is still finalizing boundaries for each RHP, each anchor entity - in this case University Health System - is charged with coordinating with other hospitals to develop the region's RHP plan. The plan is designed to identify partners, community needs, proposed projects and distribution of funding.


Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 4/27/12

Obregon withdraws resignation as superintendent at Robstown ISD

Alfonso ObregonAfter trustees failed to take action on his resignation submitted six months ago, Alfonso Obregon (pictured) recently rescinded his resignation. Obregon, who has a year remaining on his contract with Robstown ISD, did not reveal how long he plans to remain as superintendent. Obregon became superintendent in July 2010.


The lack of a quorum has caused the board to cancel meetings without formally approving or declining Obregon's request to resign, said Osvaldo Romero, president of the board. Board members plan to discuss the superintendent's job at a meeting in June, the president said. Trustees also said they planned to continue a $6,800 contract with a search firm to help find a new superintendent, but have not returned a copy of the contract signed by board members as required.


Texas City ISD narrows its

superintendent search to three

Texas City Independent School District trustees recently narrowed down a list of 43 applicants for superintendent to three candidates and have begun interviewing the three applicants. Trustees declined to identify the three final candidates for superintendent, but plan to name a lone finalist for the post on May 10.


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Hitchcock ISD taps Derrick

as new superintendent

Trustees for Hitchcock Independent School District recently selected Barbara Derrick as the lone finalist for superintendent. Derrick currently is the director of career and technology for Pearland ISD and recently received a Ph.D. 


Alice to buy old, $305,000 armory to serve as new fire station

Ray De Los SantosAlice City Council members recently approved $305,000 to buy the old National Guard Armory and five acres of property on North Cameron Street to renovate into a new central fire station.


The purchase includes two buildings that were renovated about 10 years ago just before the armory was shuttered and already has a communications room, classroom, kitchen, offices, locker rooms and large doors to accommodate vehicles, said City Manager Ray De Los Santos (pictured).


Bonham gives thumbs up to contract to provide EMS service Bonham City Council members recently approved a three-year contract calling for Fannin County to contribute $540,000 a year to the city to provide emergency medical services for the county. The contract is $10,000 less than the county paid under the old contract, city and county officials said.


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