Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 25 - Friday, June 22, 2012

Federal TIGER grants:


Three entities in Texas to share $37 million in funding for transportation projects

BikersThree Texas projects together will share $37 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant (TIGER) program funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The $500 million in available funding announced today, Friday, was spread out over 47 projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia. More than 700 applications totaling $10.2 billion in requests were received by USDOT for the $500 million in grant funds.


The largest award in Texas is $15 million in TIGER funding for Houston's regional multimodal connections to transit project. Other TIGER funds headed to Texas are $12 million for Brownsville Navigation District's Gulf Marine Highway Intermodal project and $10 million to the Port of Corpus Christi for its Nueces River Rail Yard expansion. To view the complete list of TIGER awards, click here.


The funds in Houston will be used to develop 18 miles of hike-and-bike trails, sidewalk improvements and on-street bikeways. The city ranks number one in the state for the largest number of bike commuters. TIGER GrantsHouston will use the federal funds to improve safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists, meet increasing demand for trails and bikeways and connect numerous destinations throughout the city that will allow the use of alternate transportation methods.


Rep. Al Green, a member of the Houston congressional delegation, said not only will the funding mean easier pedestrian and bike access throughout the city, but the construction of the projects associated with the grant also will mean jobs for Houston. "The jobs associated with these transportation projects will help our city's economy continue to move forward," said Green.


The Brownsville award will go toward a $26.7 million project that will result in construction of a new 600-foot cargo dock on the south side of the Brownsville ship channel, allowing for the expansion of marine highway container operations. The new dock will include railroad sidings to improve the intermodal transfer of materials and containers to rail or trucks for delivery on land. The expansion will also provide a second heavy-load capacity dock for steel and bulk materials traveling through the Port of Brownsville.




Texas Governor's Mansion restoration nearing completion


Devastating fire in June 2008 dealt near-fatal blow to state's historic home

Mansion Fire

The Texas Governor's Mansion has been restored following this devastating fire in 2008.

The restoration of the Texas Governor's Mansion, just over four years in the making, is nearing completion. An arson fire in June 2008 dealt a near-fatal blow to the historic piece of Texas' past. An arsonist, caught on video tape but never identified and apprehended, threw what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail that burst into flames at the front of the building, causing severe damage to the structure and forcing the governor and his family out of the traditional home for sitting governors of the state.


As the restoration continues, paid for by private donations of nearly $3.5 million and an appropriation of $21.5 million in state funds, pieces from the Governor's Mansion Collection are being moved back into the mansion.


Many of the pieces in the collection had already been moved out of the mansion before the fire as part of a deferred maintenance project that began in 2007. The return of these piece marks the first stage of moving things back into the mansion, with Gov. Rick Perry and his family expected to return late next month.


Among the collection pieces to be returned to the mansion are museum-quality antiques, including the bed used by Sam Houston and a writing desk of Stephen F. Austin, widely recognized as the "Father of Texas." Forty governors have called the mansion their home during their time in office.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Diane SmithDiane B. Smith, deputy for administration, Office of the Attorney General of Texas 


Career highlights and education:  In 1985, I was asked to coordinate an international conference on health care on behalf of the Department of Human Services. I would never have suspected it at the time, but that one-year assignment was the beginning of a career in public service. Since then, I have served in the Department of Agriculture, the Texas General Land Office, the Lt. Governor's Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Facilities Commission and currently, the Office of the Attorney General. I have had the distinct honor to work for the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General - three statesmen who make me proud to serve the State of Texas and call myself a Texan. My formal education was in communications (advertising) from The University of Texas at Austin.
What I like best about my job is: I enjoy the variety of the work and the people with whom I interact. Every day is different, which keeps things interesting and challenging.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: Seek input, ask questions and listen before making a decision. Above all, do what you believe to be the right thing.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Your reward in public service isn't always immediate, but it's worth the wait. If you make an investment in your career, you will receive the reward you deserve. Always do the right thing with the best of intentions. Above all, your attitude is the magic ingredient to success, whether in public service or anything else you do.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: shopping!
People would be surprised to know that I:  received a "Bum Steer" award from Texas Monthly magazine in 1997 because I was the Assistant Commissioner for Marketing at the Texas Department of Agriculture and didn't eat meat.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The Office of the Attorney General is multi-layered, with a varied and dedicated staff of nearly 4,000 and over 80 offices throughout the state of Texas. We are a law firm, a child support collection agency and a law enforcement organization. And, General (Greg) Abbott's leadership keeps us all on the right path to defend and protect the people of Texas.

LCRA board gives first-year manager Motal three-year contract

Becky MotalBecky Motal (pictured), general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), has been awarded a three-year contract by the river authority board, with options for two one-year extensions.


Motal was tabbed as the LCRA general manager just short of a year ago. Since then, she has earned rave reviews for her management of the agency and its cost-cutting reorganization. LCRA Board Chairman Tim Timmerman said Motal was "very deserving" of the contract. Motal was hired in July of last year to replace former general manager Tom Mason, who resigned. Motal joined the LCRA in 1987 and has risen steadily through the ranks there. She has more than 30 years of experience in water and electric utility industries. She holds a bachelor's degree, an MBA and a law degree from The University of Texas at Austin.


Texas A&M System votes to privatize various campus services

Richard BoxBanking on an upfront payment of $45 million in concession fees plus a significant investment to upgrade related facilities and infrastructure, the Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M University Thursday voted to privatize a number of campus services. A contract was awarded to Compass Group USA to manage and operate dining services, building maintenance, landscaping services and custodial services on the Brazos County campus.


TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp said that over the next 10 years, the contract will result in $260 million in revenue and cost savings for the System. That includes an estimated $125 million food services revenue and $135 million in revenue and cost savings from facility services. Sharp said the goal was to increase revenue that would allow the System to "recruit, pay and retain faculty and researchers."


"I'm very proud of the way Chancellor Sharp and (A&M) President (R. Bowen) Loftin worked together to identify savings while remaining committed to keeping the employees who provide important services to the university," said Richard Box (pictured), chair of the Board of Regents. "We are indeed poised for a bright future."


Compass Group has committed to keeping the current university and System workforce, agreeing to hire all current employees working in the areas to be privatized, matching their salaries and benefits and offering training opportunities. Possible layoffs and cuts in pay and benefits were reasons privatization was opposed by many of the employees.


Sharp called the agreement an "historic accomplishment" - being able to realize financial benefits while keeping current university employees and freeing up revenue to ensure a successful academic endeavor. The agreement is expected to be in place in time for Compass Group to take over these specific areas before the fall semester. 


Texas Forest Service wins award for efforts in wild land firefighting

Pulaski Award
Associate Director Mark Stanford (from left), Planning and Preparedness Head Cynthia Foster, Incident Response Department Head Paul Hannemann, Chief Law Enforcement Officer Les Rogers and Mitigation and Prevention Department Head Bruce Woods are shown with the Pulaski Award.

The National Interagency Fire Center recently awarded the Texas Forest Service with the Pulaski Award to recognize that agency's outstanding contribution to wild land firefighting. The award is named after Ranger Ed Pulaski of the U.S. Forest Service, who led his crew to safety in the Great Fire of 1910 and is the first to be awarded to Texas since it was first presented in 1998.


The Texas Forest Service demonstrated exceptional work in interagency cooperation and coordination, the development of partnerships, in fire management and suppression as well as maintaining safety of their firefighters, said Gary Bowers, chairman of the governing board of the National Interagency Fire Center.


The award recognizes the efforts of the more than 30,000 emergency responders and firefighters in Texas who last year fought wild fires on more than 4 million acres of land that destroyed 2,946 homes throughout the state, said Mark Stanford, associate director of the Texas Forest Service. More than 16,000 emergency responders from 50 states, 238 dozers, 954 engines and 246 aircraft responded to help suppress the wild fires in Texas, Stanford said.


TPWD announces availability of recreation grant funding

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is accepting applications for local park grants under the Outdoor Recreation and Urban Outdoor Recreation grant program through the end of July. The omnibus spending bill approved by the U.S. Congress allocated more than $2.3 million to Texas for its federal apportionment from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.


Approximately one-half of that amount - about $1.15 million - is available for grant review prior to the Aug. 1 cutoff date. Some 40 percent is dedicated for Urban Outdoor Recreation grants, with the remaining 60 percent of Outdoor Recreation grants. TPWD officials issued a reminder that these funds are not available for other local park grants such as Small Community, Indoor Recreation, Urban Indoor Recreation and Regional grant programs. For more information, click here.


Register for 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference

Texas Flag


It's back for its eighth consecutive time in what promises to be another sellout crowd!
The Eighth Biennial Legislative Communication Conference, set for Oct. 16 and sponsored jointly by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has been a pre-legislative staple since 1998. Prior to each legislative session, the conference brings government executives, appointees, senior staffers and elected officials together to discuss the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature.  

Hear insight from key players

The upcoming 83rd session of the Texas Legislature will feature a lot of new faces in the legislature and in high-level positions in Texas state agencies. Like most other states, Texas is facing lean times again as it goes into the biennial budget negotiations. It all promises to make the upcoming session one to watch. Attendees for this year's pre-session conference will hear from the offices of the lieutenant governor, governor and House Speaker about 2013 budget issues. Members of the House and Senate will address other issues of important individually or as members of panels. And political pundits will offer their insight and views on what to expect in the 83rd session.

Register now!

Registration includes a Continental breakfast, a networking luncheon and support materials that will help attendees maneuver though the upcoming session. To pre-register, click here. And watch the Texas Government Insider for more information on speakers, the agenda for the event, panel topics and other valuable information that will be part of the conference. Space is limited - register now!


TAMU System gets $285.6M contract for center to combat terrorism

John SharpAn economic impact of more than $1.3 billion in Texas is expected from the announcement that the Texas A&M University System has been awarded a $285.6 million contract to develop a center whose goal will be to enhance the United States' ability to counter biological and pandemic threats. The Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing will represent one of the largest research grants to come to Texas since NASA, said TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp (left).


Of the total contract, $176 million will come from the federal government, with the remainder from academic and commercial partners and the state. The facility is expected to be operational by December 2015.


Brett GiroirSharp said the center will allow the United States to counter biological and pandemic threats with vaccines manufactured in this country. He said the need for this capability was identified following a comprehensive review of federal public health emergency medical countermeasures called for by President Barack Obama in his 2010 State of the Union address. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a request for proposals on March 30, 2011 and TAMU was among the applicants. The contract was awarded following a year-long competitive nationwide process.


"The Texas A&M System is the prime contractor for a team of world-class academic, commercial and non-profit institutions. This highly integrated R&D team will utilize state-of-the-art processes for development and testing of new vaccines and therapies," said Sharp in a written statement.


Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives Brett Giroir (right) noted that securing the project would mean "hundreds of millions of dollars in up front federal investment, and a 25-year potential commitment."The center will be located on a site of nearly 150 acres owned by the city of Bryan. Upwards of 1,000 jobs are expected to be created by the addition of the center. 


Texas auditor reviewing state's cancer fighting agency

The Texas State Auditor's Office recently revealed a review of the operations of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to determine if the agency if properly managing the more than $680 million in research grants it has awarded since 2009. Texans voted in 2007 to establish the agency and authorized it to fund up to $3 billion for cancer research and prevention programs over a 10-year period.


One of the leading scientists for the agency, Dr. Alfred Gilman, resigned in May saying the agency's very fast approval of a multi-million-dollar grant to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for drug research needed much more scrutiny. However, State Auditor John Keel said the comments by Gilman did not trigger the audit and that the objective is to examine whether CPRIT has processes to make sure grant money is awarded and used appropriately. The audit should be completed in January, Keel said.


HISD board gets look at proposed $1.89 billion bond projects

Houston ISD Board of Education members Thursday received an overview of a proposed $1.89 billion bond issue that could go before district voters in November. The list includes rebuilding, renovating or renewing more than 40 schools in the district. The board has until August to decide if it wants to put the issue on a ballot for voter approval.


The district's high schools are being considered for the bulk of projects, although nearly $225 million in projects would benefit students in all 279 of the schools in the district. Many of the high schools in HISD are at an average age of 50 years. The recommended bond proceeds spending would include $577 million to replace eight high schools, $354 million to replace inadequate facilities at four high schools, $259 million to replace inadequate facilities and renovate five high schools, $27 million to build two new early college high schools, $61 million to renovate or renew nine high schools, $121 million to convert four elementary schools into K-8 campuses, $47 million to replace Dowling Middle School and expand Grady Middle School and $126 million to replace five elementary schools. Another $67 million would be allocated to renovate and remake building additions at K. Smith Elementary, replace inadequate facilities and renovate Tijerina Elementary and build a new elementary on the district's west end.


District-wide projects would cost $225 million and include $100 million in technology upgrades, $42.7 million for district athletic facility improvements, $35 million for middle school restroom renovations, $27 million for safety and security improvements and $20 million for land purchases.


UT-Arlington President Spaniolo announces retirement

James SpanioloDr. James D. Spaniolo (pictured), president of The University of Texas at Arlington for the last eight and one-half years, has announced his retirement. He did not give a specific date for leaving his post as head of the university, but said he will stay on until a search for his successor is completed.


Spaniolo was named the seventh president of UT-Arlington in February 2004. He had previously served as dean of Michigan State University's College of Communication Arts and Sciences, was vice president and chief program officer for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. He also is a former newspaper executive and attorney for The Miami Herald and Detroit Free Press.


Spaniolo holds a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, a master's degree in public administration from the University of Michigan, and a juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School.


San Antonio eyes public-private partnership for development

San Antonio city officials recently began looking for a public-private partnership to help redevelop a $2.25 million mansion and 84-acre estate into a housing and multi-use development.


City officials agreed to buy the former 84-acre Red Berry estate on the city's east side at nearly $500,000 below the appraised value. The property includes a 12,000-square-foot home, a 25-acre pecan orchard, and a 12-acre lake adjacent to a neighboring golf course and the Salado Creek bike trail. The property with its amenities is ideal for a housing development and city officials are looking for a partner to develop the land, said Lori Houston, assistant director of the Center City development office.


Until more definitive plans are made for the land, the city may use the mansion as a wedding and corporate event center, Houston said. 


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Register now

Austin ISD puts six new administrators in various offices

Six key positions in the Austin Independent School DistrictAustin Independent School District were recently approved by the district's administration. They include:

  • Mel Waxler, former general counsel for AISD for the last 12 years, has been named chief of staff. He was also the founder and principal of MpoWer, CEO at Wright and Greenhill, P.C. and legal counsel for the Texas Railroad Commission.
  • Pauline Dow, former associate superintendent for academics and chief academic officer for the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso, is the new chief academic officer. Prior to working for Ysleta ISD, she was an associate superintendent, director of academic learning services and a bilingual teacher for Canutillo ISD in El Paso and a bilingual teacher for the San Elizario ISD.
  • Gilbert Hicks has been hired as the associate superintendent for schools after serving as principal of Overton Elementary school since 2007. Hicks also has served as principal for Oak Springs and Winn elementary schools and as assistant principal at LBJ High School.
  • Leo Lopez has been named executive director of finance. He previously served as manager in the Office of School Finance for the Texas Education Agency where he implemented school finance provisions in House Bill 1 of the 79th Texas Legislature.
  • Kimiko Cartwright, former principal of Murchison Middle School since 2007, has been appointed executive director of educator quality. She also served as Murchison's assistant principal and an AISD/University of Texas associate administrative intern for Pearce Middle School.
  • Suzanne Burke is the new associate superintendent for academics. Burke has served as executive director of curriculum in AISD since July 2011. Prior to joining the district, she was director of curriculum and professional development, supervisor of professional development and specialist of language arts curriculum for Round Rock ISD.

Texas Bio Corridor Alliance picks Round Rock as headquarters

Officials of the Texas Bio Corridor Alliance recently chose Round Rock as their new headquarters. The newly formed group has a goal of linking life-science companies along the Interstate 35 corridor to encourage growth and collaboration on commercial and innovative products to improve health care.


The alliance selected the Round Rock-Austin area because it is a hub for technology and innovation, said Russ Peterman, president of the Texas Bio Corridor Alliance. Alliance members plan to use funding source recommendations, assistance in the grant process, frequent contacts with government officials and networking events to assist members in developing innovative technology products for health care, he said. Alliance officials are planning to locate the headquarters at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock.


Denton's Mitchell elected to chair NCTCOG's Executive Board

Bobbie MitchellDenton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell (pictured) was recently elected chair of the Executive Board of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). Mitchell, a county commissioner since 2000, has been involved previously with NCTCOG as both a director and secretary-treasurer before being elected as the organization's vice president in 2011.


Four new members also were named to the executive board - Plano Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Lissa Smith, Lancaster Mayor Marcus Knight, Joshua Councilmember A. J. Mathieu and Sachse Councilmember Jared Patterson. State Rep. Jim Jackson was elected as the ex officio member.


During the organization's recent General Assembly, three regional awards were presented. The Linda Keithley Award for Women in Public Management was awarded to Jennifer Fadden, Colleyville city manager. The William J. Pitstick Regional Excellence Award went to Bill Keffler, recently retired city manager with the city of Richardson and the Regional Cooperation Award jointly recognized the cities of Fort Worth, Arlington, Euless and the DFW Airport for their joint efforts to reclaim, reuse and recycle waste water. 


Contracting Opportunities

Lone Star-Chinese education center partner on 'Texas Center'

Dr. Jianhong Sheng (from left) and Ying Bei of the SOCEDC, Shah Ardalan, CEO of Lone Star College-University Park and Brian Nelson, general counselor, Lone Star College System, sign the MOU.  

Lone Star College System and the Shanghai Oriental Chinese Education Development Center (SOCEDC) have inked a memorandum of understanding that will result in the "Texas Center" on the LSC-University Park campus.


LSC Chancellor Richard Carpenter said there is a growing interest in the American community college system. "China in particular is interested in our ability to train oil and gas technicians, who are badly needed for oilfield operations," said Carpenter. LSC-University Park already has extensive and innovative partnerships that can benefit local and international students. Students can complete a high school diploma through iSchool High or work toward an associate's degree, industry certification and then move on to seek degrees from four-year institutions. All of this can be done at one facility.


The SOCEDC is a nonprofit that promotes Chinese culture and traditions, including through educational opportunities. The Texas Center will feature program content that includes student exchange, ESL and leadership training and workforce development locally and globally. The partnership with Shanghai was designed with a sustainable business model by Michael Mathews, chief strategist for innovation and entrepreneurship at LSC-University Park. 


Texas A&M-San Antonio, Toyota offer new STEM scholarship

Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Toyota Texas officials recently announced partnerships with Palo Alto College and other area schools for a new scholarship to help train teachers how to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.


The new scholarship allows the student to earn a teaching degree in a STEM area and return to the school district from which that student graduated to teach the next generation of students. Scholarship winners must agree to attend Palo Alto College, part of the Alamo Colleges system, and then transfer to Texas A&M-San Antonio to complete a bachelor's degree.


Students attending South San Antonio Independent School District, Southwest ISD, Somerset ISD, Harlandale ISD and East Central ISD are eligible for the new scholarship.


UT-Brownsville taps Downing to lead institutional advancement

Irv DowningUniversity of Texas-Brownsville officials recently selected Irv Downing (pictured), who also serves as the vice president of economic development, to lead the Division of Institutional Advancement.


While retaining his duties overseeing the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center, the Arts Center and the Fort Brown Center, Downing also will lead university relations, news and information, creative services, Web communications and the alumni association.


Downing previously was president of the Rio Grande Valley region of a large, national bank. He has a bachelor's degree from State University of New York and a master's degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio.


May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Midland approves $220,000 to plan for renovation of Midland Center

Midland City Council members recently approved a $220,000 contract with architectural firm Rhotenberry Wellen to begin evaluating and planning on renovations to Midland Center, the convention center on Main Street. The architects will evaluate the structural integrity, plumbing, electric and mechanical systems of the 12,500-square-foot facility and interview staff to help determine the needs.


City staff identified customer accessibility, flooring, stage lighting telecommunications systems, the air conditioning and heating system, kitchen and hospitality areas that are in most need of upgrades. City officials have allotted $2 million to improve the convention center. City officials noted that receipts in hotel-motel taxes in March 2012 were $6.4 million, about $2.16 million more than collected in March 2011.


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Tyler ISD eyeing projects for proposed bond election

Tyler Independent School District officials recently began prioritizing projects that may be included in a bond issue in November.


A master plan adopted by the district calls for building two new high schools, an advanced technology and career center and creating four fifth- and sixth-grade centers along with four seventh- and eighth-grade centers. The district also needs to complete work on elementary campuses, the superintendent said.


District officials said the district can support a $150 million bond proposal with no increase in the tax rate, but has not yet finalized the amount to be placed on the ballot if a bond election is called in November. In 2010, voters rejected an $89.9 million bond proposal. Trustees took no action after discussing several suggestions for possible bond projects.


Gilmer begins process to acquire land for airport expansion

Jeff EllingtonGilmer City Council members recently took the first steps toward acquiring property west of the municipal airport, Fox Stephens Field, by agreeing to ask the Texas Department of Transportation to study the best location to add the property and how much property to add, City Manager Jeff Ellington (pictured) said.


City officials primarily are looking at property located west of the runway, but may also need some property east and on both ends of the runway, Ellington said. The study is necessary to qualify for a grant from the Federal Aviation Agency that would pay about 90 percent, or $741,000, of the project cost with the city paying only $74,120, or 10 percent, he added. The study will determine if sufficient clearance exists, measure and report elevation of land on both sides of the airstrip and which trees may grow on either side of the runway in the future, Ellington said. The process of obtaining the federal grant could take a year or longer to complete, he told council members.


   Jobs Looking for a public sector job?

Do you qualify for a customer service representative job at a state agency? Or director of environmental health and safety for a Texas state university? How about a HVAC technician for a Texas county? These and dozens more public sector jobs are added to our Public Sector Job Board each week. 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

Pearland approves pact with county for new $1.1 million library fund

Pearland City Council members recently approved an agreement with Brazoria County to provide $1.1 million in funding for a new library on the west side of the city.


The agreement calls for the county to provide $550,000 to pay for management, maintenance and utilities for the new library while the city agreed to contribute an additional $550,000 for furnishings and books for the library's book collection. City officials are considering several vacant buildings in the western part of the city to house the new library, expected to be open in January 2013.


Kamp elected chair of NCTCOG Regional Transportation Council

Pete KampPete Kamp (pictured), mayor pro tem for the city of Denton, was recently elected chair of the North Central Texas Council of Governments' (NCTCOG) Regional Transportation Council (RTC). She replaces Fort Worth Council member Jungus Jordan, who chaired the RTC since last June.


The RTC oversees transportation planning in the 12-county metropolitan planning area. This includes guiding the development of multimodal transportation plans and programs, allocating transportation funds and recommending projects to the Texas Transportation Commission for other programs. It also ensures transportation services are coordinated throughout the region and ensure compliance regionally with air quality regulations.

Kamp was first appointed to the RTC in 2004, and since then has held the positions of vice chair, secretary, Nominating Committee chair and By-Laws Committee chair. She has served as Denton's mayor pro tem since 2006, and has served on the City Council since 2003. She is only the second City of Denton official to have served as chair of the RTC. Former Mayor Jack Miller held the position from 1998-99. 


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Thornton, Reed leave posts at Alamo Regional Mobility Authority

Bill ThorntonOnly one week after Bexar County Commissioners assumed operation of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (RMA), Board Chairman Bill Thornton (right), and a board member expected to succeed Thornton as chairman, Jim Reed (left), resigned their posts on the board of the regional transportation authority. Thornton and Reed both have served on the board since it was created in 2004. Their resignations are effective immediately


Jim ReedThe county commissioner who led efforts to takeover operation of RMA, Kevin Wolff, said county officials currently have no plans to dissolve the RMA board in spite of a recent comments by Texas Transportation Commission officials that RMA cannot expect state funding without agreeing to provide local funding to help leverage state funding, much of which is generated by toll roads located in other regions. Unlike most other major cities in Texas, San Antonio currently does not have a toll project under way.


Wolff declined to identify who he would support to replace Thornton, who had previously announced his resignation as chairman, or for a replacement for Reed to serve on the RMA board.


El Paso County approves $44 million expansion of jail annex

Richard WilesEl Paso County commissioners recently approved $44 million to pay for an expansion of the jail annex. At a cost of about $2.5 million, the first phase to remodel portions of the jail annex should begin this month and be completed next spring, Sheriff Richard Wiles (pictured) said. The second phase of the jail annex expansion is slated to break ground later this year after certificates of deposit are sold.


Expanding the jail annex by 432 beds will allow inmates to be transferred from the downtown jail to the annex, which will save the county money as the design of the downtown facility requires more guards to properly oversee prisoners, Wiles said. Construction on the jail expansion should begin in four to six months after the county sells $110 million in certificates of obligation approved by commissioners earlier this month.


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Marshall could soon outsource school district custodial services

Marc SmithBoard members of the Marshall Independent School District are entering into negotiations with GCA, Inc. to provide options for outsourcing the district's custodial services. The school board recently approved GCA as a vendor and will look at how the company's analysis will impact district savings. Outsourcing of custodial services is just one measure the board has been considering as it tries to bridge a $3 million budget gap.


Preliminary figures show outsourcing to GCA would save the district more than $411,000 on its costs for custodial services. GCA offered the lowest bid among those seeking the contract and also promised to invest $200,000 in new equipment for the district to be better able to clean school facilities.


After approving GCA as a vendor, Superintendent Marc Smith (pictured) said the next step will be to "look at contract negotiations, savings factors and options of the numbers that will ultimately impact savings."


Sewer system improvements grant being sought by Bandera

The Bandera City Council has approved seeking a $275,000 grant to be used for improvements to the city's sewer system. The grant funds are available through the Texas Department of Agriculture's Community Development Block Grant program. If approved, the grant funds would help replace a main sewer line near Eighth and Main streets. The city's share of the matching grant would be 5 percent, or $13,750. The application, which is due by October, will provide funding for a two-year period.


Nabers book signing slated at BookPeople in Austin in July

A second Austin book-signing featuring Mary Scott Nabers and her book, Collaboration Nation: How Public-Private Ventures are Revolutionizing the Business of Government, is slated for Tuesday, July 24, in Austin. Those who missed her earlier Austin event can participate in a book signing with the author beginning at 7 p.m. on that date at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar in Austin. The book signing is free and open to the public. To get a book signed at the event, a copy of the event book must be purchased from BookPeople. Those who cannot attend the event can pre-order a signed copy on the BookPeople Web site. For more information about the book signing, click here.


Small business owners invited to ABIA network, concession event

 "Runway to ABIA," a networking and concession opportunity for small business owners will be held Tuesday, June 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and sponsored by City of Austin Small and Minority Business Resources (SMBR). The event, which will be held at the City of Austin's Learning Resource Center, 2800 Spirit of Texas Drive in Austin, will provide an opportunity to network with business professionals and learn about potential business opportunities at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). Guests will include rental car agency representatives and representatives of food and non-food concession businesses at ABIA. SMBR will also provide bonding education. For more information or to RSVP, call 512-974-7677. 


Summit on Elder Financial Exploitation set in Houston

The Houston Financial Abuse Specialist Team and the Better Business Bureau Education Foundation will host its Texas Summit on Elder Financial Exploitation on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will be held at the United Way offices, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, 77007. The event will address the growing crisis of elder financial exploitation and investment fraud through a number of sessions with featured speakers. Those attending will examine newly emerging research on why older persons may be more susceptible to financial abuse and learn about successful programs on how to prevent that abuse, prosecute perpetrators of these crimes and protect the victims. William Benson, National Policy Advisor for the National Adult Protective Services Association and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging will deliver the opening address. For more information, including the day's agenda, and to register, click here.


UTA to host Government Procurement Conference 2012 in July

Government Procurement Conference 2012, hosted by ARRI Extension Centers at The University of Texas at Arlington, is slated this year for Wednesday, July 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Arlington Convention Center. Organizers call the event one of the most important and largest procurement conferences in North Central Texas. The main focus for the Conference in 2012 is to provide small businesses an opportunity to meet local, state and federal government buyers and their prime contractors. Local, state and federal government buyers were on hand for last year's event, along with more than 1,000 conference-goers. There are 60 sponsored registrations for Veteran/Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses. The event features free, informative educational workshops, buyer networking opportunities and access to resource and assistance agencies. Sponsorships and exhibit space are available. The event contact person is Jennifer Wilson at 817.272.5909 or Jennifer.wilson@uta.edu. For more information and to register, 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 Al 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.


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Public-private partnerships
poviding higher ed solutions


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


Colleges and universities continue to receive less funding each year from state coffers. And, increases in fees and tuition rates cannot provide the funding that they require. This situation is significant in Texas, but the problem is common throughout the country. There is no public funding available to help construct or renovate campus facilities, upgrade technology and handle deferred maintenance projects.


Competition for students and teachers is fierce. It takes new and modern campus housing and the latest technology to attract tech-savvy students. And world-class faculty and researchers will not be attracted to campuses with antiquated laboratories or classrooms that are overcrowded and ill-equipped.


Many institutions of higher learning simply can't increase their student populations because they need new housing facilities. Others can't upgrade laboratories or install the latest technology because their capital budgets are already expended.


The needs are great and with tax revenue, fees and tuition making up less and less of the budget, officials are seeking innovative solutions to their revenue needs. One of the most attractive options is obviously public-private partnerships (P3s).


Just this week in Texas, a $285.6 million public-private partnership was announced when the Texas A&M System was awarded a contract to develop a center to enhance the nation's preparedness for a biological attack or pandemic. The partnership includes an investment of $176.6 million in federal funds, with the remainder coming from commercial and academic partners. The partnership will build a new research facility and ancillary buildings, help the university attract top researchers from around the world and bring in billions of dollars for research. A&M System Chancellor John Sharp estimated the total economic impact of the project in just the first three years could be $1.3 billion.



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Book People speaking and signing

Grapevine may ask voters to approve $70 million in bonds

Grapevine City Council members recently began discussion on staging a $70 million bond election in November to pay for a new $40 million public safety building and $30 million to expand the Community Activities Center.


The new public safety building is expected to house the police department, administrative offices of the fire department and provide a two-story parking garage. The Community Activities Center expansion includes an enlarged workout space, more space for locker rooms and an aquatic center as well as a dedicated wing to replace the Senior Activities Center, city officials said.


Wilson selected as lone finalist

for superintendent at Denton ISD

Jamie WilsonTrustees for Denton Independent School District recently finalized the contract for Dr. Jamie Wilson (pictured), the current deputy superintendent, as the new superintendent. Wilson will replace Dr. Ray Braswell, who is retiring this month after 34 years with the school district.


Wilson, who joined the district in 2005, previously served as assistant superintendent for academic programs for secondary schools and as deputy superintendent beginning in 2007. Wilson has a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. He previously taught at Aubrey ISD and as an administrator at Keller ISD.


CommUnityCare taps Marrero

as community relations manager

CommUnityCare of Austin recently selected Elizabeth Marrero as its community relations manager. She previously was employed at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and for the National Association of Social Workers. Marrero has a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas and a master's degree from Columbia University.


Collaboration Nation

Gray County approves $4.5

million to upgrade LeFors Airport

Gray County commissioners recently approved moving forward with a proposed $4.5 million project to upgrade the runway at Perry Lefors Airport. The Texas Department of Transportation awarded a grant to cover 90 percent of the $4.5 million cost of the upgrade, county officials said. Plans call for overlaying one runway and applying a slurry seal or another surface treatment on the second runway.


Denton ISD selects Bostic

as assistant superintendent

Robert BosticDenton Independent School District trustees recently selected Robert Bostic (pictured), current director of school leadership and instructional technology, as the new assistant superintendent for academic programs. Bostic joined the Denton district as director of instructional technology in 2009.


A former administrator for Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and an Oklahoma City school district, Bostic has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree and is completing his Ph.D. at the University of North Texas.


Hardin-Jefferson ISD may ask voters to approve $22M bond

Hardin-Jefferson Independent School District board members recently began discussing whether to ask voters to approve a $22 million bond proposal to pay for facility upgrades and new construction.


Trustees plan to build a new middle school, new baseball and softball fields and new tennis courts if voters in November approve the bond proposal.


San Antonio studies sponsors for Convention Center, Alamodome

San Antonio city officials recently began considering a $78,500 contract with a consultant to help develop a pricing structure and placement for advertising at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and the Alamodome, including naming rights for that facility.


The Los Angeles-based consultant will survey both facilities and report back on the estimated value the advertising would generate, a suggested pricing structure and a sales strategy, said Mike Sawaya, director of convention sports and entertainment facilities for the city. The city has no plans to sell naming rights for the convention center, which will retain its name. Officials are considering selling advertising space inside the convention center.


Preliminary estimates are that revenue from sponsors for the advertising at the Alamodome and convention center could generate about $250,000 annually that can be used to maintain the facilities, Sawaya said.


Interested in P3's?

Kingsville ISD taps Blaha

as lone finalist for superintendent

Kingsville Independent School District trustees recently selected Edward Blaha, a principal at Pharrr-San Juan-Alamo High School, as the lone finalist for superintendent. Board members are expected to finalize a contract with Blaha on July 9.


Blaha will replace Emilio Castro, who resigned in October. Ruben Corkill, who retired as superintendent at Southside ISD in San Antonio, has served as interim superintendent in Kingsville since January.


Malcolm Nash retiring as superintendent at Sabine Pass

Malcolm NashSuperintendent Malcolm Nash (pictured) of Sabine Pass Independent School District recently announced he plans to retire at the end of June. Nash spent six years as superintendent and led the district's recovery after two hurricanes, Rita and Ike, heavily damaged district facilities in 2005 and 2008.


Dublin in no hurry to announce timetable for hiring city manager

Officials in Dublin plan to take their time in hiring a new city manager. In fact, Mayor Becky Norris has recommended that the City Council wait until next January before initiating the hiring process. A proposal to make the city's public works director, police chief and city secretary all assistant interim city managers did not pass. When a new city manager is selected, he or she will replace former City Manager Jerry Guillory, who was fired in May.


In the meantime, city officials are responding to department heads who say their workloads have increased since they are now handling some of the city manager's tasks. A proposal to increase some employees' pay until a new manager is named was referred to a committee. In the meantime, Norris serves as the city manager.


Clarendon names Waldrop

as new municipal judge

The board of Aldermen in Clarenton recently selected Tommy Waldrop as the new municipal judge. A retired school administrator with Shamrock ISD, Waldrop will replace Bob Watson, the former municipal judge who resigned in May.


How helpful is this?

Cuero names Zufelt to fill

post of interim city secretary

Jennifer Zufelt, former city secretary in Volente in Central Texas for nine years, has been appointed city secretary for Cuero. She will fill in for former City Secretary Lisa Moravitz, who was fired earlier this month, until a full-time selection is made. The city has posted an ad for the position but city officials say they have no timetable for filling the position. City Manager Raymie Zella said the city is hopeful to find someone who is already experienced in the job.


Splendora ISD taps Genese Bell

as lone finalist for superintendent

Genese BellTrustees for the Splendora Independent School District recently tapped Dr. Genese Bell (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Bell will replace the current superintendent, Dr. Thomas Price. Bell currently is the assistant superintendent of academic services for Elgin ISD and previously worked for Grape Creek ISD, San Angelo ISD and Veribest ISD.


League City lures Baumgartner away from longtime post in Allen

City of Allen engineering and traffic director John Baumgartner, who has served the city for the last 12 years, will be leaving the city to become assistant city manager of public works for League City. He will replace Rich Oller, former acting city manager and assistant city manager of public works, who resigned in February.


Baumgartner is a registered professional engineer with more than 23 years of experience in municipal government, engineering and public works operations. In Allen, he oversaw development projects related to roads, water and sewer infrastructure and construction of city facilities. He will begin his job in League City on Aug. 1.


Corpus Christi appoints

Clower, Dreyer to RTA board

Corpus Christi City Council members recently appointed two new members, George B. Clower and Thomas Dreyer, to represent the city on the board of the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).


Clower is a real estate broker and Dreyer represents disadvantaged riders who must be represented by one member on the 11-member board of directors. Clower is replacing John Longoria and Dreyer is replacing Judy Telge, both of whom had reached the term limit.


Health Information Designs

Von Meyer selected as interim

city treasurer in Bandera

Mae Von Meyer has been selected as the new interim city treasurer for the city of Bandera. She will take over for former City Treasurer Ernest DeWinne. The city posting for a city treasurer netted no applicants. Former applicants who had previously shown an interest in the post were called by City Administrator Mike Cardenas, who said they each declined this time around.


TEA supports Edcouch-Elsa

ISD in firing of superintendent

Delfino AlemanTexas Education Commissioner Robert Scott recently upheld a decision by Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District trustees to terminate former Superintendent Delfino Aleman (pictured).


In the ruling, Scott wrote that Aleman caused much of the communication problems with trustees by describing them as "rogue" and "dysfunctional." An attorney for Aleman said his client has not decided if he will appeal the TEA decision in state district court.


City of Texarkana announces

three finalists for city manager

Three finalists have been announced for the position of city manager for the city of Texarkana. The finalists include Isaac Turner of North Venice, Florida; Michael Ahrens of Mount Pleasant; and Jason Little of Melissa. One of the three will replace retiring City Manager Dr. Larry Sullivan, who will leave his post on Aug. 1. City officials said they have not adopted a timeline for replacing Sullivan.


DeKalb ISD selects Sparks

as interim superintendent

DeKalb Independent School District trustees recently selected Stephanie Sparks as the interim superintendent. Sparks has worked for the school district since 1998.


SPI on Twitter

Baldree leaving post as

head of Blooming Grove ISD

Superintendent Mike Baldree of Blooming Grove Independent School District recently resigned from that post. Baldree is leaving to accept a new job as superintendent at Leon ISD.


Blooming Grove ISD trustees plan to begin an official search for a new superintendent as soon as Baldree is officially hired by the Leon school district, school officials said.


Shipp announces resignation 

as city manager in Royse City

City Manager Bill Shipp recently resigned as city manager in Royse City. Council members then appointed Larry Lott, the executive director for economic development, and Police Chief Carl Alsabrook to serve as interim co-city managers until a new city manager is hired.


City Attorney Jason Day said Alsabrook has agreed to serve as a co-city manager on an interim basis, but Lott has not confirmed whether he has agreed to those terms. Alsabrook and Lott served as co-interim city managers before Shipp was hired as city manager.


Shipp previously was a city manager in Commerce.


Recent Reports

Lufkin approves $26,500

to buy land for new fire station

Lufkin City Council members recently approved $26,500 to buy 1.4 acres of property to build a new fire station adjacent to the existing Fire Station #5.


The city plans to replace the existing fire station with a new fire station on the property once funding is available, City Manager Paul Parker said. Council members are expected to approve a bond program or other funding for the new station within two years, Parker said. Current plans are for firefighters to remain in the old station until the new station is completed and then tear down the old building and renovate that property, Parker said.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 6/15/12

Columbus to seek grant for upgrade to downtown district

Columbus City Council members recently authorized the city manager to apply for a grant of up to $150,000 from the Texas Capital Fund to upgrade the downtown historical district. The grant will be used primarily to upgrade sidewalks if approved, City Manager Donald Warschak said.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Matthew "Dade" Phelan of Beaumont, Lower Neches Valley Authority Board of Directors;
  • Jordan Reese IV of Beaumont, Lower Neches Valley Authority Board of Directors;
  • James "Olan" Webb of Silsbee, Lower Neches Valley Authority Board of Directors;
  • Jolene Miller of Huntsville, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • Elizabeth "Betty" Protas of League City, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • MariBen Ramsey of Austin, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • James R. Reed of San Antonio, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • Leah R. Thornton of Austin, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • Homer D. Trevino of Waco, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • Paul D. Urban of Kerrville, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • Bill Wilson of Hutto, State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee;
  • Jon Burrows of Temple, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • Knox Fitzpatrick of Dallas, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • Anthony Odiorne of Georgetown, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • Sherry Radack of Houston, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • Olen Underwood of Conroe, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • Laura Weiser of Victoria, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • B. Glen Whitley of Hurst, Governing Board of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;
  • Peter Peca Jr. of El Paso, judge of El Paso County Criminal District Court..

City attorney Bayne selected

as Del Rio city court judge

James J. Bayne, Jr., city attorney in Del Rio for more than 10 years, has been selected judge of the city's municipal court. He replaces former Municipal Court Judge Filemon Ortiz Jr.


Corsicana approves $544,206 to upgrade police station

Corsicana City Council members recently approved $554,206 to expand and renovate the police station. The upgrade includes adding 3,300 square feet of new space by closing in an existing sally port and remodeling 1,200 square feet of space currently used by the police department to provide more office and meeting space, a new lobby for the public, a new interview room and a new dispatch center. Work on the police station should begin in mid-July and take about seven months to complete.


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Van Alstyne to use search

firm to find new city manager

Van Alstyne City Council recently agreed to use the services of a search firm to find a new city manager to replace former City Manager Phil Rodriguez, who left the city before completing his two-year term. The search firm that conducted the search when Rodriguez was hired will help search for another city manager at no cost to the city, said a spokesman for Strategic Government Resources, the search firm.


Frank Baker, the interim city manager, will remain in that position until the search for a new city manager is completed.


Mineola school board selects Fuller as interim superintendent

Dr. John Fuller, retired superintendent of the Wylie School District, has been selected as interim superintendent of the Mineola Independent School District. Fuller, who also is a past president of the Texas Association of School Administrators, was selected by the school board earlier this week. He replaces former Superintendent Mary Lookado, who resigned last month.


Gillespie County takes

first peek at plans for new jail

Gillespie County commissioners recently got their first peek at architectural plans for a proposed new two-story, 96-bed jail facility. The new facility will be located behind the current Gillespie County Law Enforcement Center.


The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has cited the county several times for overcrowding. County officials also now spend more than $400,000 a year to house inmates outside the county. County commissioners have discussed asking voters to approve bonds to build the new jail.


Smith retires from SA-Bexar County MPO after 19 years

Clay Smith, a member of the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Policy Board, has announced his retirement from the board. Smith, a 35-year veteran of the Texas Department of Transportation, serving as the San Antonio District Transportation Planning Engineer, has been a member of the board for nearly two decades. 


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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