Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 27 - Friday, July 13, 2012

In January, today's news will be 'de ja vu all over again'


Legislature likely to face issues that are making headlines now: Medicaid to budget

Phil WilsonWhitney BrewsterIf there's any question about what the 83rd Texas Legislature will be addressing when the session convenes next January, just open a newspaper or turn on the television.


Many of the headline-grabbing issues on the front pages of today's newspapers and occupying the lead spot on TV's six o'clock news will likely resurface when they become issues facing the next legislative session.


Things like the state budget deficit, statewide transportation infrastructure needs and a transportation department running on financial fumes, gaping holes in public and higher education budgets and the possibility of additional cuts in state funding on the way. How about an alternative solution to the number of uninsured in the state after the governor recently said Texas will not be among the states expanding Medicaid, as promoted by the federal health care reform law? Oh, and don't forget that albatross that has hung around lawmakers' necks for years - public school finance. A state district judge has said he plans to make his decision on the school funding lawsuit by January 2013 while the legislature is in session.


And if those issues aren't enough to give lawmakers and taxpayers heartburn, turnover (at the helm of some major state agencies and in the membership of the Texas House and Senate) should drive up sales of antacids for 140 days in January through May.


Robert ScottTom SuehsSome major state agencies will have newbies at the helm. Phil Wilson (top left) will see his first legislative session as executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation. He's no stranger to state government, having previously served as Secretary of State and deputy chief of staff to the governor, but transportation is new to his resume. Whitney Brewster (top right) is a native Texan and has a healthy resume of work with state government, so this is not her first rodeo, but she comes to the executive director position at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles by way of the Alaska state government. She is the former director of that state's DMV and former director of the Alaska Division of Elections.


Longtime state employee and expert on all things health and human services, HHSC Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs (bottom left), has called it a career. Although his replacement has not yet been named, that person will face the daunting task in his or her first legislative session of being in a position that oversees five health and human services agencies, their approximately 50,000 employees and combined annual budgets of more than $30 billion. And there's that little Medicaid issue looming.


With so many public education issues on the table, Texas is currently without an Education Commissioner, following the resignation of Robert Scott (bottom right), who gave up that post earlier this month. No successor has been named.




Former assistant administrator Cook named to lead TABC

Sherry CookSherry Cook (pictured), a six-year veteran at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and with nearly three decades of public service to her credit, has been named administrator of the TABC. Cook joined the TABC in 2006 as the agency's Information Technology Director and Information Resources Manager. In 2008, she was promoted to Assistant Administrator for Regulatory and Business Operations. In that position, her responsibilities included oversight of Business Services, Marketing Practices, Licensing, Human Resources, Information Resources, Tax, Ports of Entry and Education and Prevention.  She also played a key role in the modernization of business practices at the agency, thus leveraging technology. 


Prior to her affiliation with TABC, Cook served 29 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in various positions. That included nine years with the Texas Rangers Division as a crime analyst.

Cook holds associate degrees from Austin Community College in Information Technology and from Alvin Community College in Criminal Justice and Corrections. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas State University-San Marcos. She is a TCLEOSE Certified Peace Officer and a Certified Public Manager.


Cook has been serving as interim administrator since June 1, 2012. She will now continue to oversee an agency with over 600 employees, a biennial budget of approximately $84 million and almost $200 million in annual revenue collections.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Olga RodriguezOlga Rodriguez, director, Center for Program Coordination and Health Policy, Texas Department of State Health Services


Career highlights and education: Special Achievement Award from the Executive Office of the President from the Office of Management and Budget for work on federal budget formulation process; implemented key statewide health care initiatives in the Texas Medicaid office related to women's health, early childhood health insurance coverage, prescription drug policy and physician and hospital finance projects; managed over $150 million for initiating innovative health interventions in the State of Texas for children; managing key project portfolio and executive planning for major state agency.  B.A. from Occidental College in California and Master's in Public Affairs from The University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
What I like best about my job is: I like being able to dig into the details of certain health care issues in the state while tying specific health care issues to high level public and private health care innovations and challenges.   

The best advice I've received for my current job is: In addition to managing the critical issues at hand, always plan two to five years ahead on a regular basis.  
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: You will be working in an area of constant change in state government. 

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: at the movies with my husband or at the park with my young children.
People would be surprised to know that I: played competitive volleyball in college.  

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The impact of public health interventions in impacting the health of entire communities over time.

Parkland names new leadership team to seek system-wide change

Trying to recover from being placed under federally mandated safety monitoring, Parkland Health & Hospital System today, Friday, announced a reorganization of its senior leadership team. The new leaders have been given a mandate to focus on a rapid and sustainable turnaround at Parkland.


"We're entering a new phase in our corrective action plan," said Debbie Branson, chair of the Parkland Board of Managers. "The emphasis must be on ensuring the changes we've made in our operations become permanently woven into the Parkland culture. This group of leaders has the talent and turnaround experience to get that done."


The leadership team includes:

  • Ron Laxton, RN, Interim Chief Operating Officer for Hospital Operations - Laxton is currently serving as Chief Implementation Officer (CIMO) under the Systems Improvement Agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). He will now oversee Parkland's acute care hospital operations. He is former CEO of Renown Regional Medical Center & Children's Hospital in Nevada.



Austin architect Kreisle to chair Texas Historical Commission

Matthew KreisleAustin architect Matthew Kreisle III (pictured) has been tabbed by Gov. Rick Perry as the new chair of the Texas Historical Commission. Kreisle was originally appointed to the commission in 2011. He replaces Austin businesswoman Sheri Krause, who resigned.


Kreisle is a senior partner and managing principal at Page Southerland Page, a 113-year-old international architecture and engineering design firm founded in Austin in 1898. He is a member of the Texas Society of Architects, American Institute of Architects and International Interior Design Association. Kreisle holds a bachelor's degree in architecture from The University of Texas at Austin.


Sales tax revenues rise for 27th consecutive month

Cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts will share $534.6 million in sales tax allocations from the State Comptroller's Office. Sales tax revenue in the state in June was $1.98 billion, up 15.2 percent from June of last year. The sales tax figures represent monthly sales made in May. The $534.6 million distributed in July by the Comptroller represents an increase of 12.7 percent over July 2011 reimbursements.


Cities will receive July checks totaling $350.3 million, up 11 percent over July last year. Counties saw a 19.7 percent increase from July 2011 to this year and transit systems' $121.6 million in allocations for July was up 12.2 percent for the same month last year. The state's special purpose taxing districts will share $27.1 million in July allocations, up 30.2 percent over the same month last year.


To view allocations by city, click here. To view allocations by county, click here.


Lopez to retire from post as TxDOT Austin district engineer

Carlos LopezMore than 30 years of service to the Texas Department of Transportation and the state of Texas will end July 31 with the retirement of TxDOT District Engineer Carlos Lopez (pictured).


Lopez, who has spent 33 years with the state's transportation agency, began working for TxDOT in 1979 as a summer intern in the Laredo Area Office while working on his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, he became a full-time employee in 1982 as a field engineer in the Design Division.


Since then, he has served as a special projects engineer, deputy director and director of the Traffic Operations Division. He was named the District Engineer for Austin in 2009.


Texas gets $63M in hospital, emergency preparedness funds

Funding totaling nearly $63 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is headed to Texas to help the state respond to emergencies and recover from hazards. The funds are distributed through the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program.


Texas was awarded $26,394,469 from the HPP cooperative agreement and $37,551,857 from the PHEP agreement. The two funds are awarded jointly, encouraging cooperation between the nation's health care and public health systems. The two federal preparedness programs represent critical sources of funding and support for public health and health care preparedness systems.


HHS officials note that state and local agencies are making progress in building and sustaining public health and health care preparedness capabilities. These extra funds will allow them to conduct joint planning, exercising and program operations, which are vital in preparing communities to respond and recover from emergencies and help communities manage health care and public health needs daily.


Contracting Opportunities

Wilson selected to lead TxDOT Office of Civil Rights

Ron WilsonFormer State Rep. Ron Wilson (pictured), who also served a short stint as Assistant Parliamentarian of the House under then-speaker Tom Craddick, has been tabbed to head the Office of Civil Rights at the Texas Department of Transportation.


As director of the office, Wilson will supervise offices that work with Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs).


Wilson served as a member of the House for 27 years.


CNBC study ranks Texas infrastructure, transportation tops

Texas captured the top spot in the infrastructure and transportation category of a CNBC ranking system for the second year in a row. According to CNBC, Texas scored 1,604 points out of a possible 2,500, with top-10 finishes in six of the 10 categories of competitiveness. Of the 325 total possible points for the Infrastructure and Transportation category, Texas scored 248.


The scoring was based on the vitality of each state's transportation system by the value of goods shipped by air, land and water, the availability of air travel in each state and the quality of the roads. "Texas is making the proper investment in infrastructure and being recognized as a national leader proves we are on the right track," said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson.


Interim Film Commission Director Fitzmaurice steps down

Evan FitzmauriceTexas Film Commission Interim Director Evan Fitzmaurice (pictured) is giving up film for law. Fitzmaurice took over as interim director of the agency in 2010 following the exit of former Director Bob Hudgins. Fitzmaurice has given up the post to practice law in Austin.


David Morales, general counsel for the Governor's Office, which has oversight of the Film Commission, will serve as film commissioner until a replacement is found. The role of the commissioner is to oversee state efforts to bring business and jobs to the state through film, television, advertising and video game development. The commissioner also oversees distribution of tax incentives used to attract those businesses.


TCEQ seeking grant applications to replace gasoline, diesel engines

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials recently began seeking applications for $18 million in grants to replace older medium-duty and heavy-duty gasoline vehicles or diesel vehicles with vehicles powered by natural gas or to retool existing vehicles with engines that burn natural gas.


Governmental entities, school districts, businesses and individuals are eligible for the grants from the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program and are available only from participating dealers, TCEQ officials said.

The grants will reimburse from about 60 percent to 90 percent of the incremental cost of the natural gas vehicles. The reimbursement also will be based on fuel capacity, usage and weight class of the grant-funded vehicle.


Under terms of the grants, recipients must achieve at least a 25 percent reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides and commit to operate the vehicles funded by the grants for at least 75 percent of the annual mileage for four years, or 400,000, whichever comes first. Deadline for submitting applications is until May 31, 2013 at 5 p.m. or until all funding is awarded, whichever occurs first. For more information, click here.


Moreno retires as chief of field operations for TABC

Joel MorenoJoel Moreno (pictured), chief of field operations for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), recently retired. Moreno joined TABC as a field agent in 1985 in McAllen, where he had worked as a police officer for five years. He also worked as an agent in McAllen and Harlingen, a sergeant in Houston and McAllen, a lieutenant in Corpus Christi and captain of the West Region of TABC in Odessa. He became deputy assistant chief of enforcement in 2004.


Moreno won promotion to chief of enforcement in Austin in August in 2007. He has a bachelor's degree from Pan American University in Edinburg and holds certification as a Master Peace Officer by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.


Collaboration Nation

Walz leaving communications job with lieutenant governor

Mike Walz, communications director for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, has announced he is leaving that position to join InfraREIT Capital Partners, LLC, based in Dallas. According to the company's Web site, the firm manages unique Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that invest in various forms of infrastructure, including: electric transmission and distribution utility assets, natural gas delivery and storage assets and other delivery and storage assets.


Deputy Communications Director Lauren Thurston will serve as the primary press contact for the Lt. Governor's Office during the interim.


Guy Bailey will be leaving Texas Tech for Alabama

Guy BaileyGuy Bailey (pictured), who has served as the 15th president of Texas Tech University since 2008, will be leaving the land of the Red Raiders after having been chosen to be the next president of his alma mater, the University of Alabama.


Bailey has offered to stay at Texas Tech until Sept. 1. Texas Tech System Chancellor Kent Hance has indicated he will appoint a search committee in the next few weeks to find a replacement for Bailey. An interim president will be appointed until Bailey's successor is named.


Bailey holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Alabama and a doctorate from the University of Tennessee. Before joining Texas Tech, he held positions at the University of Nevada at Reno, the University of Memphis, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University and Emory University. He also served as provost of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Before becoming president of Texas Tech, he served as chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.


Collin College tags Hardin to serve on board of trustees

Andy HardinCollin College officials recently selected Andrew Hardin (pictured) to serve on Place 9 of the Board of Trustees. Hardin replaces Brenda Willard Goodell, who passed away on Dec. 31, 2011.


Hardin is a civic leader in Frisco and owns his own business. He also served as vice president of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce and on the city council and economic development commission in McKinney.


He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University.


TAMU System management review to result in net staff cut of seven

A study commissioned by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the A&M System offices will result in the elimination of 30 positions, but will result in a net staff reduction of only seven persons. To view the complete report, click here.


Although the report notes, "implementation of the 50+ recommendations contained in this report would result in the net reduction of 161 positions and annual savings of approximately $19.4 million," Sharp said because of normal attrition and the award of a $285.6 million contract between A&M and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop one of three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, the expected elimination of 30 positions will result in a net staff reduction of seven persons..


The goal of the MGT of America review was to identify possible changes in business practices, organizational structure, staffing and expenses. The company conducted interviews with 75 leaders in the TAMU System. "We studied this long and hard with a goal of creating a self-sustaining organization of the quality necessary to enable our universities, agencies and health science center to reach their lofty goals," said Sharp.


STC President Reed elected to community college association board

Shirley ReedShirley Reed (pictured), president of South Texas College (STC), will serve as the newest member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) board of directors. She will serve a three-year term on the board, advocating on behalf of STC and the more than 1,000 community colleges and college systems spread across North America.


Reed will bring four decades of experience in higher education to the board, and is supportive of the organization's new "Reclaiming the American Dream" report, which expands on its 2011 initiative to help an additional 5 million students earn degrees, certificates or other credentials by 2020.


Reed already has set a goal at STC of doubling the number of graduates at STC in five years. The college already has shown a more than 100 percent increase in graduates, from 1,835 in 2006 to 4,245 in 2011.


Hensley to take on role as assistant director of TAMU veterinary lab

Terry HensleyThe Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory has a new assistant agency director. Terry Hensley (pictured), assistant executive director for animal health programs at the Texas Animal Health Commission since 2010, is the new assistant director.


At the lab, Hensley will co-manage diagnostic services and supervise the process for receiving specimens from clients. He also will serve as a liaison with clients and partner organizations, including the Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Hensley brings a wealth of experience to his new job. He is a former veterinary medical officer and foreign animal disease diagnostician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service in Veterinary Services in Salem, Oregon, for two decades.


Hensley holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science, a master's degree in poultry science and a doctorate in veterinary medicine - all from Texas A&M University.


FEMA, S. Padre Island, Los Fresnos to build new $2.4 million shelter

The cities of Los Fresnos and South Padre Island, along with the Los Fresnos Independent School District, recently agreed to use a $1.8 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build a $2.4 million hurricane shelter that also will be a school gymnasium.


The two cities agreed to each contribute $150,000 to the project while the school district approved a $300,000 contribution to the hurricane shelter/gymnasium. The new shelter will be the second emergency

shelter in the Rio Grande Valley funded by FEMA, as Willacy County commissioners plan to use federal funding to build a shelter in the Raymondville area just east of US77.


Officials of Brownsville and Rio Hondo in Cameron County also plan to build emergency shelters, said Humberto Barrera, the emergency management director for Cameron County.


Plans call for the shelter for South Padre Island and Los Fresnos to withstand 200 mph winds and accommodate as many as 3,200 people, as well as featuring a command center with a radio system and hurricane tracking equipment operated by local officials.


UT-Permian Basin to spend $8.75 million on new student housing

David WattsRegents for the University of Texas System recently approved $8.75 million to pay for building an additional 42,726 square feet of student housing at the University of Texas-Permian Basin to accommodate 700 more students by August 2013.


Plans call for construction of three four-bedroom units that will include 32 beds for students and one for a resident adviser, two bathrooms, a dining/living area and kitchen for each unit, noted President David Watts (pictured) of UTPB.


The buildings will be two-story, wood frame with brick and stone interiors that will be consistent with existing apartments built in 2004.


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Houston mayor urges $410 million bond election for upgrades

Annise ParkerHouston Mayor Annise Parker (pictured) recently urged city council members to ask voters in November to approve $410 million in bonds to pay for building new facilities and renovating existing city buildings.


The city needs to upgrade police stations, fire stations, parks, libraries and recycling centers to maintain a good quality of life and improve public safety, Parker said. However, bond funding is needed to meet those needs, she said. The mayor urged approval of $160 million for parks, $144 million for public safety, $63 million for health, sanitation and general government, $28 million for libraries and $15 million for affordable housing.


While city officials assured voters the proposed bond issue would not need a tax increase to be repaid, Houston voters in November also will be voting in the presidential election, on a proposed $1.9 million bond issue from Houston Independent School District, a bond proposal by Houston Community College and an extension of a 1-cent sales tax for Metro.


Group unveils nominees for 2012 superintendent of year

Officials of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) recently announced the regional winners for the annual Superintendent of the Year award. Nominations include superintendents who show excellence and leadership in education. The nominees also are judged on ability to build effective employee relations, student performance and work to encourage parental involvement in public education.


Superintendents nominated for the honor this year are: Rene Gutierrez of Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District (CISD); Brett Belmarez of Skidmore-Tynan Independent School District (ISD); Greg Smith of Clear Creek ISD; Malcolm Nash of Sabine Pass ISD; Darrell Myers of Livingston ISD and J. Glenn Hambrick of Carthage ISD. Also nominated for the SOTY award are Rose Mary Neshyba of Red Lick ISD; John Baker of Seymour ISD; Ken Helvey of Allen ISD; Wayne Rotan of Glen Rose ISD; Robert Muller of Killeen ISD; Charles Dupre of Pflugerville ISD; Joey Light of Wylie ISD; Walter Holik, Jr. of Wall ISD; Mike Wartes of Canyon ISD; Deanna Logan of Rails ISD; Dennis McEntire of Presidio ISD; Michael Zoikoski of Ysleta ISD; and Gail Siller of Fort Sam Houston ISD.


Plans call for interviewing the regional winners in Austin and select five finalists. TASB officials will announce the Superintendent of the Year on September 28 in Austin at the TASA/TASB Convention.


Lone Star College chooses Koenig as new consultant

Jan KoenigThe Small Business Development Center of Lone Star College recently selected Jan Koenig (pictured) as a consultant to work with business development.


With expertise in finance and education, including owning a business, Koenig holds a bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master's degree from Harvard University. He also was employed in banking and taught at Houston Community College.


The Small business Development Center works primarily with existing businesses to help the business grow and better compete in the global economy.


Elgin votes to spend up to $2M on capital improvement projects

Elgin City Council members recently approved a resolution to allow the city to spend up to $2 million on capital improvement projects and pay back the general fund later with proceeds from the sale of certificates of obligation.


The proposed capital projects include some current projects that require more funding and some projects that were not funded by previous bond issues, General Manager Greg Vick said. The additional funding will allow rebuilding 2nd Street from Avenue B to 11th Street and adding two miles of sidewalks along with two transit stops in the downtown area, Vick said.


The additional funding will pay for paving a two-block section of 2nd Street and two miles of sidewalks that were not included in the grant funding for the project, he said. Other projects receiving the funding are downtown restrooms, a lifeguard station and permanent restrooms for Morris Park, electrical work at city parks, a covered area for the Farmer's Market and to buy new equipment, he said.


Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport to get $3 million makeover

Brazoria AirportA nearly $3 million makeover of the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport is upcoming after the Brazoria County commissioners recently accepted a bid from Teal Construction to build a new terminal. About half of the $2.7 million project will be paid for by state and federal funds. The remaining $1.6 million will come from local funds.


The new 11,000-square-foot facility (as seen in the accompanying artist's rendering) will have a groundbreaking within the next 60 days. Officials expect it to be open next summer, helping to positively affect the local economy. The terminal is part of a master plan outlined in 2009.


Services to be provided at the new terminal will include car rentals, fuel and ground handling for aircraft operations and county administration for airport operations. There will also be a pilot's lounge and office space for a small flight school. Amenities will also be provided for passengers coming through the airport.


Dallas-Fort Worth area getting new U.S. Patent Office
The time for getting inventions to market just got shorter in Texas. Dallas was one of three areas to recently be named as hosts for regional patent offices. Facing a backlog of applications, officials of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office announced that Dallas would join Silicon Valley and Denver in becoming the newest regional patent office sites. Officials say the backlog of applications seeking review now numbers more than 640,000.

An overhaul of the patent system was made law last year, and that legislation also authorized adding new patent offices. The agency now is seeking to hire more examiners and hopes to take advantage of engineers who work closer to where inventors are located. Dallas and the other two regional offices were chosen from some 600 applications and were based on geographic diversity, economic impact, the local workforce and nearness of location to companies submitting applications.

"The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities," the patent office and U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement. Texas trailed only the Silicon Valley area in the most patents granted, with the Silicon Valley posting 10,000 in 2010. California as a whole had 28,148 investors named in patents, more than one-fourth of the more than 108,000 patents issued nationwide in 2011. Texas inventors were awarded 7,584 patents.

At least one of the three new offices named is expected to be online within two years. This year alone, the patent agency will increase the number of examiners by 1,500, bringing the total to 7,800.  Depending on the federal budget, officials say they could hire a like amount next year.


Tyler could consider private partner for new $7M parking garage

Mark McDanielTyler city officials recently approved the final design for a proposed $7 million, four-story parking garage to ease downtown parking. Council members also are considering a public-private partnership as a possible way to help finance the proposed project to add 427 additional downtown parking spaces.


The goal for the proposed Fair Plaza Garage to be located next to the public library is to offer more parking closer to the area and attract more visitors downtown, City Manager Mark McDaniel (pictured) said. A $32,000 study released last year indicated that while the downtown area has 1,406 parking spaces, only 350 of those spaces are available for public parking.


While council members have not yet approved funding for the new parking garage, city officials could use funding from a half-cent sales tax, special utility funds and oil and gas revenue as well as from public-private partnerships. McDaniel also urged council to look for a qualified construction manager to work with the city on the project to help motorists whose parking areas were displaced by construction.


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Rio Hondo asking for $1.7M in federal funds to upgrade water plant

Rio Hondo city officials recently agreed to reapply for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDS) to pay for repairs to its water plant. The city also is negotiating with Harlingen WaterWorks and the East Rio Hondo Water Supply Corporation to secure an emergency water source if more problems develop.


City officials in May dropped plans to build a new water plant citing the 4.5 percent interest rate for the loan. USDA officials in May withdrew a $1.3 million grant and a $2.8 million loan previously awarded to Rio Hondo.


City officials now plan to repair electrical problems and expand daily production capacity from 790,000 gallons to about 1.2 million gallons at the existing plant, the public works director said. Rio Hondo also will need to spend about $700,000 to connect to Harlingen WaterWorks with about two miles of pipe. However, they would spend much less to connect with the East Rio Hondo Water Supply Corp. for an alternate source of water in an emergency that reduces flow or shuts down the water plant, he said.


Design for Gillespie County Justice Center released

Brazoria AirportA price tag was recently attached to a preliminary design for the planned Gillespie County Justice Center. A cost ceiling of $14.8 million was attached to the design and cost, but commissioners did not move forward to the design development phase until after voters decide the future of the project in a bond election in the fall. 


The preliminary design chosen by the commissioners (as seen in attached artist's rendering) was that of Wiginton Hooker Jeffrey (WHJ) Architect. The proposed 47,650-square-foot building will be two stories and built on county land behind the current county law enforcement center. Not only will the justice center include a 96-bed jail, but it will also include adult probation offices, a courtroom, an emergency operations center, training facilities, a conference room, administrative offices and law enforcement dispatch offices. To cut costs, some preliminary design aspects were downsized. The sally port size was reduced by 1,200 square feet and a change was made to the maintenance area around the jail cells. 


Nine counties in Texas, Oklahoma to apply for wellness grant

Officials of nine counties in Texas and Oklahoma recently agreed to join together to apply for a grant of up to $4 million to promote wellness in the region along the border of northeast Texas and Oklahoma. The counties applying for the grant are Cooke, Grayson, Fannin, Bryan, Marshall, Love, Choctaw, Pushmataha and McCurtain.


Several wellness organizations, school districts and health departments from the area will work together in providing wellness programs and promoting prevention of illness if the grant is awarded to the group, said Neva Yeary, executive director of Pride Prevention Center. The Centers for Disease Control has $70 million in grant funding to provide grants to help prevent obesity and heart disease in rural areas.


The grants can be used to build more walking trails, increase health education in area schools and expand existing programs to reduce smoking, said Yeary, whose organization has shrunk from 20 employees in 2006 to four employees this year due to budget cuts at the local, state and federal levels of government.


Sugar Land eyeing $2.98M contract for citywide surveillance system

Douglas BrinkleySugar Land city officials recently began considering a proposed $2.98 million contract with a video surveillance company for a two-phased program to install 138 cameras to monitor license plates and 70 video cameras at city facilities, parks, neighborhoods and on major thoroughfares.


Police Chief Douglas Brinkley (pictured) proposed that city officials perform an operational assessment of the program to review its effectiveness a year after the surveillance program begins. The proposed system reads hundreds of license plates per minute and transmits that data electronically to the police department, Brinkley said. The city already uses eight electronic license plate readers that have helped prevent crime and apprehend criminals before leaving the city. The system also will help produce investigative leads, deter crime, gather intelligence, apprehend those who break the law and result in less crime, he added.


Bastrop County to seek project manager for $4.7M habitat recovery

Bastrop County commissioners recently agreed to seek a private company to act as project manager to complete the first three objectives of the Habitat Recovery Master Plan. The Lost Pines Recovery Team developed the plan following wildfires last year that devastated much of the area. Commissioners took the action following the departure of the administrator of the Lost Pines Habitat Conservation Plan, Roxanne Hernandez, whose last day with the county was June 15.


The recovery plan calls for controlling soil erosion on 4,450 acres of burned areas, reseeding native grasses and plants on 11,360 acres and re-establishing Loblolly pines on 11,360 acres. Some $4.7 million in Community Block Grant disaster funding will pay for the recovery plan. The deadline for submitting qualifications to be project manager is July 16. Commissioners also agreed to create a project manager selection committee to review the applications and recommend the winning proposal to the court.


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Bexar County selects Cavazos to Alamo Regional Mobility Authority

Ramiro CavazosBexar County Judge Nelson Wolff recently appointed Ramiro Cavazos (pictured) to the board of directors of the Regional Mobility Authority.


Cavazos, who currently leads the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will replace Jim Reed, who resigned from the regional transportation authority on June 18.


Cavazos also serves as chairman of the San Antonio Housing Authority Board and previously was a director of the San Antonio Economic Development Department.


TxDOT OKs new transportation director, safety officer for Amarillo

Officials of the Texas Department of Transportation recently selected Stan Swiatek as director of transportation planning and development and Robert "Bob" Lee as safety officer for the Amarillo district office.

As district director for planning and development, Swiatek oversees coordination of district-wide project planning, design operations, preparation of construction plans and right-of-way acquisition since he began his new duties on June 1. Swiatek, who has a bachelor's degree from Penn State University and a master's degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy, worked 17 years with the department of transportation in Florida and in the private sector for 13 years.


Lee, who has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Colorado State University-Fort Collins, previously was program director of the aviation maintenance department at Colorado Northwestern Community College, owned a training center in Grand Junction and served as chairman of the industrial transportaiton technologies division at Amarillo College.


Longtime forester tapped to lead East Texas operations

Wes MooreheadWes Moorehead (pictured) has been named as the new East Texas Operations Department Head for Texas Forest Service (TFS). He will be responsible for 12 million acres of forest in three regions, 18 districts, a dozen programs and 130 employees. He will oversee all of the TFS forestry and firefighting operations in the region.


Moorehead began his career with TFS in 2001 as a Forest Inventory & Analysis forester in Kirbyville. He then was elevated to district forester in Jasper and later Marshall. Prior to being named head of the East Texas operations Moorehead was a regional forester stationed in Nacogdoches. He took over the East Texas job from Bill Oates, who now serves as Associate Director for Forest Resource Development.


In just the last few weeks, Moorehead and his employees have been tasked with overseeing the Emergency Forest Restoration Program - a federal program that helps landowners recover after natural disasters - in East Texas and supporting its launch in Bastrop.


Seguin parks board recommends capital projects

The Seguin Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recently proposed its capital improvement project recommendations for the city's FY 2012 budget. Listed at the top of the recommendations are purchase of a mower and a pickup truck for the Parks and Recreation Department. Other high-priority recommendations are a new irrigation system for locations in two parks. A new skate park estimated at $30,000 is also on the top part of the list.


Other recommendations include construction of a new medium-size pavilion in the Playscape area at Starcke Park, $50,000; restroom improvements at the Playscape and the Bowl in Starcke Park, $50,000; replacing two filters at the Wave Pool, $60,000; purchase and installation of five new exercise equipment stations in Starcke Park, $20,000; purchase of another mower for the Parks and Recreation Department, $16,000; purchase of a new pickup truck for the department, $20,000; construction of a protective surface for the Playscape at Starcke Park, $100,000; improvements to the restrooms at the softball four-plex, $50,000; construction of two new dugouts for the baseball field at M.C. Castilla Park, $5,000; construction of two new small pavilions at M.C. Castilla Park, $30,000; construction of a new splash/spray pad at the Wave Pool, $100,000; improvements to the existing walking trail at M.C. Castilla Park, $50,000; and improvements to the current walking trail at Starcke Park, $100,000.


Three other projects - construction of a new aquatic complex, $4 million; construction of a new indoor recreation center, $4 million; and construction of a new soccer complex, $4 million - would each require a bond issue for financing.


New Ennis airport awarded preliminary funding by TxDOT

Steve HowertonA proposed new $25.2 million Ennis Regional Airport took a step forward recently with the award of $200,000 from the Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Facilities Grant Program. The funds will be used to complete a master plan and environmental study required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). "This grant approval is a very positive step towards development of the new airport," Howerton said.  


A new master plan program for a replacement airport began in 2009. The more than $25 million price tag does not include the cost of land. Additionally, the old airport will have to be sold. Anticipating a sale price of $2.4 million, city officials expect to dedicate $1.9 million of that for matching grant funds. The city also would be responsible for 20 percent of the construction costs and 10 percent match on the overall cost. Applying the $1.9 million from sale of the old airport, the city's responsibility would be reduced to $570,000.


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.


CenTex Chapter of ASPA announces Summer Film Series

The CenTex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) will hold its annual Summer Film and Meet and Greet with area political science faculty on Saturday, July 21. The event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina Street, Austin 78702. This free event, also open to non-members, will feature the movie "Patriocracy," with a discussion period after the film. There also will be time set aside for networking with area political science faculty and public and nonprofit administrators. Both admission and food are free. Please RSVP to CenTexASPA@gmail.com. For more information click here or call Robert Ochoa, CenTex ASPA president, at 210-857-8453


Executive Women in Texas Government plans November conference

The Executive Women in Texas Government will sponsor its 2012 Annual Professional Development Conference on Monday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The event will be held at the Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel-Spa and Conference Center located at 1001 East McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666.  This full-day event features prominent keynote speakers as well as more than 35 workshops to provide participants with opportunities for hands-on learning and development of leadership skills for multiple career levels. The conference is open to all interested professionals and is designed for those working in government and for organizations that collaborate with government agencies.  Members and non-members are encouraged to view the EWTG Web site for conference details.  


National Association of Social Workers plans annual conference

More than 1,000 social worker are expected for the upcoming 2012 National Association of Social Workers/Texas 36th Annual State Conference. The event is set for Friday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Westin Galleria in Houston. Among the speakers for the event are Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSWand his perspective on "The Social Work Story" and Vicki Hansen, LMSW-AP, ACSW, will discuss "What Social Workers Want" in the context of NASW's Social Work Reinvestment Initiative. Those attending will be able to expand their skills through targeted training, tracks representing a variety of practice areas including ethics. Supervision credits and licensing review courses for the LBSW and LMSW exams will also be available and exhibits will be open. For more information and to register, click here. 


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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Passage of transportation bill
ensures funds for local projects


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


Transportation is a big ticket item for taxpayers in America. With a network of more than 4 million miles of public roads, the cost to build, operate and maintain the system is huge. In 2010, the most recent data outlines approximately $160 billion in spending.


Americans traveled almost 3 trillion miles in 2011 and that trend is on the rise. That upward trend clashes ominously with the trend for revenue collection, which is on the decline at every level of government. New ways to manage the nation's aging transportation infrastructure must be found.


With the signing into law last week of the federal transportation bill, public officials now have a guarantee of federal funding that allows them to plan and undertake long-needed transportation projects. The signing of the bill was historic - and significant - because it was the first major surface transportation law Congress has approved since 2005. The last transportation bill expired in 2009 and Congress had tacked on nine short-term extensions over the years. The new statute provides no increase in funding, but authorizes highway, transit and safety programs at current funding levels through the end of FY 2014.


In spite of no increase in funding, the bill authorizes about $100 billion for road, tunnel and bridge construction and mass transit over the next 27 months. The estimated amount needed annually was $186 billion.

The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission estimates that capital investment needs for transportation for the 15-year period from 2005-2020 will be somewhere between $130 billion and $240 billion, depending on whether the network of roads are simply maintained or expanded.


To help mitigate the growing financial gap, the new transportation bill provides states with more flexibility and public officials are expected to increase their outreach to private sector partners for funding relief. The use of some type of public private partnership (P3) has increased over the past decade.



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Book People speaking and signing

Lake Travis ISD plans to build

new $17 million elementary school

Lake Travis Independent School District officials recently announced plans to build a new, $17 million elementary school, the sixth elementary in the school district.


Plans call for the new school to accommodate 850 students and open in the summer of 2014, said Jim Ratcliffe, senior director for facilities, construction and support services for the school district. Paid for with bond funds approved in November 2011, construction on the new school is expected to begin in March, Ratcliffe said.


Land hired as new deputy

city manager in Coppell

Mike LandMike Land (pictured), former town manager in Prosper, has changed jobs and is now the deputy city manager for the city of Coppell. Prior to serving Prosper, Land was city manager for the city of Gainesville. He is also a former executive director of the Southwestern Diabetic Foundation and a former community development director in Gainesville. He also previously was planning and zoning director for the city of Tavares, Florida, and worked as project manager for a land planning firm in Sarasota and Orlando, Florida.


In his new post, Land will be charged with taking the lead on a number of upcoming projects and setting deadlines for each. His first day on the job will be July 16.


Cahill resigns as public

information officer in Galveston

Alicia Cahill, public information officer in Galveston since 2005, recently resigned from that post. Her duties included staging news conferences and handling media inquiries. Her last day on duty will be July 17.


Governor's North Texas Small Business Forum & Business Expo

DeKalb ISD taps Booth as

lone finalist for superintendent

Trustees for the DeKalb Independent School District recently selected John B. Booth as the lone finalist for superintendent.


Booth currently is superintendent of West Texas Schools of Responsive Education Solutions, a group of public charter schools. He previously served as superintendent at Levelland ISD, Beckville ISD and Elkhart ISD. Booth has a Ph.D. From Stephen F. Austin State University.


Nederland takes first step to renovate police station, city hall

Nederland City Council members recently took their first step to create an emergency operations center that will also serve as a police station and city hall by approving $5,000 contract with an architect to assess the city's highest priority needs.


The assessment of the city's current city building on Boston Avenue should be completed in three to four weeks and provide information on whether the city should rebuild or renovate the current facility. The city hall was built in the late 1960s and the fire station built in the 1950 and the goal is to create an emergency operation center to serve as city hall and for all emergency operations. 


Jefferson County taps Rupp

as interim airport director

Jefferson County Commissioners recently appointed Alex Rupp as the interim director of the Jack Brooks Regional Airport, effective July 16. County officials also agreed to proceed cautiously to appoint a permanent manager and rebuild regional air service to the airport.


Rupp, who previously was the comptroller and finance executive, replaces Jennifer Hogancamp, who resigned in July after serving less than a year as manager of the regional airport.


United Airlines recently shut down jet service that had provided five daily flights between Jefferson County and Houston's Hobby Airport, replacing it with a shuttle bus service. Rupp agreed to focus on finding other commercial air service to the regional airport while serving as interim manager.


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Fort Bend ISD selects Morrison

as manager of safety programs

Trustees for the Fort Bend Independent School District recently selected Bridget Morrison as the safety programs manager for the Risk Management Department.


Morrison, who joined the school district in 2009, previously worked for the U.S. State Department in Barbados. She has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Columbia College.


Alice taps Ketteman as director of Economic Development Corp.

Warren KettemanAlice City Council members recently selected Warren Ketteman (pictured) as the new director of the city's new Economic Development Corporation. Ketteman currently is director of the Buda Economic Development Corporation and begins his duties in Alice on Aug. 6.


Alice approves site for new $12 million multipurpose complex

Alice City Council members recently approved the site for a new $12 million multipurpose complex that will feature a natatorium, swim park amphitheater and a hotel. Council members also selected a partner to operate the hotel portion of the multipurpose complex.


Council members approved a site on US281 west of town and selected ZJZ Hospitality, who also operates several hotels in Corpus Christi, to manage the hotel. City officials plan to use a budget surplus helped by an oil and gas boom to pay for the new complex and already have $8 million on hand from sales tax revenues to fund the project.


Parsons to retire as chief

financial officer for Lufkin ISD

After 30 years with Lufkin Independent School District, Larry Parsons recently announced he plans to retire as the chief financial officer. In that post, Parsons managed all accounting, purchasing, election and tax activities for the district.


Frossard is Wichita Falls ISD choice for next superintendent

Brazoria AirportJohn W. Frossard (pictured), current assistant superintendent and chief human resources officer of the Fort Bend ISD in Sugarland, has been named the next superintendent of the Wichita Falls ISD. He was among 40 candidates seeking the post.


Frossard will undergo a 21-day waiting period before he can be officially hired. Frossard has been in public education for nearly 30 years, serving school districts in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas. He has served the Fort Bend ISD since 2007.



Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

seeking part-time consultants

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. is seeking part-time consultants with experience and knowledge regarding the operations of cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas and in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston area public school districts. The ideal candidates for these part-time positions will be retirees who are former school district superintendents or C-level administrators and staff or former city managers or county officials who served in the Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston areas. To apply, please email a resume to jobs@spartnerships.com.


Galveston selects Hoover as new economic development consultant

Galveston City Manager Michael Kovacs recently selected David A. Hoover for a three-month contract to serve as economic development director and consultant for the city. Hoover previously was director of planning and development for the city of Allen and was a business development coordinator in Rosenberg. He also worked in planning and development for South Padre Island, Friendswood and in Galveston.


Lampasas selects David Vela

to serve as new city manager

David VelaLampasas City Council members recently selected David Vela (pictured) as the new city manager to replace Michael Stoldt, who left that post in August 2011. Vela, currently a deputy city manager in Abilene, holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree from Texas State University.


Vela is expected to sign a contract and begin his new duties in Lampasas by the end of July, said city officials, who are drafting the employment contract.


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Socorro ISD names three

finalists for superintendent

Three finalists have been chosen for the position of superintendent of the Socorro ISD. They include Heliodor Torrez (H.T.) Sanchez, current chief of staff for the Ector County ISD; Michael Sorum, current chief academic officer for Fort Worth ISD; and Joe Espinoza, school improvement officer and area superintendent for the Houston ISD.


There were more than 80 applicants for the position. The person chosen will replace Xavier De La Torre, who took a position in California. A final decision on the lone candidate will be made later this month.


Keller names Tyler superintendent as lone finalist to head district

After five years as superintendent of the Randy ReidTyler Independent School District, Dr. Randy Reid (pictured) is pulling up stakes and heading to Keller. Reid was recently named lone finalist for the superintendent in the Keller ISD.


Prior to joining the Tyler ISD, Reid spent 24 years in Richardson as a teacher, high school principal and assistant superintendent. He was superintendent in Celina for two years before taking the top job in Tyler in 2007. Reid's responsibilities for students increase dramatically as the result of a move to Keller. Tyler's student population is approximately 19,500 and Keller ISD boasts 33,000 students.


Dublin tags Police Chief Lee

as interim city manager

Dublin City Council members recently selected Police Chief Lannie Lee to serve as interim city manager. Lee also will continue as police chief while city officials continue their search for a new city manager.


HDI Solutions

Seguin moving forward

on plans for new public library

In response to a request by the mayor, Seguin City Council members agreed in a recent workshop meeting with the board of the Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library and a citizen task force to hire a consultant to help select a site to build a new public library.


Before the action is official, however, council members must approve a contract with a consultant. All nine members of the task force, which was appointed by council members in November 2011, agreed that a new building for the library is needed, said Tim Barr, a member of the library task force.


Tarpley promoted to Allen ISD deputy superintendent post

Mark TarpleyAllen ISD's former assistant superintendent of finance Mark Tarpley (pictured) was recently promoted to deputy superintendent. Tarpley joined the AISD as chief financial officer in 2007 and became assistant superintendent of finance in 2008.


As deputy superintendent, Tarpley will fill in as superintendent in the event the superintendent is unable to conduct daily operations associated with the position. The position has been vacant since former Deputy Superintendent Sheri Sides resigned two years ago to accept a position with McKinney ISD. Tarpley is a former director of business for Birdville ISD and was also previously assistant superintendent for finance and operations for Greenville ISD. He is a certified public accountant, a graduate of Austin College and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Texas.


SPI on Twitter

Baiza returning to Midland

ISD as chief operations officer

Randy BaizaRandy Baiza (pictured), who has served the last three years as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Andrews ISD, is returning to Midland ISD as chief operations officer. Baiza spent most of his career in the MISD, as principal of the Washington Math and Science Institute from 1999 to 2009 and as assistant principal of Long Elementary from 1996 to 1999.


As chief operations officer, Baiza will oversee the facilities, athletics, student services, health, police and human resources departments. Baiza earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Tech University.


Recent Reports

Gregory to take over HR/PR position in COCISD

Cassie Gregory was recently announced by Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Dr. LaTonya Goffney as the district's new HR/PR coordinator. Goffney said Gregory brings marketing and journalism skills to the position and will continue efforts of "branding" the district as a community dedicated to learning and education.


Alice superintendent headed

to lead spot in Goose Creek CISD

Salvador CavazosThe Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District has announced that Alice Superintendent Dr. Salvador Cavazos (pictured) is the sole finalist for the top position in the Baytown area school district. With a mandatory 21-day waiting period, the school board is expected to offer Cavazos a contract at its July 19 meeting.


Cavazos has been superintendent of the Alice ISD since 2009 and will become the 14th superintendent in Goose Creek CISD history. He replaces Dr. Toby York, who is retiring July 31. Dr. York has been superintendent since 2009.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 6/29/12

Kingsville ISD selects Blaha

as new superintendent

Edward BlahaTrustees for Kingsville Independent School District recently selected Edward Blaha (pictured) as the new superintendent. Blaha, who was a teacher and superintendent at Hidalgo ISD, is currently a principal at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD. He began his new duties at Kingsville ISD on July 11.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • James L. "Jim" Bayless, Jr. of Austin, Texas State Cemetery Committee;
  • John Huffman of Southlake, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists;
  • Jason Cashon of Stephenville, judge of the 266th Judicial District Court in Erath County;
  • Alan Nash of Stephenville, district attorney of the 266th Judicial District in Erath County;
  • Rene Garza of Austin, Pharmaceuticals and Therapeutics Committee;
  • Scott Schams of College Station, Pharmaceuticals and Therapeutics Committee

Belton ISD names Atmar as director of student services

Robert AtmarBelton Independent School District officials recently selected Robert Atmar (pictured), a former assistant principal at Belton High School, as the new director of student services. His duties include overseeing student transfers, discipline alternatives, scheduling for administrative boot camps for administrative personnel to attend a three-hour workshop, ensuring the student handbook is being followed and acting as the liaison for the Juvenile Justice Alternative Program in Killeen.


Second grant headed to Harris County for airport project

The second of two grants approved by the Texas Transportation Commission is headed to Harrison County for the construction phase of the local airport renovation project. The amount approved is $1.1 million. The funds will be used for airport improvements, which include pavement projects, and are expected to begin in 60 days. The Commission had previously awarded the county a grant of $90,000 to help defray the costs of the engineering and design phase of the project. The remaining $1.1 million recently approved will help pay for the airport's runway, taxiway and apron areas being resurfaced and restriped. The total project cost is $1149 million, with the county paying a 10 percent match, or $114,900.


Snyder OKs $2.8 million plan to upgrade water, wastewater plants

To help ensure a steady supply of water, Snyder City Council members recently approved a letter of intent with a consultant, Energy Savings Group, for a $2.8 million upgrade of water and wastewater treatment plants.


The proposed plan calls for creating two basins to hold enough water for two days to provide a steady supply of raw water for the treatment plant. The main water valve is 15 miles from the treatment plant and now takes from 45 to 60 minutes for changes in water flow to reach the facility. That means water quality can fall below standards and reach the plant before any corrective actions can be taken, city officials said. The project also includes upgrading the sludge thickening tank, adding variable frequency drives to aerators, replacing UV equipment and upgrading pump stations.


Fort Bend ISD agrees to allow Jenney to retire as supeirntendent

Tim JenneyAt the request of Superintendent Tim Jenney (pictured), Fort Bend Independent School District trustees recently agreed to amend his contract to allow a one-year buyout of of his contract if he retires at the end of January, 2013. Jenney began his duties as superintendent in September 2006 and his contract originally ran through 2016.


Jenney also agreed to meet with trustees to agree on a timeline to help the board make plans to search for a new superintendent.


Brownwood eyeing recreation grant to pay for new soccer fields

Brownwood City Council members recently began looking at applying for an Outdoor Recreation Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to add new soccer fields to the Bert V. Massey Sports Complex. City officials issued certificates of obligation to pay the estimated $2.2 million cost of expanding and upgrading the sports complex.


The deadline for applying for the grant is Aug. 1 and the maximum grant, if awarded, will be $100,000. The funds would help pay for expanding the sports complex with new soccer fields on the site of former baseball fields that have been replaced. City officials expect to hire an architect and demolish the old baseball fields by the end of this year and already are removing the chain link fence at the old complex. Council members still must hire an architect and seek bids for the sports complex expansion before construction can begin on the new soccer fields, City Manager Bobby Rountree said.


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Beeville taps new city manager, director of development services

Beeville City Council members recently appointed Deborah Balli as the new city manager and Albert Vilches as the new director of development services.


Balli, who previously was the finance director for the city and an assistant city manager, will replace former City Manager Tom Ginter, who was terminated in April 2011. A certified public accountant, Balli also worked in the budget department for the city of Corpus Christi and for a consulting firm. Vilches, who also will serve as the building inspector, replaced Lanny Holland, who resigned from that job earlier this month.


COCISD's Chapman chosen

to lead Jarrell ISD schools

Bill ChapmanThe Jarrell Independent School District recently announced that it has chosen Dr. Bill Chapman as its next superintendent. Chapman currently is assistant superintendent of the Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District. Chapman's last day with the COCISD was June 28. COCISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya Goffney expressed the district's appreciation to Chapman during a school board meeting.


Elgin seeks bids to renovate Morris Building into community center

Elgin City Council members recently authorized city staff to seek bids to renovate the former Morris Hospital Building into a community center. Plans call for the new center to provide space for meetings, a community center with a small bar and sink, natural lighting, a classroom, a grand hall and a studio for dance classes and other activities. The facility is designed so that all windows can open to provide ventilation, the architect noted.


City officials plan to ask for bids on the renovation project in July, open the bids on Aug. 15 and award a contract for the renovation work on Sept. 4.


Garza chosen as curriculum director for San Felipe Del Rio ISD

Del Rio High School Principal Jorge Garza has been named the San Felipe Del Rio ISD's curriculum director. He will replace Julio Ramos, who retired from the San Felipe Del Rio ISD in July 2008. Garza holds a doctorate degree in education.


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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