Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 31 - Friday, Aug. 10, 2012

FirstNet: Nationwide operation to address interoperability problems


FCC authorization makes State of Texas first public safety broadband network in state

Steve McCrawThis week, thanks to authorization from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a partnership between the state and Harris County's Information Technology Center will allow the State of Texas to become the first public safety broadband network in the state. It will also be one of the first in the nation to begin operating.


When operational, the broadband network will enhance public safety communications statewide by providing more data and access to communication resources than is now available for first responders.


"This is great news for the State of Texas and will allow us to enhance communication capabilities among the law enforcement and first responder communities," said DPS Director Steven McCraw (pictured). "The ability to immediately share information across law enforcement jurisdictions and among emergency responders is critical to public safety."


The FCC order allows the state to begin deploying and operating public safety LTE ("4G" cellular technology) networks immediately, which will become part of the nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, called FirstNet. This network will provide instant interoperability among first responders nationwide. That interoperability was absent during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, leading the 9/11 Commission to recommend the interoperable network. FirstNet provides increased communication capacity and higher reliability for first responders during routine actions or major events.


Just this week, an event at the San Antonio International Airport illustrated the importance of radio interoperability. When a bomb threat was reported at the airport, fire, police and airport personnel were dispatched and approximately 2,000 people were evacuated while a search for explosives was undertaken.




8th Biennial Legislative Communications Conference set Oct. 16


Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts among keynote speakers for popular pre-session event

Jim PittsState Rep. Jim Pitts (pictured), a member of the Texas House since 1993, has been a member of the House Appropriations Committee for five of the last six sessions of the Texas Legislature, beginning with the 75th Legislature in 1999. For three of those sessions, including the last two, Pitts has chaired the powerful budget-writing committee. That experience with balancing the state budget and allocating state funds for everything from education to health care give him a unique perspective on the state's budget process. He will talk about the budget process and the challenges the state faces in the upcoming 83rd Legislature as one of the keynote speakers for the upcoming 8th Biennial Legislative Communication Conference.


The conference, a one-day event co-sponsored by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and The University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, is slated Oct. 16. The conference, held before each session of the Texas Legislature since 1998, is designed to bring government executives, appointees, senior staff and elected officials together to discuss the upcoming legislative session.


In addition to Pitts, a panel of financial experts from the offices of the Lt. Governor, House Speaker and the Legislative Budget Board will give an overview of state budget issues. Sen. Kirk Watson will be the afternoon keynote speaker and a panel of state agency executives and board members will discuss innovative ideas to meet legislative challenges. Other speakers and panels of speakers will be announced weekly in the Texas Government Insider.


The conference is a must-attend event for anyone following the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature. The event, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., begins with a Continental breakfast. There will be a networking luncheon and valuable materials that will help attendees navigate the legislative session. For more information and to register, click here.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


John SawyerJohn E. Sawyer, Ed.D., County School Superintendent, Harris County Department of Education 


Career highlights and education:  Brazosport High School - 1966; B.A. English/biology - The University of Texas at Austin - 1970; M.ED. Sam Houston State University - 1974; Ed.D. University of Houston - 1987. 
What I like best about my job is: The people I work with are the best part of my job.
The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Always worry about what they did not tell you!

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Enjoy every day and be prepared for the unexpected.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Fishing!
People would be surprised to know that I: am an avid reader.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: I would like people to know how efficient we are! Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 26 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public.

Dally to retire, ending 18-year career at state housing agency

Bill DallyNearly two decades of dedicated service to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) will end on Aug. 31, when Bill Dally (pictured) retires from his post as chief of agency administration. Dally began working for the state's housing agency in 1994 as an internal audit manager. He was named controller in 1996 and chief financial officer in 1999. He has served as chief of agency administration since 2002. He later served as both acting deputy executive director and acting executive director before returning to his current position.


In his current post, Dally provides leadership to all agency administrative support function and the operations of the department's Financial Administration, Human Resources and Information Systems divisions. He also has used his financial expertise to direct development of the agency's Legislative Appropriations Requests before the start of each legislative session as well as helping prepare responses to inquiries from the Legislative Budget Board.


Dally's leadership and professionalism came to the forefront when in 2005, he took the lead role in organizing TDHCA's immediate response to Hurricane Katrina. He coordinated agency staff in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso as tens of thousands of evacuees sought assistance in finding their way out of storm shelters and into housing.


Dally is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.


Five announced as 2012 Women's Hall of Fame inductees

Barbara Smith ConradNina GodiwallaFive outstanding Texas women will be inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame for 2012. The five are honored by the Texas Governor's Commission for Women for their contributions in areas that include business, education, philanthropy, military and public service. This year's inductees include: Arts and Humanities: Barbara Smith Conrad (top right), Center Point; Business: Nina Godiwalla (top left), Houston; Military: Major General (Ret.) Mary Saunders (bottom left), Denton; Philanthropy: Dr. Anne Lesley Corn (bottom center), Austin; and Public Service: Justice Harriet O'Neill (bottom right), Austin.


Mary SaundersAnne CornHarriet O'NeillMore than 100 women have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since it was established in 1984. They include former first ladies, astronauts, entrepreneurs and Olympic athletes. A permanent exhibit at Texas Woman's University (TWU) honors these women.


All of the inductees are native or current Texas residents whose achievements have significant ties to the state. The women were nominated by their peers and selected by an independent panel of judges. The public induction ceremony will be held at TWU on Friday, Oct. 12, at 10:30 a.m.


Saunders is director of the Leadership Institute at TWU. She was the first female general officer selected as the Director of Transportation in the Air Force, providing guidance for 32,000 active duty and civilian personnel and was responsible for a fleet of 115,000 vehicles.


O'Neill began her judicial career as judge of the 152nd District Court in Houston in 1992. She was later appointed to the 14th District Court of Appeals. She was elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1989 and retired in 2010 after her second term.




Sales tax allocations in Texas increase for 28 consecutive months

For the 28th consecutive month, sales tax revenues in Texas were up, according to figures released this week by State Comptroller Susan Combs. State sales tax revenue in July climbed 10.1 percent over July of last year, up $2.05 billion.


For August, local sales tax allocations totaling $632.1 million will be shared by Texas cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts. Those allocations represent a 4.2 percent over August 2011. The figures represent sales made in June, along with business sales reported quarterly.


A total of $418 million in tax allocations are headed to cities, up 2.7 percent from August of last year. Counties will share $40.6 million, up 7.8 percent for the same month last year. Allocations to transit systems in Texas total $142.3 million for August, up 5.4 percent from last August, and special purpose taxing districts will share $31.2 million, up 14.8 percent from August 2011.


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


Revenue bonds issued for improvements at Port of Victoria

Port of Victoria
The Port of Victoria will undergo infrastructure upgrades after the issuance of $10 million in bonds.

Refinancing of existing bonds and issuance of $10 million in Port Improvement Revenue Bonds by the Victoria County Navigation District will lead to infrastructure improvements at the Port of Victoria. "The Port needs infrastructure improvements to continue to attract new business and this is the smart way to accomplish that goal without taxpayers being asked to back the bonds," said Robert Loeb, finance chair, who explained that the bonds are backed by port revenues and not taxpayer funds.


Local expansion projects, including the oil boom brought about by Eagle Ford Shale and expansion of Caterpillar in the area have increased port activity. Officials are hoping to build a new container dock as one of the improvements being sought to meet the needs of port business.


The Port of Victoria has 1,800 acres for development with waterway and highway frontage. In addition to a container dock for bulk break cargo, other projects include rail improvement, roads, lift bridge automation and a fleeting area, an area for barges to "park" along the waterway. With the increase in barge traffic, a fleeting area becomes necessary for the efficient and safe movement of barges and cargo near the turning basin. The Port is working with private parties to provide additional capital investment and management for the Fleeting Area Project.  


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Register now

Texas Tech expected to announce new nursing school facility

During its meeting today, the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents is expected to announce approval of an $11 million nursing school building on the Lubbock campus. Tech's Facilities Committee Thursday added the facility to its construction agenda with the regents' final approval expected when their meeting continues today, Friday.


If approved, the university will put the project out for bids. Construction could begin in May. To be named the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, the facility is expected to be completed in August 2014.


Houghton says commission to seek funds from rainy day account

Ted HoughtonTexas Transportation Commission Chair Ted Houghton (pictured) said this week that the commission, which has oversight of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), will ask members of the Texas Legislature to dedicate some of the state's rainy day fund for roads and infrastructure projects. In an address in Houston this week, Houghton said the fund has increased more than anticipated because of the increased activity in energy production in Texas. Oil and gas severance taxes help fund the rainy day fund.


With more than $8 billion expected to be in the fund by the end of August, Houghton said he is hopeful the legislature will dedicate $3 billion of the funds for roads and infrastructure projects. Houghton indicated that TxDOT's current budget is not sufficient to meet the infrastructure needs of the state.


Bexar County holding off on taking over Alamo RMA

The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority will not be merged with Bexar County staff - at least not for now. County officials have decided to wait until the Texas Legislature meets in January of next year to see if legislation passes that would allow the county to take over the Alamo RMA and its legal authority.


County Manager David Smith said a merger now could affect ongoing RMA projects, and combining RMA staff with county staff needs vetting.


HISD board sets $1.89 billion bond election for November

 A $1.89 billion bond election in the Houston ISD is set for November 6, following action Thursday by the HISD Board of Education. The bond election calls for funding to address needs in 38 schools in neighborhoods across the district. The bond proposal is heavy on facility needs for the district's high school and calls for 20 new high school campuses, partial replacement of four high schools and renovation of four high schools. It would also pay for conversion of five elementary schools into K-8 campuses, the building of three new elementary school campuses and replacement or completion of two new middle school campuses.


Also included in the bond referendum are $100 million for district-wide technology improvements, $44.7 million to replace regional field houses and improve athletic facilities, $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms and $17.3 million for district-wide safety and security improvements. If approved by voters, design of the new schools could begin early next year and the first construction would start in 2014.


Two leadership appointments announced for UT System

Steven MintzPedro ReyesTwo leadership positions at The University of Texas System were filled this week with the appointment of Pedro Reyes, Ph.D. (left) as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and Steven Mintz, Ph.D. (right) as the System's first executive director of the Institute for Transformational Learning.


Reyes has served as associate vice chancellor for academic planning and assessment at the UT System since 2003 and has been serving as executive vice chancellor ad interim since December of last year. Reyes has been a member of The University of Texas at Austin faculty since 1991. He also served as associate dean of UT Austin's graduate studies. Reyes holds undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has done post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan.


Mintz currently serves as director of Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Teaching Center. The UT Board of Regents allocated $50 million to the newly created Institute for Transformational Learning to establish UT institutions as world leaders in developing and implementing resources for online learning, to expand access to educational programs to improve learning and reduce costs and to promote a culture of educational innovation throughout the System. Mintz earned his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and holds master's and doctoral degrees from Yale University.


TETF funds awarded to three technology companies

Three early-stage companies developing new technology in Texas have received commitments of up to a total of $4 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.


Rebellion Photonics will get $250,000 of a committed amount up to $1 million to help develop its Gas Cloud Imager (GCI) device to detect leaks in the oil refining, oil drilling and chemical/petrochemical industries. The company is a start-up out of Rice University in 2010 focusing on the biomedical research and unmanned aerial vehicles markets.


Vapogenix Inc. will receive $1 million of a committed amount up to $2 million for the development of its non-opioid analgesics for pain management during minor surgical procedures. The company's core technology is licensed from University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.


VUV Analytics Inc. is receiving $250,000 of a committed amount up to $1 million for the commercialization of a laboratory-scale Circular Dichroism (CD) instrument for investigating biologically important molecules. The company will collaborate with The University of Texas at Austin to validate the technology.


TAMU-Texarkana President Rathburn resigns position

C.B. RathburnC.B. "Bix" Rathburn III (pictured), president and CEO of Texas A&M University-Texarkana, has resigned from that post. Keith McFarland, former president and faculty member of Texas A&M University-Commerce, has been named acting president.


Rathburn had served as president since July 2008. Before joining TAMU-Texarkana, he spent more than seven years as president of Savannah Technical College in Georgia. He also has served in leadership roles in two colleges in Texas and Florida, including 16 years with Galveston College, where he served as president for five years. He has served in roles that included instructional administration, administrative and fiscal services, planning and resource development.


Rathburn holds an Associate of Arts degree from Gulf Coast Community College in Florida, a bachelor's degree from Huntingdon College in Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, Gainesville.


Committee recommends no bond vote for Travis courthouse

A committee charged with making recommendations to Travis County regarding the possible construction of a new $343 million county civil and family courthouse in Austin has recommended the county issue bonds that don't require voter approval to complete the project. County officials are studying using a public-private partnership to build and run the courthouse, which likely would result in the building being completed quicker and at a lower cost while transferring risk from the county to the private partner.


The proposed new facility would replace the current Heman Marion Sweatt courthouse that has served the county more than eight decades. Former Austin City Council member Betty Dunkerley, who chairs the committee, estimated that $200 million in bonds would cost county taxpayers about $70 additional dollars per year. The committee has recommended that the county pay approximately 60 percent of the total project cost, with the private sector partner paying the remaining 40 percent. The partner would be responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the building for 30 years.


To be located south of Republic Square Park, the proposal could bring retail and commercial space to the block as well, generating additional property tax for the county in addition to other revenue. Officials have yet to decide whether a public-private partnership is the best route for construction of the facility.


AgriLife agencies, three others add A&M to their official names

Mark HusseyFour state agricultural agencies are among seven agencies that will add A&M to their names in September to better reflect their connection to the TAMU System, which includes the flagship campus, Texas A&M University. The new monikers are Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.


TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp said the new names reflect a direct association with Texas A&M, and that is expected to "enhance the already strong AgriLife branch." Sharp said the goal is to enhance total brand equity and value. The other agency name changes include Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and Texas A&M Transportation Institute.


Dr. Mark Hussey (pictured), vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M, oversees the agricultural agencies and said the change is a boost for the science and educational programs conducted by AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension. "Our clientele already know of the excellent research and educational efforts of our agencies," Hussey said. "This more obvious alignment with the A&M System will project the collaborations and cooperative efforts throughout the state."


Houston Community College approves calling $425M bond vote

Houston voters will have yet another bond issue to vote on in November as the Houston Community College Board of Trustees Thursday voted to put a $425 million bond referendum before voters. The bond issue addresses aging facilities at the college, those facilities exceeding capacity and the need for technology upgrades.


Officials point to the fact that the college has grown by 40 percent in the last five years and is operating at 92 percent of capacity as reasons for needing the bond proposal passage. More buildings are needed to keep up with that growth. Board officials note that after public hearings and forums, the community helped shape the bond issue and what needs would be addressed. The need for technology upgrades is exacerbated by the number of nurses and medical technicians trained for business needs in the community, which means the need for expensive medical equipment to prepare them for health care job opportunities. Funding also will be allocated for workforce development in high-growth industries such as energy and the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.


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Dallas changes bid document language to end pass-backs

Bid documents for vendors doing business with the city of Dallas have new language aimed at ensuring minority-owned subcontractors get a fair shake from their prime partners. The city requires vendors placing bids for city business to demonstrate a good faith effort to hire subcontractors owned by minorities and women when they seek contracts. The city also requires the prime contractor to pay subcontractors from 18 to 36 percent of the contract.


However, some businesses were about to get around that requirement by using "pass-backs" - charging the subcontractors for goods or services. After the pass-backs were factored in, the minority business share was much lower than what was intended by the city.


To mitigate the problem, the city put new language in its vendor bid documents that spell out for contractors that the city's percentage goals for subcontractors does not include pass-backs.


Houston Metro to give voters yes-or-no choice on road funding

Gilbert GarciaBoard members of Houston Metro recently agreed to give voters only one choice in deciding whether to continue a funding program that provides a quarter of its revenues from sales taxes to 14 area cities and the county to pay for road projects those entities support.


The proposal is asking for an up-or-down vote on the general mobility program that will apportion those funds differently than they are currently divided. The new proposal will allot more funding to Houston and less to the county and 11 of the smaller cities in the program. Humble, Katy and Missouri City, however, will gain larger shares of the funding program created in 1988 if voters approve its continuation. Earlier proposals to retain current allotments but cap those totals at the 2014 level and Houston Metro retaining any increase in revenue garnered little support, said Gilbert Garcia (pictured), chairman of Houston Metro


Most officials of the smaller cities support keeping current funding levels. They threatened to withdraw membership from the transportation agency or request the legislature to require Houston Metro to continue the current allotments if voters approve continuation of the program with the proposed changes. If voters do not support continuation of the revenue program, Capital Metro officials will decide on funding amounts for the cities and county, Garcia said.


ACC completes its acquisition of Highland Mall properties

Austin Community College officially owns the Highland Mall. Its acquisition was completed recently, allowing the college to move forward with its plans to remake the site into usable space. The final element of the acquisition includes the ground lease for the core building that houses retail tenants, the former Dillard's men's store and common spaces such as the food court, as well as the former cinema building.


"That vacant building has been dormant for some time. Now it will become a center for innovative learning and bring renewed energy to a very important part of Austin," said ACC President Dr. Richard Rhodes.


ACC's plans include transforming the mall property into a modern educational space and center for community and business partnerships. The first renovation will be the former J.C. Penney store, which will be used for instruction, with space dedicated to innovative learning concepts. The Penney space will house the college's math emporium, an open-lab model that allows students to move through developmental math curriculum at an individualized pace. It is expected to open in fall 2014. Mall business is expected to continue as usual for the immediate future, and the college has retained a private firm to manage mall operations.


Lamar University President Simmons plans to retire in January

Jimmy SimmonsA more than 40-year career with Lamar University will end next January when President James M. "Jimmy" Simmons (pictured) retires. Simmons, who has spent the last 14 years as president of Lamar, has seen the university's enrollment increase from 7,800 when he was named president to more than 14,500 last fall.


Simmons saw the university through two hurricanes - Rita and Ike - and managed to keep classes and graduation on schedule and restoring the campus after major storm damages. He has also helped facilitate growth in the university's online education, with more than 30 percent of semester hours generated through online courses.


Lamar will begin immediately searching for candidates to succeed Simmons. A nationwide search will be conducted by an outside firm and an advisory committee will recommend three finalists. Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall will then recommend a sole finalist to the Board of Regents. 


Las Colinas contract expires; developer files suit against city

The city of Irving ended its relationship this week with the development company that planned a $252 million entertainment complex in the city, only to have the development company - Las Colinas Group - file suit against the city. The contract between the city and the developer was not extended by the City Council and it expired only hours later.


Standing in the wings was the TDI Real Estate Holding firm, which said it stands ready to work out a deal with the city on the proposed project. TDI has said it can dramatically reduce the public contribution and risk while allowing the city to retain ownership of the Las Colinas Urban Center when it is transformed into an entertainment destination.


The project has been marred by questions about project spending and oversight. Under the TDI proposal, the city would have to provide some $17 million for the project, in addition to what has already been spent. But, the lawsuit is likely to put the entire project on hold.


Galveston port opens bids again for new transportation terminal

Michael MierzwaPort of Galveston officials recently agreed to try again and re-open bidding using the construction manager-at-risk method to build a new transportation terminal downtown. The first round of bids submitted by contractors came in at about $9 million, almost double the estimated $4.5 million to $5.3 million. Port officials plan to use grants from the Federal Transit Administration to build the facility.


In urging the use of the construction manager-at-risk system rather than sealed bids, Michael Mierzwa (pictured), director of the port authority, advised that the construction manager system of seeking proposals may be a better option as the construction manager meets with port officials and architects to discuss and agree on a budget in advance. Contractors will not bid the project if they do not think they can stay within budget as the maximum price is agreed upon before the project begins, Mierzwa said.


The new downtown terminal will be located in The Strand National Historic District and includes a city bus terminal, a 170-space parking garage, public restrooms and an information center. As in the first bid, port officials also included a project to upgrade the Shearn Moody Garage to bring that facility up to city codes in the second request for proposals. The plan calls for the city to rent the transit center from the port for 40 years.


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Texas to observe sales tax holiday week beginning Aug. 17

State Comptroller Susan Combs recently alerted shoppers that the state will observe a sales tax holiday beginning on Friday, Aug. 17, and running through Sunday, Aug. 19. The tax holiday was instituted in 1999 and this year the comptroller expects Texas shoppers to save about $64.8 million in state and local taxes while shopping for back-to-school items.


During this three-day period, shoppers can avoid paying sales tax on back-to-school items such as clothing, school supplies, backpacks and certain other items costing less than $100. A complete list of the apparel and school supplies that may be purchased with no sales tax added can be found at: www.TexasTaxHoliday.org.


Steele will return to Texas as new AgriLife Extension director

Doug Steele
Dr. Doug Steele (pictured), vice president for external relations and director of Extension at Montana State University, has been named sole finalist for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service director position at the Texas A&M University System. It will be a homecoming for Steele, who began his ag career in 1981 as an assistant agent for agriculture and natural resources in Potter County.

Steele, who also chairs the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, which provides leadership and direction to the national Extension system, served as the AgriLife Extension agriculture program director in Hutchinson County from 1985 to 1988, before attending Texas A&M University to work on advanced degrees. While in Hutchinson County, he was an Extension associate for community and economic development from 1988-90 and an AgriLife Extension 4-H youth development specialist and assistant professor from 1990-93. Steele then went to Purdue University from 1993 to 1997, where he was Extension 4-H youth development specialist and assistant professor in the College of Education. He served from 1997 to 2004 at Colorado State University as assistant director of Cooperative Extension and state 4-H program leader. The longtime agriculture expert was hired in 2004 as vice provost and director of Extension at Montana State, and assumed his current position in 2010. 


Steele holds a bachelor's degree from Panhandle State University, a master's from West Texas A&M University and his doctorate from Texas A&M University. 


Watson seeks property tax increase for proposed medical school

A 5-cent property tax increase by Central Health, the Travis County hospital district, would help pay for a proposed medical school in Austin, but Sen. Kirk Watson will first have to convince the district to take the issue to voters and then convince voters to pass the tax increase. Talk of a University of Texas at Austin-based medical school has been ratcheted up lately and Central Health officials say they could make a decision on a possible tax increase election by the middle of this month.


Central Health President and CEO Patricia Young Brown said a financial analysis regarding the effects a tax increase would have on revenues is likely to be presented to the board later this week.


Both Watson and Central Health officials point out that a tax increase would allow for funding from a new program that could mean a cache of federal funds that can be spent to educate and train physicians, which would increase the local number of Central Texas doctors. The federal program would allow $1.46 in federal funds for each $1 invested locally in health care improvement projects.


Texas A&M System may move management of its HSC

The Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System recently agreed to move administration of the Texas A&M Health Science Center from the System office to Texas A&M University.


Moving the health science center under management of the university is expected to increase collaboration with researchers and increase the amount the university can report as research expenditures, said John Sharp, chancellor of the A&M System.


Before the move is finalized, however, a strategic oversight committee led by the president of the health science center and vice chancellor for health affairs for the system, Nancy Dickey, and the president of Texas A&M University, R. Bowen Loftin, must review the proposed realignment. Several regulatory and accrediting bodies also must approve the move before the health science center is placed under the administration of the system's flagship university.


Newman new general manager of Bush Intercontinental Airport

Carl NewmanHouston Airport System officials recently named Carl Newman (pictured) as the new general manager for the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.


Newman previously was the assistant aviation director of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and previously served as a police officer in Phoenix prior to joining the Sky Harbor airport in 1980. He is on the board of the American Association of Airport Executives and has a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona and a master's degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.


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Reed is new acting director for Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club

Cyrus ReedDr. Cyrus Reed (pictured) recently stepped in as the new acting chapter director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. Reed is replacing Ken Kramer, who retired from that post.


Previously the conservation director for the chapter, Reed also worked as a lobbyist for the environmental organization for two sessions of the Texas Legislature.


He was employed for more than 10 years at the Texas Center for Policy Studies, where he focused on clean and renewable energy sources. Reed has a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.


$40 million expansion of Austin-Bergstrom Airport urged

Despite predictions by the Federal Aviation Administration that the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will not meet capacity requirements by 2018, the executive director of ABIA recently said he expects work to begin in about a year on a proposed $40 million airport expansion project.


Jim Smith, airport director, predicted ABIA will reach its 11 million capacity in only two years as the facility attracted 9.1 million passengers in 2011 and must expand security checkpoints as soon as possible to avoid long waits at the checkpoint area. Passenger fees collected by ABIA will pay for the proposed airport expansion project. Part of the growth is coming from an expected increase in international traffic, he said. The project includes relocating the security checkpoint area and including at least eight security lanes at the new security area to be relocated to the east end of the terminal. The project also calls for the addition of four baggage carousels. Work should begin in September 2013 and be completed in 2015 if expansion plans proceed, Smith said. Austin City Council must approve the airport expansion project before it begins.


Coryell County eyeing tax increase to pay for new jail

John FirthCoryell County commissioners recently took the first step in building a new county jail by proposing a 2.5-cent tax increase to be allotted to a capital improvement fund so work can begin soon on a new jail.


Before the jail project is finalized and commissioners vote on the proposed tax increase, they will hold two public meetings in late August and early September to gather citizen response, said County Judge John Firth (pictured). County officials also are meeting with Copperas Cove city officials on Aug. 23 to brief city officials and interested citizens on the proposed jail project, he said.


New Braunfels to appoint panel to study May 2013 bond election

New Braunfels City Council members recently requested city staff to determine the best method to appoint a citizens' committee to study projects to include in a bond election in May 2013. Council members also expect bond committee members to explore the amount of bonds voters may support and make a recommendation on projects and their estimated cost to include on the ballot.


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Texas Tech law professor tapped to serve on federal policy board

Walter HuffmanThe U.S. Defense Secretary recently selected Walter Huffman (pictured), a law professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law and dean of the law school, to serve on a newly created, 12-member Defense Legal Policy Board. The panel was created to address legal issues raised regarding the multiple missions undertaken by U.S. Armed Forces since 2001 and the need to have an effective system of military justice.


A retired major general and judge advocate general of the U.S. Army and Texas Tech law school dean from 2002 to 2009, Huffman also will co-chair a subcommittee studying military justice in combat zones. When offenses occur in countries in which the military works alongside a civilian population, an efficient, fair, dependable and credible system of military justice is critical, wrote Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary, in the letter notifying Huffman of his appointment to the board.


Texas Campus Compact leaves national group, changes name

The Campus to Community Coalition of Texas (formerly Texas Campus Compact) has announced its break with the Boston-based Campus Compact, becoming the first state chapter of the national service learning coalition to leave voluntarily. The organization can now expand its reach and rebrand itself as C3 Texas, enabling 100 percent of its members' dues to be re-leveraged back into the state.


C3 Texas specializes in designing high-impact service learning and civic engagement practices for campuses throughout Texas. Last year, students at C3 Texas campuses served a total of 22,654,279 hours, for a total value of $483,895,403 to the state. Among the many benefits received by C3 Texas members are graduate scholarships, a mentors program that provides students with educational stipends for service, $10,000 in grants to members for hosting regional conferences.


The organization cites its new mission as "Transforming education for the public good with a statewide coalition of institutions of education committed to developing civic engagement and service learning partnerships between communities, faculty and students." The work of the organization that began in 2000 will continue and is expected to expand to K-12 schools.


Austin Community College campus in Elgin taking shape

ACC Elgin CampusWith the steel structure almost completed, the new Elgin campus of Austin Community College (pictured) will soon take shape as exterior walls and roofing began going up in late July.


Once a skylight is installed in the center of the facility, the building will be sealed enough to allow construction activities to take place inside the facility.


Projects in progress at the new campus facility include hanging duct work, sprinkler pipes and other utility infrastructure necessary to install chillers, boilers and generators already on-site.


ACC officials expect the new campus in Elgin to open for students in time for the fall semester in 2013.


El Paso begins talks to buy buildings to use for city operations

El Paso City Council members recently authorized city staff to begin negotiations to purchase two downtown buildings as part of their plan to relocate some city facilities to create space for a proposed $50 million baseball stadium. The negotiations are for a 70,000-square-foot building on Texas Avenue along with a nearby annex building. The cost is expected to be about $22 million because $7.6 million in renovations will be needed to make the space usable as city offices, the city manager said. The city also is exploring the possibility of buying a parking lot across the street from the proposed building.


Council members in May agreed to move city hall and the Insights Science Center. That would allow the construction of the stadium city officials agreed to build if a local group obtains a Triple-A baseball team to play in El Paso. The investment group won critical approval when officials of Minor League Baseball agreed the Pacific Coast League could buy a team affiliated with the San Diego Padres to relocate to El Paso. Buying rather than leasing a facility as originally discussed could save the city money, city staff advised council members.


CenTex ASPA to host lunch meeting on Internet sales in Texas

Have you ever wondered why you have to pay sales tax on certain Web sites and on others you do not? Are you curious about how Texas handles the purchase of food-related items online? Wondering about the future of online sales? If your inner voice said "Yes" or even a slight "hmm," then you'll definitely want to attend the CenTex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration Summer Professional Development Series Aug. 23 event. The meeting will focus on "Internet Sales - Buying and Selling in Texas." It will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Capitol Grill Room, Capitol Complex cafeteria area. John Huffman, sales tax policy, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, will be the guest speaker. Free admission. Bring your own lunch or purchase your meal from the Capitol Grill. Two hours free parking at the Capitol Visitors Garage at the corner of Trinity and San Jacinto, east of the Capitol. Please RSVP at CenTexASPA@gmail.com or contact Robert Ochoa at 210-857-8453. For more information, click here.


HGAC plans events to celebrate 'Commute Solution Month'

August is "Commute Solution Month." As a part of Commute Solutions Month, the Houston-Galveston Area Council will host a series of public outreach events at local Park & Ride and transit center facilities within the Houston-Galveston region. This year's celebration is to show appreciation to commuters, employees and the general public for their participation in riding the bus, vanpooling, carpooling, NuRiding, teleworking, biking and walking. Transit riders will receive t-shirts and other promotional items as they board their vehicles. Commute Solutions, a program of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, is designed to reduce traffic congestion on our roads and improve our air quality. This program provides commuters with a variety of alternatives to driving their cars that will save them time and money and relieve stress often associated with a long commute. For more information about the Commute Solutions Program, call 1-877-512-7333 or visit www.commutesolutionshouston.org. 


Institute of Internal Auditors cites Austin conference in September

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) will host its 2012 Southern Regional Conference Sept. 16-19 in Austin. The event, to be held at the Hilton Austin, will feature a world-class professional development conference with an "Audit Roundup: Lasso the Possibilities" theme. Audit executives, directors, managers and staff will benefit from regional speakers in tracks on governance, IT auditing, fraud, waste and abuse and emerging issues. CPE credits are available. Among the speakers for the general session are industry experts such as Ann Bishop, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, and Mike Jacksa, senior audit manager for Farmers Insurance. IIA's Chairman Phil Tarling and the North American Board Chairman, Mike Peppers, will both be keynote speakers as well. There also will be a variety of concurrent sessions in tracks led by subject matter experts on issues from IT auditing to governmental issues to fraud, waste and abuse. For more information, click here. To view the conference brochure with the complete agenda, click here.


TASSCC planning annual conference for Aug. 12-15 in Arlington

The Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) will hold its 2012 Annual Conference on Aug. 12-15 at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel, 1500 Convention Center Drive in Arlington. The theme for this year's conference is "TASSCC All Stars 2012, Hitting IT Out of the Park." The TASSCC Annual Conference is considered by experienced public sector IT professionals as one of the best and most affordable opportunities for learning and sharing in Texas. The conference focuses on the unique opportunities and problems faced in delivering services to citizens. Networking opportunities are available and continuing education credits are awarded for those attending. Karen Robinson, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources will deliver the welcome with Bill Bott, consulting partner of Change and Innovation Agency, the keynote speaker, addressing "Extreme Government Makeover." Other keynote addresses will focus on advanced analytics in health and human services, transforming the public sector, technology trends and a legislative update from State Rep. John Zerwas. Click here to view the agenda and click here to register.


Executive Women in Texas Government set 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.


AACOG announces two upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has two workshops coming up of interest to government officials. 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. 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.


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Government uses innovation
to adapt to changing economy 


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


Desperate times sometimes lead to innovation.


Here are some encouraging examples:


Energy efficiency - Public entities have embraced numerous types of energy efficiency programs to cut costs. The savings have been exceptional. In Texas, the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) made approximately $2.3 million in grant funding available to 25 Texas public school systems. The grants ranged from $57,000 awarded to the Cherokee ISD to $100,000 awarded to the Apple Springs, Ganado, Rising Star, Sands and Star school districts to replace existing inefficient HVAC systems with new, energy-efficient HVAC systems. Significant savings will occur for years as a result of the energy investment.


Renewable energy - The Scottsdale Unified School District in Arizona was among the first in the state to begin harnessing solar energy when in 2009 it installed solar panels on the roofs of two high schools. Since then, three other high schools have had solar panels installed and a middle school will have the panels added this summer. A private sector firm installs and maintains the panels and is awarded incentive subsidies from the government. The school district then buys its energy at a set rate that does not subject the district to price increases. The district has netted a savings of about $300,000 per year. New equipment purchased with that savings, such as chillers, coolers, heat pumps, boilers and lighting controls, returned a savings of $65,000 per year. Over time, these programs will net the school district millions of dollars.


Privatization - Revenues at the Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M University will get an estimated $45 million boost after a contract was issued for privatization of several campus services. The agreement allows a private sector firm to take over management and operation of dining services, building maintenance, landscaping and custodial services. The System will receive an upfront payment of $45 million and officials anticipate $260 million in revenue and cost savings over the next 10 years.


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Collaboration Nation

Alamo Heights reviews plan

for $6.3M municipal complex

An architect recently unveiled preliminary design plans to city officials in Alamo Heights for a new $6.3 million municipal complex.


The new 25,700-square-foot facility includes a two-story fire station and new two-story administration building and city hall with a council chamber. Plans also call for expanding parking from the current 78 spaces to 98 parking spaces. A police station is planned at the back of the administration building. Council members will review three design options and vote on a final plan for the municipal complex soon, city officials said.


Best resigns as human

resource director for HISD

Ann BestAfter three years on the job, Ann Best (pictured), director of the human resources department at Houston Independent School District, recently resigned from the post. Best is returning to her previous employer, Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that locates recent college graduates and sends those graduates to teach at low-performing schools.


Cameron to spend $860,000

to upgrade water, wastewater

Cameron city officials recently announced plans to spend about $860,000 for improvements to the municipal water and wastewater plants. The upgrade includes replacing 11 valves at the water plant with valves that operate automatically. City officials also plan to upgrade three filter systems at the water plant, said City Manager Ricky Tow.


Spaw elected staff chair of NCSL

during Chicago conference

Patsy SpawPatsy Spaw (pictured), Secretary of the Texas Senate, has been selected as staff chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Spaw, who has served as staff vice chair the last year, was appointed during the NCSL conference this week in Chicago. NCSL serves the nation's 7,382 state lawmakers and more than 25,000 legislative staff.


Spaw has previously served NCSL as a member of its Executive Committee from 2008-2011, and was staff vice chair of the Budget, Finance and Rules Subcommittee. An active member of NCSL's Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, Spaw chaired the Professional Development Work Group in 2010-2011.


Spaw holds a bachelor's degree from St. Edward's University and a law degree from The University of Texas at Austin's School of Law.


Galveston moving ahead with $18 million waste treatment project

Galveston County commissioners recently agreed to move forward on an estimated $18 million waste treatment project by giving the go-ahead for an environmental impact statement on the project. County officials learned that the project to build a treatment plant near High Island and one for the Crystal Beach area is eligible to receive recovery funds from Hurricane Ike.


Residents will not be required to link into the waste treatment system, as that action will be voluntary once the treatment plants are completed, a county official said.


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Bowman resigns Longview

ISD accountability position

Brian Bowman, the executive director of campus accountability at Longview High School, recently resigned from that post to return to become a middle school principal at White Settlement ISD.


Bowman began his career at the Longview school district six years ago as communications director.


Espinoza selected as new superintendent at Socorro ISD

Jose EspinozaSocorro Independent School District trustees recently selected Dr. Jose Espinoza (pictured) as the new superintendent. He was chosen from a pool of 83 candidates for the top job at the district.


Currently a school improvement officer for Houston ISD, Espinoza has 16 years experience as a teacher and administrator. He replaces Dr. Xavier De La Torre, who resigned to serve as a superintendent of schools in California.


Brig. Gen. Rodriguez will

command Texas State Guard

The Texas Adjutant General recently appointed Brig. Gen. Manual "Tony" Rodriguez to take over command of the Texas State Guard.


A resident of the Killeen area, Rodriguez joined the Texas Guard in March 2006 as a commander of the 2nd Civil Affairs Regiment and later rising to deputy commander of the Army component of the Texas State Guard. He replaces Maj. Gen. Raymond Peters, who is retiring from the command he assumed in July 2009.


Round Rock to build new $25 million alternative high school

Round Rock Independent School District board members recently approved $25 million to build a new alternative high school, a first for the district. Board members also approved the purchase of 22 acres of land on Gattis School Road to serve as a site for the new school.


Currently an alternative school, Success High School operates from portable buildings located at two high schools, one on the east and the other located on the west side of town. The new 75,000-square-foot alternative high school campus, which will have the capacity to serve 335 students, will allow the programs and resources to be managed more effectively, said Martha Salazar-Zamora, deputy superintendent of instruction and administration.


District officials used bond funds approved in 2008 to buy the land and plan to use some of the almost $42 million in unassigned funds on hand to build the new alternative high school campus.


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Education Service Center taps Logan as associate director

Region 17 Education Service Center officials recently appointed Deanna Logan, the superintendent at Ralls Independent School District, as an associate executive director. Ralls will replace Linda Rountree, who is retiring as one of the two executive directors at the Region 17 service center.


Her duties include curriculum, technology and sound educational practice. The Region 17 service center assists 57 school districts and eight charter schools in providing quality education. David Badner, a current associate executive director, assists school districts with maintaining efficiency and financial issues.


Former fire chief in Irving

leaves post to be grant writer

Mario MolinaAt his request, Fire Chief Mario Molina (pictured) of Irving recently accepted a job as a grant writer for the city. After completing a three-month administrative suspension following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and complaints from the firefighter's association, Molina requested to leave his job as fire chief and City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said he offered the newly created job to Molina.


Molina worked 20 years as a firefighter, including a stint with the Carrollton Fire Department before becoming fire chief in Irving in 2006. He has been successful in securing grants of more than $700,000 in the five years he has served as fire chief and his experience in securing grant funding for the fire department will benefit the city in securing more grants for other city projects, Gonzalez said.


Texas Enterprise Fund invests

$2.3 million in Houston firm

Citing the creation of 285 new jobs and $5.2 million in capital investment, Texas Enterprise Fund officials recently invested $2.3 million in CH2M Hill Co., a construction and engineering firm based in Houston that currently employs more than 250 workers.


The Fortune 500 firm helps clients in both private industry and government to plan, develop and manage infrastructure and facilities in 140 countries by stressing efficiency and safety. The company serves public utility and government clients throughout the United States and other countries by providing engineering, design, construction, operations and maintenance services primarily in the chemical, energy and life science industries. A company spokesman said the company expects to employ 500 persons by 2015 to meet staffing demands created by growth in the energy, chemicals and petrochemicals market.


Health Information Designs

Wright tapped as new

municipal judge in Bandera

Bandera City Council members recently appointed P. Dawn Wright at the new interim municipal judge. Wright, who has 15 years experience as a justice of the peace, a clerk and in law enforcement, will replace Lynn Holt, who resigned as municipal judge in mid-July.


Current plans are for Wright to serve in the interim post until the November elections are concluded and then take the post permanently once the mayor is elected. The terms of the mayor and the municipal judge will not run concurrently, city officials said.


Woden ISD selects Taylor

as new superintendent

Brady TaylorWoden Independent School District trustees recently selected Brady Taylor (pictured), who currently serves as a high school principal for the district, as the new superintendent.


Taylor previously was an administrator at the Martinsville and Central school districts. He replaces Dr. Brent Hawkins, who resigned as superintendent to accept employment at the Region 6 Education Service Center in Huntsville.


Victoria County approves $25,000 for study on adding courtrooms

Victoria County commissioners recently approved $25,000 to hire an architect to study the options for adding space for more courtrooms. The county has eight judges using only five courtrooms and the judiciary needs more space to operate efficiently, the county judge said.


The options are building new courtrooms for County Court-at-Law No. 1 and No. 2 at a new facility on downtown property owned by the county or to expand the existing tax annex buildings or courthouse to make room for two more courtrooms, the county judge said. A plan to add more courtrooms in 2008 was placed on hold because of a shrinking economy, he noted. Commissioners set a goal to plan the courtroom expansion project so that the county would make its first payment on the project in 2015.


Gemini Global Group

Collell resigns as director

of San Benito's EDC

Alma Puente Collell recently resigned as executive director of the San Benito Economic Development Corporation, a post she held for six years.


Collell previously served as chief executive officer of the Harlingen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and also worked at the Texas Department of Economic Development in Austin. City officials declined to comment on the resignation as well as any plans to appoint an interim executive director or search for a new executive director for the corporation.


Wes Suiter elected at-large

member of NARC board

Wes SuiterAngelina County Judge Wes Suiter (pictured) has been selected as an at-large member of the board of the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC). Suiter currently serves as second vice president of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments. NARC member organizations are composed of multiple local governments that work together to serve American communities - large and small, urban and rural. For more than 40 years, NARC has represented the interests of its members and has advanced regional cooperation through interaction and advocacy with Congress, federal officials and other related agencies and interest groups.


John Thompson, Polk County Judge and former NARC president, said Suiter's national leadership role with NARC will not only help keep Deep East Texas up with what's going on in the rest of the country, but also to "give us a voice in responding to the proposed changes."


Austin weighing  up to $400M

million bond vote in November

Austin City Council members recently agreed to ask voters to approve from $385 million to $400 million in capital improvement projects to include in a proposed bond election on Nov. 6. City staff has advised that a $385 million bond proposal would avoid a large increase in property taxes if voters approve the bond issue.


Council members have explored upgrades to parks, renovation of libraries and several transportation projects to include in the November bond proposal. The council must agree and vote on a final bond package by Aug. 20 to place the bond proposition on the ballot on Nov. 6.


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Farrell resigns position as city administrator in Jefferson

Shawn Farrell, city administrator in Jefferson, recently resigned from that post. Because Farrell had attempted to resign in March, a city alderman said the city already has advertised the job and has received applications for the city administrator post.


Until a new city administrator is hired, the mayor will act as interim city administrator, city officials said.


Plano eyes $10M makeover for community, conference center

Declining bookings and a drop in revenue at Plano Centre, a city-owned community event and conference center, recently prompted city council members to begin eyeing options costing about $10 million to extend the life of the facility opened in 1990.


In an effort to attract more events, council members are looking at updating the interior and exterior of the building built in 1990. They hope to improve the exhibit hall and parking and replace outdated portable technology with the latest in built-in technology. Council members have scheduled a work session on Aug. 18 at which city staff will outline several of the options and the estimated cost of pursuing each of the options presented. They will also gather input from citizens.


Ingleside wins $1.2 million federal grant to upgrade water system

Ingleside recently won a $2.1 million federal grant to help pay for a new, $2.7 million water tower and a ground storage tank. The city agreed to sell bonds to raise the remaining $1.5 million contribution required by the grant for the water tower and storage tank, said City Manager Jim Gray (pictured).


With Oxy Ingleside Property Holding under contract to buy the former Naval Station Ingleside for almost $90 million and other companies also negotiating contracts, the city must increase the capacity of its water supply system to meet the expected demand, Gray said. The development by Oxy is currently valued at about $1 billion and could create as many as 200 direct and indirect jobs, he noted.


Recent Reports

Kendall County names Speer

as interim county auditor

District Judge N. Keith Williams of the 216th District Court has appointed Corinna Speer to serve as the interim county auditor in Kendall County. Speer, who began her duties as auditor in mid-June, will report to Judge Williams now that her appointment is official.


Governor's appointments
Gov. Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Benjamin N. Smith of McKinney, judge of the 380th Judicial District Court in Collin County 
  • Elizabeth Leonard of Midland, judge of the 238th Judicial District Court in Midland County 
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 8/3/12

Luling ISD selects Glover as

lone finalist for superintendent

Tim GloverLuling Independent School District board members recently selected Tim Glover (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Currently a superintendent at Brownfield ISD, Glover also has worked as a teacher and administrator at the Fort Hancock and Llano school districts. Trustees expect to finalize the contract on Aug. 17.


Wichita Falls may move ahead

with proposed bus center

After learning that the Federal Transit Administration denied a request for grant funding, Wichita Falls city officials are looking at other funding to pay for a proposed downtown travel center to unite several bus transit services.


The director of transportation for the city, John Burrus, urged city officials to consider borrowing $1 million from the general fund or the 4A or 4B programs to pay for the project and repay the debt over a three-year period. The design for the transit center is about 95 percent complete. The project could begin construction in September if city council members agree to use alternative funding to replace the grant funds that had been sought.


Ector County ISD exploring

$129 million bond election

Hector MendezSuperintendent Hector Mendez (pictured) of Ector County Independent School District recently urged trustees to consider his plan to implement a new middle school system and other upgrades that would require the district to issue nearly $130 million in bonds to pay for facilities needed for the change.


The superintendent recommended dividing schools into Pre-K, grades K-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Mendez also asked board members to consider building three new elementary schools to meet growing enrollment in some areas and expanding and renovating two high schools to handle 9th grade students who will attend those schools if the superintendent's plan is approved.


Trustees are expected to make a decision this week on whether to call a November bond election.


Grapevine Council agrees

on $68.5 million bond proposal

Grapevine City Council members recently agreed to ask voters to approve $68.5 million in bonds in November. Proceeds from the bond issue will be used to pay for a new $38.5 million, 98,000-square-foot public safety facility and for expanding and renovating the community activity center at an estimated cost of $30 million, if voters approve the proposal. At their next council meeting, Council members are expected to vote to schedule the election. 


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NCTCOG announces funding available for transit options

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) will open the 2012 Job Access/Reverse Commute and New Freedom Call for Projects on Aug. 31. Approximately $2.6 million in Job Access/Reverse Commute and $2.8 million in New Freedom funding is available for the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Denton-Lewisville urbanized areas.


State or local government agencies, public transportation operators, nonprofit organizations and private transportation providers can develop and submit eligible projects for funding consideration. Job Access program funds are available for projects that provide transportation to assist limited-income individuals to employment and related activities.


Reverse Commute funds are available to improve access to suburban employment opportunities. New Freedom program funds are available for projects that enhance the transportation options for persons with disabilities above what is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Click here for information about the programs and the upcoming call.


Alice ISD hires Everett as

new interim superintendent

Alice Independent School District board members recently hired Grace Everett, who retired as superintendent for Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD, as the interim superintendent. Everett replaces former Superintendent Salvador Cavazos, who resigned in July to accept a post at the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District.


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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