Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 32 - Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

Kirby Dendy announced as new chief of Texas Rangers


Will replace elite law enforcement group's retiring chief Hank Whitman

Kirby DendyThe badge of the chief of the Texas Rangers will change hands Sept. 1 when Ranger Chief Hank Whitman (right) retires. He will turn the leadership of the elite law enforcement agency over to the capable hands of Kirby Dendy (left). Dendy has served as assistant director/chief of the Texas Rangers since 2011.


"Kirby has consistently upheld and shown an unwavering commitment to the values of this department, and he has demonstrated the leadership skills essential to serving as the head of the Texas Rangers," said Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw. The DPS director noted Dendy has more than 40 years of experience with DPS, 25 of those years as a Texas Ranger, adding that experience "makes him uniquely qualified to lead this unparalleled team of officers."


Hank WhitmanDendy's long career with DPS began in 1971 when he was hired as a Highway Patrol trooper and narcotics agent. He was promoted to Texas Ranger in 1987 in Fort Worth.  He earned the rank of Ranger lieutenant in Midland in 1992 and captain of Company F in Waco in 1995.  He held that position until his promotion to deputy assistant director/assistant chief of the Texas Rangers in 2011.


Dendy, who attended The University of Texas at Austin, is a graduate of the Northwestern University Traffic Institute School of Police Staff and Command. His father retired as a Texas Ranger, and his son and son-in-law are Highway Patrol troopers.


Retiring Chief Whitman began his service with DPS in the Texas Highway Patrol in 1990. That followed his having served as a police officer for the city of Corpus Christi. In 1996, he was promoted to investigator in the Criminal Investigations Division of DPS. He became a sergeant with the Rangers in 2001. Whitman continued to progress through the ranks to the position of chief.


Whitman holds a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University and a master's from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Earlier this week, Whitman was honored by the Public Safety Commission for his 22 years of service with DPS. He was awarded the inaugural Distinguished Service Medal.


8th Biennial Legislative Communications Conference:


Evan Smith to moderate discussion on legislature featuring Armbrister, Morris 

Geanie MorrisonKen ArmbristerWho better to offer insight into the upcoming legislative session than a pair of long-time political veterans with experience on key issues lawmakers have faced over the years - State Rep. Geanie Morrison (top right) and former House and Senate member and now Gov. Rick Perry's Legislative Director Ken Armbrister (top left).


And who better to keep them headed down the right path as they discuss the upcoming legislative session than Evan Smith (bottom left), CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune and former president and editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly magazine.


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.


Evan SmithMorrison is in her seventh term as a member of the Texas House and currently serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and as vice chair of the House Committee on Human Services. Both of those committees will have a full plate in the upcoming legislative session in January as lawmakers will be dealing with fewer dollars in state coffers and questions regarding how health care legislation at the federal level will impact the state's finances. Armbrister, a veteran of more than two decades of legislative service, was appointed as Gov. Rick Perry's legislative director in December 2006. While in the Senate, he served on virtually every committee.


The conference will also feature a panel of financial experts from the offices of the Lt. Governor, House Speaker and the Legislative Budget Board to 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 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


Dr. 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.
(Editor's Note: The Texas Government Insider inadvertently published the wrong photograph with this column in last week's edition and although the problem was corrected, some readers received the newsletter before the correct photo was substituted. Thus, we are rerunning the column this week in its entirety. We regret the error.)

Walt to leave Governor's Office for LCRA governmental affairs post 

Kathy WaltAfter a dozen years of service in the Governor's Office, Deputy Chief of Staff Kathy Walt (pictured) is leaving state government to become executive manager of governmental affairs for the Lower Colorado River Authority.


Walt began her public service career as press secretary to then-Lt. Gov. Rick Perry and continued in that role when Perry became governor after then-Gov. George W. Bush resigned after being elected President. Walt served as press secretary for six years. She then served the Governor's Office as a senior advisor and in 2007 was named deputy chief of staff.


Walt was in print media before beginning her state government career. She was a reported at the Houston Chronicle, The Huntsville Item and also worked at newspapers in Virginia and Ohio. Walt holds bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from The Ohio State University.


More federal transportation funds to be made available to states

The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation are expected today, Friday, to announce the availability of $470 million in funding available to the states for projects that will create jobs and improve transportation. The Associated Press reports that the funds are part of the Obama administration's "We Can't Wait" initiatives aimed at maneuvering around a slow-moving Congress to get money into the economy and create jobs. The President on Thursday announced another similar initiative, a public-private partnership for manufacturing innovation in Youngstown, Ohio. That plan awarded $30 million in federal funding matched by $40 million from a consortium to revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States.


The transportation initiative will use funds originally allocated to USDOT for earmarks for 2003 to 2006. The funding became available for other purposes when earmarks were banned by the House and President Obama vowed to veto any bill that included earmarks. The President said those funds should be spent to improve highways, transit systems and ports nationwide. To qualify for the funding, states would have to identify how they would spend any money allocated to them. The deadline for providing that information is Oct. 1.


Mireles wins TASSCC President's Award for Excellence in IT

Mel MirelesTexas Employees Retirement System (ERS) Chief Information Officer Mel Mireles (pictured) has been named recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in IT, awarded by the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC). The award was presented this week at TASSCC's Annual Conference.


The President's Award recognizes leadership and excellence in IT by an employee of a state agency or institution of higher education who is an IT manager who has provided outstanding IT leadership to the state over many years. TASSCC officials noted that Mireles has, in only four years, transformed IT at ERS and "re-invented the way ERS administers pension and health benefits to half a million state employees and their families."


Mireles is credited in leading a team that opted to spend less than $1 million to transform the current business analytics system rather than spending millions on a complete IT modernization effort.


Mireles is a veteran IT manager with more than two decades of experience. He has held a variety of positions in Texas state government, including director of the Enterprise Operations Division at the Department of Information Resources, chief information security officer for the State of Texas, chief advisor to the Governor's Homeland Security Division concerning technology initiatives and as Information Resources Manager at the Texas Railroad Commission.


Travis County health board to ask for 5-cent tax hike for medical school

Travis County Central Health Board members recently agreed to ask voters in November to approve a 5-cent increase in property taxes to help establish a new medical school in Austin and improve health care in the process.


Citing the opportunity to attract federal funding to help educate physicians at the proposed medical school, the chairwoman of the board noted the county most likely would not have another opportunity to attract similar funding to create a medical school. If voters approve the increase, some of the additional tax revenue may be used to buy a site for the $250 million teaching hospital proposed by the Seton Healthcare Family. Some of the revenue also would be used to pay faculty, residents and students at the medical school for providing care to patients at public clinics and hospitals in the county. The goal is to divert those patients from more expensive emergency rooms.


If the health board members agree to contribute $35 million a year toward the medical school, The University of Texas System regents said they would allot $25 million a year to support a medical school in Austin and an additional $5 million a year for eight years to purchase equipment for the facility. According to the chief financial officer of Central Health, the agency could receive $1.46 in federal funds for each $1 invested locally in health care improvements made under the 1115 Medicaid waiver. The tax increase will be seen on tax bills due on Jan. 31, 2014, if the proposal passes.


DPS announces Chris Sarandos as assistant director of IT Division

Chris SarandosChris Sarandos (pictured) has been named assistant director for the Information Technology (IT) Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Sarandos will join DPS on Sept. 4, after having served a little over a year as the CIO for the state of Wisconsin.


"IT supports virtually every aspect of our department's mission, including providing real-time information to law enforcement across the state; core functions necessary for driver license transactions; data security; and website management," said DPS Director Steven McCraw, noting how Sarandos' many years of experience will serve the IT Division well.


Appointed Wisconsin's CIO in August of last year, Sarandos also oversaw the state's information technology infrastructure. He was the IT adviser on the Governor's Homeland Security Council and chaired the Governor's Cyber Security Working Group. Sarandos is also a former Acting and Deputy CIO for the Peace Corps and was NATO Headquarters chief information officer. He held a variety of CIO positions within the U.S. Air Force during his 28-year military career, including deputy director and division chief.


The new DPS CIO holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and a master's degree from Webster University.


State gets unsolicited proposals:
Planetarium project gets nod; another mixed-use development sought

A private sector developer has submitted an unsolicited proposal to the state seeking a long-term lease of state property on which to build a mixed-use project. The 75-acre spot in Central Austin would be developed into a project that includes residences, offices and retail spaces. Before the tract, which is partially developed, could be developed, it would have to gain approval of the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC).


This announcement comes on the heels of the TFC giving its approval this week to a local nonprofit to proceed with its proposal for developing another mixed-use project on state property across the street from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. That project includes plans for a $240 million high-rise that would include a planetarium. That development would also include residential space, restaurants, retail space and underground parking.


Schovanec chosen interim president of Texas Tech University

Lawrence SchovanecLawrence Schovanec, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas Tech University, has been named the university's interim president. He takes over for former President Guy Bailey, who recently accepted the president at the University of Alabama. Schovanec, who became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in June 2010, will begin his duties in early September.


Board Chairman Jerry E. Turner said Schovanec's appointment assures that Texas Tech University will continue to advance. Schovanec, who has spent nearly 30 years at Tech, is also former chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He joined the Tech faculty in 1982.


Schovanec holds a bachelor's degree from Phillips University, a master's from Texas A&M University and his doctorate from Indiana University.


8th Biennial Legislative Conference - Register now

Public Safety Commission honors individuals serving DPS


Whitman, Domingue, Operation Drawbridge participants cited for awards

Texas Department of Public Safety personnel involved in Operation Drawbridge, the department's border camera surveillance program, were honored by the Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) this week for their work on this groundbreaking program. Also honored at this week's PSC meeting were retiring DPS Texas Ranger Chief Hank Whitman and Criminal Investigations Agent Cabora Domingue.


In commending the Border Security Operations Center (BSOC) responsible for the success of Operation Drawbridge, DPS Director Steven McCraw noted, "The men and women of the BSOC and Operation Drawbridge help make Texas more secure by leveraging technology to monitor illegal activity along the border with Mexico and immediately alerting appropriate authorities to take enforcement action."


The BSOC received a Unit Citation for the Operation Drawbridge project that includes a network of cameras in strategic locations along the Texas-Mexico border. Thousands of individuals illegally crossing the border have been apprehended as a result of using the cameras and tons of marijuana have also been confiscated. The award was presented to Staff Captain Aaron Grigsby, Mark Siebert, Joel Aud, Beth Bourne, Karin Guest, Kendra Miller, Anastasia Moore, Brandy Prinz, Joe Rivas, Jared Vandenheuvel, Lance Vaughn and members of the Texas State Guard.


Domingue, from El Paso, was awarded a Life Saving Award for potentially saving the life of fellow agent Todd Hester, by applying the Heimlich maneuver to Hester when the agent was dining and became unable to breathe when a food obstruction cut off his airway. Domingue was credited with averting a possible live-threatening situation.


Retiring Texas Ranger Chief Hank Whitman was awarded first ever Distinguished Service Medal. Whitman will retire from the Rangers on Aug. 31, ending a DPS career that spanned 22 years. Gov. Rick Perry attended the awards ceremony and presented Whitman, a U.S. Marines veteran, with a commission as an honorary admiral in the Texas Navy.


New building for Texas Tech nursing school approved by regents

Kent HanceThe Texas Tech University Board of Regents recently approved funding for a new 25,000-square-foot building that will house the university's Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing in El Paso. The construction is expected to start next spring. The facility will include classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, support space, training equipment and public art.


"The potential exists in El Paso for us to make great strides in educating future nurses and other health care professionals here and in the rest of the state," said Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance (pictured). Hance said the school will allow up to 160 students to be admitted each year in either a four-year bachelor's degree in nursing program or a second bachelor's degree in nursing. Part of the funding will be provided by foundation money from a nonprofit group that is promoting the medical industry growth in the area of its Medical Center of Americas initiative. The nursing school currently operates in leased space in the downtown area of El Paso.


Fowle chosen to serve as VP at Midwestern State University

Dr. Marilyn Fowle, vice president for Administration and Finance at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is the newly appointed Vice President for Business Affairs and Finance at Midwestern State University, effective Sept. 1. She succeeds Juan Sandoval, who served in that position for the last year.


Fowle's other higher education experience includes having been Vice President for Business and Finance at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia; Vice President for Business and Administrative Services at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota; Executive Assistant to the CEO and Interim Associate Vice President for Administration/Assistant to the CEO at Texas A & M University-Galveston; and Director of Operating Budgets at the University of Houston.


Fowle holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston, Clear Lake, an MBA from Rice University and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.


P3 Opportunities

Palo Alto College names two finalists with Texas ties for president

Officials of Palo Alto College (PAC) recently selected two finalists with Texas ties, Dr. Ruben Michael Flores and Dr. Ernst E. Roberts II, to consider for president of that institution.


Flores, currently the interim vice president of academic affairs at PAC, joined the college in 1999 to direct institutional research, strategic planning and resource development programs. Flores has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio, a master's degree from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.


Roberts currently serves as interim president of El Paso Community College (EPCC). He joined EPCC in 1978 as a teacher in the Department of Psychology and later became a tenured professor and an administrator. Roberts has a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University, a master's degree from The University of Texas at El Paso and an Ed.D. from Texas Tech University.


El Paso nursing school wins $787K grant to train trauma care nurses

Elias Provencio-VasquezThe Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently awarded The University of Texas-El Paso School of Nursing a $787,202 grant. The funding will be used to create the Emergency and Trauma Care Education Partnership Program at the nursing school to train registered nurses and nurse practitioners in emergency and trauma care, said Elias Provencio-Vasquez (pictured), dean of the UTEP school of nursing. UTEP will partner with a health care group in El Paso to train students at Sierra Providence Health Network facilities in the program funded through August 2013.


The grant will pay to train 24 nurse practitioners and to hire pediatric and adult/geriatric acute care nurse practitioner faculty in addition to providing stipends to students to help pay for tuition and books. Once the program is completed, 24 nurses will take the tests to become nationally certified emergency room nurses, Provencio-Vasquez said.


Houston Metro wins $188 million in federal funds for light rail lines

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently authorized an additional $188 million in federal funding to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County to pay for expanding light rail services in the north and southeast areas of the county.


Houston Metro authorities plan to spend $94 million of the funding in the North Corridor to build a 5.28-mile extension of light rail from the University of Houston-Downtown Station to Northline Commons, expand the existing Rail Operations Center, build 10 new stations and buy 22 light rail vehicles. The plan also calls for spending $94 million in the Southeast Corridor to build a 6.56-mile light rail line from downtown Houston to a terminal at Palm Center, build 10 new stations, a new facility to store and wash vehicles and buy 29 light rail vehicles.


Tarleton selects Minckler as vice president for finance

Tye MincklerTye V. Minckler (pictured) has assumed the duties of vice president for finance administration/chief financial officer at Tarleton State University. Minckler comes to Tarleton after having served as vice president of operations at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He also previously was director of facilities development and management at the University of Washington's School of Medicine.


Minckler also has a background in the private sector, having been chief financial officer for two private firms, one a software services start-up he co-founded.


The new vice president is a certified management accountant. He earned a bachelor's degree and an MBA from the University of Washington. 


Regents approve 400-bed residence hall for UT-Dallas campus

Residence HallThe University of Texas at Dallas will get its fourth residence hall by the time the fall 2013 semester begins. The UT System Board of Regents recently approved funding for the dorm, which will be a 400-bed facility. It will be built at the same time the university is constructing a 600-bed dorm and dining facility that is scheduled to open in August 2014.


The new 400-bed facility, as seen in the accompanying artist's rendering, will be UT-Dallas' fourth housing facility in five years and will be built to match existing residence halls.


The new dorm will be a four-story building with an 1,800-square-foot rotunda. The first floor will have a lounge and recreation area with a kitchen, laundry room, mailroom, study room, classroom, restrooms and offices. The second floor includes additional study areas and a media room that can be used as a classroom as well. The estimated cost of the project is $31 million.



Help Wanted   Need a job? Got a job opening?

Check out our Public Sector Job Board!

In this weeks' Job Board, the StarCare Specialty Health System has both part-time and full-time jobs from RNs to cooks to case managers. State agency jobs available include general counsel, computer programmers, internal auditors and human resources specialists. Dozens more jobs available. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com.


TAMU-Health Science center merger could happen by January

The proposed merger of the Texas A&M Health Science Center with Texas A&M University could be completed by January of next year. The only thing standing between the merger of the two institutions are approval by regulatory and accreditation entities. The TAMU System Board of Regents approved moving forward with the merger when they met earlier this month.


Before the merger can happen, approval must be given by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, an accreditation agency. While the university and the HSC await that approval, other work toward the merger has already begun. An oversight committee has been appointed to advise TAMU administrators regarding the merger, including such issues as academic calendars, state funding and IT logistics.


TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp proposed the merger, saying it would increase research funding and allow researchers at the two entities to collaborate more on projects. Officials say little would change as a result of the merger, as the HSC would continue to be an independent unit.


Grapevine residents to vote on $70 million bond proposal for facilities

Bruno RumbelowWith a goal of building a new public safety building and enlarging a community recreation center, Grapevine City Council members recently agreed to place a $70 million bond proposal on the ballot in November.


City Manager Bruno Rumbelow (pictured) said the first proposition will ask voters to approve $38 million in bonds to build a 108,000-square-foot facility to house the municipal court, a police detention center, law enforcement space and fire department headquarters. The second proposition asks for approval of $30 million in bonds to build 60,000 square feet of additional space onto the recreation center to house a senior center, indoor pool, multipurpose rooms, meeting rooms, a game room and lockers, he said.


Parkland hires Smith as interim chief executive officer

An experienced health care professional with experience in management and restructuring of hospital systems has been hired as interim chief executive officer of the Parkland Health and Hospital System. Robert "Bob" Smith will replace Thomas C. Royer, M.D., whose contract as interim CEO expires at the end of this month. Smith will serve until a nationwide search is completed to find a permanent CEO. Smith will begin his new charge in September.


Smith was called in by Clarent Hospital Corp. in Houston in 2000 to complete a restructuring of the company and its hospitals. Since that engagement ended, he has managed multi-state regions for Universal Health Service and Tenet Healthcare.


Smith holds a Master of Health Administration degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Missouri in St. Louis. He was the 2011 recipient of the Texas Hospital Association's Earl M. Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration - the highest award given by the organization.


South Plains College gives nod to tax increase to pay for upgrades

Kelvin SharpSouth Plains College officials recently agreed to increase the value of property, mineral rights and homes in the college district to raise an additional $1.9 million in revenue to pay for capital improvements.


President Kelvin Sharp (pictured) said the increased revenue is needed to help pay for a $7.8 million project to build a new, 104-bed residence hall for men and for $2 million in building renovations to relocate the cosmetology program into a former department store building the university purchased. Sharp proposed renovating about 20,000 square feet of the department store to house the cosmetology program.

Gillespie County sets bond election to pay for $14.8 million county jail

Gillespie County commissioners recently voted to call a bond election on Nov. 6 to ask voters to approve a bond issue to pay for building and furnishing a new 96-bed county jail and justice center with an estimated $14.8 million price tag.


Plans call for a two-story, 47,650-square-foot facility to be built behind the current County Law Enforcement Center on East Main Street if voters approve the bond proposal.


County officials worked with a jail facility advisory committee and law enforcement officials for two years to find a solution to jail overcrowding and determined a new, large capacity jail would alleviate overcrowding and reduce the $400,000-a-year payments to other counties to house inmates from the overcrowded jail in Gillespie County.


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Midwestern State University approve new process for contracts

Regents at Midwestern State University recently approved changes to clarify the process for approval of contracts. A former chairman of the regents requested a study of the university's contract process. The request came as a result of concerns raised regarding a failure to comply with the Texas Government Code for three years by failing to report any contracts finalized in 2007, 2008 and 2009 that were $14,000 or more.


The new contract process requires a newly created routing sheet to track each contract and clarifies the dollar amount of contracts that require approval by regents or by other university officials. With the exception of bequests, gifts or grants to the university that do not include real property, the new contract policy requires regents to sign contracts valued at $500,000 or more a year


Under the newly amended contract policy, the president is authorized to sign contracts from $100,000 to $500,000 as well as for contracts for mineral interest in real property valued at less than $100,000 and on contracts and employment notices for the university. The new contract policy also allows the president or a vice president to sign contracts of less than $100,000 per year, contracts involving grant proposals and agreements for non-monetary and clinical affiliations.


El Paso city, county continue talks to share IT department costs

Peter CooperEl Paso city and county officials recently agreed to continue sharing information technology services and develop a consolidation plan that will benefit both the county and city. So far, the existing shared services agreement for IT has resulted in savings of more than $5.7 million since 2009, said Peter Cooper (pictured), chief technology officer for the county and city.


El Paso city officials had requested county officials to agree to share in the cost of moving the city's information technology department, however, county officials took no action on that request to share space. Council members instead agreed to align the job descriptions and salary ranges of city and county staff working in information technology, develop an agreement with the county that allows for cross-management of staff, create an organization chart and then weigh the benefits of consolidating the departments. County officials approved those same actions in May.


Council members also instructed the city manager to look at more options for relocating the IT Department if city officials decide to build a $50 million ball park where city hall is now located. The options include moving the IT department into either of two buildings the city is negotiating to purchase or to move in with the county's technology staff. County Judge Veronica Escobar, however, said county officials are not ready to share IT space with the city yet even though the ultimate goal is a full consolidation of technology staff.


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El Paso sets vote on $468 million bond issue and hotel tax increase

El Paso City Council members recently voted to include on the Nov. 6 ballot a $468 million bond proposal and a referendum to increase the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent to pay for a new downtown baseball stadium.

The three propositions on the ballot are:

  • A $245 million bond proposal to pay for upgrades for parks and recreation facilities, zoo improvements and open space upgrades, including new soccer fields, aquatic centers and upgraded recreation, senior and community centers;
  • A $228.25 million bond proposal to pay for a new children's museum, a new culural heritage center and interactive digital wall along with upgrades to performing arts, entertainment and library facilities; and
  • A proposition authorizing the city to increase the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent to pay for planning, acquiring, developing and building a new downtown baseball stadium.

Friendswood library board urges $2 million bond proposal

Friendswood Library Board members recently recommended that city council set a bond election in the next year to ask voters to approve $2 million to expand and upgrade the current 15,450-square-foot library. Council members had asked library board members to study three options - $500,000, $1 million and $2 million - for a budget to pay for the library improvements.


With the $2 million option, the library could be expanded as much as 6,000 square feet up to 21,450 square feet, which would add space for group study rooms, a new area for teens, enlarge the children's area and add more shelving for materials, said Mary Perroni, the library director. Council discussed the options, but made no decision on the recommendation to schedule a bond election to pay for the library upgrade.


Pflugerville eyes $18 million cost to upgrade road to new high school

Brandon WadeCity Manager Brandon Wade (pictured) recently advised Pflugerville City Council that the city would need to spend about $18 million to upgrade a road to provide access to a proposed new $90 million high school included in a November bond election approved by Pflugerville Independent School District trustees.


Wade urged council members to consider calling a bond election in May 2013 to ask voters to approve bonds to pay for the $18 million in upgrades. Because approval of bonds proposed by the school district and by the city would add an additional 8 cents per $100 valuation in property taxes, voters need to know the full cost of building the proposed fourth high school, Wade said.


Willacy County to build much smaller domed storm shelter

Willacy County and school district officials recently agreed to reduce the size of a domed storm shelter from 20,000 square feet as originally proposed to an 8,000-square-foot dome of last resort. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials had approved up to $1.8 million in federal funds to build the domed shelter while county and school district officials had agreed to contribute $600,000 to building the large, domed shelter that the school district also had planned to use as a gymnasium.


After learning that the school district could be responsible for paying from $750 to $7,500 per month for air conditioning if district officials used the 20,000-square-foot facility as a gymnasium, the superintendent told county officials he only was authorized to offer vacant land for the planned shelter. He added that he was not authorized to commit the school district to pay the continuing cost of heating and cooling the facility throughout the year. The county judge said the smaller storm shelter is designed to withstand winds up to 200 mph and will serve as a shelter "of last resort."



Texas Municipal League 100th Annual Conference, Exhibition set

A century in the making, the Texas Municipal League will hold its 100th Annual Conference and Exhibition on Nov. 13-16 in Grapevine. Hear from the experts, such as the Opening General Session keynote speaker Jim Carroll, a futurist who will discuss trends affecting public service and how to turn challenge into opportunity. Dive into concurrent sessions on leadership, smartphone apps, health care, youth, retail development, parliamentary procedure, legislation, water management and community meetings...just to name a few. And not to be missed is a walk through the exhibit hall, where delegates will find more than 300 vendors equipped with services and products to help public servants serve better. With an agenda so full, we also carved some time to celebrate 100 years of municipal excellence - join us on Nov. 14 for the TML Centennial Gala. A conference like this only comes around once every 100 years. So what are you waiting for? Register now at www.tmlconference.org.


Free forum to address mortgage foreclosure scams

A Loan Scam Alert Forum, sponsored by the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, NeighborWorks America and the City of San Antonio Human Services Department is planned for Friday, Aug. 31, from 9 a.m. to noon. The forum will be held in the Al J. Notzon III Board Room at 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The forum will address the increasing number of mortgage foreclosure scams homeowners face and will offer information on how to identify such scams, how to help families at risk of foreclosure, free resource materials and an opportunity to network with local and federal agencies. The event is free, but space is limited so those seeking to attend should RSVP to acoleman@fdic.gov by Monday, Aug. 27. For more information, call 281-536-9939.


Texas Economic Development, Energy Summit set in San Antonio

The Texas Economic Development & Energy Summit is slated for Thursday and Friday, Aug. 23 and 24, in San Antonio. A Job Fair will be from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the San Antonio Convention Center. The summit will be Aug. 24 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, 101 Bowie Street. The summit will focus on the nexus between Texas' energy marketplace and jobs, local growth opportunities and the environment. Break Out sessions on Critical Infrastructure (housing, transportation), Energy Demand (natural gas vehicles, power generation), Industry Opportunities (technology in the field, women in the workforce) and Local Impact (building the workforce pipeline, business opportunities). For more information and to register, click here.


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.


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 upcoming workshop

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) on Sept 7 will host a Basics of Economic Development for Elected Officials Workshop. This workshop will also be at 8700 Tesoro Drive 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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Statewide airport projects lead
to contracting opportunities


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


We should love our Texas airports!


Last year in Texas, general aviation airports provided more than 56,000 jobs, $3.1 billion in payroll and $14.6 billion in total economic output. That data comes from a study conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).


Airports stimulate the economy of Texas significantly. Few communities will dispute the fact that their local or regional airports are the lifeblood of their economic development efforts. Without them, recruitment of new companies would be impossible. And, without airports, it is difficult to attract visitors and tourists who spend money that circulates through the region.


Because aviation plays such an important role in the economy, it's important to keep our airports maintained, safe and attractive. Texas airports must cater to flights delivering freight as well as those serving people.


We spend millions from state, federal and local funding sources on airports. When funds are made available, the projects that result provide contracting opportunities for all types of private sector companies.


This year, TxDOT expects to provide at least $60 million in funding for planning, constructing and maintaining community airports.


In the last two months, the Texas Transportation Commission awarded millions of dollars from the Aviation Facilities Grant Program for capital improvement projects to assist in the development and establishment of Texas airports. Projects are approved nearly every month by the Commission, and most are related to maintaining, preserving, improving or expanding airports. Here are examples of recent allocations:

  • Midway Regional Airport - $230,000 for projects that will include design and engineering for apron/ pavement improvements;
  • Cleburne Municipal Airport - $225,000 for engineering and design;




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Gemini Global Group

Hidalgo County voters to decide bond issue relating to drainage

Hidalgo County voters will face a November referendum to decide if the county can borrow money for improvements to its aging drainage system. Voters will be asked to approve a $184 million bond election that would result in the first major upgrade to the drainage system since the 1970s.


The upgrades will help control and expedite the flow of floodwaters to the Laguna Madre. Even if the issue passes, officials say it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the $600 million in upgrades that the system needs. The biggest chunk of the $184 million would be a $100 million investment in the Raymondville Drain that would create an alternate path for floodwaters to reach the bay, thus alleviating some strain on the existing system. Another $84 million in bond proceeds would provide for a network of pumps and gates that would allow the draining district to better manage or measure demand.


Other of the funds would be used for drainage improvements in unincorporated areas such as colonias.


Bryan selects Kean Register

as its new city manager

Kean RegisterBryan City Council members recently selected Kean Register (pictured) as the city manager. Register, who previously was a group manager at Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU), has been interim city manager since being appointed in 2010 to replace David Watkins after Watkins resigned.


Register previously told city officials he was not interested in becoming city manager because of the history of turnover in that post and that a major goal was to become general manager at BTU, the city-owned utility. After working with city staff and council for two years, Register said he changed his mind, enjoys the job and decided to accept the appointment as city manager.


McKinney taps Daake as

new deputy city manager

McKinney city officials recently selected Rob Daake as the new deputy city manager. He will oversee development services, parks, recreation and open spaces, public works and information technology.


Daake previously was the executive director of development services for McKinney and also was a project engineer in Iowa. He has a bachelor's degree from Iowa State University.


Midland ISD schedules $163M bond proposal in November

Ryder WarrenTrustees for Midland Independent School District recently voted to place a $163 million bond proposal on the November ballot to pay for new elementary schools. The funds would also be used to renovate existing schools to add more technology and improve the learning environment.


Preliminary plans are to build a new school on the growing southeast side of the district and two new schools in western areas of the city to accommodate growth, Superintendent Ryder Warren (pictured) said. The current focus is on elementary schools, but the next step in the district's long-range plan will target secondary ecucation facilities, he said.


Collaboration Nation

UH regents approve first phase of financing for new stadium

University of Houston President Renu Khator took to Twitter this week to announce that financing for the Cougars' new football stadium had been approved by the UH System Board of Regents. The regents gave approval for the initial phase of funding for the stadium that is expected to cost $85 million. This first step will allow the university to go forward with plans to demolish Robertson Stadium at the end of the upcoming football season. Ground is then expected to be broken on the new facility in January of next year.


San Benito nabs $1 million grant to build new cultural arts center

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently awarded a $1 million grant from its Economic Development Administration to San Benito to help pay for a new cultural arts center to house three museums. City officials agreed to contribute an additional $250,000 to the project and also will use $1.2 million from certificates of obligation issued in 2007 previously earmarked for the cultural arts center.


The new center will house the Community Building that will include space for the San Benito Historical Museum, the Freddy Fender Museum and the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum. City officials originally planned a 10,000-square-foot facility, but now plan a building ranging from 6,500 square feet to 8,500 square feet to help keep costs down.


Trejo selected as assistant superintendent at Belton ISD

Charla TrejoBelton Independent School District officials recently selected Dr. Charla Trejo (pictured) as the assistant superintendent for student services and administration.


Trejo, a 23-year employee of the district, previously was director of human resources and also served as a teacher, counselor and principal. She has a bachelor's degree from Baylor University, a master's degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a Ph.D. from Tarleton State University.


Adams named to DART board;

Carlson new general counsel

James F. Adams, president of Innisfree Investments of Dallas, has been appointed by the Dallas City Council to become a member of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors. The board oversees public transportation for the 13 member cities served by DART and includes a budget of more than $433 million.


DART also will be getting a new general counsel, as DART officials announced that Dallas attorney Scott Carlson has been named to that post. He replaces Hyattye Simmons, who retired. Carlson is a former member of the DART board. He was previously senior counsel at a private law firm in Dallas.


TWU College of Nursing

Dean Holden-Huchton to retire

Patricia Holden-Huchton Dr. Patricia Holden-Huchton (pictured), dean of the Texas Woman's University College of Nursing since 2008, has announced her retirement, effective Aug. 31. She joined TWU in 2005. While at TWU, she was part of a team that helped raise $55 million for the new TWU T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences-Dallas Center, which opened in 2011, and endowed two chairs at $1 million each for the university's College of Nursing in Dallas.


Prior to joining TWU, Holden-Huchton held academic nursing positions at Central Texas College in Killeen, The University of Texas at Tyler, Texas Tech University, the University of Nevada at Reno and Eastern Kentucky University.


Holden-Huchton earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, a master's degree from TWU and her doctor of nursing science degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Holden-Huchton was a practicing nurse for several years, often working as a clinician and teaching nursing simultaneously.


Lubbock ISD agrees to sell $65M  in bonds for next fiscal year

Lubbock Independent School District board members recently authorized the superintendent to sell $65 million in bonds during the next fiscal year. District officials expect to use the bonds to pay for building a new school and renovating school cafeterias throughout the district.


LeFleur Transportation

Farrell resigns as city administrator in Jefferson

Shawn Farrell recently resigned as city administrator of Jefferson. Farrell had originally agreed to stay on the job until Sept. 1, but later sent a letter to council members asking that his resignation become effective immediately. Farrell resigned in March along with the police chief, but city officials asked him to remain on the job until September.

As of mid-week, council members had not yet accepted the resignation of Farrell or a resignation from the mayor, who sent a letter notifying council of his resignation.


Williamson County announces public contract database

David FloresThousands of Williamson County contracts are now accessible to the public in a searchable format. County Auditor David Flores (pictured) said making the information accessible to the public is just another way of making county government more transparent. Contracts relating to transportation projects, real estate purchases and more will be available. He said the database will allow the public to see where its money is being spent.


Northwest ISD sets $255 million bond election in November

Northwest Independent School District trustees recently agreed to ask voters to approve $255 million in bonds on Nov. 6. The funding will be used to pay for building a new high school and a middle school in north Fort Worth and the Haslet area and for several other projects.


District officials also plan to spend part of the funding on upgrades to safety and security, enhance classroom space and programs for studies of math, science and the environment in addtion to replacing flooring, roofing, air conditioning and heating systems and building additions at several campuses.


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Pflugerville ISD approves purchase of 149 acres of land

Trustees for Pflugerville Independent School District recently approved the purchase of 149 acres of land near Lake Pflugerville to allow the district to build a new school to meet continuing growth in enrollment.


The new land parcel could be used for a fourth high school, a middle school or an elementary campus, said district officials, who expect enrollment to increase from 23,000 students this year to about 30,000 students in 2023.


Troup ISD selects Bird

as interim superintendent

Stuart BirdTrustees for Troup Independent School District recently selected Stuart Bird (pictured) as the interim superintendent.


A former superintendent who retired from Jacksonville ISD in 2008, Bird agreed to serve for about 10 months to give district officials time to find a new superintendent. Bird also served as a teacher and administrator in Sabine Parish in Louisiana and for Carthage ISD. He has a bachelor's degree from Northwestern State University in Louisiana.


Nolan County to ask voters to approve about $15M in bonds

Nolan County Commissioners recently agreed to place three bond propositions totaling about $15 million on the Nov. 6 ballot.


The three propositions are to issue $10.2 million in general obligation bonds to pay for building and equipping a new county jail facility, $4 million to renovate and remediate the facade of the county courthouse and $1.4 million to build and equip a new office for the sheriff. Both proposition two and three must win voter approval before the county is obligated to build the new offices, county officials said.


Your Ad Here!

Whitaker to retire from
Game Warden post at TPWD

Maj. Steve Whitaker of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department recently announced he plans to retire at the end of August. Whitaker, a former police officer in Alpine, joined TPWD as a game warden in 1984 and won promotion to a major based in San Angelo in 2003.


Whitaker attended Sul Ross State University and previously was employed in the energy industry, by the Brewster County Sheriff's Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.


Travis County Auditor will

not be reappointed to post

Travis County Auditor Susan Spataro, who has served the county in that capacity for more than two decades, was terminated from her post this week by a vote of the county's state district judges. State law provides that these judges, from criminal and civil courts, are responsible for appointing the auditor. They voted unanimously not to reappoint Spataro when her term is up at the end of August. Judge John Dietz was quoted in the Austin American-Statesman as saying there was "a concern about the extent of her involvement in the executive decisions of the county while at the same time having audit responsibilities for those decisions." Dietz also told the Statesman that he was concerned about the growth in the department's budget.


Dripping Springs ISD selects Vela as assistant superintendent

Ricardo Vela Dripping Springs Independent School District officials recently selected Ricardo Vela (pictured) as assistant superintendent for business services. Vela, who currently is employed in financial services for Southside ISD, will be responsible for overseeing the annual budget, financial services, transportation, child nutrition and plant operations in addition to being the chief financial officer for the Dripping Springs school district.


Denton calls $20.4 million

bond election to rebuild streets

Denton City Council members recently called a bond election on Nov. 6 asking voters to approve $20.4 million to pay for street reconstruction. The bond proposal also includes $400,000 to pay for public art and funding to enhance retaining walls when Interstate 35 is widened.


SPI on Twitter

Copperas Cove to ask voters

to approve $4.6 million in bonds

With a goal of building a new fire stations and buying two new fire trucks, Copperas Cove City Council members recently voted to schedule a $4.6 million bond election on the November ballot. If voters approve the issue of the bonds, city officials plan to build a new fire station on Grimes Crossing Road and Ave. B to replace the existing fire station on Ave. B. and to buy a new ladder and platform truck and a new truck to fight brush fires.


McKie tapped to be acting superintendent at Fort Bend ISD

Michael McKieMichael McKie (pictured), an assistant superintendent at Fort Bend Independent School District, recently agreed to serve as acting superintendent for the school district.


 McKie previously served as a principal for the district and has a bachelor's degree from Northern Michgan University and a master's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University.


Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 8/10/12

Curtis Culwell to retire as superintendent at Garland ISD

Curtis CulwellSuperintendent Curtis Culwell (pictured) recently announced he is retiring from Garland Independent School District effective in December. Culwell, who joined the Garland district in 1999, also was superintendent for Lubbock ISD. He began his career as a high school teacher in Garland in 1976.


Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Dee Peavy of Graham, district attorney of the 90th Judicial District for Stephens and Young counties
  • Ken Florence, Jr. of Shelbyville, district attorney of the 123rd Judicial District in Shelby County;
  • Christopher Dennis of Levelland, district attorney of the 286th Judicial District for Hockley and Cochran counties
  • Kevin Cloud of Austin, Texas Council on Purchasing from People with Disabilities;
  • Luis De La Garza of Laredo, Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board;
  • Laurie Fontana of Houston, Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board;
  • Shannon McClendon of Dripping Springs, Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board.
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TEA places El Paso ISD on probation, assigns monitor

Texas Education Agency officials recently placed the El Paso Independent School District on probation and assigned a monitor who will report on the district's efforts in identifying and correcting defects that allowed a cheating scheme in measuring student achievement to continue for several years. Lowering the status of a school district from accredited to accredited-probation is the last action before the TEA can revoke accreditation of a school district.


The chief deputy commissioner also ordered El Paso ISD officials to hire a company not affiliated with the district to oversee testing of students and to identify defects in the testing process that allowed the cheating to remain undiscovered for years.


The TEA study of the incident reported that some district staff had reportedly performed intentional, unethical and illegal acts that compromised the education system and disregarded the needs of students in the district.


City of Alpine kicks off search

for its new city attorney

Ron PontonAlpine City Council members recently agreed to begin a search for a new city attorney to replace Rod Ponton (pictured), who is resigning to serve as 83rd District Attorney. Council members said they plan to begin the search for a new city attorney at the next regular council meeting.


Troup seeking bids for ag farm projects, tennis courts at school

The Troup ISD is seeking bids for improvements to its agriculture department farm and its tennis courts. Tyler-based Eubanks Harris Roberts Craig Architects Inc. is designing the needed renovations. School officials say bids will be sought next month and will likely come before the school board to discuss in October.


Troup officials are hopeful to rebuild the existing set of tennis courts and possibly build a second set. Also planned are a new bathroom and storage facility to be used by the tennis and softball teams. The ag farm project would include renovations to the small animal facility, construction of a new barn and poultry building. The poultry building would house a poultry lab.


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.
To learn more about SPI services click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900.
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