Texas Government Insider
Volume 13, Issue 13 - Friday, March 27, 2015
World Water Day...

Emphasis on necessary infrastructure, sustainability, efficiency
Water Tower

Water issues dominate the political landscape globally, with declining supplies forcing move toward efficiency, sustainability. (TGI photo)
You may have missed it, but last Sunday was World Water Day. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1993 promoted March 22 as "World Day for Water," and it has been observed on March 22 every year since. In fact, every March 22, the public is encouraged to show its support by not turning on their taps for the entire day.

On this day, UN member nations promote international activities that relate to the world's water resources. In recent years, with droughts and water supply shortages in this country and around the world, World Water Day has not had much cause for celebration. However, officials are hopeful that this one-day of emphasis on the world's water needs will focus attention on the need for new infrastructure to address water shortages.

In the United States, drought conditions have exacerbated the water shortage. State and local governments are turning to the private sector to help build new water and wastewater facilities, desalination plants and reuse facilities - all geared toward water efficiency, conservation and sustainability. Some states, like Texas, are taking the bull by the horns on their own. Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed for transfer of some of the state's rainy day funds to a water fund that would help finance projects in the state water plan. Some local government efforts are geared to more general promotions, such as conservation and water efficiency efforts.

Desalination plants are popping up in increasing numbers as government entities seek to turn brackish water into potable water. Some local governments are even turning to what have been called "toilet to tap" projects for the reuse of wastewater.

Sadly, a recent UN report, "Water for a Sustainable World," predicts that by 2030 - only 15 years from now - only 60 percent of the world's water needs will be met. Forty-eight countries and 2.9 billion people will be affected.


Gregory Fenves selected as 29th president of UT-Austin


Regents pick current UT executive vice president, provost for top campus job

Gregory Fenves The search for a new president of The University of Texas at Austin extended all the way to England. But, in the end, the UT System Board of Regents found their man in their own back yard.


Today, the regents announced UT-Austin Executive Vice President and Provost Gregory Fenves (pictured) as their choice as lone finalist to become the 29th president of The University of Texas at Austin. He will succeed UT-Austin President Bill Powers, who is stepping down this summer.


The vote to name Fenves as the next UT-Austin president was 5-3, with Regents Wallace L. Hall Jr., Brenda Pejovich and Alex Cranberg voting no.


"We had an extremely impressive slate of candidates to consider and I believe we've made the right choice for UT-Austin, its students, faculty and staff," said UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven after this morning's announcement. "UT-Austin is one of the finest public research universities in the world and it deserves exceptional leadership, vision and an innovative spirit. I have no doubt that Greg brings all those to the table."


Board of Regents Chair Paul Foster echoed McRave's comments. "Dr. Fenves is a gifted administrator and UT Logo academician who has had a stellar record of leadership at two of America's top public research universities," said the board chair. "His passion for and dedication to UT-Austin were evident in his interview and I am thrilled to begin this new chapter with him at the helm."


The search for a successor to Powers was not without drama.


At a March 6 meeting, the regents met for hours in executive session, but delayed announcing a finalist or finalists for the presidency. Word on the street was that the top three candidates were two individuals with ties to the UT System - Fenves and UT-Dallas President David Daniel - and Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor of the University of Oxford in England.


Two weeks later, Hamilton - who many said was the front-runner among the three candidates - announced he had been hired as the 16th president of New York University (NYU).


Fenves has a long  history with UT. He began his UT career as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the Cockrell School from 1984-87. He then served on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley for 20 years and was chair of the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 2002 to 2007. In 2008, Fenves was named dean of the Cockrell School of Engineerin at UT. He was selected as executive vice president and provost in 2013.


Fenves holds a bachelor's degree with distinction from Cornell University and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.


By law, the System must wait 21 days before Fenves' selection becomes final.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Dominic Dottavio F. Dominic Dottavio, president, Tarleton State University 


Career highlights and education: I attended The Ohio State University, earning a bachelor's degree in natural resource management, and then Yale University for a master's in environmental studies and Purdue University for my Ph.D. Prior to accepting the presidency at Tarleton State University, I was president of Heidelberg University, a 165-year-old private liberal arts university. Prior to that, I was the chief executive officer of The Ohio State University of Marion, one of six campuses in the system. I also spent many years in the National Park Service (NPS), where I was the regional chief scientist and associate regional director. With the NPS, I directed science and natural resource management programs in 58 parks and five universities located in eight states and two U.S. territories on issues/resources such as air, water, oil, gas and hunting regulation development; enhancement of rural economic development; resolution of coastal zone management issues such as beach erosion and historic preservation; criminal behavior, poaching and vandalism reduction; endangered species management; riparian erosion and pollution abatement; and visitor management.  As director of the Center for Natural Areas in Washington, D.C., I conducted studies on national marine sanctuaries, integrated pest management and grazing policies for federal agencies.

What I like best about my job is: A twofold proposition, I think. First, I love the interactions with students in a great variety of settings and situations. We aspire to be the premier student-focused university in Texas and beyond. And that's because I believe so much that we are preparing the leaders of tomorrow in their many professional and civic endeavors. Secondly, this is a university with an uncommon spirit, pride and traditions. It's truly amazing what our students experience here. The sense of pride among the students and alumni, as well as the faculty and staff, the deep-seated love for the university, the accolades of praise that come from their lips and their hearts. Those things combine to make this job truly joyful.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Believe it or not, I receive a lot of advice and most of it is very good. Show up, listen, learn from your mistakes. A former university president told me that sometimes you have to make decisions to advance the institution that may involve a certain amount of risk and there may be some who disagree with your decision, loudly disagree. But some of the best advice I've received probably was to make sure that I keep a commitment to my own personal life - a president's time commitments can consume every minute, if you let them. I keep my personal time commitments to faith, family and fitness. Those are important to me. 

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Keep things in perspective. A crisis is only as large as you allow it to be. Use our core values and strategic goals to guide your decisions. Ask for advice. There are a lot of smart people at a university. You can never communicate often enough. Finally, when in doubt, come talk to me. I'm pretty good at giving directions. 


If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: at a student event or taking a walkabout on campus. Sometimes I slip over to Beans & Franks (a local haunt for coffee and hot dogs across the street from the university) for a coffee.

People would be surprised to know that I: Quite a number of things, I suspect. I helped reintroduce wolves, panthers, sea turtles and eagles to their natural habitats, but I've also wrangled mountain lions. I helped to restore the Everglades and I moved a lighthouse for historic preservation. I love the outdoors in all its vast beauty, but I also love to scuba dive. And there's still a bit of the boy in me - I love the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Browns and spy novels.

One thing I wish more people knew about my university: We have so much to talk about at Tarleton, but one very significant fact that few people know is that Tarleton is part of The Texas A&M University System - and has been since 1917. In fact, we'll soon celebrate our Centennial - 100 years - as a part of the TAMUS System. While that's certainly significant, I think a lot of people have a perception of the university based on its past, an image of a "cowboy college," that simply no longer holds true. We have more students in our College of Business Administration than in any other area, closely followed by our College of Science and Technology. We have grown to nearly 12,000 students, with programs offered in Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online as well as in Stephenville. We draw our students increasingly from the Texas triangle of metropolitan areas - Austin/San Antonio, to Dallas-Fort Worth, to Houston.

So, we are a rapidly, growing, modern university with a strong history and tradition that instills a set of core values - integrity, civility, tradition, leadership, service and excellence - in our students, who maintain a remarkable spirit and pride in their university while they are here and after they graduate to pursue their careers. And, as our alumni know, the gates are always open.

Tuition revenue bond bill headed to House floor for debate

Would authorize $3.1 billion for more than 50 higher education institutions 
John Zerwas A bill that would authorize $3.1 billion in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) for state-supported institutions of higher education sailed through a Texas House committee this week. Now headed to the full House for debate after being unanimously voted out of committee, the bill would benefit more than 50 institutions.

Some of the projects funded in HB 100 are: $60 million for an education complex at Texas A&M University - Kingsville; $28.632 million for capital improvements at Prairie View A&M University and to build a fabrication center; The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston - $67.8 million to build a health education center; The University of Texas at El Paso - $70 million to build an interdisciplinary research facility; Lamar University - $60 million for a new science building; the University of North Texas - $70 million for construction and renovation of the College of Visual Arts and Design facilities; Angelo State University - $21.3 million to build a College of Health and Human Services building; Texas State Technical College - Waco - $14.95 million for construction of the Fort Bend Technical Center; and Texas Tech University - $70 million for construction of an experimental sciences building.

The last time the legislature approved TRBs was in 2006. The need for additional facilities on campuses throughout the state is the result of a burgeoning student population, said Rep. John Zerwas (pictured), author of the bill. "Student enrollment has really grown enormously at all the campuses," he said. HB 100 is one of several bills filed dealing with TRBs, but is the first one to be heard in committee. One bill in the Senate would approve $2.8 billion in TRBs, some $300 million less than the House version.

Millions of dollars in assistance funds statewide water projects
A variety of water projects throughout the state will benefit from the more than $92.78 million in financial assistance approved this week by the Texas Water Development Board. Fifteen projects were funded, 11 of which are in rural communities. The projects range from upgrade and expansion of water and wastewater systems to water line replacements and pump stations.

The projects and their award of financial assistance include:
  • City of Granbury - $16.43 million for a new water treatment plant;
  • Lee County Fresh Water Supply District. No. 1 - $151,839 for a water pump station;
  • Windthorst Water Supply Corp. (Archer and Clay counties) - $500,000 for a water supply project;
  • Agua Special Utility District (Hidalgo County) - $8.195 million for a wastewater service project;
  • City of Laredo - $4.6 million for a waterline project and $22.075 million for a wastewater treatment plant expansion project;
  • City of Mission - $19.64 million for a wastewater treatment plant expansion project and a reuse system project;
  • City of Brady- $1.804 million for a water treatment plant and distribution system improvements;
  • City of Melvin - $170,000 for a water treatment facility;
  • City of Castroville - $3.5 million for waterline replacements, $9.05 million for a wastewater treatment plant expansion project and $3.05 million for wastewater treatment plant improvements;
  • Corix Utilities (Burnet County ) $200,000 for water system improvements for the Ridge Harbor Water System and $200,000 for water treatment plant improvements and meter replacements for the Buena Vista Water System; and
  • City of San Marcos - $3.22 million for water system improvements.
More details on each of the projects is available here.

Former UTPA president Robert Nelsen to lead Sacramento State
Robert Nelsen Robert S. Nelsen (pictured), former president of The University of Texas-Pan American, has been selected as the new president of Sacramento State University. Nelsen, who was UTPA president for four years, was instrumental in the establishment of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, which resulted from the melding of UPTA and The University of Texas at Brownsville.

Before joining UTPA, Nelsen served in the administration at Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin. His higher education career began as a member of the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Nelsen will replace Sacramento State University President Alexander Gonzalez, who is retiring at the end of the current academic year.
Grow your business

Tyler OK's RFQ for design, construction of hotel/conference center
The city of Tyler will issue a request for qualifications for design-build firms interested in design and construction of a hotel conference center in the city. The proposed hotel conference center is part of the city's Industry Growth Initiative that puts tourism as key to economic development in the city. The new hotel conference center is expected to attract more large conferences that will bring new money into the region.

The plan is to undersize the facility so that it will push some tourists to other hotels in the city. The facility is expected to have more than 200 rooms, with 26,000 square feet of meeting space. The city owns the property for the hotel conference center. The $56 million in costs will include $17 million from the city in hotel occupancy tax funds for the conference center and $39 million coming from private investments for the remaining hotel costs.
Lamar University picks Flosi as new sustainability director
Alicen Flosi Alicen Flosi (pictured) has been named by Lamar University as its new director of sustainability. Flosi, instructor in management information systems, has taught at Lamar since 1999.

The new position was created as part of the university's strategic plan to promote sustainability in all aspects of university life. "My role is to facilitate projects like recycling, energy management and community involvement in sustainability initiatives," Flosi said. "Eventually, things like recycling will become a habit at Lamar."

Flosi holds Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees from Lamar. She also earned a master's and doctorate of science in management information systems from Nova Southeastern University.
May 2015 Texas Bond Results

McLennan County, cities appoint members to rural transit board
McLennan County commissioners, along with representatives from 19 communities in that county, recently selected nine members to serve on a new rural transit board to oversee the county's new rural transportation district. Board members will serve three-year staggered terms with the county judge designated to chair the transit board.

Selected to serve were County Judge Scott Felton and Commissioner Will Jones to represent the county. Also appointed to the transit board are Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. of Waco, Councilman Kyle Deaver of Waco and Councilman Hal Wilcox of Bruceville-Eddy. Alderman Rick Wegwerth of Hallsburg, Alderman David Filer of Ross, Mayor Pro Tem Frank Leos of McGregor and Mayor Ken Brown of Moody also won appointment to the transit board.

County officials are withdrawing their transportation interest from the Heart of Texas Council of Governments (HOTCOG) and moving the program to Waco Transit, which contracts with the city to provide fixed bus routes. The new rural transit district will receive the rerouted state and federal transit funding previously sent to a six-county regional transit program operated through HOTCOG to operate a fixed-route bus serve in McLennan County.
Maldonado named senior vice president at UT-Rio Grande Valley
Theresa Maldonado Theresa A. Maldonado (pictured) recently won appointment as senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRVG).

Maldonado previously worked in research for the Texas A&M System and The University of Texas System. Her duties at UTRGV include overseeing the institutionall research board, grants and monitoring grant reports.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Maldonado earned a bachelor's degree, master's degree and a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Clarendon delays work on water system to allow more review
The Clarendon Board of Aldermen recently agreed to place on hold a $3.9 million plan to improve the water system to allow the new city administrator, David Dockery, more time to review the project.

City officials had been developing a plan to replace a standpipe water storage facility, install new electronic water meters and improve water lines throughout the city. City leaders also planned to seek funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help pay for the project.

After the city engineer reviewed current plans, Dockery requested the aldermen to postpone any decision on moving forward with the water system upgrade for up to a month to allow him time to review the plan. He also suggested approaching the project in smaller increments with the first step to pursue electronic water meters to reduce the time spent by employees reading meters and move forward the remainder of the projects in smaller steps.
SPI Training Services

Rio Grande representatives join in Burgos Shale Consortium
Representatives from several economic development organizations in the Rio Grande Valley recently joined the Burgos Shale Consortium to ensure the area is represented in oil shale development in Burgos Basin in northern Mexico.

The regional consortium, comprised of representatives from communities, economic development groups and nonprofit groups, will focus on how northern Mexico and South Texas can best benefit from oil shale development in Northern Mexico, said Steve Ahlenius, president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the announcement.

The goals of the consortium are to improve economic ties between South Texas and Northern Mexico (especially in Tamaulipas), encourage business development and expansion, conduct information and economic impact studies and workforce development, Ahlenius said.
Edinburg moves forward on new $2.5 million fire station
Fire Station Edinburg City Council members recently approved a contract with an architectural services firm to design a new $2.5 million fire station (see accompanying artist's rendering) to serve the northern edge of the city.

Expected to be in service by February 2016, the new 13,000-square-foot fire station will house firefighters that serve the north side of the city along with an ambulance and an office for the deputy fire marshal. City officials are contributing $1 million to the new facility with Precinct 4 of Hidalgo County contributing $1 million and Emergency Service District No. 3 supplying the remaining $500,000.
Research Analysts

Sugar Land adds two new solar-powered recycling stations
Sugar Land city officials recently added two solar-powered compacting stations to encourage residents to recycle more waste materials.

The new compacting bins located at the plaza at Sugar Land Town Square hold five times more trash and recyclables than standard bins and require less time for service pickups, noted a city spokesperson. The new compacting bins also feature an electronic sensor that uses wireless technology to notify city staff when servicing the recycling station is needed. The Houston-Galveston Area Council and a partnership with developers helped provide funding for the two new compacting bins for recycling.
Bellmead plans construction, renovations, drainage, other projects
Bo Thomas The city of Bellmead has inked a contract with an architectural firm for the first of several projects that will be paid for from a bond package issued last year. Among the projects are a new municipal court building and renovations to the city's police and fire stations. The $8.5 million bond package will also be used for renovation of city streets, to address drainage issues and to improve the city's sewer system.

City Manager Bo Thomas (pictured) said the cost of a new municipal building will be between $380,000 and $450,000. The fire station renovations call for a new truck bay, improved training day room and separate quarters for women. Those renovations are expected to cost $550,000 to $650,000, according to Thomas. Renovations to the police station will include an improved communications center and evidence room.

Some $3 million to $4 million of the bond proceeds will be used for installation of a sewer interceptor, said Thomas. Construction on that project could take 18-24 months. Officials say they have no timeline yet for starting and completing of the projects.
Contracting Opportunities

Williamson County to vote on proposed $80 debt package in May
Williamson County commissioners recently agreed to vote on May 5 on whether to issue $80 million in certificates of obligation to fund several capital improvement projects, including a new $14 million regional animal center and $9.4 million for new radio towers. The decision followed unsuccessful attempts by two commissioners to lower the total from $80 million to $60 million by eliminating the radio towers and a project to add ambulance bays. Another commissioner supported requiring voters to approve bonds rather than issue certificates of obligation.
Construction of new school, renovations begin soon in Electra ISD
Scott Hogue A new high school will soon be built in the Electra Independent School District and an elementary school will be remodeled. Both are due to passage last year of an $11.98 million school bond.

The EISD school board now has a "more official site plan on the site," said Superintendent Scott Hogue (pictured). Hogue said the old high school building will now house the administration staff on the first floor. The rest, according to the superintendent, will likely be used for permanent storage.

Hogue said the elementary school renovations are expected to begin in May.
Collaboration Nation

Marshall ISD eyeing purchase of 56 acres of land for new schools
Marshall Independent School District trustees recently approved an option to purchase 56 acres of property as sites for four new schools contingent on voter approval in May of a $109.2 million bond proposal. If voters approve, trustees plan to build three elementary schools and a junior high school as well as renovate a middle school to serve as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Academy for students from kindergarten to the eighth grade.
Dallas ISD approves short-term plan for district improvements
The Dallas Independent School District Thursday approved using a concoction of leftover bond funds, limited-maintenance tax notes and reserve funds as a way to fund a $129.5 million improvements proposal in the Dallas ISD. The funds would create more Pre-K classrooms and reopen several closed campuses.

The proposal is an alternative to a previously announced proposal for the district to create a public facility corporation that would allow the issue of bonds without voter approval.

The DISD plan would mean that nearly two-dozen schools would receive funding for projects. The amount of funding will be based on the condition of each school's facilities and how they're used. It would create approximately 800 pre-K seats with the addition of six new wings, two Pre-K centers, additions to buildings and modular buildings. Nine schools would see fixes to plumbing, roofing, windows and HVAC systems. In addition, four schools that were closed in 2012 could reopen.

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Dozens of public-sector jobs available. New jobs added this week: Texas Military Department - Case Manager, Mentor Coordinator; County Attorney's Office, Ector County - Attorney, Secretary; TDHCA - Training Specialist IV. Click here to view jobs. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public-sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com


Midland to demolish courthouse to make room for new hotel
Midland City Council members recently selected a company to demolish the old county courthouse to make room for a new hotel expected to cost up to $100 million.

Asbestos removal will begin in April and the building should be demolished by November, according to the mayor. Current plans are for the new hotel to feature 120 rooms, parking, shops and restaurants and create more than 300 new jobs, he said. Construction on the new hotel should begin in early 2016, said the mayor.
Allen ISD selects Jeff Turner as its new director of fine arts
Jeff Turner Allen Independent School District officials recently selected Jeff Turner (pictured) as the new director of fine arts to replace Anthony Gibson, who retired in December.

Turner began his career as an orchestra director in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and served as an orchestra director for Plano ISD before being named Instrumental music coordinator by the Plano district.

He has a bachelor's degree from New Mexico State University and a master's degree from the University of North Texas.

Pflugerville reviewing plan for revitalization of downtown

Pflugerville City Council members recently began reviewing a plan developed by a planning committee to revitalize the downtown area by designing for five distinct districts within the area.


Planning Director Emily Barron said the proposed revitalization plan offers an entertainment district, office district, gateway district, service district and dining district to create more destinations to attract residents and visitors to the downtown area.


The proposed revitalization plan calls for a new park, upgrading landscaping, building pedestrian paths and establishing more local businesses such as a local art gallery, Barron said. The next step is to meet with stakeholders to get their input on the proposed plan, she said.

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Abilene city manager candidate drops out of contention for job
One of the five candidates recently announced by the city of Abilene as contenders for the position of city manager has dropped out of the race. Gary Greer, who currently is city manager in Farmers Branch, has removed his name from consideration.

Now, it looks like the replacement for former city manager Larry Gilley, who retired in October, will be either Robert Hanna, city manager of Denison; Jeff Jones, assistant city manager of Hurst; Todd Parton, city manager of Kerrville; or David Vela, who is serving as Abilene's interim city manager. Those four will be on hand for interviews with city officials on April 8 and 9. The city received applications for the city manager job from 31 applicants in 13 states.
Bryan appoints Navarro as new municipal court judge
Bryan City Council members recently appointed Albert Navarro to serve a two-year term as the new municipal court judge. He begins his new duties on June 1. Navarro, who has served as an associate municipal judge for the city, replaces Latham Boone III, who is retiring as the presiding judge, but remaining as an associate judge.

TxPPA to host Summer Momentum Conference in June

The Texas Public Purchasing Association (TxPPA) will host its Summer Momentum Conference on June 24-26 at La Toretta Resort on Lake Conroe near Montgomery. The 2015 conference will feature informative general sessions, breakout sessions on specific topics requested by members and ample time to network with other attendees. There will be a variety of vendor displays and those attending the conference can earn CPU credits. Early bird registration cost is $300 for members through June 5. The price will increase to $350 after that date. Information on registration and sponsorships is now available. TxPPA is an independent multi-agency organization for public purchasing professionals in Texas. Its members represent cities, counties, schools, colleges, universities, special districts and state agencies.

2015 DIR Information Security Forum dates announced for May
The 2015 Department of Information Resources Information Security Forum (ISF) is planned for Wednesday and Thursday, May 20 and 21, at the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin, 78704. The forum is a free educational conference for public sector Information Security Officers, Information Resources Managers and IT staff throughout Texas. The ISF event will feature two days of educational presentations, multiple breakout tracks, inclusion of all levels of Texas government instead of only state, more attendees and more space for exhibitors. Registration opens March 20. The event is free, but requires pre-registration. The event will provide six contact hours of general continuing education credit (six CPEs for Texas IRMs) each day. Already, the Platinum sponsorship level has sold out and gold and silver sponsorships are going fast. Register to become an exhibitor here. Contact isf@dir.texas.gov for more information.

W. Texas Energy Consortium Power in Partnership conference set
The West Texas Energy Consortium (WTxEC) 2nd annual Power in Partnership conference will be held on May 6 and 7 at the McNease Convention Center in San Angelo. WTxEC will present a lineup of experts on regional economic development, STEM, emergency response, industry and more. Tickets and sponsorships available now! For additional details or to register, visit the conference Web site. Interested in a sponsorship? WTxEC has something for everyone. To learn more, contact WTxEC at info@wtxec.org.

3rd Annual 'Taking Care of Business' HUB Vendor Fair set in April
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Texas Historical Commission, Texas Facilities Commission, State Office of Court Administration, Texas Education Agency, General Land Office and Texas Workforce Commission will be hosting the 3rd Annual "Taking Care of Business HUB" vendor Fair on April 2 at the JJ Pickle Conference Center, 10100 Burnet Rd. in Austin. The event will provide information to strengthen HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) businesses including marketing the business. There will be one-on-one meetings with state agencies, universities and primes in construction and information technology. State agencies and universities will be exhibiting. The event and parking is FREE! Vendors can also purchase lunch at the cafeteria located at the Pickle Center. Please contact Fred Snell to obtain the registration form. Contact: For more information please contact Fred Snell at  fred.snell@txdmv.gov or Deborah Toodle at Deborah.Toodle@tfc.state.tx.us

Eagle Ford Consortium Conference accepting registrations

Online registration has opened and sponsorships are being accepted for the upcoming 4th Annual Eagle Ford Consortium Conference. This year's event will be May 27-29 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 600 E. Market Street in San Antonio. The conference will feature local and international speakers. Confirmed as one of the speakers is Texas Railroad Commission Chair Christi Craddick. Those attending will hear about how others have turned the challenges in the Eagle Ford Shale into opportunities. Other discussions will include how small and medium businesses can be connected to the Mexican Energy Reform and address real time information directly from the oil and gas industry. Speakers will discuss the impact oil and gas exploration within the Eagle Ford Shale will have on local business, industry, communities and public entities. The agenda and complete list of speakers will be announced as the date of the conference approaches. Exhibitor information is also available. For more info, contact info@eaglefordconsortium.org
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No 'one size fits all' when it 
comes to top issues facing states


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

Like a number of other states, Texas is in the middle of a contentious legislative session. Legislators, on the downhill side of a 140-day session, have filed more than 6,300 bills and joint resolutions and tempers flare daily as disagreement seems the norm. Lawmakers are now making difficult and controversial decisions related to education, campus carry (handguns), border security, transportation, water, tax relief and a two-year budget.


Citizens who watch legislative sessions closely have to wonder what's happening in other states. Do most states grapple with the same problems? A recent survey by CQ Roll Call revealed that there is no "blanket" list of issues that covers all states. While some have similar issues, legislators prioritize problems and issues that are unique to their region.   


"The 50 State Project" by CQ Roll Call surveyed reporters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to determine the top issues of 2015. The top five issues, not surprisingly, included the following:

  • Budget decisions were the top issue mentioned most often by reporters covering state issues;
  • Education ranked second, with taxes and transportation tied for third;
  • Ethics, health care and jobs came in fourth; and
  • Crime, energy, infrastructure and pensions were close behind.

But for all their similarities, state needs are quite divergent. The top-ranking issue in Massachusetts is transportation. The state just suffered through one of the harshest winters in recent times, so that is understandable. Weather adversely affected rail lines and roadways, leaving commuters with few transportation options. Damages from snow and ice led the governor to seek an additional $200 million to repair roads and bridges.

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Texas Government Insider
will not publish next week

Because the offices of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. will be closed next Friday, April 3, in observance of Good Friday, the Texas Government Insider will not publish next week. 


We will resume our regular Friday publication dates on April 10. Our offices will be closed Good Friday and reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 6. 

Morgan to serve as new 
city manager in Georgetown
David Morgan David Morgan (pictured), currently the deputy city manager in Richardson, recently agreed to serve as the new city manager in Georgetown after winning selection over 71 applicants from 25 states.

He will replace Paul Brandenburg, who resigned in November. Morgan joined the city of Richardson in 1998 as an administrative assistant and won promotions as an assistant city manager in 2003. He also worked as a management intern for the city manager's office in Lubbock.

Morgan has a bachelor's degree from Austin College in Sherman and a master's degree from Texas Tech University.

Lubbock seeking bids on $1.6 million street repair project
Lubbock City Council members recently asked for bids from contractors for a $1.6 million project to repair two sections of Frankford Avenue.

The repair willl use a process called mill and relay that calls for recyclilng materials from the damaged road and milling that into smaller pieces to be compressed into the new asphalt.

Deadline for receiving the bids is April 7 and council members plan to select a contractor for the project on April 23, city officials said.
Brenham ISD names Jackson 
as finalist for superintendent job
Walter Jackson Dr. Walter Jackson (pictured), current Alief Taylor Coordinating Principal in the Alief ISD, has been named finalist for the superintendent position in the Brenham ISD.

Jackson's education career includes having been a teacher at the Olle Middle and Hastings High School He also is a former assistant principal at Hasting High School, associate principal of instruction at Elsik High School and principal at Albright Middle School.

Jackson earned his bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University, a master's from Prairie View A&M University and his doctorate from Baylor University.
HDI Solutions

El Paso County selects Hardgrove as executive budget director
Chief Administrator Steve Norwood of El Paso recently selected Wallace Hardgrove as the executive director of the county's budget department.

With 25 years experience in finance, Hardgrove has served as a budget manager in the county auditor's office in addition to serving as the first assistant county auditor since 2013.
City of Amarillo Public Works Director Michael Rice retiring
Michael Rice After three decades of working for the city of Amarillo, Public Works Director Michael Rice (pictured) has announced his retirement, effective at the end of May. City officials said Van Hagan will serve as interim director until a new director is named. Rice will be taking off annual leave time between now and his retirement date.

The city is planning to develop a search process to find a permanent replacement for Rice. A city spokesperson said city officials have not decided what route they will take in finding a new head of Public Works.
Northrop Grumman

Harrison chosen lone finalist 
to lead Blooming Grove ISD
Marshall Harrison A former Comanche Independent School District superintendent has been named lone finalist for the superintendent position at the Blooming Grove ISD. Marshall Harrison (pictured) is also a former superintendent of the Nazareth ISD and Reagan County ISD.

Harrison was chosen lone finalist after Dr. Heath Burns, former Abilene ISD
superintendent withdrew as lone finalist after an arrest on an alleged drug charge.
Harrison faces a 21-day waiting period before his selection as superintendent becomes final.
LeFleur Transportation

Garcia to serve one more year 
as city manager in Rosenberg
Robert Garcia City Manager Robert Garcia (pictured) of Rosenberg recently won a one-year extension of his contract before his planned retirement in May 2016.

Joining the city as a police dispatcher in 1980, Garcia has served as a police chief and an assistant city manager before being named as city manager in November 2013.
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Marshall postpones action 
on new city manager
In a special called executive session, Marshall city commissioners postponed action on hiring a new city manager to replace Frank Johnson, who resigned in January 2014 to serve as city manager in Hillsboro.

Commissioners in the closed-door session discussed current applicants for the job and whether to appoint an interim city manager. They reached no decision and agreed to continue working with a search firm to review more candidates, noted Acting City Manager Buzz Snyder. Commissioners in late 2014 also selected two finalists from a field of four semifinalists, but made no decision.

Most recently, commissioners interviewed three applicants for city manager, but could not come to an agreement and one of the candidates withdrew his application, Snyder said.
Mann to take superintendent
job with Pleasanton ISD
Matthew Mann Dr. Matthew Mann (pictured) recently agreed to take the helm as the new superintendent for Pleasanton Independent School District. He will replace Dr. Cynthia Clinesmith, who resigned.

Beginning his career in public education as a teacher for Sierra Grande Schools in Colorado, Mann also taught at the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal ISD and was an assistant principal for Southwest ISD and Jourdonton ISD before joining the Pleasanton school district as a principal in 2005.

Mann has a bachelor's degree from Adams State University in Colorado and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Health Information Designs

Michael Steck tapped as superintendent for Natalia ISD
Michael Steck Michael Steck (pictured) recently won appointment as the new superintendent for Natalia Independent School District.

Now serving as superintendent for Marlin ISD, Steck will replace former Superintendent Guillermo Mancha Jr., who resigned in January. Board members selected Steck from a field of 19 applicants.
Aransas County taps Poland as coordinator of elementary ed
Superintendent Joseph Patek of Aransas County Independent School District recently tapped Denise Poland as the new coordinator of elementary instruction, effective on July 1. Poland currently is an assistant principal at the Live Oak Learning Center.

Thomasson takes over as Daingerfield city manager

Realtor Rocky Thomasson  has been named the new city manager for the city of Daingerfield. Thomasson will replace former City Manager Carl Teel, who resigned in September 2014 and has taken a job as city planner for the city of Texarkana, Arkansas. 

Williams leaving Highland 

Park post to return to Louisiana

Helen Williams Helen Williams (pictured), who for more than 10 years has served as director of communications for Highland Park ISD, is leaving that position, effective June 5.


Williams is leaving Highland Park to return to her home state of Louisiana, where she will begin a new job. Williams' leaving comes on the heels of the announcement by Superintendent Dawson Orr that he is leaving the district this summer. 

Granbury selects Coffman 
as its new city manager
Granbury City Council members recently tapped Chris Coffman, the city manager of Sealy, as the new city manager to replace Wayne McKethan, who is retiring from that post in April.

Prior to joining Sealy in 2008, Coffman also worked for the cities of Borger and Panhandle as well as for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission.

Coffman has a bachelor's degree from West Texas A&M University and graduated from the Texas Tech University Certified Public Manager Program.
Alpine ISD names Dodds
as interim superintendent
Darrell Dodds Alpine Independent School District board members recently appointed Darrell Dodds (pictured), the assistant superintendent for finance and operations, as interim superintendent. Dodds replaced Superintendent Steve White, who is retiring and taking paid leave until the effective date of his retirement.

Board members are continuing their efforts to find a new superintendent and expect to begin interviews within two to three weeks, district officials said.

Laredo selects Jesus Olivares 
as its choice for new city manager
Jesus Olivares After reviewing 47 applicants, Laredo City Council members recently selected Jesus Olivares (pictured) as the new city manager.

A former city manager in Eagle Pass, Olivares has more than 20 years management experience. He also has served as interim manager in Laredo for two months.
Brownwood to look first to 
current staff for manager spot
Brownwood City officials recently agreed to begin their search for a new city manager by interviewing current employees before looking outside the city to find a new city manager.

The new city manager will replace City Manager Bobby Rountree, who is retiring on June 23 after eight years on the job.
Dunn resigns position as city 
manager for city of Addison
Lea Dunn City Manager Lea Dunn (pictured) recently resigned as city manager in Addison after one year in that office. Dunn also served as assistant city manager and deputy city manager during her 18 years with the city. She previously was a city manager in Bellaire.

City council members will discuss the appointment of an interim city manager and the search for a new city manager at a special called meeting on Saturday, the mayor said.
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Fort Worth ISD launches second search for new superintendent
Trustees for Fort Worth Independent School District recently agreed to launch a second search for a new superintendent after the sole finalist selected in February withdrew his name from consideration.

Board members also said they do not plan on beginning interviews with candidates for superintendent until after the election in May in order to include any new board members in the selection of the new superintendent.
Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives  

Governor's appointments
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • Charles M. Barnard of Wichita Falls, judge of the 89th District Court of Wichita County


In the March 20 issue of the Texas Government Insider, a story regarding the Conroe ISD's search for land for a new high school said the land was in the northeast part of the district. The story should have read that the site under consideration is property in the southeast area of the district. We regret the error. 

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