News And People

Volume 14, Issue 10 - Friday, March 11, 2016
TWDB approves 2017 Draft State Water Plan; costs run to $62B
Plan projects state's water needs, supply from 2020 through 2070 

Last week, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved the Draft 2017 State Water Plan, which lays out how the state's water planners intend to prepare Texas to meet its water needs through 2070. It is now open for public review and comment through April 25, and there will be a public hearing discussing the plan April 18.

The plan includes 5,500 water management strategies and 2,400 recommended water projects. The total costs, if all of the strategies and projects were implemented, would be $62.6 billion. The state's 16 regional planning districts contributed their own long-range plans last year, and those serve as the basis for both the State Water Plan and for state water policy in general.

The 2017 water plan was the first drawn up after the legislature created and the voters approved the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), which has funded $1.9 billion worth of projects since 2015. The legislature created the SWIFT funding scheme on the heels of three occurrences: the 2011 legislative session and the deep budget cuts cause by its projected shortfal; the 2011 drought, which is the worst single-year drought on record; and the writing of the 2012 State Water Plan.

Matt Nelson, the TWDB's director of Water Use, Projections and Planning, said that the presence of SWIFT funding didn't change the planning process in general. But, the fact that the legislature placed an emphasis on conservation in drawing up priorities for SWIFT candidates, "has resulted in an increase in the inclusion of recommended conservation strategies with capital costs."

In fact, Nelson said, "Conservation is by far the most frequently recommended strategy in this state water plan, with more than half of all water user groups recommending conservation strategies."

The creation of SWIFT was a game-changer for the state water authorities. Historically, water projects have been financed through state funding, municipal bonds and federal appropriations. Prior to SWIFT, state funding did not often meet what was needed, and federal money has always been hard to come by. 

SPI team in Dallas for 2016 Public-Private Conference, Expo
Photo provided by P3 Conference and Expo
SPI President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers (pictured, left), along with consultants Edgar Antu and Turner Kimbrough, joined more than 1,000 other conferees this week at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel for three days of panels and presentations related to public-private partnerships (P3s). This conference is the largest and most diverse gathering of its kind, giving government officials and industry representatives a rich forum for knowledge sharing and networking. The roster of attendees included leaders from federal, city and local governments of all sizes, as well as experts in industries such as construction, railways and high technology.

The presentation from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock started the event off by describing how a big city has used public-private partnerships to get redevelopment projects going - and what's ahead for the Mile High City. Denver's P3 light-rail project has already attracted considerable attention, as transportation issues have jumped to the top of most metropolitan agendas. Hancock pointed out that state and local governments underwrite the vast majority - 88 percent - of transportation and water projects in the United States. This sizable marketplace surrounding our nation's aging infrastructure was an ongoing theme throughout the conference.

On Tuesday, Nabers joined P3 legal expert George Burgess, Norman Dong of the General Services Administration and David Spector from Colorado's Department of Transportation in a panel discussion of the barriers public officials face when considering P3 projects. The group members had their work cut out for them. The lunch plenary session offered attendees a lively exchange addressing how public officials can evaluate complicated funding models and address the misconceptions that often plague these kinds of projects - within government agencies and among members of the public.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
David J. Reilly, Executive Director, Texas Juvenile Justice Department

Career highlights and education: I began my career as a juvenile probation officer shortly after graduating from St. Mary's University in San Antonio with a B.A. in psychology. After two years as a juvenile probation officer, I returned to graduate school at Our Lady of The Lake University (OLLU) and received a Master of Social Work degree in 1970. I was selected as an Outstanding Alumnus of OLLU in 1996. I served as the chief probation officer for the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department (BCJPD) in San Antonio for 17 years and led the department to create many new programs and initiatives that provide a continuum of services and dispositional alternatives for juvenile courts, including the development of seven child-serving specialty courts. Before that, I worked for the state for 23 years, the last five as the director of field operations for the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. In October 2014, I was named the third executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in the agency's less than four-year history.

What I like best about my job is: The challenge and the opportunity. The pace is quick, and no two days have been alike. I have the opportunity to work alongside a great group of professional and dedicated people who are committed to the mission of the agency. The challenges are formidable, but our mission to "transform young lives" motivates us all.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Someone who had done this job in the past told me to focus on two or three things and that is it. I probably focus on too much because I am so excited about all the work we do here, but I thought the advice was solid and I still think about it often.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: This work is not for everyone. Especially for the direct care staff, I would advise them to decide quickly whether they are cut out for this type of work. Most days are thankless. We have staff get hurt, spit on and cursed at. But helping a youth turn a corner and decide to live a positive life is an opportunity, and one that will help make the hard days more tolerable. Some people are made for this work, but it is not for everyone. I advise people to be patient in their skills development and not to expect immediate results. The youth we have present enormous challenges for even seasoned veterans among our ranks ... so listen, learn, observe.

If I ever decided to leave work early, I could probably be found: On the golf course with friends, at Canyon Lake or with my family.

People would be surprised to know that: I believe the single most significant factor in the work of "transforming young lives" is the relationship of a young person with an adult. If we don't recognize that and work to capitalize on that, our success will be diminished.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The heart of the people who work here. We have very devoted staff members, who work like crazy to make a difference in the lives of the youth we serve. As I travel around the state visiting with and spending time with the people on the front lines, I am reminded that it's our people who make the difference.

Denison to use CDBG funds to pay for infrastructure repairs
Denison City Council members recently approved the use of funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to pay for repairing roads and other infrastructure projects, in addition to emergency home repairs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided the city with about $310,000 last year to pay for improvements and upgrades, primarily for projects related to heating, air conditioning, plumbing and roofing in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. With the changes, the city no longer plans to offer assistance with rehabilitation projects and has set a limit of $75,000 for emergency repairs, City Manager Jud Rex (pictured) said.

City officials now will be able to use most of the CDBG funding on infrastructure projects that benefit the entire community, Rex said. City leaders, however, have not yet identified the infrastructure projects to be funded through the federal grant program, he added.
Dumas asking TxDOT to speed up schedule to improve US 287
Dumas city commissioners recently agreed to meet with officials of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to request that potholes, cracks and uneven pavement on US 287, which also serves as Main Street in that city, be repaired sooner than is now planned.

Commissioners complained that other construction projects in the area have stalled repairs on Main Street and that the deteriorating pavement poses a safety threat as well as being an eyesore. TxDOT has plans to add a concrete surface to the portion of the highway that runs through Dumas in 2018, but Commissioner David Bonner (pictured) and the mayor both have said the two-year wait is too long.

A reconstruction project on US 287 is scheduled, and the agency has begun testing soil and pavement for the project, a spokesman for TxDOT said.

Temple City Council agrees to buy land for downtown plaza
Temple City Council members recently approved $813,804 for the purchase of nine properties to be used as part of the Santa Fe Plaza project.

The design calls for two new buildings facing each other divided by a plaza designed with water features and a venue for live performances, said City Manager Jonathan Graham (pictured). The additional land will allow the city to add more parking for the buildings.

So far, representatives from the Temple Economic Development Corporation, the Texas Workforce Commission, Temple Chamber of Commerce and the Temple school district, have expressed interest in relocating to the plaza, the city attorney said. However, no official commitments are in place, she added. Construction is expected to begin next year after the land purchase is finalized and dry utilities are relocated.
Austin needs more fire stations to improve response times
The Austin Public Safety Commission recently urged city council members to begin identifying areas in need of new fire stations in order to reduce response times for firefighters.

Currently, fire department officials have a target to respond within 8 minutes to at least 90 percent of the calls received. Firefighters in only seven of the city's 45 existing fire stations, however, have met that 8-minute goal during the past five years.

The city would need to build 16 more fire stations to ensure meeting the 8-minute goal for response time, according to public safety commissioners. The Austin's Firefighters' Association has set a goal to build five new stations "as soon as practical."
Texas Tech hires search firm, sets up website to find president
Texas Tech University System officials recently hired a search firm and launched a website to find a new president to replace M. Duane Nellis, who left that post in late January.

Applications for the president's position must be turned in no later than April 5 and may be submitted electronically. The website provides information about the president's position and will accept both nominations and applications for the job.

The website includes such information as a description of the position, reports on activities related to the search, names of members of the search committee, contact information for the search firm and information about the university.

Governor appoints three to lead Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative
Gov. Greg Abbott recently appointed three commissioners of state agencies to serve on the newly created Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative. They are charged with helping meet workforce goals by assessing local economic activity, examining workforce challenges and opportunities and finding innovative approaches to meeting those goals.

Mike Morath of the Texas Education Agency, Raymund Paredes (pictured) of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Andres Alcantar of the Texas Workforce Commission are leading the initiative.

Among the specific charges the commissioners have been given are to:
  • Identify and advance public and higher education initiatives to make college more affordable and help students enter the workforce more quickly;
  • Work with industry and local stakeholders to assess the needs of the local workforce and identify development models to coordinate with industry partners and promote post-secondary success, including the use of career and technical education (CTE) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM) models in that assessment;
  • Evaluate current agency efforts and state and local web-based education and career awareness systems to improve links to more citizens;
  • Identify gaps in services to veterans and advance strategies to improve their education and employment opportunities with a goal of ensuring a quick transition back into the workforce; and
  • Recommend programs that build the skills of the state's workforce and advance regional economic expansion and job creation.
Regional Education Workforce meetings are planned in Midland, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, McAllen, Tyler/Longview and in Austin. The meetings began March 10 in Midland and end in September at a summit in Austin.
Sales tax allocations down again for March; comptroller's office distributes $586 million
The Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has announced that it will distribute to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts a total of $585.6 million, which represents the state's local sales tax allocations for March. The amount is a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to the same month of the year prior.

As has been the case for the past several months, the sustained drop in oil prices has affected the state's economy negatively. Comptroller Glenn Hegar indicated that other areas of the Texas economy remain stable. "Energy-centric cities, such as Odessa, Midland, Corpus Christi and Houston, continued to see decreases in sales tax allocations," he said. "Other areas of the state helped to somewhat offset those losses, as cities such as Austin and Dallas saw moderate increases in allocations."

Texas cities will receive $381.2 million, down 0.1 percent from March 2015. The state's transit systems will receive the next highest amount, $134 million, which is a 0.03 percent decrease from last March. Texas counties will receive $35.4 million and special purpose taxing districts $35 million. Those figures represent 8.1 percent and 2.4 percent decreases, respectively, from March last year. View the amounts allocated by city and by county.
Houston seeking new contractor to recycle waste
Houston city officials recently began looking for a new contractor to replace the company that currently handles recycling services for the city.

The mayor began the search after the current vendor announced it would accept only a six-year contract worth $18 million, a much higher rate than the current contract. The city had requested the company share the cost of processing recyclable materials or to agree to a shorter contract, but the company would not agree to those terms, the mayor said.

With the city confronting a budget shortfall of as much as $160 million during the coming fiscal year, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the new contract proposal is too expensive. Curbside pickups will continue after the contract expires March 16, though some disruption of service is possible, he added.

$1.8M donation allows Mansfield district to proceed with ice arena
Mansfield Independent School District officials recently received a pledge from Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital in Arlington for a $1.8 million contribution. The gift will help pay for a proposed $15 million public-private partnership project to build an ice skating facility in that city.

The project stalled last month when school board members opposed using district funds to pay for the facility, and city council members rescinded agreements with the developer and with Dallas Stars Enterprises for the 30-year lease on the proposed 80,000-square-foot dual-rink ice skating arena. Trustees plan to vote on accepting the donation within two weeks, and city council members are expected to vote on final approval on the agreement March 28.

The contract calls for the city to pay $12 million and Dallas Stars Enterprises to contribute $2 million along with lease payments for 30 years. Baylor officials agreed to contribute $500,000 to begin construction and pay the remaining $1.3 million over a five-year period. The goal is to open the facility in the fall of 2017 for the hockey season.
Longview sets meeting on $1.5M plan to realign intersection
The Longview City Council recently scheduled a public hearing for March 17 to update citizens on a proposed $1.5 million plan to restructure a six-way intersection that could close one road. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Longview Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) also are sponsoring the public hearing on the proposed road project.

One of the three plans now under consideration for reshaping the intersection calls for vehicles on Tryon Road to zigzag to connections not yet determined to reach US 259, also known as Eastman Road. Tryon Road would dead-end in a cul-de-sac using that plan, noted Karen Owen, director of the MPO.

Taylor County may call bond election to upgrade expo center
Taylor County commissioners recently began discussing the feasibility of asking voters to approve bonds to pay for expanding and renovating the Taylor County Expo Center.

Preliminary plans call for building a new event center, adding new restrooms and expanding the facility by 20,000 square feet, said Rochelle Johnson, general manager of the center. The upgrades would allow the facility to host concerts as well as horse shows, Johnson said. Cost estimates for the proposed upgrades should be available in less than a month.
Construction on Lakeshore Bridge in Hudson Oaks to begin
Construction on a $7.9 million project to widen the Lakeshore Bridge to four lanes is expected to begin as soon as a critical utility line is relocated, according to Chad Janicek, the city administrator in Hudson Oaks.

A partnership between the city, Parker County and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the bridge project also will include installation of a new traffic signal at Lakeshore Drive and the frontage road of Interstate 20, as well as improvements to the intersection of Fort Worth Highway and Lakeshore, Janicek said.

TxDOT officials will oversee construction of the bridge, and its design was led by the city. Once construction begins, the bridge should be completed in about 14 months.

Corpus Christi panel urges $17M for repairs to residential streets
A streets committee appointed by the Corpus Christi City Council has urged city officials to consider allotting at least $17 million in new funding to repair and improve residential streets. A recent study indicates the city would need to spend more than $1 billion to repair all residential streets in the city.

Andy Taubman, who served as chairman of the streets committee, noted the proposed $17 million would be divided among three areas of focus and would be in addition to the $15 million currently budgeted to the Street Preventative Maintenance Program. The plan also calls for dividing the city into five districts and developing a five-year work cycle for maintaining streets.

Of the combined $32 million committee members recommend for street maintenance, $8 million would be used on larger arterial and collector streets and the remaining $17 million for residential streets, Taubman said. Committee members plan to give a final report with recommendations to council members by the end of May.
Denison delays central emergency dispatch center work
Denison City Council members recently agreed to delay construction of a centralized emergency dispatch center after the only bid for the project came in over budget. City officials had estimated that renovating the basement of the police department would cost about $160,000, but the lone bid for the project was $268,000.

The new central dispatch center would replace two dispatch centers, one operated by the police department and the second by the fire department, in an effort to promote cooperation between the two emergency departments and improve response times, said Fred Tillman of the police department. City engineers are now reviewing the plans and most likely will remove some features to reduce costs, Tillman said.

Current plans call for the new center to have four radio consoles and upgrades to the system that will help route calls and provide staff with more data. City officials also plan to buy new furniture and specialized terminals for dispatchers. The budget for the entire dispatch center project is set at $450,000.
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Ruling allows Orange to move city hall to former bank building
Orange city officials recently won a district court ruling that the city may proceed with plans to move city hall into a building that once served as a bank. The city government will share the space with county offices to provide better, more efficient service to residents.

District Judge Buddie Hahn ruled a master land use plan would allow city and county services to be centrally located and provide more convenient service to the public, but did not require that city offices be located in the Old Town Center.

Plaintiffs in the suit said they plan to appeal the ruling.
Tree removal stalls possible street expansion in Buda
A proposal before the Buda City Council to use some of the $55 million in bonds approved in 2014 to improve and expand Main Street to five lanes recently stalled after several council members raised concerns over the removal of some large oak trees for the project.

Council members directed city engineers to work with the design consultant to find alternatives to removing trees. Members of the Buda Bond Advisory Committee also supported a design for widening Main Street near Historic Stagecoach Park that places a high priority on preserving trees, a council member said.
Calendar of Events

LBJ School offers Construction Purchasing Certificate Program
April 27-28, 2016
Buyers, contract administrators and project managers interested in earning a construction purchasing certificate can do so through The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. The program aids in understanding and using new terms, remaining compliant with unfamiliar laws, developing control plans and schedules and staying on budget. The LBJ School's Construction Purchasing Certificate Program consists of four core courses and one elective to be completed over a period of two years. The goal of this certificate program is to provide participants with the skills and knowledge to ensure that their organization's construction projects are well managed and secure the intended results and value. The courses are complementary in nature, and each course repeats annually. The next available course is Developing a Construction Purchasing Manual and will be held April 27-28. Registration is open.

TxPPA's Summer Momentum Conference to be held in Kerrville
June 8-10, 2016
The Texas Public Purchasing Association (TxPPA) will host its Summer Momentum Conference in Kerrville this June. Seminars and speakers from throughout the state will offer valuable information and lessons for public-sector procurement professionals. In addition, the TxPPA's annual vendor showcase will take place Thursday, June 9. It is a one-day-only opportunity to meet with public-sector buyers and managers, and an opportunity for vendors to showcase their products and services, make new contacts and develop new leads. The conference will be held at the YO Ranch Hotel and Conference Center in Kerrville. An agenda is available online and registration is open.

How do we fund water safety and when do we start? 

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

The nation's water infrastructure has taken another hit - and it will be a costly one. Just one day after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials put state drinking water systems on notice that the agency was about to step up its enforcement of lead contamination rules for drinking water, a price tag was attached to how much it might eventually cost if that enforcement includes replacing all lead water lines nationwide.

Global researcher Fitch Ratings estimates that capital costs to replace the more than 10 million lead water service lines throughout the United States could be up to $50 billion. The EPA previously estimated that water infrastructure improvements needed through 2030 would top out at $385 billion, but that included just partial replacement of lead pipes and did not include the most recent estimates related to lead contamination remediation needs.

DFPS Commissioner Specia to step down
Commissioner John Specia last week announced that he will retire from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) at the end of May.

Specia (pictured) served as a judge for the 225th District Court in San Antonio from 1988 to 2006 and was the administrative judge for Bexar County district courts for four of those years. He also served as master of the 289th Family and Juvenile District Court for the three years prior to becoming a district judge. Specia also served as a regional attorney for the former Texas Department of Human Services.

He retired from the district court in 2006 and worked in private practice before becoming DFPS commissioner in December 2012. Specia holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from St. Mary's University School of Law.

Crystal City taps Espinoza as interim administrator
Crystal City officials recently appointed Ray Espinoza (pictured) as interim administrator following recent controversy surrounding several different officials left only one city council member still in office.

Currently president of the Board of Trustees at Crystal City Independent School District, Espinoza also is chair of the housing authority and a member of the board of the Zavala Central Appraisal District. He said he would resign from the housing authority and appraisal district if residents are concerned about a conflict of interest.

UTSA names Muhlestein director of sustainability
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) officials recently selected Keith Muhlestein (pictured) to serve in a newly created job as director of the Office of Sustainability.

Muhlestein, an expert in environmental science and management, currently is vice president of the board of directors of the Helotes Economic Development Corporation. He also has served as the geologist for the city of San Antonio and as the science and natural resources director of the Brooks Development Authority. He has a Ph.D. from UTSA.

Created as a part of the Department of Academic Affairs by the UTSA Sustainability Council, the Green Fund Committee and the Student Government Association, the UTSA Office of Sustainability has a goal of creating a more sustainable campus and aligning initiatives to reach its Tier One goals.

Marshall is new chief innovation officer at Dallas County college
Timothy Marshall recently won selection as the first chief innovation officer of Dallas County Community College. He currently is the vice chancellor of institutional intelligence and technology for the Tarrant County College District in Fort Worth.

In his 25 years in higher education, Marshall (pictured) also has been the chief information officer and senior executive director for Orange County Public Schools and a vice president for a private education services company. He has served in other executive and technical positions at Eastern Florida State College, the Educational Community College Credit Union and Jacksonville University. He also has worked for the University of Maryland and a private defense contractor in Maryland.

Marshall has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Baltimore. He expects to complete a doctorate in education at American College of Education in 2018.

TEA names Doughty conservator, will manage Edgewood school district
Texas Education Agency (TEA) officials recently appointed a conservator, Sharon Doughty (pictured), to help manage Edgewood Independent School District.

TEA officials also plan to appoint five members to serve on a board of managers that will temporarily replace the current board. Until five members are appointed to the board of managers, current trustees will continue to serve.

Doughty served as an assistant principal when she joined the Edgewood school district in 1986 and spent 17 years in the district, including 11 as a principal, before leaving for Southside ISD in San Antonio.

Lone Star College names McDonald, Cloughtery as vice chancellors
Lone Star College (LSC) officials recently named Amos McDonald (pictured, above) as the new vice chancellor of government and public relations and Helen Cloughtery (pictured, below) as vice chancellor and chief of staff.

A former bank vice president, McDonald will oversee government relations, community and government leadership development, the LSC Foundation, the LSC Small Business Development Center and the North Houston Regional Center for Economic Development when he begins his new duties.

In her new position, Cloughtery will oversee the marketing and communications department, as well as continue to lead board relations and the organizational development department.

Southside delays $20.9M May school bond election
Southside Independent School District trustees recently agreed to call off a $20.9 million bond election they had scheduled for May 7.

Board members need at least another year to plan successfully for the bond election, said Julian Gonzales (pictured), president of the Board of Trustees.

Trustees also agreed to delay hiring an architect to help develop the district's master plan.

Abilene approves design plan for new fire station
Abilene City Council members recently approved $301,100 to pay an architectural firm to design a new fire station. Once a design plan is approved, council members plan to seek proposals from contractors to build the new Fire Station #4.

Council members also approved a $2.8 million contract to pay for renovating the civic center and $1.6 million to pay for street improvements. Bonds will fund all of the projects.

Garcia to serve as senior adviser to UT chancellor
Juliet Garcia, the former president of The University of Texas-Brownsville, recently accepted a post as senior adviser to the chancellor of The University of Texas System.

In this newly created position, Garcia (pictured) will serve as senior adviser for community, national and global engagement. She will work with leaders and organizations in this state, throughout the country and internationally to advocate for the UT System and priorities set by Chancellor Bill McRaven.

Garcia became president of UT-Brownsville in 1986 and served in that position for 22 years. She also was active in the creation of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and, in 2009, won recognition from Time magazine as one of the top 10 college presidents in the United States.
Northrop Grumman

Blair to serve as interim superintendent at Mineral Wells ISD
Larry Blair recently won appointment as the interim superintendent at Mineral Wells Independent School District.

He previously was a trainer for the Texas Association of School Boards, as well as director of district consulting services and executive search services for the organization. Blair (pictured) also has been an adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University. He will replace former Superintendent Gail Haterius, who resigned in February.

Blair holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Angelo State University, in addition to a doctorate in education from The University of Texas at Austin.
LeFleur Transportation

Sandoval to be Eagle Pass public works director
Eagle Pass City Council members recently selected Jesse Sandoval as the new public works director. He will succeed Hector Chavez, the former public works director.

A city employee for 27 years, Sandoval began as a supervisor in the parks department and moved to the public works department in 1990. He became the assistant director of public works in 1995.

Fort Worth transportation agency approves expansion plan
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority recently unveiled a five-year master plan calling for expanded service to new areas and improvements to existing services.

The five-year plan adopted by the board calls for developing premium services such as commuter rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit; providing better passenger facilities; and creating transit centers in outlying areas. The plan also provides for better passenger facilities and creates more conveniently located park-and-ride lots, as well as developing a transit network with more frequent service.

The plan is consistent with the Master Thoroughfare Plan approved by the city and the 2040 Mobility Plan adopted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said Paul Ballard (pictured), president of the transportation authority.
Edinburg approves $30M to build new Hidalgo County Courthouse
Edinburg city officials recently gave preliminary approval to a plan to contribute $30 million to help Hidalgo County build a new $150 million county courthouse in that city.

Construction of the new courthouse should begin by the end of this year or in early 2017, said City Manager Richard Hinojosa (pictured). The new courthouse is needed to replace the current, overcrowded building and allow the county to house all county courts of law in one location, he said.

Granite Shoals to apply for grants to fund repairs
Granite Shoals City Council members recently authorized the city manager to apply for a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve several major streets.

If the grant is awarded, city officials plan to repair Phillips Ranch Road and Prairie Creek Road to a standard equal to Ranch to Market Road 1431, City Manager Ken Nickel (pictured) said.

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South Padre Island approves $4 million to upgrade Padre Boulevard
South Padre Island City Council members recently agreed to finance a tax note of $4 million to pay for upgrades to Padre Boulevard.

The improvements include sidewalks, a median and upgrades to the drainage system. The project also will include improvements to the road surface, noted Armando Gutierrez, director of public works.
An Audit Report on the General Land Office's Administration of Real Estate Transactions
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • Roland Lenarduzzi, Alvin, Presiding Officer of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners;
  • Lynn Criner, Needville, State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners;
  • Jessica Quillivan, Magnolia, State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners;
  • Keith Pardue, Austin, State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners;
  • Warren T. Ayres, Wichita Falls, Midwestern State University Board of Regents;
  • Shelley Sweatt, Wichita Falls, Midwestern State University Board of Regents;
  • Tiffany Burks, Grand Prairie, Midwestern State University Board of Regents;
  • Coleman Locke, Hungerford, Presiding Officer of the Texas Animal Health Commission;
  • Jim Eggleston, Weatherford, Texas Animal Health Commission;
  • Stephen Selman, Woodway, Texas Animal Health Commission;
  • Leo Vermedahl, Dalhart, Texas Animal Health Commission;
  • Arcilia Acosta, Dallas, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • Javaid Anwar, Midland, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • Rickey Raven, Sugar Land, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • Stuart W. Stedman, Houston, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • Laurie Morian, Houston, Humanities Texas;
  • Stephanie Tucker, Houston, Humanities Texas;
  • Ellen K. Ramsey, Midland, Humanities Texas.
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Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
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Editor: Peter Partheymuller   
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