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News And People

Volume 14, Issue 32 - Friday, August 26, 2016
Drones' eye in the sky has many uses

UAS help spot leaks, secure campuses, investigate crimes

Government entities are using drones in a variety of ways, from checking roof leaks to patrolling parking lots to providing a visual assist during emergency situations. McAllen Independent School District's board president, Sam Saldivar, Jr.,  recently announced the district's intention to purchase state-of-the-art drones, or unmanned aerial system (UAS), to patrol all campuses.

Saldivar said the drones would provide extra "eyes" around the school grounds. He also hopes the technology will help curb illegal drug activity at schools.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Dale Fisseler, City Manager, City of Waco
dale fisseler
Dale Fisseler

Career highlights and education: I had the opportunity to work for the City of Dallas in the 1980s and Fort Worth from 1990 to 2010. I retired as city manager in Fort Worth in 2010. I moved back to my hometown of Waco in 2011 and became city manager of Waco in 2014.

What I like best about my job is: We have a great city council and a great group of city employees here in Waco.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Anything is possible (especially if you don't have to do it!)

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Work hard and be safe and you will be surprised at how fast a career happens.

If I ever decided to leave work early, I could probably be found: on beautiful Lake Waco!

People would be surprised to know that I: am a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio (all it takes is $75!)

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: It is important to maintain the infrastructure (even in tough economic times!)

Budget board director to speak at legislative conference

Ursula Parks
The director of the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB) is just one of many officials ready to help state leaders prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Director Ursula Parks will offer her insights at the Biennial Legislative Communication Conference at The University of Texas at Austin on Oct. 13, which is quickly filling up.

Historically, this event sells out weeks in advance. Those interested in attending should register soon to reserve their spot. Sign up now at
Parks began her career with the LBB in 1993 and has worked in many capacities with the agency, including budget analyst, budget team manager, assistant director and deputy director. Parks has been directly involved in the development of budget and policy recommendations for numerous state agencies and institutions, with special interest in the area of public education finance. She is an expert in big-picture state fiscal policy as well as the details of developing state appropriations.

The conference, sponsored since 1998 by the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, Inc., will offer fact-based predictions for the 2017 session. Hear about the issues statewide elected officials expect to champion. Get tips on working successfully with elected leaders in the Texas House of Representatives and Senate and network with government executives.

Nabers to lead roundtable discussion at higher education P3 conference

Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) and a nationally recognized expert in public-private partnerships (P3s/PPPs), will lead a roundtable discussion on P3s at the Public-Private Partnership Higher Education Summit in San Diego on Oct. 3-4. 

The event, one of the nation's largest gatherings of higher education leaders and P3 development experts, is designed to bring together university officials and development professionals who are pursuing campus P3s. Nabers will present an overview of a guide book the SPI Team has developed to help public officials avoid failures in P3s, and will also facilitate discussions and take questions on the topic.

She will be among the more than 75 leading industry practitioners participating in the two-day California event. They will share their experiences in the use of P3s for projects on higher education campuses through a variety of panel sessions, workshops and keynote addresses by industry and P3 experts. The summit also will feature "University Row," where colleges and universities share information with interested private-sector firms regarding upcoming campus development projects.


An $85 million justice center and jail are on the ballot for a bond election in November scheduled by Chambers County commissioners. The new justice center would include courtrooms, a new jail, jury rooms, a medical area, and facilities set up for female inmates.


Granite Shoals City Council members called a $3 million bond election in November to upgrade three major streets.


Council members earlier had agreed to wait until May to schedule a bond vote, but decided to move forward with a plan to repair the most heavily traveled sections of Phillips Ranch Road, Valley View Lane and Prairie Creek Road if voters approve the bond issue.

Fannin County commissioners called a Nov. 8 bond election asking for approval of $12.5 million in bonds to help pay for restoring the historic county courthouse. The money is needed to match a $5.04 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission that will cover one-third of the estimated $17.5 million cost of restoring the courthouse built in 1888, the county judge said.

Trustees for the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District agreed to ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve $137 million in bonds to improve facilities.


A majority of the bond funds, $72 million, will be used to expand and renovate Clemens High School and $38 million will be allotted to build a new elementary school to replace Rose Garden Elementary School.

Other projects on the bond ballot are $10 million to replace heating and air conditioning systems at two intermediate schools and an elementary school, $5 million to improve technology throughout the district and $2 million to buy new buses.


Bastrop Independent School District board members scheduled a $75 million bond election in November to fund a plan to reconfigure a majority of school campuses in that district.


Trustees propose spending most of the bond money to convert two intermediate schools into elementary schools, to add courtyards at each facility, expand two middle schools and build a new middle school with a gymnasium.


Other projects to be funded by bonds include expanding Cedar Creek High School, spending $7 million for improvements to food service, roofing and technology, a $4 million project to upgrade track fields and allotting $3 million to purchase furniture at all campuses.



Corpus Christi Independent School District trustees called a $194 million bond election on Nov. 8.


If voters approve, a large share of the funding, $111 million, will be used to build two new middle schools and to renovate other middle school campuses. Board members also plan to upgrade five high schools, build classroom additions at two elementary schools and improve the Cabaniss Athletics Complex.


Sugar Land city officials are exploring the steps necessary to accept a gift of a historic auditorium from the Fort Bend Independent School District.


Located next to an elementary school, the nearly 100-year-old Sugar Land Auditorium is used infrequently for plays and concerts by the district.  Officials believe the city may offer more resources and be able to put the facility to better use for cultural arts in the area.


As part of the plan, the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation has agreed to add restrooms and build a drop-off area at the front of the auditorium estimated to cost from $400,000 and $650,000 if city council members agree to accept the donation of the auditorium.


A $6 billion project to build a dike to prevent or reduce storm surge in Harris, Galveston and Chambers counties is under consideration by 28 affected municipalities.

The "Ike Dike" has been proposed by the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District following a study the organization conducted on the $26 billion in damage caused in six counties on the Gulf Coast when Hurricane Ike struck in 2008. The report also urged storm protection plans to be developed for Brazoria, Jefferson and Orange counties.

The report noted the dike project most likely will require federal funding to become a reality. The Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District, which is comprised of representatives from six coastal counties, has no authority to raise revenue.

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Calendar of Events

Sept. 15, 2016

"The Long and Winding Road to Smart City P3s" workshop, is co-organized by Smart & Resilient Cities and Meeting of the Minds.

Hosted by Georgetown University's Master of Professional Studies in Urban and Regional Planning program and Professor Uwe Brandes, the half-day, two-panel program will utilize the rich resources of Scranton Gillette Communications and Meeting of the Minds to explore the position of  Public Private Partnerships for Transportation (P3s) in the modern infrastructure portfolio and conclude with a networking reception. Register here.

Oct. 3-4, 2016

khleuxaymm2gfukhorus Public-private partnerships are helping higher education officials meet their needs for new and renovated facilities. How this trend is growing will be discussed at the upcoming Public-Private Partnership Higher Education Summit. The summit is being described as "the premier conference for collaboration between university officers and development professionals pursuing public-private partnerships." The gathering, scheduled for Oct. 3-4 in San Diego, will feature influential decision-makers from throughout the country. Those attending will participate in two days of in-depth learning, business development and networking opportunities with facility planning, finance and business officers who are involved in public-private partnerships across the country. Speakers will show how P3s on college campuses are no longer just for student housing, but have expanded to include classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, athletic spaces and other campus infrastructure. Registration is now open and a program schedule has been released.
$30 Billion price tag...

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

There's a $30 billion problem looming on higher education campuses nationwide. Campuses that expanded during unusually large student population growth during the 1960s and 1970s are now dealing with facilities that are more than half a century old. Not only are the facilities aging, many will become unusable if something is not done soon. Most have deferred maintenance reports that date back for decades... and now, the immediate maintenance needs represent a multi-billion-dollar dilemma.

Public-private partnerships (P3s/PPPs) are attractive to university officials because these types of engagements offer immediate relief. Private-sector capital is available along with great talent and expertise, leading-edge technology, risk-free project oversight and ongoing maintenance agreements that last for decades.

Margie Rose
Margie Rose, who was on the management team in Corpus Christi for 14 years, has taken the helm as city manager. Rose is the first woman and the first African American to serve as Corpus Christi's city manager. She was named acting city manager after Ron Olson resigned in May.

Rose previously was city manager in Inkster, Mich., and worked in county government in that state before accepting a position in Corpus Christi.

The Texas Transportation Commission has  approved the 2017 Unified Transportation Program (UTP)
 with $70 billion in projects over the next 10 years. The plan is the largest in the agency's history and represents a significant increase from the plan presented last year for $33 billion.
The commission stated in a press release that the majority of the additional funding will come from legislative- and voter-approved initiatives to allocate portions of oil and gas taxes, sales taxes and other taxes to the state highway fund. The new funding is largely allocated for program areas that address safety, maintenance, congestion and rural connectivity needs.

Richard Edwards
Superintendent Richard Edwards of Fairfield Independent School District has resigned from that post. He cited personal reasons for the resignation.

Board members selected Assistant Superintendent Melissa Cox to serve as interim superintendent until a new superintendent is hired. Trustees plan to soon begin the search for a new superintendent.

Parker County commissioners agreed to ask voters to approve $76.2 million in bonds to pay for transportation upgrades.

If voters approve, the majority of the bond funding, $56.6 million, will be used for a project to connect Interstate 20 with Farm-to-Market Road 51 and merge with the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway.
About $15.6 million in bond funds would be divided among all four precincts to upgrade roads and $3.5 million would be used to attract funding from the Texas Department of Transportation on projects in which the county is eligible to receive matching funds from state and federal programs.

Caldwell to replace city hall

Caldwell city officials have begun planning to replace the existing city hall with a new 6,000-square-foot structure estimated to cost about $3 million. 

Planning is still in the early stages, but the mayor said he hopes the city will begin construction on the new city hall by the end of this year and move employees to the new facility in 2018. The new city hall will be located on city-owned land near the courthouse, the mayor said. Current plans are to relocate the police department into the building now serving as city hall once the new facility is completed.
Trustees for Smithville Independent School District scheduled a $35 million bond election on Nov. 8 with a goal of upgrading facilities. 

Voters will decide whether to approve funding for a new junior high school with a regulation-sized stage to be shared with the high school, a multi-purpose athletic complex for middle and high school students and renovations to the main campus.

On Our Website 

Emerging tech firms being courted by government? Really?

Huntsville seeking $128M to fund capital improvements

The Huntsville City Council voted to ask voters in November to approve $128 million in bonds to fund two new municipal facilities and upgrades to its water and wastewater system. 

The largest of the three ballot propositions is requesting approval of up to $72 million to renovate the water plant and two wastewater treatment plants. The council also is asking for approval of up to $31 million in bonds to upgrade police and fire services by building a new facility to house the police department and personnel from fire station number 2 in one facility and $24 million to build a new city service center that includes renovating city hall to house all customer services.

Officials of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) are planning to seek approval to begin construction on a new engineering building. UTPB regents are expected to approve the proposed design plan for the new engineering building before the end of August. That action will allow university officials to request construction bids for the project.

Hunt County commissioners agreed to ask voters to approve $24.5 million in bonds to help fund several road upgrades in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The bond funds will be used to acquire rights of way, permitting, environmental clearance, planning and design for the projects, while TxDOT will pay for the majority of construction costs for the improvements estimated to cost about $162.4 million.

Projects to be funded with bond funds include widening a farm road between Interstate 30 and State Highway 34, widening SH34 and building an underpass/overpass for pedestrian traffic on SH34 in Commerce for use by students at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Reports on Agencies Under Review for the 2016-2017 Review Cycle
Sunset Advisory Commission
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • Dawn Allison, El Campo, District Attorney for the 329th Judicial District in Wharton County;
  • Vince E. Puente, Sr., Fort Worth, Finance Commission of Texas;
  • Pam Guenther, Edna, Jackson County Criminal District Attorney;
  • Brett Graham, Denison, Board of Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • Kate Hardy, Trophy Club, Board of Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • Gary Painter, Midland, Board of Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • Raymond Palacios, Jr., El Paso, Board of Department of Motor Vehicles.
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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.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Priscilla Loebenberg 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 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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