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  Volume 7, Issue 17 · Friday, May 1, 2009
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TDA, PUC partnering to obtain broadband information

In anticipation of applying for federal ecnomic stimulus funds

Barry Smitherman

In an effort to bring broadband service to all areas of Texas, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has joined forces with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and other agencies as they seek information from qualified contractors and service providers. The agencies involved in the collaborative are preparing for the release of $4.7 billion in federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), designed to extend broadband to areas without service.

Todd Staples

"[The initiative] is an important opportunity to bring broadband service to areas that do not have this valuable service," PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman (left) said.

Traditionally broadband service has not been available to those living in rural and sparsely populated areas of the state, presenting obstacles for residents there as the demand for electronic communication increases around the globe.

"New communication technologies are shrinking our world," TDA Commissioner Todd Staples (right) said. "It is essential we make sure Texans don't miss out on these new tech tools." Staples added that broadband service is key to creating opportunities and efficiencies for citizens and businesses.


Texas second in nation with 26 H1N1 flu cases

Perry declares emergency; schools close, events canceled

David Lakey

More than 100 cases of H1N1 flu (previously called "swine flu") have been confirmed in 11 states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Latest figures from the CDC show New York has the most laboratory confirmed cases at 50, followed by Texas with 26 and California with 14. Only one death in the United States has been reported by CDC, that being a 22-month-old child from Mexico who died earlier this week in a Houston-area hospital.

The spread of the flu prompted Texas Gov. Rick Perry to issue a disaster declaration for the state. Confirmed cases in Texas have been reported in Cameron, Comal, Dallas, Fort Bend, Guadalupe, Starr and Tarrant counties. Schools in several of those counties have been closed. The CDC has approved Texas' request for more anti-viral medication from the state's allotment in the national stockpile. As a result, some 1.7 million doses will be available to Texas.

Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey (pictured) said earlier this week that communities in which H1N1 flu has been identified in Texas are being asked to take specific steps. "We're asking them - at certain times when they have the disease in their schools - to close their schools," he said. "We're asking them to implement their Pandemic Influenza Plan so we are ready, and the community is ready, for whatever comes their way. We're working with health care providers throughout the state so they know what they need to do."

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Last week, Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) launched its new free weekly national newsletter - the State & Local Government Pipeline - and our second edition went out Wednesday. We've had interest from numerous states and our subscription list continues to grow.

This week's edition features a column by SPI President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers offering advice and suggestions on how to navigate the public sector marketplace. The newsletter also features links to documents outlining where different pools of money from the federal stimulus bill are going, an overview of how different states are using the funds, stimulus-related news briefs, links to stimulus Web sites of all 50 states, a calendar of events and more.

Although the newsletter is currently focusing on the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), it will also feature news on national trends, budget issues, state and local initiatives and breaking national news.

Our objective is to make this publication the premier source for state and local government news and contracting opportunities. It targets government contractors and government executives and is patterned after SPI's highly successful Texas Government Insider newsletter.

The State & Local Government Pipeline is free and will be published every Wednesday. Click here to sign up and start having your free copy e-mailed to you each week.

DoD announces $835 million for 850 military projects

Texas garners lion's share for facility improvement projects

Construction Projects

Texas Army and Army National Guard facilities in Texas will benefit from $155 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding announced this week through the U.S. Department of Defense. The Texas share is part of $835 million that will be spread among 850 projects in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

More than half of the $835 million will be spent in five states. In addition to Texas' lion's share of those five states, Kentucky and North Carolina were allocated $83 million each, Oklahoma drew $66 million and Hawaii was awarded $59 million. In addition to the funding for facility improvements, another $346 million will be allocated for energy-related projects that will help the nation toward greater energy independence.

In Texas, $19.6 million of the funding will go to Fort Hood, $23 million is dedicated to projects at Fort Sam Houston and the remainder of the $155 million goes to projects at Fort Bliss.


TDHCA has $41.4M in ARRA funds for homelessness

More than $41.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding is being made available to Texans through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). The funds are part of those being administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). The program is aimed at providing assistance to members of households who would otherwise become homeless and to provide assistant to help re-house individuals who are homeless. A deadline for May 29 has been set for applications to TDHCA. For more information, click here.

TDHCA also will host a workshop on Thursday, May 7, regarding this funding availability. The workshop will be at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus at The University of Texas at Austin. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact Rita Gonzales-Garza at 512-475-3905 or

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

Kelli Merriweather

Kelli Merriweather, director of programs, Commission on State Emergency Communications

Career highlights and education: I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1982 with a Bachelor's of Business Administration. After graduating, I worked in the marketing, advertising and public relations field in Austin. I "retired" for four years when my children were very young. When the kids went off to school, I started looking for a job with good life/work balance that was technology-related. I found my new career at the Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) in 1995 and have been the Director of the statewide 9-1-1 and Poison Control programs for the Commission since 2004. The CSEC funds, oversees and administers 9-1-1 service in 224 of the 254 counties in Texas through partnership with the state's 24 regional planning commissions. The agency also co-administers Poison Control Services with the Department of State Health Services, which is provided by six regional poison centers located in Texas. Career highlights include overseeing the implementation of automatic location determination technology for wireless 9-1-1 calls, and the implementation of an advanced digital, Internet protocol network that supports calls made to the national poison hotline...1-800-222-1222.

What I like best about my job is: I find my job very rewarding because it has a direct positive benefit to the entire state. We work hard every day to carry out our mission to "preserve and enhance public safety and health through access to reliable emergency telecommunications services." Technology is constantly changing, especially in telecommunications. I like the challenge of keeping pace with those changes - there's always something new!

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Collaborate! Take the time to collaborate with your stakeholders. Give all interested parties the opportunity to provide input and be involved in decisions that impact them. It may take more time and effort, but the outcome will be worth it for everybody involved.

Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Listen, learn and lead. Be an active listener and learn all you can. Then, use that skill and knowledge to lead those around you. Leaders exist at all levels of organizations, and can be formal or informal.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: At home. I don't spend much time there so I take every chance I get to go there. Boring, I know, but true! When I do get a chance to really get away, my favorite place to go is the beach...any beach.

People would be surprised to know that I: am a registered Boy Scout. I am very active in its co-ed organization of the Venturing Crew at my kids' troop. My favorite scouting experience was a high ropes course where I climbed and jumped off a telephone pole (with ALL safety features in tact, of course!)

Each week, the Texas Government Insider profiles a key government executive or decision-maker. If you would like to suggest a "Lone Star," please email us at

Cancer prevention researcher to serve CPRIT

Amelie Ramirez

Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H. (pictured), has been appointed to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas' (CPRIT) Scientific and Prevention Advisory Council. Ramirez currently serves as director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Ramirez was nominated for the council by South Texas media consultant Lionel Sosa, a member of the CPRIT Oversight Committee which oversees allocation of the research funds. Ramirez joined UTHSC-San Antonio in 2006, coming from the Baylor College of Medicine. She is a nationally recognized expert in health promotion and education. Among her honors is a presidential appointment to the National Cancer Advisory Board.

The Council had its first meeting this week and will provide strategic guidance on the development of cancer research in Texas. CPRIT was approved by Texas voters in 2007 and is authorized to fund as much as $300 million per year over 10 years for cancer research.

UIL shifts schedule amid H1N1 flu outbreak

Robert Scott

The University Interscholastic League is altering its events schedule due to the recent outbreak of H1N1 flu (previously called "swine flu") in Texas. Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, recommended the shifts in consultation with Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott (pictured).

UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said the health and safety of students and participants takes precedence over scheduling, adding that "taking every possible precaution to prevent the further spreading of this disease is an important contribution to the welfare of our great state."

The UIL Academic State Meet slated for May 7-9 will be rescheduled for a later date. Once finalized a schedule of the event will be posted on the UIL Web site. Meanwhile, the Texas State Wind Ensemble Festival scheduled for May 9 has been canceled. The UIL regional track meets scheduled for May 1-2 were oringally scheduled to be pushed back to May 14-16. But Thursday, the UIL announced 20 regional meets will be held May 12-23 and the state meet is tentatively set for June 5-6 in Austin.

TCEQ cites Environmental Excellence Award winners

Ten projects and individuals in Texas have been named winners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) 17th annual Texas Environmental Excellence Awards. The winners were cited for projects that demonstrate positive effects on air, water and land resources. TCEQ commissioners will present the awards at the annual awards banquet on Wednesday, May 13, at the Austin Convention Center, as part of the TCEQ Environmental Trade Fair and Conference.

Recommended by a Blue Ribbon Committee of environmental experts from public and private industry, the TEEA awards honor individuals, businesses, and organizations that have created successful programs that conserve natural resources, reduce waste and prevent pollution.

Winners include: Texas Department of Transportation in the Government category, Boerne Independent School District in the Water Conservation category, Energy Transfer Technologies in the Innovative Technology category, Texas AgriLife Extension Service in the Agriculture category, The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University in the Education category, Kimberly-Clark. Corp. in the Large/Non-technical category, Cliff Etheredge in the Individual category. Build San Antonio Green in the Civic/Nonprofit category, Mars Snackfood LLC US in the Large Business/Technical category and Science Rock U - Wetlands Youth Brigade in the Education Category.

Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday weekend begins May 23

Energy Star

The second-annual Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday is set to deliver savings to shoppers Memorial Day weekend. Starting May 23-25, consumers will get a break from state and local sales tax with the purchase of certain energy-efficient major appliances.

State Comptroller Susan Combs said the deal will not only save customers at the register, but also at home, "where they'll see the benefits returned in energy savings on their utility bills."

Texas shoppers can expect to save a combined $3 million on appliances and household equipment bearing the Energy Star label over the weekend. For more information about the sales tax holiday, click here.

TxDOT announces new engineer for Odessa District

Mike McAnally has been named head engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Odessa District. In his new role, he will oversee construction and maintenance of more than 300 employees across an 18,000-square-mile expanse of West Texas. He replaces Lauren Garduno, who has moved to the same post in the Abilene district.

McAnally began his TxDOT tenure as a teenager working summer shifts at the agency. He went on to work for TxDOT's Midland office before serving in Odessa as area engineer and as district director of operations.

McAnally holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University.

UT-Austin selects two as new vice provosts

Gretchen Ritter

Janet Ellzey

Dr. Gretchen Ritter (left) and Dr. Janet Ellzey (right) have been named vice provosts at The University of Texas at Austin. Ritter, a fellow of the Alma Madden Professorship, currently serves as a professor of government. Ellzey serves as a professor of mechanical engineering and assistant dean for international engineering education.

Ellzey joined the UT faculty in 1990. She has served as associate director of the Chair of Free Enterprise and most recently as assistant dean. Her appointment is effective July 16.

Ritter served as director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, the largest interdisciplinary center on the campus, from 2004-2008. She has also served as co-chair of the Gender Equity Task Force. She holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a doctoral degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

SFA picks Bullard as new College of Forestry dean

Steven Bullard

Dr. Steven H. Bullard (pictured) has been named dean of the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University, effective July 1.

Bullard, a professor and chair of the department of forestry at the University of Kentucky, has served as director of the Institute of Furniture Manufacturing and Management at the Mississippi Forest and Wildlife Research Center, and as interim head of the Department of Forestry at Mississippi State University.

Bullard earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree at Mississippi State University. He holds a doctoral degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

TAMU-Corpus Christi dedicates Lee alumni center

Woo Sung Lee

Woo Sung Lee (pictured), a longtime benefactor and alumnus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, was honored recently during a groundbreaking ceremony for his alma mater's new Alumni Welcome Center. The center will be named in Lee's honor as a "50-year Distinguished Alumnus."

Alumni Center

Lee, a Korean foreign student, went into the restaurant business upon graduating in 1959 and turned his fast-food establishment into a chain of highly successful restaurants.

University President Flavius Killebrew said the alumni center will serve as a "home away from home" for alumni as well as a "window to campus for many prospective students and their families."

TAMU-Texarkana chooses Ballard as new dean

Glenda Ballard

Dr. Glenda Ballard (pictured) has officially been named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences & Education at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, replacing Dr. Rosanne Stripling, who was promoted to provost and vice president of academic affairs.

Ballard began her tenure at TAMU-Texarkana in 1997 as an instructor. Two years later she became full-time coordinator for the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program and associate professor for the M.S. Adult Education program. She has worked as an educator at Paris Junior College, Northeast Texas Community College and Trinity Heights Christian Academy in Shreveport, La.

Ballard holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.

UTA pairs with Arlington ISD for NSF initiative

Minerva Cordero

The University of Texas at Arlington math department has received a grant totaling $2.85 million from the National Science Foundation. The money will be used to fund a joint project with the Arlington school district that will place graduate fellows in classrooms at Sam Houston High School and three of its feeder schools.

Arlington schools Superintendent Jerry McCullough said the initiative will pair students one-on-one with talented mathematicians from UTA. He said district leaders are "thrilled to be able to provide a strategic, focused and hands-on approach to improve math scores in our schools."

Dr. Minerva Cordero (pictured), a UT Arlington associate math professor and principal investigator for the grant, and two of the potential fellows identified for next year are conducting research in algebra, so they will be paired with two public school teachers in algebra or pre-algebra courses.

Land chosen UNT's journalism school interim dean

Mitchell Land

Dr. Mitchell Land has been named interim dean of the University of North Texas' recently approved Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism.

Land, chair of the Department of Journalism and founding director of the university's Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism, has taught at Midwestern State University and Stephen F. Austin State University.

Land holds both a bachelor's and master's degree from UNT in addition to a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Standley serves as SFA dean of graduate studies

James Standley

Dr. James Standley (pictured) has been named the new dean of graduate studies at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Standley, a sociology professor and former dean of the university's College of Liberal and Applied Arts, also serves as coordinator of the Institutional Accreditation Office. Prior to that charge, he served as chairman of the criminal justice department at Texas State University.

Texas Woman's University picks new associate provost

Michael Stankey

Dr. Michael J. Stankey (pictured) has been named Texas Woman University's new associate provost. In his new role, effective June 1, he will oversee the school's Dallas and Houston campuses, the Institutional Effectiveness and Research department, Academic Outreach and the Web management team. He replaces Dr. Victoria McGillin.

Stankey has served as chair of the department of communication and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Evansville in Indiana, where he has spent the last 14 years in various roles. He has also served as an advertising professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Stankey holds a doctorate and master's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his bachelor's degree from Purdue University.

Parkland Hospital picks Hoffman for senior post

Peter Hoffman

Dr. Peter Hoffmann (pictured) has been selected to serve as Parkland Health & Hospital System's senior vice president and chief quality officer. In his new charge, he will oversee quality improvement, patient safety and risk prevention and other areas.

Hoffmann previously served as vice president for clinical operations at Wake Forest University School of Medicine before spending the last two years as chief medical officer and clinical professor of medicine at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Hoffmann holds a bachelor's degree from Columbia College of Columbia University, and a master's degree and medical degree from Columbia's Medical Scientist Training Program. He completed his internship and residency at the University of California at San Francisco.

SHSU streamlines operations, promotes faculty member

Dan Davis

Dan Davis (pictured), a CPA with more than 25 years in business administration experience, has been promoted to associate vice president for research administration and technology commercialization at Sam Houston State University. He formerly served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of a prominent research center in Houston.

Meanwhile Jerry Cook will continue to serve as associate vice president for research and special programs, the department that promotes research activity and assists faculty in finding grants related to their research.

Officials at SHSU have streamlined operations so the office of research administration now reports directly to the provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Texas Center for Service-Learning offering grants

Butterfly Garden

The Texas Center for Service-Learning (TCSL) is offering up to $15,000 in Texas Healthy Habitats Grants to public and private/nonprofit middle and high schools across the state. The funds are geared to support students participating in service-learning projects that benefit wildlife and the environment.

TCSL Director John Spence said the student-designed projects generate buy-in. "Kids show up early and stay late" to see their projects finished, Spence said. In the accompanying TPWD photo, high school student service-learning volunteers create a butterfly garden at South Padre Island.

Applications for the grant will be accepted through Friday, June 19. To assist in the application process, a Webinar will be offered May 22 at 11:30 a.m.

Killeen ISD considering upgrade to faster network

Trustees for the Killeen Independent School District recently authorized the district's chief technology official to gather information on the cost of upgrading the district's network infrastructure from an ATM service to a gigabit Ethernet service that would provide a faster network connection and a larger bandwidth to transmit data.

The district recently received $5.1 million in federal stimulus funds for construction and renovation projects that must be completed within two years. The upgrade to the district's network infrastructure could begin as early as this summer and be completed within the next year, said John Evans, chief technology officer for the district.

WTAMU announces new director of development

Teresa Clemons

Officials at West Texas A&M University have selected alumnae Teresa Clemons (pictured) to serve as director of development. In her new role, she will oversee the institutional development, advancement and coordination of all fundraising activities at the university.

Clemons' tenure at WTAMU began in 2005, when she joined the staff as a senior development officer. Prior to that charge, she developed and implemented marketing plans for the Texas Workforce Centers of the Panhandle. She has also served as director of business development for a real estate agency and as a broker/owner of a commercial property consulting firm.

Clemons earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees at WTAMU.

Fort Hood to deed more than 600 acres to TAMU System

Fort Hood recently deeded 662 acres valued at $1.7 million to the Texas A&M University System to create a new public university, Texas A&M-Central Texas, in Killeen.

The U.S. Congress approved the land transfer in 2004 but the governor's veto of bills passed by the 80th Legislature that would have allowed Tarleton State University to establish Tarleton State University-Central Texas as a stand-alone school and to receive funding to support the new university prevented the transition. Tarleton State used facilities provided by Fort Hood, Central Texas College and the Killeen Independent School District beginning in September 1998 and began offering upper-level graduate courses to serve Army personnel, their families and other Central Texas residents with a goal of establishing a stand-alone university. When fulltime spring enrollment at Tarleton State-Central Texas exceeded 1,000 students, however, the university was required by law to become Texas A&M-Central Texas in the fall of 2008.

Army officials agreed to accept in-kind consideration in exchange for use of available classroom space and for educational services in areas including nursing, computer networking, mental health education and business. Once fulltime enrollment at the new Texas A&M-Central Texas in Killeen reaches 1,500, the legislature permits $25 million in tuition revenue bonds to be sold to begin paying for the new campus.

Angelo selects May as interim graduate studies dean

Brian May

Angelo State University officials recently selected Brian J. May (pictured) as the interim graduate studies dean to serve for two years. The appointment of May is effective in June 1, said Don Coers, provost for ASU.

May's new duties will require him to work with the Texas Tech System to broaden ASU's graduate offerings at Texas Tech's Hill County campuses in Marble Falls, Fredericksburg and Junction. May is a professor of animal science whose responsibilities have been split between teaching and research during the past few years. May, who previously served as executive director of the Mohair Council of America, earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Angelo State University and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.

Harlingen group to provide $4.2M for distance learning

The board of directors of the Economic Development Corp. of Harlingen recently agreed to provide $4.2 million for a long distance learning center at Texas State Technical College-Harlingen.

The funding, which comes from sales tax revenue, will be used to study the project's needs as well as for design and construction of the facility that will be located on the TSTC-Harlingen campus. The learning center will use two-way television connections and computer networking to connect graduate students in Harlingen with professors at major universities to attend lectures and participate in classes leading to master's and doctoral degrees, said Bill Martin, director of the EDC of Harlingen. The EDC plans to raise part of the $4.2 million by applying for grants and possibly borrowing money, Martin said.

Baytown ramps up energy conservation

Baytown officials are working to better city infrastructure, including equipment upgrades, and improve their traffic signal system in a bid to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs. The effort is projected to save some $260,000 annually in utility and maintenance costs as well as curb carbon dioxide emissions.

A performance contract with a Wisconsin-based control system will allow the city to reduce operational and energy costs and use those funds to pay for the project's capital investment over the next 13 years.

City Manager Garry Brumback said the city decided to "take a leadership role in the state by implementing a solution that was both environmentally and fiscally responsible."

Montgomery ISD announces faculty promotions

Bobby Morris

Babette Eikenberg

Dr. Babette Eikenberg (right) has been named associate superintendent of instructional services, and Principal Bobby Morris (left) has been promoted to assistant superintendent at Montgomery Independent School District.

Eikenberg has served 28 years in education, including as teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, executive director and in her current capacity as assistant superintendent.

Morris has served 26 years in education as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and, for the past 11 years, as principal of Montgomery High School.

Brown County up for $1.3M grant for transit service

The Central Texas Rural Transit District recently received notice that it has won a $1.3 million grant from the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program to be distributed between July and September, said Adel Hunter, support services manager for the transit authority.

The grant will allow the authority to purchase four 21-passenger buses, three 25-passenger buses and seven radios. The grant also will allow the transit authority to hire eight more drivers, including five in Brown County and to extend operating hours in Brown County from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Hunter said. The JARC grant program was established to transport welfare recipients and eligible low-income residents to and from jobs and activities related to their employment in Brown and surrounding counties.

Greenville City Council applies for TxDOT grants

Massoud Ebrahim

Greenville City Council plans to submit applications to the Pass-Through Finance Program, an initiative of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), for grants to help fund improvements to Farm-to-Market Road 1570 and State Highway 34. Both roads are due to be widened and extended.

Pass-through financing would allow the city to recoup some of the money it has spent on road improvements, said Director of Public Works Massoud Ebrahim (pictured).

The Texas Transportation Commission is looking to fund up to $300 million in pass-through projects. The deadline to apply for funding is May 12.

McAllen investors seek loan to construct upscale hotel

Investors in McAllen are looking to persuade city leaders to provide a low-interest $10 million loan to build an upscale motel next to the convention center. They have also asked to defer payment on the $2.5 million tract of land where the hotel would be constructed.

Investors are hoping the city will obtain an $8.8 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to cover the $10 million price tag. The remaining $1.2 million would be borrowed from the firefighters' pension fund.

Developers have already secured $24 million in funding for the 195-room hotel. Civic leaders say the facility would attract events and boost tax revenue.

Clute approves funds for new municipal court building

Calvin Shiflet

Clute City Council has approved the purchase of a building at 105 Main St. for $118,000 to house a new municipal court and court offices.

Clute Mayor Calvin Shiflet (pictured) said the new structure is needed because of limited space at the municipal court/community center.

Funds remaining from certificates of obligation (used to build City Hall and renovate the police department) will cover the cost of the project, according to City Manager Kyle McCain.

UH narrows College of Pharmacy dean search

A University of Houston committee has narrowed its search for a new dean of the College of Pharmacy to four finalists. All candidates have been interviewed over the past two weeks.

The finalists include: Richard Leff, regional dean at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy at Dallas-Fort Worth; Vincent Lau, chair of the Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Houston; Lloyd Young, former chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco; and Lamar Pritchard, former dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Nacogdoches gets FEMA grant for operations center

Jim Elder

Nacogdoches has been awarded a $1 million Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Homeland Security Grant for the creation of an emergency operations center (EOC).

The grant, the result of a successful cooperation between the city and county, stipulates the county has 36 months to construct the facility, but County Commissioner Jim Elder (pictured) said the project will be put on a fast track for completion. The city and county have also each contributed $125,000 to the project. The county plans to add $250,000 in in-kind donations to the $1.5 million venture.

The EOC will provide a single location to streamline emergency operation efforts in the event of a disaster. City and county law enforcement operate in different locations as the operation stands now.

Pasadena approves construction of new fire stations

Pasadena City Council has approved the construction of two fire stations, each costing about $1.8 million, and a fire truck facility at the city's fire grounds. The two new stations will replace existing facilities, stations 3 and 4.

Fire Station 3 will be constructed at its existing location, while station 4 will be erected at the intersection of Queens Road and Fresa Road, a few blocks from where it currently operates.

Meanwhile the council deferred a contract for new library shelving and displays as well as ordinances disuniting land at the Port of Houston Bayport terminal, where an industrial district would have been created.

Hondo to become home of tri-college partnership

Blaine Bennett

Southwest Texas Junior College, Texas State Technical College and Alamo College are joining forces to offer courses in nursing, building trades and aircraft maintenance. Hondo city leaders hope the initiative leads to the establishment of a permanent campus on a 60-acre parcel of land offered by the city.

Courses are slated to begin this fall, which has sent city officials scrambling to find classrooms and students to enroll in the classes. Mayor Jim Danner said the timeline may be "a bit aggressive."

Blaine Bennett (pictured), Southwest Texas Junior College dean of institutional advancement, said the collaboration will allow students to take classes in areas that may fall outside the realm of a partnering institution's expertise. Early surveys show a local demand for nurse aid training and building trade classes, he said.

Tyler approves land annex for National Guard facility

Tyler City Council has approved the annexation of 49 acres of land for a new 123,000-square-foot Army National Guard facility, which will accommodate up to 800 personnel during training.

City of Tyler Planning and Zoning Director Barbara Holly said the council worked with property owners, asking them to voluntarily annex portions of their land. All agreed to the annexation.

Construction of the facility - which will include parking lots, maintenance areas, storm water detention ponds and storage units - is expected to take about two years to complete and cost between $25 and $30 million.

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Government contracting getting more competitive

Mary Scott Nabers

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

Because of the national economic downturn, thousands of new firms are interested in selling to the government. The public sector marketplace has always been a lucrative space, and data from a recently released report from the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB) shows how large the market is for private sector contractors...just with the State of Texas.

For Fiscal Year 2008, contracts between 125 Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education and private sector firms totaled approximately $40 billion. Other contracts that were not reported or not required to be reported will push these numbers even higher.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) had the largest percentage of state contracts for FY 2008, totaling $12.5 billion. Rounding out the top three contracting agencies are the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) at $7.7 billion and the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) at $4.5 billion. Collectively, the top 10 agencies had contract totals of $35.3 billion, or 90.3 percent of all the state contracts reported.


Cumby ISD superintendent headed to post in Dublin

Shaun Barnett

Shaun Barnett (pictured), superintendent for the Cumby Independent School District, has been named lone finalist for the same post at Dublin ISD.

Barnett has yet to resign from his current position, citing the 21-day waiting period prospective superintendents must wait, per state law, from the time their candidacy as sole finalist is announced before they can be hired.

Raymondville to apply
for grant for surveillance

In an effort to curb vandalism, Raymondville city leaders are looking to buy security camera systems to be installed around the city. Officials want to install six cameras at City Hall, the Raymondville Police Department, City Park and the wastewater treatment plant.

Commissioners have approved city staff to apply for an estimated $87,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to cover costs. Funds from the grant must be used for homeland security or law enforcement measures.

Horseshoe Bay approves more than $4M in projects

The Horseshoe Bay City Council has approved $4.2 million in infrastructure improvements. Projects include: a West water main upgrade (projected to cost $500,000); the creation of a West Horseshoe Bay two-million-gallon elevated reservoir ($2.2 million) and the rehabilitation of the Slickrock wastewater lift station ($1.5 million).

Council members are looking to sell bonds for the projects within the next few months at an interest rate around 3.5 percent. Mayor Bob Lambert said the initiatives fit in perfectly with the new rate system, with projected increases from 3 percent to 6 percent. There won't be a problem with utility rates, Lambert said.

Rosebud-Lott ISD approves finalist for superintendent

The Rosebud-Lott Independent School District Board of Trustees has approved Anthony Price as lone finalist for the position of superintendent.

As per state law, Price will not officially be named superintendent until May 7 - 21 days from when the board first gave notice regarding the proposed hire. RLISD officials have also approved a $15 million school bond election slated for May 9.

Clint ISD names Gabaldon new superintendent

Edward Gabaldon, chief of staff of the El Paso school district, has been named superintendent of the Clint Independent School District.

Gabaldon, an educator for more than 30 years, served as a middle-school science teacher, assistant principal and principal before his two-year tenure as chief of staff at El Paso ISD.

A&M System, port to redevelop Ingleside

The Port of Corpus Christi and the Texas A&M University System have joined forces to oversee the redevelopment of Naval Station Ingleside, which will close in 2010 per the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC).

According to the agreement, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority will assume control of the 1,000-acre complex as the university system works to redevelop the site and transform it into a major research and training center. Both entities will share in revenues from future developments.

Where are they now?

Where do folks go when they leave state government? Some go to work in the private sector or for nonprofits. Some transition to executive-level positions in higher education while others may seek elected local government positions. And some just retire and spend a lot of time with their grandkids at the fishin' hole. This column focuses on where former state government officials and employees are now.

Nub Donaldson

Jerry "Nub" Donaldson served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1973 to 1981 and is a former chairman of the Texas Civil Justice League. Today, he is a volunteer teacher, fundraiser, member of the Board of Directors and treasurer of the prison ministry "God of Hope Ministries." The organization provides six-month programs in faith-based dorms for men and women in Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities in Austin and Lockhart. Donaldson spends his spare time being a grandpa and playing golf.

Rusty Kelley

Rusty Kelley is a former chief of staff to then-House Speaker Bill Clayton. He also previously served as Chief Sergeant-at-Arms in the Texas House. Today Kelley is a part of an Austin-based governmental affairs practice.

El Paso to use stimulus funds for garage project

More than $122 million in federal stimulus funds have been approved for projects in El Paso, meaning a parking garage with a projected price tag of $14.5 million will cost the city just $940,000 to build.

The Glory Road Transit Terminal will include 440 parking spaces, retail space and a bus station. Most of the construction expense will be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with a $3.7 million allotment from the Federal Transit Administration. The garage is expected to be completed next year.

Corpus Christi weighs decision to ban cell phones

The City of Corpus Christi is considering two proposals to ban cell phone use, including text messaging, while driving. One of the proposals limits the ban to city employees driving city vehicles, while the other forbids cell phone use while driving for all residents.

Either proposal could become law in 30 to 60 days if approved by the city manager. The Transportation Advisory Committee is expected to gather facts and discuss the proposals at its next monthly meeting.

Midland approves using stimulus funds for buses

Wes Perry

The Midland City Council recently approved accepting $3,949,578 million in federal stimulus funds to allow the Midland-Odessa Urban Transit District to buy new buses, including buses for people with disabilities.

Mayor Wes Perry (pictured) cast the only vote against the one-time capital purchase with the explanation that he opposed allowing the six-year-old transit system to spend more money while the number of passengers using the transit system has declined because of fare increases.

Comptroller: annual franchise tax due May 15

Businesses' annual franchise tax is due May 15, according to Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. The date marks the second tax-filing deadline since the legislature implemented revisions to the tax calculation.

Combs said the comptroller's office took note of the most common errors in filing and offered Webinars to help avoid them in the future, adding, "We have also contacted many taxpayers directly to correct their forms." Franchise tax forms and general information are available by clicking here.

Texas' senior farmers' program kicks off

In its first time operating the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), Texas has been awarded $124,288 in grant funds for the initiative. The program "provides an opportunity for low-income seniors to improve their diets and overall nutritional health by increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables," according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Established in 2001, SFMNP - reauthorized as part of the 2008 Farm Bill - provides seniors with coupons to be exchanged for fresh, locally grown produce available at roadside stands, farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture programs. All 50 states received SFMNP grant funds this year. More than 16,000 farmers nationwide will accept the coupons.

Austin looks to go green with alternative fuel grant

The City of Austin is looking to secure $5 to $15 million from the Department of Energy as part of a $300 million stimulus funds package. Gerry Calk, City of Austin fleet officer, said the majority of the money "will be spent on building infrastructure to dispense alternative fuels or on putting alternative fuel vehicles in the fleet."

Potential partners met with Austin leaders to discuss alternative fuel opportunities at a forum recently. Calk said the more participants filing the application with Austin, the better the chances are to receive the funds. The grant application deadline is at the end of May. The city plans to host another forum May 5.

Copperas Cove ISD deputy superintendent resigns

Bobby Ott

Dr. Bobby Ott (pictured) recently resigned as deputy superintendent for the Copperas Cove Independent School District to accept a position as deputy superintendent for Killeen ISD.

Superintendent Rose Cameron of Copperas Cove ISD said the district plans to begin soon on the process of finding a replacement for Ott.

Abilene considering $250,000 for park upgrades

The Abilene City Council is considering a recommendation to spend $250,000 in 2009 and an additional $1.45 million for park projects from 2010 to 2013. Projects under consideration include playground modernization, athletic field lighting, ball field concession buildings, a disc golf course and upgrades at Johnson Park, Rose Park, Sears Park and Kirby Lake.

Fort Worth ISD approves sale of 2007 bonds

Ray Dickerson

Trustees for the Fort Worth Independent School District recently authorized the sale of $185 million from the $593.6 million in bonds approved by voters in November 2007.

The bonds will be used to build six new schools, provide renovations to existing schools and for technology upgrades, said Board President Ray Dickerson (pictured).

Houston to receive $3.1M grant for hurricane recovery

The Federal Emergency Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarded $3,111,765 to the City of Houston and the Houston Independent School District to aid in Hurricane Ike recovery efforts.

About $2 million of the federal grant will be used to reimburse the Houston ISD for its efforts in keeping electricity connected at more than 100 facilities until full commercial power was restored. The city plans to use the federal grant to repair the Sims North Wastewater Treatment Plant and build disaster mitigation measures to prevent damage from hurricanes in the future.

Miller to retire as city manager in Marble Falls

Judy Miller recently announced her retirement effective immediately as city manager for Marble Falls. Miller was appointed city manager in early 2008 after serving as an assistant city manager for six years.

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El Campo mayor urges support for city parks

Mayor Phillip Spenrath of El Campo recently expressed support for a 2020 Comprehensive Plan developed by a citizens group to improve city park facilities.

The recommendations include renovating the restrooms at Willie Bell Park, repaving four tennis courts at Friendship Park and reconfiguring four existing tennis courts into a basketball court. The committee also recommended that the city improve and enhance the directional lighting for the walking trail at Friendship Park and expand and repave the driveway and parking area at Willie Bell Park, remove worn-out playground equipment and install updated play structures at all city parks, build a covered pavilion over an existing basketball court and develop the Westside Family Park with ball fields, biking trails and covered pavilions.

Brenham ISD selects Bell
as new superintendent

Trustees for the Brenham Independent School District recently selected Sam Bell as the district's new superintendent. Bell has served as superintendent for Hamilton ISD for the last six years. Bell, who is a graduate of Texas A&M University, will replace Superintendent David Yeager, who retires from Brenham ISD on July 1.

SPI opportunities:

  • K-12 consultants

  • Houston area consultants

SPI is hiring individuals with subject matter expertise and well-established credentials in the K-12 school district sector. Applicants for K-12 consultants should have well-maintained relationships and a strong background in K-12 administration, such as a former top-level decision-maker, i.e. a superintendent, deputy superintendent or administrative executive (CFO, HR Director, CIO) in one of or several regions of the state - Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso or the Valley.

SPI is also hiring outside individuals for Houston area local government consultants. Applicants should have expertise and relationships with executive-level decision-makers in the Houston area in one or more of the following: K-12 public schools, higher education, city government, county government, healthcare and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). .To apply for these consulting positions at SPI, please send a brief cover letter and a copy of your resume to Anna Cook at and put "Application for K-12 Consultant," or "Application for Houston Area Consultant" in the subject line, or for more information, send an e-mail to the same address.

Jefferson County cites $28.9M for hurricane

Jefferson County commissioners recently approved spending $28.9 million in federal hurricane recovery funds on 22 projects. The Texas Office of Rural Community Affairs must still approve the projects. Included in the approved projects are:

  • $3.9 million to repair 42 county roads submerged in saltwater;
  • $4 million to repair bridges damaged by debris;
  • $9 million to clean and enlarge concrete lines to reduce flooding;
  • $2.8 million to extend water lines;
  • $2 million for dredging and enlarging bulkheads;
  • $700,000 to repair fire stations; and
  • $250,000 to repair a radio tower.

Waco ISD moves forward with new $70M school

Trustees for the Waco Independent School District recently authorized construction of a new $70 million high school beginning in May and a new elementary school to begin construction in the fall of 2010. Trustees also agreed to accept bids to renovate classrooms and add science labs to Waco High School and the A.J. Moore Academy.

Bay City approves $5 million debt for sanitation upgrades

Gary Gratzer

Bay City council members recently authorized the sale of $5 million in certificates of obligation to pay for a new sanitation department and refinance earlier debt at a lower interest rate.

Gary Gratzer (pictured), the city's finance director, said the city received a favorable interest rate of 3.256 percent, which is estimated to save the city about $516,381 or about $50,000 a year compared to the original estimate of the city paying a 5 percent interest rate. The city also saved $88,998 by refinancing bonds at a lower effective rate of 2.55 percent, Gratzer said.

Jacksonville officials to review final city hall plans

Following several delays, Jacksonville City Council members will be presented with a proposed final design for a new city hall at their regular meeting on May 11, said City Manager Mo Raissi.

The architectural firm developing the design cited the illness of one of the architects and software problems and apologized for the seven-month delay, Raissi said. If council members approve the final design plan, construction on the new city hall could begin within a month.

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Grimes County agrees to seek federal disaster relief

Grimes County commissioners recently authorized county staff to apply for a grant from the Houston and Urban Development Department Block Grant system administered by the Texas Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA) for upgrades to shelters and electrical power and a grant to pay the salary of a deputy sheriff for three years.

The application must be returned to ORCA by May 13, said County Judge Betty Shiflett, who said she included projects in unincorporated areas of the county in the grant application.

Tulia selects Dan Dible
as new city manager

Dan Dible

The Tulia City Council recently selected Dan Dible (pictured) as the new city manager to replace former City Manager Rick Crownover, who resigned in February to take a position as assistant city manager in Midland.

Dible has served as city manager in six cities, including 12 years as city manager in Farmington, N.M., and five years as city manager in Hobbs, N.M. Dible is expected to begin his new duties in Tulia in June, said Mayor Pat George.

The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly e-newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.

Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers

The Insider is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1994 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.

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

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Tandberg, SPI plan videoconferencing seminar

Tandberg and Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) will sponsor a free half-day seminar, ConnecTexas, on Tuesday, May 12, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at the Texas Hospital Association, 1108 Lavaca, in Austin. Agency attendees will learn how leaders in the public sector are using videoconferencing to reduce costs and work more effectively. The seminar will feature firsthand the latest innovations in visual communication with customer case studies, implementation of best practices and real-time demonstrations. For more information and to view the agenda, click here.

TSABAA Summer Conference slated in June

The Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association 40th Annual Summer Conference is slated for Monday through Wednesday, June 22-24, at the Omni Bayfront Hotel in Corpus Christi. Guest speakers Monday will be Meagan Johnson, who will address generation gaps, and Madeline York, who will address personal style. An ERP update will be given Tuesday by a representative of the State Comptroller's Office as will a legislative update and an update on the federal economic stimulus bill. Other session topics are on visual technology, recognition and body language. The Administrator of the Year will be named during the Wednesday session and there will be sessions on direct deposit and State Government Accounting Internet Reporting System (SIRS). To view the draft agenda, click here. For a registration form, click here.

Health Institute plans seminar on Federal Health Board

The Texas Health Institute will host a half-day seminar on "Building a Federal Health Board: Impact on Texas" from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday, May 22. The event will be at the Federal Reserve Bank of Houston, 1801 Allen Parkway in Houston. The conference will feature Bill Gilmer of the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and panelists Dr. Herminia Palacio, executive director, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, Chair, Harris County Healthcare Alliance Board, and Dr. Lewis Foxhall, president, Harris County Medical Society and Vice President for Health Policy, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. For more information and to register, click here.

LBJ School to host Auditors Institute in May

The 57th Annual County Auditors Institute will be held Tuesday through Friday, May 5-8. The event will be at the Doubletree in Austin. For more information, contact the LBJ School of Public Affairs at 512-471-0820. The event will feature an opening general session on Wednesday, followed by concurrent sessions on governmental accounting, researching statutes and human resources. Concurrent sessions on Thursday will address government accounting, public purchasing and auditing basics. Thursday sessions include forfeiture auditing, records retention and an update by the Texas County and Districts Retirement System. To register, click here.

AACOG slates foreclosure workshop in May

The Alamo Area Council of Governments will host a free Foreclosure Prevention Workshop On Saturday, May 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The workshop will be at the Al J. Notzon IIII Board Room, 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. Workshop sponsors include the AACOG Housing and Weatherization Department, the City of San Antonio Department of Community Initiatives and the San Antonio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. Homeowners can meet with representatives of area banks, mortgage companies, lenders, certified housing counselors and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials to discuss assistance and options to prevent foreclosures. Parking is free and refreshments will be available. For more information, click here or contact Mayra Rivero at (210) 362-5282.

SETAPP to host conference for public purchasers

The Southeast Texas Association of Public Purchasers (SETAPP), the local chapter of NIGP (National Association of Governmental Purchasers), will host the 2009 Lone Star conference for public purchasers from May 3-6 in Galveston. Keynote speaker on Monday will be Nancy Brooks, director for procurement at Iowa State University. The conference will also feature a variety of breakout sessions regarding topics from construction project delivery methods to disaster recovery. For program, registration and hotel information, click here.

State Notary training seminar planned by AACOG

A State Notary training seminar sponsored by the Alamo Area Council of Governments will be held Thursday, May 28, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in AACOG's Al J. Notzon III Board Room, 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The seminar is for both current notaries and those who wish to become notaries. Ten participants are required in order to hold the seminar. For information, click here or contact AACOG Government Services Manager Joe Ramos at (210) 362-5212 or