Texas Government Insider
Volume 8, Issue 20 - Friday, May 21, 2010
Robinson selected permanent executive director of DIR
Veteran of public, private sectors brings wealth of experience to job
Karen RobinsonKaren W. Robinson (pictured) has been named executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). As such, she is also the chief information officer for the State of Texas. Robinson was named interim executive director last October, following the resignation of then-Executive Director Brian Rawson.
Robinson brings more than two decades of public- and private-sector experience to her position. Before joining DIR, she was director of administration and technology advisor to Gov. Rick Perry. She was also technical advisor to then-Gov. George W. Bush and to the Lieutenant Governor's Office and the Texas Senate. She was instrumental in helping launch the state's official business Web portal. Before entering the public sector arena, Robinson was an entrepreneur, small business owner and founding partner in a restaurant chain.

"Karen has the skill set, background and legislative experience to do the job," said DIR Board Chair Charles Bacarisse. He called Robinson "uniquely qualified" to head the agency and praised her efforts in leading the agency when she was tabbed for the interim post.

During her time as interim director, Robinson led the effort to evaluate and restructure the state's Data Center Services project, which consolidates state agency servers and mainframes to two central locations. She also was responsible for reorganizing the agency's executive staffing and implemented an outreach initiative to the Texas Legislature and state agencies. She has been concentrating on building the success of DIR's business lines that include the ICT Cooperative Contracts program, TexasOnline, Data Center Services, Communication Technology services and Information Security. 

Robinson said she is looking forward to the challenges of her new position. "I am confident that working together we can help our customers and partners reach new levels of performance and technology," she said.
Newton leaving ERCOT, Gent temporary board chair
Michehl GentJan NewtonJan Newton (left), chair of the board of directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has resigned. Vice chair Michehl Gent (right) will serve as the temporary chair until a new chair is elected.
Citing personal reasons for her departure, Newton had served as chair since December 2008. She had previously served two years as a member of the board before being elected chair. She joined the ERCOT board after a 30-year career with a major communications company. She was one of five independent directors who were chosen because they were unaffiliated with ERCOT market participants. Gent, who has served on the board since 2006, is a former president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
The board's nominating committee will now be charged with selecting a new independent board member who must also be reviewed by the Public Utility Commission and approved by the ERCOT membership. A national search for an independent board member to replace Mark Armentrout, whose term ended last December, resulted in the appointment of Jorge Bermudez, former chief risk officer for a major financial services company. He will begin his three-year term in July, pending ERCOT membership approval. 
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Joseph C. RalloDr. Joseph C. Rallo, president, Angelo State University
Career highlights and education: I've been fortunate in that my two careers, one in higher education and one in the Air Force, have actually been complementary in many ways. My academic career followed a fairly typical path as tenured professor of international business, department chair, dean of business for eight years and then finally as provost and academic vice president at Western Illinois University. I also served nearly eight years on active duty in intelligence and then spent 20 years in the reserves primarily in logistics. I retired in 2008 with the rank of Colonel, a year after I assumed my role as president at Angelo State University.

What I like best about my job is: As a native New Yorker, I keep my love for frenetic activity on a daily basis-that probably captures best what I like most about my current job.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Set high expectation for yourself, others and your institution.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Be flexible and have a great sense of humor. While being a visionary is vital, attention to the small details is also very important.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: On the treadmill and then lifting weights.

People would be surprised to know that I: Collect anything to do with penguins.

Book, magazine or newspaper article I've read recently that really influenced my thinking: If I were stuck on a desert island (and could receive mail) I would read The Economist and Smithsonian magazine. Taken together they influence me with every edition.
Austin looks to spend almost $16M on 1.7 downtown acres

Rudy GarzaThe City of Austin is looking to spend $15.5 million to buy 1.7 downtown acres, just west of I-35, valued at $3.1 million by appraisers. Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza (pictured) said the price, which has been approved by an independent appraiser hired by the city, is comparable to major downtown sales in the past few years.
The land can be used as an additional parking lot for the Austin Convention Center, but could also be used to accommodate a future expansion of the center.

Garza said that once plans to revitalize the Waller Creek area drives up nearby land prices, "the value will rise tremendously."
TRS partners with real estate firm to up purchasing power
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) is teaming with a real estate investment firm to acquire as much as $500 million in real estate across the country. To achieve that much buying power, the partners will invest $250 million, which will be matched per dollar in loans. The team is looking to acquire office, multifamily, retail and industrial spaces. 
The real estate firm has also worked with the California State TRS to create a $200 million fund with an investment reach of $400 million.
The Texas TRS serves more than 1.2 million participants with net assets totaling about $87.7 billion as of last August.
TWDB approves $13.8 million in financial assistance
The Texas Water Development Board has approved $13,865,000 in financial assistance for water-related projects.
They include the following:
  • $2,155,000 from the Texas Water Development Fund to the Jefferson County Drainage District No. 6 (Jefferson County) to finance flood control improvements;
  • $10,710,000 from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund-Disadvantaged Communities Program to the City of Burnet (Burnet County) to finance wastewater system improvements; and
  • $1 million from the Texas Water Development Fund to the Travis County Water Control and Improvement District - Point Venture (Travis County) to finance wastewater system improvements.
Three finalists named for Sam Houston State president 
Beherus Sethna Joe KingDana GibsonThree finalists for the position of president of Sam Houston State University (from left) - Dr. Dana Gibson, Dr. Joe M. King and Dr. Beherus N. Sethna - will be on the SHSU campus June 10 and 11 for interviews.
Gibson currently serves as SHSU's Vice President for Finance and Operations. In higher education work, she has previously served as president of National University, Vice President for Business and Finance at Southern Methodist University, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at the University of Colorado at Denver, Vice President for Academic and Information Services and several other positions at Texas Woman's University. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas Woman's University and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.
King currently serves as Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs at the University of New Orleans and was previously dean of the College of Sciences there. King also was chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Murray State University in Kentucky. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Sam Houston State and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.
Sethna is currently president of the University of West Georgia. Prior to his current charge, he served the university as interim Senior Vice Chancellor, interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer and is a former interim Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Lamar University. He holds a bachelor's degree with honors from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, a master's from the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York.
Cancer initiative signed by UT, A&M Systems
A major cancer research initiative was announced this week between The University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System that will combine the resources of A&M's National Center for Therapeutic Manufacturing (NCTM) and Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center. The collaborative effort is designed to develop cancer-fighting drugs and accelerate getting the new treatments to patients.

The NCTM is currently under construction. When completed, researchers from both universities will use the center's resources to produce vaccines and therapies for clinical use to fight cancer. The agreement allows MD Anderson to become a partner with NCTM to allow for the use of both systems' research and educational resources.

Construction of the NCTM's headquarters facility, funded as a core strategic program by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, is scheduled for completion in December 2011.  The Center will operate under the management of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.  MD Anderson will also hold a seat on both the NCTM and IIT Advisory Boards.
ACC officials planning to buy 98-acre tract in Elgin
Stephen KinslowThe Austin Community College District (ACCD) has announced plans to purchase 98 acres adjacent to U.S. Highway 290 and County Line Road in the rapidly growing city of Elgin.
"ACC's Master Plan calls for building a campus that will expand access to higher education and training opportunities in the community," said Dr. Stephen B. Kinslow (pictured), ACC president and CEO, adding the acquisition marks a good investment for the future.  

ACCD officials have pledged to build a comprehensive campus in Elgin ISD after a successful annexation election.
Texas housing agency approves $4.9M to help homeless
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) recently awarded $4.9 million in Emergency Shelter Grants to 75 cities, counties and nonprofit organizations to remodel existing buildings into emergency shelters and to provide services to homeless individuals. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided the funding for the grants.
The assistance for homeless individuals includes help for individuals to find permanent housing as well as providing medical and psychological counseling, substance abuse treatment, transportation and job training, said the executive director of TDHCA. The grants also can be used to develop programs to prevent homelessness. The Texas Interagency Council for Homeless estimates about 1 percent of the state's population, or about 200,000 individuals, is homeless at any given point in time.

Hardin-Simmons University selects graduate studies dean 
Nancy KucinskiDr. Nancy Kucinski (pictured) has been named dean of graduate studies at Hardin-Simmons University. She replaces Dr. Gary Stanlake, who is retiring.
Kucinski has taught at HSU since 2001 in the Kelley College of Business, where she serves as director of the Acton MBA degree, an entrepreneurial program taught by business leaders. She also serves as director of HSU's master's-level business administration programs.

Kucinski holds a bachelor's degree from HSU, a master's degree from Texas Tech University and two doctoral degrees from Texas Tech and The University of Texas at Dallas.
Bid once. Win many. - The Procurement EDGE
Central Texas College names Hunt as dean of operations
John HuntOfficials of Central Texas College recently named John Hunt (pictured) as the new dean of central campus operations. He will replace Don Miles, who retired after 37 years with the college.
Hunt previously served as associate dean of CTC Navy Programs-Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., and taught at Florida Community College in Jacksonville and at Tidewater Community College.  He has a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of North Florida.
Texas DPS opens regional office in Weslaco
The Texas Department of Public Safety recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the agency's new regional office in Weslaco. 
The $40 million, 110,000-square-foot complex is scheduled to be built on 20 acres donated to the state by the City of Weslaco and the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation. The structure will house the Administrative Headquarters for DPS Region 3, which covers Del Rio, Uvalde, Corpus Christi and Brownsville and the areas in between. Construction should be completed in July 2011.
The complex will include departments for the Texas Highway Patrol Division, the Texas Rangers, aircraft, a criminal investigations division, intelligence and counter terrorism, emergency management, information technology services, victim services, a crime lab, law enforcement support and driver's license office.  
Trinity University president appoints two executives
Trinity University President Dennis Ahlburg has appointed Mark Detterick and Tracy Christeson to his executive staff. Detterick will serve as vice president for fiscal affairs at the San Antonio university, while Christeson will serve as vice president for advancement and communications.
Both Detterick and Christeson previously worked at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Leeds School of Business as director of finance and operations and as senior director of development, respectively.

In their new roles, Detterick will lead the university's financial and operating activities, and Christeson will head fundraising efforts, alumni engagement and communications.
Texans prepare for appliances sales tax holiday
Texans looking to replace aging, energy-consuming appliances with more energy-efficient models can take advantage of the upcoming Texas ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday. The event is from May 29-31 and Texans who purchase a new air conditioner, refrigerator, dishwasher or certain other qualifying appliances will be exempt from paying state and local taxes on those qualified products.

This marks the third year for the tax-free holiday, according to the State Comptroller's Office. The tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 29, and runs through 11:59 p.m. on Memorial Day - Monday, May 31. Appliances must carry the ENERGY STAR label to qualify for free sales tax. Approximately $3 million in sales tax savings is expected during the event.

For more information about the event, click here. For details on ENERGY STAR products, click here. 
UNT provost heads to New Mexico State University
Wendy WilkinsWendy K. Wilkins (pictured), provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Texas, has been selected to serve as provost and executive vice president of New Mexico State University.
Wilkins began her tenure at UNT in 2007. Prior to that charge, she served as dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University for six years. She has also worked as associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and as the English department chair at Arizona State University beginning in 1992.
NSF awards UTEP $987K to foster minority outreach 
Benjamin FloresThe National Science Foundation has awarded The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) $987,000 in funding to help minority students obtain graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The money will support 12 students enrolled in the Bridge to the Doctorate program, part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) initiative.
Benjamin Flores (pictured), professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean of the UTEP Graduate School, said the program gives students "more options in terms of research." He said he wants undergraduates to have more choices in doctoral education schools.
Pasadena ISD unveils solar program projects at schools
Trustees for the Pasadena Independent School District recently unveiled a project to demonstrate the use of solar technologies at Sam Rayburn High School and South Houston High School.
Working with the Houston Advanced Research Center and Ignite Solar, district officials plan to install three different solar technologies at the two schools as part of the East Harris County Solar Pilot Project.
One of the projects, a cylindrical solar panel, will be used in the Houston area for the first time and the 145 kilowatts project will be one of the largest solar installations used by a public school system in Texas, district officials said. Students will work with scientists and engineers to track and analyze the solar power technologies. The program begins on May 25 with a demonstration at Sam Rayburn High School.
S.A. Aviation names finance, administration asst. director
Ellen ErenbaumThe San Antonio Department of Aviation has named Ellen Erenbaum (pictured) as assistant director to oversee finance and administration for the San Antonio Airport System. In her new charge, which begins June 7, Erenbaum will oversee the department's finance and administration division.
Erenbaum, who has more than 25 years of experience in airport finance and administration, currently serves as assistant director of finance for the Houston Airport System. She joined the system in 1999.
College Station mulling annexation of land for new school
At a recent public hearing, College Station City Council members recently heard no objections to a proposal to annex two tracts of land on Rock Prairie Road and Greens Prairie Trail to build a new elementary school.
Plans call for the College Station Independent School District to use the property to build an eighth elementary school to open in the fall of 2011 on 53 acres of the annexed property.
District officials also agreed to leave space on the seven acres of property on Rock Prairie Road to build another school if needed, said Deputy Superintendent Clark Ealy. District officials also will donate to the city two acres west of the elementary school to build a new fire station, if needed. Council members are expected to vote on the proposal at a meeting on June 10.

Kyle approves new, $3.65 million library

James EarpKyle City Council members recently approved $3,657,000 for construction of a new 20,000-square-foot library with community meeting rooms, a large computer area, an outdoor plaza and amphitheater.
The exterior will feature limestone and brick and mirror the architectural brand of the city's historic downtown, where the new library will be located, said Interim City Manager James Earp (pictured). The new library, which will be located on the western edge of downtown and resemble the new city hall, will replace a 5,000-square-foot library also located downtown.
Construction of the library is scheduled to begin in October and be completed by the end of 2011, Earp said.
Rockport OKs pact with Aransas County navigation district
Rockport City Council members recently approved an agreement with the Port Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) to occupy three offices at the new Bay Education Center being built in Rockport.
The agreement calls for the city to pay $2,400 annually for use of three offices in the facility, with a total of 433 square feet of space to be used by the city's Parks and Leisure Services Department. City officials also agreed to provide more than $350,000 in cash and in-kind funding toward construction of the new education center. The agreement is a requirement to obtain a $69,000 grant from the Texas General Land Office, said City Manager Tom Blazek. City officials also agreed to be responsible for all maintenance and repair of the new facility and to provide the insurance required.
Funded in part with federal funds as part of the National Esuarine Research Reserve Program, the education center is being built on property that is part of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. If federal funding stops, ownership of the building will revert to ACND, which will occupy the building, Blazek said.
San Antonio ISD appoints chairman of citizens committee
Mike VillarealSan Antonio Independent School District officials have appointed state Rep. Mike Villarreal (pictured) chairman of a 35-member citizens committee to advise the school board on a potential November bond election.
The committee will be charged with helping the board implement the initial phase of its long-range facilities plan. The plan calls for the closure of six schools and renovating several others over the next several years.

The committee will meet throughout the summer and report to the board periodically.
McKinney wins $1.07M grant to improve energy efficiency
The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded a $1,071,500 Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant to the city of McKinney.
A team of 35 city staff members developed an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and used an initial $100,000 from the grant to hire architects and engineers to assist in the effort to qualify for the grant, a spokesman for the DOE said.
The city will use the remaining $971,500 of the grant to complete projects focusing on water conservation education, improving energy efficiency at city facilities, hiring an environmental coordinator and grant administrator and installing a renewable energy demonstration project, said Julie Smith, manager of Green Programs for the city. The city also will replace sodium bulbs now used in streetlights along US Highway 380 with LED light bulbs, conduct an urban forest study and a comprehensive commuter bike study, she said.
THA names senior director of policy analysis 
Cameron Krier has been named senior director of policy analysis for the Texas Hospital Association (THA). She will focus on health information technology, patient safety and quality and federal regulatory and reimbursement issues in her new role.
Krier, a certified emergency medical technician, most recently served as legislative counsel for a U.S. Senator from Texas in Washington, D.C.  

Krier holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University, a doctor of jurisprudence degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and a master's degree from The University of Texas School of Public Health.
UTMB-Galveston to cut prison healthcare staff by 363
David CallenderThe Correctional Managed Care program at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston will slash its workforce by 363 - 10 percent of its employees - as the school faces an $82 million shortfall. Employees affected by the reduction received 60 days' notice of the termination starting May 19.
UTMB President Dr. David L. Callender (pictured) said that despite "exemplary performance on the part of CMC staff...we have reached the point where we have no other choice but to lay off valued employees." 
A significant state budget shortfall projected for the next biennium in addition to the rising number of inmates with chronic health issues led to the shortfall.
Dallas seeking to change existing school to new tech school
Officials of the Dallas Independent School District recently proposed transforming the A. Macco Smith High School into a new technical high school.
Smith High School is currently on the federal list of failing schools and the district is applying for a federal grant to create a new school focusing on technology similar to schools now operating at Austin ISD and Coppell ISD, said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.
Altering the school with a new technology focus would start over the accountability system for Texas Education Agency school ratings, he said. 
Eanes school board weighs cutting $125M bond issue 
Jim StricklandEanes school board members are looking to possibly trim a November bond proposal that would add a new elementary school and indoor athletic facility as part of a $125 million proposal.

"The board focused on the master plan...and where we felt all the pieces fit in," said school board President Jim Strickland (pictured), but the timing "just isn't right now" for the proposal.
A recent survey showed Eanes voters were more supportive of a package costing less than $100 million and that there is much less support for an indoor athletic facility than other potential bond projects.
University Health System to buy Bexar Co. building
The University Health System has agreed to buy the former Medical Examiner's Office building for $1.3 million in Bexar County. The System will use the facility to house its pharmacy.  
The county owns the 16,000-square-foot Milagros Building west of downtown that currently houses the soon-to-be-relocated pretrial services department.
UTEP names head of Undergraduate Research Initiatives
Lourdes EchegoyenDr. Lourdes Echegoyen (pictured) has been named inaugural director of the College Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI) at The University of Texas at El Paso. In her new role, she will help establish a college-wide undergraduate research symposium and research journal.
Echegoyen has taught high school science, worked as a research associate at the University of Miami and as a lecturer at Clemson University, where she directed the chemistry department undergraduate research program.
Echegoyen holds a bachelor's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.
Sealy approves issue of $6M in bonds for improvements
Sealy City Council members recently approved the issue of $6 million in bonds to pay for road improvements, new park facilities, new communications equipment for police and emergency personnel and a new police station.
City officials also included plans for a design for a city hall, but City Manager Chris Coffman said no funds are appropriated toward construction or renovation of a city hall at this time. He plans to have an architect provide a preliminary design for future renovations and improvements to city hall. Other projects approved in the plan are designing and building sidewalks and walking trails, Coffman said.
The Sealy Economic Development Corporation has agreed to pay the debt service for $1 million of the $6 million toward construction of the proposed eight-acre Cryan Park.
Denton County approves $55 million jail expansion
Hugh ColemanDenton County commissioners recently approved a $55 million, 20-year plan to expand jail facilities and improve communications in 2011. The jail expansion is necessary to prevent jail overcrowding and the possibility of paying to house prisoners in other facilities, said Commissioner Hugh Coleman (pictured).
Presented by officials of the sheriff's office and the county engineer, the first phase of the jail facilities plan calls for replacing four wood frame barracks now in use with a new 384-bed facility. The plan also calls for an indoor corridor to be built to connect the pretrial facility, the main jail and the minimum-security barracks. Phase two of the plan proposes to build a new law enforcement center with labs, resources for special weapons and tactics teams, administrative offices, a training facility and a media room, said Mike Tubiolo, county engineer.
County officials expect to begin construction on phase one in early 2011 and begin phase two in 2012. The county will pay for the jail improvements with proceeds from bonds approved by voters in 2008.
CPS to interview CEO candidates today
San Antonio's CPS Energy board of trustees will interview finalists for the chief executive officer's position today, Friday, and among the finalists is CPS interim General Manager Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley. Officials would not release the names of the remainder of the four candidates.
CPS board members said their goal is to have a new CEO hired by July 1. LeBlanc-Burley has been serving as general manager since the former interim General Manager Steve Bartley resigned. Current CEO Milton Lee is scheduled to leave CPS on Sept. 1. San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley, three members of the San Antonio City Council and three members of CPS' Community Advisory Committee will take part in the interviews as well.
Liberty Co. wins $2.7 million grant for emergency shelter
Phil FitzgeraldThe Texas Department of Rural Affairs recently awarded a $2.729 million Disaster Recovery Fund grant to Liberty County to help with disaster relief and convert a former retail store into an emergency shelter.
The new facility will set aside approximately 30,000 square feet of space for the emergency shelter, with another 30,000 square feet to be used as an annex building for county agencies such as the engineering department, indigent health care and juvenile probation, said County Judge Phil Fitzgerald (pictured). The emergency shelter will include showers, cots and a kitchen and will be designed so it can be used throughout the year for community events. County officials already set aside $3.2 million for the county annex project, but must separate the expenses to comply with the grant agreement, Fitzgerald said. The remaining 40,000 square feet of space will be used for other purposes.
County engineering staff will now work with an architecture firm to plan and design the facility with a goal of beginning construction in early 2011.
Four ports enter into MOU to promote job growth in area
Four regional ports have entered into an agreement to produce new jobs. The Victoria County Navigation District, the Calhoun Port Authority, the West Side Calhoun County Navigation District and the Matagorda County Navigation District have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote and develop job-growth in the region.
The agreement commits the entities to efficient and cost-effective cargo distribution in an area that serves as a prime location for large industrial projects. The area is also seen as a possible future location for major distribution centers and market-ready consumer goods warehouses.
Chairman Robert Loeb of the Port of Victoria said the MOU serves as a "a positive and optimistic approach to the economic future of our respective communities."
Sugar Land signs contract for $40 million baseball stadium
James ThompsonSugar Land City Council members recently signed a contract to build a new $40 million baseball stadium to host a minor league baseball team. Sugar Land officials plan to contribute $30 million to the project using sales taxes and venue taxes approved by voters, said Regina Morales, director of economic development for Sugar Land.
The stadium, which also can be used for concerts and festivals, is expected to seat about 7,500 baseball fans and be part of a cultural and entertainment complex being planned by city officials. The agreement is with a company that has built and operates 14 minor league baseball parks. "We think this is going to impact our community for the next 20, 25 years," Mayor James Thompson (pictured) said. 
The four potential locations for the new stadium include two sites at the intersection of US 59 and University Boulevard, a site along SH 6 and US 90 and the intersection of US 90 and Brooks Street. City officials expect to select a location before beginning construction in March 2011. The stadium is expected to be complete in time for baseball season in April 2012.
USDA Rural Development takes producer applications
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA-RD) is accepting funding applications under the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels.
The program supports the production of biofuels - which includes cellulose, sugar and starch, crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food and yard waste, vegetable oil, animal fat and biogas - by providing payments to advanced biofuel producers. Those eligible for funding must produce at a rurally located advanced biofuel biorefinery.
Applications are due before July 6. For forms and submission requirements, click here.
Blinn College mulling new campus to College Station
Daniel HoltOfficials of Blinn College recently began exploring options for a campus in College Station. The college currently operates a campus in Bryan with about 12,000 students enrolled, but that campus, which was begun in 1996, has no more room to expand, said Gena Parsons, a spokeswoman for Blinn campus in Bryan. 
College Station City Manager Glenn Brown said he has had only one preliminary conversation about a possible Blinn campus with city council members, but that he believes a campus in College Station would benefit the city.
Daniel Holt (pictured), president of Blinn College, said he wants to discuss a possible campus with College Station city officials before speaking publicly about a new campus. The junior college district, with an annual budget of $70 million, covers 11 counties and portions of two other counties. In addition to campuses in Brenham and Bryan, the college also operates in Sealy and Schulenburg.
DHS to deploy advanced imaging devices to airports
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced seven Texas airports, among 28 nationwide, are in line to receive advanced imaging technology (AIT) units purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. 
The devices screen passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats - including weapons, explosives and other objects - concealed under clothing. Napolitano said the AIT units strengthen "our ability to protect the traveling public in the face of evolving threats to aviation security."  
Texas airports slated to receive the devices include: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport; Corpus Christi International Airport; El Paso International Airport; Harlingen/Valley International Airport; Houston William P. Hobby Airport; Laredo International Airport and McAllen Miller Airport.
Local contracts will result from new cyber warfare center
Bradford SchwedoLocal businesses are likely to benefit from the support necessary to perform support operations at the U.S. Air Force's new cyber warfare intelligence center now under construction at Lackland Air Force Base.
The new 38,000-square-foot center will house about 400 employees, said Col. Bradford Schwedo (pictured), commander of the 67th Network Warfare Wing. The center will have an annual payroll of between $40 million to $45 million.
The new facility is expected to be finished in early 2011. Once complete, the cyber warfare center is expected to have a $1 billion annual budget.
Freeport EDC turns over marina operations to city
The Freeport Economic Development Corp. has approved a measure to transfer the Freeport Municipal Marina to the city. The EDC is set to turn over marina operations to the city in installments and will turn its attention to resolving problems with a dry stack boat storage facility.
EDC board President Dan Tarver said the move will allow the corporation to focus on the dry stack building problems and more economic development issues.

City Manager Jeff Pynes has hired a boating expert with 40 years of experience to supervise marina operations.

Bastrop moving ahead with plans for $150 million airport
Bastrop County commissioners are moving forward with plans for a new $150 million Central Texas Airport planned for the county.
Officials of the company proposing the new reliever airport in Bastrop have agreed to all nine of the non-negotiable items county commissioners required, said Precinct 4 Commissioner Lee Dildy. The proposed airport, to be located on almost 2,000 acres at the intersection of FM 1704 and FM 969, will be the first "green airport" in the United States, said the developer of the airport.
The new airport will be designed for private jets rather than commercial planes and hopes to attract both aviation and non-aviation businesses to the corporate center at the airport facility. Taxpayers in Bastrop will not be obligated to pay any of the costs of developing the airport, Dildy said.
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Three ports in South Texas agree to work together

Charles HausmannWith a goal of attracting new jobs and business to the Texas coast, officials of the Calhoun Port Authority, the West Side Calhoun Navigation District, the Matagorda County Navigation and the Victoria County Navigation District recently signed an agreement establishing a working relationship between the deepwater ports and shallow draft ports.
The agreement will increase efforts of each of the organizations to work together to seek funding, to attract more use to facilities operated by the participating groups and to increase industrial growth in the area, said Charles Hausmann (pictured), director of the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort. The ports and waterway system in combination with existing highways and rail systems in the three counties create a market within a half a day drive from more than 15 million Texans, Hausmann said.
Kerrville officials field bid proposals for convention center
Kerrville city officials can expect the construction of a proposed 45,000-square-foot convention center to cost $21.6 million, according to one of four hopeful bidders. A committee is reviewing proposals to design and build the center, but so far the city has offered few details about how it is evaluating the bids.
The Downtown Business Association recently hosted a town hall meeting. One group presented tentative design plans and cost estimates for the project, which calls for a $16 million hotel and 150,000 square feet of new retail space for restaurants on 62 acres of land just south of Interstate 10.
Canyon agrees to $850,000 pact to upgrade city parks
Randy CriswellCanyon City Council members recently approved an agreement with the Canyon Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) to accept $850,000 in funding to help pay for city park improvements. The agreement, which requires a second reading, calls for the CEDC to contribute $850,000 and the city to spend about $450,000 on three park improvement projects, said City Manager Randy Criswell (pictured).

Plans call for about $610,000 to be spent to add restrooms, a concession stand and safety netting to the baseball complex at Southeast Park, spending $250,000 for a new pavilion and restroom to Conner Park, and to pay $440,000 to double the size of the Brown Road Soccer Complex and add a restroom and concession stand, Criswell said.

Construction at Conner Park and the Brown Road complex is expected to begin after July 4, Criswell said.
Hutto ISD offers $125K a year for higher education center
In competition with neighboring Taylor, trustees for the Hutto Independent School District recently agreed to contribute $125,000 a year for the next 20 years if the East Williamson County Higher Education Center is located in Hutto. City council members and the Hutto Economic Develop Corporation also each pledged to contribute $125,000 to help attract the new higher education center.
Hutto officials proposed the center be located on 56 acres east of Texas 130 and north of SH 79. The proposed Hutto site would offer more potential students than Taylor can offer, said Scott Martinez, director of the Hutto Economic Development Corporation. The center in Taylor currently offers classes from Texas State Technical College and Temple College to 900 students and operates at capacity.
In an effort to retain the center in Taylor, city officials and other organizations in Taylor have pledged to contribute $550,000 to build the new 25,000-square-foot center at Farm-to-Market Road 973 and State Highway 79 or to provide a vacant building located on SH 79. Selecting the Taylor site with the vacant building would allow the center to begin offering classes in 60 days and operate at a lower cost because the industrial building provides lower cost per square foot than new construction, said Jason Ford, executive director of the Taylor Economic Development Corporation. Officials of Temple College and Texas State Technical College have not announced when a decision on the location of the new education center will be made.
McGregor, Texas National Guard look to strike lease deal 
The Texas National Guard and the City of McGregor are teaming to work out a lease agreement that would allow the military branch to use up to 1,250 acres of a local industrial park for training purposes.
A collection of old, abandoned buildings in the park make the spot desirable for the Guard's urban-warfare training, according to city attorney Charles Olsen. 

The move, if approved, could boost McGregor's economy. Up to 600 guardsmen would utilize the facility once every two weeks, and 20 guardsmen would be permanently stationed at the site.
Five Tarrant County cities to form regional SWAT team 
Mark HafnerFive cities in northeast Tarrant County recently agreed to create the North Tarrant Regional Special Weapons and Tactics team to respond to high-risk incidents. City officials in Keller, Colleyville, Roanoke, Southlake and Watauga will participate in the new regional SWAT team.
Although Keller has its own SWAT team, creating a regional team should help the organization to obtain more grants, said Police Chief Mark Hafner (pictured) of Keller. Each police department participating in the new SWAT team retains the option of adding personnel or equipment with no significant obligation to the other cities participating in the agreement, Hafner said.
Rio Hondo commissioners to vote on $5.3M water plant
Rio Hondo commissioners will likely decide whether to borrow $3.6 million, payable over 40 years, to build a $5.2 million water plant, which would increase residents' utility bills. Mayor Alonzo Garza said the project is too expensive and wants to scrap construction plans.
"I don't want to hit the taxpayers with a loan," Garza said. "We've got a lot of people on fixed incomes."

Since 2005, the city had been 3 percent over its capacity to treat 700,000 gallons of water per day, according to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) spokesman Terry Clawson. The TCEQ declared the city to be in compliance again last March.
Federal grants to Commerce FD, Greenville Fire-Rescue 
The Department of Homeland Security, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recently awarded a $252,410 grant to the Greenville Fire-Rescue Department and a $43,475 grant to the Commerce Fire Department.
Awarded in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration, the grants can be used to buy safety and rescue equipment for firefighters and emergency response personnel and for training and support of operations.
'Cowboy I.T. Up' theme for August TASSCC conference
"Cowboy I.T. Up" is the theme for the Texas Association of State Systems for Communication and Computing (TASSCC) 2010 Annual Conference, set for Sunday through Wednesday, Aug. 1-4, at the Westin Park Central Hotel in Dallas. The event, open to public sector employees only, will feature keynote addresses, a variety of breakout sessions and a Tuesday awards luncheon. CPE credit is also offered. Early registration ends July 5.  Among the speakers will be research firm owner Gordon Graham, will address preventing mistakes through a risk management-based training program in his "The Five Concurrent Themes for Success" presentation. Addressing how companies can make decisions and execute on corporate strategies will be Jeff Tobaben, managing partner of a consulting firm. He will address "Where Does Employee Engagement Happen," stressing leveraging human capital through applied behavioral economics. Click here for more information, and click here to register.
Texas State University to host construction forum in June

Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, is hosting a construction forum on Tuesday, June 1. The Historically Underutilized Business Outreach Program and Office of Facilities Planning Design and Construction program event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on campus at the LBJ Student Center ballroom. There will be two morning and two afternoon training sessions that cover issues from bonding and technical assistance and construction contracts. Subcontractors who qualify or potentially qualify as a "Historically Underutilized Business" are invited to network with key stakeholders, Texas State staff, general contractors, other universities and local minority trade organizations on upcoming Texas State and other universities' construction projects. Light refreshments will be served. Lunch on your own. For driving and building directions, click here.
AACOG planning Cash Handling Seminar on May 24
The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) will host a Cash Handling Seminar on Monday, May 24, from 1-5 p.m. in the AACOG Al J. Notzon III Board Room, 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100, San Antonio. The four-hour seminar is designed to train government employees and officials in proper cash handling techniques.  Finance officers, treasury officials, city clerks and cash handlers are encouraged to attend.  Seminar topics include currency and check recognition, daily cash operations and security procedures/loss prevention.  For more information and a registration form visit www.gtot.net, or call 940-369-7843 to have a registration form faxed to you.  The seminar is sponsored by the Association of Public Treasurers and is presented by the Government Treasurers Organization of Texas and the University of North Texas Center for Public Management.
TxPPA to host Annual Momentum Conference in June
The Texas Public Purchasing Association (TxPPA) is hosting its Annual Momentum Conference at the Isla Grand Beach Resort on South Padre Island on Wednesday through Friday, June 23 -25. The conference lineup includes sessions for first-time buyers and seasoned purchasing professionals. Click here for program information including hotel, group activities and transportation details.  
CAPCOG Will Host Texas Notary Law and Procedures Seminar 
On Wednesday, June 2, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) will host a three-hour Texas Notary Law and Procedures Seminar for current, new and non-notary participants who would like to receive their Texas notary public commission. Dixie Lucey, director of education for State Notary Commission in Austin will teach the seminar at CAPCOG's Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Rd, Austin. The cost of the seminar including the course manual is $150 per person. The state application and bond fee for non-notaries or those who would like to renew their commissions is $105.00 for a four-year term. This notary training is provided specifically for Texas Notaries. The class will cover: New legislation from the 81st Legislative sessions; current notary laws; proper record keeping; avoiding official misconduct; administering oaths and acknowledgments; legal procedures and processes of notarization; and liability protection practices for notary and employer. To register: contact dixielucey@prodigy.net or call (512) 497-2253.  
Information session will address questions on electric vehicles 
Cities interested in information regarding electric vehicles as part of their fleets are invited to attend an information session on electric vehicles to find out how to prepare for their use. The Alamo Area Council of Governments and a San Antonio energy firm will host a free information session on Thursday, May 27, from 9-11 a.m. at the AACOG Al J. Notzon III Board Room, 8700 Tesoro Dr. in San Antonio. Persons involved in planning for their cities are welcome to attend. Attendees will learn about the cars, the market impact, charging systems, costs, electrical and code requirements, incentives, first responder safety issues and more. AACOG Clean Cities Coordinator Chris Ashcraft will be joined by other presenters who represent an energy company and a technology company. Attendees must register to attend. Contact Ashcraft at 210-362-5228 or cashcraft@aacog.net
Last BOP session with TxDOT is announced
The last session of the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Business Outreach and Program (BOP) Services Small Business Briefing conferences have been announced for June 15, 2010, in Texarkana. The conference goal is to provide small and minority-owned business communities an opportunity to learn more about contracting opportunities with TxDOT. Information will be available to help them do business with the agency and the State of Texas. The sessions not only allow small businesses to be introduced to TxDOT and other state agencies, but also allows them to learn more about the economic development opportunities in their regions. It also allows the agencies to show the myriad of opportunities available for small and minority businesses in the state. For more information, click here or call 1.866.480.2518, Option 2. To register, click here
CAPCOG to host newly elected city official workshop June 18th
The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) will host a Newly Elected City Officials Workshop on Friday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. in the CAPCOG Pecan Room at 6800 Burleson Road, Austin. The workshop is targeted for newly elected mayors and city council members or aldermen. The workshop will give an overview of the structure of city government, council procedures and actions, roles of elected and appointed staff, duties and responsibilities of Boards and Commissions, municipal annexation and boundary changes, open meetings, open records and ethics. Registration begins at 9 a.m.  The workshops have proven to be very valuable to appointed staff and to citizen board, commission, and committee members as well. There will be a $40 fee for the one-day workshop to cover the cost of meals and materials. To register call Linda Crouch at 512/916-6041 or David Partlow, Regional Services Coordinator, at 512/916-6045.
TSABAA plans golf tourney, annual conference in June
The Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association will host its 41st Annual Summer Conference on Monday and Tuesday, June 7 and 8, at the United Heritage Conference at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. Monday's keynote address will be by a representative of the University of Phoenix. Among the other topics during the two-day event are a Sunset Commission process overview and panels to address Legislative Appropriations Requests and state audits. There will also be an update on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Third Annual Golf Tournament is set for Sunday, June 6, at Shadow Glen Golf Course in Manor. The conference registration deadline is May 20.  For registration forms and vendor registration information, click here.
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Note to Media
Lots of federal funding flowing to Texas... opportunities being announced daily!
Mary Scott NabersBy Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
It will be a busy summer in Texas as millions of dollars in federal funding continue to flow into the state, opening up a myriad of contracting opportunities.
Texas garnered more than $41.6 million of the $1 billion in Recovery Act funding recently announced for construction and improvements to biomedical research facilities, their laboratories and other ancillary facilities. There will be contracts awarded not only for new construction, but also for upgrades to make existing facilities and labs state-of-the-art.
The Texas recipients include:
  • Baylor College of Medicine - $14.8 million to construct a facility for neurological disorders research;
  • Texas A&M University - $3.5 million to complete four research labs and shared equipment rooms for researchers;
  • The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College - $3.9 million to construct and expand research facilities to help address regional health needs;
  •  The University of Texas at Austin - $3.8 million to build a core facility for imaging that will enhance neuroscience and cancer research;
  • The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio - $475,000 to maximize utilization of a new facility for animal imaging research; and
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas - $14.9 million to construct a facility for cell biology research.
Sanger  names Crutsinger 
as finalist for superintendent
Kent CrutsingerTrustees for the Sanger Independent School District recently selected Kent Crutsinger (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent.  Crutsinger, who currently serves as an interim superintendent for Little Elm ISD, will replace Superintendent Jack Biggerstaff, who is retiring from the Sanger district.
Crutsinger previously served as deputy superintendent in Little Elm ISD, an assistant superintendent for Pilot Point ISD and as a teacher and administrator for Sanger ISD, where he attended public school. He has a bachelor's degree from North Texas State University and a master's degree from Texas Woman's University. 


Longview agrees to buy property for new overpass
Despite objections from two council members, the Longview City Council recently agreed to contribute $170,000 to buy land for a $16 million overpass project at the intersection of the Southwest Loop 281, Farm-to-Market Road 2087 and a railroad track. Gregg County commissioners also agreed to contribute $170,000 to the overpass project. 
Officials expect to open bids for construction of the overpass in August 2011, said a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Plans call for TxDOT to create a grade separation between the roadway and railroad tracks and improve the entryway at State Highway 31 and the loop.


Austin OKs $575K for Lady Bird Lake hike, bike bridge
Austin City Council members recently agreed to spend $575,000 to expand a six-foot wide hike and bike trail bridge to 12 foot wide to improve safety for pedestrians and those using bicycles who use the bridge. The project also calls for repairing existing handrails, adding new handrails with solar-powered LED lighting and installing new trail markers, new piers and stone monoliths to serve as required traffic controls. Plans call for work to begin on the trail bridge project in November 2010 and be completed in about two months, city officials said. 
Deer Park studies plans
for $1.8M library expansion
Deer Park City Council members recently began considering plans to expand the library by 9,500 square feet and upgrade the facility at an estimated cost of $1,825,000. After several council members pointed out that the cost was more than budgeted, the design firm representative said the plan could be changed to make it less expensive.


Morris selected as parks director in Corpus Christi

Michael MorrisCorpus Christi city officials recently selected Michael Morris (pictured) as the new director of Parks and Recreation for the city. Morris, a former scout for the National Basketball Association, currently serves as director of Parks and Recreation in Portsmouth, Virginia. He will begin his new duties in Corpus Christi on June 21.
Whitehouse narrows city manager search to three
Following telephone interviews with seven city manager candidates, Whitehouse City Council members recently narrowed the list to three candidates. The three finalists are: Mike Peterson, now serving as interim city manager in Whitehouse; Erin Roseman, a senior management analyst in Arlington; and Dennis Sparks of Hopewell, Va., who is self-employed.
The three city manager finalists displayed an array of experience and talents, city council members said. The three are scheduled to spend time meeting with council members for several weeks before a decision is made on who will serve as city manager, city officials said.


Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
wins $2 million state grant
The Texas Education Agency recently awarded a $2 million grant to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District. The grant will be used to help the district's college preparation efforts at middle and high schools. The grant also will be used to place counselors on local college campuses to help with the transition from high school to post-secondary programs, said Superintendent Daniel King.
The district plans to organize a new high school into a career-focused school and to implement more college preparation features and instructional strategies at existing schools, King said. The district already has 1,500 high school students enrolled in college courses and returned more than 500 dropouts back to school, helped them graduate and enroll in courses at institutions of higher education in South Texas, he said. The goal is for all students in the district to graduate with 12 hours of college credit, King added. 
Pineris dean of UT-Dallas undergrad education
Sheila PineresDr. Sheila Amin Gutierrez de Pineres, (pictured) professor and interim dean of the McDermott Library on the campus of The University of Texas at Dallas, has been named dean of the university's undergraduate education program. She succeeds Dr. J. Michael Coleman beginning in the fall.
During her 14 years at UT-Dallas, Pineres has served as associate dean for undergraduate education in EPPS, as head of the public policy and political economy program in EPPS and, during 2006-2008, while serving as associate provost, directed the Office of Enrollment Services. Pineres holds a Ph.D. from Duke University.

Strategic Edge

El Campo selects six finalists
for city manager position
In its search to replace City Manager John Steelman, El Campo city officials worked with consultants to select six finalists for the position. The six finalists are:
  • Mindi Snyder, a finance director in Rosenberg, who also served as an assistant city manager in El Campo;
  • Stephanie Johnson, a community services director in Los Alamos, New Mexico;
  • Ray De Los Santos, a city manager in Alice and veteran of the U.S. Air Force;
  • Kristine Ondrias, an assistant city manager in Kerrville who previously worked in a variety of positions for Baytown, Corpus Christi, La Porte, Portland and Texas City;
  • Mathew Smith, city manager in Live Oak who has served in that position since 2007; and
  • Michael Steel, city manager in Burnet.
Council members have scheduled a special session on May 24 and could be ready to make a decision following a closed executive session, the mayor said. The goal is to have a new city manager in place by July 1 when Steelman is scheduled to retire, he said.

Government Marketplace

Where are they now?
Where do folks go when they leave 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 private sector employees are now.
Billy ClemonsBilly Clemons' public service career spans more than 25 years. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1982 and served 14 years - in the 68th through 74th Legislatures - from 1983 to 1997. Three years after leaving the Legislature in 1997, Clemons was named mayor of the City of Groveton. After leaving Groveton, he remained in city government, serving first as city manager in Alto and then in Caldwell. Clemons was recently named city manager for the City of Lorena, between Waco and Temple in McLennan County.


League City voters approve council-manager plan
League City voters have approved a measure to replace the mayor-council form of local government with the council-manager plan. The change becomes effective immediately.
The new council-manager plan features policy direction by an elected city council while a professional administrator manages city operations. Meanwhile, League City administrator Marcus Jahns will take over as city manager after an official canvass of votes. 
Jasper wins $44,000 grant
to improve Byrd Park
The Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) recently awarded a $44,000 grant to buy new playground equipment for Byrd Park in Jasper. The grant is from the Texas Health and Human Services Social Services Block Grant program, which works in partnership with nonprofit groups to improve parks in underserved areas, said Walter Diggles, executive director of DETCOG.
The James Byrd Foundation worked with Jasper City Council members to apply for the grant, said Betty Boatner of the foundation.

HDI Solutions

U of H center renamed for former Lt. Gov. Hobby
Bill HobbyThe University of Houston Center for Public Policy (CPP) has been renamed the Hobby Center for Public Policy in honor of former Texas Lt. Gov. William P. Hobby (pictured). Dr. Jim Granato, director of the center, said Hobby's lifetime achievements in both the public and private sector and in academia "exemplify the critical ingredients of creating a Tier One university: excellence, innovation, dedication and plain old hard work. The Hobby Center for Public Policy will be a reflection of this remarkable man's accomplishments." 

Hobby served as the state's lieutenant governor for 18 years, beginning in 1973. He also was president of the Houston Post for nearly two decades and currently is president of Hobby Communications. He has lectured at UH and at the University of Michigan's Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research. The CPP provides scientific, non-biased data and analysis to public officials, business professionals and community leaders in Houston and Texas.
George West selects Martinez as city manager
George West City Council members recently selected Sandra Martinez as the new city manager. She previously served as city administrator in Driscoll.
Martinez, who began her new job on May 10, holds a bachelor's degree from Texas State University.
Magnolia VFD wins $738,240 grant to upgrade radios
The Federal Emergency Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarded a $738,240 grant to the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department to upgrade its communications system. The volunteer fire department will be required to contribute $184,560 to purchase the new radios, bringing the total to $922,800 to pay for the new communications system.
The department plans to buy 159 new 700-800 MHz radios and 17 digital repeaters to help the fire department communicate more effectively with other local and state emergency response agencies. Magnolia VFD will work with the fire departments in Bennette and Neeham to buy the new radio system. 
Southlake moves forward with fire station, park
South Lake City Council members recently moved forward with plans to include a $6.6 million fire station in a new Department of Public Safety facility, build a $1.5 million, 58-foot fire tower, construct a $2.6 million underground shooting range and spend $5.5 million for park improvements.
The approved plan calls for adding a concession building, three new lacrosse fields, lighting to several playing fields and terraced bleachers at North Park. Council members must still hold a public hearing and give final approval to the plan before work can begin on the projects.


Northside ISD to place video cameras on school buses

Northside Independent School District officials recently agreed to replace old black and white video cameras now installed on school buses with digital cameras that show more detail in color and provide improved sound quality.
Some 50,000 students daily ride on buses provided by Northside ISD, the largest school district in San Antonio, said Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesman for the district. Each bus will have four cameras installed to monitor activities inside and outside the bus, Gonzalez said.
Brownsville ISD chooses Zarate as HR administrator
Trustees for the Brownsville Independent School District recently chose Maricela Zarate as the new human resources administrator for certified personnel. 
Zarate currently serves as a middle school principal at Brownsville ISD and previously was a teacher for the district. Zarate will be responsible for hiring and retaining teachers, counselors, administrators and other professional personnel for the district. She will replace Yolanda Gavito, who retired, on June 14. 

SPI on Twitter

Dayton VFD gains $84,788 through federal grant funds
The Dayton Volunteer Fire Department recently won an $84,788 federal grant to be used to train and support firefighters. Awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, the grant also can be used to buy fire and rescue equipment, fire officials said.
Tarrant County begins work
on $83.2 million jail facility
Tarrant County officials recently began work on an $83.2 million maximum-security jail in downtown Fort Worth. The new 207,700-square-foot jail will hold 444 beds to house high-risk prisoners. The new facility also will provide a new medical facility and kitchen to serve up to 16,500 meals daily.
Plans call for a tunnel to connect the new jail to the existing jail and courts with a tunnel under the street and a sky bridge. The new high-risk jail facility is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2012.

Procurement Edge

Sunray ISD selects Waldo
as new superintendent
Glen WaldoBoard members of the Sunray Independent School District recently selected Glen Waldo (pictured) as the new superintendent to replace Mike Brown, who is retiring.
Brown currently serves as assistant superintendent for business for Sunray ISD. He has a bachelor's degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and a master's degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He previously served as superintendent and principal at a K-6 school in Darousett, as principal for Nazareth ISD, Kress ISD, Happy ISD, and Hart ISD and as a teacher for Galena Park ISD and Shamrock ISD.
Elgin ISD to consider plan 
for solar energy farm facility
Officials of the Elgin Independent School District met recently with investors hoping to build a 600-acre array of solar panels that could increase into a 1,000-acre solar panel array.
The solar farm developers indicated that they are moving ahead with plans for the project to be located in the northwest portion of the school district in Travis County, said Superintendent Bill Graves. Trustees will schedule a special meeting or address the issue at their June meetings, Graves said. Board members most likely will consider a tax abatement for the project when the proposal is formally delivered to district officials, he added.
Recent Reports  
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-8 Archives -1/8/04 - 5/14/10
SPI seeking additional outside consultants 
SPI is adding additional outside consultants.  

Currently, there is a need for procurement consultants in the following areas:  
  • Public Safety
  • Health care
  • Education/ K-12
  • Local and State Government - Houston, San Antonio, El Paso 
If you are interested in this opportunity, contact Ashley Nauert at anauert@spartnerships.com
Nash to retire from post at New Waverly school district 
Assistant Superintendent Annette Nash recently announced her retirement from the New Waverly Independent School District, where she has worked for 30 years, seven of those as an assistant superintendent.  Her last day with the district will be on June 30. District officials have posted an announcement in several publications seeking applicants for the assistant superintendent position.
UT regents approve design, funds for College Park
The design and funding for the $80 million College Park mixed use development at The University of Texas at Arlington was recently approved by the UT System regents. The development will include campus residence halls, a parking garage, retail and office suits, a campus Welcome Center, a campus satellite police station and more than 80 on-campus apartments. Amenities will include 484 residence hall beds and 15 residence hall assistant rooms, improved streetscapes and landscapes and enhanced architectural finishes.

The City of Arlington has committed $18 million toward the parking facility, which will serve the university's Special Events Center that is currently under construction as well as other downtown events. 


Midland finalizes contract
for new superintendent
Trustees with the Midland Independent School District recently approved a contract with Ryder Warren to serve as the new superintendent for the district. Warren, who currently serves as superintendent of Marble Falls ISD and was the sole finalist for the position, will replace Superintendent Sylvester Perez, who is retiring on July 1.
Atkinson to serve as interim city manager in Amarillo
Deputy City Manager Jerrett Atkinson has been selected as Amarillo's interim city manager while city officials seek a replacement for retiring City Manager Alan Taylor. City officials are gathering information on consulting firms that might be hired to help find the next city manager.
Atkinson joined the city as assistant city manager in 2004 after several years working for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, where he was in charge of local government services and coordinated regional water planning.

Job Board

Waller ISD selects three
for administrator posts
Trustees for the Waller Independent School District recently approved hiring a new assistant superintendent, a director of curriculum and instruction and a new director of federal programs, grant writing and staff development. 
Trustees selected Troy Mooney as the new assistant superintendent for Administration. Mooney currently is a principal in the Fort Bend ISD and previously served as a principal in Waller ISD. Kelly Baehren is the district's new director of curriculum and instruction.
 She currently serves as principal of Waller High School.  District officials selected Joy Kanyo as the new director of federal programs, grant writing and staff development for the district. Kanyo has worked 30 years for Waller ISD as a teacher and administrator.
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Josephine VFD, Union Valley  win $365K in federal funds

The Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security recently awarded a $190,000 grant to the Josephine Volunteer Fire Department and a $175,000 grant to the Union Valley Fire Department. Fire department officials can use the grant to pay for training, support operations and to buy safety and rescue equipment.
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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