capital top
  Volume 7, Issue 18 · Friday, May 8, 2009
Sign up for the Texas Government Insider. top Sign up for the Texas Government Insider. dome

'Transfer 101' targets community college students

Goal is more job-seekers with college degrees in workforce

Transfer 101e

More job-seekers with college degrees entering the workforce in Texas is the goal of a new initiative involving higher education officials statewide. The program, Transfer 101: From Community College to University seeks to encourage more community college students to transfer to four-year institutions. It was developed by higher education officials from The University of Texas System and throughout the state.

The "Transfer 101" initiative is a collaborative partnership of the UT System, the Texas A&M University System and the Texas Association of Community Colleges, a nonprofit association that includes all 50 public community college districts in the state.

Martha Ellis

Helping create a strong identity for community college students is one of the goals, according to Martha Ellis (pictured), associate vice chancellor for community college partnerships at The UT System.

"We know that providing succinct, accurate and easily accessible information for academic planning is vital, and part of what this initiative aims to do is strengthen partnerships so that we increase transfer options for students," said Ellis. "Students explain that there is a lack of user-friendly, jargon-free, available information for themselves and their families. For this reason, a public awareness campaign is critical to ensure more students are informed about resources that could help them make a transition from a community college to a university."


Lamar Beckworth named interim director of DPS

After Clark resigns amid allegations of sexual harassment

Lamar Beckworth

Col. Lamar Beckworth (left) has been named interim director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) after previous Director Col. Stanley E. Clark (right) resigned from that post amid allegations of sexual harassment from at least two DPS employees. Beckworth's appointment was effective immediately. He will serve as interim director of the state's law enforcement agency until a permanent director is named and has been advanced from lieutenant colonel to colonel.

Stanley Clark

Beckworth began his career with DPS as a driver license trooper in Irving 31 years ago. He served five years as a Highway Patrol trooper in Kilgore. He was promoted to Highway Patrol sergeant and was stationed in Brownfield for two years and served as lieutenant in Garland for two years. In 1993, he was promoted to major and was regional commander in Lubbock for nine years. He then served as assistant chief of the Highway Patrol for six years and was named lieutenant colonel and interim assistant director of DPS in 2008.

Allan B. Polunsky, chair of the Texas Public Safety Commission that has oversight over DPS, called Beckworth a "logical choice" for interim director. "He will be able to step immediately into the position and provide the leadership to take the agency through the end of the legislative session."


Don't miss another issue of SPI's national newsletter

Pipeline Banner

We're three weeks into publication of our free weekly national newsletter, the State & Local Government Pipeline, and the response has been overwhelming. We're adding subscribers daily from all over the country.

This week's edition features a column by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers exploring the importance of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as a means of gaining a competitive edge in government contracting. 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.

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 is published every Wednesday. Click here to sign up and start having your free copy e-mailed to you each week and to view archives of past issues.

Melinchuk new TPWD deputy executive director

Ross Melinchuk

Ross Melinchuk (pictured), who has more than 30 years experience in the natural resources field, has been named Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, effective June 8. Melinchuk, who most recently was director of policy for Ducks Unlimited (DU), will head up TPWD's natural resources divisions in his new role - including the department's Wildlife, Coastal and Inland Fisheries Divisions.

He will become a member of the executive management team along with Deputy Executive Director for Operations Scott Boruff and Deputy Executive Director for Administration Gene McCarty. Boruff's duties will now change to oversee the Law Enforcement, State Parks and Infrastructure Divisions, as well as the agency's land conservation branch and international liaison affairs with Mexico. Boruff will maintain a leadership role in department conservation endeavors and will continue to lead updates of TPWD's strategic Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan. McCarty will continue to oversee the Communications, Finance and Administrative Resources, Human Resources and Information Technology Divisions and Internal Affairs.

Melinchuk's career with Ducks Unlimited began in 1992 and before becoming Director of Public Policy, he served as Director of State and Federal Coordination. He also previously served as the liaison to state agencies involved in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). Before joining DU, he served as NAWMP coordinator for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He began his professional career at the Saskatchewan Environment Agency as a wildlife biologist and was later named NAWMP coordinator. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Guelph and a master's degree from Lakehead University.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

Pat Pringle

Pat Pringle, Ph.D., executive director, Education Service Center Region XIII

Career highlights and education: Education: Ph.D. and B.S. from UT Austin and a master's degree from the University of Houston. Highlights: Being named as superintendent of schools in Poth ISD in South Texas at age 35 is surpassed only by the board of directors selecting me as the executive director of Region XIII in 2000. Working under Commissioner Mike Moses and Julian Shaddix at the Texas Education Agency taught me a great deal about leadership and how to lead through collaboration.

What I like best about my job is: Region XIII is an amazing collection of innovative and energized team members who keep their eye on the ball - serving and caring for kids and their learning. This is true across the entire organization from the print shop and beyond. I am fortunate and honored to have the opportunity to work with each one of them.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: If you do one thing well, hire good people in every position and create an environment that facilitates success. Part of that facilitation is to encourage responsible risk-taking with accountability.

Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Value and protect the culture that the team at Region XIII has developed and proven to be successful. Further, always remember our middle name, education service center. Finally, never lose sight while working with and serving school superintendents on a daily basis of how difficult and important that job is.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: In town, at the Lady Bird Lake running trail. Out of town, fishing on the Texas coast.

People would be surprised to know that I: participated (you could hardly call it running) in 20 consecutive Capitol 10,000 races from 1983 to 2003. In those 20 years, on occasion one or more of my sons joined me to run in the heat, rain, sleet (really) and perfect weather. Also, I am a fifth generation Austinite - my great-grandfather was in his 20s when he was a worker who helped build the State Capitol in the mid to late 1880s.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: Many people think that education service centers only serve smaller schools. While Region XIII values each district and charter school regardless of size, we have been very successful in forming working relationships with our largest districts as well. The importance of forming relationships with all school districts, charters and their boards is crucial to having an opportunity to serve.

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

Audit report: TYC still facing some deficiencies

Cherie Townsend

A follow-up audit of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) released this week shows that although TYC has improved its investigation into alleged abuse and mistreatment of some of its residents and has strengthened security and monitoring regarding those youth, the agency still needs to strengthen its management of state resources, including contracts, staffing levels and facilities and its intake and investigation processes.

The report also noted that the agency has implemented 34 of the 47 recommendations of a prior State Auditor's report. The audit report took issue with the agency for not having competitively bid several contracts it awarded, not increasing the number of certified sex offender counselors in its treatment programs and not ensuring that its Office of Inspector General received and investigated all reported allegations of mistreatment or initiated and completed investigations of alleged mistreatment within the agency's set timeline.

In a memo to agency staff, TYC Executive Commissioner Cherie Townsend (pictured) said that the agency has made "significant and positive changes" in many area, including safety of residents and staff, better accountability and others. She said the TYC has taken "aggressive measures to ensure compliance with our mission and with the expectation of lawmakers and the public," and said additional adjustments will be required.

TxDOT officiallly opens SH 45 Southeast toll road

The State Highway 45 Southeast toll road, designed to allow drivers to avoid traffic through central Austin, is officially open. Drivers now may travel nonstop from north of Georgetown to the Buda/Creedmoor area on the 55-mile toll road east of I-35. The newly opened portion links SH 130 to I-35, starting at U.S. 183 near Mustang Ridge and ending at the intersection of I-35 and FM 1327 north of Buda.

Motorists can drive free on the new toll road through June 1. TxTag users can travel the roadway free until July 1. The new roadway uses all-electronic tolling with no cash toll booths. A driver using the roadway without a TxTAG will have his car license plate photographed and the owner of the vehicle will be billed for the amount of the toll. The toll rates for passenger vehicles and pickup trucks with a TxTag will be $1 at the mainline gantry and 66 cents at the tolled ramps on SH 45 SE.

Texas Senate confirms new TCEQ commissioner

Bryan Shaw

The Texas Senate has confirmed Bryan Shaw (pictured), an associate professor in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department of Texas A&M University, as commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). His term expires Aug. 31, 2013.

A majority of Shaw's courses at TAMU focused on air pollution engineering, and his research projects there concentrated on a variety of related topics: from air pollution abatement to emission factor development.

Shaw, a native of Bryan, holds a bachelor's and master's degree from TAMU and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He serves as a member of several committees for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board.

State streamlines copier contracts for savings

State Comptroller Susan Combs said Texas stands to save $33.5 million over the next three years "by negotiating the best possible deals on (photo)copiers."

As procedure stands, state agencies can choose from more than 950 copier models, most of which have similar functions. State officials plan to bargain with contractors and limit those choices to 11 standardized models, saving a projected 36 percent compared to what agencies currently spend.

The copier initiative is the latest in a series of Texas Smart Buys (TSB), a program launched last December designed to save money and leverage Texas' buying power. The photocopier contract, which takes effect this month, stands to boost TSB's estimated savings of $28 million a year to $39 million a year. For more information, click here.

New Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney appointed

John Bales

John Malcolm Bales (pictured) has been appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The Nacogdoches native has previously served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney and most recently as Chief of the Criminal Division for the District. Bales replaces Rebecca Gregory, who left the Department of Justice on April 1.

In his new role, Bales will oversee an $8 million budget this year and maintain a 43-county area, directing thousands of prosecutions and civil cases.

Bales holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from UT School of Law.

Comptroller: Texas positioned for speedy recovery

The fifth in a series of reports by the State Comptroller, Texas in Focus: Central Texas provides information regarding a detailed economic outlook for the 20-county region of Central Texas. The report addresses such issues as health care, higher education and the military.

The report predicts that the Central Texas region's jobs will increase slightly in 2009 and job growth of 21 percent is expected by 2013. It examines the region's economic development, demographics, infrastructure, health care and education - key issues that present both opportunities and challenges for the Texas economy.

The report is designed to equip local decision-makers and business leaders with vital information to help plan for economic growth.

TxDOT to transform Texas 255 to automated toll road


In a move to streamline and usher traffic more quickly, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will transform the Camino Columbia Toll Road, or Texas 255, to a fully automated system. Cash and swipe cards will no longer be accepted once the system is in place, meaning motorists will be required to display TxTag windshield stickers.

The new system will allow traffic to maneuver freely without stopping at the toll device to pay or swipe prepaid cards. To register for a TxTag account, click here, or call toll free 800-468-9824.

Schreiner selects new provost and vice president

Charlie McCormick, dean of academic affairs at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania, has been selected to serve as the new provost and vice president for academic affairs at Schreiner University. He replaces Michael Looney, who left to become president of Pikeville College in Kentucky.

In his new role, McCormick will oversee the liberal arts college's academic programs and faculty proceedings. He will also assume leadership of the campus when the president is absent.

Texas Tech names interim dean of engineering college

Jon Strauss

Jon C. Strauss (pictured) has been selected to serve as interim dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering at Texas Tech University, effective June 15.

Strauss, president emeritus of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., since 1997, has held teaching and administrative positions at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Southern California, the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University. He is a member of the National Science Board.

Strauss holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctoral degree from Carnegie Institute of Technology.

Bill would allow local entities to use GSA schedules

Legislation expected to be filed soon in the U.S. House would, if passed, allow state and local governments to use American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to purchase products and services through the General Service Administration's (GSA) multiple award schedules.

Thus, local entities would be able to purchase the same products and services that federal agencies buy from contractors. The cooperative purchasing allowed through GSA would be a boon for both local government entities as well as contractors, who could cast a wider net for purchasers. There are already some GSA schedules that allow non-federal entities to purchase off them, such as for law enforcement, firefighting and security products and for IT equipment.

At the federal level, GSA officials say they have already identified $40 billion to $50 billion in funding appropriated to federal agencies for which contract vehicles such as GSA schedules can be used. That amount could increase significantly if the program were opened up to local government entities as well.

Lone Star College System purchases former HP campus

Richard Carpenter

Lone Star College System (LSCS) has purchased the core of the Hewlett Packard North Campus in northwest Harris County, marking one of the largest such acquisitions in higher education history. The system acquired 1.2 million square feet of space in eight major buildings with parking garages and supporting infrastructure.

Chancellor Richard Carpenter (pictured) said the purchase of the "storied facility" will help LSCS fulfill its promise to the community, adding the system enjoys "a solid reputation for delivering what we promise."

LSCS, which includes five colleges and six satellite campuses, enrolled more than 52,000 regular students and 14,000 students in non-credit or informal courses last fall. Plans call for instructional classes to begin at the new site by spring 2010.

FEMA allocates more than $18M for GLO debris removal

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has distributed more than $18 million to the state of Texas to pay for debris removal operations managed by the Texas General Land Office.

FEMA is covering 100 percent of debris removal costs in relation to Hurricane Ike damages incurred last year. The funds, part of the agency's Public Assistance grant program, comprise $826 million sent to the state since September. The state disburses and is charged with overseeing the funds.

Texas A&M-Commerce selects three new administrators

Larry Lemanski

Christine Evans

Randy Van Deven

Officials for Texas A&M University-Commerce recently selected a new provost and vice president for academic affairs, a new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a new vice president of intuitional advancement to round out the administrative team of the university.

President Dan Jones announced the selection of Dr. Larry Lemanski (left) as the new provost and vice president for academic affairs. He currently serves as senior vice president for research and strategic initiatives at Temple University and a professor of anatomy and cell biology in the College of Medicine. He has a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. Dr. Christine Evans (middle) will be the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Evans, who currently serves as chair of the geosciences department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, has a Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming. Both are expected to begin their new duties on July 1.

Randy Van Deven (right) is expected to begin his new duties as vice president of institutional advancement at Texas A&M-Commerce in mid-summer. Van Deven, an engineer, currently serves as director of major gifts for Tennessee Technological University.

Pasadena City Council approves fire stations

The Pasadena City Council has given the go-ahead for construction of two new fire stations serving Districts 3 and 4. Each station will cost a projected $1.8 million.

Fire Station 3 will be reconstructed at the same location, whereas the station that services District 4 will be relocated a few blocks away from the current facility.

The council has also approved construction of a new fire truck facility at the city's fair grounds. A contract for library shelving and displays has been deferred, however.

New A&M vice president to be recommended

Jeffrey Seemann

Dr. Jeffrey R. Seemann (pictured) will be recommended to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents as vice president for research at Texas A&M University. If confirmed, he will succeed interim Vice President Dr. Theresa A. Maldonado.

Seemann has served as dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences at the University of Rhode Island and as director of the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service since 2001. He has also held administrative and faculty positions at the University of Nevada System and the University of Nevada at Reno.

Seemann holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a doctoral degree from Stanford University.

Tri-State Summit to Focus on High-Speed Rail

Officials from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas will gather Saturday in Marshall for "National Train Day" to discuss how the three states might be linked by higher-speed rail. The event is hosted by the East Texas Council of Governments, East Texas Corridor Council, Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments, Ouachita (Louisiana) Council of Governments and North Central Texas Council of Governments. Elected officials and transportation partners from the three states have been invited to attend. The summit will be at the courthouse in Marshall.

The Ark-La-Tex Rail Summit will focus on recent progress made to bring higher-speed rail to the region and short- and long-term goals related to the South Central Higher Speed Rail Corridor. The summit will conclude with the signing of a tri-state memorandum of understanding that will establish agreements in principle to actively pursue federal funds for higher-speed passenger rail in the corridor.

The Ark-La-Tex MOU that will be signed Saturday will be in addition to previous RTC commitments to interregional transportation cooperation and memorandums of understanding with the Heart of Texas region (Waco, Texas area), Metroplan (Little Rock, Arkansas area) and East Texas Council of Governments and East Texas Corridor Council (Northeast Texas).

Interim director appointed for Tech's Burkhart Center

Janice Magness

Janice Magness (pictured) has been announced as interim director for the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research in the College of Education at Texas Tech University. She will continue in her current charge as program director of the Burkhart Center's Collin Burkhart Transition Academy. The center, established in 2005, provides services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and the professionals who work with them.

Magness, a Tech graduate whose career spans 30 years of classroom experience, spent 18 of those years as a content mastery teacher for the Lubbock Independent School District, working primarily with autistic students.

El Centro College addressing nursing shortage

As a nursing shortage continues throughout the country, El Centro College and NursesNow this week signed an agreement that will help nurses educated in Mexico prepare to practice nursing in the United States.

Sondra Flemming, Vice President of Health and Economic Development at ECC, said this week's ceremony "signifies a special agreement in which El Centro will provide the final six weeks of NNI's intensive, seven-month training program that prepares degreed nurses from Mexico to practice in the United States." Students who have passed the nursing licensure exam are eligible to sit for the exam when they enter into the six-week transition course.

That course combines classroom work and clinical experience to prepare nurses from Mexico for assignments in Texas and throughout the United States. To work in the United States, they must be licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing. Nurses who enter the program must pass a rigorous selection process and are trained to provide superior patient care at the international level. The screening process includes an evaluation of core language skills, clinical knowledge base, practical clinical skills, critical thinking abilities and interviews with experienced nursing professionals.

UNT-Dallas designated free-standing university status

John Ellis Price

The University of North Texas at Dallas has officially been granted status as a free-standing university by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), having reached its goal of more than 1,000 full-time students enrolled. The distinction marks UNTD as the first and only public university in the city.

UNTD Vice Chancellor John Ellis Price (pictured) said that since the university has met this key goal, "We can continue to plow forward in our efforts to open the doors of UNT Dallas as a four-year university in 2010."

University officials must still also hire faculty and staff and oversee construction of facilities before the school begins its track as an independent, four-year institution.

Round Rock plans to build new indoor sports facility

Jim Nuse

In an ongoing effort to brand Round Rock the Sports Capital of Texas, the city plans to build an estimated 60,000-square-foot indoor sports facility near McNeil Park. Real estate negotiations are under way, according to City Manager Jim Nuse (pictured).

Nuse said the location "provides real advantages for the special events center project," adding if negotiations are successful, the results could yield "significant economic development opportunities for the whole community."

The complex is expected to cost $38 million, although the facility's size and design have not been finalized. If the city council approves, a majority of funding will be provided by the city's hotel occupancy tax revenue, otherwise known as HOT funds.

Fort Bend moves on emergency services building

Fort Bend County commissioners recently OK'd construction of a new building for the county's Emergency Medical Services Department. Commissioners authorized staff to negotiate with a contractor to determine the cost of designing and constructing it.

Voters in 2006 approved funding for several new county facilities, including the new EMS facility to house administrative offices and EMS staff for Medic 1 region. The budget for the new building is $1.5 million, said Don Brady, the facilities and planning manager for the county.

The county's goal is to ensure the new building complements the extension agency offices, which are located nearby and that the building provide more room for the EMS administrative staff and give greater protection from storm conditions, Brady said.

Boerne faces shortfall, implements hiring freeze

Doug Meckel

As the City of Boerne faces a $1 million revenue shortfall, officials have decided to place plans to augment the city's volunteer fire department on the back burner.

Factors including decreased earnings on city investments, lower-than-expected fees from development permits and stagnant property values have all contributed to the hiring freeze currently imposed. Otherwise an additional nine full-time firefighters would have been brought on board, according to Fire Chief Doug Meckel (pictured).

The hiring freeze - projected to save more than $442,000 this fiscal year - also affects other budgeted positions currently unfilled in the police, library, streets and utility departments.

State grant pays for wind turbines for colonias

A group of 15 Science Academy of South Texas students recently designed and built 30-foot wind turbines at a cost of about $5,000 each that may be used as prototypes of turbines to power homes in colonias. The students built a 30-foot turbine at their school to power security lights and another turbine to operate a greenhouse in a park operated by Hidalgo County. The second part of the project now requires the students to create a set of plans, including a list of materials found at the hardware store so that a person with no engineering background could build a wind turbine in a backyard with little assistance.

Using a two-year grant from the State Energy Conservation Office, the students designed the wind turbines that can operate in low, 12 and 14 mph wind speeds experienced in the Rio Grande Valley, said Karmal Sarkar, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas-Pan American. Along with Subhash Bose, a mechanical engineering professor, Sarkar is seeking a $5 million grant that would allow the construction of 400 wind turbines to power colonia homes to lower or eliminate electricity costs and improve the lives of colonia residents, who often cannot afford electricity for their homes.

Killeen ISD stimulus funds may go for security, tech

Robert Muller

Officials of the Killeen Independent School District are mulling the use of some of its $5.7 million in federal stimulus funding to increase security at all district schools and to purchase new technology to improve communication between schools and expand broadband service throughout the district.

Superintendent Robert Muller (pictured) recommends that all schools in the district have a security vestibule where visitors must sign-in before entering classroom areas, cafeterias or gymnasiums, explaining that some older schools have been retrofitted, but that visitors to some schools in the district can proceed directly to classrooms without registering with school officials.

While improving technology is not a highly visible improvement, upgrading the district's technology should provide more efficient communication and improve the educational experience for students, said John Evans, the district's chief technology officer.

Ore City ISD approves more projects for new school

Citing costs for a new elementary school that came in more than $1 million less than budgeted, trustees for the Ore City Independent School District recently authorized six new projects. Construction on the new projects should begin this month, with completion of the school expected in time for the opening of the 2010-2011 school year.

Ore City residents approved $8.5 million to build a new elementary school to house pre-kindergarten through third grade. District officials also budgeted an additional $1 million to build the new 52,239-square-foot elementary school along with a new 6,600-square-foot gym at the school. After accepting a $7.3 million bid for the project, trustees approved the following additions to the project.

  • A 10,000-square-foot wing with eight classrooms to house 130 fourth- and fifth-graders;
  • A play pad for students to play outside;
  • An upgrade to concrete paving from asphalt paving; and
  • Tiling throughout the building.

Denison to create park on historic church property

Obie Greenleaf

The Denison City Council recently approved the creation of a park on the historic Hopewell Church property to honor three men who were connected to the church.

City Manager Larry Cruise and Councilman Obie Greenleaf (pictured) recommended creation of the park to honor Augustus Terrell, the namesake for a Denison elementary school; Alan Griggs, a Baptist minister who established the North Texas Baptist College; and Thurgood Marshall, a justice on the U.S. Supreme court, all of whom are connected to the church. They proposed that the new park be named the Terrell Griggs Marshall Park and suggested placing a gazebo on the property, along with the bell from the old church.

Council members will discuss options for the park and estimated costs at a later meeting, city officials said.

Sugar Land moving toward new recreation center

After studying an alternative site on a University of Houston campus, Sugar Land city officials recently recommended building the new Sugar Land Recreation Center on Matlage Way, near Sugar Land Memorial Park. Using the Matlage Way site could save as much as $600,00 in costs because it does not require a detention pond, has better soils and the city already has an existing design contract for the building.

The Matlage site allows the recreation center, community center and senior center to be located in one area, within walking distance of the others. Other benefits are that it has an existing customer base with the senior center already located there, it is near the city's hike and bike trails and the recreation center can be open nights and weekends because supervision is already available at the community center during those times. The final design would require two months and with two months for permitting and bidding, construction is expected to take 14 months with a target opening date of January 2011.

UH one of six universities selected for DOE funds

The University of Houston has been selected to receive a share of $13 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The agency has announced six such recipients as part of the University Advanced Combustion and Emissions Controls research and development initiative, the aim of which is to improve fuel economies by helping develop high-efficiency internal combustion engines.

UH has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project that will enable a high conversion of nitrogen oxide under conditions commonly found in diesel or lean-burn gasoline engines.

Other colleges selected to receive DOE support include: the University of Connecticut, Michigan Technological University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin.

Harris County approves inmate tracking system

Steve Radack

Plans for the Harris County Sheriff's Department to spend $7.6 million in federal stimulus dollars include the purchase of a new computer system to track inmates and jailers and a proposed helicopter unit to augment law enforcement on the ground.

The proposal, which would require $1.7 million to lease the helicopter, has so far faced opposition from Commissioner Steve Radack (pictured), who said he didn't think leasing the 'copter constituted "an effective use of the stimulus money."

The Commissioners Court is slated to hear pitches from other agencies seeking a share of the funds from the U.S. Department of Justice. The plan also calls for $2.5 million for new computer systems and $1.7 million to implement an electronic medical record system for inmates. The deadline for the grant application is May 18.

Missouri City, Sugar Land to partner for SH 6 upgrade

Missouri and Sugar Land city officials recently agreed to pay $474,420 for design costs for the 23-mile section of State Highway 6 between Interstate 10 and FM 521 to improve mobility and safety along the busy stretch of highway.

Fort Bend and Harris counties, the city of Houston, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Department of Transportation also participated in developing an access management plan to study both short- and long-term improvements along SH6. Recommendations in the plan include the addition of raised medians, right-turn lanes, cross-access improvements, driveway consolidation and eventually implementing long-term strategies such as pedestrian, transit and landscape improvements. The estimated total cost for all the recommendations is $27.5 million.

The agreement between Missouri City and Sugar Land focuses only on raised medians and encompasses only the 10-mile segment of SH 6 located between Voss Road and FM 521. Missouri City agreed to pay up to $376,000 from its capital improvement program, while Sugar Land agreed to contribute up to $98,604.

Royce City ISD studying expansion of high school

Randy Hancock

Trustees for the Royce City Independent School District recently prioritized four projects to expand the high school out of eight proposed projects costing about $6 million.

Board members identified the addition of three new science labs and an art lab at an estimated cost of almost $1.7 million as the highest priority item, followed by additions and renovations to locker rooms in the multi-purpose building and increasing locker room space for the girl's athletics department at a cost of about $2.07 million. The fourth priority was a new sub-varsity gymnasium with an estimated price tag of $1.4 million. The group rated as non-priority items a new black box theatre for the existing auditorium, fixed seating in the sub-varsity gymnasium and renovations to the visitor's locker room at the stadium.

The district has $4.7 million remaining in bond funds approved earlier by voters available without asking voters to approve additional bonds, said Jimmy Butler, the district's chief financial officer. Superintendent Randy Hancock (pictured) told trustees he is not recommending another bond election because of current economic conditions. The cost estimates provided to trustees may be as much as 30 percent more than actual costs now that construction costs have fallen, two construction managers advised.

Central Texas officials implement warning system

Officials of the Heart of Texas Council of Government and six area counties are urging residents and business owners to sign up for a new emergency notification system that can deliver messages to area residents via telephone, cell phone, e-mail and text message. The emergency messages can target areas geographically and may range from weather alerts to a notification of a broken waterline in a neighborhood, said Harold Ferguson, homeland security coordinator for HOTCOG.

Up to four contact methods may be selected by each home and business that registers for the service. Landline telephone numbers for six counties already are loaded into the system and residents may call HOTCOG, city or county officials to remove their landline telephone numbers from the system if they prefer not to receive emergency alerts.

A federal grant paid for the notification system and implementation for the first year. Clifton, Crawford, Mexia, Bruceville-Eddy and Meridian are among the 17 municipalities participating in the new emergency warning system.

Chad Park named to Parkland board of managers

Chad Park

Chad Park (pictured) has been named to Parkland Health and Hospital System's board of managers. He fills the vacancy left when Dr. Allan Shulkin resigned his position. Park is a doctor of dental surgery.

He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and his doctor of dental surgery degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He will graduate with an executive degree from Harvard Business School next year.

Texas military bases would benefit from Obama budget

Military installations in Texas would benefit from the $1.1 billion in military construction projects outlined in President Barack Obama's $3.4 trillion budget proposal.

Among the proposals are $76 million for construction projects at Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. Included in the Fort Sam Houston projects is a $21 million burn rehabilitation facility, while an urban assault course is slated for Camp Bullis. Lackland Air Force Base's allocation of nearly $230 million would include a new $5.2 million student center and library and a new hospital and dental center. Corpus Christi Army Depot would get an $11.2 million helicopter facility. Construction projects totaling $348 million would go to For Bliss and Fort Hood would get $211.7 million for new projects. Another $38.2 million is set aside for an Army Reserve Center and Navy aviation training facility in Houston.

Freeport police cruisers to get new cameras

A $31,000 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant will be used by the City of Freeport to purchase new cameras for police cruisers. The cameras are capable of sending video footage to the police station using a wireless Internet connection, according to acting City Manager Jeff Pynes. The system should arrive in less than two weeks and will be installed in all police cruisers.

SPI wins 'Best of Local Business' award

Austin Award

For the second consecutive year, Strategic Partnerships, Inc. has been selected by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA) to receive the 2009 Austin Award in the Business Management Consultants category. The USLBA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USLBA honors companies that it identifies as having exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These companies enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Nationwide, only 1 in 70 (1.4%) 2008 Award recipients qualified as 2009 Award Winners. Thus SPI joins some elite company as a two-time winner. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USLBA and data provided by third parties.

Get your free copy of the Texas Government Insider

The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter. If you are not a subscriber, or if you would like to tell your friends or co-workers how to receive a free copy, click here.

Permission to reproduce, reprint

This newsletter may be reproduced, and all articles within may be reproduced and/or reprinted without permission when credit is given to the Texas Government Insider, a publication of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Note to media:

Need expert commentary on procurement issues relating to state government, city and county government, K-12 public schools, higher education or healthcare? Our consulting team has more than 300 years of high-level experience in decision-making among these government entities. Give us a call at 512-531-3900 and we'll arrange an interview for you with one of our experts.

Technology continues to change school classrooms

Mary Scott Nabers

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

Want to get a teenager's attention? Send a text message.

The "Thumbs Generation," as teenagers are called today, has grown up with technology that fits into their hands, requires thumbs to operate and has significant captivating features. Most of them are addicted to instant messaging, electronic games and snapping photos with cell phones. They love technology and are comfortable with it.

Because of this, it makes perfect sense to argue that technology should be intertwined with successful and memorable educational experiences. With every passing year, technology advances are becoming a significant part of K-12 classroom teaching success.

Some schools are making mass purchases of laptop computers. Others have plans in the works to do the same. The object is to provide every student with a computer.

One of the newest technologies being tested by some schools is electronic textbooks. For the last couple of years, the Forney, Plano and Midland school districts have moved away from standard hardbound textbooks and their students use electronic textbooks.


Hidalgo levee project described as economic boon

J.D. Salinas

Levee rehabilitation in Hidalgo County is expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs and make a $508 million economic impact on the area, according to a report recently provided to the county.

The barriers along the Rio Grande include nearly 20 miles of "levee wall," a compromise made by county officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that allows the reinforced levees to become part of the agency's border fence and avert the necessity to use private land to build the border fence. The Hidalgo County levee project to repair 153 miles of levee is being paid for with $343 million in federal appropriations, stimulus money and local funds, said Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas (pictured).

Joshua to prioritize capital improvement projects

A Joshua citizen group is scheduled to present a list of prioritized capital improvement projects to city council members on July 16 to decide how many and which projects to pursue during the next two years.

The Citizen Capital Projects Study Committee currently is studying drainage improvements, street improvements and a new fire station among the projects to include in its report on project priorities and costs. The city can fund projects costing up to about $3.35 million without a tax increase, the city's financial consultant advised the study group. Adding 10 cents to the tax rate would allow the city to spend about $5.25 million while adding 15 cents would generate about $6.75 million, he said. A bond election could be called as early as Nov. 3.

Early approves agreement to finance $6M water line

The Early City Council recently authorized an agreement with the Texas Water Development Board to build a $6 million, eight-mile pipeline to bring treated water to the city.

The pipeline will connect the Brown County Water Improvement District's water treatment plant to Salt Creek, where it will connect to a two-million-gallon ground storage tank which is to be built. City officials then plan to build a second line from the storage tank to tie into the city's water line at Early Blvd., said City Administrator Ken Thomas.

Fairfield selects Looney
as new city manager

Fairfield city officials recently selected Jeff Looney as the new city manager. Looney has served as interim city administrator for Nolanville for two months. He said Fairfield city officials have agreed to allow him to continue to act as a consultant to Nolanville until that city finds a new interim city administrator.

Goose Creek CISD names York as lone finalist

Toby York

Trustees for the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District recently selected Dr. Toby York (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent to replace Dr. Barbara Sultis, who retired from that post in January 2009.

York, who has served as the interim superintendent since Dr. Sultis resigned, previously served as an assistant superintendent and a deputy superintendent for GCCISD from 2002 to 2009, a principal and an associate superintendent for New Caney ISD, and as a coach and athletic director for Conroe ISD. He has a bachelor's degree from Abilene Christian University, a master's degree from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

West Orange-Cove to spend $2M for 28 school buses

Trustees for the West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District recently authorized the purchase of 28 new school buses at a cost of $2.2 million. District officials, however, plan to continue using the services of a contractor to supply drivers, vehicle maintenance, insurance and fuel for the buses.

The district previously used a contractor that provided buses as well as drivers, maintenance and fuel to provide transportation for district students, but recently authorized a contract with a new contractor to provide transportation to district students. The new buses will be equipped with cameras, radios and air conditioning units. Only a handful of the buses currently in use have air conditioning, district officials said.

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.

Bill Messer

Bill Messer was elected to four terms in the Texas House of Representatives. He was first elected in 1978 and was elected to his last term in 1984. Today, Messer is a partner in an Austin lobby group.

Joe Bill Watkins

Joe Bill Watkins began his public service career as an assistant sergeant at arms in the Texas House. He later served as executive assistant to Attorney General John Hill and was finance chairman for Gov. Mark White. Watkins today is a partner in a prominent Austin law firm.

Nacogdoches sheriff to upgrade vehicle recorders

Nacogdoches County commissioners recently approved the purchase of new digital recording systems to be installed in sheriff's office patrol vehicles. The new digital recorders, which cost about $35,000 per package, will increase efficiency when exchanging information between departments over the current antiquated VHS system, said County Judge Joe English. The upgrade was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, he said.

Laredo receives $5.2
million in HUD grants

Laredo recently received more than $5.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve neighborhoods, help first-time homeowners with down payments on a home and operate emergency shelters.

Laredo will receive $3.634,557 in Community Block Grants for 2009-2010, an increase of $44,572 over last year's grant, said Ronnie Acosta, director of the Community Development Department of HUD. The city also received $1,389,582 in HOME Investment Partnerships Grant funds, an increase of $141,297 over last year, and $159,838 for the emergency shelter grant program, an increase of $84, Acosta said.

Nacogdoches deputy city manager resigns her post

Victoria LaFollett-Koenig

Nacogdoches Deputy City Manager Victoria LaFollett-Koenig (pictured) has announced plans to step down. She will leave her post this month to pursue a new career, she said.

During her eight-year tenure as a Nacogdoches city administrator, LaFollett-Koenig said she was proudest of overseeing and helping orchestrate improvements to the city's regional airport, the installation of an automated water meter reading system and the recruitment of a major home-improvement retailer to the city. City Hall has not released any plans to replace LaFollett-Koenig so far.

TxDOT awards Gladewater $315M for airport upgrades

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has allocated $315,789 to the Gladewater City Council to improve its municipal airport.

City Manager Jay Stokes said the city will contribute $15,347 in Routine Airport Maintenance Projects (RAMP) funds to the project.

FEMA awards more than $10M for Ike cleanup

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated more than $10.7 million - a full reimbursement - for debris removal in the Trinity Bay Conservation district. FEMA so far has awarded the state $873 million in Public Assistance disaster funds since Hurricane Ike ravaged shores last September. The state disburses funds to the agencies responsible for cleanup and other services.

Ranger College Board of Regents names president

William Campion

Dr. William J. (Bill) Campion (pictured) has been named president of Ranger College. The college board of regents selected Campion as sole finalist for the position last month. His tenure as head of the institution began May 1.

Campion has also served as president of Eastern Oklahoma State College and Central Florida Community College.

FEMA awards more than $16M to electric co-op

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has distributed more than $16 million to repair an East Texas electric cooperative's distribution lines following Hurricane Ike. Federal Coordinating Officer Brad Harris said falling trees and debris downed the power lines, making power restoration after the storm "an enormous undertaking."

FEMA is reimbursing 75 percent of expenses related to repairs through its Public Assistance grants program. The state, in turn, will distribute the money to agencies responsible for the repair services. All remaining funds will be issued by the state.

Corsicana names lone finalist for finance director

Virginia "Ginger" Richardson, assistant finance director for the City of Waxahachie, has been chosen sole finalist for the City of Corsicana's Finance Director and City Secretary post.

Richardson, a CPA, has also served as business manager of the Corsicana daily newspaper. She holds a bachelor's degree from Dallas Baptist University.

USDA seeks applicants for household water well grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking applications from nonprofit organizations for grants of up to $11,000 to help rural homeowners construct or upgrade household water well systems. The funding is provided through USDA Rural Development's Household Water Well System grant program. USDA plans to award up to four grants to nonprofit groups that will use the funds to establish loan program for homeowners. The loans will carry a term up to 20 years at a 1 percent annual interest rate.

USDA Rural Development plans to award up to $993,000 in grants. Nonprofit groups must contribute at least 10 percent of the grant request. Individuals are not eligible for grants but may be eligible for loans if their annual household income does not exceed 100 percent of their state or territory's median non-metropolitan income. Loans may not be provided for home sewer or septic system projects. The application guide for this grant program can be found here.

Fort Stockton ISD names Traynham superintendent

Ralph Traynham

Trustees for the Fort Stockton Independent School District recently selected Ralph Traynham (pictured) as the new superintendent to replace Ron Mayfield who resigned to take the position as superintendent for Granbury ISD. Traynham, who served as interim superintendent after Mayfield left the school district, formerly served as assistant superintendent for the Fort Stockton school district. He has a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University and is a graduate of the Texas Tech University Educational Leadership Graduate Program.

Recent Reports

Event Links

Texas Government Insider Archives

Volume 1 - 7 Archives · 11/7/03 - 5/1/09

Governor's appointments

Gov. Rick Perry has made the following appointments:

  • Glenda R. Kane of Corpus Christi, State Health Services Council
  • Lewis E. Foxhall of Houston, State Health Services Council
  • Nasruddin Rupani of Sugar Land, State Health Services Council
  • Christina R. Martin of Mission, Department of Family and Protective Services Council
  • Imogen Papadopoulos of Houston, Department of Family and Protective Services Council
  • Scott Rosenbach of Amarillo, Department of Family and Protective Services Council
  • Mary L. Baty of Humble, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
  • William R. "Bill" Birdwell of Bryan, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
  • Whitney Hyde of Midland, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
  • Rodolfo "Rudy" G. Ramos Jr. of Houston, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
  • Christopher "Chris" LaPlante of Austin, Texas Historical Records Advisory Board
  • J. P. "Pat" McDaniel of Midland, Texas Historical Records Advisory Board
  • Ronny Alexander of Paint Rock, Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors
  • William Hood of Robert Lee, Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors
  • Hope Wilson Huffman of San Angelo, Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors
  • William "Bill" Strawn of Austin, chair, Judicial Compensation Commission
  • Cruz G. Hernandez of Burleson, Judicial Compensation Commission
  • P. Bane Phillippi of Cedar Creek, Judicial Compensation Commission
  • Faith S. Johnson of DeSoto, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee
  • Rick L. Campbell of Center, Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Anna P. Hundley of Dallas, Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Frank C. McCamant of Austin, Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Manuel M. Vela of Harlingen, Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • Patti H. Johnson of Canyon Lake, State Commission on Judicial Conduct
  • Lori B. McCool of Boerne, Finance Commission of Texas
  • Diego Demaya of Houston, Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Council
  • Berkley Dyer of Austin, Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Council
  • Joe Shannon Jr. of Fort Worth, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney
  • Robert M. Fillmore of Plano, justice of the 5th Court of Appeals
  • William R. McDaniel of Montgomery, Crime Stoppers Advisory Council

Abilene hears from study
on red light cameras

A recently released traffic study to determine the need to install red light cameras at dangerous intersections in Abilene has concluded the city should pursue other enforcement options before installing red-light cameras at only two identified sites.

Mayor Norm Archibald, who recommended the red-light study, said he was surprised that so few street intersections were identified as needing red-light cameras. The study found that Abilene motorists recorded red light running violations at 2.2 per 1,000 vehicles compared to the statewide average of 3.5 per 1,000 vehicles.

Kingsville ISD selects Castro sole superintendent finalist

Emilio Castro

Trustees for the Kingsville Independent School District recently selected Emilio Castro (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Castro, who currently serves as one of six area superintendents for Dallas ISD, will replace Superintendent Ruby Lopez Jr. who is scheduled to retire on June 30. Castro began his career as a bilingual teacher and also served as a principal during his 13 years with DISD.

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.

Killeen ISD buys land for new elementary school

Trustees for the Killeen Independent School District recently approved the purchase of land in the southwestern area of the city for $482,000 to build the district's 32nd elementary school.

The new school is needed to relieve overcrowding at one elementary school in the southwest area that has more than 1,200 students enrolled on the campus designed for 500 students, said Superintendent Robert Muller. The new school should be completed to begin classes in the fall of 2012, Muller said.

Help us share this message, please...

To ensure timely delivery and proper formatting of the newsletter, be sure to add to your safe senders list. Otherwise, the newsletter may be flagged as spam and automatically routed to your junk e-mail folder at any time.

Beaumont approves seeking grant for transit upgrades

The Beaumont City Council recently approved the city's application and receipt of a $2.3 million grant to improve transit. The grant includes $840,000 to replace transit vans, $300,000 for bus shelters, $584,469 for shop modifications, $30,000 for a new pickup truck, $60,000 for a new service truck and $50,000 for office renovations.

Council members also agreed to $1.7 million in community development block grants, including $200,000 for housing rehabilitation, $177,969 for demolition, $830,000 for public facility and improvements, $100,000 to nonprofit organizations, $85,000 for the homeless and $250,000 for planning and administration.

Weikum retires as city secretary for Lake Dallas

Beverly Weikum

Lake Dallas City Secretary Beverly Weikum (pictured) recently announced her retirement from that position. Weikum, a former accounts payable clerk, worked for Lake Dallas since May 1998. Joni Vaughn, who previously worked in accounts payable for the city, was selected to take over the duties as the new city secretary.

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.

6034 W. Courtyard Dr. #100
Austin, Texas 78730

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.

TPPA hosts June Summer Conference Momentum 2009

The Texas Public Purchasing Association will host its Summer Conference Momentum 2009 Wednesday through Friday, June 24-26, at the Suites at Sunchase Conference Center on South Padre Island. The governmental purchasing seminar is designed for public purchasing professionals with special interest in the latest developments that are essential in governmental purchasing. The event will include approximately 20 speakers who will address issues that include purchasing law, green purchasing, supplier contracts, evaluating RFPs, cooperative purchasing and more. There will be both educational and group sessions. For more information, 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.

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