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  Volume 7, Issue 23 · Friday, June 12, 2009
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2010 Census: Texas can't afford another under-count

Millions in federal funding at risk if all residents not counted

U.S. Census

Texas stands to lose Congressional representation and millions of dollars in federal funding with an inaccurate count of residents in the approaching 2010 census. Obtaining an accurate count has become increasingly arduous over the years.

Karl Eschbach

"The difficulty is finding people in the first place," said Karl Eschbach (pictured), state demographer of Texas at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

With some state residents living in violation of their lease or settling in unincorporated subdivisions known as colonias in South Texas, officials have found that outreach is limited and trust of the government is minimal, especially among immigrant and minority communities.

"Although there is nothing on the census form that questions immigration status or even place of birth," Eschbach said, "there's still some fear in providing their name and their family members' names" among the undocumented population.

Eschbach said the Census Bureau also faces what he calls "a linear trend of increasing suspicion."

"There's a concern about privacy, about whether marketers are trying to get information or scam us in some way. That kind of trend increases difficulty every 10 years," he said.


Lopez named TxDOT district engineer for Austin

Will serve 11 counties in his new role with transportation agency

Carlos Lopez

Carlos Lopez (pictured), the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) statewide director of traffic operations, is set to become the new district engineer for the 11-county Austin district. He replaces Bob Daigh, who retired this year.

Lopez joined TxDOT's Laredo Area Office in 1979 and became a field engineer in Austin's Design Division in 1982. He became a licensed professional engineer in 1987 and was selected as special projects engineer in 1988, when he transferred to the Maintenance and Operations Division's Traffic Engineering Section. He was named director of traffic operations in May 1999.

Lopez earned his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

Elisa Garza

Elisa J. Garza, director of CHIP and Enrollment Broker Operations, Office of Eligibility Services, Health and Human Services Commission

Career highlights and education: On July 1, 1993, I began my career in Region 8 as a clerk at the Jourdanton office. Four months later, I served as one of two Texas Works Advisors in the Nixon office. Four years later, I worked as an eligibility examiner for approximately two years. In December 1999, I joined Region 7 as a Texas Works supervisor. In February 2003, I joined the state office and worked as a policy specialist through October 2006. On Nov. 1, 2006, I joined the Office of Eligibility Services team where I now serve as the Director of CHIP and Enrollment Broker. I am a graduate of Southwest Texas State University where I earned a BBA.

What I like best about my job is: Implementing a new process or software application to better serve our Texas families. My team and I implemented an online application to renew CHIP services. We've also implemented an application to pay the CHIP enrollment fee online. Empowering my team members to make decisions promotes success and creativity resulting in efficient and improved business processes.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Don't just accept change, EMBRACE it! As a government agency, change is constant.

Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Have fun and like what you do.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: at the movies watching an action film such as Taken.

People would be surprised to know that I: took swimming lessons at the age of 25 and now at 45 am taking piano lessons.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: The hearts of HHSC staff are definitely with the clients receiving services - from the elderly and disabled to the working single parents. HHSC is an agency that cares.

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

TPWD officials select Michael Jensen as new CFO

Michael Jensen

Michael J. Jensen (pictured) has been selected to serve as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) new chief financial officer. In his new role, he will oversee the Administrative Resources Division.

Jensen most recently served as deputy director of Texas Procurement and Support Services (TPASS), a subsidiary of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Prior to that charge, he served as Deputy Director for Administration and Finance at the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) from 2004 to 2007.

Jensen holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University.

Secretary Andrade welcomes Mexican company officials

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade recently welcomed officials representing 24 Mexican technology companies who plan on investing in Texas through the TechBA Austin program. The initiative - hosted at the IC2 Institute's Global Commercialization Group at The University of Texas at Austin - aims to foster economic development on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border.

Andrade, addressing the long-standing relationship between the regions, said Texas and Mexico have "a common history, a common culture and a shared border of more than 1,200 miles," adding state officials are proud of the "thriving relationship we enjoy with Mexico, as we realize that this back-and-forth flow of commerce is beneficial for both partners."

Andrade went on to highlight the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF), a $200 million initiative designed to expedite the development and commercialization of new technologies by recruiting qualified international research talent.

High court names chair of Access to Justice Commission

Harry Reasoner

The Supreme Court of Texas has named Harry M. Reasoner (pictured) to lead the Texas Access to Justice Commission as chairman. He succeeds James B. Sales, who had served on the commission since 2004.

Reasoner, a partner in a prominent Houston-based firm, was first appointed to the Texas Access to Justice Commission in 2006. A recipient of the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fifth Circuit, Reasoner has served on a number of Supreme Court of Texas committees and commissions.

Gov. Clements donates $100M to UT Southwestern

The largest single gift in the history of the UT Southwestern Medical Center - $100 million - is being made by former Texas Gov. Bill Clements.

"My goal in supporting UT Southwestern," said Clements in a written statement announcing the unrestricted donation "is to help encourage and advance scientific discovery and innovation, prepare the next generation of physicians for Texas and the nation, and ensure the delivery of world-class medical care." The pledge will be paid over four years.

The gift to UT Southwestern is not Clements' first. He gave $10 million to complete a clinical and medical research building in 2006 and $1.25 million in 1998 to help fund the medical research of new and promising faculty members.

Hurtt among finalists for San Francisco chief

Harold Hurtt

The City of San Francisco has named three finalists for chief of police - and Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt (pictured) is among them. The city's mayor, however, has said the selection of the final candidate has been made but has not committed to taking the job after the city's Board of Supervisors cut millions of dollars from city public safety agency budgets. All thee of the finalists are male police chiefs in other cities.

Hurtt has said previously that he would like to continue to serve in Houston until the end of Mayor Bill White's term at the end of this year. Apparently, San Francisco's choice is having second thoughts after $82 million was cut from the police, fire and sheriff's department budgets.

Texas disaster relief: $1B from FEMA, $3B from HUD

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently topped the $1 billion mark in public assistance grants awarded to Texas to help pay for expenses caused by Hurricane Ike.

The $1 billion in FEMA funding was awarded to state, local and tribal governments as well as several nonprofit groups. The grants paid for such activities as evacuating residents, operating shelters, cleaning up debris and repairs to infrastructure such as roads, bridges, public buildings and public recreational facilities.

Included in that $1 billion total are $103 million to The University of Texas Medical Branch complex in Galveston to remove debris, repair buildings and replace equipment, $10 million to the Trinity Bay Conservation District for debris removal and $35 million to the Sam Houston Electric Cooperative in East Texas for emergency protective measures and to restore power.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just yesterday announced another allocation from that agency totaling $1.74 billion to Texas for disaster aid in relation to Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

Texas had already received $1.31 billion in disaster recovery funds this year. Thursday's allocation brings the total HUD funds in Texas to more than $3 billion. HUD officials also noted that nearly $312 million is available to states that spend their existing funding on programs that reduce potential damages from future disasters.

Texas schools to get $11 million in kitchen equipment

School Lunches

More than $11 million worth of new kitchen equipment in Texas public schools will be purchased through federal stimulus funding administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The new equipment is aimed at providing more energy efficiency and increasing the nutritional value of school meals by replacing deep-fryer cooking methods and encouraging the use of more fresh ingredients.

More than 3,000 schools in Texas responded when the funding announcement was made. The lunchroom equipment sought carried a price tag of $135 million statewide. Only 381 of the schools were chosen for funding, with the results being the purchase of 939 pieces of new kitchen equipment, including ovens, freezers, steam tables and food processors.

Eligible school districts were required to participate in the National School Lunch Program and priority was given to those districts with a significant number of students eligible for free or reduced-cost meals. Funds must be used to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of delivering school meals and can be used to replace, upgrade or update food service equipment. To view the list of recipients and equipment, click here.

Harris County creates port security district

Harris County commissioners recently approved the creation of the Houston Ship Channel Security District to help fund security enhancements along the Houston ship channel.

The new security district, which includes the Houston Port Authority, the East Harris County Manufacturers Association and more than 100 refining, chemical and marine facilities that operate along the Houston Ship Channel, will work to raise more funding for security technology and infrastructure. In addition to any funding raised by the security district, the port also has $30 million secured by Harris County in homeland security grants to install technology and infrastructure to enhance security and increase preparedness and response capabilities. Pat Bellamy, director of the University of Houston's Southwest Public Safety Technology Center, will lead the newly created security district.

New Texas Facilities Commission board member cited

Brant Ince

Brant C. Ince (pictured), vice president of one of the nation's leading construction consulting organizations, has been appointed the newest board member of the Texas Facilities Commission. He replaces Commissioner Victor Leal of Canyon.

Ince, who holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University, also serves as director of the Texas A&M 12th Man Foundation and as area representative for the Texas A&M University Association of Former Students.

TDA teams up to map state for broadband availability

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is teaming with the Public Utility Commission to map the state of Texas for broadband availability. The TDA is accepting proposals from telecommunications companies to assist with the effort, which will help provide service to those areas lacking high-speed Internet connectivity. The benefits of broadband service are multifold, according to Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

Staples said broadband service, while often taken for granted, "gives Texans access to services like health care and education, and can provide agricultural producers high-speed access to real time market information, which can help them maximize profits."

TDA began collecting information from contractors last April to determine how to map the state to identify broadband access.

Game Warden Academy graduates largest class ever

Game Warden

Some 51 cadets graduated this week from the Texas Game Warden Academy at the Capitol building in Austin. The service marked the single largest graduating class in the academy's history.

After 1,400 hours of training in areas ranging from firearm use to public speaking, the 54th graduating class was the first to be trained at the academy's new $20 million training complex in Hamilton County. The nonprofit Police Activities League donated the facility.

The graduating game wardens are set to report for duty in various counties across the state next week.

Five Houston-based companies to receive ETF awards

A number of Houston-area companies are set to receive $250,000 each from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, a $203.5 million initiative designed to augment start-up technological companies.

The companies receiving the awards include:

  • Castle Biosciences for the development of its biomarker-based cancer detection system;
  • Noninvasix for the development of a device that utilizes sound waves to measure hemoglobin and other blood components;
  • PULMOTECT for the development of products that boost the innate immune system to protect against airborne diseases;
  • SEMMT Inc. for the development of tools and techniques that revolutionize surgical methods of implanting left ventricular assist devices in the heart; and
  • SeprOx Corp. for the development and commercialization of its medical oxygen generator that separates pure oxygen from air.

Comptroller certifies state budget for 2010-11

State Budget

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has certified the state's two-year, $182-billion budget. She said there is enough revenue to support the 2010-11 spending cycle, which lawmakers approved June 1.

It initially appeared as though Texas would face a difficult revenue year, but the state was aided in part by several billion in federal stimulus dollars.

The budget incorporates $12.1 billion in stimulus funds with most of that money dedicated to education and health care. The budget leaves $9 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund.

TWC distributes more than $100M in stimulus benefits

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has distributed more than $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act unemployment funds since enacting a $25 weekly increase on February 22. The increase is effective for all claims filed through December 26.

TWC Chairman Tom Pauken said the increased benefits are "being pumped back into the Texas economy."

The increase is being funded with federal stimulus dollars; Texas employers do not contribute to the additional benefits.

Commander of 24th Air Force named at Lackland AFB

Richard Webber

Maj. Gen. Richard E. Webber (pictured) has been tapped to serve as commander of the 24th Air Force, the new Cyber Command set to take off this fall at Lackland Air Force Base.

Webber currently assists the assistant deputy chief for air, space and information operations, plans and requirements at the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In his new role, Webber - a command space and missile operator with numerous qualifications - will determine the operational necessities, capabilities and training needs required to support national security objectives and military strategies.

TSU regents approve $1.8M plans for dual-trail bike path

The Texas State University System Board of Regents has approved design documents for a dual-trail bike path project costing approximately $1.8 million. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has awarded the university $1.5 million for the initiative.

Construction on the Campus Bike Path-Spring Lake project - part of the Campus Master Plan approved by regents in 2005 - is set to be under way by early winter. Contracts will be awarded this fall.

When completed, the project will feature improved trail sections, two pre-manufactured pedestrian/bicycle bridges, an elevated boardwalk, drainage improvements and seating and rest areas along the trail.

UTEP receives National Science Foundation grant

Benjamin Flores

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has allocated $987,000 to The University of Texas at El Paso in an effort to help minority students pursue doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (otherwise known as STEM disciplines).

The Bridge to the Doctorate initiative, part of the university System's Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, provides 12 students each with $32,000 stipends to help fund research projects. This marks the second consecutive year the university has received the grant.

Dr. Benjamin Flores (pictured), an electrical and computer engineering professor at UTEP, said one of every five Hispanic students who earns a doctorate in STEM fields within the UT System is from UTEP. The NSF grant, he said, "bodes well for the future of our program."

UTHSC-San Antonio, Laredo Medical Center team up

The University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio (UTHSC) is teaming with Laredo Medical Center to generate interest among students in allied health careers.

The medical center has donated $45,000 to UTHSC to help fund a full-time recruiter at the Laredo Campus extension. The recruiter will work to bring more qualified, local students into the School of Health Professionals at the campus.

School of Health Professions Dean Marilyn Harrington said the school already has programs in place "and others in mind for our Laredo Campus Extension that will empower Laredo young people and those who wish to change their careers."

Director of UTEP entrepreneurial research center named

Gary Williams

Dr. Gary E. Williams (pictured) has been appointed director of the new Center for Research Entrepreneurship and Innovative Enterprises (CREIE) at The University of Texas at El Paso.

Williams previously served as senior vice president and vice chairman of a private firm that capitalized on intensive research conducted in UTEP laboratories. Today, the business holds exclusive worldwide license rights to the patents, technology and intellectual property developed at UTEP.

Williams holds a bachelor's degree from the Indiana Institute of Technology and master's and doctoral degrees from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

Two added to short list for Lone Star presidency

Dr. Christal Albrecht and Dr. Austin Lane have been added to the shortlist of finalists for the position of president at Lone Star College-Montgomery. Dr. Julie Leidig was previously selected as a finalist. The chancellor is expected to announce a lone finalist for the post in the coming weeks.

Leidig, vice president for instruction at LSC-Montgomery, previously worked for eight years at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Division of Community and Technical Colleges. There she served as director of instructional programs, assistant director of instructional programs and program director. She holds a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in addition to two master's degrees and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Albrecht, president of Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus in Tucson, Ariz., since January 2008, previously served as vice president for student learning from 2001 to 2007 and as associate dean for college planning from 2000 to 2001 at Lone Star College-CyFair. She holds a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University, a master's degree from Norwich University and a doctoral degree from the University of Houston.

Lane, vice president for student affairs at Tyler Junior College since November 2005, has served as dean of students, assistant dean of students, director of student judicial affairs and counseling specialist at The University of Texas at Arlington from 1996 to 2005. He holds a bachelor's degree from Langston University, a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma and doctoral degrees from Walden University and the University of Alabama.

SFA picks James Standley as dean of graduate studies

James Standley

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

Standley joined the SFA faculty in 1979 as founding dean of the College of Applied Arts and Sciences. The department merged with the College of Liberal Arts in 2006, whereupon Standley was named the inaugural dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts. He returned to teaching in 2007. At the time, he stood as the longest serving dean of any public university in the state.

Standley earned his bachelor's degree from SFA in 1965. He holds a master's degree from Sam Houston State University and a doctoral degree from Texas A&M University.

Sul Ross presidential search committee narrows list

The Presidential Search Committee at Sul Ross State University has narrowed its search to eight candidates from a pool of 34 applicants. The university's 10th president, Dr. R. Vic Morgan, is set to retire Aug. 31. Interviews with applicants will take place later this summer.

UT College of Pharmacy selects associate dean

William McIntyre

Dr. William J. McIntyre (pictured) has been named associate dean for clinical programs and clinical professor at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy. He replaces Dr. M. Lynn Crimson, who now serves as dean of the UT College of Pharmacy.

McIntyre is the former director of the Area Health Education Center-Southwest at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Texarkana, Ark. Prior to that charge, he served as first assistant dean for the UT Cooperative Pharmacy Program at UT-Pan American, where he went on to serve as dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services.

McIntyre holds a bachelor's degree and doctorate from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. He completed his pharmacy residency at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., and his clinical residency at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

Dallas approves $29M to study levees, toll road

The Dallas City Council has approved $29 million to study the city's battered levee system and continue preliminary measures on the proposed Trinity River toll road.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently rated the city's levee system "unacceptable." The approved study - which is set to include 1,500 boring samples of the 23-mile levee system at a cost of $8,800 per drilling sample - will determine the extent of the repairs and address major issues affecting the floodway, including levee height, stability and seepage, according to Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan.

By a slimmer margin, the council also approved $1.3 million for continued work on an environmental-impact study for the Trinity River toll road plan.

Austin, Travis Co. choose medical director

Paul Hinchey

Dr. Paul Hinchey (pictured), deputy medical director of the Wake County EMS in Raleigh, N.C., has been selected to serve as medical director by City of Austin and Travis County officials. He replaces Dr. Edward Racht.

In his new role, Hinchey will supervise the office that certifies and credentials personnel for Austin/Travis County EMS, the Austin Fire Department and 14 Emergency Services Districts in Travis County. Both the county and city fund the medical director's office, each contributing 30 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

Hinchey, who holds an MBA from the State University of New York-Buffalo, is board-certified in emergency medicine. He completed his residency at the University of North Carolina.

New USDA housing administrator named

Tammye Trevino of Uvalde has been selected to serve as administrator for housing and community facilities programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development Agency.

Trevino, the former economic development director for LaSalle County, has most recently served as chief executive officer of a Uvalde-based nonprofit that provides housing, business and community development assistance to rural residents.

Trevino holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio and a master's degree from Sul Ross State University's Rio Grande College in Del Rio.

San Antonio College to receive $683,365 in state grants

Robert Zeigler

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently selected San Antonio College to receive three grants totaling $683,365 to fund several outreach programs for low-income students from several school districts in San Antonio.

The three-year grants will pay for a summer bridge program for 11th and 12th grade students from San Antonio ISD, a senior summer program that enrolls recent graduates from five high schools in San Antonio ISD, two high schools in Edgewood ISD, two high schools in Northside ISD, Lee High School in Northeast ISD and Alamo Heights High School and a full-year transition program for low-income students in partnership with Edgewood ISD.

The summer bridge program is aimed at San Antonio ISD students who are not college-ready to make the transition from high school to college, said President Robert E. Zeigler (pictured) of San Antonio College. The summer senior program allows students from 11 high schools to earn up to seven college credits while the third grant will allow the college to provide students of Edgewood ISD with college-readiness coursework in English and math, receive one-on-one counseling and tutoring and participate in field trips, Ziegler said. Dean Ruben Flores of the Division of Evening, Weekend and Distance Education will oversee all of the grant programs, Ziegler said.

Fort Bend seeks grants for science, technology center

Fort Bend ISD recently agreed to seek grants and other external funding to help pay for construction and operation of the proposed $22 million Global Center for Science and Technology.

The new facility, to be built next to the district's central administration building, will include high-tech laboratories, grade-appropriate interactive learning stations, a planetarium, a "sci-max" theater and a conference room. The council will appoint a grant-search committee to look for funding from corporations, nonprofit agencies and public agencies. Council members also will name a program and design committee to seek partnerships with science organizations to develop educational programs to be offered at the center.

District officials hope to raise 20 percent of the $22 million construction costs from contributions and for corporations and other outside sources to pay half of the cost of operation, maintenance, transportation and staffing of the facility. It is designed to spark interest in science and provide more effective training for science teachers.

Texas entities to address PV industry advances

Two Texas universities and one state agency have been awarded up to $150,000 each over a 12-month period to evaluate or test and assess ideas that can impact the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry. The money is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds aimed at helping develop alternative energy sources.

The reasoning behind the awards is that non-solar companies have technologies and practices that could benefit the PV industry. These Texas entities and other award recipients will use the funding to assess these technologies and ideas.

The Texas Engineering Experiment Station was awarded $147,000, the University of Houston garnered funding of $150,000 and The University of Texas at Arlington was awarded $120,000.

Blinn trustees select vice president of applied sciences

Bob Brick

The Blinn College Board of Trustees has appointed Bob Brick (pictured) vice president of applied sciences. In his new role, newly created to encourage technical and workforce educational programs, Brick will explore new areas and decide which programs should be expanded.

Brick previously served as a natural sciences division chair at the college's Bryan campus.

Port of Corpus Christi moves on rail interchange yard

The commissioner of the Port of Corpus Christi recently authorized up to $275,000 to pay a design firm to produce detailed design drawings and bidding documents for a new rail interchange yard.

The new interchange yard is part of the port's $23 million to $29 million Northside Rail Master Plan. The design documents for the new rail interchange yard will take about 60 to 90 days to be completed.

Port officials plan to request funding for the project from the Texas Department of Transportation, which is expected to distribute about $1.5 billion in stimulus funds soon. Port officials also plan to replace the old interchange yard near the Tule Lake Lift Bridge with a new Viola Channel Rail Interchange Yard in early 2010, along with improvements to the Suntide Rail and two railroad bridges between Corpus Christi and Houston as part of the Rail Master Plan.

UTMB to reopen full-service emergency room

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston will reopen its full-service emergency room on Aug. 1, albeit on a smaller scale than it operated before being ravaged by Hurricane Ike eight months ago. Prior to Hurricane Ike, UTMB's Level One trauma center was known nationwide as one of the best in the country. More than $700 million in damages from the storm forced closure of the ER and calls for the downsizing of the facility sent some of the ER personnel in search of jobs elsewhere. UTMB now plans to contract with a Dallas-based emergency room management services company for providing physicians.

Although UTMB will have the same services of a Level One trauma center, that designation will not be forthcoming until application is made to the American College of Surgeons. It could take as long as two years before the program resumes training emergency room doctors.

Tech School of Medicine ranked in national poll

Steven Berk

The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education has ranked Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center's School of Medicine 12th in its annual list of Top 25 Medical Schools Enrolling Hispanics. Texas leads the number of states enrolling Hispanic students at seven top medical schools.

Dr. Steven Berk (pictured), dean of the TTUHSC School of Medicine, said having a significant number of Hispanic physicians is key to resolving many of the issues the minority group faces, including language barriers, cultural beliefs and lack of health insurance.

Hispanic patients represent the largest minority group in the U.S. at 13 percent of the total population. Berk said TTUHSC officials are proud the school has been recognized as "a national leader in enrolling outstanding Hispanic physicians."

Energy system, efficiency grants cited by USDA

Loan guarantees and grants to agriculture producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements are being made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Office. The loans can be used for purchase of renewable energy systems that use wind, solar, renewable biomass, geothermal, ocean, small hydropower or hydrogen sources. Energy efficiency projects can include retrofitting lighting or insulation, irrigation systems and grain dryers or the purchase or replacement of equipment with more energy efficient units.

The grant request cannot exceed 25 percent of the eligible project cost. Renewable energy grants can range from $2,500 to $500,000 while energy efficiency grants can range from $1,500 to $250,000. Maximum loan guarantees are $25 million per project and can be for up to 75 percent of total eligible project costs. There are other qualifiers.

Applications must be received by the Texas USDA Rural Development Office, 101 South Main, Suite 102, Temple, Texas 76501 no later than 4:30 p.m. CST July 31. For more information, click here.

University Health System to seek additional funding

Funding for the $900 million expansion of the tax-supported University Health System will be sought from the Bexar County Commissioner's Court. Officials with the hospital system will ask the court to authorize the sale of up to $290 million in certificates of obligation, the second such sale with a third expected in 2011.

The first round of financing included a 9.9 percent increase in the system's tax rate. The system is contributing some $120 million cash from its reserves to the project, while cutting its operating budget by $6.6 million.

The court is likely to seek taxable Build America Bonds, which are part of the federal Recovery Act and include a 35 percent federal rebate. With approval by the court, the bonds could be sold in August with construction then getting under way next year.

Cone to be new Fort Hood commanding general

Robert Cone

Army Maj. Gen. Robert W. Cone (pictured) has been nominated by the President to appointment of the rank of lieutenant general. He will be assigned commanding general, III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas. Cone currently serves as special assistant to the commanding general at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Monroe, Virginia, after having commanded the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan in 2007. He is also the previous Commanding General of the U.S. Army National Training Center and Fort Irwin, California.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Cone was first commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Armor Branch. He has served in operational assignments in the United States, Germany and Southwest Asia. He has previously served as Executive Officer, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fulda, Germany; Operations Officer, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood; Director, Joint Advanced Warfighting Program, Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, Virginia; and, Director, Joint Center for Operational Analysis, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Operation Iraqi Freedom. His commands include 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, III Corps, Fort Bliss, later Fort Carson, Colorado, and 2d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Hood.

In addition to his bachelor's degree from West Point, Cone holds a master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree from the Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Dallas to study bond sale for public hotel

Dallas City Council is preparing to authorize selling of bonds to fund a Dallas Convention Center hotel, with the decision to come as early as next week. The estimated cost for such a project is approximately $500 million. Many see a convention center hotel as the boost needed to turn around the city's sagging convention industry.

The hotel project survived a May referendum which would have outlawed publicly owned hotels in the city.

Stimulus funds to be used for S.A. public housing

Repairs and upgrades to the Lewis Chatham senior apartment complex in San Antonio and security, elevator and fire safety upgrades to 21 other San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHS) properties will be paid for by $14.5 million in federal stimulus funds. Fencing, window, roof and heater and air conditioner upgrades at other SAHA-operated public housing facilities are also in the works. SAHS officials noted that the money coming to San Antonio is the largest amount being distributed among the nation's nearly 350 such authorities.

New software goes online in Nacogdoches County

Thomas Kerss

A new law enforcement software package went online this week in Nacogdoches County. The upgrade, which replaces a 15-year-old antiquated system, arrived after months of deliberation and training for city and county officials.

The new system will "help bridge the gap with other local law enforcement," Sheriff Thomas Kerss (pictured) said. The software will let police, sheriff's and constable's offices pass information back and forth in addition to allowing each entity a chance to review statistics in each area "so we have more informed officers," according to Kerss.

City and county commissioners approved the $700,000 purchase last year. Nacogdoches County contributed the bulk of the upgrade fee - about $532,000 - and the city covered the remainder.

Crowley approves public notice of $11M in certificates

Crowley City Council members have approved public notice of the city's intent to issue $11 million in certificates of obligation. Money raised from the funds would be geared toward the construction of a new community center, public works facility and animal shelter in addition to street, curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements.

The certificates will not likely raise the city's tax rate, but instead will be funded through increased property values and the retirement of existing debt.

The council has also approved allowing the city manager to apply for an Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant to fund three projects. The initiatives to be funded include a security system for the municipal courtroom and the city hall, the purchase of a van to transport community service youths and the purchase of command-center equipment for the Emergency Operations Management Center.

Keane new Eden economic development director

City leaders in Eden selected Kathy Keane, who recently retired as the executive director of the San Angelo Development Corporation, to serve as the director of economic development in Eden. Keane begins her new duties in Eden in July.

San Marcos approves $527,130 for parks, housing

The San Marcos City Council recently approved $425,130 in federal community development block grant funding to upgrade two parks and rehabilitate housing.

Projects to be funded are:

  • $135,000 for a gazebo, bike rack, fountain, benches and trails to build Eddie Durham Park;
  • $115,000 to rehab Victory Gardens park with new playground equipment with shade cover, a new basketball court and security fence;
  • $53,200 to build 10 parking spaces near Victory Gardens park;
  • $100,000 to the Southside Community Center's summer housing rehabilitation project in low-income neighborhoods;
  • $53,860 to renovate the Chapultepec Community Square;
  • $139,827 to build 20 wheelchair ramps for downtown sidewalks; and
  • $100,000 for program administration.

Presidio County to move inmates to other counties

Jerry Agan

The Presidio County Commissioners Court has ruled to move seven remaining inmates out of the Presidio County Jail since repairs to bring the facility to meet state standards are not fiscally possible at this time. The jail has water leaks and a broken water heater, according to County Judge Jerry Agan (pictured).

Officials are hoping for a temporary closure. Commissioners have applied for a grant from the Governor's Office they hope will allow them to make the necessary repairs.

The inmates will be moved to Culberson and Brewster county facilities in the interim.

Central Texas transportation projects approved

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has approved $29 million in Central Texas transportation projects in addition to $107 million previously distributed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Projects include adding a center turn lane to Texas 71 near Austin and constructing an overpass in Buda, among other initiatives. Overall, Texas is set to receive about $2.25 billion in federal stimulus dollars.

The Texas Transportation Commission awarded the initial set of funds three months ago, the greatest portion of which will be allocated to the planned U.S. 290 tollway in Austin.

Capital Metro also stands to receive an additional $26.1 million in stimulus grants from the Federal Transit Administration to buy buses and add track for commuter rail trains.

Amarillo board urges award of $3.1 million in grants

An advisory board to the Amarillo City Commission recently recommended the allocation of nearly $3.1 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to several community development projects. Included in the recommendation for funding was $150,000 to repair the Downtown Women's Center ABBA House, $97,500 to renovate the restrooms and stairway of the Maverick Boys and Girls Club and $80,000 to renovate the childcare restrooms at the YMCA-North Branch. The committee also recommended $110,000 for childcare assistance for lower-income families, $25,000 to provide meals to low-income or disabled seniors and $225,000 to acquire and renovate multi-family rental units to use as affordable housing units.

The Amarillo City Council, which must approve the recommendations before they are final, is expected to vote on the recommendations in July.

Hidalgo County receives more than $887K from DHS

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted Hidalgo County $887,560 through its Operation Stonegarden initiative, designed to enhance local law enforcement border security operations.

The funds are allocated to designated localities to foster coordination among federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies in an effort to secure United States land borders.

Uvalde CISD receives $350,000 state grant for dropouts

Wendell Brown

The Texas Education Agency recently selected the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District to receive a $350,000 grant from the Dropout Recovery Pilot Program to pay for programs to stem dropouts and provide services to some students who already dropped out of school.

Superintendent Wendell Brown (pictured) said $150,000 of the grant funds will be used to pay salaries for employees to provide services and $200,000 will be used to provide incentives for students. The grant will allow the Technology and Resource Center to expand programs and to offer a General Educational Development, or GED, high school alternative diploma.

The grant also will be used to pay for tutorials for students who have not yet passed TAKS tests, and to serve students up to the age of 24. District leaders will decide on which incentives to offer students, but said no incentives will be offered until the student has completed requirements for a high school diploma.

Plano approves application for grant to upgrade parks

Plano city council members recently authorized city staff to apply to a county program for a $435,000 grant to help pay for extending the Bluebonnet Trail and to build a new multi-use recreation park trail.

The grant, if approved, will pay for extending the Bluebonnet Trail from Alma Road to the east and the north, said Renee Jordan, a trail systems planner. The trail will connect to seven proposed on-street bike routes and to Chisholm Trail and has more than 20 connection points to streets and parks in the north-central area of the city, she said. The trail will eventually cross the city of Plano and connect to Allen.

The city also has $870,000 in bond funds for development of Bluebonnet Trail East, which would be shifted to other projects if the grant is approved. The city will be required to match the grant if approved, Jordan said. Construction on the trail will not begin until mid-fall.

Burleson leaders debate use of red-light revenues

After approving an extended 15-year contract for red-light cameras, Burleson city leaders recently debated how to use the revenue generated by the cameras.

When Deputy City Manager Paul Cain told the council that the red-light cameras provided the city with about $46,000 net revenue and proposed spending the revenue for police items such as electronic ticket-writing devices and new vehicles for resource officers, Councilman Jim Wadlow noted that the report lent credence to criticism that the cameras are big revenue generators for the city. Council members, however, agreed the revenue should be used to increase safety throughout the city and asked city staff to bring back a proposal to the council.

City Manager Curtis Hawk agreed to identify safety issues that could be addressed through the use of the funds from the red-light cameras and to consider items that would not ordinarily be considered budget items. Staff will bring a proposal for use of the funds at a later council meeting, Hawk said.

Webb County receives $2.5M in funds from DHS

Martin Cuellar

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Operation Stonegarden has allocated $2.5 million to Webb County for local law enforcement measures. The funds will allow personnel to do their jobs more effectively and provide better security, Sheriff Martin Cuellar (pictured) said.

Operation Stonegarden, an initiative that funds the enhancement of localized law enforcement border security operations, granted $1.9 million to the county last year, which the county has yet to spend. The funds were tied up in an audit of the previous administration. Cuellar said the funds were recently made available, and the administration plans to start using them "within the month" on a fleet of new vehicles for the department.

The Laredo Police Department stands to receive close to $1 million of the new funds.

El Paso, seven other districts to add low-emission buses

As part of a grant program recently finalized by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, eight school districts in the far West Texas region will add ultra-low emission propane school buses to their fleets. The districts plan to purchase 16 buses at a cost of $164,000 each.

The Anthony, Canutillo, Clint, El Paso, Fabens, San Elizario, Socorro and Ysleta school districts each will buy two buses. The federal government, in turn, will reimburse the districts with $1.3 million in funds from the Transportation Improvement Program.

The districts will also receive a 50-cent reimbursement from the Internal Revenue Service for every gallon of propane purchased, according to Oscar Anchondo, director of transportation for the El Paso Independent School District.

Austin approves $20.7 in stimulus funds for jobs

Using federal stimulus dollars meant for low-income schools, the Austin school board has created about 18 new jobs - the first step in a $20.7 million plan. The measure could save a projected 166 jobs while adding 63 more.

Most of the funds will be geared toward staffing new employees in enhanced English language instruction, adding dropout prevention and social services, and creating a twilight school and pre-school literacy program.

The remainder of the funds will be awarded to service contracts with outside groups to help implement the plan.

'Pipeline' can help identify, increase opportunities

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Push on for electronic health records systems nationwide

Mary Scott Nabers

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

A nationwide push is on to expand the use of electronic health records in the United States, but medical professionals and medical facilities have been slow to embrace the practice.

According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, only a small number of hospitals in the United States have comprehensive electronic health records systems in place. The study showed that 1.5 percent of the more than 3,000 hospitals surveyed had electronic health systems at their facilities. Because there has been no way to recoup the financial investment, hospitals have been reluctant to make a financial investment of this type.

There is controversy, of course, about privacy and security, but most of the slowness has resulted from cost factors. That obstacle has been lessened significantly by the stimulus funding. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designates $19 billion for the installation of electronic health records systems and most states are in a heated race to capture the funds.


Spring Hill ISD approves
$4 million bond sale

Wes Jones

Spring Hill Independent School District trustees recently approved the sale of $4 million in bonds to complete several campus upgrades.

Superintendent Wes Jones (pictured) said the $4 million in bonds to be sold are from the $12.8 million remaining from the $41.8 million bond package approved in May 2008. Proceeds from this sale of bonds will be used to pay for remodeling the existing middle school to house grades three, four and five and the junior high school to accommodate grades six, seven and eight. It will also add new tennis courts and fencing and upgrade the high school football stadium, Jones said. The district is also building a new $30.5 million, 159,283-square-foot high school with proceeds from the $41.8 million bond package.

Longview ISD selects
two new administrators

Trustees for the Longview Independent School District recently selected Micah Lewis as the deputy superintendent for campus accountability. Lewis, who will replace former Deputy Superintendent Jeff Dozier, who was reassigned in May, will begin his new duties on Aug. 1. Lewis currently serves as superintendent of the Liberty-Eylau ISD and also was curriculum director at Hooks ISD.

Board members also selected Emily Bellamy as the new director of finance to replace Karen Bane, who resigned in January. Bellamy formerly served as business manager for the Hughes Springs ISD.

Kerr County approves $75K matching grant for airport

Kerr County commissioners have approved matching a $75,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for the second phase of a $13.2 million taxiway relocation at Schreiner Field. The project is slated to begin this fall.

The Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation, which funded the $5.2 million first phase of the facility, will also fund this grant. Council members voted not to grant a request by the airport board to allow it to apply for local sales tax dollars.

El Paso, Ysleta del Sur to receive security grant

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently selected El Paso County and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe to receive $1.4 million in grants as part of its Operation Stonegarden program. The Stonegarden program targets 13 border states to be awarded $60 million in grants to enhance border security.

El Paso County will receive $1,138,875 and the Ysleta de Sur Pueblo Tribe will receive $327,504 to improve coordination between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Texas is slated to receive approximately $16.7 million in grant funds from the Operation Stonegarden program.

Kerrville mayor approves advisory panel for center

Todd Bock

Kerrville Mayor Todd Bock (pictured) plans to appoint an advisory panel to examine how to go about building a convention center downtown. The panel will be charged with determining where to build, how big the facility should be and laying out the pros and cons of pursuing the project as a public/private partnership.

A recent survey conducted by the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau identified demand for a site to host events that is larger than the 11,000 square feet now available at a local hotel, according to Sudie Burditt, executive director of the panel.

Tarkington VFD moving forward on new fire station

Officials of the Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department recently began clearing land and agreed to seek federal stimulus funds to help pay for a new fire station on FM 1008.

Fire Chief Paul Gregory estimates the new fire station will cost a minimum of $100,000. If the department does not receive stimulus funding to pay for construction of the new fire station, the department will search for other funding to pay for construction, Gregory said.

Tyler authorizes transit system to apply for grant

The Tyler City Council recently authorized Tyler Transit to apply for a $1.7 million federal stimulus grant to buy five new transit vehicles, upgrade bus stops and improve the transit depot building. City leaders also are applying for a grant to improve downtown traffic signals.

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.

Bob Glasgow

Bob Glasgow served as an administrative assistant to Gov. Preston Smith from 1969 to 1970. He later was elected District Attorney for the 29th Judicial District in Texas, serving from 1972-1980. He was elected to the Texas Senate, serving from 1981-1993. Today, he practices law in Stephenville.

Gene Fondren

Gene Fondren was elected to three consecutive terms in the Texas House of Representatives, serving from 1963 to 1968. He left the House and was named president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, a post he held from 1972 to 2004. He currently serves of counsel to an Austin law firm.

Laredo cuts superintendent search to three candidates

The three finalists for Laredo ISD superintendent have been chosen from a field of six semi-finalist candidates from 28 applicants presented by the search firm retained by the district. Trustees plan to hold another round of interviews with the final three candidates on June 27. Trustees are scheduled to vote on a finalist for superintendent on July 2.

Marble Falls exploring new $7 million events center

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation Board recently requested city staff to create a committee to gather more information on the viability of a proposed $7 million events center.

Ralph Hendricks, interim city manager, recommended the committee be comprised of representatives of the city, the economic development corporation, the chamber of commerce and the board of the parks and recreation department. City leaders currently are looking at incorporating the events center at the existing pavilion at Lakeside Park and adding 32,000 square feet of meeting space with expanded parking, Hendricks said.

Paris leaders mulling bond election for road project

Paris city council members recently requested the city manager to prepare a list of projects that could be included in a proposed bond election along with a $3 million extension of Collegiate Drive. The roadway extension is needed to improve traffic flow to the new Paris High School.

Several council members also suggested other roads that may need upgrading and discussed whether to issue certificates of obligation or schedule a bond election to pay for the Collegiate Drive extension and other projects. Council members then requested the city's finance director to prepare and present to council a comparison of interest rates between bonds and certificates of obligation to provide them with more information.

Killeen seeking $1M grant to improve energy efficiency

Connie Green

Killeen city officials recently agreed to submit an application for a $1,027,000 federal grant to improve energy efficiency in city buildings. If the grant is awarded, it will bring the total stimulus funding received by Killeen to $6.56 million, said City Manager Connie Green (pictured).

The federal funding can be used to upgrade air conditioning, replace windows with more energy efficient windows or to change lighting. Because the city is not required to designate specific projects in the application, council members will decide which projects will be pursued if the grant is awarded.

Pearland police to seek $2.3 million in federal money

Officials of the Pearland Police Department recently applied for two federal stimulus grants to hire more police officers and to pay for new radio equipment, video cameras and a light system to help officers better identify fingerprints.

The first grant for $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services' Hiring Recovery Program will be used to hire eight more police officers, said Lt. Onesimo Lopez. Pearland currently has 128 officers, or 1.4 officers per 1,000 residents, while the average for this geographic region is 1.8 officers per 1,000 residents. The second grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program for $593,000 will be used to help pay for 60 additional hand-held radios, video cameras and a light system, he said.

Seguin nets $300,000 rebate for propane buses

The Seguin Independent School District recently received a $303,150 rebate after purchasing 21 propane buses in October.

Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, who presented the rebate to trustees, praised district officials for being in the forefront of the propane bus movement. He also noted that of the 36,000 school buses in Texas, only 1,700 are propane buses, which are less expensive to fuel and more environmentally friendly than diesel buses. The district also will qualify for a 50-cent-per-gallon rebate on future propane purchases.

Wynn to replace retiring Brownwood City Secretary

Brownwood City Council members recently selected Christi Wynne, who previously served as the city manager's administrative assistant, as the new city secretary. She replaces Jan Kaase, who recently retired from that position. Wynne has worked for the city since 1992. Kaase served as Brownwood city secretary for 10 years and previously held positions in the cities of Comanche, Haltom City, Palestine and Seagoville.

Brown County approves purchase of new consoles

Brown County commissioners recently agreed to use $107,000 in grant funds to replace radio dispatch equipment. The city will use $58,000 from a 2007 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant and $50,852 from a 2008 Homeland Security grant for the equipment upgrade.

The grant funding will pay for four new communication consoles at the Law Enforcement Center and one console at Emergency Operations and will move the county close to the "advanced" level, noted one county commissioner. The existing consoles are 15 years old and some repair parts are no longer available, he said.

SPI welcomes Nauman as newest keynote speaker
in Special Services Division

Jane Nauman

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. this week announces the addition of Jane Nauman (pictured) to its Special Services Division. With 30 years experience in public education - 15 years in the classroom and 15 years as an administrator - Nauman now translates that specialized background into keynote addresses. She not only has spoken before teachers and administrators, but also for other diverse groups from architects to parent groups.

Nauman also conducts presentations and leads professional development programs, working with both large and small groups for training and seminars. She also addresses student and parent groups on such topics as drug abuse and other hot button issues.

For more information on SPI's Special Services Division, click here, or to book one of our specialists, contact Cory von Leonrod at 512-531-3922.

Alto mulling emergency alert system for city

The Alto City Council recently agreed to seek grants to pay for an emergency alert system to warn residents of severe weather and other emergencies.

Council members voted following a demonstration of a hazard alert system mounted on a 20-foot pole. The proposed system would sound an eight-second alarm before broadcasting weather or hazard reports. The system has a circular sound of 1,000 feet, red and amber beacons to signify whether a storm warning or a storm watch is in effect and will broadcast verbal warnings without activation by city officials. The cost of the system would be about $11,000 plus installation.

Fort Bend CAD to look at more options for expanding

Bob Hebert

The chief appraiser for the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District recently withdrew his proposal to build a new 33,000-square-foot building to explore other options for expanding space. The request to withdraw the proposal followed a vote by the Fort Bend Independent School District rejecting a resolution in support of the new building and vocal opposition from Precinct 1 Commissioner Richard Morrison. About 75 percent of the170 taxing entities in Fort Bend County would need to approve the resolution in support of the proposal to expand space for the appraisal district, noted County Judge Bob Hebert (pictured). Each entity has 30 days to approve or reject the resolution. So far, he said, only a dozen of the entities have responded positively.

The appraisal district currently is housed in a 19,000-square-foot building on a four-acre site that also has a 6,000-square-foot building that houses child protective services. Morrison suggested that Chief Appraiser Glen Whitehead use the 6,000-square-foot building that will become available when CPS moves to the courthouse once construction on that courthouse project is complete. Whitehead noted that expansion at the current site would not be cheap and that upgrading the drainage system alone would cost about $330,000.

Splendora to seek $900,000 loan for utility relocation

The Splendora City Council recently approved a resolution to seek a $900,000 bank loan to pay for relocation of utilities for construction of U.S. Highway 59.

City officials expect the bank to make a decision on the loan application by the end of June. Once the loans are in place, contractors can begin work on the north portion of the utility relocation project, said Mayor Dorothy Welch.

Henderson approves $900,000 for meter readers

Henderson city council members recently approved $900,000 for a new automated water-meter reading system. The new automated system should be installed and the old meters replaced within one year, said Mike Barrow, assistant city manager. The automated system operates with a global positioning system by linking with an automatic reader connected to each meter. A hand-held computer installed in a city vehicle collects the data from each meter from as far away as 1,000 feet, he said.

In a test of the new system, a city employee was able to read 1,700 meters in two hours. It usually takes meter readers about four days working six hours a day to read all of the city's 5,000 water meters.

Breckenridge ISD selects Teel as lone finalist

Jennings Teel

Trustees for the Breckenridge Independent School District recently selected Jennings Teel (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Teel currently serves as superintendent of the Navasota ISD and formerly was superintendent for Mason ISD.

Trustees for Navasota ISD said they plan to begin looking for a replacement for Teel once the official announcement of his new position is made.

Elgin OKs $800,000 for water improvements

The Elgin City Council recently approved the issuance and sale of certificates of obligation to pay the final $800,000 for Phase II of the city's water system improvement program.

The additional funding was required to finish the project because inflation had increased the cost originally estimated in the plans seven years ago, city officials said. Originally, the price tag for Phase II of the water system improvements was $2,556,000.

Jacksonville police will
apply for two grants

The Jacksonville City Council recently authorized the Jacksonville Police Department to apply for two grants, a $27,500 grant from the Texas Justice Assistance program and a COPS Hiring Recovery Grant to hire four new police officers.

The $27,500 grant will be used to resurvey and refit the boat used by police to patrol Lake Jacksonville, said City Manager Mo Raissi. The grant to hire new officers will reimburse the city for three years for 100 percent of the cost of hiring the four new officers, he said.

La Marque selects Gage
as new city manager

Eric Gage

The La Marque City Council recently selected Eric Gage (pictured) as the new city manager. Gage, who has served as interim city manager for four months, replaces former City Manager Robert Ewart, who resigned earlier this year. Gage previously served as the economic development director for Texas City, the marketing manager for a Pearland economic development group and worked for a Houston-based developer.

Aransas Co. to use stimulus funds for utility, rent aid

Aransas County commissioners recently approved the use of $69,095 in federal stimulus funds to expand utility and rent assistance to eligible recipients and to hire an additional employee in the county's assistance department.

Commissioners allocated $43,001 for utility assistance, rental assistance and mortgage assistance for 62 households designated up to 200 percent poverty, which will provide a maximum of $500 for each household. The county also allocated $3,000 for home vegetable garden kits and about $34,000 to hire an employee for the county's assistance department.

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.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD names lone finalist

Bobby Burns

Carrollton-Farmers Branch trustees have selected interim Superintendent Bobby Burns as lone finalist for the permanent post. Burns previously served as the district's assistant superintendent for personnel and administration before he took the interim position last October. He began his academic career as a high school English teacher in the Garland Independent School District. He also taught and coached at Richardson ISD for five years before coming to Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD in 1988 to work as a high school English teacher and coach. During his 21-year tenure at Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, he has also served as assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent.

Burns holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from East Texas State University, now known as Texas A&M-Commerce, and a doctoral degree from the University of North Texas.

Denton Co. approves $500,000 for repairs

Denton County commissioners recently approved $500,000 to repair damage to the Joseph A. Carroll Building caused in late May by a leaking sprinkler system. The leak, which occurred overnight, damaged the building to the ground floor and included damage to computers, furniture, carpets and other items.

County Judge Mary Horn said she expects insurance to reimburse the county for all but $10,000 of the costs caused by the leaking sprinkler system. Horn said she expects the repairs to begin next week and will take six to eight weeks to complete. Until the repairs are made, county personnel are working out of other county facilities, she said.

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Administrator for League City offers resignation

Chris Reed

Chris Reed (pictured) recently resigned as city administrator for League City following a city council executive session. His resignation is effective June 30.

Council members also authorized using a consulting firm to help find an interim city administrator to replace Reed, who served as city administrator since October 2006. Reed also served as police chief in League City before being selected as city administrator.

Cleveland moves forward with red-light cameras

Cleveland City Council has approved a measure to enter into a contract that will provide the city with red-light cameras. The contractor is set to conduct a study and determine which intersections in Cleveland need the traffic lights, which proponents say increase safety and awareness. Opponents of the measure have questioned the lights' viability in a small town the size of Cleveland. Revenue raised from the red-light cameras can be used for issues related to public safety or traffic enforcement.

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Woodlands Fire Department eyes location for station

The Woodlands Fire Department has tentatively selected a site for its eighth fire station at Gosling Road and Flintridge Dr.

Fire Chief Alan Benson said the site is "optimal" since it will allow for coverage in underserved areas, including Indian Springs and Creekside Park. The proposed site "lowers our deficiency and handles our future growth," he said. Response times to areas in Indian Springs can be up to eight minutes, while an agreement governing The Woodlands sets a standard five-minute response time or less.

Pearsall city manager resigns after eight years

Jose Trevino

Pearsall City Manager Jose G. "Pepe" Trevino (pictured) has resigned after eight years, citing health reasons. He will step down July 15.

Trevino has served as CEO of a major trust company and as a member of an international accounting and management firm during his 40-year career. He also has served as a trustee of the Pearsall Independent School District school board. The search for a new city manager is already under way.

Plainview approves airport agreement with TxDOT

The Plainview City Council has approved an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for an improvement project at the Plainview/Hale County Airport totaling $812,000. The project, originally slated for 2011-12, has been moved up to this fiscal year and includes replacing pavement on taxiway and hangar access areas. TxDOT will cover 95 percent of the funding, with the city and county footing the remaining 5 percent of costs equally. (The local contributions to the project total $37,750 for both the county and the city.) The construction phase of the project is set to begin in October.

Anthony exploring free wireless for all residents

Anthony city leaders recently began exploring the feasibility of using federal stimulus funding to provide wireless Internet access to all residents. Mayor Art Franco said he met with representatives of the Anthony Independent School District and a technology company to discuss the feasibility of city-wide Internet access after the school district used a $486,000 state grant to buy and distribute 200 laptop computers to students in March. Many students must sit in the school's parking lot with laptops to access an Internet signal to work on their homework because many homes in Anthony do not have access to the Internet, said Superintendent Ron Haugen.

Franco said he plans to meet with school district officials and the private company in the next two weeks to begin the grant application process. The program offered by the technology company would also provide affordable or free computers and training to the community in addition to the wireless service, Franco said. The cost of the program would be less than $200,000.

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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Texas Citizens Corps Conference dates announced

The Texas Citizens Corps Conference will be held June 30-July 1 at the Omni Houston Hotel, Four Riverway, in Houston. Dr. David H. McIntyre, director, Integrative Center for Homeland Security at Texas A&M University, is the invited speaker for the first day's luncheon. Some of the conference topics will include starting and maintaining a CERT program, using technology to recruit and maintain volunteers, neighborhood watch and fire corps. To view the draft agenda, click here. For more information and to download a registration form, 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.