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  Volume 7, Issue 22 · Friday, June 5, 2009
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Confronting nursing shortage problems head-on

UT Health Science Center-Houston seeks to graduate nursing faculty


As Texas continues to face a dramatic shortfall in the number of graduating registered nurses each year, The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at Houston School of Nursing is confronting the problem - stat.

The school has introduced the Accelerated Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program, designed to graduate nurses at the doctoral level in three years rather than the traditional five to seven years. The $2 million initiative - the first of its kind in Texas and the second in the nation - addresses the need for nursing faculty at universities and colleges across the country.

Patricia Starck

Patricia Starck (pictured), who recently celebrated her 25th year as dean of the UTHSC-Houston School of Nursing, said the curriculum will confront the nursing shortage at an intrinsic level.

"We finally recognized the root of the problem," Starck said. "Surveys in the southern region for the past 10 years have shown we were going to have a shortage problem as faculty began to retire."

The accelerated Ph.D. program, which includes 66 post-master's credits, will initially admit 10 cohorts beginning with the Fall 2010 semester.

To entice candidates to teach, the school is offering fully funded stipends for students, so they can concentrate on classes without working. Admission to the program is contingent upon students' agreement to teach at UTHSC or in the Gulf Coast region for a minimum of three years following graduation.

"After that amount of time, we are hoping they love to teach and will continue to do so," Starck said.


Fort Bliss may not get combat brigade as planned

U.S. Army

Plans to add a combat brigade at Fort Bliss have been canceled by the U.S. Army. The El Paso post was one of three across the country - including one in Colorado and one in Georgia - to see their proposed additional combat brigade plans scrapped. Each brigade would have meant between 3,000 and 5,000 additional soldiers. Local officials in the other states already are talking about lobbying Congress to restore the proposed brigades to the budget.

El Paso stands to lose approximately $800 million per year in its economy with the loss of the brigade, based on El Paso Regional Economic Development Corp. figures. That represents funds that will not be spent in El Paso and the surrounding area. The current population of the post would have increased from about 14,000 soldiers to close to 30,000. That increase not only would include more than 3,000 soldiers in the community, but also another 4,600 of their relatives.

"I understand the tough economic impact this decision will have on the communities that have worked so hard to prepare for the arrival of the three brigades," Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said in a statement. "They are great partners with the Army, and we will need their continued support as we work on the growth that is under way at these locations."

Despite the possibility of losing the combat brigade, Fort Bliss is expected to mushroom to about 34,000 soldiers by 2013, providing a $5.5-$6 billion economic boost to the area. This week's announcement that the combat brigade was being cut does not affect the soldiers in units being sent to Fort Bliss as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. That alone will add 21,000 soldiers to the post. The 1st Armored Division will relocate from Germany to Fort Bliss.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

R. Bowen Loftin

R. Bowen Loftin, vice president and chief executive officer, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Career highlights and education: B.S. (physics), Texas A&M University, 1970; M.A. (physics), Rice University, 1973; Ph.D. (physics), Rice University, 1975. I am a fifth-generation Texan, and I was the first in my family to go to college. From an early age, I really wanted to be a college professor. Be careful what you wish for... I formally began my career in higher education in 1975 with a part-time appointment at the University of Houston-Downtown. I taught briefly at the University of Houston and landed my first tenure-track faculty position at Texas A&M University at Galveston (then, the Moody College of Marine Sciences and Maritime Resources) in 1976. After a year in Galveston, I returned to UH-Downtown and taught there for many years. Eventually, I was shared with the University of Houston and, after a few years, moved there to lead a joint NASA-University of Houston research center and to teach computer graphics. In 2000, I left Texas (with great reluctance) and joined Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA) where I was executive director of a large research center and directed a graduate program in modeling and simulation. In 2005, I came home to Texas to take up my current position.

What I like best about my job is: I am surrounded by bright, energetic and engaged young Aggies who consistently challenge me.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: You can't do it all by yourself.

Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Personal integrity is the most important qualification for any job.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: working out at the fitness center.

People would be surprised to know that I: don't sleep in a bowtie.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: Texas A&M University at Galveston is Texas' only special-purpose institution dedicated to education, research and service in the science, engineering, business and humanities involving our oceans and coastal environments - there is nothing else like us in Texas or the rest of our nation.

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

Rister steps down as director of Legislative Council

Milton Rister

Milton Rister (pictured), who has served as executive director of the Texas Legislative Council since February 2006, is leaving that position.

Before joining the Council three years ago, Rister served as executive director of the Republican Party of Texas, was executive director of the House Republican Caucus under then-Speaker Tom Craddick and is also a former chief of staff for Sen. Jane Nelson. He also is a former Director of Research for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and has more than 20 years experience in research and management in both the public and private sectors.

Torres-Martinez to serve in new position at TEA

Norma Torres-Martinez

Norma Torres-Martinez has been named deputy associate commissioner for standards and alignment at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). According to Commissioner Robert Scott said Torres-Martinez will work under the direction of Associate Commissioner Anita Givens and will oversee strategic direction and policy development in the curriculum, textbooks and educational technology divisions.

Torres-Martinez is a veteran educator, having taught mathematics in the Corpus Christi and Judson Independent School districts and having served as coordinator for mathematics and science education at the Region 20 Education Service Center in San Antonio.

The new deputy associate commissioner has been with TEA for the last five years in the division of curriculum as director of mathematics. She currently serves as the foundation unit director in that division. She holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a secondary teaching certificate in mathematics.

Cartwright chosen division director by Comptroller

Deborah Cartwright

Deborah Cartwright (pictured) has been named director of the State Comptroller's Property Tax Assistance Division (PTAD) by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. She will inform property owners about the tax process, oversee the means by which the state monitors local property taxes and help municipal governments comply with tax laws. She replaces Property Tax Assistance Division Director Art Cory, who stepped out of retirement to assist with changes in PTAD operations.

Cartwright, an attorney, has previously worked with the Texas Legislature, the Bexar County Appraisal District and the Comptroller's office.

Cartwright holds a bachelor's degree from Howard Payne University, a master's degree from The University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs and a law degree from the University of Houston.

Texas game warden cited as SSBLAA officer of the year

Chris Green

Texas Game Warden Chris Green of Tyler has been honored as the Southern States Boating Law Administrators' Association (SSBLAA) Officer of the Year. Green is seen in the accompanying TPWD Chase Fountain photo accepting his award from Capt. Larry Hand (right) of Tyler. Green was recognized for his heroic efforts to rescue two fishermen whose boat capsized during a severe storm.

Green began his career as a game warden for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1993. He is currently stationed in Smith County, where his patrol areas include Lake Tyler and Lake Palestine in addition to the Neches and Sabine rivers.

Hand, supervisor of the Tyler district, said Green represents TPWD well by "working to keep the boating public safe through patrols, getting the message to boaters using various media outlets, and in accident reconstruction and presentation to grand juries."

TCEQ partnering with UH for emissions testing

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is partnering with the University of Houston to field test a new type of remote-sensing technology used to identify sources of benzene emissions. Helicopters scheduled to swirl around industrial facilities in the Houston Ship Channel this month have been outfitted with the devices.

The project is part of an ongoing TCEQ effort to identify sources of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions in the area. The purpose of this particular project is to field test the capabilities of a more compact and more specialized version of the emission-detecting technology.

The study is set to conclude no later than June 30.

TxDOT ships new license plates to counties

License Plates

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials this week began shipping the state's colorful newly designed license plates (pictured) to county tax offices. Texas' 254 county tax offices should have the plates in stock by June 12.

The general-issue passenger- and truck-plate designs were handpicked (in an online poll) from a total of five choices by residents across the state. Eight-year-old John Thomsett of Gilmer helped present the new plates to the public. His class at Gilmer Elementary voted for the winning design.

The new digitally produced plates feature seven characters as opposed to the standard six. The switch occurred when TxDOT officials discovered the six-character plate patterns were going to be exhausted earlier this year.

Texas to get $16.7 million in Stonegarden grants

Some $60 million in Operation Stonegarden grants through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is being made available to 13 border states and Puerto Rico to assist federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in securing United States borders and territories. Texas garnered the largest portion of the funds, as $16.7 million is headed to the Lone Star State.

Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico will account for 76 percent of the funding, up 59 percent from Fiscal Year 2008. The Fiscal Year 2009 Operation Stonegarden funds can be used for additional law enforcement personnel, overtime, travel and other related costs that increase the law enforcement presence along the border areas. This year, eligibility for Operation Stonegarden awards was expanded to include 39 applicants - 24 more than fiscal year 2008 - including states with international land and coastal borders.

Other state allocations include: Arizona - $12,774,896; California - $11,919,340; Idaho - $229,008; Maine - $1,524,872; Michigan - $2,047,093; Minnesota - $1,005,561; Montana - $1,813,102; New Mexico - $3,982,414; New York - $3,558,187; North Dakota - $1,138,829; Puerto Rico - $529,947; Vermont - $501,079; and Washington - $2,257,194.

TYC ombudsman Will Harrell resigns position

Will Harrell

Texas Youth Commission (TYC) Ombudsman Will Harrell (pictured) has resigned as head of TYCs Office of Independent Ombudsman. He will continue to serve as director of special projects for TYC, a role in which he will participate in the search for a new ombudsman and assist in other TYC transitions.

Harrell had served as the agency's first ombudsman beginning in May 2007. Prior to that charge, he served as chairman of the Criminal Justice Coalition and assisted lawmakers with omnibus TYC reform legislation in Senate Bill 103.

Harrell was also instrumental in developing a program focused on the protection of rights for incarcerated youths and created the Youth Ombudsman program, which offers youths an additional outlet to report abuses.

Comptroller's office introduces tax rate Web application

In a bid to make taxing jurisdictions more transparent to consumers and business owners, the State Comptroller's Office has introduced the Sales Tax Rate Locator, a new Web-based tool that shows the correct sales tax rate for nearly all businesses in Texas.

By using the Sales Tax Rate Locator, State Comptroller Susan Combs said customers may discover that neighboring businesses might collect different tax rates because they are located in different taxing jurisdictions. More than 1,400 cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts impose sales tax on goods and services in addition to state sales tax, creating a confusing mosaic of overlapping tax jurisdictions.

To utilize the Sales Tax Rate Locator, click here.

BAMC commander promoted to Fort Detrick, Md.

James Gilman

Joseph Caravalho

After a four-year tenure as commander of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Maj. Gen. James Gilman (left) is relinquishing command to Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr. (right).

Gilman will assume command of the Army Medical Research and Material Command at Fort Detrick, Md., beginning June 11, where he will continue to support local burn injury research. He joined BAMC in 2005 just as the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility for war-wounded patients, was about to break ground.

Gilman, described as a "consummate professional" by Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, had a tenure that lasted about twice as long as that of the usual hospital command at BAMC.

LBJ School begins search for new dean

The search for a new dean for the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs is officially under way. Admiral Bobby R. Inman, USN (Ret.) is serving as interim dean since former dean James B. Steinberg left after being named U.S. deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration.

A Dean Consultative Committee has been appointed by The University of Texas at Austin Provost Steven W. Leslie to advise him on the new dean's selection. Associate Dean Robert H. Wilson of the LBJ School will chair the committee. A professional executive search firm has been hired to assist with the nationwide search.

TxDOT accepts $104M in ARRA funds for construction

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has accepted construction contract bids totaling $104 million as funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). The bids, for 26 transportation and construction projects, are projected to add more than 500 jobs throughout the state. The Texas Transportation Commission recently approved the contracts in its monthly meeting.

TxDOT is looking to award additional contracts with ARRA funds in the coming months. Some 226 construction or maintenance projects have been awarded so far through $378 million in ARRA funds, resulting in an estimated 3,161 jobs.

To view a listing of the awarded contracts, click here.

TPWC approves fishing, hunting-license price increases

Gene McCarty

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWC) has approved increases to hunting and fishing license costs in addition to boat titling and registration fees beginning this year.

The fees will jump from $23 to $25 for hunting licenses and from $64 to $68 for all-inclusive packages. Fishing licenses are set to increase by $2 also, with freshwater packages to be set at $30 and saltwater packages at $35. Lifetime licenses will spike to $1,000 for hunting licenses and to $1,800 for lifetime combination licenses, reflecting the biggest hike approved by TPWC.

"These licenses have been undervalued and could represent significant lost revenue over time if not adjusted," said Gene McCarty (pictured), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department deputy director of administration. He said the license costs have not been adjusted for 12 years.

Three Texans chosen for HSAC Border Task Force

Three Texans are among the newly named members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Southwest Border Task Force recently named by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. They include Hidalgo County Sheriff Guadalupe "Lupe" Trevino, who has been named vice chair, El Paso Mayor John Cook and Richard Dayoub, president and CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.

The 20-member group includes national security experts charged with examining DHS' efforts along the United States-Mexico border and providing advice and recommendations directly to Napolitano. Chairman is former CIA and FBI Director Judge William Webster. The other vice chairs is Jim Jones, former ambassador to Mexico and White House Chief of Staff. They will focus on ensuring rigorous inspections at ports of entry while facilitating commerce and assessing the consequences of border violence and DHS response to communities along the Southwest border.

GDEM, FEMA team for hurricane-related cleanup

With most of the debris from Hurricane Ike removed from Texas roads and highways, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Governor's Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) are turning their attention to the cleanup of bays and lakes. To expedite the process, state contractors are using side-scan sonar and other state-of-the-art technology to map and pinpoint sunken debris submerged in Galveston Bay and other areas.

Joan Haun, GDEM's state coordinating officer for the Ike recovery effort, said federal grants will help pay for the "massive, time-consuming and costly" cleanup.

So far, almost 85 percent of 357,000 acres has been surveyed with 55 percent of identified "wet debris" (debris of any kind - ranging from splintered wood to kitchen appliances - found floating in the water) having been removed from Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Clear Lake and Sabine Lake.

TPWC transfers park land to Boy Scouts

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved the transfer of 91.3 acres of Abilene State Park property to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The organization has leased the land, part of the 191-acre Camp Tonkawa, from the state for the past 60 years.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will retain a conservation easement on the land and management practices, ensuring conservation of the property's natural and cultural resources, according to TPWD Senior Project Manager Corky Kuhlmann.

Kuhlmann said the agreement also stipulates the land will revert back to TPWD ownership if the property were ever to be used for anything other than as a Boy Scout camp.

Austin city manager names human resources director

Mark Washington

Mark Washington (pictured), assistant human resources director for the City of Fort Worth since 2003, has been tapped to head the City of Austin's Human Resources Department by City Manager Marc Ott. In his new role, he will direct recruitment, classification, compensation administration, performance-review training, benefits, safety training and risk management for the department.

Washington helped establish a Cultural Competency and Diversity Program and an accident-prevention program during his 13-year tenure in Human Resources management in Fort Worth. There he supervised a self-funded health benefit system comparable to Austin's.

Washington holds two master's degrees from Amberton University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a bachelor's degree from Tarleton State University. He is working on a dissertation for a doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

TPWD commissioners approve purchase of 732 acres

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) commissioners have approved the acquisition of 732 acres of the former Rex Kelley Ranch, expanding the Lost Maples State Natural Area - known for its scenic Hill Country topography and fall foliage - to just over 2,900 acres.

The purchase will allow TPWD to provide more land for hiking trails featuring ridges, springs and canyons. The land also boasts endangered bird and plant species.

Natural and cultural resource specialists will survey the land before it is opened to the public.

Lubbock State School announces new superintendent

Kristin Weems (pictured) has been appointed as superintendent of Lubbock State School (LSS) by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS). She has served as the post's interim since October 2008.

Weems joined the LSS staff in 2006, where she has served as assistant superintendent of programs, unit director and as a qualified mental retardation professional. She has worked in health and human services for 13 years.

Weems holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas.

SFA chooses interim dean of college of education

Mel Finkenberg

Dr. Mel E. Finkenberg (pictured) has been named interim dean of the James I. Perkins College of Education at Stephen F. Austin State University, effective July 1. He will replace Dr. John E. Jacobson, who has accepted the position of dean of the Teachers College at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

Finkenberg, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, joined the SFA faculty in 1989. He is the past recipient of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Professor Award and was honored with a Regents Professorship in 1997.

Finkenberg holds a bachelor's degree from Southern Connecticut State University, a master's degree from SFA and a doctoral degree from the University of Houston.

TWDB approves more than $43M in loans, grants

The Texas Water Development Board, the agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, has approved more than $43 million in loans and grants to cities and districts for various projects.

The funds to be distributed include:

  • $3.7 million to finance water and wastewater system improvements in the City of Hutchins;
  • more than $19 million to the City of Lubbock to finance construction of a water supply project;
  • $655,000 to help finance wastewater system improvements in the City of Portland;
  • $554,000 for the acquisition and design of water system improvements to the Richland Special Utility District;
  • $11,000,000 to finance water system improvements to the Stephens Regional Special Utility District;
  • $460,000 to Val Verde County for the preparation of a water and wastewater facility plan;
  • $3,000,000 to finance wastewater system improvements to the Westwood Shores Municipal Utility District in Trinity County;
  • $4,513,347 for the construction of a wastewater system to the Zavala County Water Control and Improvements District No.1; and
  • $101,000 for the planning and design of water-system improvements to the Zavala County Water Control and Improvements District No. 1.

A&M names head of Office for Latin American Programs

Senior economist and policy advisor Roger Norton has been named executive director of the Office for Latin American Programs at Texas A&M University, effective June 8.

Norton, who has worked in some 46 countries worldwide, has served as chief of party on policy reform projects for the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) in El Salvador and Honduras. He has managed a number of projects for the United Nations, World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in an effort to bolster trade and enhance competitiveness internationally while working to increase small-farm productivity and reduce rural poverty.

Norton has taught economics and other courses at universities as far flung as the University of New Mexico and Oklahoma State University to the Universities of Rome and Naples.

Texas A&M-Commerce announces faculty changes

Larry Lemanski

Dr. Larry Lemanski (left), senior vice president for research and strategic initiatives at Temple University, has been tapped to serve as provost/vice president of academic affairs at the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas A&M University-Commerce. His new charge begins July 13.

Meanwhile Dr. Christine Evans (right), chair of the geosciences department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, will serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Randy Van Deven, director of major gifts at Tennessee Technological University, is set to join the A&M-Commerce faculty as vice president for Institutional Advancement. Their tenures begin July 1 and July 13, respectively.

A&M-Commerce President Dan Jones said all three candidates were selected after national searches, indicating "A&M-Commerce is a great place to work...People want to be a part of what we are doing here."

UTSA submitting 17 medical research grant proposals

The University of Texas at San Antonio has submitted 17 proposals to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for federal stimulus funding consideration. Approximately $21.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will be allocated through NIH and other federal agencies for scientific research and development projects.

Researchers will find out this summer who is to receive the competitive awards.

Some of UTSA's grant-application proposals include:

  • $999,133 for a study to develop a novel bone graft for major reconstructive surgeries to correct bone deficiencies sustained from diseases, accidents, gunshots or battlefields;
  • $994,150 for a Type 2 Diabetes study looking at relationships between factors at four levels of analyses (demographic, contextual, provider and health care organizations, and patient behavior); and
  • $634,744 to look at the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in hypercapnia, which occurs when there is too much carbon dioxide in the blood.

TCU names dean of College of Science and Engineering

Demitris Kouris

Dr. Demitris Kouris (pictured), professor and head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wyoming, has been named dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Texas Christian University.

Kouris spent 14 years at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Arizona State University before the faculty of UW. He begins his new role at TCU in late July.

Kouris holds a bachelor's degree from the National Technical University of Athens, a master's degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a doctoral degree from Northwestern University.

Student regents appointed to university systems

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed 10 students to serve as regents to their respective university systems.

The new student regents include: Heather A. Morris, Texas Tech University; Leonard Benton, Midwestern State University; Morgan A. Tomberlain, Stephen F. Austin State University; Hunter Bollman, Texas A&M University; Patrice A. McKenzie, Texas Southern University; William Clayton Patterson, Texas State University; Kyle R. Miller, Texas Tech University; Rae Lynn McFarlin, Texas Woman's University; Kristen A. Lindley, University of Houston; Jennifer Ozan, University of North Texas; and Karim A. Meijer, The University of Texas at Austin.

WTAMU names John Lubker as interim dean

John Lubker

Dr. John Lubker (pictured), associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at West Texas A&M University, has been named interim dean of the college while a national search to find a permanent replacement is under way.

Lubker joined the WTAMU faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor in sports and exercise sciences. He was named associate dean of the nursing and health sciences college in 2008.

Lubker graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree and went on to pursue his master's degree at James Madison University. He holds a doctorate from West Virginia University.

UTHSCSA, system leaders consider children's hospital

Plans to build a new children's hospital are under consideration in San Antonio as doctors at the University of Texas Health Science Center promote the benefits of a new facility. Several highly qualified pediatric specialists in the area have left to work at high-level children's hospitals in other cities.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the University Health System and the Baptist Health System have expressed interest and hope to bring private donors on board to help build and endow a new hospital. Officials at Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital, San Antonio's main pediatric teaching facility, have proved resistant to the idea, however. The hospital recently invested millions in upgrades to its neonatal intensive care unit and special care nursery. The 10-year-old Methodist Children's Hospital ranks as the city's other children's hospital, "built exclusively for children," according to Geoffrey Crabtree, senior vice president of the Methodist system.

"Any discussion about health care for children is of major interest not only for this community, but also for the two acute-care children's hospitals that have provided services for our San Antonio and South Texas children for decades," Crabtree said.

Splendora names new interim city secretary

Danna Welter is set to serve as interim city secretary of Splendora, replacing Vina Whitley, who is stepping down.

Whitley previously served as interim city secretary from November 2007 until September 2008 before taking the permanent post last May.

Clute approves more than $21K for transit system plan

Calvin Shiflet

Clute City Council has approved $21,500 from next year's budget to support an updated Southern Brazoria County Transit Plan. The transportation system would create a bus route in Angleton, Clute, Lake Jackson and Freeport, according to a company hired to conduct a feasibility study in 2006.

Since then, plans for the system had stalled until it was announced funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act would foot the capital portion of the bill, covering the cost of constructing bus stop shelters, in addition to 48 percent of operating costs. If approved by all four cities, the bus system will run four routes and operate 12 hours a day, creating jobs in the process. Work on the route could begin as early as this year if all four city councils approve the proposal.

Clute Mayor Calvin Shiflet (pictured) said the system feels like "something that would service our citizens, but we would definitely have to look hard at next year's budget."

EDA allocates additional $19.5M in coastal recovery aid

An additional $19.5 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments is being made available to aid economic recovery following the devastation wrought by hurricanes Ike and Gustav last year. The funds arrive in addition to the $20.9 million in investments the Obama administration unlocked to assist in the recovery for the region. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said the administration is "committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation's competitiveness."

Allocations include:

  • $10 million to the Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • $4 million to the Port of Orange
  • $3 million to the Trinity Bay Conservation District of Anahuac
  • $2.5 million to Nassau Bay

Angelo State names executive director of development

Jason Penry

Dr. Jason C. Penry (pictured) is set to become Angelo State University's executive director of development beginning July 6. In his new role as ASU's chief fundraising officer, he will oversee the university's advancement program.

Penry previously worked as executive director of Oklahoma State University's fundraising arm of athletics, where he managed a $3.95 million budget and an 11-member staff. He also served three years as development officer for major gifts at the 12th Man Foundation at Texas A&M University, where he assisted in completing a $50 million capital campaign for athletics.

Penry earned his bachelor's degree at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, his master's degree at LSU-Baton Rouge and a doctoral degree at Texas A&M University.

Dallas City Council to weigh costly levee-test study

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert recently told the Dallas City Council that testing the Trinity River levees - recommended after the dikes flunked inspection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - would cost at least $29 million and delay the Trinity River toll road by at least 20 months.

Leppert said the testing would require 1,500 boring samples (costing about $8,600 for each) along 23 miles of the levee system. The Dallas City Council, already facing budgetary woes, will be asked on June 10 to approve $29 million for the study.

"The bottom that we have solutions and a way to move forward," Leppert said. "Clearly there are costs and impacts...associated with the solutions."

Dean of SMU's Dedman College stepping down

Cordelia Candelaria

Dr. Cordelia Candelaria (pictured), dean of Southern Methodist University's Dedman College, has announced she is resigning from her post for personal reasons.

Candelaria previously worked as regents professor in Arizona State University's Department of English. She also chaired the university's Department of Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, and served as associate dean of the Office of Strategic Initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Candelaria holds a bachelor's degree from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and both a master's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Oregon sports psychologist gifts $1 million to UT-Austin

Dr. Steven Ungerleider, a renowned sports psychologist in Oregon, has gifted $1 million in support of excellence in graduate education to The University of Texas at Austin by establishing the William C. Powers Graduate Fellowship.

Ungerleider, who graduated from UT-Austin in 1970, created the fellowship to attract top graduate students from around the world. The first of the Powers Graduate Fellows will begin their post-baccalaureate education at the university beginning in Fall 2009.

William Powers Jr., president of the university, said Ungerleider understands "the importance of graduate students to the success of our university," adding he was "deeply honored" Ungerleider chose to name the fellowship program after him.

UT Medical School-Houston announces chairman

Gerard Francisco

Dr. Gerard E. Francisco has been announced to serve as chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. In his new role, Francisco said he plans to expand the clinical programs at TIRR Memorial Hermann and Lyndon B. Johnson General hospitals.

Francisco joined the UTMS-Houston faculty in 1997, serving as vice chair since 2006 and as interim chair since last August, when he replaced Dr. William H. Donovan, who retired. As the second chair to lead the department, he specializes in brain injury, stroke rehabilitation and spasticity management.

Francisco earned his medical degree from the University of the Philippines before interning at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago and completing his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-New Jersey Medical School. Upon completing his residency, he specialized in brain injury rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow.

Governor appoints graduate student rep to THECB

Heather A. Morris, a graduate student in public administration at Texas Tech University, has been appointed to serve as student representative to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. She also works as a full-time staff member at the university's Office of Research Services.

Morris earned her bachelor's degree from Texas Tech before moving to Crosbyton to teach high school English.

The governor's office appoints one student per year to serve on the board. Morris replaces Charles "Trey" Lewis III from the University of Houston Law Center.

U of H-Downtown names presidential choice

William Flores

William Flores (pictured), deputy secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department at New Mexico State University, is set to become the next president of the University of Houston-Downtown. Recommended by UH System Chancellor and UH President Renu Khator, he will replace Max Castillo beginning July 1.

In 2007, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson appointed Flores to the state department that oversees colleges and universities after a year as interim president at NMSU. Before that, he served as provost and executive vice president at the university. He has also worked at the California State-Fresno and California State-Northridge campuses.

Flores, a first-generation college student, earned his bachelor's degree at the University of California, Los Angeles and a doctorate at Stanford University.

City of El Paso to shift to four-day work week as pilot

City of El Paso employees are set to begin a four-day work week pilot program, working Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The El Paso City Council approved the measure last month to save on energy costs.

The program will run through August, saving the city a projected $55,000 in energy costs.

City Manager Joyce Wilson said the move will benefit residents with access to government administrative offices past 5 p.m., "which they haven't really had in the past."

Corpus Christi police ask for new digital cameras

Oscar Martinez

The Corpus Christi Police Department recently began testing new digital cameras in police vehicles with the hope of replacing the old VHS cameras that are unreliable and wearing out after five years of use.

Replacing the old cameras with digital cameras will cost an estimated $1 million to $1.8 million, said Assistant City Manager Oscar Martinez (pictured). City leaders have identified no funding available to buy the new cameras, he said.

Because several of the VHS cameras are no longer operable, the city currently has fewer than 30 VHS cameras for the 150 vehicles in its fleet. Police are hoping to equip the entire patrol fleet with digital cameras and clip-on microphones for all patrol officers as soon as fall 2009. Officers are testing a system with two cameras, one on the dashboard and one facing the back seat. Once the officer approaches the police station, the video and audio automatically upload to the server, saving the officers time and providing more reliable evidence that can be used to prosecute cases.

Laredo to conduct study for new low-water weir

The Laredo City Council is expected to approve a preliminary feasibility study for a 30-foot low-water weir on the Rio Grande River almost a mile upstream from the World Trade Bridge, Tomas Rodriguez, the city's director of utilities recently said. A weir, which is smaller than a dam, will hold about 20,000 acre-feet of water and create a lake about 8 miles in length, Rodriguez said.

The total engineering costs, including the environmental studies are about $738,000, he said. Congress has earmarked $250,000 for a preliminary engineering feasibility study of the weir. The environmental study will not begin until the weir is found to be feasible in the preliminary study. The International Boundary and Water Commission will hold the funding and will reimburse the city of Laredo once invoices for the study are presented.

Nuevo Laredo may contribute financially to the project if current funds are insufficient, said David Negrete, an IBWC representative from Mexico. Both cities will decide whether to proceed with the weir project after the preliminary studies are concluded. A presentation on the proposed weir is scheduled for the Laredo City Council in July.

NSF $1.5M gift to SFA funds mathematics program

Kimberly Childs

The National Science Foundation has allocated $1.5 million to the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Stephen F. Austin State University to help develop the Texas Leadership Initiative: Mathematics Instruction Transformed (Texas LIMIT).

The program, instituted at five East Texas school districts, offers 20 area middle and secondary mathematics teachers with master's degrees a chance to be recruited as Master Teaching Fellows. Those chosen will go on to earn an annual supplement of $10,000 for five years while serving as mentors and content specialists and participating in leadership training, among other duties.

Dr. Kimberly Childs (pictured), SFA mathematics professor, said with the current crisis in math education, it's important "we provide excellent professional development and leadership within public schools for mathematics teaching." She said developing this cadre of leaders will embolden mathematics teaching across the region.

Brownwood police prioritize projects for stimulus funds

With the hope of receiving some of the $850,000 from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program to be awarded by the West Texas Central Council of Governments, Brownwood police officials recently developed a list of seven priority projects with a $130,000 price tag for the grant request.

Included in the priority list for the stimulus funding were the following requests:

  • $32,500 for 13 mobile digital car radios;
  • $27,000 for SUV-type rapid deployment vehicle with police package;
  • $26,000 for two digital radio repeaters to replace two analog repeaters for the communications tower;
  • $11,625 for 15 modems for in-vehicle laptop computers for GPS tracking of those vehicles and data transmission;
  • $18,000 for six bullet-proof vests for detectives;
  • $9,840 for eight portable radios for patrol officers; and
  • $5,000 for GPS tracking equipment to use for surveillance.

A spokesman for the police told council members it is doubtful that Brownwood will receive the full requested amount as the $850,000 grant will be shared by 19 counties.

Commerce City Council adopts 20-year plan

The Commerce City Council has adopted a 20-year visionary plan for the city outlining efforts to bolster the city's economy and curb appeal. The strategic plan highlights four major goals, including the maintenance of service levels, a revitalization of downtown and retail areas, improved communication between institutions and repairs to city streets and infrastructure. The Strategic Planning Class of The University of Texas at Arlington helped craft the initiative.

"This is where the council wants to take 2030," said City Manager Dion Miller.

The plan calls for opening a line of communication between the city's and the university's police chiefs, improving drainage systems, compiling a list of long-term funding programs for the city library and engaging in regional funding programs, among other measures.

Allen, Plano and N. Texas water district to join in project

The cities of Allen, Plano and the North Texas Municipal Water District recently agreed to join together to continue a road and sewer project on Chaparral Road.

Under the agreement, Plano will design the south three lanes from Avenue K east to Emerald Coast, two lanes from Jupiter Road east to Cloverleaf Drive and two lanes from Cloverhaven Drive east to about 1,500 feet. Allen will design the north two lanes from Rosewood Lane east to the existing pavement, including the bridge over Cottonwood Creek. The water district will expand the sanitary sewer force main line. Each entity will pay the construction cost of its own project, which will be done by one contractor, said John Baumgartner, the engineering director for Allen.

Bids for the project most likely will be sought within the next two to three months, Baumgartner said. Construction is planned to begin in fall 2009 and should be completed in about 12 months.

Tyler Junior College approves campus master plan

Michael Metke

Trustees for Tyler Junior College recently approved a campus master plan that includes a new building for health professions as a top priority and a plan to improve signage on the campus.

The master plan, which is intended as a working document, also calls for building a new library, a science building, an Applied Studies building, a residence hall and a bank hall, said President Mike Metke (pictured). Most academic buildings on the campus are more than 40 years old and should be replaced or renovated, Metke said.

Recommendations included setting standards to reinforce site boundaries and identity, identifying key entry points into the college, defining pathways for vehicular traffic, defining pathways from parking lots to buildings for pedestrians, emphasizing special and unique aspects of the campus, installing a larger monument in front of the college, new LED signs on campus, changing lettering on building markers to enhance readability and moving the visitor's center out of the parking lot onto the street.

Gun Barrel City moves on purchase of bank building

The Gun Barrel City council recently authorized the city manager to negotiate a contract with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to purchase a former 4,000-square-foot, $495,000 bank building that city officials expect to become the new city hall. Council members instructed the city manager to complete the negotiations by July.

City Manager Gerry Boren said he has already met with FDIC representatives and is close to reaching an agreement. As part of the negotiations, the FDIC will lease part of the building on a monthly basis for $4,000, Boren said. An architect will need six to nine months to complete design for the facility, which will be expanded into a 10,000-square-foot building to serve as city hall.

Council members also authorized the Economic Development Corporation to buy 7.6 acres of land near the existing 40-acre park for $295,000. This land may be used for future municipal services or a new senior citizens center, city officials said.

Highland Village backs plan for soccer facility

Members of the Highland Village City Council recently approved a resolution adopting the Highland Village Community Development Corporation's Facility Development Capital Improvement program that includes adding Doubletree Ranch as the site of a new city soccer facility.

Council members also authorized the city manager to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with the Trust for Public Land to purchase about 37 acres known as Doubletree Ranch for an amount not to exceed the lesser of the funds used to acquire the $2.8 million deed of trust at the fair market value. TPL is a non-profit group that conserves land for communities to use as parks, recreation areas, gardens and other natural areas.

The Highland Village Community Development Corporation plans to fund two projects, a soccer facility and a trail system throughout Doubletree Ranch.

Katy to begin two $1.5 million bond projects

Katy city officials expect work to begin soon on two projects funded by bonds approved by voters in 2007. The two projects are a $1.5 million expansion of a fire station and a new $1.5 million courts building.

Architects expect to present the design for adding a new third-floor dormitory, a new metal storage building and improving the concrete driveways at the fire station to council members within a few weeks, said Assistant City Administrator Bill Drohan.

Council members are expected to approve the design and construction plans for a new $1.5 million, 7,500-square-foot courts building soon, Drohan said. The new building will include a courtroom, clerk's office, jury assembly room, restrooms, a break room and offices. Once council members approve the design and construction plans, the city will sign a contract to move forward with the construction, Drohan said.

'Pipeline' can help identify, increase opportunities

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Many upcoming Texas opportunities announced

Mary Scott Nabers

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

Everyone knows by now that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will send billions of dollars to state and local governments throughout the country. What everyone does not know is where the funding will end up and how it will be used. The amount of effort and research that is resulting is staggering. And, one must be a seasoned researcher and an aggressive telemarketer to get answers that government contractors really need to know. SPI's researchers are now providing this type of information for all 50 states so this column will outline some of the designated end users in Texas. Keep in mind that the following opportunities are from one program and one category within the program...only.

Some $7.4 billion has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for construction and improvement of facilities projects at military installations. Not all funding allocations have been announced. Currently there are 70 construction projects on tap for about three dozen states. But, don't be misled. Here's where reading between the lines comes into play - construction projects include so much more than building walls and attaching roofs.


Center Point ISD approves $50,000 in improvements

Cody Newcomb

The Center Point Independent School District school board recently approved campus improvement projects with a total price tag of $50,000. The projects include nearly $10,000 to upgrade the security systems in offices containing student and staff records, $15,000 for adding new mulch to all playgrounds in the district, remodeling the district's meeting room, adding a sidewalk to the weight room and painting, said Superintendent Cody Newcomb (pictured). Work will begin in June on the campus upgrades, Newcomb said.

Oak Ridge approves $4.6 million to upgrade sewer

The Oak Ridge City Council recently authorized issuing $4.6 million in certificates of obligation to pay for a major overhaul of the city's 40-year-old sewer system. The city will pay an average of 3.84 percent interest on the loan from the Texas Water Development Board, said City Manager Paul Mendes.

Whitehouse approves request for $158,316 grant

The Whitehouse City Council recently approved a resolution to allow the police department to apply for a $158,316 grant to pay for more officer training, a new school resource officer for Whitehouse ISD and funding for overtime pay for police officers.

The police will apply with the Governor's Criminal Justice Division for the grant and will learn in August or September if the grant will be awarded, said Detective Kevin Huckabee.

Orangefield ISD to spend $100,000 on improvements

Philip Welch

Trustees for the Orangefield Independent School District recently authorized $100,000 to pay for several upgrades to classrooms and athletic facilities to begin this summer.

Projects include funding to add accessible seating to the football field to accommodate people with disabilities, remodeling of a high school classroom to create a new nurse's clinic, installing fencing at the high school and installing additional lighting at the back of the parking lot at Orangefield Elementary School, said Superintendent Philip Welch (pictured).

Bernard to retire as
Lindale ISD administrator

After 33 years with the Lindale Independent School District, Assistant Superintendent Jim Bernard recently announced his retirement from that post. Bernard also served as a teacher, coach and principal at Lindale ISD and as a teacher and coach for Arlington ISD during his 39 years as an educator.

San Benito may use stimulus funds for parks

San Benito city officials are reviewing a recommendation to allocate $135,573 in federal stimulus funds to build a new park and upgrade existing city parks.

Sandee Alvarez, coordinator for the city's Community Development Block Grant Citizens Advisory Committee, said it would cost about $40,000 to develop a park on the south side of the city and about $70,000 to revamp Falligant Park, which would include repairs to the pavilion. Improvements to Landrum Park are expected to cost about $25,573, Alvarez 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.

John Culberson

John Culberson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1986. He served his last term in 1999 and left the House after 14 years. He practiced law as a civil defense attorney with a Houston firm before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, where he still serves.

Clark Jobe

Clark Jobe served as a member of the Texas Railroad Commission from 1986 to 1987, capping off more than a dozen years of experience in various positions in state government. Today, he is an associate in an Austin law firm whose emphasis is energy and environmental law.

Waco airport to receive $13.1 million for upgrades

The Waco Regional Airport recently received $13.1 million in federal stimulus funds to pay for runway improvements.

The funding will be used to lengthen the 6,597-foot main runway by about 500 feet on one end and shorten the other end of the main runway to eliminate where it intersects with the airport's shorter runway to create a separation between the two runways, said Joel Martinez, the airport manager. The surface on both runways also will be improved and the work should be completed in 2011.

Boerne approves plans for library, fire station upgrades

The Boerne City Council recently approved design plans for the New Patrick Heath Public Library and for the expansion of the fire station. The new library features a front porch element at the building's entrance, multiple meeting and reading rooms and a flexible floor plan with moveable shelves to give the building an open feel and allow staff to observe most areas from one of three desks. The library also will have an automated self-checkout area.

Plans for the fire station renovation add dormitory space and kitchen facilities to accommodate full-time firefighters, said Fire Chief Doug Meckel. Construction bids should be ready for council action in July and the project should be completed in 10 months.

Lindale ISD administrator announces retirement

Jim Bernard

Lindale Independent School District (LISD) Assistant Superintendent Jim Bernard (pictured) has announced plans to retire after 33 years with the district.

Bernard has worked as a teacher, coach and bus driver at LISD and, for the past few years, has shifted between roles as principal and assistant superintendent. He served thee years as principal at Rains High School before returning to Lindale during his three-decades-plus tenure. LISD secured several "exemplary" and "recognized" ratings under Bernard's leadership, said Superintendent Stan Surratt, adding Bernard "instilled a sense of excellence" at the district.

Mercedes ISD interviews superintendent applicants

Trustees for the Mercedes Independent School District recently interviewed applicants for superintendent to replace Superintendent Walter N. Watson.

Watson signed a one-year contract last year after working as an interim superintendent when Luis Ramos resigned as superintendent of the school district. Watson is expected to return to his job as director of federal programs when his contract expires on June 30.

Bellmead selects Karl as temporary interim manager

Bellmead City Council members recently selected Fire Chief James Karl as the temporary interim manager. Karl replaces former City Manager Scooter Radcliffe, who was terminated in May from the position he held for 19 years.

Conroe mulling flag park
to honor Texas history

With a goal of attracting more tourists to the area, Conroe city leaders recently proposed the city build a Texas Flag Park with a life-sized bronze statute representing the common soldier who fought in the Texas Revolution and 13 flags that flew during the battles.

The proposed park would be located next to the Conroe Library at Texas 105 and Interstate 45. Montgomery County recently donated the land for the park and council members approved $65,600 for the design of the new park. About $500,000 from a portion of a $6 million land sale to the Conroe Industrial Development Council has been earmarked to develop the park, Virgadamo said. The park will take about a year to develop and the design contract is expected to identify costs within about three months, he said.

Smith County exploring two new plans to add jail beds

Jeff Warr

Smith County Judge Joel Baker recently outlined two plans to end overcrowding at the county jail. Baker expects commissioners to consider the proposal in June. The first plan is adding one floor to the current jail to accommodate 147 more beds at an estimated cost of about $15 million and the second plan is to add two new levels to hold 294 additional beds with an estimated price tag of $22 million. The project also would include a new kitchen/laundry space on the Low/Medium Risk site to free up the lower level for renovation, he said. The lower level would be converted to a clinic and infirmary space and a new exterior sally port will be built while the existing sally port will be expanded to accommodate the inmate booking area.

Commissioner Jeff Warr (pictured) said all options, including privatization of jail operations, are on the table for consideration, but noted that now is the time to consider construction because building costs recently have gone down.

Huntsville City Council approves new city secretary

Beth Greenwell has been approved by Huntsville City Council to serve as city secretary. She replaces interim City Secretary Ann Smith, who took over when Stephanie Brim left the post last April.

Greenwell, who works for the City of Kingsville's Human Resources department, previously served as an assistant city clerk for five years and as a deputy city secretary for the City of Alice.

Brownsville agrees to border wall construction

Charlie Cabler

Despite objections from the mayor and several citizens, the Brownsville City Council recently approved an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow a "temporary" border wall in strategic areas. The agreement allows the city to reclaim about seven miles of land from the federal government for future city projects, including revitalization and for the east loop project, said City Manager Charlie Cabler (pictured).

While Mayor Pat Ahumada opposed the agreement with DHS, saying many citizens of the city oppose the border wall, Cabler argued that the agreement represented the best opportunity for the city to have the property returned in the future.

Galveston approves $160.4M in rental repairs

The Galveston City Council has agreed to spend $160.4 million on disaster-relief rental property repair, reserving $25 million for the Galveston Housing Authority (GHA) in their effort to help build new public housing. Officials at GHA must provide a detailed financial plan before they can spend the money, however.

Hurricane Ike flooded four of GHA's six properties, which are set to be demolished and replaced with 569 new structures. Only about 40 percent of public housing residents are expected to return to the island once the new units are built, allowing those who were on the housing authority waiting list a chance to get into a home. About 56 percent of the island's residents live in rental properties.

Oak Ridge North approves $4.6M in water bonds

The Oak Ridge North City Council has approved the sale of $4.6 million in bonds through the Texas Water Development Board (with interest rates averaging 3.84 percent) to pay for wastewater system improvements.

The bonds, a combination of tax and revenue certificates of obligation, are expected to close June 30.

Recent Reports

Event Links

Texas Government Insider Archives

Volume 1 - 7 Archives · 11/7/03 - 5/29/09

Herbert resigns as League City public works director

Larry Herbert, who has served as the public works director for League City since 2006, recently resigned to accept another position in Kuwait. His resignation is effective June 12.

The city has not yet selected an interim public works director, but has posted an advertisement for applicants for the position, according to city officials. The city also is searching for a new director of finance.

Governor's appointments

Gov. Rick Perry has made the following appointments:

  • Michelle H. Diggs of Cedar Park, Texas Human Rights Commission
  • Travis A. Morris of Austin, Texas Human Rights Commission
  • Veronica V. Stidvent of Austin, Texas Human Rights Commission
  • Valerie Foreman of Frisco, Texas Board of Licensure for Professional Medical Physicists
  • John R. Leahy of Austin, Texas Board of Licensure for Professional Medical Physicists
  • Pamela M. Otto of San Antonio, Texas Board of Licensure for Professional Medical Physicists
  • Elaine "Anne" Boatright of Smithville, Private Sector Prison Industry Oversight Authority
  • Burnis Brazil of Richmond, Private Sector Prison Industry Oversight Authority
  • Roxanne Carter of Canyon, Private Sector Prison Industry Oversight Authority
  • Ashley C. Givens of Dallas, Executive Committee for the Office for the Prevention of Developmental Disabilities
  • Dan Allen Hughes Jr. of Beeville, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
  • Rey Ximenes of Austin, Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners

Qualls lone superintendent finalist in Ennis ISD

Barbara Qualls

Dr. Barbara Qualls (pictured) has been named the lone finalist for superintendent of the Ennis ISD. She currently serves as superintendent of the Lago Vista ISD, a position she has held since 2001. Qualls worked as DAEP coordinator for DeSoto ISD from 1987-1990, followed by several years with Mineral Wells ISD where she served as curriculum coordinator and junior high principal. She was principal of Atlanta High School in the Atlanta ISD from 1995-1999. Prior to taking her current position at Lago Vista, Qualls was superintendent at Grapeland ISD from 1999-2001. She holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master's and Ph.D. from the University of North Texas.

Pine Tree ISD applies for $55,000 security grant

Trustees for the Pine Tree Independent School District recently agreed to use a $55,000 grant from the Community Oriented Policing Services Secure Our School program of the U.S. Department of Justice to improve security at several campuses. Longview city council members recently applied for the grant that the district will be required to match.

The grant, which has certain guidelines that must be followed, will be used to pay for installation of metal detectors, locks and other deterrents, said James Skeeler, the director of student services for the school district. The grant also will fund a district-wide communication system to allow all campuses access to school resource officers, but cannot be used to install fences desired by district officials. The new surveillance systems will be added to elementary, intermediate and junior high campuses if the grant is approved, he said. He expects recipients of the federal grant will be announced in July or August.

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.

Lake Jackson approves funding for new bus service

Lake Jackson city council members recently agreed to $45,000 in funding to pay for a mass transit system to serve Lake Jackson, Clute, Freeport and Angleton. If approved by all four cities, the bus system will run four routes, one circling Angleton, one circling Clute and Lake Jackson, one running from Angleton to Brazosport and another going through Freeport, Lake Jackson and Clute, said a representative from a consulting firm conducting a feasibility study for a transit system. Plans call for the buses to operate 12 hours a day on weekdays and will cost riders $1 for a one-way trip, while students, seniors and people with disabilities will pay 50 cents.

Clute council members also recently approved funding for the transit system and Freeport and Angleton council members are expected to vote soon on the new system. Plans for the project were revived when the region recently became eligible to apply for stimulus funding to build bus stops and shelters.

Huntsville approves bond election to upgrade library

Huntsville City Council members recently authorized an election on Nov. 3 to ask voters to approve between $2.5 million to $3 million in bonds to pay for a 20,000-foot expansion and renovation of the Huntsville Public Library.

A parking lot will be included in the plans, said Mac Woodward, the Ward 2 representative who proposed the bond election. City staff members currently are working with architects to finalize plans and develop an estimated cost of the project, Woodward said.

Friendswood City Council mulls $2M grant from EDA

In the wake of a $2 million grant from the Economic Development Association (EDA), Friendswood City Council is weighing whether to spend the funds on existing water and sewer revenue bond-sale projects or two other tasks. Thanks to the grant, two of those projects will no longer have to be fully funded by the local bond issue. The Council must decide whether to stay with the remaining list projects for $11.8 million, or stay with the original funding figure and add in two projects - the rehabilitation of water plants No. 6 and 7, which must be completed by 2012 in any event.

Mayor Pro Tem Andy Rivera said he would like to figure in the two projects, bringing the total cost of the projects to roughly the $15 million it was before the grant. He said he would like to "try and do that now when there are factors that could be in our favor from an inflationary and other standpoints."

Bellaire approves funding, design for new fire station

Pat McLaughlan

The Bellaire City Council recently approved design and funding for a new fire station estimated to cost about $4.2 million. The new, 17,000-square-foot fire station will have six bays and is designed to accommodate a ladder truck, expanded office space for the chief and assistant chief, a new training and emergency operations center and a patient treatment area, the architect said. The second floor will include 13 private bedrooms with four private bathrooms, a large kitchen and dining area and four workstations.

While Councilman Pat McLaughlan (pictured) criticized the size of the building as being 70 percent larger than the existing building and costing too much, other council members argued that the design reflects current needs as voiced by citizens who participated in the planning process and approved the design.

Laredo ISD narrows superintendent search field

Laredo Independent School District board members have narrowed their superintendent search to six candidates. The Texas Association of School Boards originally presented the district with a selection of 28 applicants at a cost of $27,500. Applicants' names are kept confidential per a motion approved by trustees last April.

The six finalists are scheduled to interview with the board June 23-25. The trustees will then vote on a finalist July 2 and will have 25 days to vote to hire the candidate.

Killeen-Fort Hood airport receive $1.4M in grants

The Killeen-Fort Hood regional Airport recently received notice of the award of a $1,456,940 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for several upgrades to the airport.

The grant will be used to install a 200-foot blast pad at the end of the runway to increase safety, improve drainage around the terminal apron and enlarge the passenger holding area for boarding flights, said Jim Livingston, associate aviation director. The airport also received $3.2 million in federal stimulus funding to resurface the runway, Livingston said. He expects the city council to award bids for projects in July.

MSU first Texas public university to ban tobacco

Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, Midwestern State University will become the first public university in Texas to prohibit smoking or the use of any tobacco products on campus. To help usher in the effort, the university plans to provide educational and social support services for faculty, staff and students who wish to stop use of tobacco products.

Tobacco advertising, sales and free distribution of tobacco products are already prohibited on the MSU campus, including all university-owner or leased buildings, vehicles and outdoor areas under MSU jurisdiction.

Freeport OKs negotiations for new administrator

The Freeport City council recently authorized the mayor to negotiate a contract with acting City Administrator Jeff Pynes to become the city's full-time city administrator. Pynes also has been serving as police chief while serving as acting city administrator, but handed in his resignation as police chief following the vote authorizing the contract negotiation. The city will begin a search for a new police chief soon, the mayor said.

If council members approve the final contract negotiated by the mayor, Pynes will replace former City Manager Gary Beverly who was terminated from that position in October. Pynes, who has served as police chief in Freeport since March 2006, also served as a police captain in Hedwig Village.

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Tyler airport wins $600,000 grant for improvements

The Tyler Pounds Regional Airport recently landed a $601,344 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for engineering of a general aviation apron to meet space demands and for pavement improvements to a runway.

The grant supplements a $4.9 million grant for a runway overlay project that Tyler council members approved last week, said Davis Dickson, the airport director.

Huntsville to apply for three federal grants for recycling

The Huntsville City Council recently authorized City Manager Bill Baine to apply for and accept three federal grants to pay for an expanded citywide recycling program.

Utilities Director Carol Reed will apply for a Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) Solid Waste Management grant not to exceed $324,000 to buy 5,400 48-gallon recycling carts for citywide curbside recycling. Each cart will cost $60.

Reed also will apply for a $250,000 grant from HGAC to expand the recycling center to 50 feet by 120 feet and expand the driveway to accommodate large trucks. The third grant application will be for $350,000 to buy conveyor and bailer equipment for the recycling center. None of the grants require matching funding from the city, Reed said.

Grayson County moving
on new justice center

Grayson County commissioners recently authorized the solicitation of bids for construction of the new West Grayson County Justice Center with an estimated price tag of $150,000.

The new center, to be located in Whitesboro, will house the justice of peace for that area of the county and serve as a collection office for county taxes and vehicle registration fees.

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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Austin, Texas 78730

Aging in Place workshop slated in June

An "Aging in Place" workshop, co-hosted by the Alamo Area Council of Government's Alamo and Bexar Area Agencies on Aging, the city of San Antonio and the WellMed Charitable Foundation, will be held Thursday, June 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in San Antonio. The workshop will be at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 1300 Guadalupe Street. The local discussion will be part of a national conversation taking place on aging and will highlight the work already occurring in the region to enhance the area for all age groups. Workshop speakers and panelists will focus on assets already in place and how they can be improved, social integration, planning and mobility. For more information, contact Debbie Billa at 210-362-5240 or click here.

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.