|Volume 7, Issue 33 · Friday, August 28, 2009|
Tom Suehs named new HHSC executive commissioner
Deputy executive commissioner for finance will now lead agency
Tom Suehs has been named by Gov. Rick Perry as the new executive commissioner of Health and Human Services, effective Sept. 1. He will replace Albert Hawkins, who recently announced his retirement from the post. Suehs' term will expire Feb. 1, 2011.
In making the announcement, Perry first praised the "outstanding leadership" efforts of Hawkins, who was at the helm of the agency through a major reorganization of the state's health and human services system and coordinated sheltering of special needs evacuees from three hurricanes that ravaged the Texas Coast in recent years.
Suehs currently serves as deputy executive director for financial services at HHSC, a position he has held since 2003. In that role, he is responsible for oversight and direction for the financial management of the five Health and Human Services agencies. Before joining HHSC, Suehs served as executive director of the Texas Health Care Association and was executive director of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. He is a former special advisor to the Texas Indigent Health Care Task Force.
"I'm grateful to Gov. Perry for the opportunity to serve in such an important role, and I look forward to working with state leaders to meet the social service needs of Texans. I'm proud of the people I work with here at our health and human services agencies. We have some of the state's biggest challenges, but we also have the most dedicated and compassionate employees in the state. It will be an honor to serve with them."
Suehs holds a bachelor's degree from Texas State University and an an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin.
McCraw, DPS announce organizational changes
Beckwith selected deputy director, Burton assistant director
Organizational changes have been announced at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) under the administration of newly named DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw. McCraw, who was named DPS director in July after serving as Texas' Director of Homeland Security since 2004, wasted little time in filling key positions at DPS.
A chief of staff position has been created to oversee the DPS transformation resulting from an external study of the department. That position has not yet been filled.
Col. Lamar Beckworth (left), who had served as interim director since the resignation of Col. Stanley Clark in May, is McCraw's new Deputy Director for Law Enforcement. Beckworth was previously an assistant director and has served more than three decades with the agency. Serving under Beckworth will be Fred Burton (right), the agency's new Assistant Director for Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism. Burton comes to DPS after having served as vice president of counterterrorism for STRATFOR, a global private intelligence company. He also previously served as a United States counterterrorism special agent.[more]
Rubinstein named TCEQ commissioner; Shaw new chair
Vickery names Zak Covar deputy executive director of agency
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Deputy Executive Director Carlos Rubinstein (left) has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as one of the three commissioners for the agency. He will replace Commissioner Larry Soward, who has served on the commission since October 2003 and whose term expires Aug. 31. Joining Commissioner Rubinstein's office will be Curtis Seaton and Shirley Ashworth.
Commissioner Bryan Shaw (right), who has served on the commission since November 2007, has been named presiding officer. Shaw's appointment is effective Sept. 10.
Executive Director Mark Vickery has named Zak Covar (bottom left) as his new deputy executive director. Covar has been with TCEQ since 2007 and has served as executive assistant to Commissioner Shaw and as assistant deputy executive director in the Executive Office. Covar is also a former environmental advisor to the governor and was a clerk of the House Environmental Regulation Committee. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University.
Serving as Covar's executive assistant will be Ricky Anderson, area director for North Central and West Texas. A 25-year TCEQ employee, Anderson began his work at the agency as an investigator, section manager and regional director in the San Antonio office. Connie Lucas, who has been with TCEQ since 1992, will serve as Covar's assistant.[more]
Bill Nance, Vice President for Finance and Support Services, Texas State University - San Marcos
Career highlights and education: I received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin in 1971. I got into higher education finance quite by accident when my cousin told me about a job opening at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board where she had a summer job. Over 13 years, I was promoted several times at the Coordinating Board, but am most proud of the work I did with the formula-funding system which is recommended every two years by the Coordinating Board for use by the legislature in funding universities, health science centers and community colleges. I was lucky to be mentored by Walter Guttman, Jr., who was one of the most dedicated state employees Texas has ever had. Through this work with the formula system, I got to know every chancellor, president and chief financial officer in the state. I was fortunate that in October 1984 I became the chief financial officer for the Texas State University System, working for Chancellor Lamar Urbanovsky. Implementing the new Higher Education Assistance Fund in our System, creating the first System-wide group health insurance program for faculty and staff and improving the financial reporting mechanisms to the Board of Regents were highlights of my time at TSUS. During this time, I became very active in the Texas Association of State College and University Business Officers, serving on the Executive Committee for 11 years and as president in 1992-93. Service in the state organization also led to several positions on committees of the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers. As Texas State University-San Marcos, then Southwest Texas State University, was one of the components of the TSUS, I had become very familiar with the University. In 1991, an opening in the associate vice president's position came about and I was selected. When Ted Marek retired in 1993, President Jerry Supple promoted me to Vice President for Finance and Support Services. Being a part of the growth of Texas State over the past 18 years, both quantitatively and qualitatively, with increased admission standards, the advent of doctoral programs, the addition of physical facilities second to none and the creation of a second campus in Round Rock made it an exciting time to serve with Dr. Supple and now with President Denise Trauth since 2002.
What I like best about my job is: Aside from the talented and dedicated people I work with, the best thing about my job is attending commencement ceremonies and seeing all of the graduates receive their diplomas and watching the joy on the faces of their family members. This is why all of us in higher education come to work every day.
The best advice I've received for my current job is:...the old line attributed to Davy Crockett, "Be sure you're right and then go ahead." That was simply the 19th century version of today's mantra of "Plan, Do, Check, Act."
Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Consult all stakeholders. On a university campus of this size, there are a lot of constituents out there with varying needs, so your business processes have to align with and support as many as possible.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: on the golf course.
People would be surprised to know that I: wrote all of the code in the 1970s, after the Coordinating Board sent me to a class, for the programs that produced the first computer-generated formula calculations for university appropriations.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: I wish more people were aware that Texas State is classified by the Coordinating Board as a "Selective" university because we have among the highest admission standards in the state among public universities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPI hosts two highly successful local workshops
'Full house' hears insider info on contracting opportunities
Strategic Partnerships, Inc.'s inaugural workshops in its new office and training center played to a full house this week. Attendees at the morning and afternoon sessions of The Public Sector EDGE workshops heard from SPI's veteran team of former nonpartisan former elected officials, sector experts, regulators, budget analysts, government executives and policy gurus regarding upcoming government contracting opportunities and how to position themselves to increase their share of government contracts. The two workshops were held in SPI's new Competitive EDGE Training Facility.
"We are extremely pleased with the response to both sessions of the workshop," said SPI President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers, in accompanying photo with SPI Business Development Manager Reagan Weil (center) and workshop attendee Robyn Knocke (left). To view more photos of the workshop, click here."And judging from the positive comments we received from participants, the information was well received. These two workshops are the first of many we are planning in our new facility." [more]
Cost under-runs may lead to more mobility projects
TxDOT creates back-up substitute priority list by state regions
Like many other states, Texas is finding many of its transportation infrastructure projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are running under budget. As a result, the Texas Transportation Commission this week authorized Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) staff to put in place a back-up plan that will add more mobility projects for ARRA funding from savings due to cost projection under-runs. Funding from savings on contract cost projections can then be used - but in the region where the contract savings were realized.
Projects have been coming in under budget because of increased competition among bidders and lower materials costs. John Barton (pictured), TxDOT assistant executive director for Engineering Operations, said TxDOT won't have any problem putting the extra money to good use. "With transportation needs like ours, we will take every opportunity we can to keep Texas moving," he said.
TxDOT originally approved $1.2 billion in mobility projects from its $2.25 billion share of Recovery Act funding. Amendments were made in April and May. Some of the other funding will be spent on maintenance projects and transportation enhancements, while other funds will be spent by local agencies.
To view the list of TxDOT prioritized substitute mobility projects, click here and look under "Recent Reports." The list is prioritized by region. For any funds to be appropriated for projects in each region, a savings from under-runs must be realized in that region. The chosen substitute projects are ones that can proceed within the timeframe set by the Recovery Act.
TPWD awards cities $9 million in local park grants
The Dallas, Austin, El Paso and San Antonio areas were the big winners in funding as those areas reaped a combined total of $3.8 million from the $9 million in local park grants awarded Thursday by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The funding comes from the Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants program. San Antonio also was awarded a $1 million grant from the department's Indoor Recreation Grants program. The indoor and outdoor classifications of grants are awarded to communities with populations of 500,000 or more and provide matching grants of up to $1 million. The Urban Outdoor grants are for acquisition and development of parkland while the Urban Indoor grants are for building public recreation centers, community centers and nature centers.
Additionally, eight other communities in Texas were awarded a combined total of $3.6 million in grants from the Outdoor Recreation Grants program for communities of less than 500,000 population. Eleven more were awarded a combined total of $750,000 from the Small Community Grants program, which provides matching grants of up to $500,000 for communities of 20,000 or fewer. The grants can be used for construction and repair of trails, ball fields, fishing, boating or hunting facilities, picnic areas, playgrounds, swimming pools, camp grounds, gardens and other recreational facilities. Eight other communities across the state were awarded a combined $3.6 million in grants from TPWD's Outdoor Recreation Grants program, which funds acquisition and/or development of outdoor recreation sites for communities with populations less than 500,000.
Among the awards were $500,000 to the City of Brownwood to develop a sports complex including ball fields, a swimming pool, picnic tables and benches and more, $500,000 to the City of Wimberley to help develop the 120-acre Blue Hole Regional Park and Preserve and $500,000 to the City of Austin to further develop the 47.3-acre Gus Garcia park to include sports fields, picnic tables, a community garden and more. To view a complete list and description of grants and projects by county, click here and look under "Recent Reports."
Company to us $1M from TEF for Temple expansion
McLane Advanced Technologies is the recipient of a $1 million investment from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), according to Gov. Rick Perry. The money will be used for the expansion and modernization of the company's facilities in Temple. The Governor's Office said the company will create 225 new jobs and $9 million in capital investment.
McLane provides information, technology, logistic and business services to a variety of clients, including the U.S. Army. The company combines distribution experience with professionals from the military and private sectors to assist with logistical needs for the Department of Defense, and has modernized three of the Army's logistical systems.
Johnson resigns from Texas Facilities Commission
Edward Johnson (pictured), who has served as executive director of the Texas Facilities Commission since May 2006, has announced he will resign his post, effective Aug. 28. Tom Forrest has been named interim executive director.
Johnson was appointed executive director of the agency when it was still the Texas Building and Procurement Commission. He worked for the agency three years prior to being named executive director, serving as Director of Legislative Affairs and Governmental Relations. He also was a senior-level policy advisor to both the commission and the executive director. Before joining the agency, he worked in the office of the Texas House Speaker.
Johnson holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and attended The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs and the William P. Hobby School of Public Administration.
$3 million in Trail Grants awarded by TPWD
Trail grants totaling $3 million will be spread out among 25 Texas sites from the National Recreational Trails Fund. The grants were approved Thursday by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The funds come from a portion of the federal gas tax that is collected on the sale of gasoline for off-road recreational vehicles. The funds help create and maintain motorized and non-motorized recreational trails.
The program provides 80-20 matching grants, with the grant recipient paying 20 percent of total project cots. The grantees were chosen based on quality of the project, cost effectiveness, impact on recreational trail opportunities and geographic distribution of funds. Among the awards was $239,908 to the City of Childress to expand the Childress ATV & Moto Park and for parking, equipment and water improvements. The Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association in McLennan County received $77,220 for the Waco Lake Reynold's Creek Trailhead project. Funds will go towards improvements to the parking area, and the construction of a new pavilion, corrals, signs and lights. To view the complete list of funded trail construction projects by county, click here and look under "Recent Reports."
Cabrales exits governor's office for private law practice
David Cabrales (pictured), general counsel to Gov. Rick Perry, is leaving his capitol office to return to the private sector as an attorney with the Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell law firm, where he worked prior to accepting a position with the Governor's Office. In addition to providing legal counsel for the governor, Cabrales also served as principal economic development advisor to the governor and worked closely with administration of the state's Texas Enterprise Fund, Emerging Technology Fund, Texas One and other economic development programs.
Cabrales came to the Governor's Office after leaving his post as partner in what was then the Locke Liddell firm in Dallas, where he served as chair of the Diversity Committee and was a member of its Practice Development and Political Contributions committees.
Cabrales began his law career as a briefing attorney for then-Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez. He earned his bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University and his law degree from the Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Hale leaves Speaker's Office for private sector
Angela Hale, communications director for House Speaker Joe Straus, is leaving her capitol post to become managing partner in a communications company with offices in Dallas and Austin. Hale will specialize in public relations, public affairs, crisis communications and multi-media production.
Hale came to the Speaker's Office after serving as senior advisor and communications director for Attorney General Greg Abbott. She previously served as a reporter for a Dallas-Forth Worth television station. Hale is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.
Six finalists named for TEA Texas Teacher of Year
The Texas Education Agency this week named six Texas educators as finalists for the Texas Teacher of the Year award.
The six teachers will be invited to Austin for a round of interviews on Sept. 12. A panel will determine both a secondary and elementary teacher of the year from those interviews. One of the top winners will be selected to participate in the National Teacher of the Year honors. The finalists include:
Bray announces retirement from CIO position at TDCJ
After seven years as chief information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDJC), Bob Bray (pictured) has announced he will retire. Bray was named CIO of the agency responsible for offenders in state prisons, state jails and some private correctional facilities on March 27, 2002. He will retire on Oct. 31.
Bray brought extensive information technology administration experience to TDCJ, having been director of software development for a private sector firm, serving as CIO and vice president for a Texas and New Mexico grocery chain, director of management information systems for a grocery chain in Florida and New York and spending 18 years with Texas Tech University as director of planning, director of systems and procedures and manager of administrative data processing.
Bray holds a bachelor's degree and a secondary teaching certificate from the University of Utah and a master's degree from Texas Tech.
TxDOT applies for nine FRA high-speed rail grants
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials have submitted nine applications to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program.
Phillip Russell (pictured), TxDOT assistant executive director for innovative project development, said a multimodal transportation system is "key to efficiently moving people and goods throughout the state," adding he believes the applications "set us on a course that will keep Texas moving."
Some $8 billion in ARRA funds are available to qualified candidates through the HSIPR program. The FRA will review the applications this fall.
TWDB OKs water-conservation interest group members
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has approved the recommended selections of Interest Group Members for the Water Conservation Advisory Council (WCAC), which monitors the effectiveness of statewide conservation. The appointments will fill those positions that expire Aug. 31.
The Council is composed of 23 members representing 23 interest groups with all members appointed by the TWDB. Duties include monitoring trends and technologies in water conservation.
For more information on the Council, click here.
TSLAC awards four public libraries nearly $10K
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has awarded $9,760 to four public libraries using funds raised by the sale of "Texas Reads" license plates (pictured), which are applied to reading and literacy projects across the state.
The four libraries to receive funding include:
The Texas Reads specialty license plate can be purchased from each county tax assessor-collector for $30. A total of $22 from each plate sold goes to the Texas Reads program.
TASSCC advisory group elects four to board
Three board members of the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC) Advisory Group (TAG) were re-elected and a fourth new member added during board member elections held last week.
Re-elected were Northrop Grumman, Sun Microsystems and St. Edward's University. The new board member is The Denim Group. TASSCC Board Member Ginger Salone of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) is stepping down from the board and will be replaced by Doug Holt, also from DIR.
TASSCC's mission is to advance education and networking among Texas public sector IT professionals. It includes full members that generally are state agencies and state institutions of higher education and associate members that are primarily companies involved in computing and communications.
Dallas Co. Hospital District approves $705M bond sale
The Dallas County Hospital District recently approved a $705 million bond sale to pay for a new Parkland Memorial Hospital approved by voters in a November bond election.
Most of the offering will be Build America Bonds, the government-backed securities created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, said John Dragovits (pictured), the district's chief financial officer. The bond sale will include $678.9 million in taxable funds and $26.1 million in tax-exempt securities, he said.
The district plans to build a new 862-bed Parkland Hospital at a cost of about $1.2 billion. The hospital district expects to raise about $500 million of the cost from private donations and using Parkland Hospital's reserve funds. Using the Build America Bonds will save the hospital district between $50 million and $80 million on the bonds' 35-year amortization period, Dragovits said. Hospital officials expect the new facility to be completed in 2014.
TSU approves campus site for SHSU in The Woodlands
The Texas State University System Board of Regents has OK'd construction of two academic buildings for Sam Houston State University in The Woodlands.
The Lone Star College System will deed seven acres for the structures. Regents also approved an agreement to construct an academic building for SHSU at The Woodlands to be shared with Lone Star College for 20 years.
Conditionally, SHSU will offer only junior- and senior-level courses at the campus, and Lone Star College will offer only freshman and sophomore classes.
Wheelan speaker as HSU installs Hall as president
Dr. Belle Wheelan (left), president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, will be the speaker for the Hardin-Simmons University convocation ceremony as Dr. Lanny Hall (right) is installed as HSU's 15th president. The convocation ceremony will be held on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 11 a.m. at Behrens Auditorium. The events of the day are open to the public.
Wheelan has more than three decades of education experience, from faculty member to college president to Secretary of Education. She holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity University, a master's from Louisiana State University and a doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin. The accrediting body over which she presides includes higher education institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The commission also accredits institutions of higher education in Latin America.
Hall's installation marks a return to HSU. In his 38 years of education and government service, he has served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives and as chief executive officer of three Texas Baptist universities - HSU, Wayland Baptist University and Howard Payne University. In his first stint at HSU, he served as chancellor, executive director of the HSU Institute for Leadership and held the Haggerton Chair of Political Science.
Tarleton picks Student Life Studies president
Dr. Robert Michael Haynes has been named assistant vice president for Student Life Studies at Tarleton State University. In his new role, Haynes will work to conceive and implement planning and assessment strategies.
Haynes previously served nine years at the University of North Texas and three years at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
He graduated from Baylor University and went on to obtain his master's and doctoral degrees from UNT.
Sul Ross names lone finalist for president
Dr. Ricardo Maestas (pictured) has been named lone finalist for the presidency of Sul Ross State University. He will succeed Dr. R. Vic Morgan, who will retire Aug. 31 after 19 years at the helm of the university.
Maestas currently serves as vice president for Student and University Relations and dean of students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, a post he has held since 2005. He began his career in education in 1974 teaching Spanish courses for native-speaking students at the University of New Mexico. He has since held tenures at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Maestas holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan.
TWU announces budget plans for new school year
Texas Woman's University regents have approved a $259.8 million expense budget for the 2009-2010 school year, marking an increase of nearly $48.8 million from the previous year's budget.
The budget includes a $362,000 increased contract to design a 600-space parking garage for the T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences in Dallas and a $17.5 million construction request for a new recreation building. Regents approved selling $17.5 million in bonds for the construction of the Fitness and Recreation Building, which will be repaid with fees incurred over a 20-year period.
Clower selected as new director for UNT center
Terry L. Clower (pictured) has been named director of the Center for Economic Development and Research (CEDR) at the University of North Texas.
Clower has served as project manager, staff researcher and statistical analyst at CEDR, which he joined in 1992. He currently works as an associate professor of applied economics at UNT.
U of H officials approve $70M medical research facility
The University of Houston System Board of Regents has approved construction of a 167,000-square-foot Health and Biomedical Sciences Center, which will house laboratories, academic space and surgical facilities.
Pending approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in October, construction on the $70 million facility is set to begin in August 2010.
Welcome Wilson, chairman of the UHS Board of Regents, said the facility will focus on health-related research, adding more than 50 percent of research funding is devoted to health with 25 percent allotted to health-related projects.
Philanthropists endow Texas State with $2M gift
Bruce and Gloria Ingram (pictured) have presented a $2 million gift to Texas State University-San Marcos, which will support scholarships for students in the Ingram School of Engineering.
The Ingrams gave Texas State $5 million to establish its school of engineering in 2006. University President Denise M. Trauth said the Ingram School of Engineering stands as a tribute to the couple's philanthropy.
Meanwhile Texas State is faring well amid the economic recession with a 5 percent increase in general revenue appropriations for the next two years, thanks to enrollment growth.
Austin benefits from $2 million in HUD recovery funds
Four community development projects in Austin will be funded by $2 million in Community Development Block Grant Recovery Act (CGBC-R) funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funds will be used for East Austin infrastructure needs and to offset construction costs for nonprofit facilities.
The four projects include:
The Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office will administer the funding.
Patty H. Shelton School of Nursing announces new dean
Dr. Nina Ouimette (pictured) has been named dean of the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing in Abilene. The school services undergraduate and graduate students from three universities in Abilene: McMurry, Hardin-Simmons and Abilene Christian.
Ouimette, a pediatric nurse also experienced in informatics (the compiling of digital lifelong medical records), has been with the Patty Hanks school for nine years. She is looking to expand classroom technology during her tenure as dean.
The veteran pediatric nurse first served as an adjunct faculty member at Hardin-Simmons for the nursing school.
One year ago, she was named director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program after spending a year as interim director.
EPA awards $9M to Houston-Galveston diesel program
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $9 million in federal stimulus funds to support the SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program. The Houston-Galveston area program promotes the use of new, cleaner or retrofitted vehicles and equipment at the Port of Houston, while the stimulus funds aim to spur clean diesel projects while creating and retaining jobs.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has allotted $300 million in all for the National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC).
Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for Air and Radiation, said clean diesel initiatives "put people to work and keeps them working, which helps our economy and our environment."
UT Regents approve new building for dental branch
The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved final plans for a $155 million new building (pictured) at the UT Dental Branch at Houston. The structure, which will allow the school to increase enrollment by approximately 20 percent, will replace the 1955 facility.
Construction could be under way as early as December and completed in 2012, according to John Valenza, D.D.S., interim dean at the dental school.
The school has raised $5.5 million for the building through the Open to Health fundraising initiative and plans to reach a philanthropic goal of $20 million to see the project through.
DOE awards RR Commission $12.6M for propane fleet
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Railroad Commission of Texas (RCT) $12.6 million for the purchase of 245 propane school buses and 637 light- and medium-duty propane trucks, vans and cars. Grant participants matched the funds with $37.7 million.
Propane, domestically produced, burns cleaner than diesel. The new vehicle fleets stand to reduce U.S. petroleum consumption by 12.1 million gallons while boosting propane consumption by 15.9 million gallons.
The grant also stands to create 149 green jobs.
Harris Co. constable among recipients of TAC awards
The Texas Association of Counties (TAC) honored longtime Harris County Constable Bill Bailey (pictured) with the Sam Seale Trailblazer Award at its annual conference, held this week in Austin.
Bailey spent his 27-year career "telling the county story to anyone he could find," said Karen Ann Norris, TAC executive director.
TAC and the Texas Municipal League also presented two City-County Cooperation awards to Dallas County and the City of Irving for their successful Irving Health Center and to Wise County and the cities of Bridgeport and Decatur for working together to bring a branch campus of Weatherford College to Wise County located between the two cities.
Rep. Rene O. Oliveira of Brownsville was honored as Legislator of the Year, while Sen. Royce West of Dallas and Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston were honored as Champions of County Government.
VP Pearson leaving Blinn College after 37 years
Blinn College's Brazos County campus Vice President Barbara Pearson is retiring after more than three decades with the college. There are no plans yet for replacing her and President Dan Holt said her duties will be taken over by other vice presidents of the college.
Pearson spent 37 year with Blinn and said she is leaving to be able to spend more time with her family. Pearson's departure leaves only one vice president located on the Bryan campus, but Debra Lacour, vice president of academic affairs, will now maintain an office there and work three to four days a week on that campus, said Holt.
Pearson began her career at Blinn as a part-time history teacher in 1973. She took on duties that included bookstore manager, academic adviser, assistant campus director and campus director before being named a vice president in 1995. Pearson holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas and a master's and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.
Hale ready to take on role as director of institute
After being appointed in February, Charles R. Hale (pictured) is about to begin his duties as director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) at The University of Texas at Austin, effective Sept. 1. An international expert in political anthropology, Hale has been associated with LLILAS since 1990 when he came to UT. He served as the institute's associate director from 1999 to 2003 and was also president of the Latin American Studies Association from 2007 to 2008.
LLILAS is an institute in the College of Liberal Arts at UT and was founded in 1940. It serves as a language and national resource center under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. Alumni Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long of Austin endowed the center with a $10 million gift. It now integrates more than 30 academic departments across campus, has 127 affiliated faculty and offers programs that lead to bachelor's, master's and doctor's degrees.
Galveston approves May 2010 for stadium bond election
Trustees for the Galveston Independent School District recently approved a plan to call a bond election in May 2010 to replace the district's aging football stadium. Trustees previously discussed a November 2009 bond election, but city staff did not have enough time to research all the data before the deadline to call an election in November.
Although the delay will cause trustees to miss the February deadline to apply for an $8.6 million low- or no-interest grant from a special federal fund for school districts hit hard by Hurricane Ike, the district will still qualify for other federal funding, said Arnold Procter, assistant superintendent of business and operations. Galveston, however, will be competing with school districts throughout Texas for that funding.
Under the timeline adopted by trustees, board members will consider approving a bond election in February. A committee of district staff, board members and residents will review the qualifications of architects before suggesting firms to hire to evaluate three sites for a new 6,000- to 7,000-seat stadium estimated to cost between $28 million and $41 million.
Lindale ISD approves $42M November bond election
Trustees for the Lindale Independent School District recently authorized a $42 million bond election for Nov. 3. The bond proposal will be broken down into two parts, said Board President James Brown (pictured).
The first proposition will ask voters to approve $32.1 million for a new junior high school campus, adding classrooms to the high school and a new field house. The new junior high campus will feature 28 regular classrooms, four science labs, a computer lab, art, speech, theater and journalism classrooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, multiple practice and competition floors, band practice rooms, outdoor practice fields, tennis courts and a six-lane track.
The second proposition will ask for approval of $10 million to build a new 1,200-seat auditorium, a new baseball and softball complex and to improve the football stadium and tennis dressing facilities.
TxDOT staff updates airport officials on available grants
Representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation recently met with officials from Abilene, Sweetwater, Stamford, Haskell, Hamlin, Albany and Aspermont to review resources available to improve their municipal airports.
Daniel Benson, an airport planner with TxDOT, said that about $48 million in grant funding is available from federal grants and another $15 million is available through state grants to help cities improve their airports. The grants range from Capital Improvement Projects, which require a 10 percent local match to a Routine Airport Maintenance Program (RAMP), which requires a 50 percent match with a $100,000 cap. The RAMP grant has programs for terminals, control towers and automated weather observation systems that will help airports attract more business, Benson said.
EDA grant for $850K benefits Lindale industrial park
A recent $850,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce to the City of Lindale will help fund impending infrastructure for a large industrial park project. The Lindale Economic Development Corporation has matched the grant by $500,000 and land totaling $300,000. Smith County commissioners are set to weigh in on the project in coming weeks.
The project began in 2007 when city officials purchased 260 acres of land north and south of I-20.
Mayor Jim Mallory (pictured) said the grant will move things along, attracting other businesses to the park in the process.
Hays County approves sale of first road bonds
Hays County commissioners recently authorized the sale of the first round of bonds to pay for $207 million in road improvements voters approved in 2008. The bonds will be used to improve road safety and mobility throughout Hays County. County officials expect the Texas Department of Transportation will reimburse the county about $144 million through its Pass-Through Projects programs.
Nearly $50 million in bonds will be used for cash-flow expenses for five pass-through projects including construction on US 290 West, preliminary engineering, environmental studies and design of Phase 2A and 2B of the I-35 and FM 150 realignment project, preliminary engineering and environmental studies, final design, right-of-way acquisition for the FM 1626A project and for environmental studies, final design and right-of-way acquisition for FM 1626B project.
Nearly $10 million in bonds were issued to pay for cash-flow expenses for 20 Priority Road Projects determined following public meetings with citizens. These projects include construction of SH 21 at High Road, final design and construction of SH 21 at FM 2001 and final design and construction of SH 21 at Rohde Rd. Other priority projects to be funded include preliminary engineering, environmental studies and final design for improvements from US 290 from FM 12 to McGregor Lane and improvements to RM 12 and RM 1826.
College Station puts convention center plans on hold
As the City of College Station faces a $1 million general revenue fund shortfall this year, council members are hedging support for a city-financed convention center. They are requesting a more thorough analysis of how the center could benefit the city. The city spent close to $10 million last year to buy a shopping center where officials plan to build the $40 million facility.
The review will include input from community members and could take a year or longer to complete, according to Economic Development Director David Gwin (pictured). The analysis is set to include an in-depth study of the center's cost, revenue projections and a construction timeline.
The council previously approved a financing plan for the center that called for about 86 percent of the overall funding to come from College Station visitors, not residents, through a hotel-occupancy tax.
McAllen airport bolstered by $11.6M grant from USDOT
McAllen city officials are set to add three much-needed gates to McAllen-Miller International Airport's existing five gates using $11.6 million in federal stimulus funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The funds will allow the city to add 105,000 square feet to the terminal to make room for three more gates, which gives airport officials "the flexibility to go out and solicit more air service," said Philip Brown, the city's director of aviation.
The funds will also be geared toward rehabilitating a runway and repairing damage from Hurricane Dolly.
The airport also received $5.4 million in July from the federal stimulus package.
Morrow to head program in United Arab Emirates
Former Bryan Chief of Police Ty Morrow (pictured) will head a $7.1 million Texas Engineering Extension Service program that trains law enforcement officials in the United Arab Emirates. The aim of the Security and Asset Protection Program is to prepare about 4,000 members of the United Arab Emirates Critical National Infrastructure Authority to protect national infrastructure and resources.
Morrow previously served on the TEEX Advisory Council and the academy's advisory board. He has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years and headed the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy in Virginia before joining the Bryan Police Department.
SAPP operations are expected to begin in Abu Dhabi by late summer.
Montgomery County to host $335M bond election in May
The Montgomery County Commissioners Court have called a $335 million bond election for May 2010. Around $76 million will be used for Precinct 4 roads if the bond passes. That figure includes money for the stabilization and overlay of roads, street widening, major projects, right-of-way acquisitions and contingency and project management.
Construction on FM1314, totaling $37 million, will turn the road into a four-lane street if the bond passes.
Meanwhile, the precinct reports Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is in the process of reclaiming Loop 494 as part of an ensuing $4.3 million project.
Galveston ISD to delay stadium bond election
Galveston Independent School District administrators recently urged trustees to postpone a planned bond election for a new football stadium from November 2009 until May 2010. Although trustees took no action on the recommendation, Board President Andy Mytelka (pictured) said he believes district personnel may need more time to gather detailed information to help educate voters on the cost and location of a new stadium.
Waiting until May to hold the bond election, however, could cause the district to miss the opportunity of using federal low-interest or no-interest loans specifically targeting school districts in counties severely impacted by Hurricane Ike, district officials said. The state has set aside $100 million in qualified School Construction Bonds for districts with severe hurricane damage and Galveston ISD qualifies for $8.6 million from that fund. That allocation, however, expires on Feb. 1, 2010, and the district needs enough local funding to leverage the federal dollars. While federal money will still be available after Feb. 1, Galveston ISD would be competing with school districts all over Texas for that funding.
District officials estimate a new 6,000-foot stadium would cost at least $20 million to build while a 7,000-seat stadium would most likely cost about $41 million. Trustees agreed to work with a recovery committee that will continue to collect data about building a new stadium and urging the city to work with the schools in creating a $160 million sports complex with baseball fields, softball fields and a natatorium.
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Texas Conference on Regionalism slated in September
The 2009 Texas Conference on Regionalism: A Bridge Across Texas will be held Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 16-18, on South Padre Island. The event is co-hosted by the Texas Association of Regional Councils and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. Some of the topics for staff development and training workshops include economic development, criminal justice, 9-1-1, homeland security, solid waste and aging. Some topics for concurrent sessions include Economic Development ABCs, Planning for Aging Communities, Interoperable Communications, Technology Trends in Public Safety and Managing Grants and Subgrants Under the Recovery Act. Some exhibit hall and sponsorship opportunities are still available. To view the draft agenda for the event, click here. To register, click here.
TML getting ready for October annual conference
The Texas Municipal League will host its 97th Annual Conference and Exhibition Tuesday through Friday, Oct. 20-23, at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Each day of the conference will feature concurrent sessions and keynote speakers. The TML Board of Directors meeting will be Friday, Oct. 23. Among the many topics for the concurrent sessions are: State-of-the-Art Technology for Small Cities, Successful Economic Development in a Difficult Economy and Protecting City Accounts from Identity Theft. There will be an interactive session on dealing with difficult personalities. Other topics will be federal issues of importance to cities, community policing, preparing critical IT structure systems for disaster, maximizing retail opportunities, strategic planning and more. Among the keynote speakers will be Craig Karges, who combines magic with psychology and intuition to explore the potential of the human mind. For more information, click here. To register online, click here.
Emergency Management Association plans symposium
"Make It Happen," the 3rd Annual Emergency Management Association of Texas (EMAT) symposium is slated for Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel Bayfront Tower in Corpus Christi. A limited number of rooms have been secured for $85 per night, so attendees are urged to make reservations early. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend a refresher course and take the exam for Texas Floodplain Mangers Certification. The general membership meeting will include board elections, 2009 EMAT awards and recognition of Texas Emergency Manager certification recipients. For more information, click here. Online registration will be available soon.