Everyone Says Participation is Key, But No One Said it has to be Boring.

Written by  Dean Word, III 2014 AGC of Texas President

Deputy Executive Director and Chief Engineer John Barton was our guest speaker at the Chapter’s April membership luncheon. While providing an overview of TxDOT’s summer letting schedule, he announced that he had authorized the districts to overprogram their Category 1— PM, seal coat, and other rehab-type projects—by 25 percent. At the time of this writing, the June, July and August estimates total well over $1 billion. The programming increase will also help to ensure that TxDOT isn’t sitting on a significant amount of money before the start of the 84th Legislative Session.

Mr. Barton’s announcement came just days before the Texas Transportation Commission announced selection of the department’s 20th executive director, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Joe Weber. According to TxDOT’s press release, “As a lieutenant general in the United States Marine Corps, Weber most recently managed the welfare of more than 75,000 Marines and Sailors along the eastern seaboard. Previously, the general served in assignments throughout the United States and overseas leading major efforts, including tours in Iraq and Japan. His primary duties focused on training, education and combat readiness for thousands of Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen. During his 36 years of dedicated service to our country, the military provided Weber the proper foundation to lead a complex and multi-tiered organization like TxDOT.”

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Weber served as Vice President of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University in College Station. In that role, he was responsible for directing fiscal and human resources for nearly 57,000 students, overseeing more than 900 student organizations, as well as directing the campus’ crisis management plan.

"Governor Perry has made a wise selection to lead TxDOT through the upcoming Session"

General officers who are awarded a third or fourth star are confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Along with increased overall command responsibilities, an important skill they must master is testifying before numerous committees on Capitol Hill in support of their budgets, manpower and materiel needs. In this respect, Governor Perry has made a wise selection to lead TxDOT through the upcoming Session. I eagerly anticipate working with our new partner at TxDOT, and wish him a long and successful tenure as he leads the finest DOT in the country.

The summer season is well and truly upon us, and for many Chapter members, this means more than splitting time between the office and the jobs. It is also a chance for members to enjoy some great fellowship and educational opportunities at our annual summer events.

During June 22-26, Barbara and I cordially invite you to join us and the rest of the AGC membership as we travel to the Sunriver Resort near Bend, Oregon. We expect the late June weather to be glorious, and I know the golf, fly-fishing, and nature walk opportunities are exceptional. I should also mention the all-star conference panels we have come to expect from AGC staff, who make sure the panels are timely, interesting, and selected with contractors’ senior management in mind. I don’t know of a single conference I have attended which did not impart both quality information and astute firsthand political forecasts.

Next up in July, we have the Chapter’s extremely popular Administrative Conference from the 24th through the 27th. For the first time ever, we will be hosting the conference at the beautiful Hyatt Hill Country Resort in northwest San Antonio. This is a family-friendly venue, featuring a championship golf course, a destination spa, and a five-acre water park for the little ones. The conference presentations are focused on current regulatory issues affecting the industry. This is unquestionably an important conference for important administrative level employees.

In September (which we all know is still part of the Texas summer), we will once again host our overwhelmingly popular—and wildly entertaining—Scholarship Gala. As the sole source of income for the AGC of Texas Scholarship Fund, and the 50 students it supports, the Gala has become our Chapter’s signature event. Every moment of the evening, from the silent auction, through the outstanding dinner to the gifts of appreciation for sponsors and high bidders, is planned and executed to perfection. This year, we are pleased to welcome singer John Anderson for the evening’s entertainment. As previous participants can attest, this is an event we eagerly look forward to every year.

In October, the Associate Division again hosts its annual meeting. This year, however, they plan on doing things a little differently. The meeting is set for October 7 at Top Golf in Austin. Since it is scheduled during the highway letting, I hope to see several new faces during the membership luncheon at the 4 Seasons hotel.

While these events are designed to be entertaining, relaxing and fun, the networking and informational value that they offer to our AGC members are indispensable. This chapter is built upon the concept of “Members Helping Members,” and it is events like these that provide ample time to connect with your fellow industry leaders to ensure this motto is put into practice. I hope you will consider bringing your family and your valued employees to these summer events. The benefits far outweigh the costs.

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