The Chapter Board of Directors’ Meeting in January was as fastpaced and intense as I've ever seen it, and I plan to exploit this momentum to its fullest potential. If you did not make it to the first Chapter meetings in 2012, don't worry—the momentum is coming to you.
This highly respected Chapter will reach its century mark in 2025, which could never have happened without a careful balance between consistency and adaptation. In other words, be reliable, but don't stagnate. It is with this in mind that we launch our 2012 campaign to rejuvenate our membership, refresh our relevance, and remind the good people of the great state of Texas that we don't just mean business—we ARE business.
Under the guidance of Highway Funding Chairman Bob Lanham, the Chapter has surged into 2012 determined to retool the way we interface with the department, the legislature, and each other. Bob has laid these out in five specific charges, all under the heading of the Highway Funding Task Force: one, to explore and develop a broad-based network of like-minded groups and organizations that support transportation investment; two, to educate the traveling public and the legislature through roadshow events, continued partnership with TRIP, a new Blue Book on highway funding, and new social media outlets; three, to develop “key” contacts from our association to each member of the Texas Legislature; four, to refresh our PAC involvement in the areas and maximize effect with its contributions; and five, to increase our lobby presence before and during session.
A member of the Highway Funding Task Force helms each charge, and they will report back to the full Task Force and to the Board of Directors every month. I will use my space in this magazine primarily to report on their ongoing efforts.
With the appointment of Phil Wilson as TxDOT's Executive Director, the department has decentralized much of its regular business and placed more responsibility on the districts. It is Phil's intent that Austin relinquishes some of its control over the districts and allows the district engineers to run their program as they see fit. We will retain the authority of our Joint Committee meetings with the department to discuss statewide issues, but district engineers are empowered to handle much of its business within the boundaries of their districts. As such, the Chapter is following suit, decentralizing much of its regular business and placing more emphasis on area-level activities. Make no mistake, this association’s lifeblood will be the area district engineer meetings. It is here where we will preserve our continued leadership over contractor issues.
Our area chairmen are vital to this objective. In early February, the area chairmen convened in Austin for an orientation, laying out these new charges and how they will interact with their areas and the Board of Directors. The area chairmen receive information regularly on what is happening on a statewide level, and they will report back to the Board of Directors on what is happening at the area level.
The role of area chairman is one of the most important jobs in the association, so if you are a contractor with a work issue, this is a great place to start. We also have our traditional committees and task forces, which will continue to meet and escalate specific issues to the Joint Committee.
We worked hard to bring the Associate Division up-to-date on these new structural changes, as well. With a large population of eager and able men and women in our associate division, I sat down with the Finance Committee early in the year to lay out a new path for the associate division; one that closely follows the general members and the new “keep it local” charge from the department.
First and foremost, I wanted to bring the Associates in closer to the heart and soul of the Chapter, so with that in mind, the Associate Division will function much like our other divisions. Associate activity will be localized and associate vice chairmen will be tasked with working at the area level to ensure opportunities for the associate members in that area.
I have appointed Bill Hogan to serve as Associate Division Chairman. He will work with the Associate Vice Chairmen of each area and report back to the board of directors on area activities.
I expect it to take time to get used to this reorganization. But I also expect great things from it. Be reliable, but don’t stagnate. That is the directive of 2012. I will do my absolute best to uphold these directives, but my best is only as good as the participation from the rest of the association. If you want information on how to get involved, contact your Chapter Office at 512.478.4691 and they will get you started on your way. I hope to see you at the next meeting.