Featured: The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Department of Computer Science a $495,042 grant for a research project, “Unifying Self-Assembly through Tile Automata,” which introduces and explores the Tile Automata abstract model of self-assembly to better understand how to design systems of particles, such as molecules of DNA, to reliably self-assemble into complex structures based on simple rules and local interactions. Associate Professor Dr. Robert Schweller (shown here) and Assistant Professor Dr. Tim Wylie worked on the grant proposal and are part of the Algorithmic Self-Assembly Research Group (A.S.A.R.G.) at UTRGV. The Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, along with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city.
Photograph By PAUL CHOUY
Edinburg EDC on Tuesday, July 24, set to review marketing/real estate consulting contract, proposed new logo, and transit center during board meeting to begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall
Eight projects scheduled to be discussed in open session and at least five matters to be considered behind closed doors are part of the agenda for the Tuesday, July 24, 2018 regular monthly meeting of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which begins at 6 p.m. at Edinburg City Hall.
The session, which is open to the public, will be held in the Edinburg City Council Chamber at Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 W. University Drive.
A proposal by The Canvas Group of Ft. Worth, which is seeking up to $57,000 to provide Retail Market Analysis and Real Estate Consulting, is one of the highlights for the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors meeting.
Under the payment structure being requested by The Canvass Group, the Edinburg EDC “shall be responsible to pay (The Canvass Group) a retainer for services in the amount of $25,000 and due and payable upon the signing of this agreement, and is non-refundable.”
The proposed payment structure also states that the Edinburg EDC “shall be invoiced for additional services/fees in the amount of $30,000 at the conclusion of Phase I. The Edinburg EDC, upon receipt of the invoice, shall make prompt and immediate payment by way of check or wire transfer within 30 days after receipt of invoice.”
Also on tap for possible action is reviewing 28 outstanding logo designs submitted by Edinburg residents, with the best design to serve as the new logo for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.
Board members also are scheduled to receive an update on the construction of the multi-million dollar Edinburg Transit Terminal. Officials with Davila Construction, Negrete & Kolar Architects, and Valley Metro will be joining Tom Reyna, the city’s Director of Public Works, to address the board and public.
In Executive Session, as allowed by state law, among the issues to be reviewed include possible action regarding the sale of Lot 6, E.E.D.C. No. 1 Subdivision.
The Edinburg EDC, of which Joey Treviño is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.
The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Councilmember Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Councilmember Salinas as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Molina and Mayor Pro Tem Torres as Members.
Treviño, in his executive summary to the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, said The Canvass Group submitted their proposal to him during a recent gathering of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Treviño is recommending that the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors approve the contract with The Canvass Group.
“These services are proposed to be conducted in two phase,” Treviño explained. “Phase 1 would be a 90-120 day period that will include an In-Depth Market Analysis and Market Canvass-In-Market Real Estate Assessment that will provide demographic, psychographic, retail leakage, and surplus and mobile tracking data.”
The fee for Phase I is $25,000 plus travel and expenses, not to exceed $2,000, to be billed at actual costs.
At the completion of Phase I of the analysis and study, the proposal allows the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors to determine if it wishes to proceed with Phase II.
The fee for Phase II, a 240-day period, would include the Local Stakeholder Outreach, Targeted Tenant Outreach, and Targeted Developer Outreach. These would all comprise of outreach to priority owners, existing tenants, potential tenants, and potential developers to ascertain interests and opportunities for investing and developing in the city. The fee for Phase II is $30,000.
Joseph Fackel, who is listed on the proposed contract with the Edinburg EDC, is a Partner at the Canvass Group, LLC, according to his Linkedin page. His previous experiences include leadership roles with Retail Strategies, Buxton, and TBA Global. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Edinburg EDC agenda packet, which contains all the information that is open to the public, is available online by logging on to the Edinburg EDC website at:
The agenda for the Tuesday, July 24, 2018 regular meeting of the Board of Director follows:
1. Call meeting to Order, Establish Quorum;
2. Roll Call and Certification of Posting of Meeting;
3. Consider approval of Board of Director’s Minutes for the June 26, 2018 Board Meeting.
4. Discuss and consider authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an Agreement with the Canvass Group for Retail Market Analysis and Real Estate Consulting.
5. Presentation regarding the Construction of the Edinburg Transit Terminal Project Update and possible action regarding the Edinburg Transit Terminal.
6. Presentation of Monthly Financial Reports by Mr. Cris Villarreal, CPA
7. Discuss and consider authorizing the Executive Director to enter into a Small Business Renovation Improvements Grant Program Agreement with Expressions Salon and Spa.
8. Discuss and consider approval of Architectural Professional Services for the El Tule project at 702 South 18th Avenue, Edinburg, Texas.
9. Discuss and consider approval of Architectural Professional Services for the Workforce Training Center project at 101 North 10th Avenue, Edinburg, Texas.
10. Discuss and consider entries received for the EEDC Logo Community Contest and possible action regarding the EEDC Logo and Contest.
11. Executive Director’s Report – Monthly Activities and Meetings.
12. The EEDC Board will convene in Executive Session, in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes Annotated, Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter D, Exceptions to Requirements that Meetings be Open, to deliberate under the following Subsections:
• Section 551.071, Consultation with Attorney;
• Section 551.072, Deliberations regarding Real Property;
• Section 551.074, Personnel Matters; and
• Section 551.087, Deliberations Regarding Economic Development Negotiations.
The EEDC Board may elect to go into Executive Session on any item whether or not such item is posted as an Executive Session item at any time during the meeting when authorized by the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The Board will deliberate the following items:
A. Deliberate the offers of financial or other incentives to business prospects;
B. Deliberate possible action of an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Edinburg regarding real properties;
C. Deliberate the sale of Lot 6, E.E.D.C. No. 1 Subdivision, Hidalgo County, Texas;
D. Deliberate the goals, objectives, and evaluation of the EEDC Executive Director; and
E. Consultation with Attorney: Other Legal Matters.
Following Executive Session, the Board of Directors will reconvene and consider taking appropriate action on the Executive Session items.
TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT
The Texas Open Meetings Act is detailed in Chapter 551 of the Government Code. It states that governmental bodies must hold open meetings unless there is an authorized reason for a closed session, also known as an executive session.
Key provisions of the act are as follows:
Governing boards, commissions, agencies and other bodies created within the executive and legislative branches of government are subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act. Commissioners courts, city councils, school boards and certain nonprofit corporations providing public services or spending taxpayer money are among the entities covered. Certain property owners’ associations also are subject to the law.
A quorum refers to a majority of members of a governing body, unless a quorum is defined differently by an applicable law or rule or charter of the body. A quorum must be present for the body to take action.
Posting of Notice
The governmental body must give the public notice of the date, time, place and subject of an upcoming meeting. The notice must be posted in a place readily accessible to the general public at all times at least 72 hours before the meeting. In case of an emergency or “urgent public necessity,” a meeting notice or addition to a meeting agenda may be posted at least two hours prior to the meeting. The governmental body must clearly identify the emergency.
Other Exceptions to Posting Law
Boards or commissions with statewide jurisdiction must have their meeting notice posted on the Internet by the secretary of state at least seven days before a meeting. Committees of the Texas Legislature are not subject to the meeting notice rules above. Their rules are set by the Texas House and Senate.
Closed, or executive, sessions may be held by a governmental body in certain situations. Executive sessions are permitted when a body is meeting with its attorney on litigation or a settlement offer; deliberating personnel matters; deliberating the purchase or lease of property; discussing certain financial contract negotiations; or discussing deployment of security devices. Several other exceptions to open meetings are also contained in the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Deliberations Between Meetings
Under a new provision of the act that took effect Sept. 1, 2013, members of a governing body are allowed to communicate with one another about public business between meetings if they do so in writing and on a publicly accessible online message board. The message board must be prominently displayed and easy for the public to find on the government entity’s website. Officials may not take action on the message board. That must wait for a posted meeting.
The Texas Open Meetings Act now allows for members of a governmental body to attend a public meeting via a video conference call. The head of the board or commission must be physically present in the designated meeting place and the public must be given access to that meeting space. The public must be able to witness the comments and actions of those officials attending the meeting remotely via audio and video equipment and be able to participate via the videoconferencing just as they would at a traditional public meeting.
Also according to its website (http://foift.org), The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas works to encourage a greater appreciation, knowledge and understanding of the First Amendment and helps to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public. Since its formation in 1978, the Foundation has helped citizens access government meetings and documents.
The Foundation seeks to inform journalists, legal professionals, educators, students, public officials and individual citizens about their rights and responsibilities as participants in our democracy. With the clear objective to protect and preserve the state’s open meetings and open records laws, the non-partisan Foundation acts as a statewide information clearinghouse and offers guidance and assistance on FOI-related issues through a network of attorneys and through public seminars and conferences.
FOIFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) supported through grants and tax-deductible donations from individuals, corporations and foundations.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION AWARDS GRANT TO UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY’S DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
The National Science Foundation’s Division of Computing and Communication Foundations has awarded the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Department of Computer Science a grant for their project, “Unifying Self-Assembly through Tile Automata.”
The award was announced on Tuesday, July 10, 2o18.
The project introduces and explores the Tile Automata abstract model of self-assembly to serve as a framework for unifying the diverse set of established and experimentally motivated models of self-assembly.
Dr. Robert Schweller, Associate Professor, and Dr. Tim Wylie, Assistant Professor, both in the Computer Science department, UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science, worked on the grant proposal and are part of the Algorithmic Self-Assembly Research Group (A.S.A.R.G.) at UTRGV.
The goal of the project is to better understand how to design systems of particles, such as molecules of DNA, to reliably self-assemble into complex structures based on simple rules and local interactions.
Schweller said a long-term goal is to develop techniques that will allow for nanoscale matter to be “programmed” to self-assemble into target structures.
Wylie said they had been applying for other grants to fund their research projects, but they had to start from scratch with this particular one since it was a new model.
“This proposal was the culmination of years of work and months of polish,” Schweller said.
The grant awarded is a total of $495,042 over three years, beginning July 1, 2018.
The most substantial item supported by the grant, Schweller said, is wages for student research assistants.
“There are many talented undergraduate and graduate students at UTRGV that are interested and capable of doing research. This grant will allow us to grow our research group, publish more papers, and help prepare more students for graduate school,” he said.
Dr. Emmett Tomai, Associate Professor and Interim Chair for the Department of Computer Science, said the department is proud of the national recognition received by Schweller and Wylie.
“They are dedicated teachers who bring together amazing scientific research with practical, hands-on teaching and mentoring of our students at all levels of our programs. We are very proud of our excellent faculty here in computer science, whose commitment and efforts enable us to provide great educational opportunities to our students at UTRGV,” he said.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.
UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island.
UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the Fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the Summer of 2016.