AUSTIN - Texas’ new Border Security Council will conduct public forums in border communities Oct. 1-3.

The state of Texas launched “Operation Border Star” last month in hopes of reducing crime along the Texas-Mexico border.

The governor’s office described the operation as a “surge” in border security.

Working together in the operation are the U.S. Border Patrol, local law enforcement, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens, plus Texas military forces personnel and their equipment.

The governor’s office said Operation Border Star will be expanded during the next year with guidance from the Texas Border Security Council and more than $100 million provided by the 80th Texas Legislature.

In other news, information about a proposed border barrier fence along the eastern portion of the Rio Grande was published Sept. 25 in the Federal Register.

The information describes a 16-foot-tall fence strong enough to withstand a crash by a five-ton vehicle traveling 40 mph.

TxDOT names

new chief exec

Amadeo Saenz, a 51-year-old transportation engineer who has been with the Texas Department of Transportation for 29 years, has been promoted to executive director of the agency.

The Hebbronville native began his career with TxDOT in 1978 as an engineering lab assistant and worked his way up.

In other news, TxDOT officials said rising costs, less federal funding and a ban on most private toll road deals could combine to force the agency to scale back on projects.

Also, in late September, State District Judge Orlinda Naranjo of Travis County refused to grant a motion by Terri Hall of the San Antonio Toll Party and Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom for a temporary restraining order to stop a TxDOT-funded toll road-promoting campaign.

Texas’ first family

moves out

Gov. Rick Perry and family moved out of the governor’s mansion and into a $9,900 a month rental home just outside of Austin.

The mansion is undergoing repairs including plumbing improvements that could take a year and a half to complete.

The location of the temporary quarters raised a question about the constitutionality of a state office holder living outside of Austin city limits.

AG urges safety at schools

Texas law requires school districts to conduct campus security audits and report the results in the fall of 2008.

In that regard, Attorney General Greg Abbott said he wants school districts to take new safety procedures that could prevent a shooting like the one last spring at Virginia Tech.

Abbott recommended that each campus develop its own emergency plans and set up an anonymous incident reporting program.

He also encouraged more information sharing among law enforcement entities, juvenile justice officials and school authorities.

Volunteers clean

Texas beaches

More than 9,600 volunteers removed almost 190 tons of trash from Texas beaches on a mid-September weekend as part of the 2007 Texas General Land Office Adopt-A-Beach Fall Cleanup.

Among the found objects: toilet seat, underwear, syringes, Cadillac steering wheel, bikini, rubber chicken, hair piece, dog house, tea cup, hair curlers, light bulbs, rug and broom.

State to fund

background checks

Top state officials directed the Texas Education Agency to shift funding necessary to pay the $50 fee for fingerprinting and background checks on teachers.

Earlier, teachers and other education workers were going to have to pay for the checks themselves. Last session, the $50 million in funding for the background checks was cut from the budget.

Prevention week theme: Strategy

The State Fire marshal’s theme for Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13, is “Have an Exit Strategy Where You Live, Work, and Play.”

Texans are urged to learn two ways out of any room they’re in, whether that room happens to be their own kitchen, a boardroom at work, a movie theater, or any other locale.

Firms seek nuke plant permits

NRG Energy of New Jersey and CPS Energy of San Antonio filed papers to build nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project in Bay City that would go online in 2014.