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August 2010 — Web Exclusive

A Letter from the Comptroller

Photo of Susan Combs

Across Texas

  • San Antonio’s century-old Gibbs Building, the city’s first office building, has been renovated and recently opened as the 91-room Hotel Indigo San Antonio, part of an international hotel chain managed by InterContinental Hotel Group.
  • Austin developer Capital City Partners LLC has announced plans for a new 15-story office building on the shores of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. The project should be completed by April 2012.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has awarded a $900 million contract for construction and related services to Balfour Beatty Construction, as part of a project to renovate the airport’s terminals and build a rail station to connect it with future routes of Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

When city folks come out to visit us on the ranch, it often takes them some time to truly unwind and adapt to the rhythms of West Texas and the perspectives that open spaces afford.

On one particular evening some years ago, an urban acquaintance of ours looked up into the night sky and was fascinated by something she’d never seen before. “Susan,” she asked, “what is that really weird cloud up there?”

“That’s no cloud,” I replied. “That’s the Milky Way.”

She just wasn’t able to see it from where she lived, because the bright lights of the city dimmed its far-off brilliance. It’s getting harder, I suppose, for many of us to see the forest for the trees — or the sky for the clouds.

But here in the Lone Star State, the stars at night really are big and bright. And many Texans have made it their life’s work to reach for them … literally.

This issue of Fiscal Notes features the first of a three-part exclusive interview with Richard Garriott, who grew up near Houston in a neighborhood where parents didn’t just go into the office, they went into space.

His astronaut father flew on Skylab and the space shuttle. When he wasn’t orbiting the planet, he’d bring home early NASA prototypes of cool things such as night-vision goggles for the kids to play with in the backyard.

In 2008, Garriott followed his dad into space. And today, he’s a pioneer on an even newer frontier, exploring opportunities for private space companies — some of them Texas-based — in the 21st century. I think you’ll enjoy hearing his views on this emerging new era.

We’ve always been inspired by those who reach for the stars. But sometimes, the only way you can really see what’s out there is during the darkest of hours. So this issue also looks at some recent challenges in the Texas housing market as well as those facing our commercial fishing industry.

If there’s one thing I know about Texans, it’s that whether we’re exploring the heavens or casting our nets into the waters, we’re going to keep our chins up and our eyes on the prize.

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