Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appoints 15 to Governor’s Broadband Development Council

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed 15 to the newly created Governor’s Broadband Development Council, including former Texas Telephone Association board member Kirk Petty of Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

Petty, a 40-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, will serve on the council created by the Texas Legislature in 2019 with the passage of HB 1960, sponsored by Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, and Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock. The council is responsible for researching the progress of broadband development in unserved and underserved areas and identifying barriers and solutions to residential and commercial access to broadband in Texas. Broadband development council member terms will expire on August 31, 2024, according to a news release from Abbott.

“How do you get broadband out there? That is one of the primary questions that will have to be answered,’’ Petty said. “The availability of broadband is vital to the future of Texas for economic development – to attract businesses or businesspeople who want to work from home in these rural areas.”

Kirk Petty, CEO and general manager of Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

Petty is the CEO and general manager for Santa Rosa, which offers voice, high-speed Internet broadband services and Internet protocol television service to customers in North Texas and southern Oklahoma. He has decades of experience in working in various roles for telecommunications companies across Texas. He is a board member of the Texas Lone Star Network, and previously served on the boards of TTA, the Texas Statewide the Texas Statewide Telephone Cooperative (TSTCI) and the Salvation Army.

Petty has broad experience in deploying high-speed networks to sparsely populated rural areas. The economics can be challenging as the costs of deploying and maintaining networks across a large geographical area with a small number of customers can be substantial.

“It comes down to what are your needs and how it is paid for,” Petty said. “I look forward to working with the governor’s office and the council to help more businesses, schools, hospitals and consumers access high-speed Internet services.’’

In addition to Petty, Abbott announced other  broadband council members including:

Juli Blanda of Aransas Pass, general manager for Sparklight. Blanda is responsible for the overall management of the cable and Internet system operations, maintenance, associate satisfaction and community relations. She is the vice president of the Greater Texas Chapter of Women in Cable and Telecommunications and chairman of the Texas Cable Association. She volunteers as president-elect of the Aransas Pass Rotary Club and as vice president of Keep Aransas Pass Beautiful, and previously volunteered for the San Antonio Food Bank.

Crystal City Mayor Frank Moreno of Crystal City. As mayor of Crystal City, a community of more than 7,000 residents, Moreno has worked to restore financial accountability, save his city from bankruptcy, and build residents’ trust following a major corruption scandal from the administration that preceded his tenure, according to the governor’s announcement. He served for 30 years in the United States Army before receiving an honorable discharge and retiring as a Sergeant Major. He is former president of the Crystal City Lions Club and the Crystal City Festival Association and a member of American Legion.

Lindsey Lee of Edna. Lee is a realtor, owner and operator for L2 Cattle, LLC, and manager of Lee Ranch. She is a director of the Edna Lions Club, a volunteer with Helping Hands of Jackson County, vice chairman of Jackson County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, and former president and vice president of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. She is also a former member of the Texas Farm Bureau Natural Resources Committee. Lee has earned multiple awards and recognitions as a leader in farming, ranching, and agriculture. Lee currently serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas State Board of Professional Geoscientists. Lee received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.

Marshall Harrison of Sunray. Harrison is superintendent of Sunray Independent School District, overseeing the operations of a school district that serves 570 students in the northern Texas Panhandle. He is a member of the Amarillo College Moore County Campus Advisory Board and president of the Sunray Lions Club. He is active in Sunray Baptist Church, where he served as interim pastor for eight months. In 2017, The Dallas Morning News recognized Harrison as the “Watch Dog Superintendent of the Year”. Harrison received degrees in agricultural education from Howard College and Tarleton State University, and a superintendent certification from Texas Tech University.

Floyd County Judge Marty Lucke of Floydada. As county judge, Lucke is responsible for administration and finance leadership for the county, as well as judicial duties for some misdemeanors, small claims cases, civil cases, probate cases, and more. He is president of the South Plains Rural Transit Board and vice chairman of the South Plains Rural Planning Organization. He is also a member of the Floyd County Veterans Memorial Board and a senior steward for the Floydada Masonic Lodge #712. Lucke received a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Abilene Christian University.

Thomas J. Kim, M.D. of Austin. Kim is a self-employed physician, telehealth clinician and consultant who provides care to incarcerated juveniles, the elderly, military personnel, victims of disasters and others. He is a Lay Chaplain for the Episcopal Church of Good Shepherd, he serves multiple leadership roles for the Boy Scouts of America, and he is a performance coach for the archery teams of Highland Park Elementary School and Lamar Middle School in Austin. He also serves on several committees and leadership roles with the Texas Medical Association. Kim received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Georgetown University, and a Master of Public Health and a Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University.

William “Bill” Sproull of Richardson. Sproull is president and CEO of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, its North Texas membership affiliate Tech Titans, and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership. He is an honorary life member of the International Economic Development Council and is the inaugural member of the Tech Titans Hall of Fame. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Alliance for Higher Education, a joint industry-university program in North Texas. He also serves on the boards of the Texas Association of Business and the Dallas Regional Chamber, plus the Technology Councils of North America foundation. Sproull received a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Economics and Political Science from Baylor University.

Saurin Patel, M.D. of Austin. Patel is Chief Medical Officer for Access Physicians, where he leads clinical program design, physician management, technology and innovation, auditing, and more. He provides oversight for the company’s telemedicine services, and is a telemedicine care provider, as well, regularly seeing and consulting with patients via telemedicine. Prior to his career in medicine, he worked in the hedge fund industry. He is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and the Travis County Medical Society. Patel received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Medicine from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

Greg Pittman of Sherman. Pittman is CEO and executive director of Meals on Wheels Texoma, where he leads administration, operations and planning for the non-profit that serves more than 30,000 meals each month to elderly Texans in Cooke, Fannin and Grayson Counties. He is a member of the Sherman Rotary Club, a board member of the Meals on Wheels Association of Texas, and a member of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Service Providers. He also volunteers as a tutor for students in the Sherman Independent School District, and with Habitat for Humanity, and other charitable organizations. Pittman received a degree in fine arts from the University of North Texas.

Jennifer K. Harris of Austin. Harris serves as the state program director for Connected Nation Texas, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, where she provides oversight of the collection of broadband data and the development of broadband advancement strategies, with a primary focus on Texas’ rural communities. Previously, she held a variety of positions in the public sector including roles with multiple of members of the Texas Legislature. Harris received a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Service and Administration from The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Kenny Scudder of Odessa. Scudder retired as the vice president of a Permian Basin oilfield equipment manufacturing company and currently works as a sales representative for Catamount Oilfield Services. He volunteers for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Texas Chapter. He is also a volunteer for the Means Memorial United Methodist Church, where he teaches Sunday school. Scudder received a Bachelor of Business Administration from San Angelo State University.