Volume 17, Issue 38 - Friday, October 4, 2019 Optional Link
Texas A&M system, Army Futures Command reach technology deal
U.S. Army Futures Command Gen. John Murray
Texas A&M University System and U.S. Army Futures Command representatives announced a multi-year cooperative agreement on October 2 that will support research into new technologies.

Through the agreement, Army Futures Command will provide $65 million over five years to aid Texas A&M System researchers in focusing on several areas that advance laser and hypersonic defense systems.

The research will address hypersonic and laser weaponry; materials for withstanding hypervelocity blasts; coordinated maneuvering of air and ground vehicles; and resilient computer networks for autonomous vehicles to share real-time battlefield information. Hypersonic is speeds of Mach 5 or faster.

A combination of state and A&M funding is going toward the construction of a $130 million combat development complex at the university's RELLIS Campus in Bryan. The Legislature approved $50 million at its last session for an Innovative Proving Ground, and the A&M System board of regents recently committed $80 million to building a Research Innovation Center.
Land office preparing action plan for $4.3B in flood mitigation funds
Facing a February 2020 deadline, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) recently hosted three public hearings on how it will disperse $4.3 billion in mitigation funds stemming from Hurricane Harvey and other flooding events in the state.

The GLO, which will directly administer the funds, is tasked with developing a state action plan to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD requires the funds to be allocated to projects that "increase resilience to disasters and reduce or eliminate long-term risk of loss of life, injury, damage and loss of property, and suffering and hardship, by lessening the impact of future disasters."

Hurricane Harvey relief constitutes $4 billion of the total. More than $169 million will go toward mitigation projects associated with 2016 floods, and $52.9 million will go toward mitigation of 2015 flood damages.
Austin airport plans $1.72B in capital improvements to 2024
Rendering of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Nearly $1.72 billion in capital improvements at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) are queuing up for funding over the next five years. 

Among the ABIA projects under consideration are a new $325 million terminal processor. The 863,000-square-foot building would process ticketing, security, and baggage.

Construction of a new $106.8 million taxiway delta is scheduled to begin in 2021. Relocation of one of ABIA's taxiways and demolition of two of its existing taxiways total an estimated $268.4 million.

These upgrades are included in the city of Austin's five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes numerous high-level, forward thinking mobility initiatives.

Among the near-term capital improvements underway at ABIA is a new 40,124-square-foot information technology building set for completion by spring 2021. The building is designed to protect equipment from non-natural threats and weather hazards.

ABIA officials said they are about to start drafting the airport's next five-year CIP to refine existing projects that are sized appropriately and sequenced through collaboration with airport partners.
Governor requests presidential disaster declaration for Imelda
Tropical Storm Imelda
Gov. Greg Abbott requested a presidential disaster declaration on October 1 for six counties in response to Tropical Storm Imelda.

The request includes Individual Assistance (IA) for those impacted by the storm. The six counties included in the request are Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, and Orange. 

Other counties may be added as damage assessments are completed.

If granted, residents of these counties would be eligible for: Individual Assistance including the Individuals and Households Programs (IA), Other Needs Assistance (ONA), crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal assistance, disaster case management, direct federal assistance, and statewide hazard mitigation.

Abbott also requested U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program for Physical and Economic Loss for all counties requesting individual assistance. Additionally, public assistance may be requested for impacted counties as damage assessments are completed.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Dr. Jerry Gibson, Superintendent, Marshall ISD

Dr. Jerry Gibson
Career highlights and education: 
  • As a principal taking a High School from Academically Unacceptable to Exemplary in three years. The same school having the highest TAKS scores in Region 5.
  • Being a part of leading Marshall ISD from having six Improvement Required campuses to having no campuses being rated Improvement Required over a three-year period.
  • Education - Graduating with a doctorate from the University of Houston.

What I like best about my public service: Meeting people from all walks of life, with varied levels of education. Working with those people to make a situation better for students.

The best advice I have received for my current job: Keep doing what you're doing; it is working.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: This work is hard, but it is worth the effort. You will learn about educating students from poverty, which can be used anywhere. With those two factors, the reward of student success is very special.
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Going to an event that my students are participating in, or going to an event in which my grandchildren are involved.

People would be surprised to know that I: Am extremely hard on myself.

One thing I wish more people knew about Marshall ISD: We have some of the best students in the state of Texas.
Texas first state to criminalize deepfake videos; others follow
Real video vs. deepfake video of President Obama
A new law went into effect in Texas that criminalizes the production and distribution of deepfake videos.

The first of its kind in the country, the law establishes the crimes as class A misdemeanors. Convictions can result in up to a year in county jail and fines up to $4,000 for offenders.

Deepfake videos are created by altering video clips to make it appear that a person said or did something that they didn't. The technology is not new, but up until recently was used primarily in fictional works such as Forrest Gump. That film inserted the titular character played by Tom Hanks into archival news footage of several U.S. presidents.

Lawmakers in other states are considering similar legislation with Virginia amending one of its existing laws in July to incorporate deepfake video technology. California recently passed a law that would ban the sharing of deepfake videos of political candidates within 60 days of an election. Gov. Gavin Newsome has until October 13 to sign the measure.
The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) launched its first interactive data maps that display information statewide and by individual counties.

Some of the data show oil and gas production and the locations of abandoned wells going back to 2018. From 2019 forward, the maps will be updated monthly with year-to-date statistics.

The oil and gas map includes the following features:
  • Total statewide oil and natural gas production;
  • Two bar graphs showing the top 10 crude oil and natural gas production counties; and,
  • Individual county pop-up graphics showing county name, crude oil, and natural gas production.
The interactive state-managed plugging well locations and county data map shows the location of plugged wells. Most operators plug their own wells when the wells are no longer productive.
Denton nears $221.5M bond vote
Current Denton Police Department facility
The city of Denton's $221.52 million bond election is getting closer with early voting set to begin October 21.

Voters will decide on four propositions including one that would authorize the city to sell $154 million in bonds for street improvements and another proposition for $61.9 million in bonds for public safety facility improvements. A third proposition would approve $5 million in bond sales for parkland acquisition. The fourth measure is for the acquisition and installation of public art.

Proposition A would provide funding for the design and reconstruction of aging street infrastructure that has reached the end of its useful life. In addition to the streets, the city also could improve curbs and gutters, sidewalks, traffic signals, turn lanes, medians, and other components as part of its street rehabilitation projects.

Under Proposition B, the city would renovate police headquarters, which are in a facility built in 1947 as a city hall and modified several times until it became the Denton Public Safety Training Facility. The $36 million renovations would add and reconfigure workspaces and add dedicated locker rooms, restrooms and parking. Construction is scheduled to start in November 2020 and conclude in February 2022.

Additional public safety bond items include construction of a $21 million substation and a $4.9 million police indoor firing range, both adjacent to Fire Station No. 7 on Vintage Boulevard.
Northside ISD making progress on several campuses from 2018 bond
Rendering of future Galm Road high school
Northside ISD is moving forward on several new campuses and facility upgrades approved in an $848.9 million bond election last year.

Construction of a new $125 million high school in the Galm Road area is set to begin soon with a November groundbreaking, but district officials said bidding opportunities remain for four stages: groundwater control, site and piers, building structure, and finish out.

The district plans to build a Kallison Ranch area middle school for $51 million and a new $26 million elementary school in the Village at Westpointe North area. A new $26 million elementary school is scheduled for construction from March 2020 to April 2021 in the FM 471 North area. Drawings and specifications are in progress. 

Marshall Law High School opened a magnet school this fall with only a freshman class, but $24 million in improvements are still in store for the campus including replacement of one building, renovation of another building, and relocation of athletic fields.

A new cafeteria expansion and administration building replacement at Pat Neff Middle School are scheduled to start construction in February 2020 with move-in set for July 2021. Total cost for those projects is estimated at $9.8 million, and drawings and specifications are underway.

Chillicothe ISD using translation technology in unexpected ways
Chillicothe ISD has seized upon an opportunity to connect with students by adapting translation technology originally designed for tourism applications.

Special earpieces purchased this year allow teachers to speak in their native language, which the devices then translate for students who don't speak that language.

Teachers praise the earpiece's ability to provide seamless instruction while freeing their hands to convey additional meaning through body language. Instructors also may access the device's history and print translated transcriptions of the lesson for students to take home.

In addition, Chillicothe ISD staff members are able to use the earpieces for parent-teacher conferences.
El Paso, Austin, San Antonio earn awards for procurement practices
El Paso City Council honors staff for award
The city of El Paso Purchasing & Strategic Sourcing Department earned the 2019 Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award (AEP) from the National Procurement Institute (NPI) for the sixth year in a row.

Other Texas cities to win the AEP large city award are Austin and San Antonio. This trio of cities joins an elite group of 67 U.S. and Canadian cities to receive the award in the large-city category.

The award is earned by public and nonprofit organizations that obtain a high application score based on innovation, professionalism, e-procurement procedures, productivity, and leadership.
Westwood ISD calls $40M bond election for campus upgrades
Westwood High School-Middle School concept
Westwood ISD (WISD) voters will decide on a $40 million bond package on November 5 highlighted by reconfiguring and expanding two of its campuses.

If the bond passes, the district would renovate the 40-year-old building that houses its high school and middle school to create designated spaces for grades 6-8 and 8-12.

Bonds would finance the construction of a new two-story academic wing at the facility and renovation of existing classrooms. Other upgrades include a new performing arts auditorium and new competition gym at the campus in addition to safety features and central lock-down systems.

WISD's 60-year-old junior high would undergo a transformation into a new elementary school to serve third through fifth grades. Plans call for a partial demolition of the oldest sections of the school and the construction of a new two-story building with modern classrooms. The campus would feature new security and safety systems.
Calendar of Events
Texas universities lining up to attend P3 Higher Ed Conference
October 24-25, 2019 / San Diego, California
The P3 Higher Education Summit program presents a series of keynotes, case studies, panels, workshops, and diverse networking opportunities designed for attendees to deepen their understanding on alternative project models, innovations in project delivery, the value proposition of public-private partnerships (P3s), and the role they can play in the delivery of essential campus infrastructure.

This year's Summit will be from October 24-25 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, 1 Market Place, in San Diego, California. Early check-in is available October 23.

The two-day agenda has been programmed to help you plan and procure successful projects, understand best practices in selecting and negotiating with prospective partners, and take steps to ensure project success.

Over 125 leading practitioners will present their firsthand observations of higher education P3 projects of all sizes in different markets around the country. We also will offer in-depth roundtable discussions for delegates with interest in discussing specific P3 issues in a more candid and interactive forum.

Project leaders to convene for P3 Government Conference
December 3-4 / Washington, D.C.
Join more than 850 public representatives, design-build leaders, and P3 experts at the P3 Government Conference for two days of transportation, water, energy, and social infrastructure project delivery.

The conference is scheduled from December 3-4 at the Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C.

The P3 Government Conference invites local, state, and federal project representatives evaluating upgrades and new developments for two days of P3 education and networking.

This year's program provides the essential tools and know-how to successfully plan, deliver, and operate P3 projects of all sizes.

Connect with owners who want to better understand how alternative project delivery can be used for their next project, identify partners and procurement opportunities, and meet with other communities and agencies using P3s for their critical infrastructure challenges.

Join other delegates to discover new projects and new partners! To be included in future event updates, receive presentations, and connect with the over 800 delegates who attended last year's conference, please visit the conference website and register today!
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State health officials secure $11.6B in charity care reimbursements

An agreement between Texas and federal health authorities will provide $3.87 billion in federal funds each year for the next three years to help reimburse health-care providers for charity care delivered to low-income patients who can't afford services. 

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) negotiated the funding with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for reimbursements in the form of uncompensated care payments. 

Effective October 1, CMS started releasing funds to hospitals, public ambulance providers, public dental providers, and some physician clinics to help cover the costs of services such as hospital stays, physician fees, clinic visits and outpatient drug costs. Of the approximately 600 hospitals in Texas, about 360 currently receive uncompensated care payments. 

The $3.87 billion per year represents the maximum uncompensated care funding available in this program for Texas. Previous amounts were closer to $3.1 billion each year.
Braddy named president of Brookhaven College
Dr. Linda Braddy
The Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) board of trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Linda Braddy as the next president of Brookhaven College on October 1.

The approval was based on a recommendation by Dr. Joe May, DCCCD's chancellor.

Braddy is currently serving as vice president for academic affairs at Tarrant County College.

She joined Tarrant County College District in 2009 and served in several roles including academic support services. She is the former deputy executive director of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) in Washington, D.C.

Braddy replaces Dr. Thom Chesney who left the district in May to become president of Clarke University in Iowa. Dr. Justin Lonon, DCCCD's executive vice president, served as interim president following Chesney's departure. Lonon will resume his fulltime duties at the district office.
Jacksonville police chief moves to Sunnyvale; Alexander succeeds him
Andrew Hawkes
Jacksonville Police Chief Andrew Hawkes has accepted the position as future police chief for the town of Sunnyvale, Texas.

Chief Hawkes has been with the Jacksonville Police Department (JPD) as police chief since July of 2016 and in that time has brought best practices through the Texas Police Chief Association "Recognition" program.

Under his command, JPD also began a bike patrol program, a canine team, National Night Out program in both 2017 and 2018 ranked 18th in the nation, and has recently purchased a drone for the department.

The town of Sunnyvale has contracted with the Dallas County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services for many years. Hawkes has been hired to start the Sunnyvale Police Department from the ground up as its chief.

Mike Alexander
Mike Alexander will take over for Hawkes as Jacksonville's interim police chief.  Alexander retired from municipal government as a city manager after serving as the police chief and city manager in Palestine. He also served as interim chief of police for the city of Corinth.
Texas Tech University Health Science Center appoints new provost
Lori Rice-Spearman
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) announced Lori Rice-Spearman, Ph.D., as the new provost and chief academic officer.

Rice-Spearman started working for TTUHSC in 1987. She was appointed dean of the School of Health Professions in January 2016 and led the largest school of health professions in Texas and one of the largest in the nation in relation to the breadth of programs and the number of enrolled students and graduates.

She began October 1 as the new provost and chief academic officer. Her duties will include uniting the five schools toward achieving the institution's objective to provide more meaningful interprofessional education, integration of telehealth and compliance with federal, regional and state mandates.

Previously, Steven L. Berk, M.D., served as provost concurrently with his position as dean of the TTUHSC School of Medicine. He will continue to serve the school as dean. Steven Sawyer, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, will serve as the interim dean of the School of Health Professions.
Baytown selects Woolery as assistant city manager
Nick Woolery
The city of Baytown promoted Nick Woolery from director of strategy and innovation to assistant city manager.

Woolery has served nine years in various roles with the city of Baytown including assistant to the city manager and interim public works director.

He succeeds former Assistant City Manager Ron Bottoms who retired in August.

UTSA appoints new development, alumni relations vice president
Karl Miller Lugo
The University of Texas at San Antonio named education philanthropy executive Karl Miller Lugo as its vice president for development and alumni relations on September 30.

As vice president, Miller Lugo will oversee UTSA's philanthropic enterprise, which includes principal/major gifts, development, annual giving, planned giving, donor relations, athletics resource management, and operations and talent management. He will also lead the university's Office of Alumni Relations.

Miller Lugo's career spans 27 years in higher education and includes more than 20 years in higher education advancement and consulting, fundraising, estate planning, public relations, sales and marketing.

Most recently, Miller Lugo has served as a managing associate at a private firm, where he has focused on campaign planning and management, major and principal gifts, advancement assessments and building processes for comprehensive fundraising strategy and accountability.
Alice, Jim Wells County hire new EDC director
Larry Martinez
The city of Alice and Jim Wells County recently hired Larry Martinez as the new executive director of their Economic Development Corporation.

Martinez previously served two years as the mayor of Alice and 10 years as a city councilmember. He also was the president of a homebuilding contractor firm and worked more than 32 years with the U.S. Postal Service.
North Lamar ISD names Stewart superintendent
Kelli Stewart
North Lamar ISD (NLISD) trustees named Kelli Stewart as the lone finalist to be the district's next superintendent on September 10.

Texas law requires school districts to wait a mandatory 21 days before naming a lone finalist to make the hire permanent. The waiting period for Stewart's confirmation was set to expire October 1. 

Stewart has been serving as NLISD's interim superintendent since March after Dr. Jason Adams announced he accepted the superintendent position at Fairfield ISD.

Prior to serving as interim superintendent, Stewart was the principal at Stone Middle School.
Morales to direct Austin watershed protection
Jorge Morales
Jorge Morales has been selected as the top candidate for the city of Austin's Watershed Protection Department (WPD), effective October 28.

Morales has 17 years of experience as a civil engineer in capital improvement plan project delivery and is a licensed professional engineer and certified floodplain manager. He most recently served as the assistant director of public works at the city of Austin over engineering and project delivery.

The WPD director is responsible for planning, directing, and providing leadership for department operations, which includes oversight of managing the city's creeks, drainage systems, and water quality programs with a focus on reducing the impact of flooding, erosion, and water pollution.
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced these appointments/reappointments from September 27-October 3:

Cory Brown - Albany, Podiatric Medical Examiners Advisory Board

Arun Agarwal - Dallas, Texas Medical Board

Devinder S. Bhatia - Houston, Texas Medical Board

Vanessa Hicks-Callaway - Victoria, Texas Medical Board

Satish Nayak - Andrews, Texas Medical Board

Jason Tibbels - Bridgeport, Texas Medical Board

Robert David Martinez - Mission, Texas Medical Board (reappointed)

Nancy Blackwell - Ballinger, Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors

Fred Hernandez Jr. - San Angelo, Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors

Mason Vaughan - Eldorado, Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors

Ed Janak - Fredericksburg, Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists

Drusilla Knight-Villarreal - Corpus Christi, Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists

David Prescott - Amarillo, Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists

Jeff Alley - El Paso, Chief Justice of the Eighth Court of Appeals
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - TexIndex

Texas A&M Real Estate Center -  Home Front: How the Military Influences Texas Housing Markets

New York State Comptroller's Office - Smart Solutions Across the State: Advanced Technologies in Local Governments

U.S. Government Accountability Office - Critical Infrastructure Protection - Actions Needed to Address Significant Cybersecurity Risks Facing the Electric Grid

Office of Inspector General - Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Regulatory and Enforcement Efforts to Control the Diversion of Opioids
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Accounts Examiner III (4 positions)
  • Texas Secretary of State - Executive Assistant I
  • Texas Secretary of State - Administrative Assistant IV
  • Texas Secretary of State - Budget Analyst V
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments - Area Agency on Aging - Veteran Care Specialist
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments - Area Agency on Aging - Care Specialist I
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments - Solid Waste Management Coordinator
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Devin Monk 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.   
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