Volume 17, Issue 47 - Friday, December 13, 2019 Optional Link
Houston officials question GLO plans for federal disaster relief allocation
Flooding in Port Arthur during Hurricane Harvey
Houston-area government officials are voicing their concerns after the Texas General Land Office (GLO) announced the region would receive about one-fourth of the $4.3 billion in federal disaster assistance awarded to the state.

Flood managers and other officials in Houston said they were expecting the area would get about half of the funds coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). GLO officials deny such commitments were made.

Municipalities of varying population sizes and land areas, utility districts, river agencies, and state agencies in 49 coastal counties are all competing for $2.1 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds that the GLO has been assigned to distribute.

Some of the projects that are eligible for the grants are wider bayous, detention ponds and basins, larger drainage pipes, sewer plant upgrades, and floodplain home buyouts.

The draft plan incorporates critical stakeholder input received during CDBG-MIT planning public hearings conducted in September, regional input sessions at various councils of governments, and a mitigation needs survey that captured information from 416 respondents across the state. Additionally, the GLO consulted with federal and state agencies to develop the Mitigation Needs Assessment and the state's proposed mitigation programs and competitions.

Those efforts led the GLO to propose allocating $2.3 billion for projects in areas that storms flooded in 2015 or 2016 or by Hurricane Harvey. Of that amount, Houston, Harris County, and the Harris County Flood Control District are eligible for up to $1 billion.

The GLO hosted three public hearings in Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley, and Houston this week to gather input on the state's action plan, which is available online. GLO officials will respond to comments in the final submission of the document to HUD for approval.
Amarillo heads toward $279M bond election for civic center expansion
Rendering of proposed Amarillo Civic Center Complex
The city of Amarillo moved one step closer to its $279 million bond election for May 2020 that would help fund a major renovation and expansion of the Amarillo Civic Center Complex.

Councilmembers approved an interlocal agreement on December 10 with Potter County to provide election services to conduct the bond referendum.

City officials estimated the total project cost at $319 million to renovate and expand the civic center, including a 75,000-square-foot addition to the facility's exhibit hall, an expanded 30,000-square-foot ballroom, and a new multi-level parking deck.

Also included in the project are plans to build a new 10,100-seat arena, renovate the historic Santa Fe Depot, create a large central plaza and park, and relocate City Hall to a new site that would have a new parking structure.

The city hall relocation to an existing building, depot renovation, and additional infrastructure improvements are estimated to cost another $28 million.
New high school under consideration for $248M Galveston ISD bond vote
Ball High School
Galveston ISD (GISD) Facilities Advisory Committee members voted on December 11 to develop a $208 million to $248 million bond proposition for a May 2020 election.

If approved, the funds would be used to construct a new Ball High School on the site of the current Ball High School. The 487,000-square-foot three-level facility would have a capacity to serve up to 2,000 ninth- through 12th-graders. The site also would feature athletic practice fields, parking areas, and additional structures.

The $248 million option would include construction of a natatorium, a parking garage, and a pedestrian bridge and renovation of Kermit Courville Stadium, which would be a separate bond proposition.

GISD trustees would have to call a bond referendum by a February deadline for the items to appear on a May ballot.
Port authority gains key support for $212M Matagorda widening project
Matagorda Ship Channel
The Calhoun Port Authority (CPA) has obtained a critical approval in its efforts to start work on an estimated $212 million project to widen and deepen Matagorda Ship Channel at Point Comfort.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Chief Report recently determined the port is no longer capable of serving larger tonnage vessels.

The report is set to be included in the Water Resource Development Act that will go before Congress in 2020. Passage is required for the project to be federally approved.

The port's director has indicated an interest in a public-private partnership to widen the bay channel from 200 feet to 300 feet, deepen the waterway by 9 feet, and widen the offshore channel by 300 feet.

Representatives of a former aluminum refinery that discharged wastewater laden with mercury into Lavaca Bay have agreed to accept any contaminated dredge materials. The Environmental Protection Agency designated the refinery area as a superfund site in 1994.
Woodlands enters partnership with arts group for performing arts center
Rendering of proposed performing arts center
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this month for the development and operation of a new performing arts center in The Woodlands Town Center.

The MOU will allow for studies to be conducted prior to a final agreement between the Township and the Center for the Performing Arts.
 
The facility is estimated to cost $71 million and stretch 100,000 square feet. A 1,500-seat theater and 200- to 400-seat multi-purpose venue are being discussed. The center will provide a space for a host of music, performance and cultural events, and also allow for conventions, meetings, trade shows and other events. It aims to attract regional and national touring entities, and to support local artists by enhancing access to rehearsal and performance space.

Following a due diligence review by the Center for the Performing Arts, and a commitment for capital funding, a final agreement will be created, and a Project 501(c)(3) Foundation and Project Fundraising Committee will be established.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
W. Nim Kidd, Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Vice Chancellor for Disaster & Emergency Services, Texas A&M University System 

W. Nim Kidd
Career highlights and education:
  • September 2019 - Led the Texas Division of Emergency Management's (TDEM) transition from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to a standalone state agency as a component of The Texas A&M University System.
  • December 2018 - Appointed Vice Chancellor for Disaster and Emergency Services for the Texas A&M University System.
  • November 2018 - Appointed Chair of the FEMA National Advisory Council.
  • July 2010 - Appointed Assistant Director for the Texas DPS and Chief of TDEM.
  • April 1993 - Appointed to the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD). Promoted through the ranks from firefighter to District Fire Chief.
Texas State University - Master of Public Administration
Texas A&M University-Commerce  - Bachelor's degree, Applied Arts and Sciences

What I like best about my public service: What I like best is to be out in the field with our local and state first responders and volunteers. They really are heroes and deserve our respect and gratitude.

The best advice I have received for my current job: Have a bias for action. Too often we see where delayed action or decisions come too late to have a positive outcome. The leaders I have worked for have always given me the advice and - most important - the authority to take action early in an event.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Be the expert in your field, collaborate at all costs, and stay in your lane. Don't be afraid to make a decision. The citizens of Texas expect and deserve the very best. There is no room for mediocrity in emergency management.
 
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Trying to stay physically and mentally fit for my job. I'd either be meeting up with my wife, chasing our granddaughter around the yard, or riding my Peloton.

People would be surprised to know that I: Only went to classes half of the day my junior and senior years of high school as part of a sanctioned work program called Industrial Cooperative Training (ICT) with the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA), now SkillsUSA. My early experience in the workplace allowed me to work in many different settings and learn from many different managers and leaders. Today, I still use some of the lessons learned in my early years.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Texas Division of Emergency Management: First, we are the newest component of The Texas A&M University System, along with 11 universities and seven other state agencies. In addition to the work we perform in planning, training, exercising, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating against disasters, we also manage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance program for Texas. This program is responsible for billions of federal dollars that help rebuild local and state government infrastructure post disaster.
Pearland prepares 2 highway projects
Rendering of McHard Road shared-use path
The city of Pearland extended its procurement deadline for applications to build the $33.63 million 3.5-mile McHard Road extension by two months as it waits on a federal permit.

Plans for the road extension call for a four-lane divided roadway with raised medians and shared-use paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Pearland and the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Improvement Program are funding the project.

The city also is designing improvements to Mykawa Road that will widen the two-lane road to four lanes and build bike-pedestrian paths on both sides of the road. The project also includes plans to install storm sewers and detention ponds.

Officials said the $40 million project is scheduled to go for bid in August 2021 with construction complete by the end of 2023.
McAllen OKs design contract for $54M expansion of international bridge
Anzalduas International Bridge checkpoint
McAllen city commissioners approved a $3.7 million design contract on December 9 for the expansion of the Anzalduas International Bridge that would support full-service commercial traffic. Total project cost is estimated at $54 million.

City leaders hope the bridge expansion could boost additional trade industry developments in the area. The bridge currently allows for passenger vehicles in both directions, but it only accommodates southbound commercial trucks traveling to Mexico.

In April, the city's superintendent of bridges, reported the Anzalduas bridge served 12,000 daily crossers with a wait time of 60 minutes. During holiday peak hours, the number of crossers climbed to 18,000 with wait times of up to three hours.
College Station plans new city hall
Rendering of proposed College Station city hall
The city of College Station is planning a new $39.3 million city hall building to replace its current building.

City officials said the new city hall would be built on the same site as the current facility on Texas Avenue.

The project is scheduled to break ground in spring 2020 with an 18- to 24-month construction timeline. The city plans to fund the project with $12.1 million from existing resources, $17 million from debt capacity, and $10.2 million raised from a previous tax rate increase.

New renderings of the building were displayed at a College Station City Council meeting on December 10.
Austin-Round Rock MSA, Dallas named top tech towns in country
A trade association's new Tech Town Index ranks the Austin-Round Rock area as the country's No. 1 city for tech jobs with Dallas coming in at No. 7 on the list.

Projections of 16 percent job growth in information technology (IT) over the next five years propelled the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) to the top spot on the index. A 4 percent increase in jobs in the next 12 months combined with a cost of living 3.5 percent lower than the national average also boosted the city's ranking. The median salary for IT professionals is $88,729.

More than 60 percent of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex population is under working age, which the index rated highly for future tech talent. A higher rate of job creation and lower real estate costs also garnered attention. IT job growth is expected to rise by 10 percent over the next five years, and tech workers earn a median salary of $93,058.

To determine the rankings, the association researched 20 metropolitan areas with populations over 250,000 and where demand for tech workers is the highest, based on job listings from August 2018 to July 2019.

These top 20 cities were then ranked on cost of living, number of open IT positions, and projected job growth in one year and five years.

La Marque issues parks plan RFP
Bayou Park in La Marque
The city of La Marque and a community parks board are accepting proposals for a planning consulting service to draft a comprehensive parks master plan for the next 20 years. 

According to the city's request for proposals (RFP), the plan will guide the city in making decisions on annual budgeting and developing facilities, infrastructure, and programming.

A heavy emphasis is placed on recreational use of city-owned and operated facilities and infrastructure, city partnerships with county resources, and trail systems.

The city is asking applicants to develop conceptual site plans and renderings that depict future development and expansion opportunities for each of its nine parks and a proposed pocket park, including trails in two of its parks.
Houston's Interstate 610 West Loop
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has ranked Houston and Austin highways as the most congested in the state in its new Texas' Most Congested Roadways 2019 report.

Houston's West Loop retains its hold on the top spot from 2018 as the most gridlocked corridor in Texas.

Interstate 35 in Austin placed a close second, according to the institute. Third and fourth places went to Southwest and Eastex freeways in Houston, respectively. Dallas' Woodall Rogers Freeway came in fifth.
 
Researchers used traffic volume and speed data to compare the time it takes to travel on a congested roadway to the time required to travel the same route in uncongested conditions.

The list welcomed 13 road segments to the top 100 this year, which includes 92 thoroughfares in Texas' four biggest metropolitan areas. Researchers also included freight congestion in their studies that found Austin, Houston, and the United States-Mexico border near Laredo suffered the most freight transportation gridlock.
Bypass bridge alternative proposed for bike-ped path near Austin dam
Rendering of Longhorn Dam bypass bridge
Austin city officials are advocating construction of a new bike-ped bridge over Lady Bird Lake that would allow the public to bypass a narrow traverse over Longhorn Dam.

The estimated project cost is $12.6 million to build a wishbone-shaped bridge upstream of the dam. The design features three legs that start at the shore and intersect at a triangular confluence. Here, a plaza suspended above the water would provide shade structures and plantings.

Main structural elements of the bridge will be concrete columns, beams, girders, and deck, designed to minimize flood impacts and to reduce cost. The vertical pickets of the guardrails will be low-maintenance, galvanized steel that maximizes views through to the water. Low-maintenance, LED lighting will be installed to maximize safety.

City staff members had developed five alternative bridge options before a public meeting on December 10 where they unveiled the wishbone option as the recommended alternative. Other options ranged in cost from $10.9 million to $13.9 million.

Officials said they plan to develop an engineering plan and begin the bridge design phase in 2020 with completion targeted within five years. They have identified $1.5 million in interim improvements that include widening sidewalks, creating new shared use paths, and establishing crosswalks. Construction on these improvements would begin in 2020.
Leander considers P3 option for historic house redevelopment
Davis House in Leander
Leander councilmembers directed staff on December 5 to explore development options for the city-owned historic Davis House and adjacent vacant lot by surveying the properties and developing as-built drawings.

The drawings will be a top-down review of the dimensions, utilities, and other features of the Davis House, which is in Leander's Old Town district.
 
Consultants recommended the city transfer ownership of the house to a nonprofit and allow it to apply for historic site designation and grants.

In June, Leander's mayor presented a concept for a public-private partnership in which the city would retain ownership of the land and a developer would build and operate a restaurant and bar in the vacant lot.

Councilmembers also have suggested developing the Davis House with such uses as a restaurant or small office building.
Calendar of Events
P3 Conference & Expo early registration closing soon
March 2-4, 2020 / Dallas, Texas
The Public-Private Partnership (P3) Conference & Expo unites leaders from states and localities, higher education institutions, and public agencies, with industry to discuss infrastructure challenges faced nationwide; and how innovations in project delivery, procurement, life cycle asset management, and technology can help solve critical issues.

Join us at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 N. Olive St., for the year's biggest P3 event as we explore the future of public infrastructure and advancements in the P3 model. Over 150 presenters will discuss active and upcoming projects, sharing key insights for leveraging private sector resources for public infrastructure.

Our 2020 program will present a series of keynotes, case studies, panels, workshops, and diverse networking opportunities designed for attendees to deepen their understanding on the value proposition of P3s, and the role they can play in the delivery of essential public infrastructure.

Connect with over 1,350 participating delegates from around the world for in-depth learning, business development, and networking opportunities with an elite mix of owners, developers, contractors, and service providers engaged in public-private partnerships.

The P3 Conference is designed for all levels in the market including those beginning to explore P3s and seeking to better understand where alternative and accelerated project delivery methods can be applicable.

Early registration ends December 13, so sign up today to save $300!
Check out our social media links!




Senate confirms Hahn as FDA commissioner
Dr. Stephen Hahn
The U.S. Senate voted on December 12 to confirm Dr. Stephen Hahn of Texas as the new commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He succeeds acting FDA Commissioner Admiral Brett Giroir.

Hahn has been chief medical executive at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston since May 2018 and Gilbert H. Fletcher Memorial Distinguished Chair and professor of radiation oncology at MDACC since January 2015.
Marble Falls names Sauls finance chief
Baron Sauls
The city of Marble Falls appointed Baron Sauls as finance director, effective January 7, 2020. 

He currently serves as the director of finance for the city of Lancaster, Texas.

Margie Cardenas
Sauls succeeds Margie Cardenas who accepted a position as finance director for the city of Horsehoe Bay in October.


Harlandale board taps Soto as finalist for superintendent
Gerardo Soto
Harlandale ISD (HISD) trustees appointed Gerardo Soto as the proposed lone finalist to serve as the district's superintendent on December 6. 

The board is scheduled to vote on his nomination on December 30.

Soto currently serves as the district's executive director for maintenance and operations. He previously worked as a teacher, coach, vice principal, and principal.

He is set to succeed interim superintendent Samantha Gallegos who filled the role after former superintendent Rey Madrigal retired in August.
San Antonio selects Emerick as director of Metro Health
Dawn Emerick
The city of San Antonio appointed Dawn Emerick as the city's new director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health), effective January 27, 2020.

She will succeed Dr. Collen Bridger who served as Metro Health director from 2017 to 2019.

Emerick previously served as health department director in Benton County, Oregon, and public health director in Clackamas County, Oregon. In Jacksonville, Florida, she was president and chief executive officer of the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida.
Allen names Strong as deputy manager
Eric Strong
The city of Allen named Eric Strong as deputy city manager, effective January 7, 2020.

Strong is currently the city manager of Richland Hills, Texas. He previously served as city manager for Ferris, Texas.
Amarillo College hires Sharp as VP of business affairs
Chris Sharp
Amarillo College appointed Chris Sharp as vice president of business affairs at Amarillo College, effective January 6, 2020.

Sharp currently serves as assistant city manager and finance director for the city of Canyon. He previously worked for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission as local government services program coordinator.


Longview ISD taps Hockenberry asst. superintendent
Dr. James Hockenberry
The Longview ISD board of trustees approved the hiring of Dr. James Hockenberry as the district's new assistant superintendent of human resources and community relations at a special called meeting December 2.

He will succeed Dr. Jody Clements who announced his retirement from public education.

Hockenberry currently serves as superintendent of Center ISD where he has worked since 2008. Before that, he was superintendent of Chireno ISD.
Scesney new chief of Grand Prairie police department
Daniel Scesney
The city of Grand Prairie promoted Daniel Scesney from assistant police chief to police chief, effective January 18, 2020.

He will take over for Police Chief Steve Dye who will transition into a full-time position as deputy city manager for Grand Prairie after serving in a dual role.

Scesney's career with the Grand Prairie Police Department began in 2001 during which time he has served in a variety of capacities including patrol officer, SWAT team leader, patrol supervisor, and commander of both the Special Operations and Investigative Services Bureaus as assistant chief.


UT-Austin appoints Darling associate VP of facilities
David Darling
David Darling will be The University of Texas at Austin's new associate vice president for facilities planning and management, effective January 6, 2020.

Darling currently serves as associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He previously worked as director of the facilities management and operations center at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Anderson named Buda EDC director
Traci Anderson
The city of Buda recently appointed Traci Anderson as executive director of the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

Anderson previously served as economic development director in Sunnyvale, Texas, assistant director of the Pflugerville Community Development Corporation, and as vice president of the city of Taylor's EDC.
GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced these appointments/reappointments from November 29-December 12:

Girien Salazar - Houston, OneStar National Service Commission 

Daphne Brookins - Forest Hill, OneStar National Service Commission (reappointed)

Annette Juba - Austin, OneStar National Service Commission (reappointed)

Mike Morath - Austin, OneStar National Service Commission (reappointed)

Gene Seaman - Corpus Christi, OneStar National Service Commission (reappointed)

Kate Williamson - Midland, OneStar National Service Commission (reappointed)

Clinton Sawyer - Amherst, Commission on State Emergency Communications (reappointed)

Leah Gamble - Plano, Texas Poet Laureate, State Musician and State Artists Committee

Mike Griffis - Odessa, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE)

Patricia Burruss - Dallas, TCOLE (reappointed)

Jason Hester - Lago Vista, TCOLE (reappointed)

Kim Lemaux - Arlington TCOLE (named chair)

Zackary Smith - Canyon, Red River Authority of Texas Board of Directors (reappointed)

Stephen Thornhill - Denison, Red River Authority of Texas Board of Directors (reappointed)

Mary Lou Bradley - Childress, Red River Authority of Texas Board of Directors

Jerry Dan Davis - Wellington, Red River Authority of Texas Board of Directors

Todd Boykin - Amarillo, Red River Authority of Texas Board of Directors (named president)

Henry Borbolla III - Fort Worth, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors (reappointed)

Tom Fordyce - Huntsville, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors (reappointed)

David Leonard - Liberty, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors (reappointed)

Amirali Rupani - Dallas, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors (reappointed)

Dwayne Somerville - Mexia, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors (reappointed)

Lewis McMahan - Dallas, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors

Cole Camp - Arlington, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors

Brenda Walker - Palestine, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors

Lisa Hembry - Dallas, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors

Jesse Cecil Gatewood - Corpus Christi, Texas Workforce Investment Council

Michael Hinojosa - Dallas, Texas Workforce Investment Council

John Martin - San Antonio, Texas Workforce Investment Council

Richard "Rick" Rhodes - Austin, Texas Workforce Investment Council

Brandon Willis - Beaumont, Texas Workforce Investment Council

Mark Dunn - Lufkin, Texas Workforce Investment Council (reappointed)

Tom Halbouty - Southlake, Texas Workforce Investment Council (reappointed)

Richard Rhodes - Austin, Texas Workforce Investment Council (reappointed)
RECENT REPORTS & DATA
Texas Real Estate Center - 2020 Texas Housing & Economic Outlook

Texas Legislative Council - New, Renamed, and Abolished State Governmental Entities (86th Legislature)

Texas Legislative Budget Board - Quality Assurance Team Annual Report

Texas Workforce Commission - Texas Business Today
JOB BOARD
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 Department of Housing and Community Affairs - Senior Multifamily Closing Specialist

Texas Department of Information Resources - Information Technology Security Analyst III (Statewide Cyber Resilience and Response Manager)

Texas Health and Human Services - Director of Process Improvement

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Statewide Procurement Training Specialist (reopened)
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.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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