Volume 17, Issue 22 - Friday, June 7, 2019Optional Link
Washington, D.C. - A $19.1 billion disaster aid bill cleared a final hurdle in Congress with a 354-58 vote in the House on June 3. The U.S. Senate passed the bill on May 23 with a 85-8 vote.

The president's signature on the bill would release billions of dollars to communities around the country decimated by disasters. The bill also includes a provision for sending Texas $4 billion that Congress allocated last year to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

The bill also aims to help hurricane victims in the Southeast, flood victims in the Midwest, and wildfire victims in California. It includes monies to repair highways and infrastructure such as military bases, helps farmers cover crop losses, and extends a national flood insurance program to Sept. 30. Puerto Rico would receive $1.4 billion in aid that includes a $605 million nutrition program and $304 million in community development grants to help it rebuild from 2017's Hurricane Maria.
Houston to redevelop Memorial Park
Rendering of Memorial Park
Houston city officials have recently unveiled plans for the long-overdue redevelopment of Memorial Park, which was badly damaged by the 2011 drought. At more than 1,500 acres and located at the site of the former World War I army training camp, Fort Logan, the nearly 100-year-old park is one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.

The Memorial Park Conservancy (MPC), Uptown Houston TIRZ, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department are all collaborating on the project. City officials have allocated $105 million for the project and have raised over $70 million in private donations.

The plans call for restored wetlands, a 9-acre picnic space, three picnic pavilions, a $19 million running complex, a $21.5 million 100-acre memorial to the fallen soldiers of Camp Logan, and a $3 million stormwater management upgrade.
SPI adds government, news veterans
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. is proud to announce the addition of three government and communications veterans to its team of experts.

Mary Kay Spellman
Mary Kay Spellman leads the SPI Research Division. Spellman's extensive government experience in so many different areas and jurisdictions of government makes her a great asset to the SPI Team. Her expertise has been honed through her work with the Texas Legislative Council, the Legislative Budget Board, the Texas Legislature, county government, educational associations, law firms, statewide associations, and private sector firms that do business with government.

Maggie Stenz
Maggie Stenz joins the SPI team with an extensive government background as well as economic development experience. Stenz worked for the City of Austin, where she provided qualitative research and report writing, program coordination, internal communications, and public outreach. She also served as a program specialist for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and an analyst at the Texas Legislative Council in the areas of public health, human services, public education, and county affairs.

Devin Monk
Devin Monk serves as the editor of SPI's two weekly newsletters, Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline. Monk has extensive experience in journalism and communications, working for over a decade in community newspapers as a staff writer, graphic designer, copy editor, photographer, video editor, social media coordinator, and managing editor. He also has served as communication coordinator for a city and is a certified public communicator.

Please join us in welcoming them to our team!
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Bill Gravell Jr.
Judge Bill Gravell Jr., County Judge, Williamson County

Career Highlights and EducationI spent 30 years in ministry before deciding to begin a career in public service. I served as the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace for six years. During that time, I was fortunate to be appointed as a member of the Texas Judicial Council by Chief Justice Hecht for a four-year term. 
 
What I like best about my public service is: I was born and raised in Williamson County, so the best part about my job is that I get to give back to my home community. I love getting to make a difference where I live, and where my children and grandchildren live.  

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Smile and celebrate each day. I try to live up to that advice by looking for opportunities to celebrate our successes.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Bring walking shoes to work! Since we won the April Million Mile Month Challenge, you will often find me conducting meetings while walking around the Georgetown square!

If I had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Doing something with my grandkids. Any time I get to spend with them is truly the best part of my day, especially reading to them!

People would be surprised to know that I: love humor and love to have fun. To keep from taking myself too seriously, I have a large collection of colorful socks I wear. You can't take yourself too seriously while wearing pink socks with bees or large green shamrocks.

One thing I wish more people knew about Williamson County: Williamson County government is truly filled with people who feel very passionately about their jobs and have a servant's heart. They are working to create innovative programs to help people in all areas from the court system to medical care with EMS to getting Veterans their benefits. I have not met more dedicated people anywhere that I have worked.
New taxes to fund $25M-$35M bond for Lubbock County Expo Center
Lubbock County Expo Center
Starting July 1, new tax revenues from hotel room and vehicle rentals will help Lubbock County build a new county exposition center. In November 2018, voters approved a hotel occupancy tax of 2 percent and a vehicle rental tax of 5 percent.

County commissioners are scheduled to call for the tax collection at their June 10 meeting. Once collections start, the county must issue bonds for facility construction by March 2020. Some estimates project the hotel tax will generate revenues to support a $25 million to $35 million bond.
 
The construction timeline is 18 months for the new center, which officials hope will open in time for a rodeo scheduled for 2021.
Texas Tech University System gets $20M for dental school in El Paso
Pending Gov. Abbott's signature, Texas Tech University Health Science Center El Paso will receive $20 million in state funding to start a new dental school.

The Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine would be the fourth dental school in the state and the first dental school to open in Texas in more than 50 years. Educators plan to gain accreditation this year, host an inaugural class of 40 students in 2021, and expand to 60 students in the future.

The new funding would go to facilities and equipment. University officials said an existing medical sciences building would temporarily house the dental school until more funding is secured for a new building. Legislators previously allocated $8 million in their 2017 session to open the school.
Pearland to build $14.5M library
Westside Library
Officials at the City of Pearland are planning to build a new, freestanding Westside Library to open in late 2022 in a $60 million tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) at Shadow Creek Parkway and Kirby Drive. 

The estimated $14.5 million branch library would be almost four times the size of the current library, which is in a retail center. The new two-story 39,000-square-foot facility would have room for six to eight study rooms, multiple meeting rooms, and a teaching theater. Children's story time space would be expanded, and the number of computer stations would increase to 12. 

City officials are working with an architectural firm on the library's design before soliciting development proposals. 
Austin to spend $12M on creative space acquisitions, improvements
Cepeda Branch Library
The City of Austin's Joint Arts & Music Commission Working Group is developing recommendations for dispersing $12 million in city bond monies to acquire and improve arts and cultural facilities, libraries, and museums. Officials must first establish a process for allocating the funds before identifying specific projects or uses.
 
Their working group, which includes the city's bond committee and its Economic Development Department, is reviewing potential projects based on input from public meetings, surveys, and property assessments. The Joint Arts and Music Commission will host a special meeting June 8 to review the results of a public survey, take comments, and discuss the latest updates.

After reconvening at a later date, commissioners will determine their project list to share with City Manager Spencer Cronk who will then present staff's final facilities recommendations to City Council later this summer.
Aquatics center and robotics space projects underway at Eanes ISD
Eanes ISD board members selected an architectural firm June 4 to prepare designs for several construction projects voters approved in an $80 million bond election in May.

The district plans to construct a new aquatics center at Westlake High School for $9.9 million, expand space for the high school's robotics and engineering programs for $2.9 million, and build a dedicated space for the high school wrestling program for $2.3 million. The new area for wrestling also could accommodate softball, tennis, and fine arts activities.

Officials are scheduled to select a Construction Manager at Risk in August. Estimated start of construction for these facilities is June 2020 with the spaces fully operational for the 2021-2022 school year. District officials plan to save $4 million in costs from land sale proceeds.

Other items from the bond package are $28.18 million for facilities improvements at all five district campuses, $28 million for student programs and support projects, $8 million for safety and security enhancements, and $5 million for energy and conservation upgrades.
Beaumont to fund public housing
The Beaumont Housing Authority has proposed two new public housing complexes. One, called Trinity Grove, would be a 150-unit development with a mix of low-income and market-price apartments. The other complex, Century Heights, will be a senior residential rental development that will contain 202 units.

Funding will come from several sources, including Hurricane Harvey Recovery Funding, Capital Fund Program funds, and private investment. The Authority recently authorized the negotiation of a contract for architectural and engineering services for the two housing projects.
Granite Shoals mulls $9M in water line improvements, $2M water tower
Granite Shoals City Councilmembers reviewed plans for $9 million of new water line projects and a new $2 million water tower at their May 28 meeting. They also explored the possibility of repairing several roads, including Driftwood and Belaire drives, damaged in October 2018 flooding.

At the meeting, city engineers worked with councilmembers to prioritize a list of projects that could require bond funding. City Manager Jeff Looney, who stressed the importance of updating Granite Shoals' water system, said a bond package of $7 million would not increase the interest and sinking portion of the city's property tax rate.
Victoria seeking 2 federal grants as city recovers from flooding damage
Guadalupe River
Councilmembers in Victoria authorized the city to apply for two federal Community Development Block Grants to receive $6 million for infrastructure projects and $2.4 million for buying properties in neighborhoods susceptible to flooding.

City officials said they will use the $6 million to upgrade drainage in areas prone to flooding. The projects would include erecting and repairing Guadalupe River floodgates and adding a new pump station to transfer floodwaters over the levee when the floodgates are closed. Grant funds also would enable Victoria officials to purchase homes in the city's floodplain areas and demolish them.

Assistant City Manager Grant Kaminski said he plans to present draft grant applications to City Council in two weeks for approval.
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Calendar of Events
August 8 & 9 / Fort Worth, Texas
The Institute for Leadership in Capital Projects (I-LinCP) is taking early bird registration for its 2019 Texas Public Owners Conference on Aug. 8-9 at the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, 1701 Commerce St., Fort Worth, Texas 76102.

The conference theme is "The Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Project Delivery to Operations." Municipalities, counties, ISD's and other public entities will come together to share what they know, and to define what they want to know more about regarding capital project planning design, delivery, and operations. I-LinCP is a nonprofit organization serving the Texas region to better the capital projects industry. 

Early bird registration is available through July 19 for public facility owners at $125 per person and $275 for all others. Tables are $1,375.
Save the date for DIR conference
Mark your calendar to attend the DIR Technology Forum 2019 on October 3 from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Commons Learning Center, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, 10100 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758.

Journey to the Cloud: How to Get There is the theme of this year's forum, a free one-day, two-track conference for public sector IT leaders. Plan to attend educational sessions on strategic issues, technology updates, and DIR solutions and services.

More than 200 attendees from a wide variety of Texas state agencies and universities are expected to attend.

The free event is open to any current Texas government or public sector staff member interested in information technology issues. The event will provide 6.0 contact hours of general consulting education credit (6.0 CPEs for Texas Information Resources Managers (IRMs)). Pre-registration is required and opens in early July. The cancellation deadline is September 27; a $50 fee will be charged for any no shows and late cancellations.

Complimentary morning and afternoon refreshments and a luncheon will be served. DIR invites vendors to participate by exhibiting and/or providing a speaker. Subject matter experts are invited to submit presentation abstracts for consideration by June 28.

For information, email Joy Hall Bryant.


By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Student housing is a critical component when it comes to recruiting students and retaining them through graduation. Young men and women want to live in modern, purpose-built housing within walking distance of campuses. Some will settle for nothing less - and that is driving a tidal wave of demand for modern, appealing housing options on campuses throughout the country.
 
Thousands of student housing projects will be completed in 2019 because the recruiting of students is about as competitive as it gets, and institutions of higher education cannot survive without student growth and retention.

There are about 5,300 colleges and universities in the U.S., and half of them are accredited four-year institutions. That's why the projections are that the demand for student housing will not subside anytime soon.

In California, state officials are currently seeking ways to purchase and then repurpose or demolish an outdated building in downtown San Jose. The San Jose State University wants to locate a student housing facility on the site because the location is so great. If everything goes as planned, the site will be redeveloped as mixed-use retail/residential for students and faculty.

Check out this article from our Pipeline newsletter!



Combs confirmed for Interior Department post
Susan Combs
The U.S. Senate confirmed Susan Combs, former Texas agriculture commissioner and comptroller, as the assistant secretary for policy, management, and budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior on June 5.
 
Combs will be responsible for policy development, management reforms to align bureau efforts, and oversight of the department's finances. She will serve as the Interior Department's chief financial officer, chief acquisition officer, and chief performance officer.

As Combs waited for Senate approval, she worked in the position as acting secretary. The Administration may appoint individuals to temporary positions without Senate confirmation.
Gavia to retire as TMRS executive director
David Gavia
David Gavia, executive director of the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) since 2010, will retire on May 31, 2020.

TMRS is a state agency that administers a retirement program for 883 Texas cities and oversees $28.9 billion in assets as of December 31, 2017, according to its website. It is one of the largest statewide "hybrid" cash-balance defined benefit retirement plans in the nation.

Bill Philibert, chair of the TMRS Board of Trustees, announced Gavia's resignation on June 3 and stated the board will immediately begin a nationwide search process for his successor.
  
Klein ISD selects finalist for superintendent post
Jenny McGown
The Klein ISD Board of Trustees on June 6 named Jenny McGown as the lone finalist to be the district's next superintendent.

McGown succeeds Bret Champion who resigned May 21 to accept a leadership position with the Medford School District in Oregon. She is currently serving as deputy superintendent for Klein ISD until she is sworn in by the board on June 28 at the end of a mandatory 21-day waiting period.

She joined the district as an English teacher at Klein Collins High School and advanced to administrative roles as an assistant principal at the high school and Benignus Elementary School and associate principal at Brill Elementary School. She also was principal at Ehrhardt Elementary School and founding principal of Zwink Elementary School. She then moved into district leadership to become Klein ISD's executive director for student performance and then chief learning officer and deputy superintendent.

McGown is set to begin her new position July 1.
Ward to succeed Bruce as Frisco police chief
Greg Ward
Greg Ward, an assistant chief of police at Frisco Police Department, will take over on an interim basis as police chief, effective June 14. The announcement follows the May 28 resignation of Chief John Bruce who accepted a job as chief of police for the city of Richland, Washington.

Ward possesses more than 
John Bruce
29 years of experience in law enforcement, including 20 years with the city of Frisco. He previously supervised patrol, traffic, special operations, school resource officers, community services, detention, animal services, and communications. As an assistant chief, he oversees investigations and firearms.

Before he joined Frisco Police Department, Ward worked in the city of Carrollton and Southwest Texas State University police departments. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Senior Management Institute for Police.


McDonough finalist for Greenville city manager 
John McDonough
The city of Greenville has entered contract negotiations with John McDonough to be its next city manager. 

McDonough, who is currently the city manager for Sandy Springs, Georgia, would replace former Greenville City Manager John Castile who retired in August 2018. Deputy City Manager Nancy Whitworth was serving in an interim capacity.

Before joining Sandy Springs, McDonough was city manager at Beaufort, South Carolina, and other South Carolina cities.

The retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel with more than 26 years of active and reserve service is a board member for the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority, the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia City/County Manager's Association (GCCMA).


RECENT REPORTS and DATA
Railroad Commission of Texas - 2019 Energy Market Outlook

Texas Department of Information Resources - SAIAF Bill Tracking Report - 86th Legislature

City of Dallas - Dallas 365 Performance Measures

City of Austin - Small Area Implementation Status by Category

U.S. Census Bureau - OnTheMap for Emergency Management

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas - 11th District Beige Book

U.S. Government Accountability Office - Critical Infrastructure Protection

U.S. Energy Information Administration - Electricity Data Browser (beta)


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: 
  • City of Austin Capital Contracting Office - Procurement Specialist IV
  • Ector County - County Attorney
  • Ector County - District Attorney
  • Texas Department of Public Safety - Victim and Employee Support Services - Counselor V (6 positions)


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, the SPI Team has developed a national reputation for partnering public and private sector entities.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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