Volume 17, Issue 30 - Friday, August 9, 2019 Optional Link
Arlington ISD weighs $965.9M bond
Arlington ISD bond steering committee
Trustees at Arlington ISD (AISD) reviewed $965.9 million in potential bond items on August 1 for a possible November election.

A citizen steering committee unanimously recommended all proposed projects to the board with $846.37 million allocated for facilities, $97.12 million directed to safety, security, and technology upgrades, $15.49 million dedicated to transportation needs, and $6.96 million focused on fine arts.

More than 70 percent of the bond package total would go toward making districtwide condition renovations and rebuilding aging facilities to address significant condition needs, according to the committee's presentation.
Webb, Thorton, and Berry elementary schools would be rebuilt to replace Roark and Knox elementary campuses for $100.3 million. Carter Junior High School, which opened in 1958, would be rebuilt for $61.88 million. The district would "right-size" one of its high schools to house a fine arts-dual language academy for $52.05 million. Another similar academy would be built at Gunn Junior High School for $34.98 million. Districtwide pre-kindergarten improvements would constitute $45.74 million. A new $12.57 million building addition would be constructed at Bailey Junior High School.

The committee recommended renovations for an additional high school competition field for $19 million. Elementary school playgrounds would be replaced districtwide for $20.19 million. More than $31 million would be appropriated for furniture, fixtures, and equipment, including technology infrastructure. Administrators said the proposed bond would allow for entry-level career technology classes at AISD's career and technical center.

Safety, security, and technology upgrades would comprise $97.12 million of the bond package with district officials considering razing and rebuilding security and transportation facilities for $11.7 million. Other bond items could include funds for buying new school buses and acquiring property. 

The deadline is August 19 to call a bond referendum for November. If passed, the bond would not increase the district's property tax rate, administrators said.
Williamson County calls $447M bond election for roads, parks, recreation
Commissioners in Williamson County this week called a $447 million bond election for November 5.

At their August 6 meeting, commissioners divided the items into two propositions - one for $412 million for roads and the other for $35 million for parks and recreation.

A Citizens Bond Committee, which the county formed in March, recommended more than $573 million in road construction and safety improvements and over $67.5 million in parks and recreation projects.

Williamson County estimates that passage of the two bond propositions will not result in an increase in the county's debt service tax rate.
San Antonio utility approves $200M Air Force base wastewater pipeline
Photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren Parsons
Trustees at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) authorized a contract with the U.S. Air Force on August 6 to begin work on a $200 million wastewater pipeline, the most expensive in the utility's history.

The tunnel-drilling project will involve the use of a large boring machine to drill a 10 foot-wide tunnel up to 130 feet underground.

In February, SAWS hired an engineering firm to design a 5-mile loop around Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland that will upgrade the sewer's current capacity of 4.5 feet in diameter to prevent raw sewage from flowing into the area's watershed. The Air Force requirement that the line be routed around the base added to the costs.

SAWS officials anticipate construction will start in June 2020 and the line will be complete in 2023. The new system will serve an estimated 500,000 SAWS sewer customers.
A&M University to partner with Army Futures Command on $130M facility
Texas A&M University System Board of Regents unanimously approved $130 million in funding for an Army Futures Command complex at the system's 2,000-acre RELLIS Campus in Bryan. 

The RELLIS Campus was named for the university's core values of respect, excellence, leadership, loyalty, integrity and selfless service.

Regents authorized the funding on August 8 as part of a $2.9 billion System Capital Plan for fiscal years 2020-2024.

Before their vote, Dr. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor of engineering and national laboratories, told board members the collaboration between Texas A&M and the Army Futures Command would establish a full complement of facilities, equipment, and instruction.

The Innovative Technologies Development Complex (ITDC) will house an $80 million Research Innovation Center at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) at RELLIS.

This project will construct a state-of-the-art 79,500 square-foot building to anchor the much broader footprint, which collectively will converge and accelerate specific modernization priorities of TEES clients. This center will be a multifaceted-use facility and will include:
  • Offices, conference, and collaboration spaces for university, industry, and other subject matter experts to assess defined needs and create novel concepts;
  • Applied research and development laboratories for designing technologically superior elements required to meet established concepts for each need;
  • Prototyping and integration spaces for transitioning concepts into a high-performing capability by extensive prototyping;
  • Innovation collaboration locations for testing and evaluating advanced-concept prototypes and technology demonstrations;
  • Secure meeting spaces, sensitive equipment and data storage for reviewing field experimentation and refining the prototypes and/or new concepts.

The project also will feature a $50 million Innovation Proving Ground, a 1-kilometer hypersonics tunnel, a Mach 6 testing facility, and laser research space.

Gen. John "Mike" Murray, commanding general for the Army Futures Command, said the partnership would develop, test and evaluate next-generation technologies from the private sector and universities around the country. Research and testing at these facilities will focus on hypersonics and directed energy, next generation vehicles, communication network systems, and precision navigation and timing.

Construction is scheduled to start in November 2019 with substantial completion in June 2021.
Frio River
State leaders are taking a new tack in their flood mitigation efforts and instead establishing regional partnerships that are tied to river basins instead of political boundaries.

Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, is one Texas representative advocating the coalition-building method in advance of the November 5 state election for Proposition 8, which would direct $800 million from Texas' Economic Stabilization Fund, or Rainy Day Fund, into an account that would support regional flood and drainage mitigation and control projects.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), which would oversee the new account, is hosting 16 public meetings around the state to collect input from government leaders, engineers and other stakeholders on a new state flood plan and how they would like to see the money used.

TWDB officials said the plan would review current flood infrastructure and rank continuing and proposed projects as well as feature suggested changes to policies in order to expedite planning and project completion.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
George Haehn, Mayor, City of Buda

George Haehn
Career highlights and education: I spent 21-plus years of active duty service in the U.S. Marine Corps and attained the rank of Master Sergeant (E-8) and earned a Bronze Star with "V" for Valor, before I was forced to retire due to injuries. After retirement, I attended The University of Texas at Austin and received my bachelor of arts degree in history with a minor in education. After graduation, I taught all middle and high school social studies subjects at a charter school for adjudicated youth for seven years. I was elected to Buda City Council in 2012 and served for five years until November 2017 when I was elected mayor. Since then, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as mayor of the city of Buda.
What I like best about my public service: is working with the councilmembers and city staff to help the people of Buda enjoy a great quality of life. 

The best advice I have received for my current job: is to always keep the people informed about what is happening and answer every question. Whether they like the answer or not, they will know you are at least listening to them and addressing their concerns.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: would be to be frugal in or budgeting and always remember it is the people's money we allocate each year in our municipal budget and not the city's.
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: working on my horsemanship. It has been several years since I have been able to do so. 

People would be surprised to know that I: have two teenage children we adopted as infants. Our son was born in Russia and is 17, and our daughter was born in Guatemala and is 14.

One thing I wish more people knew about the City of Buda: is that although growth is occurring, I, the Council, city staff, and especially the citizens of Buda, have collectively worked to maintain the small-town feel, our huge live oaks, and other natural resources that combine to give every person a great quality of life.
Bryan shares plans for 'Midtown' development featuring 5 districts
Midtown Planning Area
Leaders at the city of Bryan shared their vision of a new "Midtown" development plan at an open house August 7 that would create a vibrant South College Avenue Corridor.

Planners unveiled their ideas for linking a revitalized downtown Bryan to a dynamic Midtown to serve as an economic catalyst for surrounding neighborhoods.

The study area includes approximately two-square miles surrounding the proposed Travis B. Bryan Municipal Park property from historic downtown Bryan to the city limits shared with the city of College Station and adjacent to the Texas A&M University. City planners have divided the area into five "experience" districts: Gateway, Railyard, Park, Union Hill, and North of Northgate, with the regional park at the heart.

Draft concepts also include a new zoning category for pattern zoning to encourage additional building options tailored to mesh with the neighborhood integrity and zoning changes that would enable the optional pattern zoning to be used as a guide for building in the Midtown area.

Consultants and city staff are scheduled to present zoning and land-use options for City Council approval in the coming weeks.
McKinney plans for future parks
Finch Park in McKinney
The city of McKinney parks system will benefit from several park construction and improvement projects set to begin this fall and in early 2020.
Construction of Cottonwood Park renovations is expected to begin later this year. This project will include renovations and upgrades to park amenities currently on the site including a multi-use court, pavilion, parking, open play space, playground equipment, and a plaza with a water feature.

Design is in progress for an update to the Gray Branch Park Master Plan. The 212-acre park south of U.S. 380 will include sports fields, a recreation center, trails, pavilions, concessions, parking, maintenance facilities, and playgrounds.

Starting this fall, work will begin on the Finch Park project based upon the city's approved 2010 Master Plan. The first round of construction will include a new hike and bike trail connection, updated basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts, a new pavilion, two new pedestrian bridges, and additional parking. The second phase of construction will install new playground pods and a new splash pad. An end date for the project has not been determined.

Another park project in design is Prestwyck Neighborhood Park, which will be near the intersection of University Drive and Coit Road within the Prestwyck subdivision. Amenities will feature a splash pad, multi-use sport court, swings, interactive playground equipment, pavilion, and trails. Construction is expected to begin early spring 2020.

A McKinney councilmember and the city's parks and recreation director both said they would like to see larger sites purchased or combined to create space on the order of 30 to 50 acres to offer more creative services than is possible at smaller 10-acre parks.
Houston to receive federal funding for large-scale flood mitigation work
Lake Houston Dam
Houston officials recently announced that the city will receive federal funding for two of the city's large-scale flood mitigation projects almost two years after Hurricane Harvey.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will award $46.9 million to the first phase of the Inwood Forest Stormwater Detention Basin Project and the initial phase of the $47.1 million Lake Houston Dam Spillway Improvement Project.

FEMA will provide 75 percent of the costs for the Inwood project, the state is expected to provide 18.75 percent, and the city of Houston and the Harris County Flood Control District will pay for the remaining costs.

The Inwood project will protect more than 4,400 structures in the White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek watersheds. The city and county aim to build 12 floodwater detention basins to hold a total of about 1,200 acre-feet of water. The city and the flood control district acquired the former golf course in 2011 as a potential flood mitigation facility. The initial Inwood project grant is $2.8 million for design with the city set to receive $44 million for construction, with a goal of completion by 2022. The project would take seven or eight years without federal funding.

Ten gates will be added to the Lake Houston Dam to allow for larger controlled releases of water in advance of heavy rains, protecting about 35,000 residents and 5,000 structures. The FEMA grant provides $4.3 million for the initial phase and positions the city to receive $42.7 million for construction, with a goal of completion by 2022.

FEMA also is awarding a total of $11.5 million to the Lone Star College System (Kingwood), the Clear Creek Independent School System, and the Texas Department of Transportation for "emergency protective measures" in parts of the city that flooded during Harvey.
Tarrant County donates land for veterans home in Fort Worth
Rendering of veterans home in Fort Worth
Tarrant County commissioners unanimously voted to approve the donation of 12 acres to the Texas Veterans Land Board to construct a new veterans home.

The donation will enable the board to start preliminary design phase for the new home that will be located north of the Veterans Administration hospital at Circle Drive and Joe B Rushing Road in Fort Worth.

A spokesperson for the Texas General Land Office, which oversees the VLB, said the estimated project cost is $30.8 million with construction costs accounting for $23 million of that total.

The facility will be the 10th Texas State Veteran Home. All homes are built on donated land and subject to Veterans Administration approval. They offer long-term care for qualified veterans, their spouses, and Gold Star parents.
Austin Fire Department plans new station to serve Sunset Valley area 
Austin Fire Department (AFD) officials delivered a presentation to the city of Sunset Valley councilmembers on August 6 detailing plans for a fire and EMS station on W. Highway 290 that would serve not only their city but also parts of southwest Austin.

AFD staff members are prepared to start the design of the four-bay facility immediately and break ground in June 2020 with completion expected in July 2021. 

The presentation came during negotiations between AFD and Sunset Valley City Council over a fire service agreement. A May 2018 directive from the Austin City Council instructed AFD to address poor response times in Sunset Valley, which has been under construct with the department since 1998.
Tomball EDC mulls culinary kitchen incubator including food hall concept
Tomball Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officials are exploring a culinary kitchen incubator concept that would provide space to aspiring food and cuisine innovators.

A commercial kitchen would be available to rent to food merchants, and a food hall would be open to the public to purchase their creations. Tenants could take advantage of the food hall to design permanent menus and signage, offer service five days a week, and train employees.

The city's EDC is considering a feasibility study to launch within the coming months with future plans that also include a pavilion for a farmer's market, greenhouses where local students can learn about agriculture, and small-business association offices.
City, county leaders explore sports complex project in Fredericksburg
Gillespie County and city of Fredericksburg officials deliberated the future of a proposed sports complex August 5.
Despite two unsuccessful bond elections, city and county leaders are working to meet the increasing demand for playing fields.

Two city directors are collaborating with representatives from local sports associations and a private donor to develop funding opportunities.

The partnership will meet over the next six to 12 months before making any recommendations to city leaders.
TWU board to vote on $11.5M sports complex, $1.5M bookstore renovation
The Board of Regents at Texas Woman's University (TWU) is set to vote August 9 on a new $11.5 million sports complex and a bookstore renovation for $1.5 million.

Preliminary plans for the sports complex feature locker rooms, a gym, concessions, restrooms, and space for kinesiology classes. The concept also includes coaching offices and storage space.

Pending board approval for design and construction, the project would be in the planning stages for six months before construction starts.

The TWU Campus Bookstore renovation project would be scheduled over the university's winter break and take an estimated four months to complete. The initiative would improve the bookstore's accessibility and functionality.
TASSCC 2019 Annual Conference
August 11-14 / Fort Worth, Texas
The Texas Corporation and Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications invites public-sector IT professionals to join TASSCC to celebrate its 42nd Anniversary Conference from Aug. 11-14 at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, 1300 Houston St., in Fort Worth.

This year's theme is "Steerin' IT to New Frontiers." We will take on how we can help to navigate and steer technology into a new direction and take a look ahead to see what the future holds for public sector technology. Global futurist, speaker, and author Jack Uldrich is the keynote speaker.

Experienced public sector IT professionals consider the TASSCC Annual Conference to be one of the best and most affordable opportunities for learning and sharing in Texas. Because the conference focuses on the unique opportunities and problems that we face in delivering services to citizens, this event has earned a loyal following of participants.

For more information, click here.
Save the date for DIR conference
October 3, 2019 / Austin, Texas
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. Pre-registration is required and opens in early July. The cancellation deadline is Sep. 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.

For information, email Joy Hall Bryant.
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By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Transportation infrastructure will stimulate the U.S. economy significantly over the next few years. Hundreds of large projects have been announced; so many in fact, it should be possible for almost every type of contracting firm to find attractive opportunities.

Regional transit leaders in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently released a $10 billion transit plan. Upcoming opportunities include several new commuter rail lines, expanded bus rapid transit routes, and numerous airport projects. The long-discussed Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail, which is expected to cost approximately $135 million and require $9 million annually for operations is included. Approximately $4 billion is allocated for other projects, and an additional $5.7 billion will be set aside for the region's aspirational goals.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in St. Petersburg, Florida, has announced the upcoming launch of a new bus rapid transit line that will provide transportation from downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches. Cost of the project is estimated at $43.9 million. Public officials believe the faster service, coupled with free Wi-Fi and other amenities, will attract an abundance of new riders. The route will also provide an affordable commute option for people holding the 50,000 jobs located within a half mile of the project's corridor. Since the agency plans to have the project operational by 2021, construction should start late in 2019.

The Sound Transit's board in Tacoma, Washington, moved another step closer recently to launching the Tacoma Dome Link Extension Project. This will be a 10-mile light-rail extension between Federal Way and Tacoma. An environmental impact study is required, but officials want the new route operational as soon as possible. Project details list four new light rail stations to provide connections to other transit services in the region.

Board names Hurley as Tarleton State presidential finalist
Dr. James Hurley
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents named Dr. James Hurley the sole finalist as president of Tarleton State University on August 8, the same day they also honored Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio as president emeritus.

Hurley, who has served as president of Tusculum University in Greenville, Tennessee, is set to begin his duties at Tarleton State University on September 1 as Dottavio steps down after 11 years in the post.

Throughout his 23 years in education, Hurley has served as instructor, professor, dean, vice president and president with extensive higher education experience. Prior to Tusculum, he was chief operating officer and executive vice president at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.

Dr. Dominic Dottavio
Following a short sabbatical, Dottavio will be a faculty member in Tarleton's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, where he has had an appointment as a tenured professor since coming to the university. He also will assist the Division of Institutional Advancement.

The title of president emeritus is reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to the A&M System through long and distinguished service in administration while holding the position of president.
Lucas to lead Austin development service
Denise Lucas
Executive-level hiring continues at the city of Austin with the announcement that Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales has appointed interim director Denise Lucas as the permanent director of the Development Services Department.

Lucas previously served in multiple positions with the city of Austin, including roles as deputy chief information officer and deputy purchasing officer. Prior to joining the city, she worked in the private sector as a procurement manager and lead source manager.

She is a mentor for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.

Port Arthur taps Burton for interim city manager post
Ron Burton
The Port Arthur City Council unanimously voted to appoint Assistant City Manager Ron Burton to serve as interim city manager.

Burton takes over for interim city manager Rebecca Underhill who had been serving in that position since April. Underhill followed Harvey Robinson who had been the city's interim manager since November 2017.

Prior to his tenure as assistant city manager, Burton served as assistant director of planning and grants management and then director of the Department of Development Services.
Waco ISD names Kincannon finalist for superintendent
Dr. Susan Kincannon
Waco ISD trustees named Dr. Susan Kincannon as the sole finalist for the district's superintendent position on August 7. Kincannon currently serves as Belton ISD's superintendent.

She takes over for Hazel Rowe who had been serving in an interim capacity since A. Marcus Nelson resigned as Waco ISD superintendent in March.

Kincannon joined Belton ISD in July 2000 as the principal of the Belton Intermediate School. She became the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in 2002 and was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2007. In 2011, Kincannon became the superintendent of Belton ISD. She began her career as a fifth-grade teacher at Scott Elementary in Temple ISD.

The Waco ISD board of trustees is scheduled to consider her contract at their August 29 meeting.
Laredo names new EDC director, acting parks director
Teclo Garcia
Laredo councilmembers announced Teclo Garcia as the city's new economic development director on August 5 and Juan Gomez as acting parks and recreation director on August 7.

Garcia previously served as director of strategic partnerships and program development at the city of Mission Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and director of government and public affairs at the city of McAllen. He also was a newspaper editor in the city of Brownsville and in Arizona.

Juan Gomez
Gomez has served the city of Laredo in various capacities for three years while contributing his knowledge in operations, personnel management, and public recreation. He previously retired from United ISD where he served for 29 years, retiring as head baseball coach at United High School.
CFISD selects new educational support superintendent
Barbara Levandoski
Barbara Levandoski, director of elementary curriculum and instruction at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (CFISD), was named the district's new assistant superintendent for educational support services on August 5. Levandoski succeeds Dan McIlduff who retired in July.

Levandoski's career in education spans 34 years in the classroom and administration with all of them at CFISD. Her tenure began with eight years as a special education teacher at Bane and Metcalf elementary schools. She then spent two years as an elementary facilitator at Metcalf.

In 1995, Levandoski was named special education coordinator. She served in the role for 12 years before being named to her current position in 2007.
Flower Mound town manager to be feted
Jimmy Stathatos
The International City/County Management Association will recognize Flower Mound Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos for 25 years of service in municipal government at an October ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.

Stathatos joined the town of Flower Mound in 2013 from the city of Roanoke where he had been the city manager since 1998.

He began his career in government with the city of College Station as a purchasing analyst, then joined the city of Euless as an intern, and moved to the city of Ennis where he was assistant to the city manager.

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced these appointments/reappointments from August 2-8:

Elizabeth 'Liz' Bayless - Austin, Credit Union Commission (reappointed)

David Shurtz - Hudson Oaks, Credit Union Commission

Kay Swan - Monahans, Credit Union Commission

Karyn Brownlee - Coppell, Credit Union Commission

Melissa Tyroch - Belton, State Securities Board

James Abell - Tyler - Parks and Wildlife Commission

Jeff Hildebrand - Houston, Parks and Wildlife Commission

Bobby Patterson - Fort Worth, Parks and Wildlife Commission

Anna Benavides Galo - Laredo, Parks and Wildlife Commission

Pat Gordon - El Paso, Rio Grande Compact Commission (reappointed)
Texas State Auditor's Office - An Audit Report on Selected Major Agreements Under the Texas Economic Development Act

Texas State Auditor's Office - An Audit Report on Financial Management at the Railroad Commission

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services - Foster Care Needs Assessment

U.S. Energy Information Administration - Texas ranks first in U.S.-installed wind capacity and number of turbines
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 Health and Human Services - Director II, Contract Administration
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Statewide Procurement Data Analyst
  • Texas State Securities Board - Financial Examiner
  • Texas State Securities Board - Attorney VI
  • Texas Tenth Court of Appeals - Deputy Clerk III or IV
  • City of Horseshoe Bay - Assistant Planner

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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