Volume 17, Issue 36 - Friday, September 20, 2019 Optional Link
Texas leads states' revolt against U.S. Corps move for greater water control
Lake O' The Pines is a U.S. Army Corps reservoir.
Nineteen senators from nine states asked the Trump administration to intervene in a fight over water authority with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The Corps is proposing to take more control of supplies at reservoirs around the U.S. It owns or operates 30 reservoirs in Texas.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota wrote a letter to the Office of Management and Budget contending that the Corps' water supply rule ignores precedent and statute that the waters in the states should remain under state jurisdiction regardless of water supply infrastructure ownership.

USACE holds authority over rivers, flood risk management, and conservation. Under the new regulations, the Corps is proposing to redefine "surplus water" and alter the process for withdrawing water from reservoirs.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) officials opposed the proposed rule that would give the federal government more power over allocating and managing water rights in the state. Commission leadership believes that any rulemaking regarding water allocation should not interfere with the state's authority, according to a TCEQ statement.

If approved, the rules would be effective October 1.
Imelda pounds Texas, leaves 2 dead
Rainfall from storm Imelda deluged a swath of Texas and parts of Louisiana over the last two days.

Authorities reported widespread severe flooding and at least two deaths as of September 20. 

Beaumont recorded 43 inches of rain, which places Imelda as the seventh-wettest tropical cyclone in U.S. history. 

In Houston, barges broke free from their moorings and hit a bridge forcing the closure of Interstate 10.

Houston ISD closed schools, and Houston George Bush International Airport grounded flights. More than 200 abandoned vehicles were recovered by Houston police on city streets as of September 19, and scores of other vehicles were left behind on roads. Six storm shelters in the city are housing about 120 people. 

Bolivar residents were coping with water restrictions after the peninsula's water treatment plant in Winnie failed. 

On September 19, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster for the southeast Texas counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, and San Jacinto. 
Gattis School Road improvements
Acting on a $1.2 billion transportation master plan, Round Rock City Council approved a fiscal year 2019-20 budget on September 12 that directs $69.3 million toward the city's transportation network.

City officials point to this first year of funding as the most important one of the planned five-year $240 million transportation improvement program.

Road projects included in this year's budget are:
  • Kenney Fort Boulevard extension from Forest Creek Drive to SH 45;
  • Gattis School Road widening from A.W. Grimes Boulevard to Double Creek Drive;
  • Gattis School Road widening from Via Sonoma to Red Bud Lane, including improvements to the intersection at Red Bud;
  • University Boulevard/Chandler Road improvements from Grimes Boulevard to SH 130; and,
  • Engineering for the extension of Wyoming Springs Drive from Creek Bend Boulevard to FM 3406.
Funding also is in this year's budget for a new fire station scheduled to open in 2020 and a public library expected to break ground in 2021.
UT-Austin to add student housing
Creekside Residence Hall
Gregory Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin (UT), outlined the institution's plans to add more student housing and conduct a housing study in his State of the University address on September 18.

UT currently operates 7,400 spaces for more than 50,000 students with many students left with no alternatives for living close to the campus. 

Fenves said UT would start work soon with a consulting firm on a housing study with the objective of providing university housing to every first-year undergraduate student, a total that stands at 9,000 now. 

UT's housing officials also are planning to replace the university's Creekside Residence Hall, which was built in 1955 and houses 190 students, with a new building for about 600 students. 

He said that the university will move forward with a planned project for graduate housing on the east side of the campus.
Jersey Village takes first steps toward construction of new city hall building
Rendering of Jersey Village City Hall
The Jersey Village City Council is making plans for  a new city hall after years of budget surpluses.

The City Council approved the city's fiscal year budget on September 16 with the goal of starting construction on the new city hall, which would be in the future Village Center development.

Justin Ray, mayor of Jersey Village, wrote of dilapidated and hazardous conditions in the current city hall in a newsletter earlier this year in which he described black mold and roof leaks. Ray also promoted the economy of scale in incorporating the new city hall into design, engineering, and construction of other structures.

The preliminary plan for the new building features a central corridor that connects different offices for courts, public works, and finance on the first floor. The new council chambers would hold about 150 people, and a conference room would be open to the public.

Parks and recreation, human resources, and information technology departments would be on the second floor along with administration offices.

Construction documents are expected to be complete by the end of September, and work is scheduled to begin in February 2020.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
J.C. Hughes Jr., City Administrator, City of Cottonwood Shores

J.C. Hughes Jr.
Career highlights and education:
  • Kilgore College
  • East Texas State
Picking one highlight is easy. As town manager of Little Elm, Texas, I oversaw a growth that was the fastest in the state of Texas at the time. The town between Lewisville and Frisco grew in three years from a population of 6,000 to 18,000. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that very few city managers have experienced.
 
What I like best about my public service: Helping communities improve and setting courses for growth through detailed infrastructure studies and improvements are what drives my desire to continue work for communities. There is no better feeling than seeing those plans and hard work pay off!

The best advice I have received for my current job: It's an easy answer, and I have heard it from several different sources. Never be afraid to make mistakes! Being afraid to make a decision can be the worst mistake of all. Go with the best information and experience you have, move forward, and trust your gut.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Plan, plan, and plan! Concentrate on maintenance of your existing infrastructure and set your infrastructure plans in place for future growth. And remember your core responsibilities: public safety, utilities, transportation, and leisure services - in that order. Hire the best staff possible, trust them, and give them freedom to dream.
 
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Spending time with our family, which is one reason we moved to the Hill Country of Texas. My son, Jake, and his wife, Dominque, are expecting their first child and our first grandson, so we are excited beyond belief.

People would be surprised to know that I: Love to sing country blues and light rock. 

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Cottonwood Shores: Our population is about 1,700 people, but it is beginning to burst at the seams. Our building permits doubled between 2017 and 2018 and are doubling again in 2019. We are in a perfect location for camping, sporting, hunting, and boating, and we have plenty of room for new growth. We have an awesome local health-care and hospital system, and we are a short 45-mile drive from downtown Austin and all it offers!
Ransomware attack shuts down key appraisal district computer systems
Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) reported on September 19 that its computer systems were affected by a cyberattack.

On September 11, hackers attacked TCAD with a ransomware virus that affected its website property search, phone, email, and Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal systems, according to information on the district's website.

TCAD officials responded by isolating the infected computer systems, securing backup data, notifying state agencies, and working with software vendors and cybersecurity experts.

As of September 19, all core systems were restored. TCAD will continue to work with cybersecurity experts and state agencies to conduct forensic analysis and restore secondary systems.

TCAD did not pay any ransom funds. Appraisal protest and customer service were not impacted, and confidential information was not affected.
Fort Worth budget addresses streets, lighting in neglected areas of city
The Fort Worth City Council approved a $1.8 billion city budget that targets a backlog of infrastructure upgrades and maintenance in neglected areas.

The budget earmarks funds for making street repairs, improving sidewalks, and installing new street lights, many of them in low-income and minority neighborhoods. More than 10,000 linear feet of sidewalk will be installed within 75 percent Majority Minority Areas (MMAs).

Residents will see their property tax rate drop by almost 4 cents, but will expect a 6.5 percent in stormwater fees to finance $70 million in bond projects that address flash flooding. Additional increases to water and wastewater fees will pay for rising costs for system infrastructure and department employees.
Athens starts master plan update
Downtown development, a grant for a new runway at Athens Municipal Airport, and an industrial park are some of the city leaders' goals as they begin updating their Master Plan.

The city's Master Plan Steering Committee met with representatives from the Athens Economic Development Corporation and Athens Municipal Water Authority for a roundtable discussion September 19.

A consulting firm will lead the city in developing the plan and hosting four public meetings to gather community input. That process is expected to produce three Master Plan options for the City Council to review and approve.
River authority, property owners reach deal on lake draining plan
Lake Dunlap dam
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and property owners reached a temporary agreement for four lakes on the Guadalupe River not to be drained on the condition that people and boats are prohibited from lake access.

GBRA officials had planned to begin lowering lakes McQueeney, Placid, Meadow, and Gonzales by 12 feet on September 16, but a court-ordered injunction stayed that action.

The agreement will be in place for up to 12 months while an appointed three-member panel decides the lakes' future use. Each party will select a panel member, and those two members will choose a third member to serve on the panel.

After spillgates failed on two of the GBRA's dams on lakes Dunlap and Wood, the agency announced its plan to drain the four other lakes for safety precautions. Property owners opposed the measure and claimed it would negatively impact their property values and quality of life.
Weatherford College plans workforce building to start construction in 2020
Weatherford College
Weatherford College trustees are discussing plans to construct a 40,000-square-foot workforce building.

The three-story center would provide space for the community college's programs in information technology, computer science, computer-aided drafting, robotics, computer numerical control machining, and cosmetology. It also would contain areas for Corporate College, Texas Workforce Solutions, and workforce continuing education offices.

Trustees are exploring financing options that could include issuing a revenue bond supported by student tuition.

Total project costs are estimated at $8.8 million, and construction would be scheduled to start in mid-2020 and be finish in December 2021.
CapMetro prepares solicitation for new back-end fare collection system
As part of its ongoing fare strategy roadmap, CapMetro is expected to solicit proposals for a new back-end account-based fare collection system to leverage its onboard validators and ticket vending machines (TVMs).

CapMetro will seek the development of a system that will integrate with TVMs that are part of a contract awarded in March. An award for Bus Onboard Validators (ONBVs) is expected in late 2019.

This fare collection component of CapMetro's Project Connect plan is projected to cost $18 million to $20 million. Procurement and selection of the system is scheduled for winter 2020-2021.
Hotel purchase, demolition catalyst for Pine Street revitalization efforts
Civic Plaza Hotel
Abilene Improvement Corporation (AIC) members finalized the purchase of the Civic Plaza Hotel as part of the city's plan to revitalize the Pine Street area.

The city also contributed more than $1 million to the purchase that is part of a long-range plan to revitalize downtown Abilene.

Plans for the newly acquired property are to demolish the closed hotel and create a synergistic development with retail stores, restaurants and other businesses. The site is across the street from where a new $66 million hotel is planned.
Jacksonville council approves firm for design of public safety building
Jacksonville City Council recently authorized an architectural firm to develop the design for a 28,000-square-foot public safety building that will serve as the new headquarters for fire, police, and emergency response teams.

The new headquarters would be located on seven acres of city-owned land on South Bolton Street.

City Manager Greg Smith said all of the first responder agencies have outgrown their facilities as they have added personnel and equipment. The new facility also would improve response times and protect equipment. 

Jacksonville officials said the new headquarters is scheduled to be fully operational in 2021 with room for future expansions.
Texas Tech joins other universities, federal agencies to study tornadoes
Project TORUS unmanned aircraft system
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are partnering with universities in tornado-prone states to create more accurate and timely tornado warnings.

Teams from Texas Tech, Nebraska-Lincoln, Oklahoma, and Colorado universities and the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies are working on several projects that will help to better predict and monitor tornadoes.

One such effort is Project TORUS (Targeted Observation by Radars and Unmanned Aircraft Systems of Supercells), which will study wind speed, temperature, humidity, and pressure to learn how small-scale structures within a supercell storm can evolve into tornadoes.
EVENTS CALENDAR
Texas universities lining up to attend upcoming 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. The Summit also will offer in-depth roundtable discussions for delegates with interest in discussing specific P3 issues in a more candid and interactive forum.

With over 850-plus participating delegates, attendees find the Summit to be one of the most effective places on their event schedule to cultivate relationships and network with the industry's most active and influential professionals.

Check out our social media links!




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

Looking for a diverse and lucrative public-sector marketplace? If so, don't overlook upcoming opportunities related to natural disaster recovery in regions that were ravaged by floods, fires, and other weather-related disasters. Demand for private-sector firms to provide services in these regions is extremely high.

The U.S. led the world in catastrophes in 2018, and the wildfire that ravaged California was the costliest natural disaster of all - a cost of $16.5 billion. Hurricanes Michael ($16 billion) and Florence ($14 billion) caused havoc in the Carolinas and Florida. Hurricane Michael, (with hurricane winds of 155 mph) also devastated parts of Maryland and Georgia and other states suffered historic weather related damages as well.

When natural disasters occur, efforts are focused first on rescue - finding and caring for people. Very quickly, however, the focus shifts to securing critical facilities, moving people, starting cleanup efforts, initiating infrastructure repair, and analyzing damage control. Private-sector contractors are used for almost every effort. Funding is available, but it does not come quickly. In most cases, it takes an inordinate amount of time for funding to begin flowing.

There's no way to stop natural disasters and the number continues to rise. But the data beg the question: "What to do next"? High on any list of priorities is the task of mitigating similar future damage.

In some cases, seawalls must be built. That is a costly task as outlined in Climate Costs in 2040, a report that lists spending by states. In almost all instances, land is moved, roadways are repaired, telecommunications and power lines are restructured, and construction is required for housing, schools, and other public facilities. Every task requires private-sector assistance.



Ellis appointed chair of education board
Keven Ellis
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Keven Ellis as chair of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for a term to expire September 16, 2021.

Ellis is the District 9 representative on the board and is a member of its Committee on School Initiatives. He was elected to a four-year term on the board in November 2016.

Before being elected to the SBOE, Ellis served on the Lufkin ISD board of trustees where he was board president from 2015-16. He is a former member of the Lufkin ISD Education Foundation and the Lufkin ISD Tri-Ethnic Committee.

Although the members of the board are elected, the governor appoints the chair from among the 15 board members. The appointment must be confirmed by the Texas Senate.
Governor appoints Janecka to TCEQ
Bobby Janecka
Bobby Janecka has been chosen to fill the third and final commissioner seat on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Janecka joins chairman Jon Niermann and Commissioner Emily Lindley after being appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott with whom he has served as a policy adviser since 2018.

The state liaison officer to the U.S. federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission previously worked for TCEQ, most recently as a section manager in the agency's Radioactive Materials Division.

Janecka also worked as a research analyst for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and served as the chair of the State of Texas Health Physics Society Legislative Committee.
Strevel named new Victoria director of
communications
Ashley Strevel
Ashley Strevel will join the city of Victoria on Sept. 30 as its communications and public affairs director. She replaces O.C. Garza who retired at the end of August.

Strevel is currently the communications manager for the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV). She brings a dynamic background in marketing and communications that includes other local employers such as a petroleum company and food manufacturer.

The city's communications and public affairs director leads public communication strategies, crisis communications, media relations, community affairs and development of strategic messaging for all city departments.


Georgetown names Bethapudi as new electric utility GM
Daniel Bethapudi
Daniel Bethapudi will be the city of Georgetown's new general manager for the electric utility. After a nationwide search, Bethapudi was selected from more than 50 applicants to serve in the new role.

He will be taking on responsibilities held by long-time general manager Jim Briggs who is retiring September 30.

In Georgetown, Bethapudi will oversee the city's electric utility which serves nearly 27,000 customers. Reporting directly to the city manager, he will have responsibility for more than 75 employees and an annual operating budget of $77.4 million.

Bethapudi serves as the assistant director for College Station Utilities where he directs and manages transmission and substation operations and oversees strategic planning and power supply functions.

Prior to College Station, he served in several roles at a Navasota, Texas-based utility, including the manager of engineering and information technology as well as interim chief operating officer. He concluded his time there as the vice president and chief financial officer.
Midlothian selects Kinateder to lead economic efforts
Kyle Kinateder
Midlothian Economic Development (MED) announced Kyle Kinateder as its new president and CEO, effective October 7.

Kinateder previously served as the executive director of economic development for the city of Schertz where he was directly involved in attracting and facilitating a variety of projects.

The MED Board of Directors formally announced Kinateder's selection to the Midlothian City Council on September 10.

Kinateder also was an economic development analyst at Schertz and vice president of business recruitment for the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.
Gutierrez to head Brownsville's new engineering, public works department
Armando Gutierrez
Brownsville City Manager Noel Bernal announced on September 18 the selection of Armando Gutierrez Jr. to the position of engineering and public works director, effective September 23.

Gutierrez will oversee the city's newly combined Engineering & Public Works Department to implement systems, operational plans, and policies to improve city services. The department will aim to execute capital projects for improvements to city infrastructure, with an emphasis on streets and drainage.

Gutierrez most recently served as director of public works for the city of Port Arthur. He has more than 30 years of experience in engineering, public works, project management, utilities, and various aspects of development.
Teague EDC taps Lewis as director
Betty Hutto Lewis
The Teague Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board of director named Betty Hutto Lewis as its new executive director last week.

Lewis has a background in marketing, but she will undergo training in November to prepare her for her new position.

She replaces former Teague EDC executive director Bill Elliott.


GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced these appointments/reappointments from September 13-19:
  • Eddie Jessie - Houston, Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners
  • Jennifer Clark - Iola, Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners (reappointed)
  • Todd Novosad - Austin, Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners (reappointed)
  • Elaine Robertson - Katy, Governing Board of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
  • Beth Jones - Anna, Governing Board of the TSBVI
  • Bruce "Lee" Sonnenberg - Lubbock, Governing Board of the TSBVI (reappointed)
  • Cassie Campbell - Salado, Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services
  • Jorie Klein - Dallas, Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services
  • Lucille Maes - Angleton, Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services
  • Dudley Wait - Schertz, Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services
  • Mark Haby - Castroville, District Attorney for 38th Judicial District
  • Lindsey Wynne - McKinney, Judge of 468th Judicial District Court
  • Tom Nowak - McKinney, Judge of the 366th Judicial District Court 
  • Sue De Villez - Georgetown, Texas Commission on Fire Protection
  • Paul Hamilton - Amarillo, Texas Commission on Fire Protection
  • Kelly Vandygriff - Abernathy, Texas Commission on Fire Protection
  • Rusty Wilson - Katy, Texas Commission on Fire Protection
  • Sara Oates - Austin, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board
  • Stephanie Robinson - McKinney, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board
  • Lisa Sprinkle - El Paso, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board
RECENT REPORTS & DATA
Legislative Budget Board - Updated 2018-19 Base and 2020-21 Appropriations Tables

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Adult and Juvenile Correctional Populations: Monthly Report


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - National Water Reuse Action Plan - Draft
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 Legislative Council - Research Specialist/Bill Analysis Reviewer
  • Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company - CPA - Compliance Manager - Compliance Analyst IV
  • Public Utility Commission of Texas - Cyber Security Analyst


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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