Volume 19, Issue 1 - January 1, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Law enforcement officials throughout the country will be front and center in 2021 as large projects are launched.

City officials and county commissioners, in an effort to provide better citizen services, including public safety, are announcing project plans for every type. Opportunities will be abundant for companies providing architectural, renovation, and construction services. Specialized subcontracting firms will benefit from the increase in procurements as well.

Additionally, there will be high demand for companies that provide engineering, technology, security, landscaping, and all types of equipment. Many developers will find opportunities to engage with public officials as courthouses and law enforcement agencies are moved on to campuses designed for retail and various types of private sector amenities.

The following opportunities are typical of what may be found in almost any state. Most are ‘at the ready’ for launch, so interested contractors are advised to get involved soon.

Pennsylvania
Montgomery County officials have announced the start of a major project early in 2021. A new $430 million modern Montco Justice Center is planned. The project will more than double the size of the existing county courthouse as well as completely renovate the current facility. Because of the size and complexity of the project, construction will be phased over five years and multiple construction packages are planned.

The omnibus funding bill signed into law on December 27 authorized 20 water infrastructure projects in Texas under the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020.

Authorization of the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Improvement Project will bolster efforts to expand the port.

As the local sponsor of this federal waterway, Port Houston is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as well as private industry on a plan to expand the channel at an accelerated pace.

The Houston Ship Channel expansion – Project 11 – will widen the channel by 170 feet along its Galveston Bay reach, from 530 feet to 700 feet, and it will deepen upstream segments to 45 feet, make other safety and efficiency improvements, and craft new environmental features.

Port officials said they anticipate beginning work on this project in early 2021. Once the WRDA is enacted, the next step in the project delivery process will be to secure a New Start designation from the Administration and discretionary funding from USACE.

In addition, the legislation authorized the:
  • Jefferson County ecosystem restoration project. 
  • Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Brazos River Floodgates, and Colorado River Locks navigation project. 
  • Matagorda Ship Channel Improvement Project in Port Lavaca. 
  • Chacon Creek flood risk management project. 
  • Feasibility studies for flood risk management projects for Port Arthur and Orange County, Chocolate Bayou, and Port of Victoria. 
  • Project modifications for the Houston-Galveston Navigation Channels and Port of Corpus Christi Channel Improvement projects. 
  • Expedition of studies for the Buffalo Bayou, Lake Whitney Reallocation, Aquilla Lake Reallocation, and Lower Rio Grande River projects 

The WRDA requires the Secretary of the Army to provide a status update on efforts to address flooding at Wilson and Sloan creeks in Fairview, and it directs the USACE to assist El Paso County with a proposal to modify the authorized funding level for a water related infrastructure project.

In addition, the new law directed the Corps to identify specific engineering and maintenance deficiencies for levees across Texas and reauthorized the Rio Grande Environmental Management Program in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado through 2029.
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (CFISD) has several capital project procurements scheduled for early 2021 stemming from its successful $1.76 billion bond in 2019.

District trustees reviewed the final designs at their December 14 meeting for CFISD’s new $65.9 million administration building and $46.6 million visual and performing arts center.

The districtwide performing arts center is anticipated to open in August 2022 with a seating capacity of 1,500 split between a two-balcony auditorium and 200-seat theater. Other amenities will include a dance studio, visual arts room, and office spaces.

CFISD’s plans for a new administration building feature a boardroom, conference center, and work spaces for 700 employees in a 221,000-square-foot structure.

As these two facilities will be on the same site next to Cy-Fair High School, the district is planning to issue one request for proposals (RFP) in February 2021 for both projects.

Another RFP scheduled for February will solicit construction services for Elementary School No. 57, which is slated to be complete by June 2022. The 120,000-square-foot two-story school will have a 1,092-student capacity.

CFISD plans to issue an RFP on January 14, 2021 for renovations to Rennell Elementary School and an addition to the Westgreen Agricultural Center. Those projects are scheduled for completion in August 2021.

Other procurements in January include a RFP for an addition to the district’s exhibit center and renovations to the Burns Science Resource Center, both of which are set for completion in December 2021. The RFP includes renovations to Adam Elementary School, which are expected to be complete by August 2021.
The University of Texas (UT) System is seeking architectural and engineering services for the design of an ambulatory surgical and cancer center at the UT Health Rio Grande Valley (RGV) campus.

Preliminary plans call for a 97,720-square-foot two-story facility on 39.35 acres in McAllen. Construction costs will be limited to $51 million.

Approval of design documents is scheduled for October 2021, and construction is expected to be complete by August 2023.

The UTRGV School of Medicine has more than 200 medical students and 200 medical residents and fellows serving in 13 hospital-based training programs across the Rio Grande Valley, with more training programs on the horizon.
Guy Walsh, Executive Director
National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC)
at The University of Texas at San Antonio
Career highlights and education: As a first generation to attend college, I was fortunate to receive an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. After serving our nation for over 30 years in uniform and nearly a decade as a civilian establishing U.S. Cyber Command, I’m proud to represent Texas as a member of the San Antonio community serving with The University of Texas at San Antonio National Security Collaboration Center.

What I like best about public service: Serving alongside so many colleagues and public leaders who choose “Service before self” is an eye-opening life lesson … not only serving in uniform and in combat with dedicated men and women putting personal safety and life on the line every day, but also seeing parallel levels of passion and determination to create positive outcomes across federal, state, industry and international communities.

Best advice I received: As a young pilot flying in Europe, I had missed a target on a training mission and displayed my anger and frustration. The Vietnam combat veteran instructor in the back seat of our F4 Phantom took the airplane, rolled it upside down over the city of Manchester, England, and calmly told me “If there is anyone down there you would change places with, you should find a new career NOW.”  For my next 28 years, I challenged myself with that same question every time I flew a mission. Looking across the horizon through a canopy while flying combat aircraft, I realized how fortunate and proud I was to serve as an airman in our U.S. military.

My best advice to someone new in government: As we enter 2021 and in recognition of a model government servant leader, I share this quote by World War II veteran and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz;
“Trust is fundamental, reciprocal and, ideally, pervasive. If it is present, anything is possible. If it is absent, nothing is possible. The best leaders trust their followers …and their followers trust them back. With that bond, they can do big, hard things together, changing the world for the better.”  
Timely and impactful advice from a dedicated public servant who celebrated his 100th birthday last month.

What do you do to destress? New to Texas in 2019, my wife Ann and I became members of the Texas State Park System and use our pass on weekends making day trips to explore the beauty of Texas. Once travel reopens, we will extend our range to visit every state park while exploring Texas towns and the communities.

People might be surprised to know that I: Work at home and travel restrictions presented an opportunity to stimulate the brain and challenge myself by traveling back to the future with an amazing guitar teacher in Maryland and taking virtual lessons to elevate my mediocre skills as a rhythm guitarist. At best, I have risen to the level of mediocre lead guitarist seeking to achieve the level of Master Zen Guitarist … or maybe just have some fun.

One thing I wish more people knew about the National Security Collaboration Center is: The NSCC is an ecosystem comprised of many federal, state, industry and Academic partners. Together, we will propel San Antonio and the great state of Texas as the nation’s premier supplier of a cyber-ready workforce and creating innovative solutions addressing national security challenges and opportunities. At the forefront of innovation and research, the NSCC is proud to partner with Port San Antonio, the city of San Antonio, and our military partners from Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) in technology growth areas, such as, 5G communication, telehealth and telemedicine, electromagnetic defenses, and artificial intelligence.
The city of Austin anticipates advertising for competitive sealed proposals (CSPs) in April 2021 to construct the Creek Delta Link trail in the Waller Creek District. Estimated project cost is $46 million.

The trail will be located on both banks of Waller Creek from Lady Bird Lake to 4th St. and will be approximately 1 mile in total length.

Amenities will include top of bank trails, creek level elevated walkways, and three new pedestrian bridges. Eleven new trail connections to adjacent rights of way are proposed. The creek will be reconstructed to stabilize the severely eroded slopes and restore the riparian zone and ecosystem.

A public-private partnership with the Waterloo Greenway Conservancy is in place with the conservancy acting as managing party.
The city of Dallas anticipates issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) in the first quarter of 2021 for the McKinney Avenue/Cole Avenue Two-way Conversion project.

Total estimated cost for the design-build project is $21.1 million to convert 4.5 miles of roadway from one-way to two-way traffic.

Roads that will be under construction are:
  • McKinney Avenue from Allen Street to Harvard Avenue. 
  • Harvard Avenue from McKinney Avenue to Cole Avenue. 
  • Cole Avenue from Harvard Avenue to Carlisle Street. 
  • Carlisle Street from Cole Avenue to Allen Street. 
  • Allen Street from Carlisle Street to McKinney Avenue. 

Additional work will involve replacing existing signs, markings, and traffic signals for two-way operation. Pedestrian improvements will be made to sidewalks, ramps, lighting, refuge islands at intersections, enhanced painted crosswalks, and new flashing beacons at selected midblock crosswalks.

Trolley operations will be relocated at Cole Avenue from Blackburn Street to Lemmon Avenue and Allen Street from Cole Avenue to McKinney Avenue.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is conducting an extension feasibility study for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) trolley, but the city’s proposed concepts for this project do not preclude MATA’s potential streetcar extensions.

City officials anticipate awarding the design-build contract in August 2021, starting construction in May 2022, and completing the contract in December 2023.
The Great Springs Project, a proposed trail network that would link Austin and San Antonio, has secured a commitment from the National Parks Service (NPS) for community planning and technical assistance.

Supported with resources from the NPS’ Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, project organizers plan to connect Barton Springs in Austin, San Marcos Springs, Comal Springs, and San Antonio Springs.

In addition, the project aims to add 50,000 acres of protected lands over the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones to shield aquatic and non-aquatic endangered species, improve water quality, and serve as an economic development catalyst.

The southeast portion of the proposed trail would hug Interstate 35 to the west and its northwest boundary approaches Barton Creek, Onion Creek, and the Blanco River.

Currently in the design phase, the project’s timeline anticipates the planning phase to conclude in 2021.
The city of Laredo is studying potential sites for a proposed municipal water park in the southern area of the city to address a decades-old request from residents for such an amenity.

One possible location is near the city’s future sports complex set to be built on 125 acres near Cuatro Vientos Boulevard and La Pita Mangana Road. Earlier in 2020, the city considered a location adjacent to the Uni-Trade Stadium and contracted an architect to design the water park.

Estimated cost of the water park is $13.75 million. The city previously issued two requests for proposals (RFPs), but did not award a contract. In addition, Laredo conducted a feasibility study in 2009.
The city of Longview has scheduled a pre-bid meeting for 2 p.m. on January 13 for construction services for improvements to Broughton Recreation Center and the adjoining city park.

This project includes building construction for a new gym of about 29,000 square feet, remodeling of existing recreation center flooring, and improving exterior front facade, ceiling, library, and lobby area and wall space.

Additionally, the project includes construction of a new expanded parking lot and resurfacing of existing parking lot and basketball court.

Park improvements will include an expanded splash pad with added water features, new walking trail, and a new decorative promenade space.

Estimated project cost is $4 million.
Data from the 2020 U.S. Census ranked Fulshear as the fastest-growing municipality in Texas for the second consecutive year based on the city’s 1,332 percent population growth from 2019.

Fulshear claimed 1,134 residents in 2010. Now at a population of 16,000, according to Census data in the 2019 American Community Survey, the city west of Houston is surging.

Fulshear’s website states the city has the highest per capita income and educational attainment in the area. Census data show 98.2 percent of its residents are high school graduates or higher, and 68.5 percent of the community has earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Local leaders attribute the growth to several factors including new highway construction, developments shaped by detailed codes and ordinances, and a top-ranked school district.

Texas’ population climbed 15.3 percent from almost 25.15 million in April 2010 to nearly 29 million in July 2019. California led states in population with more than 39.51 million residents, followed by Texas, Florida with 21.48 million, and New York with 19.45 million.
Brandon Batch of Midland has been appointed by the governor to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs board.

Batch is a business development manager who works to acquire mineral and royalty interests. He previously served as partner and general manager for a restaurant he co-founded in Austin along with his brother. Having previously worked as a Congressional staff member, Batch is a former Foreign Policy Fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.
The city of Duncanville selected Aretha Ferrell-Benavides as its new city manager, effective February 22. She will succeed City Manager Kevin Hugman who retired in June.

Ferrell-Benavides previously served as deputy Secretary of the State for the District of Columbia in addition to several positions with the district, assistant county administrator for Los Alamos County, New Mexico, and assistant to the city manager for the city of Sunnyvale, California.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Jesse McClure III of Kingwood as a judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

McClure has served as judge of the 339th Judicial District Court in Harris County since November 2019. He previously served as a prosecutor for the Texas Department of Insurance, assigned to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as a special assistant district attorney. Prior to that, he was an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security and an assistant district attorney for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) promoted Ron Zilkha to assistant chief of innovation and application services within the information technology division. 

Zilkha most recently served as enterprise data officer for DPS. Prior to that, he was the department’s director of IT Performance Management and worked in the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System group at Texas Health and Human Services. 
Dr. Lane Ledbetter will take the reins as Carroll ISD’s new superintendent in January. He will replace Dr. David Faltys who retired in December. 

Ledbetter most recently served as superintendent at Midlothian ISD. Before that, he was superintendent at Graham ISD. 
The city of Dallas named Eddie Garcia as its new police chief, effective February 3. He will succeed Renee Hall who announced her resignation in September. 

Garcia most recently served as chief of the San Jose Police Department where he began in 1992 and worked in patrol, narcotics, special operations, community services, and the Special Investigations Unit. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from December 18-31:

Texas State Board of
Public Accountancy 
Jill Holup - Austin

Texas State Board of Social
Worker Examiners 
Asia Rodgers - Fort Worth
Dolores Saenz-Davila - McAllen
Brian Brumley - Sumner (chair)

Texas State Board of
Examiners of Psychologists
Jamie Becker - Plano
Jeanette Deas Calhoun - Tyler
Sangeeta Singg - San Angelo
John Bielamowicz - Waxahachie (chair)

Task Force on Disaster Issues Affecting Persons Who Are Elderly and Persons Who Are Disabled
R. Jack Cagle - Spring

First Court of Appeals Judge 
April Farris - Houston

Eighth Court of Appeals Judge 
Jeff Alley - El Paso

Fourteenth Court of Appeals Judge 
Randy Wilson - Houston

358th Judicial District Court Judge 
John Shrode - Odessa

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Texas Economic Indicators

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Texas Employment Forecast

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 Transportation – Chief Financial Officer

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Economic Development Finance Specialist IV

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Economic Development Finance Specialist III

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Budget Data Analyst

  • Texas State Securities Board – Programmer II

  • Texas Water Development Board – Contract Administration Manager I

  • Texas Water Development Board – Data Warehouse Architect (Data Architect I)

  • Texas Water Development Board – Network Specialist V

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Assistant General Counsel

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – CAPPS Administrative Assistant

  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – Program Specialist V
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