Volume 19, Issue 2 - January 8, 2021
A judge’s recent ruling in an election misconduct case in favor of Dallas College will allow the institution to resume planning for $1.1 billion in bond projects.

In May 2019, voters approved the bond for the then-Dallas Community College District to expand and renovate facilities at its multiple campuses. Since then, the institution reorganized into Dallas College.

Dallas College will be seeking general contractors for expansions and renovations to facilities at its various campuses as well as construction of several new buildings.

Some of the projects in the first phase of the bond program are construction of a $62.4 million Student Success and Academic Building at the college’s Eastfield campus, a $20.6 million Nursing and Allied Health Building and $24.3 million Early College High School Building at its Mountain View campus, and a $52.9 million Early College High School Workforce – East building at its Richland campus.

Plans are in the design phase for more than $31.1 million in renovations to the Early College High School at the Brookhaven campus and $25.7 million in renovations to Building E at the Early College High School at the Cedar Valley campus.
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the new Airport Coronavirus Response Grant Program, which will distribute $2 billion in economic relief to U.S. airports.

The funding is authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act.

FAA officials will make grants to all eligible airports that are part of the national airport system, including all commercial service airports, all reliever airports, and some public-owned general aviation airports.

Under this new program:
  • Primary commercial service airports (more than 10,000 annual passenger boardings) will share $1.75 billion based on the number of annual boardings, in a similar way to how they receive Airport Improvement Program (AIP) entitlement funds. 
  • Primary commercial service airports will share an additional $200 million based on the number of annual boardings, and these funds will then be available for these airports to provide relief from rent and minimum annual guarantees to on-airport car rental, on-airport parking, and in-terminal airport concessions. 
  • Non-primary commercial service and general aviation airports will share $45 million based on their airport categories, such as national, regional, local, and basic. Of that $45 million, airports that participate in the FAA Contract Tower Program will divide $5 million equally. 

The FAA will release allocation amounts under each formula when they are finalized.
A request for expressions of interest (RFEI) has been released for the redevelopment of property in the Lake Arlington/Berry/Stalcup Urban Village, which is in Historic Stop Six.

The RFEI calls for developers to submit their ideas for how the nearly 4-acre site owned by the Fort Worth Local Development Corporation may be redeveloped into a mixed-use concept, inspired by the history of the area and prior site plans, while embracing current market opportunities. Construction is expected to be underway within the next three years.

In April 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Fort Worth a $35 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant to encourage redevelopment of the area.

Responses to the RFEI are due by 5 p.m. on February 19.
A presidential permit has been issued for the expansion of the Pharr International Bridge that amends the current permit to allow for the construction of another bridge at Pharr’s international port of entry.

This second bridge will allow Pharr to build additional lanes to completely separate trucks and cars and dedicate specific lanes for empty, full cargo, certified cargo, and passenger vehicles, thereby adding capacity and reducing wait times.

With this permit, Pharr will now have an official gate-to-gate Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane, or set of FAST lanes, from Mexico to the U.S.

City leaders and staff, consulting engineers, and other stakeholders worked with U.S. and Mexican officials to fast-track the permit amendment application and earn approval three months after it was submitted on September 30, 2020.
Jacqueline Yaft, Chief Executive Officer
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Career highlights and education: I have a bachelor of science and a Master of Business Administration in aviation management. My work experience spans over 25 years at some of the most remarkable airports, like John F. Kennedy International Airport, Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and now Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).

What I like best about public service: Maintaining the city’s airport while working on growing its infrastructure, protecting the environment, strengthening the economy, and ensuring access to the world while working with other city departments, private entities, airlines, federal agencies, and other stakeholders is the best combination of a great job. Airports like AUS are special in their own way — being a city within a city by managing operations, maintenance, business development, planning and engineering, finance, marketing, and customer service. It is an honor and total joy to be among a great team working together to deliver the best airport experience a customer can have the AUS way.

The best advice I’ve received is: My father taught me as I was growing up to always do my best. “Anywhere you are and wherever you find yourself, either at work or in your personal life, give it all you got and do the very best you can do.” Give it all you got. People will respect you, notice you and more doors will open up for you eventually. But the most important thing is that you will feel better about yourself, and as a leader today, I would ask my team to do the same. Hard work leads to success in every aspect — physical, mental, and spiritual. It is impossible to give it all you’ve got and fail. No matter what you do, give it everything you have.

My favorite way to destress is: I love to listen to music and take long walks. I find that music has a profound effect on my emotions and mind. Music uplifts my spirit and gets me to think beyond my stresses. I also like long walks by the beach but just walking anywhere outside gives me the opportunity to rethink and evaluate my priorities and put things in perspective.

People might be surprised to know that I: Grew up in Egypt and moved to the United States during my senior year of high school. That move taught me a lot about myself, my parents’ strength and determination to build a family, and the fascinating abilities of human beings to cope with changing environments.

One thing you wish more people knew about AUS is: AUS is a unique airport that offers a true flavor if its hometown. Last year, we served 1,603,602 tacos and 39.9 tons of brisket. AUS has the potential to grow to a large hub airport. Our master plan shows AUS growing to a layout similar to Denver International Airport or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Dallas County is one of the highest risk counties in the country for natural hazards, as identified in the National Risk Index (NRI).

The new, online mapping application from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a dataset and an application that leverage available source data for 18 natural hazards, social vulnerability, and community resilience to develop a baseline relative risk measurement for each U.S. county and Census tract. FEMA used 2016 population numbers for the risk index.

Dallas County’s population of almost 2.37 million was one of a handful of counties across the country to have an index of very high, scoring 99.75 in the national percentile. Its residents were at very high risk to hail, lightning, and riverine flooding and relatively high risk to drought, heat wave, ice storm, strong wind, tornado, and winter weather.

Harris County’s 4.1 million residents were at a very high risk to lightning and riverine flooding and relatively high risk to hail, heat wave, hurricane, strong wind, and winter weather.

Tarrant County’s population of 1.81 million was at very high risk to hail and relatively high risk to heat wave, ice storm, lightning, riverine flooding, and tornado.

The more than 1.71 million residents of Bexar County were at very high risk to hail, ice storm, and riverine flooding and relatively high risk to hurricane, lightning, strong wind, and winter weather.

The NRI is designed to help users better understand the natural hazard risk of their communities or assigned areas. Intended users include planners and emergency managers at the local, regional, state, and federal levels, as well as other decision makers and members of the public.
The North Texas Municipal Water District is planning more than $570 million in projects for its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 all systems budget.

Some projects for the budget year involve up to $25 million for a Systemwide Meter Vault Improvements - Setpoint Control Phase V project that includes a new control valve, flow meter, vault, and electrical upgrades.

An additional $26 million to $50 million will be spent on a new 50 million gallons per day (MGD) pump station and 10 MGD ground storage tank for the Frisco-McKinney system.

Other projects between $26 million and $50 million include improvements for phased transition of each of the four Wylie water treatment plants to biologically active filtration (BAF), new peak flow basin and new influent lift station to manage 41 MGD annual average daily flow, and the construction of a 10,500 linear feet gravity tunnel interceptor with deep elevations between the Buffalo Creek Lift Station and the South Mesquite Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.
A critical tool developed by federal agencies for analyzing flood risk has received important enhancements for Texas as a result of state and federal cooperation.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has partnered with the federal Interagency Flood Risk Management (InFRM) team, composed of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Weather Service, to enhance the Flood Decision Support Toolbox.

The interactive online application provides maps and data regarding the possible extent of flooding and may be used for analyzing potential scenarios, flood risk assessments, damage analysis, and more.

For the first phase of site enhancements that launched, the TWDB worked closely with the USGS to incorporate building footprints on Texas maps. By adding this information, the Toolbox can now display potential damage to structures within the range of the USGS gauges. This will give users the ability to estimate the economic impacts of different flood events on their communities. The TWDB has provided building footprints outside of the current gauge ranges in preparation for future mapping updates.

The site displays flood scenarios that range from minor to major flood events. Phase one updates allow users to save and share inundation maps with different data layers through a unique address.
A city of Dallas project is one of 10 advanced intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies initiatives that will benefit from $49.6 million in Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) federal grants.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded Dallas’ S.M. Wright Smart Corridor project an ATCMTD grant of $4 million to improve mobility and safety as well as support vehicle connectivity.

The new S.M. Wright Parkway will feature enhanced community gateways to help promote neighborhood identity and local connections, while also helping spur community investment, development, and rejuvenation. The S.M. Wright Phase II project is $79 million and is scheduled for completion in fall 2023.

ATCMTD was established under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. State departments of transportation, local governments, transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and other eligible entities were invited to apply under the program. FHWA evaluated 46 applications requesting more than $205 million.
Hays County officials are working with a newly formed advisory commission and planning to hire a consultant to review and prioritize projects from the county’s successful $75 million parks and open space bond in November 2020.

The first Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission, which formed prior to the proposition passing, recommended several capital projects. Those projects will be ranked at a participation level to be determined by the Commissioners Court. 

The county plans to hire the consultant in February to provide program management and financial services.
The city of Dripping Springs will develop a master park plan for 300 acres of donated land valued at $5.7 million and to be used for public parkland.

By dedicating the land near the Headwaters subdivision as Rathgeber Natural Resource Park, the city will protect Texas Hill Country land and the convergence zones of Barton Creek and Little Barton Creek.

Dripping Springs’ parks director said the city will apply four guiding principles of protecting and improving water quality, fostering nature education, implementing conservation efforts including a long-term land management plan, and ensuring responsible outdoor recreation.

City officials anticipate the development of the master plan and the creation of the park will take two to four years to complete. Partial funding is expected to come from the Hays County Parks and Open Spaces $75 million bond.
The city of Rosenberg will prepare a request for qualifications (RFQ) to procure architectural design services for the proposed Seabourne Creek Park Nature Center after councilmembers approved a budget amendment on January 5.

Rosenberg councilmembers authorized spending $385,000 from the city’s Parkland Dedication Fund to procure design services. The city’s Professional Services/Engineering Project Review Committee will review statements of qualifications and make a recommendation to the City Council at a date to be determined.

Some of the amenities under consideration are educational and office spaces, classroom, native plants, a pavilion, and solar roof panels. The 164-acre Nature Park features walking, jogging, and biking trails, wetlands, prairie restoration area, butterfly garden, and a 4-acre lake.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson named Trey Bowles and Mandy Price as co-chairs of a new task force that will make recommendations with the intent to attract startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

The Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship will focus on what the city of Dallas can do to attract, retain, and support startup companies. The group will explore the actions that other governmental agencies, higher education institutions, and private sector partners can take to improve the city’s burgeoning startup.
Bowles is the co-founder and executive chairman of the DEC Network (formerly the Dallas Entrepreneur Center).
Price is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Dallas-based Kanarys, Inc. Before that, she was a law firm partner.
Jim Wright was sworn in as a new commissioner on the Railroad Commission of Texas on January 4. Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission in November 2020. 

In his professional career, he created a group of environmental services companies that support the energy industry. 
The city of Houston named Veronica Davis as director of transportation and drainage operations. 

Davis has nearly 20 years of experience in engineering and transportation planning. As an entrepreneur and civil engineer, she co-founded a firm that manages community, multimodal transportation, and environmental planning and consulting. 
The city of Austin has appointed Shannon Jones III as interim assistant city manager for health and environment as well as culture and lifelong learning on January 4. He took over for former Assistant City Manager Chris Shorter who accepted a position as city administrator for Baltimore. 

Jones served as the director of Austin Public Health for two years before retiring from the city of Austin in 2017. 

The recruitment for the new permanent assistant city manager will begin by January 15.
The city of San Marcos selected Marie Kalka as its new director of finance, effective January 19. She will succeed Heather Holbert who accepted as finance director for the city of Corpus Christi. 

Kalka most recently served as finance director for the city of Delray Beach, Florida. Prior to that, she accumulated 29 years of government finance experience in Florida, Texas, and New York. 
The University of Houston (UH) System named Loren James Blanchard as the sole finalist for president of the UH-Downtown campus. If approved, he will take over for Interim President Antonio Tillis. 

Blanchard serves as executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at California State University. Prior to that, he was provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Xavier University in Louisiana and associate vice chancellor for academic and multicultural affairs at the LSU Health Sciences Center – New Orleans. 

If he is approved as UH-Downtown president, Blanchard is scheduled to take office March 15. 
The city of San Antonio named David Robbins as assistant director-chief development officer for the San Antonio International Airport and Stinson Municipal Airport, effective January 19. 

Robbins most recently served as projects administrator for the city of Chicago Department of Aviation. Before that, he was a department manager for Wayne County Department of Public Works Parks Division in Michigan. 
Galveston ISD trustees named Dr. Jerry Gibson as the district’s new superintendent. He will succeed Dr. Kelli Moulton who will retire on January 29. 

Gibson most recently served as superintendent of Marshall ISD. Before that, he was superintendent at Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD and executive director of secondary education at Waco ISD. 

His first day with Galveston ISD will be on or around February 1. 
The city of Mercedes promoted Jose Macias to police chief. He had been serving in an interim capacity after former Chief Dagoberto Chavez resigned in December. 

Macias joined the department as assistant police chief. He has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement at Mission and Sharyland police departments. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from January 1-7:

Judicial Compensation Commission
Cindy Olson Bourland - Round Rock

Commission on Jail Standards 
Bryan Weatherford - Woodville

Nueces River Authority
Board of Directors 
Stacy Meuth - Floresville

Trinity River Authority
Board of Directors 
Kathy Sanders - Athens

San Jacinto River Authority
Board of Directors 
Wil Faubel - Montgomery
Rick Mora - The Woodlands
Kaaren Cambio - Kingwood

Texas Commission on the Arts 
Patty Nuss - Corpus Christi

Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists 
LaFawn Thompson - New Braunfels

Veterans Land Board 
Grant Moody - San Antonio (reappointed)

Deputy Adjutant General for Air 
Brig. Gen. Thomas Suelzer - Keller
Texas House Research Organization – Topics for the 87th Legislature

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Southwest Economy, Fourth Quarter 2020
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:

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Deputy Director (Director I)

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Grant Manager (Grant Coordinator I)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Loan Servicing Coordinator

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Subrecipient Monitor

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – SFS Security Analyst

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Bridge Geotechnical Branch Manager

  • Alamo Area Council of Governments – Chief Financial Officer
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