Volume 19, Issue 51 - December 31, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
Firefighters are heroes in our communities, and public safety is top of mind for first responders and citizens as well. Now, for the first time in many years, local governments have new funding for public safety facilities. Hundreds of projects for new or significantly upgraded and modernized fire stations are either in planning phases or on launch pads throughout the country.

In the city of Boise, two different fire station projects are planned — and both efforts are designed for private-sector development partners. The first project involves rebuilding Boise’s oldest operating facility — Fire Station No. 5. The city’s fiscal budget for 2022 authorizes $2 million for planning and design work, and a contract for the construction phase will follow. The total project, including planning and design, carries an anticipated cost of $12.5 million.

The Texas Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments at a January 11, 2022, rehearing in a case critical to the fate of Texas Central Railroad’s proposed high-speed rail line from Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston.

In an amicus brief filed December 17, the Texas Attorney General’s Office opposed the project, reasoning that the private developer is not a railroad company and thus does not have the legal authority to exercise eminent domain to acquire land for the rail route.

The project has garnered the support of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as well as transportation authorities and politicians across the state, including Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and Houston Metro that both filed briefs with the Supreme Court backing the rail line.

Texas Central is incorporated as a railroad with the Texas Secretary of State, and the FRA has been working through the regulatory approvals and permitting process for the project since 2014.

On May 7, 2020, the Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas ruled in favor of Texas Central, holding that it was both a railroad company and interurban electric railway.

The project, which is a private investment venture with Central Japan Railway Company (JRC) and Japan Bank of International Cooperation, plans to use JRC’s Series N700 Tokaido Shinkansen bullet-train technology serving up to 400 passengers in an eight-car train.

Operating from Houston to Dallas with one stop in the Brazos Valley, the proposed system will travel on dedicated track, with no grade crossings, at speeds not to exceed 205 mph. It will be used exclusively for revenue passenger service.

According to Texas Central Railroad’s website, commercial operations are scheduled to begin in 2026.
Under a new partnership, the city of Waco and Baylor University will build a new $185 million Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion multi-purpose facility.

The new home for Baylor’s championship men’s and women’s basketball teams will be located along the Brazos River on the west side of Interstate 35 adjacent to the university’s Clifton Robinson Tower, which will remain.

It is part of a projected $700 million in upcoming investments along the riverfront on University Parks Drive, from I-35 to Franklin Avenue.

The project scope of the Foster Pavilion will include:
  • A 245,000-square-foot facility. 
  • Seating for 7,000 fans, with additional standing-room-only areas for approximately 500 spectators. 
  • Two separate premium club spaces at a combined 8,500 square feet. 
  • Two 2,000-square-foot video end boards. 
  • Visiting locker rooms with the flexibility to accommodate two to four teams. 
  • Enhancements to support additional events, such as concerts, performances, and public events.  

A Development Center for Baylor women’s and men’s basketball teams will include a private entrance and elevator, separate practice courts, dedicated locker rooms and team lounges, offices for each coach and administration and shared sports performance-related spaces, including strength and conditioning, athletic training/treatment, hydrotherapy, nutrition, and more.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city and Baylor are to negotiate and execute a facility use agreement providing 90 calendar days to the city for concerts, performances, and other public events.

Construction on the Foster Pavilion is expected to begin in June 2022 with an early opening of the pavilion targeted for January 2024. The Development Center’s opening is anticipated in April 2024.
The city of Houston issued a request for information (RFI) to find a cooperative solution in expanding digital connectivity and digital equity in certain areas of the city, including Kashmere Gardens, Gulfton, and Acres Home.

These communities and their respective municipal parks shall serve as the initial target areas. These areas represent neighborhoods that have been historically underserved with regards to affordable broadband and digital connectivity opportunities within homes and public areas.

The goal of digital equity is for individuals and communities to have the information technology capacity for full inclusion in activities such as civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.

Input from this RFI will help city officials determine the needs of the target communities prior to expanding to additional Houston neighborhoods and municipal parks.

The ultimate objective is to create a design and implementation solution, in

conjunction with the city of Houston’s in-progress Digital Equity Master Plan, to meet the current and future technological needs for increased digital equity for all Houston communities, as well as expand capabilities for patron amenities in municipal parks, city departmental operational support, and Houston-area emergency response capabilities.

RFI submissions are due by January 31, 2022.
JR DeShazo
Dean
LBJ School of Public Affairs
at The University of Texas-Austin (UT Austin)
Public career and education highlights: Certainly, my greatest career accomplishment is serving as Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. I’m also proud of being named the first Rhodes Scholar at the College of William & Mary. As the oldest of seven children in a rural working-class family, I entered higher education unsure that I could pay for college. Prior to starting as dean, I founded one of the nation’s leading environmental policy research centers that supports state and local policy development. A highlight was contributing to the research team that won a $7.5 million prize for turning waste carbon from coal-fired power plants into concrete. 

What I like best about my public service is: Everyone can learn to serve in different ways. But what I like most: only through public service can we strengthen our community, country and our democracy. In this way, we serve not only ourselves but also future generations.

The best advice I’ve received is: My high school track coach, Melvin Jones, taught me how to show up for myself when things got really difficult, like on the last lap of a mile race. It was a life lesson that would prove useful when I doubted myself as a student at Oxford and Harvard. Coach Jones also became a role model of public service as he coached many minority students. He encouraged all of his athletes to go to college. He expected every one of us make the most of the talents God had given us. 

My favorite way to de-stress is: Naps, meditation, and high-intensity training workouts.  

People might be surprised to know that I: Engaged in policy research in Romania, Thailand, Guatemala, and the Palestinian Territories while I was a graduate student.

One thing I wished more people knew about the LBJ School of Public Affairs is: We can go head-to-head with the best policy schools in the country, especially in the areas of national security, environmental policy, development and aid delivery, and nonprofit leadership. 
Texas airports are in line to receive more than $241.58 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through its distribution of the $2.89 billion made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

These 139 Texas airports may invest the money in runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections, and roadway upgrades.

Airports in the state that are set to receive the most grant funding in this first phase are:
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International - $63.88 million. 
  • George Bush Intercontinental - $40.16 million. 
  • Austin-Bergstrom International - $17.31 million. 
  • Dallas Love Field - $16.35 million. 
  • William P. Hobby - $14.68 million. 
  • San Antonio International - $11.7 million. 
  • El Paso International - $6.21 million. 
  • Midland International Air and Space Port - $4.04 million. 

Overall, the money will go to 3,075 airports around the country from the Airport Infrastructure Grant program, one of three new aviation programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law will provide $15 billion over five years for this program. The FAA estimates the backlog of airport modernization and safety projects totals $43.6 billion.
Taylor County and the city of Abilene have approved a project to build a data center campus that will invest $2.4 billion in improvements over 20 years on an 800-acre site.

Lancium, a Houston-based energy technology and infrastructure company, will build a large scale, renewable energy powered data center campus that will begin at 200 megawatts with an expansion capacity to over a 1 gigawatt.

Breaking ground in the first quarter of 2022, the Clean Compute Campus will initially contain approximately 100,000 square feet of industrial electric services equipment and data servers.

This new development is expected to solidify the region as a major provider of renewable energy, while simultaneously hosting Bitcoin mining and other energy-intensive applications.
Bidding is expected to open in March 2022 for an estimated $86 million water pipeline project in the city of Pflugerville to meet growing demand from its population.

According to a water supply analysis recently presented to councilmembers, if Pflugerville’s current water system is not upgraded, the city will likely exceed its current firm water supplies in 2025.

Project scope includes a $71 million 42-inch raw water line and a $3.7 million pump station rehabilitation. The city will begin designs in February 2022 followed by a solicitation of a construction manager at risk (CMAR). Construction is scheduled for completion in October 2024.

In addition, Pflugerville is looking further ahead to its water supply in 2039. The city is partnering with the Lower Colorado River Authority, Brazos River Authority, and the city of Round Rock to investigate return flows viability.

This project could offer low-capital cost, reliable, scalable, long-term firm water rights, according to the city’s analysis.
The city of Fort Worth recently acquired more than 275 acres to develop what will become the largest community park in the city’s system.

Rock Creek Ranch Park was acquired for $6.75 million using Community Park Fees, 2018 park land acquisition bond funds, and Open Space funds.

The park is adjacent to the Rocky Creek Ranch development and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) land at Benbrook Lake in the southwest section of the city. Once the park is complete, the only larger parks will be Gateway Park, a metropolitan-classified park, and the Fort Worth Nature Center, a special-use refuge.

The acreage was originally a cattle ranch established in 1848. The property has diverse topography and vegetation and will offer the opportunity for archeological and historical interpretation. It is partially bisected on its western boundary by the Fort Worth and Western Railroad.

Park development and land uses will be determined by a master plan process, which will involve public participation. Forty acres will be preserved as part of the Open Space Conservation Program.

The property may offer opportunities for connectivity to USACE land at Benbrook Lake, access to Farm-to-Market Road 1187, the Tarleton State University campus at Fort Worth, the Chisholm Trail Parkway, and State Highway 377.
The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is commissioning a study to explore new ways to evacuate pedestrians from flooding areas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Focusing on Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron counties, GLO’s Community Development and Revitalization division will determine how low-tide sections of towns in the Valley can evacuate on foot to shelters during high rainfall events and reduce the need for assistance from first responders.

This study is to determine how to make people safe during the short-term when a flash flood hits and how drainage and flood-related infrastructure can be tied into evacuation/pedestrian routes.

GLO officials said 2019 flooding rendered many footpaths in the Valley nonviable, greatly burdening first responders’ ability to help people evacuate in the three counties.

The National Weather Service reported over a foot of rain fell in about six hours on June 24, 2019, including a peak total of more than 15 inches near Santa Rosa, causing hundreds of streets to flood, including 30 Texas-managed highways.

More than 100 people were evacuated to safe high ground from dozens of homes threatened by 2 or more feet of water in several locations in each county.

During the floods, 80 percent of the city of Mission was underwater. This greatly burdened first responders’ ability to help people evacuate. The city and the adjacent towns and communities have many miles of their footprint located within the Rio Grande River’s floodplain.
The city of Granbury’s plans to build a new airport terminal are gaining momentum after the City Council approved an architectural services agreement on December 21.

Project scope includes construction of a new 4,000-square-foot one-story terminal and 49-space parking lot at Granbury Regional Airport.

The terminal will feature a lobby, pilot lounge, rental car center, offices, and conference room, according to project documents presented to councilmembers.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022. The city will decide whether to use a construction manager at risk (CMAR) or design-bid-build process.

Funding will come from the city’s airport project bond funds and the Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Facilities Grant Program.

The project is part of $11.8 million in high priority capital improvements included in the airport’s master plan presented to the City Council in August.

Within the next five years, the city has programmed projects to build a new airport entrance road, extend electric and water utilities to the terminal area, and extend Archer Road to the eastern portion of airport development.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) released a request for information (RFI) for a pharmacy management system.

A solution that can combine price, ease of use, quality of system/service, training, and technology will be ideal for further consideration for use by TTUHSC’s Class A pharmacies in Amarillo and Lubbock.

Some of the desired capabilities include:
  • Telepharmacy.
  • Prescription processing.
  • Patient refill requesting.
  • Mobile Rx pickup.
  • Compounding.
  • Point of sale.
  • Nursing home management.

The deadline for RFI submissions is 4:30 p.m. CST February 1, 2022.
Victoria councilmembers are considering methods for funding an estimated $30 million public safety headquarters that would provide dedicated space for police and fire administration, police operations, and municipal court. 

The police department’s space in City Hall has grown over time to occupy about 75 percent of the building. The Municipal Court holds proceedings in City Council chambers. 

By constructing a new 70,000-square-foot public safety headquarters, the city would be able to relocate off-site departments to the City Hall Complex. Victoria officials are vetting several locations for the proposed headquarters. 

The city is updating a 2018 space analysis to include municipal court operations in a new study and remove lower-priority features such as an indoor shooting range. 

A construction manager at risk (CMAR) delivery method would likely be used to build a headquarters that could feature space for police patrol, records, telecommunications, support services, and evidence storage. 

The new facility would include municipal court chambers, offices, reception, and customer service areas as well as fire department command staff offices and a community room. 

City Manager Jesús Garza said the study should be complete in January, followed by a presentation to councilmembers in February. Victoria will then begin work on its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) at a workshop in March. Garza anticipates finalizing the CIP in May. 

Under a preliminary timeline, the city would budget for design in fiscal year 2023 and construction in fiscal year 2024.  

Councilmembers will determine whether the city issues certificates of obligation or holds a bond election to fund the project. Garza said the city has the debt capacity to issue certificates of obligation in addition to using sales tax revenues and American Rescue Plan Act funds. 
As the country’s population growth slowed to a .1 percent increase in the past year, Texas experienced the largest gain, according to U.S. Census Bureau national and state population estimates and components of change released December 21.

With a population of 29,527,941 in 2021, Texas had the largest annual gain, increasing by 310,288 (1.1%), and highest cumulative numeric gain 382,436 (1.3%) among states and territories.

While gaining population through net international migration (27,185), the growth in Texas in the last year was primarily due to gains from net domestic migration (170,307) and natural increase (113,845).

Between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the nation’s growth was due to natural increase (148,043), which is the number of excess births over deaths, and net international migration (244,622). This is the first time that net international migration (the difference between the number of people moving into the country and out of the country) has exceeded natural increase for a given year.

The South, with a population of 127,225,329, was the most populous of the four regions (encompassing 38.3 percent of the total national population) and was the only region that had positive net domestic migration of 657,682 (the movement of people from one area to another within the U.S.) between 2020 and 2021.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appointed Sergio Contreras, Robert McGee, and Scott Muri to the Broadband Development Office advisory board on December 20.
Contreras of Mission is the president and CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. He previously served as executive director of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation.
McGee of Highland Village is the senior vice president of telecom operations at a specialty contractor firm. He has over 20 years of experience in the broadband industry and is a U.S. Army veteran. 

Muri of Odessa is the superintendent of Ector County ISD. He previously served as the superintendent of Spring Branch ISD and deputy superintendent of schools at Fulton County Schools in Georgia. 

The Broadband Development Office Board of Advisors provides guidance to the office regarding the expansion, adoption, affordability, and use of broadband service and the programs administered by the office. 
The Hutto City Council appointed Isaac Turner as interim city manager, effective January 3, 2022. 

Turner previously served as city manager of Taylor and McKinney. He also managed several cities in Florida and held an executive-level position with the city of Dallas. 
The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) named Paul Cristina as deputy CEO on December 29. 

Cristina joins DCTA as the deputy CEO from BNSF Railway. Before that, he was an aviation practice lead for Texas with a planning and design firm and served in the U.S. Air Force. 
The Cushing ISD board of trustees named Dr. Brandon Enos as the district’s new superintendent. He succeeded former Superintendent Dr. Michael Davis who accepted a position with the Region 7 Education Service Center.

Enos most recently served as assistant superintendent at Goliad ISD. Before that, he was a principal at Kermit High School.
The Lubbock City Council approved Joel Ivy as director of electric utilities of Lubbock Power & Light on December 29. He will succeed Director David McCalla who is retiring.

Ivy is currently the general manager of Lakeland Electric in Florida. Prior to that, he served as interim energy manager for Imperial Irrigation District in California.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from December 17-30:

Texas Workforce
Investment Council 
Paloma Ahmadi - Shavano Park 

Texas State Board of Pharmacy 
Ian Shaw - Dallas 
Rebecca Tijerina - Castle Hills (reappointed) 
Jennifer Downing Yoakum - Kilgore (reappointed) 

Texas State Board
of Public Accountancy 
Himesh Gandhi - Sugar Land 
Texas Railroad Commission - 2021 Year in Review

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Understanding the Unemployment Rate 
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 Motor Vehicles – Director II – ITSD Application Development Services

  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – Director III – ITSD Deputy Chief Information Officer

  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – Manager IV – ITSD Auxiliary Applications

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Accountant III

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Texas Small Business Credit Initiative Analyst

  • Texas Secretary of State – HR Specialist II

  • Texas State Securities Board – Financial Examiner I

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Subrecipient Monitoring Administrator

  • Texas Water Development Board – Program Administration Manager

  • Texas Water Development Board – Media and Public Relations Specialist

  • Texas Water Development Board – Financial Analyst I-II

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Statewide Procurement Staff Services Officer
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