Volume 19, Issue 9 - February 26, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
As the Biden administration begins to address climate change, transit authorities throughout the country will benefit from funding.

Clean air is a major component of sustainability, so increased funding will flow to public transit authorities in an effort to reduce the number of automobiles on roadways. Major initiatives at the local levels of government will provide hundreds of contracting opportunities as public officials attempt to make public transportation more convenient, economical, and attractive.

Here are a few examples of what to expect over the next few years.

Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on February 17 provided new information related to the 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program. Approximately $889 million for new transportation projects will be available. Evaluation criteria will steer funding decisions to projects that address climate change. Program officials will look for projects that support clean air and incentives to reduce vehicle-miles-traveled. Funding requests also will be evaluated by whether or not projects are structured to include good-paying jobs, enhanced safety, and/or the purchase of transformative technology.

Two bond propositions totaling $750 million would help Richardson ISD (RISD) transition into a middle school model if approved by voters on May 1.

Bond 2021 will be the first phase of RISD’s transition to a middle school model that will culminate in all eight junior highs being transformed into campuses serving sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Funds would go toward opening up space at RISD’s elementary campuses for the district's Pre-K for All initiative.

Proposition A, with a price tag of $694 million, will provide money for capital construction, infrastructure, repairs, safety and security, student instruction, and equipment.

RISD would spend $110 million to rebuild Lake Highlands Junior High School and renovate Forest Meadow Junior High School. Growing student enrollment would be addressed with $114 million in renovations to Richardson J.J. Pearce High School and Mohawk and Brentfield elementary schools.

Renovations for student safety would be made at Brentfield and Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet at a cost of $25 million, and the district would spend $20 million to renovate facility conditions at Northrich and Stults Road elementary schools

Proposition B would provide $56 million for upgrades to student and staff technology devices throughout the district.

To get the May bond amount to a smaller total than the failed $986.6 million November bond election, district officials postponed items such as land acquisition, furniture replacement, and recreational facilities upgrades.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $76 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants to Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood international airports.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will receive $31 million to construct 10,200 feet of the Northeast end-around taxiway system to eliminate the need for aircraft to cross active runways. The taxiways are expected to be completed in September 2025.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport will receive $25 million in reimbursement for Runway 9C/27C construction that includes site utilities, grading, and pavement work.

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport will receive $20 million for extending Runway 10R/28L to 8,000 feet. The extension allows higher service volume of aircraft and reduces traffic delays.

The AIP grants fund airport infrastructure projects such as runways, taxiways, airport signage, airport lighting, and airport markings. Annually, the grant program is funded for approximately $3.2 billion.

These are the first three grants of more than 1,500 grants to hundreds of U.S. airports that the FAA will issue this year.
Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) staff on February 22 presented several options for the Dougherty Arts Center replacement at the city’s Design Commission.

The project is in the design phase to relocate the existing center in Butler Shores Park.

It is anticipated that design and construction phase services will follow a series of public meetings in 2021.

PARD’s preferred scenario (Option 1B) would place the new facility in a western location that creates a stronger civic presence, identity, and trail adjacency. A new arts promenade would activate parkland and provide partnering opportunities with the city's Austin Art in Public Places program.

Option 1B would maintain the existing PARD office, which is eligible for entry on the National Register of Historic Places. Heritage trees would be preserved at a reduced risk, and impact to the ZACH theater operations would be minimized.

A proposed 230-stall parking garage would consolidate surface parking, have garage access from two streets, and would be decoupled from building construction, reducing the project duration and cost.
Bradley Hoover, Chief Information Officer
Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) - RELLIS Campus
Career highlights and education: I am the chief information officer for the RELLIS campus, a collaborative ecosystem built to foster advanced research, technology development, testing and evaluation, and hands on career training in a higher education environment. I have been with the TAMUS for 19 years, beginning my tenure as a software developer and progressing within multiple A&M System organizations before advancing to my current position in 2019. Prior to joining TAMUS, I served in several IT roles within the retail lumber industry. I hold a B.A. in computer science from Texas A&M University, in addition to numerous industry certifications.

What I like best about my public service is: The best thing about serving in a public service role is the opportunity to give back to my community. The innovations developed at the RELLIS Campus will one day more than likely save the life of someone within my family. While I may not be the one actually making the discovery or developing the product, what I do makes much of the innovation that happens on this campus possible.

The best advice I’ve received is: To pay attention, not only to the good things your peers or superiors do, but also to the bad as those learnings are just as important so that you know what not to do. Running a close second is: Don’t be afraid to ask for something. You would be amazed at the doors that will open if you just ask. The worst that can happen is an answer of “no” and you are where you would have been anyway except at least they know you are interested.

My favorite way to destress is: There are a lot of things I enjoy doing in my free time, including spending time with my family in the garden, hunting, playing golf, or going fishing.

People might be surprised to know that I: Grew up in a small town called Dime Box, and my graduating class had 13 people. I still help manage the ranch in Dime Box and have over 100 cattle on the ground at any time.

One thing I wished more people knew about the RELLIS Campus is: How awe-inspiring it is. The innovations that are developed here and the opportunities for workforce development and education are just amazing. There’s a reason it’s growing so quickly as more and more folks see what’s going on out here or discover how their passions and ideas can have space to roam. I give tours to folks all the time, and they all walk away saying “Wow, I had no idea all of this was here. This is just amazing.”
After a failed bond election last November, the Northwest ISD (NISD) is proposing a similar bond vote for May 1 that seeks voter approval for $745.7 million.

Four propositions on the ballot will address new facilities, capital improvements, stadium renovations and upgrades, technology upgrades, and recreational facilities.

The propositions are:
  • Proposition A – School facilities and capital improvements - $712.4 million. 
  • Proposition B – Stadium renovations - $8.2 million. 
  • Proposition C – Middle school recreational facilities - $5.7 million. 
  • Proposition D – Technology devices - $19.4 million. 

Citing tremendous growth in the school district, NISD officials say that all but five schools in the district will be above capacity by 2030 unless new schools are added.

Demographers say that by the year 2026, the district’s enrollment will likely exceed 32,000 students.
The Port of Corpus Christi entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Port of Rotterdam to collaborate on improvement of their global maritime operations.

Some of the ports’ shared objectives include co-developing trade and commercial opportunities.

Other objectives are fostering an exchange of information and advancing the development and deployment of navigational safety and environmental protection technologies.

Corpus Christi is the nation’s largest crude oil export gateway, as well as the largest in total revenue tonnage. It boasts a 36-mile, soon-to-be 54-foot deep channel. The port of Rotterdam is Europe’s largest deep-sea port.
Multiple recovery efforts around the state will benefit from $19.3 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The EDA investments announced on February 18 are:
  • Lamar State College Port Arthur will receive $4.3 million to support workforce development and diversification through the design and construction of a commercial driver education and examination center. 
  • Milam County will receive $3.77 million to revitalize the vacant hospital complex in downtown Cameron for commercial use and as an additional COVID-19 testing and medical care site. 
  • The city of Eagle Pass will receive $3.5 million to support small business growth by renovating a downtown, city-owned building for use as a small business incubator and retail center. The facility will support and attract a variety of industries, including retail, technology, real estate, and innovative energy solutions. 
  • The town of Fairview will receive $3 million to construct a new four-lane divided roadway that will create a primary access to Medical Center Drive in support of a hospital expansion and a mixed-use private development.  
  • The city of Kilgore will receive $2.5 million to construct two additional floors of new space on the northwest side of the Roy H. Laird Memorial Hospital for use as a health sciences education center. The Roy H. Laird Regional Medical Health Sciences Education Center will train workers for jobs in nursing and health sciences fields in a state-of-the-art facility.  
  • The city of Pflugerville will receive $2.3 million to make critical roadway infrastructure improvements along the Pecan Street-Dessau Road Corridors to support business growth, including at the 130 Commerce Center. 

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided the EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
The city of Amarillo is engaging partners in the area to draft a master plan for the Tri-State Exposition and boost tourism revenues.

Chartered in 1923, the year-round facility is in use an average of 240 days per year. It hosts the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo and is home to the Amarillo National Center.

Amarillo intends to partner with Potter County, Amarillo ISD, Amarillo-Potter Events Venue District, and the Tri-State Expo board of directors on a plan patterned on the city’s successful revitalization of its downtown.

The plan would incorporate 104 acres of the fairgrounds and 24 acres owned by the school district, as well as the neighboring commercial and residential areas.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will hold a virtual public meeting on March 1 to present design concepts for improvements to State Highway 361.

TxDOT is working on a feasibility study to address SH 361 and the SH 361/SH 35/US 181 interchange in and around Gregory, Portland, and Ingleside.

The purpose of this feasibility study is to identify opportunities to better connect US 181 and SH 361 while improving safety and mobility. This is part of a larger project to improve the SH 361 corridor in San Patricio County from the SH 361/SH 35 interchange to east of FM 1069.

During the feasibility phase of project development, engineers and planners are conducting studies to define problems, gathering data, recommending solutions, weighing the potential environmental impacts, and analyzing a preferred concept.
The city of Kenedy is revisiting a concept for a new convention center, possibly at Joe Gulley Park.

Previous discussions ceased due to a dearth of parking spaces near the proposed site close to the park’s soccer fields. Since then, the city acquired several lots in the area that would make the area more attractive for building a convention center.

Earlier conversations produced two options for either a 29,000-square-foot convention center or a 16,000-square-foot venue.

City staff members will be developing a more detailed concept to present to the Kenedy City Council at an upcoming meeting.
Problems require innovative solutions, and the Denton ISD (DISD) could well be a future trend-setter when it comes to virtual schooling. The district is studying creation of an entirely virtual K-8 campus to replace an existing online option being used by the school district.

With pre-registration planned for March and through the summer, DISD officials would have a better handle on how many students would be interested in the new virtual campus, which would give administrators an idea of how many teachers they would need to conduct classes. Teachers hired for the virtual campus would only provide online instruction, and the campus would have its own principal. DISD administrators hope to have the campus online at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Teachers interested in teaching on the virtual campus can express their interest in the program, but the principal will make selections of those who best fit the program. Officials are planning only for the 2021-2022 school year, but if it is successful, it could be continued into the future.

More than 8,000 students are participating in virtual classes, or more than 25 percent of the student body. Officials say that not everyone prefers virtual classes, but some students have great success using that model. While teachers apparently have a preference for working out of an on-site district hub, that part of the plan has not yet been decided.
Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. and Alvin New to the Texas Transportation Commission on February 23.
Bugg, Jr. of San Antonio is chairman and chief executive officer of an investment company as well as chairman of several Texas banks. He is a former board member of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and trustee of a biomedical research institute.
New of Christoval is a ranch owner, former CEO of a food store chain, and former mayor of San Angelo. He is a member of the Goodfellow Air Force Base Advisory Council, and he serves on various councils and committees for Angelo State University.
The Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board (TALCB) promoted Melissa Tran as the agency’s first director.

Tran previously served as a managing attorney in TALCB’s enforcement division. Before joining the agency, she worked as a risk-management consultant and associate attorney.
Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni appointed Neiman Young as assistant city manager on February 23.

Neiman most recently served as county administrator for King George County, Virginia. Prio to that, he served as a U.S. Army officer.
The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) hired Craig Raborn as its new director of transportation services. He succeeded Alan Clark who retired in fall 2020.

Raborn most recently served as director of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. Before that, he was transportation program manager at the Western Arizona Council of Governments, a senior policy analyst at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute, and program manager of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.
The city of Bee Cave promoted Lindsey Oskoui to assistant city manager.

Oskoui most recently served as Bee Cave’s director of planning and development. Before joining the city, she was a senior planner with Ontario County, New York.
The Taylor ISD board of trustees recently announced Dr. Devin Padavil as the district’s new superintendent. He succeeded Superintendent Keith Brown who resigned in August 2020.

Padavil most recently served as area superintendent with Leander ISD. Before that, he was assistant superintendent of secondary schools at Fort Bend ISD, a high school principal at Frisco ISD, and high school and middle school principal with Pflugerville ISD.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from February 19-25:

Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council 
Leslie Kinsel - Cotulla (reappointed)
Natalie Cobb Koehler - Clifton (reappointed)

44th Judicial District Court Judge 
Ashley Wysocki - Dallas

192nd Judicial District Court Judge 
Kristina Williams - Dallas

303rd Judicial District Court Judge 
Rhonda Hunter - Dallas

Texas Early Learning Council 
Reagan Miller - Austin (named chair)

Texas State Board of
Plumbing Examiners 
David Yelovich - Friendswood

Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational
Therapy Examiners 
Manoranjan Mahadeva - Plano

Houston-Galveston Area Council -
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 State Securities Board – Financial Examiner I

  • Texas State Securities Board – Financial Examiner I (Dallas)

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Budget Analyst IV

  • Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – Budget Analyst IV

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Disability Specialist I

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Contract Specialist III or IV – Right of Way Division

  • Texas Water Development Board – Manager of Flood Protection Planning Grants

  • Texas Water Development Board – Purchaser II-IV

  • Texas Water Development Board – Strategic Communications Manager
Connect with Us
Check out our social media links!
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives
Help us share this message.
To ensure delivery and proper formatting of the newsletter, be sure to add editor@spartnerships.com to your safe senders list. Otherwise, the newsletter may be flagged as spam and automatically routed to your junk e-mail folder.
 For news or calendar items: editor@spartnerships.com 
For information about SPI's products and services: sales@spartnerships.com
© 2021 Strategic Partnerships, Inc. All rights reserved.