Volume 19, Issue 17 - April 23, 2021
The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) started filling Texas’ first major reservoir in nearly 30 years to serve the water supply needs of the region.

NTMWD recently began impounding, or capturing, water on the 16,641-acre Bois d’Arc Lake northeast of Bonham in Fannin County.

Rainfall totals in the Bois d’Arc Lake watershed will determine how long it will take the lake to fill and be ready for recreation. The entire lake does not need to be filled prior to NTMWD providing water. Based on historical weather patterns, NTMWD expects the reservoir to contain enough water to begin providing treated water to its member cities and customers in 2022.

Impoundment began when workers closed the lower gates at the raw water intake structure, cutting off the flow of water through the structure and allowing the reservoir to hold water. The 110-foot-tall structure sits inside of the lake footprint and pulls water from the reservoir for treatment. The remaining gates at the intake structure will stay open until the lake fills to a higher level. NTMWD will release water from the lake as required by NTMWD's permit in order to keep water flowing downstream in Bois d’Arc Creek.

The projected cost for Bois d’Arc Lake is approximately $1.6 billion. It will meet the water needs and demands for a growing region of 1.8 million people until 2040.
After waiting 12 years for a successful bond referendum, North Lamar ISD is ready to begin immediately on capital projects if its $51.55 million bond election passes on May 1.

Projects that make up the bond program are divided into five propositions:
  • Proposition A - $43.07 million to fund construction of a new $23.8 million second- to fifth-grade elementary school for 650 students, improvements to Parker Elementary School, renovations to Everett Elementary School for pre-K to first grade, demolition of Higgins Elementary School, repurposing of Bailey Intermediate School, and improvements to Stone Middle School and North Lamar High School. 
  • Proposition B - $1.8 million for 15 new buses. 
  • Proposition C - $405,000 for technology devices. 
  • Proposition D - $2.07 million for improvements to baseball, softball, and football fields, an indoor athletic facility, and track resurfacing. 
  • Proposition E - $4.2 million for 11,000 square feet of fine arts additions at the high school. 

Construction on the new elementary school would begin in February 2022 for a fall 2023 opening. Bus and technology would be procured in fall 2021. Everett and Parker would open in fall 2024 as would Bailey. The high school fine arts addition would open in late spring 2025.
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) bolstered its Research Team with the addition of Miriam Diaz, an experienced researcher with deep knowledge of government jurisdictions and contracting. 

Miriam began honing her research skills as a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) where she specialized in research projects related to U.S. Southern political history, Latin American politics, international drug policy, and urban planning. 

After graduation, Miriam entered the tech industry where she worked in cloud migration, staff augmentation, and resource contracting. She was later selected to be a project coordinator at an emerging tech firm. In that role, Miriam wore many hats and learned to think strategically as she negotiated contracting issues. 

Some of her successes include implementing long-term staff augmentation contracts with multinational corporations and connecting the firm’s cloud migration capabilities to larger companies. 

Miriam is involved in research analysis for SPI’s clients throughout the U.S. She earned a bachelor’s degree in government from UT Austin. 
The Matagorda County Navigation District #1 is reaching out to the private sector to study the feasibility of expanding and diversifying the Port of Palacios’ commercial profile.

To achieve this ambition, the port will hire a consultant to help it explore options for acquiring additional land, partnering with private parties, and exploring new commercial opportunities. In addition, the study may lead to an overall master plan.

Some of the commercial endeavors that the port would consider include load/unload and staging of industrial and renewable energy equipment and materials, maritime services, and shipping goods and products including, but not limited to, agriculture, petrochemical, oil and gas, aggregate, and containers.

The port’s 75-acre western tract between the port and a gated residential community has been identified as a potential commercial center due to its good access and adjacency to municipal utility lines. Mixed commercial, office and light industrial, a shopping center, or mixed-use development are possible uses.
Amanda Crawford, Executive Director
Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR)
Chief Information Officer (CIO), State of Texas
Career highlights and education: Prior to serving as the executive director of DIR and the CIO for Texas state government, I served at the Office of the Attorney General of Texas for more than 17 years in various positions, including serving as the deputy attorney general for administration and general counsel. I also was a faculty member of the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute’s Center for Leadership Development. I am a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and earned my law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

What I like best about public service is: Working with other servant leaders dedicated to a cause bigger than ourselves. We all know that everything is bigger in Texas, and that axiom also applies to the commitment and hard work of those who serve our great state. One thing that makes DIR different than most other state agencies is our constituency. Instead of providing services directly to the public like most state agencies do, we serve the entities that serve the public. Being partners with other governmental entities throughout the state is our privilege, and it is what forms the basis of our agency’s vision of transforming how Texas government serves Texans.

The best advice I’ve received is: Be kind, work hard, and great things will happen. In a leadership role, I believe an outcome of that to be taking the time to learn more about both your employees and your customers. Learn what interests them, what drives them, and perhaps most importantly, learn what their roadblocks are. This perspective will give you great insight into how you can support your team and your customers, and how you can help remove barriers to success for both.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Being with my family. Whether we are travelling to new places, hiking one of the Austin area’s many trails, fishing the lower Laguna Madre, or just watching a movie at home, being with my favorite people is my favorite way to relax.

People might be surprised to know that I: Am the proud mother of triplets. My trio – two girls and one boy – are high school seniors who will be heading off to Texas Tech University together in the fall.

One thing I wish more people knew about DIR is: We provide our government customers with guidance, efficiency, and peace of mind by ensuring they can find, procure, and securely implement innovative technology. We believe that public employees can use technology to serve Texans more effectively. Our mission is to connect those public employees with innovative technology that is scalable, secure, and delivers the best value to taxpayers and the best service to the people of Texas.
Lubbock ISD released a request for information (RFI) for vendors to provide input on an online enrollment platform and third-party administrator (TPA) to oversee online or in-person enrollment in the district’s benefits programs.

The district’s goal is to come to an agreement with an administrator to provide a centralized portal to manage all benefits used by employees.

TPA benefits include medical and dental, identity/theft coverage, legal plan coverage, vision, life, disability, cancer, accident, heart/stroke, long-term care, hospital indemnity, critical illness, and intensive care insurance. The district’s open enrollment begins in October 2021.

Process and platform operations must be online by September 30, 2021, for 2022 annual enrollment. RFI responses are due by 5 p.m. May 14.
San Marcos councilmembers adopted a $38 million master plan for the city’s regional airport on April 20 that outlines capital projects over the next 20 years.

The airport, which has more than 60,000 operations per year, is the only designated reliever airport for both San Antonio and Austin-Bergstrom international airports.

Significant population growth in Hays and Caldwell counties is expected to continue, and the master plan aims to align the airport to meet the area’s needs.

Key near- and mid-term development programs in the master plan included extending Runway 17/35 to 6,314 feet, reconstructing taxiways A and C, rehabilitating the airport’s apron and taxiways, and evaluating runway weight-bearing capacity.

City officials anticipate applying for and receiving about $34.2 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants from the Federal Aviation Administration to cover the majority of costs associated with implementing the master plan’s recommendations.
More than $31.38 million in state assistance will aid the city of Marble Falls in relocating its wastewater treatment plant out of the 100-year floodplain.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved $17.57 million in financing and $13.81 million grant funding for Marble Falls’ construction of a diversion for discharge in the Backbone Creek watershed.

Marble Falls’ wastewater treatment plant has a treatment capacity of 1.5 million gallons per day (MGD) and is within three floodplains. It has experienced severe flooding during two major flood events over the last 10 years.

The city plans to build a new 1.5 MGD plant and construct conveyance to the new plant, including pipelines and lift stations for raw wastewater and purple pipe effluent. It will decommission and restore the existing plant site.

Designs are anticipated to be complete by March 2023, and construction is scheduled from June 2023 to June 2025.
Austin-area transportation organizations are combining their efforts to finance and construct a Park and Ride at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

The estimated $15 million to $25 million MoPac South Express Project would alleviate parking constraints that lead to overflows on nearby streets and a Veloway.

The $15 million option would comprise a surface lot, and the $25 million alternative would feature a parking garage. A potential source of partial project funding is $60 million set aside for Park and Ride facilities in Capital Metro’s Project Connect bond program.

Design concepts envision a joint-use 400- to 500-space parking facility multi-purpose park and ride facility in the vicinity of Lacrosse Avenue and MoPac that would serve the Wildflower Center, the city of Austin Veloway, and Capital Metro regional express bus service on property owned by The University of Texas (UT). Projected express bus ridership is 750 per day.

The Wildflower Center and UT will schedule a design workshop with project partners Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) to define scope of the facility and determine additional costs related to mitigating impervious cover impacts.
The city of Wylie developed two alternatives for a proposed aquatics center complex comprising both indoor and outdoor facilities to serve an area devoid of municipal aquatic venues.

Option A would feature an outdoor aquatic center with 18,000 square feet of water surface area. It would have a lazy river, leisure pool, wave pool, and tot pool. This option’s indoor aquatic center would have 5,385 square feet of water surface area with a leisure pool, four-lane lap pool, locker rooms, offices, lobby, party room or classroom space, and an aqua office. The estimated project cost for this option is $25.3 million.

Option B would reduce the outdoor center to 15,000 square feet of water surface area and replace the wave pool with a teen pool in return for a larger indoor aquatic center of 7,885 square feet of water surface area and an eight-lane lap pool. This option is estimated to cost $27.8 million.

Councilmembers indicated a preference for a larger indoor facility and discussed splitting the project into phases. The city plans to conduct a steering committee meeting in May and complete its feasibility study in June.
Bexar County commissioners approved an amendment that will allow the county to continue design work on a new 30,230-square-foot Precinct 4 office building southwest of Randolph Air Force Base.

In addition, the county will begin developing a request for proposals (RFP) for a construction manager at risk (CMAR) for the project estimated to exceed $10 million.

Designs are 50 percent complete for the new one-story office building that will provide space for the Precinct 4 commissioner, tax assessor collector, justice of the peace, constable, and a community room.

It will feature drive-through lanes, secure parking, and indoor and outdoor queuing areas to allow for proper social distancing.

The county purchased the 51-acre site in 2015 and developed a master plan for the property in 2017. A sheriff’s office substation occupies one parcel of the tract. Several parcels remain for potential redevelopment or use by the county.

County officials expect to release the RFP in April, host a pre-proposal meeting in May, and close the solicitation in June. A contract would be awarded in August.
The state of Texas invites the public to take advantage of the 2021 Emergency Preparation Supplies Sales Tax Holiday from April 24-26. This year’s holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. April 24 and ends at midnight April 26.

Texans are encouraged to prepare for emergencies, such as hurricanes, flash floods, and wildfires, that can cause physical damage by purchasing certain items that are tax free during the holiday.

These emergency preparation supplies qualify for tax exemption if purchased for a sales price:
  • Less than $3,000 - portable generators; 
  • Less than $300 - emergency ladders and hurricane shutters; 
  • Less than $75 - axes and hatchets, batteries, nonelectric can openers, carbon monoxide detectors, nonelectric coolers and ice chests, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, fuel containers, ground anchor systems and tie-down kits, reusable and artificial ice products, portable self-powered light sources, mobile telephone batteries and mobile telephone chargers, portable self-powered radios, smoke detectors, and plastic sheeting. 

To encourage social distancing, the sale of emergency preparation supplies purchased online or by telephone, mail, custom order, or any other method other than in person qualifies for sales tax exemption under certain conditions.
Designs for a new multi-level parking facility adjacent to the future Signature Community Park in Fair Park are coming together as the organization that operates the park prepares for the venue’s new amenities.

Fair Park and its buildings are owned by the city of Dallas and managed through a public-private partnership led by Fair Park First.

This parking structure will include between 1,500 and 1,700 parking spaces as an offset to existing surface parking that will be eliminated by the construction of the new community park. The final count will be determined after a traffic and parking study of Fair Park is completed prior to a notice to proceed.

Through a recently completed master planning process, an existing parking lot of 14-plus acres was selected for this park complex, and includes an adjacent public parking area.

The multi-level parking facility must be completed and operational prior to groundbreaking of the Signature Community Park. Construction is scheduled to start in November with substantial completion anticipated in July 2023.
Houston councilmembers on April 21 approved the application for a $500,000 grant to fund the development of a new parks master plan for the city.

April 23 is the deadline for the city to apply for a Park Access grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). The city will not be required to provide matching funds to receive the NRPA funding.

Equitable access, community-driven quality strategies, and environmental resilience are some of the goals of the new plan. It will include parks and amenities and prioritize their creation, renovation, redevelopment, and repairs and maintenance.

The city has not updated its parks master plan since 2015. The existing document divides the city into 21 park sectors.
Four women shaping the future of Texas by serving in state government earned distinction as Outstanding Women in Texas Government Award winners for 2020.

The State Agency Council to the Governor’s Commission for Women announced the winners who were nominated by their respective state agency leadership in four categories. An independent committee selected the women whose contributions best exemplified the categories of Leadership, Professional Development, Community Involvement, and, new this year, Rising Star.

Outstanding Women in Texas Government Award recipients for 2020 are:
Leadership: Shandra Carter, deputy executive director for state services, Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Professional Development: Rae Shel Lee, sergeant, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Community Involvement: Krystle Matthews, women veterans program manager, Texas Veterans Commission (TVC).
Rising Star: Endi Silva, director of program development, Department of Information Resources (DIR).
The award winners will be honored in a virtual ceremony at 11 a.m. June 8, with special guest Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and keynote speaker Justice Eva Guzman.

To attend the Outstanding Women in Texas Government Award ceremony, register online.

In addition to offering professional development training to its members, the State Agency Council supports the Governor’s Commission for Women, which seeks to promote opportunities for Texas women through outreach, education, research, and referral services.
Gov. Greg Abbott named Brooke Paup as the first woman to chair the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) on April 22.

Paup of Austin has served as a member of the TWDB since February 2018. Previously, she served as the director of legislative affairs for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. She is formerly the deputy division chief of intergovernmental relations and former special assistant for policy and research for the Office of the Attorney General.
San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh announced the appointment of Claude Jacob as the new director of the city’s Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) on April 16.

For the past 14 years, Jacob has served as the chief public health officer at a health-care provider in Massachusetts. He previously served as the deputy director for the Office of Health Promotion at the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) welcomes Tom Mullins as a consultant with more than 40 years of experience in serving regional, community, and economic development organizations. 

Tom served in four successful economic development organizations in Minnesota and Texas. He also served as chair of the Minnesota Industrial Development Council and the Texas Economic Development Council. 

His career included service on the Texas Council on Science and Bio-Technology and success in establishing the first Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO) in Texas. That organization is the second longest-running certified AEDO in North America. 

Organizations he served received many awards and accolades. Some of the awards include: 
  • Outstanding Community Economic Development Organization - Texas Economic Development Council (three-time winner). 
  • Texas Economic Development Council Excellence Award (10-time winner). 
  • International Economic Development Excellence Award (2018). 

Along with Tom’s decades of experience and relationship building, he has a deep knowledge of how to develop and launch various successful collaborative initiatives. His credentials and experience are exceeded only by the respect he holds with public officials he has assisted in the past. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from April 16-22:

State Securities Board 
EE Okpa - Dallas

Texas Municipal Retirement
System Board of Trustees
Anali Alanis - Pharr

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 Motor Vehicles – Director of Purchasing

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Toll Operations Division Director

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Financial Management Division Director

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Director I
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