Volume 19, Issue 20 - May 14, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Congress sent some rather clear messages with passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), and the importance of education is undoubtedly top of mind.
Based on the sheer volume of school safety allocations, protecting our nation’s students is a high priority with the Biden administration and a majority in Congress.

Although many governmental entities will wait for weeks to receive these new ARP funds, the money for school districts already has reached education agencies in all 50 states. Very soon, an abundance of contracting opportunities will be available on both public and charter school campuses.

Another clear message is that Congress wanted school districts to have funding for long-overdue technology upgrades. As funding becomes available for both school safety and enhanced technology, it is interesting to note that education leaders throughout the U.S. had been preparing to launch major projects linked to technology upgrades, cybersecurity, and safety enhancements.

Technology modernization, cybersecurity, and school safety are specifically designated as projects that qualify for funding. Public entities have been a prime target for cybercriminals for some time, and old technology makes breaches much easier for attackers. The average cost of even a small cyberbreach is about half a million dollars. More significant cyberbreaches result in multimillion-dollar damages and long periods of time when networks are unusable.

The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) has scheduled several upcoming procurements for the next phases of its Capitol Complex and North Austin Complex projects.

Phase II of the Capitol Complex will add two new office buildings totaling 525,000 square feet of office space, five levels of underground parking below Congress Avenue, and above-ground parking as well as the final block of the Texas Mall.

This phase is still in the planning stage while contracts and procurement documents are under development and review. Its completion is anticipated for fall 2025. Tenants occupying the Phase II sites must move to a completed Phase I building prior to construction start.

A request for qualifications (RFQ) is scheduled for this month for architectural and engineering services for the second phase of the commission’s Capitol Complex project to be followed by a construction manager at risk (CMR) procurement in June.

A $5.4 million contract to perform repairs to the Capitol Complex parking garage was scheduled to be let on May 21, but a commission spokeswoman said that solicitation is likely to be delayed.

A $7.5 million contract for architectural and engineering services on the second phase of the North Austin Complex is scheduled to be released as a RFQ on May 23.

Located in the vicinity of 45th Street, 51st Street, and North Lamar Boulevard, the North Austin Complex primarily serves as headquarters for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

The second phase of the North Austin Complex project consists of a new office building and accompanying above-ground parking. The new building will bring an additional 302,000 square feet of office space and 2,000 parking spaces to the complex.

TFC originally scheduled a procurement for June 11 to advertise for a CMR for the second phase of the project, but that solicitation is expected to be delayed as well.
A new report by the Texas Military Preparedness Commission recommends investments in renewable energy, infrastructure improvements, new technology, and public-private partnerships at the state’s 15 military installations.

The Texas Military Value Task Force 2021 Report identifies strengths and opportunities to grow current missions and bring in new missions, as well as other strategies to increase the military value of those installations. To gather input and information for the report, commission members met virtually with military commanders and command staff from October to February 2021.

Commissioners’ overall recommendations for the military in Texas were to support funding for the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant and encourage economic partnerships between the U.S. Department of Defense, private sector, and academia.

The commission advised the Texas military installations to encourage the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and energy providers to work with them to ensure energy resiliency and maintain operations during and post-disasters. Such efforts would focus on energy resiliency with redundant, back up, or prioritization to restore services, possibly through the use of micro grids.

Commissioners recommended that Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) create a statewide cyber alliance to include industry and academic partners and seek additional cybersecurity civil-military missions.

Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston was encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship and medical innovation partnerships with the community and throughout Texas. Additional 5G infrastructure was recommended as well.

The report promoted allowing small businesses to showcase their technologies at Army Futures Command, similar to the Air Force’s innovation arm, AFWERX, and Defense Innovation Unit programs.

Expansion of 5G technology was among the report’s recommendations for Fort Hood, Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, and Joint Base San Antonio – Randolph AFB.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is considering different funding alternatives for the Coastal Barrier, also known as the Ike Dike, as it prepares to submit a Chief’s Report to Congress later this year.

Estimated at $26.2 billion, the Ike Dike, or Coastal Barrier, project would create a system of sea gates, dunes, and replenished beaches to protect the Houston-Galveston area from storm surges.

Engineers hope to present the final report to Congress in time for consideration in the Water Resource Development Act of 2022. The American Jobs Plan is another funding option, but officials believe the “infrastructure bill” could be passed before the final report is ready.

In the interim, the Texas House is considering SB 1160 which would establish the Gulf Coast Protection District to pursue a project partnership agreement with the Corps to build a $2.9 billion defense system comprising levees, floodgates, and pumps to buffer storm surges and major rainfall in coastal communities. Members of the ad valorem taxing entity would include Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, and Orange counties.

The levee project could be completed by 2027 while the Ike Dike project is expected to take 12 to 20 years to finish.
Donna Dodgen, Mayor
City of Seguin
Career highlights and education: I currently work at an acute medical specialty and rehabilitation hospital in Luling as a clinical dietitian, director of dietary, and corporate director of long term acute dietary services. Previous public service included Zonta International District 10 Governor and City Councilwoman for District 7. I attended The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Incarnate Word. Most recently, I served with the Seguin Schertz Local Government Corporation and Emanuel’s Lutheran Church and was a member of the inaugural class of the Citizens Fire Academy and received a woman of achievement award in my community.

What I like best about public service is: Is that I make a difference and can affect change. I love working as a part of a city family because I believe we can do it … together!

The best advice I’ve received is: Listen, listen, and listen for six months when taking on a new venture. Ask, or the answer is always no. Appreciate and pay attention to all.

My favorite way to de-stress is: To read, eat at food trucks, travel, collect pottery, and be with friends.

People might be surprised to know that I: Cannot carry a tune but dream of being able to sing, have talked to Stephen King on the telephone, and cannot spell at all.

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Seguin is: That we are a thriving historic and art community, have amazing manufacturing with incredible technology, have a river that runs through us, have many adventures such as ghost tours, brewery samplings, a whiskey bar, and the best barbecue and breakfast tacos ever!
Multiple city of Plano facility maintenance needs will be addressed with the May 1 passage of all six of its bond propositions totaling $364 million.

Proposition A will finance $231 million in street projects, including alley and arterial street rehabilitation, intersection improvements, residential street repairs, and screening wall reconstruction.

Voters approved almost $82 million in park and recreational facilities projects with the passage of Proposition B that will fund community and neighborhood park renovations, trail replacements, park improvements, park restroom replacements, irrigation renovations, athletic field enhancements, and roof replacements at the Courtyard Theater and Plano Center.

Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center will undergo $15.9 million in renovations after the passage of Proposition C. Additional improvements include fire, sound, lighting and irrigation systems, a roof replacement, parking lot light replacements, updated interior paint and flooring, interior pool deck, slide and play feature replacement, exterior pool equipment and shade structure replacement, and minor building modifications.

Proposition D will provide $27.14 million for public safety facilities, including remodeling two fire stations, constructing a fueling station for city vehicles and equipment, and replacing roofs at three fire stations.

The city will renovate Plano City Council chambers for $5.5 million with the passage of Proposition E, and voters authorized $2.49 million from Proposition F for library facility projects including exterior lighting and roof replacements at Parr and Haggard libraries.
Harris County Commissioners Court approved transferring $3.37 million in additional funding to the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study on May 11.

The Harris County Flood Control District is nearing the completion of the second phase of the study which explores the use of underground tunnels to convey flood waters along the Bayou and its tributaries and reduce flooding in the area.

Just east of downtown Houston near the Turning Basin, Buffalo Bayou becomes the Houston Ship Channel. The Buffalo Bayou watershed consists of 106 miles of open waterways, located primarily in west-central Harris County with a small portion crossing into Fort Bend County.

The purpose of the study’s second phase is to identify unmet flood mitigation needs in Harris County’s watersheds and develop distinct tunnel project concepts.

Phase 2 will recommend and continue to refine no more than three potential “actionable” tunnel projects in distinct locations in Harris County. Phase 3 of preliminary engineering will follow if there are actionable recommendations as a result of Phase 2.
More than $62.6 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants is headed to 11 primary airports and even more non-primary airports in Texas in the latest round of funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Nearly 450 airports across the country are set to receive $898.9 million for 488 infrastructure and safety projects.

The FAA awarded grants to these Texas airports:
  • Abilene Regional - $1.23 million for terminal building improvements. 
  • Austin-Bergstrom International - $898,120 to improve drainage and erosion control. 
  • Brownsville/South Padre Island International - $1.61 million for terminal building improvements. 
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International - $12 million to construct a taxiway. 
  • Robert Gray Army Airfield in Killeen - $3.85 million to construct a building, construct or improve a parking lot, and improve its terminal building. 
  • Laredo International - $9.188 million to construct a taxiway. 
  • Lubbock Preston Smith International - $1.79 million to acquire an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle. 
  • Midland International Air and Space Port - $4 million to improve a service road, install perimeter fencing, rehabilitate a runway, and upgrade taxiway lighting. 
  • San Angelo Regional/Mathis Field - $1.11 million to rehabilitate an apron. 
  • Tyler Pounds Regional - $1.11 million to acquire an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle. 
  • Sheppard Air Force Base/Wichita Falls Municipal - $1.63 million to construct a terminal building. 

FAA officials designated $24.17 million for non-primary airports in the state block grant program.

Grant projects funded through the Airport Improvement Program promote safety, efficiency, environmental stewardship, infrastructure, and security at the nation’s airports.
North Lamar ISD soon will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to select a construction manager at risk (CMAR) for several bond projects that voters approved on May 1.

Trustees on May 10 authorized staff to seek a construction manager after the district passed $51.55 million in propositions.

The district plans to build a new $23.8 million elementary school to serve grades two through five, renovate Everett Elementary School for $8.5 million, and make $9.85 million in improvements to North Lamar High School, Stone Middle School, and Parker Elementary School. A $4.2 million addition at the high school would add 11,000 square feet of fine arts space.

Construction on the new elementary school is set to begin in February 2022 for a fall 2023 opening. Everett and Parker campuses will open in fall 2024, and the high school fine arts addition would open in late spring 2025.
The city of Frisco is planning an expansion of the city’s Police Department that will include extensive interior renovations, updates to existing building aesthetics, and the design of a new 17,500-square-foot auxiliary building.

A recent needs assessment study identified top priorities of an expanded locker room, an auxiliary building to focus on storage and vehicle maintenance, and eight additional offices throughout the main building.

Built in 2006, the 95,000-square-foot police headquarters is two stories, houses a detention facility, crime lab, and firing range.

The city is seeking an architectural and engineering firm for the project estimated at $10 million. Delivery method for the construction could be for competitive sealed proposals.
Advancing its nearly $900 million capital improvement plan, University Health intends to purchase 42.5 acres near Retama Park on Interstate 35 in Selma.

Officials at the publicly-owned hospital envision the construction of a new hospital in an underserved area of Bexar County that would allow the system to offer specialized services at University Hospital in the Medical Center.

University Health is building a Women’s and Children’s Hospital that is set to open in 2023 and is planning a new hospital on 80 acres in western Bexar County.
Dallas College Chancellor Dr. Joe May announced his intent to retire from his role in a special meeting of the board of trustees on May 14. May’s contract term was set to expire in August 2023.  

He became the seventh chancellor of the former Dallas County Community College District in February 2014. Under his leadership, the institution tackled regional workforce needs, opportunity equality, the negative impacts of income disparity, and growth of minority-owned businesses. 

May created the Career Connected Learner Network, a partnership of more than 200 area organizations including Independent School Districts (ISDs), universities, employers and community organizations. Along with the Dallas College Foundation, he spearheaded the formation of the Dallas County Promise, a program that covers the cost of tuition not covered by federal or state financial aid at Dallas College and partner universities. In 2020, May led the consolidation of the district’s seven separate colleges into a singly accredited institution, Dallas College. 

Prior to his role at Dallas College, he served as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, president for the Colorado Community College System, and Pueblo Community College president. He served in leadership roles at Sul Ross State University, Navarro College, and Vernon College. 
The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) board of directors appointed Jenna Covington as executive director-general manager on May 3. She succeeded Interim Executive Director Rodney Rhoades.

Covington most recently served as the district’s assistant deputy of wastewater operations. Before joining NTMWD, she was vice president at a global engineering firm.
Kerrville councilmembers selected E.A. Hoppe as the new city manager on May 11. He will succeed City Manager Mark McDaniel who is set to retire June 1.

Hoppe currently serves as Kerrville’s deputy city manager. Before that, he was city manager of Bulverde and assistant director of community services in Richardson.
The city of Austin selected Dr. Desmar Walkes as its next medical director-health authority, effective May 31. She will succeed Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott who accepted a position as chief medical officer with the city.

Walkes has 33 years of experience in health care as a family practitioner, medical authority, medical director, and in administrative medicine. She previously served as the local health authority for Bastrop County.
The city of Justin appointed Charles Ewings as its new city manager. He succeeded former City Manager Cori Reaume who left the position in February.

Ewings most recently served as acting city manager for Justin. Before that, he was the 136th Mission Support Group Commander at Fort Worth Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. Prior to that post, he was city manager of Ennis and assistant city manager of Longview.
The Southlake City Council confirmed Judge Lindsay Marie Kinzie to serve as associate judge of the Southlake Municipal Court. 

Prior to her appointment, Kinzie served as assistant district attorney for the misdemeanor division for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office and a criminal defense attorney of council for a private law firm in Fort Worth. 
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) San Jacinto Region 6 Flood Planning Group appointed Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell as the Coastal Communities Voting Member on May 13. 

Over the coming months, the planning group will develop a regional flood plan, which TWDB will use to create the first state flood plan. 
The Denton City Council on May 11 instructed staff to prepare a request for information (RFI) for the development of design concepts to renovate City Hall West, which is no longer used as a city hall.

Maintenance costs continue to escalate for the aging building as the City Council has considered various options over the last three years.

Funding remains a question as the city weighs leasing options. For the renovation to be eligible for a 25 percent tax credit from the Texas Historical Commission, the city must lease the building to a nonprofit organization that would pay for the renovations and manage the building.

A citizens committee recommended a $6.6 million restoration and renovation plan in 2018, but questions over how space would be allocated to what organizations caused delays.

In October 2019, city staff members said construction prices are increasing 9.6 percent each year, and the renovation plan could rise to an estimated $8.5 million before construction begins.

City Hall West was built in 1927 to serve as the original Denton City Hall. It underwent several renovations and housed multiple city departments after the current City Hall was built.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from May 7-13:

Texas Historical Commission 
Donna Bahorich - Houston 
Jim Bruseth - Austin (reappointed) 
John Crain - Dallas (reappointed) 
Renee Dutia - Dallas (reappointed) 
Gilbert Peterson III - Alpine (reappointed)

Texas Crime Victims’ Institute
Advisory Council 
Lee Ann Breading - Denton 
Abigail Brookshire - Midlothian (reappointed) 
Libby Hamilton - Austin (reappointed) 
Joan Huffman - Houston (reappointed) 
James White - Hillister (reappointed) 
Erleigh Wiley - Forney (reappointed) 

State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee 
Alicia Key Ellison - Dripping Springs (reappointed) 
Vanessa Cortez Tanner - Austin 
Brent Connett - Austin 

Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission 
Lucy Taus Katz - Austin 
Providence Umugwaneza - San Antonio 

Texas Council on
Sex Offender Treatment 
Ezio Leite - North Richland Hills (reappointed) 
Emily Orozco-Crousen - Abilene (reappointed)

Texas Board of Medical
Radiologic Technology 
Shaila Parker - Dallas 
Nicholas Beckmann - Houston (reappointed) 
Scott Morren - Anton (reappointed) 
Faraz Khan - Houston (named chair) 
American Legislative Exchange Council – 2021 Rich States, Poor States
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 State Health Services – Program Specialist VII

  • Texas Water Development Board – Software Developer (Programmer III)

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Transportation Engineer II-IV

  • City of Pflugerville – Kennel Technician (Part-Time)
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