Volume 19, Issue 23 - June 4, 2021
Frisco councilmembers unanimously voted on June 1 to enter a master development agreement for the purpose of constructing an estimated $66 million performing arts center (PAC) that would be accompanied by a $33 million parking garage and $30 million 5-acre park.

The city intends to form a public-private partnership (P3) with Frisco’s community and economic development corporations, Hall Park, and the Frisco ISD (FISD) to finance the project.

Initial plans for the arts center feature a main performance hall with at least 1,250 seats, a smaller venue with at least 250 seats, a professional quality sound and lighting system, offices to house a maintenance and operations headquarters staff for the PAC facilities, back of house operation, scene and set shop with storage, an elevated crossover, fly system with stage house, ticketing offices and booths, and concession areas.

A multi-story parking garage with a minimum 1,100 spaces would have 200 spaces dedicated exclusively for PAC use with the remaining 900 spaces available for PAC parking and Hall Park use. The park would provide open space and a children’s playground.

To procced with the project, the agreement requires approval from the other public boards, namely the Frisco Community Development Corporation, the Frisco Economic Development Corporation, and FISD.

The agreement would commit the FISD to provide $43 million for the design and construction of the PAC main performance hall and common areas and the city to contribute $13 million to the design and construction of the PAC community venue and commons areas.

A combination of the city and\or Frisco Community Development Corporation would provide $33 million for the development of the parking garage to support the PAC, the surrounding area, and the park. The city would contribute $15 million for partial funding of the development of the park with the developer committing to the other $15 million.

If approved, the design process for the performing arts center is scheduled to begin in January 2022. Following the selection of the architect, the public entities will select a construction manager at risk and may hire a project manager to act as the city’s and/or FISD’s representative.
Amtrak’s vision for expansion recommends more round trips for the “Texas Triangle” regions of Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Houston, and Austin-San Antonio to link four of the nation’s largest 31 metropolitan areas.

In its Corridor Vision, Amtrak proposes the federal government invest $75 billion over 15 years to develop and expand intercity passenger rail corridors around the nation.

The plan would be implemented in collaboration with states, local communities, the administration, and other stakeholders to build upon Amtrak’s national network by integrating new and improved corridors to expand the existing system.

Amtrak’s vision to grow rail service across America includes 39 potential new routes and more trips or other enhancements on 25 existing routes, creating the potential to expand or improve rail service for 20 million additional passengers each year by bringing service to more than 160 new communities.

New stations would be built in more than half of the U.S. states as part of an additional $195 billion in economic activity generated by increased capital investment during 2021-2035.

In Texas, the vision for daily service includes three round trips between Houston and DFW, three round trips between Houston and San Antonio, and two round trips between DFW and Austin-San Antonio. The potential development of a new high-speed rail corridor between Dallas and Houston will be considered when determining the prioritization and development of these corridors.

Heartland Flyer service from DFW to Oklahoma City and Newton, Kansas, would be expanded from one to three round trips between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth and linked to Texas Triangle services. One Fort Worth to Oklahoma City round trip would be extended to Newton for a connection with Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.
Sam Loffredo joins the SPI Team as a managing consultant bringing federal, state, and local government experience as well as expertise in governmental relations and public affairs.

Working on Capitol Hill, Sam spent time working in the areas of health care, environmental issues, and technology.

Sam’s background also provided him opportunities to work in the areas of communications, business development, and media relations. He held positions where his responsibilities included public engagement, research, and client outreach as well.

He completed a paralegal certification program in 2021 with The University of Texas at Austin where he acquired comprehension of Texas civil law, legal research, writing, and analyzation.

Sam holds a bachelor's degree with a specialization in political science from Rutgers University.
The University of Houston System issued a request for information (RFI) for artificial intelligence (AI) automation support.

In its scope of work, the university outlines its needs for an AI logic system.

The university requires a solution that is or can be specifically focused on providing support for accounts payable auditing and master vendor/supplier file maintenance.

Desired features include:
  • Automated risk management that supports exception resolution rather than only identification. 
  • Anti-fraud controls utilizing standard tests but tunable to the specific needs of the university to meet internal or state policies. 
  • Automated supplier risk profiling that supports identification of exceptions in the supplier data. 
  • Automatic systemic hygiene and maintenance of the master vendor/supplier file. 
  • Actionable reporting and dashboards so trending issues may be identified quickly. 

RFI responses are due by 5 p.m. CST June 15.
Joel Speight
Chief Operating Officer
Texas Facilities Commission
Career highlights and education: Retired U.S. Air Force (USAF) colonel (24 years of service), with assignments in nine U.S. bases and Japan. Recipient of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Financial Management Award, for leading an USAF team in re-engineering the accounting recording cycle for financial commitments and identifying $600 million designated for Air Force mission items yet unspent. Today, I lead directors who operate and maintain a 32.1 million square foot portfolio of State-owned buildings. We recently re-aligned our staff to better utilize our skilled tradespeople, saving the state over $1 million in contracted repairs, as we addressed the water damage sustained during the winter storm.

M.S. National Resource Strategy, National Defense University, Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy

M.A., Computer Resource/Information Management, Webster University

B.S., General Engineering Core Curriculum, U.S. Air Force Academy

What I like best about public service is: Waking up every day knowing that the mission and team I am a part of is making a difference in improving the lives of fellow citizens and having the tremendous responsibility of stewarding taxpayers' dollars and state and federal resources well.

The best advice I’ve received is: When trying to decide a course of action: "Just get going, if you find at some point that the path you are on isn't what you are looking for, make a change, because you can't steer a parked car!"

My favorite way to de-stress is: When I was a young, I spent hours in the gym, running, and watching too much football. Now I work out in moderation and find peace working on my golf game.

People might be surprised to know that I: People might be surprised that I continue to learn leadership skills from my wife, the friendliest person in the world. In 2018, my wife Kymberli went out and met 100 people in 100 days, and she then wrote a book about her experience. It tells each person's story and some lessons she learned along the way. She is still in contact with almost 70 of these individuals. This statistic is impressive and inspires me to be mindful of the value of listening and learning from others.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Texas Facilities Commission is: Over 300-plus dedicated professionals at the Texas Facilities Commission daily have their fellow Texans’ backs. If you are a state employee, we are working hard every day to provide the most cost-efficient, and suitable workspace for you. If you are a taxpayer, we strive to be good stewards of every dollar and resource you have entrusted to our agency.
The Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure (AIAI) invites you to join former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment Lucian Niemeyer as he leads Protecting Infrastructure and Asset Value from Cyber Threats, a discussion on cybersecurity and how infrastructure must be protected.

Niemeyer will be joined by:
  • Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
  • Jason Christman, vice president and chief product security officer of Johnson Controls.
  • Alan Friel, deputy chair of data privacy and cybersecurity practice at Squire Patton Boggs.

Rapid investments in a “smart” built environment for a more efficient and convenient world are not being complemented by a commensurate safety framework designed to protect lives and resources in society from cyber attacks to technology, also known as cyber physical systems.

Cyber threats are expanding as ransomware attacks proliferate not just from Nation States, but from thousands of cyber hackers and criminals. As the Colonial Pipeline incident demonstrated, any one cyber attack can quickly impact lives and the nation by threatening the processes and technologies we rely on for essential services. Currently, governments do not have the resources or flexibility to quickly respond with protections for all sectors of the U.S. economy.

Our power grids, gas lines, water systems, transportation system, every building we walk into, and even our homes and cars are at cyber risk from bad actors wanting a pay-off or to make headlines. A cyber incident can cost millions to recover while devaluing an asset immediately. How can the nation incentivize investments in the cyber protections of these essential assets?

Please register for Protecting Infrastructure and Asset Value from Cyber Threats on June 8 at 1 p.m. CDT.
Cybersecurity, risk management, and digital services lead the list of top 10 priorities for state chief information officers (CIOs) polled during a midyear conference hosted by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) on May 25-27.

Cloud services ranked third to include cloud strategy, selection of service and deployment models, and scalable and elastic services. CIOs also prioritized governance, service management, security, privacy, and procurement for cloud-based services.

Strengthening statewide connectivity and implementing rural broadband expansion pushed broadband/wireless connectivity to fourth place, and the need for budget, cost control, and fiscal management came in fifth.

CIOs put data management and analytics in sixth with a focus on data governance, data architecture, strategy, business intelligence, predictive analytics, and big data.

Identity and access management ranked eighth as CIOs emphasized supporting citizen digital services, workforce access, authentication, access control, credentialing, and digital standards.

Preparing for the future workforce and reimagining the government workforce came in ninth with a desire for transformation of knowledge, skills and experience, more defined roles for information technology asset management, business relationship management skills, and service integration.

Customer relationship management dropped to 10th place from 2020, but still pointed to the importance for state CIOs and customer agencies to connect with the public through developing internal customer service strategies and building customer agency confidence, trust, and collaboration.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award funding to two Austin projects among several across the U.S. that are eligible for $2.5 billion from the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program.

FTA intends for the grants to help fund the construction or completion of 25 rail, bus rapid transit (BRT), and streetcar projects in 12 states as well as others that earn eligibility in fiscal year 2022.

The agency plans to award $17.81 million for the Expo Center BRT project to bring BRT service to residents along a 12-mile corridor, connecting East Austin to The University of Texas, downtown Austin, and other major employment areas.

Plans for the $35.62 million project call for construction of the near-level boarding stations, shelters, shade panels, banners, benches, trash cans, solar lighting, totem shells, platforms, bus pads, off-vehicle fare collection equipment, transit signal priority, mobile ticket validators and the purchase of 10 40-foot electric buses and four 60-foot articulated electric buses.

Another $18.28 million will go to the Pleasant Valley BRT project to provide BRT service to a 14-mile corridor connecting residents of the Mueller neighborhood in northeast Austin to the Goodnight Ranch neighborhood in southeast Austin.

The $36.56 million project will construct near-level boarding stations, shelter, shade panels, banners, benches, trash cans, solar lighting, totem shells, platforms, bus pads, off-vehicle fare collection equipment, transit signal priority, mobile ticket validators and the purchase of 12 40-foot electric buses and four 60-foot articulated electric buses.

FTA’s CIG Program is the federal government's primary grant program for supporting transit capital projects that are locally planned, implemented, and operated. It provides funding for investments such as new and expanded heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, bus rapid transit, and ferries, as well as corridor-based BRT investments that emulate the features of rail.
Preliminary plans for the renovation of the former Yoe High School are coming together at Cameron ISD with discussions of a possible $12.8 million bond on the horizon.

The district would transform the 100-year-old building into space for career and technology education (CTE) courses such as computer science, business, finance, criminal justice, education, and health science.

On the first floor, a mock hospital would be adjacent to health science classrooms and administrative offices will be at the entrance.

The renovation project would add space for criminal justice classrooms to include forensics and crime labs on the second floor. Business, finance, and computer science classes would benefit from a collaborative space on the third floor.

Plans call for remodeling the auditorium to its original layout to capture its historical significance and display memorabilia. The changes will provide space for a café and seating that can accommodate school board meetings and public gatherings.

If the board were to call an election for November 2021 that passes, design development would begin in May 2022, construction documents would be finished in July 2022, and bid and award would be set for September 2022. Substantial completion would be targeted for November 2023.
Three major projects to improve Austin wastewater treatment plants or associated infrastructure are scheduled to advertise for bidding later this year.

An estimated $78.23 million project will improve two aeration trains at the South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Aging assets in the trains need to be replaced to provide a reliable and sustainable treatment process. The city plans to release an invitation for bids (competitive sealed bid or low bid) in October for this project.

In November, Austin is scheduled to let a $35 million expansion project at the Wildhorse Ranch WWTP to serve increasing growth in Austin and Manor. The city anticipates issuing an invitation for bids (competitive sealed bid or low bid) for this project.

The expansion will allow the facility to accommodate the diversion of the Harris Branch WWTP and future diversion of Dessau WWTP flows by increasing the plant’s capacity of .75 million gallons per day (MGD).

Austin’s Falwell Lane Capital Renewal Project is scheduled to go out for bid in November to relocate the existing access road to the South Austin Regional WWTP and the Sand Hill Energy Center. The city will likely issue an invitation for bids (competitive sealed bid or low bid) for the estimated $40.83 million project.
Plans for a new veterinary hospital and education center at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco are entering the design phase after the City Council approved a contract for architectural services with construction drawings anticipated in six months.

Part of a four-phase bond project approved by voters in 2019, the estimated $8.33 million complex will provide space for education classes and programs, after hours events, rental space, traveling exhibits, and an area for housing the Animal Ambassador collection of animals.

The veterinary hospital would contain recovery space for large mammals and aquatic species, including an aquatic room with a pool for animals like river otters, aviary with flying space that is both covered and heated, room with padded walls for hoof stock, and climate-controlled rooms for reptiles.

Additional requirements are surgical facilities that are clean, with adequate lighting, ventilation, and temperature controls, and that can be easily cleaned and disinfected. The animals must have access to inhalant anesthesia equipment with a gas scavenging system and oxygen. Aseptic surgical facilities should include separate areas for animal preparation, surgeon’s scrub, instrument preparation, and postoperative recovery that is safe and secure.

The building must include a necropsy suite with separate entry/exit featuring wide transportation docks, a quarantine facility with separate exhaust system and HVAC, adequate storage space; office space with separate exhaust system and HVAC; and a small sleeping quarters with a restroom and shower for staff providing overnight care.

Later project phases funded by the bond include construction of an estimated $4.4 million exhibit highlighted by black-footed African penguins, replacement of the zoo’s hoofstock barn, and renovations to the commissary.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) released a request for information (RFI) to gather vendor input on an automated or semi-automated solution for scorecards or surveys to evaluate contractor performance.

DART has a requirement to periodically rate contractors. The objective of this RFI is to focus on rating contractors for service contracts verses commodity contracts.

Multiple stakeholders shall evaluate the contractor’s performance identifying items the contractor does well and areas of improvement.

Upon completion of the survey, the contractors receive a score. The gathered information needs to be stored and available for the DART Procurement team in an easily searchable database. If the contractor has areas of improvement, DART and the contractor will work together to ensure improvement. If the contractor has minor issues, the rating score will be stored in a database that the procurement department will use for making award decisions in future projects.

The deadline for RFI submissions is 2 p.m. CT June 17.
New Texas A&M University President Kathy Banks named several individuals to leadership roles at the College Station campus. The June 3 announcement came as part of Banks’ review of university operations.
Retired Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr. has been appointed interim vice president for student affairs to succeed Dr. Danny Pugh. For the past 10 years, Ramirez has served as commandant of the university’s Corps of Cadets. He has 31 years of military service.
Greg Hartman has been appointed chief operations officer. Hartman previously served as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Texas A&M Health. Before that, he was vice chancellor of strategic initiatives for the Texas A&M System.
Banks appointed John Crawford as chief financial officer to take over for Dr. Jerry Strawser. Crawford most recently served as assistant vice chancellor for business management and chief financial officer for the Texas A&M Engineering Program. Prior to that, he was controller at Texas A&M University.
Ed Pierson has been named interim vice president for information technology (IT) and chief information officer (CIO). Previously, Pierson served as director of IT, CIO, and assistant vice chancellor of industry partnerships for the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).
Norman Garza Jr. has been selected as vice president of government relations. He served as assistant vice chancellor of government relations at TEES. Before that, he was assistant vice chancellor and external affairs for two state agencies and an associate legislative director for the Texas Farm Bureau.
Fred Farias III was named chair and Donna Williams selected as vice chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) by Gov. Greg Abbott. 
Farias of McAllen is an optometrist and chief executive officer of an optometry practice. He has served on The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board since 2015. In addition, he is chairman of the Academic and Workforce Success Committee and a member of the Texas Higher Education Foundation. 
Williams of Arlington is vice president and program manager for a transportation group. She has served on THECB since 2018 and is vice chairman of the Academic and Workforce Success Committee. She was a member of the Texas State University System board of regents and served as chair for two terms. 
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Anna Benavides Galo to the Parks and Wildlife Commission and named Arch “Beaver” Aplin as chair.
Galo of Laredo is vice president of a cattle company and is a co-trustee of her family’s mineral trust. She is a member of the city of Laredo city manager’s ad-hoc committee and a founding member and first treasurer of the Laredo Community College Education Foundation among several volunteer positions.
Aplin of Lake Jackson is president and chief executive officer of a Texas convenience store and gas station chain. He has served on the Parks and Wildlife Commission since November 2018. He is a former member of the State of Texas Small Business Council and Lieutenant Governor’s Transportation Advisory Board.
The Dallas College board of trustees named Dr. Justin Lonon as the sole finalist for the position of chancellor. He would succeed Dr. Joe May who announced his intent to retire as chancellor, effective August 2022. 

Lonon most recently served as executive vice chancellor of Dallas College. Before that, he led Dallas College’s educational policy, workforce and economic development, and institutional research divisions and served as interim president for Brookhaven College. 

His appointment must be approved by a formal vote of the trustees, following a 21-day waiting period required by the state. 
The Texas Southern University (TSU) board of regents named Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young as the sole finalist for the position of TSU president. She would succeed Interim President Kenneth Huewitt. 

Crumpton-Young has served as the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Morgan State University. Prior to that, she served at Tennessee State University in several roles including vice president for research and institutional advancement and chief research officer and as associate provost of undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University. 

A confirmation vote by the regents is scheduled for June 17. 
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) will consider unsolicited proposals from all responsible sources that believe they can meet the authority’s requirements for an enterprise program that provides learning and service credits for ArcGIS Desktop software.

A summary of support credit options available through the enterprise program that Capital Metro uses are:
  • Technical consulting services support consisting of review of system architecture design, enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS) health check, basic prototyping, and other general technical consulting activities. 
  • Premium support services subscription. 
  • Instructor-led training, bootcamp or online classroom. 
  • Client-site or private site training event. 
  • Instructor-led online half-day and full-day workshops. 
  • Private instructor-led online half-day and full-day workshops. 
  • Coaching services. 
  • Technical certification exam voucher. 

Capital Metro will accept responses to its request for information (RFI) until 3 p.m. CST June 14. If no responses are received by that time, it will award a sole source contract to the current vendor.
The city of Port Arthur received $455,000 in grant funding from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) on June 3 to develop a new master drainage plan for a total project cost of $1.35 million.

Port Arthur will develop a new policy guide to complement the master drainage plan, which will use institutional knowledge, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data, and hydrologic and hydraulic studies to manage flood threats. It will include a priority list of future drainage projects for the city.

The city’s most recent master drainage plan dates to the 1980s and needs to be updated to support immediate and long-term planning and development, as well as to establish appropriate building restrictions and guidelines.

Currently, Port Arthur does not have a city-wide hydrologic and hydraulic model. This lack of information hinders the city’s ability to accurately identify areas threatened by potential flooding and prioritize flood mitigation projects.

In a unique watershed circumstance, the city’s topography includes contours and elevations that have systematically resulted in high-risk developments and require ongoing and proactive management of its flood protection.

The drainage system is largely outdated and in need of proper planning to adequately prepare for the future. Jefferson County Drainage District No. 7 also shares responsibility for stormwater management within the city’s jurisdiction.

Completion of the master drainage plan is scheduled for May 2023.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from May 28-June 3:

State Board of
Educator Certification 
Andrew Kim - New Braunfels 
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Eleventh District Beige Book

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority – 2020 Annual Report and Financial Statements
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 – Transportation Funding Specialist I-II

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Auditor V – Internal Audit Division

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Ferryboat Deckhand I (Port Aransas)

  • Texas Water Development Board – Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Coordinator (Program Specialist I-IV)

  • Texas Water Development Board – Contract Specialist III

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Information Technology Security Analyst III

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Texas Rent Relief Program Training & Outreach Specialist

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Accounting Associate

  • City of College Station – Director of Public Works
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