Volume 19, Issue 33 - August 13, 2021
Booming student enrollments prompted Leander ISD trustees to call a $772.2 million bond election for November 2 to fund projects such as new school construction, technology updates, and aging school improvements.

The district anticipates adding 12,000 students in the next 10 years which would require it to build nine more schools (seven elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school).

After months of deliberation, trustees called the election based on recommendations from a community-led committee earlier this summer.

Through three ballot propositions, the district aims to address enrollment growth, repair aging facilities, and replace outdated technology.

Projects that would be funded include:
  • Four new schools (three elementary and one middle). 
  • Renovations and major maintenance at 12 schools. 
  • Additional classrooms for modernization at Cedar Park, Leander, and Vista Ridge high schools. 
  • New 18+ plus program building for students in special education qualifying for services after their 18th birthday. 
  • New building for New Hope High School. 
  • An additional school of choice for high school students. 
  • Technology infrastructure projects to improve quality and reliability of internet services. 
  • New laptops and technology devices to replace old equipment used by students and teachers. 
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) is looking to advance an $825 million project to add express lanes on MoPac South to its schematic design and environmental process.

After a long delay, CTRMA is resuming plans to add one or two express lanes in each direction on an 8-mile section.

New CTRMA Executive Director James Bass updated the Austin Chamber of Commerce on the status of this project and several others in the greater Austin area on August 4.

Another MoPac improvement project will add auxiliary and merge lanes between Barton Skyway and Loop 360 for an estimated $15 million. The project aims to relieve congestion on southbound MoPac south of Lady Bird Lake. Construction is anticipated to begin in mid-2022 with completion in mid-2023.

CTRMA is nearing completion of a feasibility study to evaluate the expansion of 290 Toll east toward Manor and Elgin. The fourth phase of the 290 project would go from State Highway 130 to SH 95. Cost is yet to be determined.
Texas is in line to receive billions of dollars in infrastructure funding if the House passes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act when it reconvenes on August 23.

Based on formula funding alone, Texas would expect to receive $26.9 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $537 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.

In addition, the state may compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.

A day after the Senate passed the historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pledged federal support for Texas’ transportation needs as he toured Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Area Rapid Transit construction sites on August 11.

Buttigieg was joined by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Colin Allred as he spoke with Rep. Marc Veasey and Texas Department of Transportation officials.
El Paso Electric (EPE) will host a pre-bid webcast at 2 p.m. MDT/ 3 p.m. CDT August 24 in advance of accepting bids for short-term and long-term power generating and renewable energy.

EPE is seeking renewable energy sources for its New Mexico customers by 2025 to meet increasing standards and projected energy demand there.

Initial resource planning studies by EPE project a New Mexico capacity need of approximately 40 megawatts (MW) in 2022 growing up to 90 MW in 2024, with 90 to 110 MW of capacity needed to meet its New Mexico customers’ long-term energy demand in 2025. New generation also is necessary to offset EPE’s planned retirements of older, less-efficient generating units.

As part of New Mexico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, EPE will need an additional long-term resource that will generate approximately 175,000 megawatt hours (MWh) per year of additional renewable energy by December 2024.

EPE’s preference is for capacity resources that can provide high availability and guarantee generation output during peak hours in May through September, as well as guarantee a minimum annual generation output for renewable energy resources. EPE will consider acquiring a single resource or a combination of supply-side and/or demand-side resources that are proposed and evaluated in response to a request for proposals.
Mario Canizares
City Manager
City of Nacogdoches
Public career highlights: I worked in several D/FW cities for the first 24 years of my career. These opportunities prepared me to be appointed as the city manager of Nacogdoches. My time in each city has had its defining moments but dealing with aspects of COVID-19 have been the most profound to me. The early days and weeks of the pandemic were scary. We had no idea what was going to happen, and we all adapted accordingly. As my team in Denton did and now my team in Nacogdoches has done, we never stopped providing services to citizens at a time when they needed us the most.

What I like best about my public service is: Providing services to those in need. As an organization we are here to serve regardless of the circumstances. I truly enjoy the problem-solving aspect our profession. Even more important to me is to equip, empower, and support our Nacogdoches employees to offer solutions when problems are presented. They don’t have to wait on me to provide the answers they already know.

The best advice I’ve received is: “There is dignity and respect in all work.” “Don’t wait on the manager/supervisor/leader to get things done.” “Always work with a sense of urgency or purpose.” “Treat people with kindness, and it will reward you in the end.”

My favorite way to de-stress is: Exercising such as lifting weights and the spin bike. It is rewarding to me to be completely wiped out and leave a puddle of sweat on the floor.

People might be surprised to know that I: Enjoy cooking for groups of people. The more the merrier to me. The stressors of meeting or exceeding the expectations of hungry guests and the deadline for serving the meal is exhilarating. The other thing that may be surprising is that I wish I was a bartender in a dive bar/pub. Knowing mixology and chatting it up with people would be a blast.

One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Nacogdoches is: Nacogdoches, is a charming historic small town that has so much to offer. Given that Nac is the home to Stephen F. Austin State University, it affords our community the diverse offerings of students, sports, music, arts, culture, education, and a renaissance vibe. My hope is that Nacogdoches turns into an entertainment destination that draws even more people to East Texas.
Tarrant County commissioners called a $516 million bond election for November 2 that will be split into two propositions.

Proposition A calls for the issuing of $400 million in general obligation bonds for a host of road, street, and bridge improvements in Tarrant County.

The county issued a call for projects to municipalities earlier this year. Then, a bond advisory committee drafted a recommended project list based on those requests.

Some of the highest-priority projects and requested amounts are:
  • Center Street in Arlington - $6.5 million. 
  • Dunaway Lane in Azle - $2.82 million. 
  • Brown Trail (north) in Bedford - $7.9 million. 
  • Cheek-Sparger Road in Colleyville – $13 million. 
  • Cromwell Marine Creek Road in Fort Worth - $13.91 million. 

Proposition B calls for issuing $116 million in general obligation bonds for constructing a criminal district attorney office building to provide space for prosecutorial efforts and for other non-judicial county activities and facilities.

The Commissioners Court intends to only issue the bonds if the county has the capacity to repay the bonds without a tax-rate increase.
State transportation officials approved letting in September for an estimated $193.9 million project to widen Interstate 45 in Huntsville.

The project would widen I-45 from four to six lanes on a 4.4-mile section.

Project scope includes reconstructing and realigning the main lanes and ramps and improving drainage structures and bridges as well as upgrading frontage roads, crossroads adjacent to new ramps, and interchanges. The project includes adding collector-distributor roads.

Two mandatory pre-bid conferences to answer questions and describe bidding are scheduled for this project at Bryan District Headquarters at 9 a.m. August 19 and August 20. Prospective bidders will be disqualified if they do not attend at least one of the two scheduled conferences.

Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2021.
Texas’ population rose by nearly 16 percent over the last decade driven by growth in metropolitan areas, according to 2020 Census statistics released on August 12.

A 15.9 percent jump in Texas’ residents from 25,145,561 in 2010 to 29,145,505 in 2020 was second only to Utah, which rose by 18.4 percent.

U.S. metro areas’ populations grew by 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86 percent of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85 percent in 2010.

Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio accounted for five of the 14 U.S. cities that experienced population gains of more than 100,000 over the last 10 years.

Of the top 10 largest U.S. cities in 2020, Houston had the second-highest population increase by percentage (9.8%) after Phoenix (11.2%).

The first detailed statistics from the 2020 Census, which will be used for redistricting, highlighted the country’s growing metropolitan areas as well as its racial and ethnic diversity.
Harris County Flood Control District will receive $250 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to remove accumulated sediment deposited during Hurricane Harvey flooding.

The district will apply the funds to remove the sediment in channels, creeks, and bayous.

The district will concentrate on the Willow Creek, White Oak Bayou, Spring Creek, Little Cypress Creek, Greens Bayou, Cypress Creek, Barker Reservoir and Addicks Reservoir watersheds.

Federal cost share for this project is 90 percent. The district will be responsible for the remaining 10 percent of the project cost, but the state of Texas is expected to reimburse up to 75 percent of that local share, bringing the total cost to the Flood Control District down to approximately $6.25 million.

The cutting-edge methods used by the Flood Control District team have rarely been used on such a scale and took several years of close collaboration with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and FEMA to receive approval.

Removal of sediment will be phased as the design is completed and environmental permits are secured. First construction expected to start sometime in late 2022.
The Port of Corpus Christi will team with a private energy partner to convert a refinery services facility into the region’s first carbon-neutral hydrogen production plant.

Port officials said the partnership comes in the wake of an August 7 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that defines the imperative for elimination of all carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and for the development of infrastructure to capture and permanently store carbon.

In the wake of the IPCC report, the port has redoubled its commitment to lead atmospheric decarbonization of the energy sector and to embrace the energy transition.

Strategically positioned in the Port of Corpus Christi with pipeline connectivity to all six local refineries, the facility processes approximately 60 million cubic feet per day of hydrogen production.

The port’s process combines hydrogen entrained in the refineries’ waste gas and hydrogen produced through a steam methane reformer method.

This hydrogen is currently sold back to refineries and other industries where it is used to remove impurities such as sulfur during the refining process.

The Port of Corpus Christi and Howard ultimately hope to scale hydrogen production for exports to overseas demand centers.
The city of Pflugerville soon will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to develop a site at FM 685 and Pecan Street into a civic center that includes a city hall, recreation center, and mixed-use development.

Councilmembers on August 10 authorized the land purchase using cash reserves and general obligation funds of up to $10 million.

Both a public-private partnership (P3) and a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) were discussed as financing mechanisms to incorporate into the RFP, but a recommendation was not made regarding a specific mechanism for funding the design and construction of a city facility as part of this proposed project.
The city of Harlingen is entering the design phase for a new multimodal transit terminal with the selection of an architectural and engineering firm on August 4.

In late 2019, Harlingen city commissioners approved the purchase of a county warehouse site to build a new public transit center. Since 2018, the property has been a makeshift hub for buses traveling on Interstate 69.

After the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) committed $5.6 million to the project, local leaders advanced plans to build a facility that would serve as Valley Metro’s hub in northern Cameron County.

Preliminary designs include a 10-bay bus terminal that would house a ticket office, waiting area, and retail space. City officials said they envision renting space to bus companies, restaurants, and retailers to offset operating costs.
The U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the pending Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that strengthens the congressional designation of Interstate 14, a corridor that would stretch across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. 

According to the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition, the amendment was offered jointly by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. The full I-14 congressional designation was supported by all 10 senators along the corridor which runs from Midland-Odessa to Augusta, Georgia,  

The designation was approved earlier in the U.S. House and has the support of every House member whose district is on the I-14 route. 

In Texas, the I-14 corridor runs from Midland-Odessa to San Angelo, Killeen-Fort Hood, Bryan-College Station, Livingston, Woodville, and Jasper. The first 25-mile section of I-14 from Killeen and Fort Hood to Interstate 35 at Belton was added to the Interstate Highway System in 2017. 

Moving east the designated I-14 corridor connects Fort Polk-Leesville, Alexandria-Pineville, Louisiana; Natchez and Laurel, Mississippi; Selma and Montgomery, Alabama; and Columbus, Macon, and Augusta, Georgia. Four spur interstate routes connect future I-14 to I-10 in Texas and Mississippi. The designation includes an interstate loop at Bryan-College Station. 
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed James Glotfelty to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas on August 6.

Glotfelty of Houston is the former director of government solutions for an infrastructure company and founder and executive vice president for an energy firm. Additionally, he was the former director of the Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution and a senior policy adviser to the secretary of energy for the U.S. Department of Energy.
The city of Haskell selected June Ellis as its new city administrator.

Ellis most recently served as finance director for the city of Buda. Prior to that, he was budget and financial manager for Missouri City and budget officer for the city of Pearland.
Crosby ISD celebrated Paula Patterson as its new superintendent as the school year started on August 12.

Patterson most recently served as deputy superintendent of academics for Sheldon ISD. Before that, she was Sheldon ISD’s chief academic officer and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
J Rhett Parker started as city manager for the city of Post on August 2. He succeeded former City Manager Deana Smith.

Parker previously served as city manager of Cameron and city administrator of Ralls.
The city of Amarillo named Stephanie Coggins as city secretary, effective August 23.

Coggins previously served the city as public works manager, assistant to the city manager, budget analyst, and property accountant. In addition, she was an accountant with Canyon ISD.
San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh appointed Michael Ramsey as the city’s executive director of workforce development, effective August 16.

Ramsey previously served as the dean of workforce development at St. Petersburg College in Florida and director of workforce and continuing education for Hillsborough County Schools.
The Texas General Land Office (GLO) launched the Local Hazard Mitigation Plans Program (LHMPP) that will distribute $25 million in grants to communities recovering from Hurricane Harvey or catastrophic floods in 2015 and 2016.

LHMPP encourages the development of or updates to new mitigation plans to help minimize the loss of life and property damage due to disasters. It is funded through the Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Hazard Mitigation Plan development and approval oversight will be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and implemented through the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).

Grant awards will range from $20,000 to $100,000.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from August 6-12:

Tenth Court of Appeals 
Steve Smith - College Station

169th Judicial District
Court – Judge 
Cari Starritt-Burnett - Belton

91st Judicial District –
District Attorney 
Brad Stephenson - Eastland

Texas State Library and
Archives Commission 
David Iglesias - Tyler

ERCOT Board Selection Committee 
Arch Aplin - Lake Jackson

Guadalupe-Blanco River
Authority Board of Directors 
Emanuel Valdez - New Braunfels

Lavaca-Navidad River Authority 
Vance Mitchell - Lolita
Sandy Johs - LaWard (reappointed)
Jennifer Powell Storz - Edna (reappointed)
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 IV (Government and Strategic Communications)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Director of Multifamily Programs

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Program Specialist IV-V

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Human Resources Generalist II or III

  • Texas Education Agency – Finance Support Specialist

  • Texas Education Agency – Manager IV (Federal Fiscal Monitoring Division)

  • Texas Education Agency – Senior Auditor (Auditor IV)
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