Volume 19, Issue 32 - Friday, August 6, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
New funding is available for upcoming projects related to parks and outdoor activities. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a program overseen by the Department of the Interior, has $900 million to be used for projects at government facilities on public lands and tribal schools.

The objective is to begin to address the Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog of over $22 billion for recreation facilities, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools, and other historic structures.

For fiscal year 2022, the department has selected 63 specific projects and the funding is now available. Some of the upcoming projects are outlined below.

Yellowstone National Park will have funding for the following projects:
  • $71 million will go to replacing the structurally deficient Yellowstone River Bridge. The new bridge project will include the reconstruction of approach roads as well.
  • $52 million will be spent to replace wastewater treatment plants serving the Canyon and Grant Village developed areas. Work will include rehabilitation of wastewater collection and treatment systems.
  • $20 million is earmarked for rehabilitation and upgrades to the Old Faithful water treatment system in addition to the demolition of an abandoned wastewater treatment plant.
  • $9 million will be used to replace the Mammoth Wastewater Collection System.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area will spend $36 million to repair a concrete wharf in the Alcatraz Island National Historic Landmark District. The project includes repair of existing concrete piles, beams, and slabs. At Yosemite National Park, about $19 million will be used to rehabilitate The Ahwahnee hotel.

Texas will be eligible to receive more than $666.13 million in federal hazard mitigation funds to reduce the effects of climate change

President Biden approved the funding on August 5 as part of over $3.46 billion that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will distribute across 59 COVID-19 disaster declarations.

With the growing climate change crisis facing the nation, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) will provide funding to states, tribes, and territories for mitigation projects to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Every state, tribe, and territory that received a major disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive 4 percent of those disaster costs to invest in mitigation projects that reduce risks from natural disasters.

This influx of funding will help communities prioritize mitigation needs for a more resilient future, including underserved communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These projects can help address effects of climate change and other unmet mitigation needs, including using funds to promote equitable outcomes in underserved communities.

For eligible mitigation projects, HMGP funding can cover 75 percent of total project costs with states or communities covering the remaining share.
Rockwall ISD trustees unanimously approved placing a $475.8 million bond referendum on the November 2 ballot to fund new school construction, additions, athletic facilities, and district-wide improvements.

Proposition A constitutes the bulk of the referendum with voter approval sought for $458.93 million to fund major capital projects for:
  • Construction of an $84.98 million middle school. 
  • Construction of two 9th-Grade Centers at Rockwall (RHS) and Rockwall-Heath (RHHS) high schools for $92.09 million and $93.32 million, respectively. 
  • Additions to Herman Utley, Cain, and J.W. Williams middle schools. 
  • Replacement of Amanda Rochell Elementary School for $39.62 million. 
  • Additions to Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath high school gymnasiums. 

Other Proposition A items include $34.77 million in improvements to Rockwall-Heath High School’s multi-purpose practice field and its tennis complex in addition to flooring, kitchen, mechanical, roofing, and safety and security upgrades at various campuses.

Almost $27.7 million in district-wide improvements would fund updates, upgrades, and refresh cycles for technology. Bus purchases and fine arts and athletics equipment would receive funding as well.

Proposition B would provide $16.92 million to acquire and update technology equipment.

The administration also recommended that trustees consider using previous bond savings from the district’s 2015 bond program to fund the remaining projects recommended by the Facilities Bond Committee. These projects include improvements and capital upgrades to the two district performing art centers, the Wilkerson-Sanders Memorial Stadium, and Rockwall ISD’s Aquatic Center.
A new state Broadband Development Office (BDO) has been formed within the Texas Comptroller’s office to award grants, low-interest loans, and other financial assistance to further the expansion of broadband service in underserved areas in Texas.

The office, established by HB 5 during the recently gaveled regular session of the 87th Legislature, also will:
  • Create a broadband map indicating areas eligible for financial assistance.
  • Set an effective threshold speed for broadband service in those underserved areas at 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload.
  • Create and update a state broadband plan.
  • Engage in outreach to communities regarding the expansion and adoption of broadband service and the programs administered by the BDO.
  • Serve as the state’s subject matter expert for federal funding to help local governments.

In December 2020, a broadband advocacy group, estimated that 316,717 Texas households were “unserved” by 25/3 Mbps broadband, about 89 percent of them in rural areas.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Greg Conte will serve as the BDO’s founding director. Conte has worked at the Texas Comptroller’s office for five years, most recently serving as manager of the Data Analysis and Transparency Division. Hegar will serve as chairman of a 10-member board of advisers that will guide the new office.

A separate, related piece of legislation created the Broadband Pole Replacement Fund, which would reimburse broadband service providers for up to 50 percent of eligible pole replacement costs in underserved areas. This program will be funded by federal money received through the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund.
 JR Treviño
Chairman and Founder
Texas Municipal Officers ERCOT Advisory Board
(Electric Reliability Council of Texas)
Public career highlights and education: I earned my Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University. I was elected as alderman for the city of Castle Hills at 29 and went on to be elected mayor at 32. I spearheaded the city’s first issuance of debt for capital improvements in modern history. In 2021, I started my second term of service after running for re-election unopposed. I am currently pursuing a leadership certificate through Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business in partnership with the Texas Lyceum. Most recently, I formed the Texas Municipal Officers ERCOT Advisory Board to work with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

What I like best about public service is: San Antonio entrepreneur Graham Weston once said that San Antonio is a city you can build. As a small municipality in the middle of San Antonio, Castle Hills is no exception. Being able to shape the trajectory of our city and making a tangible difference in the residents and business owners' lives is very rewarding. People are incredibly appreciative of the personalized level of service and that makes the job worth the work.

The best advice I’ve received is: Don’t just talk about the problem, offer a solution. We live in an imperfect world where you don’t have to look hard to find a problem. I’ve come to learn that a leader takes steps toward improvements. That is how the Texas Municipal Officer ERCOT Advisory Board was born. I saw a problem in lack of communication. I offered a solution, which was a statewide board representing end users.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Refocus my attention to another project. I find solace in making progress as opposed to feeling like I could be doing something productive.

People might be surprised to know that I: Completed 15 half marathons in various cities and countries in 2018. Twelve of the races were domestic, and three were international. About three weeks before the seventh race in Denver, I sustained an injury and broke six ribs. Between the injuries and the altitude, Denver was my most difficult race.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Texas Municipal Officers ERCOT Advisory Board is: It was designed to serve as a conduit for information – both from ERCOT leadership and to ERCOT leadership. Managing one of our state’s most precious resources, it was my goal was to ensure that end users had a path to give feedback to ERCOT. Who better to represent end users than the people that they elected. It also was important to make every effort to make the board sustainable. By utilizing Texas Municipal League’s existing regions and officers, we were able to avoid the cumbersome process of board member identification as well as selection, effectively facilitating years of future service.
As the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) refines the $5.6 billion I-35 Capital Express Central project in Austin, it is pursuing strategies to lessen the divide created when the central portion of Interstate 35 was built atop East Avenue in the 1950s.

The city of Austin is a partner in the project, working with TxDOT to increase safety, maximize the movement of people, goods, and services on the corridor and increase east-west connectivity across the highway.

As TxDOT considers lowering the central portion of I-35 through downtown Austin, the opportunity exists for the city of Austin to create “caps,” or decks covering the highway that can reclaim that property as public space, and “stitches,” or wide bridges that would add enhanced east-west connections across I-35.

A panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute commissioned by the Downtown Austin Alliance has created recommendations for some of these caps and stitches. Partners on this project are seeking out community input before proposing locations and uses.

The I-35 Capital Express Central project proposes to add two non-tolled managed lanes in each direction along I-35 from U.S. Highway 290 East to State Highway 71/Ben White Boulevard. Managed lanes are proposed in high-congestion areas where right of way is limited.
Leaders in Midland are creating a high-speed aerospace corridor to capitalize on a location bottleneck that is slowing the flow of billions of dollars to the private sector for hypersonic testing and development.

The corridor between Midland International Air and Space Port and Spaceport America in New Mexico is in the planning stages to serve companies conducting point-to-point flights of reusable launch vehicles.

Midland Development Corporation (MDC) directors unanimously approved a contract on August 2 for professional consulting services for airspace modeling in response to requests by 13 vehicle operators for airspace and facilities to conduct a point-to-point test flight of their current generation launch vehicles between the airport and Spaceport America and back.

If all 13 prospects were to locate in the aerospace corridor, they would require an estimated 64 acres to house 651,000 square feet of facility space and 465 employees at a projected investment of $281 million.
Sachse councilmembers are reviewing a bond committee’s recommendations for up to $71.25 million in projects for a potential November 2 bond election.

One of two proposed bond scenarios would seek voter approval of five propositions to finance major road improvements, a neighborhood residential streets package, and a new animal shelter.

Proposition A would provide $33.48 million for Sachse Road, phases II, III, and IV, from Miles Road to the city limits, including a new bridge.

Proposition B would fund $20.65 million for improvements to: Bailey-Hooper Road, from SH 78 to Sachse Road; Williford Road, from State Highway 78 to Bailey Road; and West Creek Lane, from Sachse Road to Timbercreek Court.

Proposition C would authorize $9.62 million for work on Blackburn-Ingram Road, from Hilltop Trail to Dewitt Road.

Proposition D would provide $5 million for improvements to neighborhood residential streets including design, construction, reconstruction, improvements, extension, expansion, upgrades, and development.

Proposition E would put $2.5 million toward a Sachse Municipal Animal Shelter, including design, construction, improvements, and to equip the shelter.

A second $54 million scenario would ask voters to approve $23.38 million for only the second and third phases of the Sachse Road project, $20.65 million for improvements to Bailey-Hooper, Williford, and West Creek roads, $5 million for residential streets, and $5 million for an animal shelter.

Councilmembers are set to review both scenarios at their August 16 meeting.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is predicting full recovery from the effects of the pandemic by FY 2023, according to budget documents from the August 5 board of directors meeting.

As the airport plans to add nine gates to Terminals A and C, staff are reporting that the airport is recovering from the effects of the pandemic faster than most airports.

DFW’s FY 2022 passenger budget is $67.2 million, a 26.5 percent increase over the FY 2021 budget and less than 8.3 percent less than the FY 2019 actual pre-pandemic budget.

The 2020 North American Airport Traffic Summary by Airports Council International-North America substantiates DFW’s claims with the airport ranking second in passengers (421,423) and third in aircraft movements (514,702) among 263 airports in North America. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was first in both categories.

Among the airports rated, overall passenger traffic declined by 61.3 percent in 2020 with international passenger traffic suffering a decrease of 73.8 percent. Domestic passenger traffic was less impacted with a 59 percent decrease. Overall air cargo traffic increased by 2 percent, as a result of significant increase in domestic freight of 5.6 percent while international freight decreased by 3.9 percent.
The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will host a virtual pre-submittal meeting at 2 p.m. CDT August 12 for architecture services.

LCRA is seeking a firm to deliver services focused primarily on its corporate facilities in Austin, specifically the General Office Complex (GOC) on Lake Austin Boulevard, the Dalchau Service Center (DSC) on Montopolis Drive, and on park properties.

Examples of potential projects include:
  • New construction, adaptive reuse, or expansion of buildings. 
  • Renovation and remodeling of office buildings. 
  • Park capital projects including renovations, new construction, roads, utilities, and recreational vehicle sites. 
  • New architectural standards and space utilization schemes. 
  • Design of new corporate office interior finishes. 
  • New systems furniture and signage. 
  • Land and master planning. 
  • Feasibility studies and programming. 
  • Campus site and parking improvements. 
  • Exterior building projects including windows, roofing, and landscaping. 
  • Code, security, and accessibility assessments and upgrades. 
  • Energy efficiency and sustainability improvements. 

The GOC and DSC office sites total more than 100 acres and include Class A and B office buildings, control centers, emergency operations, meeting facilities, and various light industrial and service buildings.

LCRA parks properties comprise more than 11,000 acres including cabins, restrooms, boat docks, picnic pavilions, and parking lots. Other potential sites for these services include power plants, dams, and electrical centers throughout LCRA’s service area.
West Lake Hills councilmembers are revisiting infrastructure needs and capital improvement projects for a potential $25 million bond election on November 2. Last year, the city scheduled a similar bond election for May, but canceled it due to the pandemic.

The City Council is considering two propositions – one for a two-story city hall and police station building for an estimated $13.2 million and the other for roadway and drainage projects totaling $11.8 million.

Design work began in March for the 17,958-square-foot municipal building. If Proposition A is approved by voters, project bids for construction would begin in February 2023 with construction commencing in April 2023. Substantial completion is set for May 2024.

The city will address flooding on several city roads with the passage of Proposition B.

A $3.72 million project would build a retaining wall, install new cross culverts, and make 6,500 feet of ditch enhancements to improve Red Bud Trail’s drainage and pavement.

Other proposed road infrastructure projects include $2.16 million to upgrade a low-water crossing on Eanes Creek Road, $1.91 million to improve Westlake Drive drainage, $1.66 million to make culvert and ditch improvements to Laurel Valley, $946,275 to upgrade Terrace Mountain Drive with new piping and culverts, and $700,000 to increase Yaupon Valley Road stormwater conveyance capacity.

August 16 is the deadline for councilmembers to call the election for this November.
High-speed rail and hyperloop are the two modes of transit that advanced to the second phase of the Dallas-Fort Worth High-Speed Transportation Connections Study.

The Regional Transportation Council recently approved recommendations from the study’s first phase that identified a route in the Interstate 30 corridor to move into the study’s second phase.

Forty-three alignments were analyzed in the 230-square-mile study area as Dallas-Fort Worth transportation leaders evaluated high-speed transportation alternatives to modernize and enhance mobility between Dallas and Fort Worth.

The final recommended solution will connect to local transportation systems and could link the region to future high-speed services.

The North Central Texas Council of Government’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan, "Mobility 2045," includes high-speed transportation between Dallas and Fort Worth as a future transportation choice, to accommodate an expected population exceeding 11 million by 2045.

The objective of the study’s second phase is to gain federal environmental approval of the preferred alignment and technology for the project. This includes conceptual and preliminary engineering, financial and project management plans.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is finalizing an invitation for bids (IFB) for construction services to implement safety and security improvements for the Downtown Dallas Stations Project.

Improvements are planned for the West Transfer Center and Rosa Parks Plaza bus stations as well as the light rail section of Union Station.

Upgrades will be made to lighting, video monitors, cameras, and media players at all three locations. A stainless steel pipe railing will be constructed at Union Station for passenger safey.

Officials said the Downtown Dallas Stations Project will prepare the three stations for the authority’s D2 subway line, which reached the 30 percent design milestone.

The authority is in the process of evaluating project delivery methods and is preparing an industry memorandum to outline future opportunities and a planned future symposium related to the estimated $1.7 billion project.
The city of Rockwall named Mary Smith as the new city manager on August 2. Smith had been serving as interim city manager since Rick Crowley retired in January.

Smith, who has been with the city of Rockwall for 23 years, has served in the dual role of assistant city manager and director of finance since 2012. Before joining the city, she worked briefly for the town of Balch Springs.
The city of Dallas appointed William Mundinger II as executive in residence for the Department of Sustainable Development and Construction (SDC).

Mundinger was national director of development, environmental, and construction services for a multinational investment bank and financial services company.

In his new role, he will support SDC’s reorganization and transformation. Realigning SDC and the city’s building and permitting process will help advance Dallas’ newly adopted economic development policy.
The Grand Prairie City Council promoted Steve Dye to city manager, effective October 1. He will succeed Tom Hart who is retiring.

Dye most recently served as Grand Prairie’s deputy city manager and chief operating officer. Before that, he served 36 years in law enforcement with police departments in Houston, Arlington, Garland, and Grand Prairie where he ultimately became police chief.
The city of Lubbock selected Erik Rejino as its new assistant city manager, effective October 11.

Rejino currently serves as city manager of Levelland. Before that, he was assistant city manager and a grant administrator for Levelland.
Matagorda ISD named Barbara Marchbanks as superintendent, effective August 6. She takes over for former Superintendent Susan Phillips.

Marchbanks most recently served as superintendent for McDade ISD where she also was federal programs director and special education director. Prior to that, she was superintendent of Star ISD.
Blake Johnson was sworn in on August 2 as chief of police for the city of Meridian. He succeeded former Police Chief Will Stevens.

Johnson previously served as a sergeant with the Leon Valley Police Department and Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
The city of Weslaco will host a pre-solicitation meeting on August 13 for construction of a downtown public safety complex featuring a police station, fire station, and municipal court.

Work will consist of building a 14,600-square-foot five-bay fire station with living and office accommodations for the city’s fire department and a 32,000-square-foot police station with municipal court and detention area for the city's police department.

The city is advertising it as one project, but the Weslaco City Commission may split the police and fire station construction projects into two contracts.

Construction is scheduled to start in October 2021 and estimated to take 18 months. Estimated project cost is $8 million to $8.5 million for both facilities.
Texas Natural Resources Information System – DataHub

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 Information Resources – Attorney IV

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Senior Investment Performance Analyst

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Arbitration Program Specialist

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Compliance Analyst I-II (Unclaimed Property Contract Audit Team Member)

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Grant Manager (Grant Coordinator I)

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Customer Service Representative III (2 positions)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Inspector

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Manager of Fair Housing, Data Management, and Reporting

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Programmer/Analyst II/III (2 positions)

  • Texas Water Development Board – Loan Closer (Accountant III-IV)

  • Texas Water Development Board – Wellness Program Coordinator

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Area Engineer II (El Paso)

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Onboarding Program Manager
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