Volume 19, Issue 19 - May 7, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Try to read a newspaper or listen to a newscast without being reminded that the country is beginning to return to normalcy. Activity can be found everywhere. Projects, initiatives, and opportunities are being announced daily.

The activity level in government marketplaces is close to an all-time high. Pent up demand and critical issues are driving public officials to launch essential projects of all types. It is a good time to be a contractor or supplier to the government.

Not only do government entities have new federal funds destined to reach them soon, but citizens also are supporting bond elections in record numbers. The following upcoming opportunities represent the diversity that will be available to contractors throughout the U.S.

A $553.2 million bond package was passed recently by citizens of Irving. It includes numerous transportation improvements, such as street lighting, traffic signals, sidewalks, and paving improvements. It also will fund new public facilities and public safety enhancements along with upgrades to the city’s Criminal Justice Center.

Not to be outdone, citizens in Plano passed a $364 million bond that includes dozens of upgrades and enhancements to public safety facilities and existing municipal facilities. Nearly $82 million has been allocated for park renovations and improvements, and $231 million is earmarked for street improvements.

One of the larger bond packages to pass in Texas will benefit the Liberty Hill ISD community. Voters approved $491.7 million for various campus improvements as well as new campuses. Technology upgrades and new buses are included along with $101 million which is earmarked for land purchases for the new campuses.

Texas’s economic outlook is much improved since earlier this year, according to Comptroller Glenn Hegar who revised the Biennial Revenue Estimate by an increase of $1.67 billion.

Hegar projected revenues available for general-purpose spending at $113.88 billion and the ending balance in general revenue-related funds to be $725 million.

In a May 3 letter to state leadership, Hegar said the revisions are based on changes in estimated revenue collections and updated Legislative Budget Board estimates of the state obligation for Foundation School Program (FSP) funding.

The announcement signals a strong economic rebound by the state since his January estimate of a $1 billion deficit.

Some of the increased revenue projected is attributable to upwardly revised estimates of oil and natural gas production tax collections that, if realized, would allow the Comptroller’s Office to transfer $1.26 billion each to the State Highway and Economic Stabilization funds in fiscal 2022 and another $1.67 billion each in fiscal 2023.
New U.S. Census Bureau data released on May 4 are a testament to the nation-leading population growth in Texas’ metro areas.

Among Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with populations of at least 1 million people, Austin’s 3 percent net change (67,197) from 2019 to 2020 placed the city among the nation’s fastest-growing municipalities.

Austin recorded a 33.7 percent net change in population from 2010 to 2020 with a 579,014 increase in estimated population (population base + births – deaths + migration) over that time to climb from 1,716,289 net population in July 2010 to a projected 2,295,303 net population as of July 1, 2020.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA experienced a net change of 1,327,596 residents from 2010 to 2020 to reach an estimated population of 7,694,138. DFW led the country in estimated population change from 2019 to 2020 with 119,748.

Census data for the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA placed it third in the U.S. behind the Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler MSA with a net population change last year of 91,078. The Houston area recorded a net change of 1,234,062 population from 2010 to 2020 to reach an estimated population of 7,154,478.

The San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA recorded a net change of 448,224 population over the last 10 years to go from an estimated population of 2,142,508 in July 2010 to 2,590,732 in July 2020. Its net population change of 40,585 last year placed it 11th in the country.

The Census Bureau compiled the data in the report titled “Vintage 2020 Population Estimates Available for Nation, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico.”
The city of Eagle Pass Bridge System (COEPBS) is soliciting a consultant to advise it on the possible acquisition and installation of a new toll system for the International Bridge System to replace its existing custom-designed toll system that has reached multiple limitations.

COEPBS is looking for an evaluation and roadmap of existing and emerging tolling industry trends based upon a wide knowledge of new toll industry and customer practices. New toll technologies and current best practices need to be discussed and evaluated as possible options within the requirements of the bridge system’s facilities and operations.

The tolling industry is moving to ORT (open road tolling) and AET (all electronic tolling); however, COEPBS officials do not believe the underlying basis of these shifts are manageable with the restrictions faced by an international crossing.

COEPBS is interested in options for a mix of automated and manned lanes; however, it is interested in the options of remote monitoring and remote communications to limit staffing. Bridge officials wish to see options and recommendations regarding maximization of automation in the toll lanes.

The bridge system wishes to evaluate current payment options used by other tolling agencies, emerging payment methods, and predictions for the future in terms of building in flexibility.

Bridge officials anticipate awarding a consulting contract in June.
The University of North Texas System (UNTS) issued a request for information (RFI) to explore a vendor solution for a classroom electronic locking system at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton.

The system’s goal is to locate and deploy a centralized electronic classroom locking system for tracking, prioritizing, managing, responding to, and resolving customer requests.

It should interface with the existing locking hardware in about 187 classrooms with one or two doors each throughout the UNT campus, and preferably interface with the class scheduling software in use by UNT.

The solution should include an electronic software system for opening doors to classrooms equal to the system now in use, but preferably more secure and easier to maintain. A new locking system should provide Access Control with information about who enters the room and what time through available reporting.

Types of solutions to be considered include:
  • Card keys. 
  • Priority readers. 
  • Points of entry readers. 
  • Hybrid - an amalgamation of the above. 
  • Others as recommended.

RFI submissions are due by 2 p.m. May 27.
Scott Gordon, Ph.D, President
Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA)
Career highlights and education: I am the ninth president of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Prior to serving as SFA president, I was the provost and executive vice president at Eastern Washington University and, before this, served as the dean of science, engineering, and education at the University of Southern Indiana. I earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the State University of New York at Cortland and a master’s degree and Ph.D in botany/mycology from the University of Tennessee.

What I like best about my public service is: I get to work with a wonderful team of professionals who share the same vision, mission, and goals – student access and success. I love the transformational nature of the university and seeing how SFA changes lives of individuals, families and communities. Making sure our students are happy, healthy, and have the best learning environment possible to be successful is a passion of all at SFA. In addition, we work hard to be a tremendous asset to Nacogdoches, East Texas, and the entire state.

The best advice I’ve received is: With hard work, perseverance, grit, grace, and gratitude you can achieve your goals. There is no substitute for hard work. This advice has served me well in every aspect of my personal and professional life. It is important to know that sometimes things take a long time to achieve, and the road is not always paved and smooth.

My favorite ways to de-stress are: Ride my Harley Davidson motorcycle on long winding country roads, take a long walk, or swim in a pool.

People might be surprised to know that I: Grew up in the rural and isolated community of Malone in the northern foothills of the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I spent my youth outdoors and playing all kinds of summer and winter sports. I also swam in college. I still love the sights, sounds, and fresh smell of the forest in the summer or after a snowfall. It brings to me a special kind of peace.

One thing I wish more people knew about Stephen F. Austin State University is: SFA is a very special place where faculty and staff are laser-focused on student success. The beautiful campus, low cost, and high-quality education make SFA a top choice for a college education. Once students and families visit Nacogdoches and SFA, they are sold on what we are doing and achieving – a university and greater community working together to keep our students safe, healthy, happy, and well educated.
Richardson ISD (RISD) voters approved two bond propositions totaling $750 million for construction and technology projects in the May 1 election.

Proposition A, which authorizes $694 million for facilities, construction, equipment, and safety, was approved by 63 percent of voters.

RISD plans to use $110 million to rebuild Lake Highlands Junior High School and renovate Forest Meadow Junior High School.

Bond sales of up to $114 million will finance the renovation of Richardson J.J. Pearce High School, Mohawk Elementary School (ES), and Brentfield ES for future enrollment growth.

The district will spend $25 million to upgrade student safety at Brenfield ES and Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School. Another $20 million will go to renovations at Northrich and Stults Road elementary schools.

About $59 million will go toward purchases of instructional materials, digital teaching applications, textbooks, and library books. RISD will acquire $43 million in digital network equipment, enterprise applications, and digital teaching applications.

Career and technology education departments will receive $14 million for instructional and curriculum materials, and fine arts will benefit from $12 million in instruments, equipment, uniforms, and instructional materials. In addition, $11 million will be spent on baseball and softball turf, locker room renovations, athletic uniforms, and equipment.

Proposition B will provide $56 million for purchases of individual student devices, individual teacher and support staff devices, library technology, and specialty devices and equipment for several programs.
The city of Houston is set to receive more than $22.36 million in financial assistance from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for construction of drainage projects.

With the financial assistance the TWDB approved on May 6, the city will widen, deepen, and line the Taylor Gully channel to upgrade its conveyance capacity. Additionally, the city will construct a combined system of roadside ditches and in-line stormwater lines, install culverts, and lower the roadway crown in Wynnewood Acres.

The Taylor Gully Flood Damage Reduction Project will improve the 2.5-mile channel that extends from Montgomery County and drains southeastward toward White Oak Creek, Caney Creek, and ultimately, the East Fork of the San Jacinto River.

Currently, the Taylor Gully watershed has a 10-year Level of Service (LOS) and has undergone development with limited flood mitigation or detention. This channel does not have a 100-year LOS and has the potential to flood 387 structures during a 100-year, 24-hour rainfall storm event. Engineering is scheduled for completion in October 2023, and design work is expected to conclude in March 2024. Construction will start the following July and end in April 2026.

Updates to the Wynewood Acres system will consist of storm pipes and box culverts to mitigate the 10-year and 100-year storm events. The proposed stormwater drains will range in size from 18-inch reinforced concrete pipes to 10-foot by 5-foot reinforced concrete boxes.

The combined system improvements will provide 27 acre-feet of inline detention. These flood mitigation measures will result in a 100-year storm event being contained within the rights-of-way. Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2022, and the project is set for completion in October 2022.
The city of Huntsville will likely advertise for bids this year for the demolition or relocation of its City Hall.

Consultants recommended replacing the current City Hall due to structural issues.

One potential location is a 40-acre city-owned tract, which will be the site of the city’s future police station on Farm-to-Market Road 2821.

Estimated project costs have risen as city officials identified the need for more space. The projected cost is $13 million for a two-story building ranging from 37,900 square feet to 45,400 square feet.

In addition, Huntsville plans to solicit bids in June for the construction of a $6.5 million service center. In 2016, voters authorized up to $24 million in funding for both buildings.
To address deteriorating conditions at the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina, councilmembers approved an initial $14.3 million to replace several high-priority docks.

A design-build request for proposals (RFP) is expected within 60 days to replace wooden floating docks A, B, C, D, and L that have a life expectancy of 25 years. Modernization efforts will focus on improving the unstable docks that house 207 slips.

Replacing docks A-D is estimated at $11.5 million, and Dock L’s replacement is projected to cost $3.5 million. Equipment that will be upgraded includes galvanized hardware, plastic flotation, older under-sized cables, and PVC plumbing that broke during Winter Storm Uri.

Corpus Christi’s Capital Improvement Plan estimated marina upgrades at $20 million, but the city will push other marina infrastructure priorities, such as $5 million in dredging, to outer years of the plan.
The city of Austin Transportation Department anticipates letting an invitation for bids in July for $22.54 million in mobility, safety, and connectivity improvements to a section of William Cannon Drive.

Upgrades will occur along William Cannon Drive between Running Water and McKinney Falls Parkway. Construction on this section is anticipated to start this fall and end in winter 2022-23.

Part of the city’s Corridor Construction Program, the project is funded by Austin’s 2016 Mobility Bond and a grant from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).

A 2018 Mobility Plan for the corridor calls for upgrading the existing two-lane undivided roadway to a four-lane divided roadway and acquiring adequate right-of-way for further expansion to a six-lane divided section. In conjunction with these improvements, a new bridge would be added over Marble Creek, enhanced landscaping would be incorporated, and the drainage system would be upgraded.

Austin is planning several safety and mobility projects for other sections of the William Cannon Drive Corridor including the installation of new and/or upgraded bicycle and pedestrian facilities, intermittent raised median islands, intersection improvements, and new and/or upgraded traffic signals.
On the heels of state approval of its doctoral program in human genetics, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) secured design funding to build a new Center for Human Genetics at its Brownsville campus.

The Facilities and Planning Committee of The University of Texas (UT) System board of regents approved funding at its May 5 meeting to construct the $15.78 million center that will allow for significant expansion of research and associated funding for imaging genomics.

Project plans call for a 17,169-square-foot building to house faculty and administrative offices, a vivarium, a laboratory, an MRI suite with exam rooms, offices, and associated labs.

Currently, all imaging is conducted in San Antonio due to the lack of a dedicated research imaging facility in the Rio Grande Valley.

Construction is scheduled to start in June and conclude in July 2022.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Kenny Marchant to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA).

Marchant of Coppell is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas’ 24th District from 2005 to 2021. Before that, he served in the Texas House of Representatives and as a city councilman and mayor of Carrollton. He has prior professional experience as a real estate developer and homebuilder.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Sharla Omumu and Christian Alvarado to the board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Additionally, he named Charles Bacarisse as chair.
Omumu of Cypress is director of incentives for an independent distributor of vehicles and parts. She is an active member of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas and a supporter of several other local organizations. She will serve as the manufacturer or distributor license-holding representative.
Alvarado of Austin is co-founder and partner of an investment firm. Before that, he served as chief of staff at the Railroad Commission of Texas. Abbott previously appointed him to serve on the board of the Department of Information Resources (DIR), and he is a former member of the One Call Board of Texas.
Bacarisse of Houston is vice president of major gifts at Houston Baptist University. He is a former board member of DIR, where he served as chair. He served for 13 years as the district clerk of Harris County.
The city of Austin named Christopher Stewart as chief information officer (CIO), effective May 10. He has been serving as interim CIO since Stephen Elkins resigned in September 2020.

Stewart has more than 20 years of service with the city of Austin, including most recently as CIO at Austin Water.
The city of Duncanville selected Agustin “Gus” Garcia as the city’s director of economic development.

Garcia previously served as the executive director of economic development for the city of Edinburg, where he was a councilmember. Before that, he worked in the private sector as a vice president of regional real estate development and an administrator/comptroller for a regional physician group.
The Mexia ISD board of trustees appointed Ryder Appleton as the district’s new superintendent. He succeeded Superintendent Lyle DuBus.

Appleton most recently served as superintendent of Veribest ISD. Before that, he was director of career and technical education for Abilene ISD.
The Midland Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) board of directors named Sara Harris as their new executive director. She will succeed John Trischitti who is resigning May 15 to pursue opportunities in education.

Harris currently serves as MEDC’s director of operations and chief financial officer. Prior to that role, she was MEDC’s director of community projects and worked in accounting and research.
The city of Allen hired Peter Phillis as its new chief financial officer (CFO) on May 3.

Phillis most recently served as finance director for the city of Cedar Hill. Before that, he was deputy city manager and CFO for the city of Mansfield. Prior to his government service, he worked in the private sector as a CFO and controller.
The city of New Braunfels appointed Keith Lane as chief of police of the New Braunfels Police Department.

Lane, who has been the interim chief of police in New Braunfels since Tom Wibert retired in late 2020, previously served with the city of Haltom City as chief of police, director of public safety, and city manager.
Early registration is open for the Texas Water Development Board’s Water for Texas 2021 conference, “Clear Vision for the Future.” The conference will be held September 27–29 in Austin.

A clear vision for the future starts with innovative thinking and strategic planning. It requires an understanding of where Texas has come from and a shared line of sight to where the state needs to be. The Water for Texas 2021 conference will bring together industry experts, visionaries, and innovators from around the state and country for panels, networking, and conversations that will help map Texas’ water future.

Session topics include drought and flood, water science and technology, innovative solutions to water challenges, water communication strategies, and more.

Register now to secure a spot before registration fees increase June 4.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from April 30-May 6:

Finance Commission of Texas 
Debbie Scanlon - Missouri City

Texas Public Finance Authority 
Larry Holt - College Station
Ramon Manning - Houston (reappointed)

State Board of
Educator Certification 
Verónica Galván - Harlingen

Prepaid Higher Education
Tuition Board 
Judy Treviño - San Antonio (reappointed)

Texas Diabetes Council 
Gary Francis - San Antonio

State Board of Veterinary
Medical Examiners 
Raquel Olivier - Houston

Governing Board of the Texas School for the Deaf 
Erin O’Donnell - Vernon
Darlene Nobles - Waco
Dina Lynne Moore - Round Rock (reappointed)

Nueces River Authority
Board of Directors 
Eric Burnett - Portland
Karin Knolle - Sandia
Stacy Meuth - Floresville

State Board of Educator Certification 
Rex Gore - Austin

Real Estate Research
Advisory Committee 
Patrick Geddes - McKinney

Texas Woman's University
Board of Regents 
Crystal Wright - Houston
Janelle Shepard - Weatherford (reappointed)

Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors 
Martha Leigh Whitten - San Saba (reappointed)
Joe Crane - Bay City (reappointed)
Carol Freeman - Llano
Melissa Blanding - Driftwood
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:

  • City of Dallas – Assistant Director of Workforce and Small Business Development

  • City of Houston – Executive Staff Analyst

  • Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors – Investigator IV

  • Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors – Investigator II

  • Texas Water Development Board – Project Manager II

  • Texas State Securities Board – Attorney II

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – State Agency Psychological Consultant – Psychiatrist for Texas DDS/SSA (2 openings)

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – State Agency Psychological Consultant-Psychologist for Texas DDS/SSA (11 openings)

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – State Agency Medical Consultant for SSA/Texas DDS (3 openings)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Systems Support Specialist
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