Volume 20, Issue 21 - May 27, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
America’s shifting social, political, economic, and environmental conditions have created rapid change. Leaders in industry and government are scrambling to respond. Their immediate focus appears to be on worker shortages, increasing costs, supply chain disruptions, and public safety, but those issues are only at the top of an issues iceberg that looms large.

In 2021, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs. That mass exodus, evidenced by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has created an historic occurrence labeled the ‘Great Resignation.’ The current flight from jobs now tops all resignation records in years past, and the ramifications are great.

Trying to find new workers while dealing with escalating costs is stressful of course, but there’s more! Government leaders also are dealing with public unrest, the ramifications of climate change, political discontent, homeless citizens, health-care needs, public safety, critical infrastructure problems, and increased citizen expectations. When studying the trends and analyzing future winners and losers, it appears that technology services and products are certain to be in the winners’ category. Jobs and career opportunities will likely fall into the loser category as individual workers are replaced by technology.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) unveiled five plans for the future of Interstate 345 as the agency approaches the end of a feasibility study.

The highway splits Deep Ellum and East Dallas from downtown and was built in 1974.

Of the five plans, TxDOT recommends the Hybrid Alternative, which would create a compromise between tearing down and leaving the freeway. TxDOT estimates the plan will cost around $1 billion, and construction could begin in 2027 or 2028 if the project stays on schedule.

Similar to the existing U.S. Highway 75 in Dallas and one of the other proposed alternatives for I-345, the mainlanes would be low. The project also would limit access from the mainlanes to the local streets that are reconnected over the top. No frontage roads will be included. Rather, access to the area is from local streets, Interstate 30, or Woodall Rodgers Freeway. The city street grid will be enhanced, and TxDOT would include pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Funding for this project will most likely come from public grants, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, or the city.

Other alternative plans for I-345 were:
  • Depressed Alternative with an estimated cost of $1 billion. The trench design would feature low mainlanes with discontinuous frontage roads. 
  • Removal Alternative with an estimated cost of $400 million would tear down existing mainlanes and enhance the city street grid. 
  • Elevated Alternative with an estimated cost of $650 million would be similar to the existing interstate with a smaller footprint of an elevated highway with aesthetic improvements. 
  • No build/leave I-345 as-is with no cost.  

After receiving public feedback, TxDOT will modify its recommendations as applicable and publish the feasibility study online this fall. Planners will then begin work on a schematic and environmental analysis.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including its population growth, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on May 26 for cities with populations of more than 50,000.

The city of Georgetown had the largest growth of any U.S. town or city from July 2020 to July 2021, increasing by 10.5 percent, a rate of growth which would double the population in fewer than seven years.

Georgetown was followed by the city of Leander at 10.1 percent growth, making it the second-fastest growing city in the nation. New Braunfels was the fifth-fastest with 8.3 percent growth.

San Antonio topped the list of the largest numeric gainers with an increase of 13,626 people between 2020 and 2021. Following San Antonio were Phoenix with 13,224 and Fort Worth with 12,916.

Other Texas cities in the top 20 for substantial numeric gains were:
  • 8 – Frisco, 7,933. 
  • 9 – New Braunfels, 7,538. 
  • 10 – Georgetown, 7,193. 
  • 12 – Leander, 6,159. 
  • 14 – Denton, 5,844. 
  • 15 – McKinney, 5,568. 

Eight of the 15 fastest-growing large cities or towns by percent change were in the West — with five in Arizona — and seven in the South. The South and West also contained the top 15 cities with the largest numeric gains.
The Magnolia ISD (MISD) bond committee recently recommended a $230 million bond package to the district’s board of trustees for an election on November 8.

Their proposed bond package supports the $41 million construction of a ninth elementary school, $66 million for construction of a third intermediate school, $85 million construction of a third junior high school, and $10 million in land purchases for additional school construction projects in the less immediate future.

Included in the package is a slate of improvement projects for MISD’s existing facilities, such as expansion of the high school’s career and technical education programming, renovations to the agricultural barn facility, renovations to the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps facility, enhancements for the district’s technology infrastructure, and installation of turf on MISD’s softball and baseball fields.

The recommendation also proposes $2 million in bond funding to expand the MISD bus fleet, so it will be equipped to deal with continued increases in student enrollments.

Additional funding to address priority maintenance issues is proposed for repairs to roofing as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. The bond package also would support refurbishment of three water and two wastewater plants within the school district.

The MISD bond committee’s recommendations were based on demographic projections throughout the district. The projections indicate that two of the elementary schools in MISD are already at over-90 percent capacity. The district is forecasted to have over 20,000 students by 2030.

These same demographics also indicate that one of the two high schools within MISD will reach 90 percent capacity by 2024 — at which point the MISD bond committee recommends funding construction of a third high school with its own coinciding bond package in three to four years.

The bond committee will continue to discuss data relating to delivery of the bond propositions with MISD’s board of trustees. In order to be included on the November ballot, the board of trustees has until August 22 to call a bond referendum based on the committee recommendation.
Interested vendors are invited to a mandatory pre-proposal conference at 10 a.m. June 8 at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility as the county explores options for an inmate technology services package.

County officials are seeking a comprehensive solution that is composed of several inmate systems for telephone, video visitation, electronic messaging, and tablet program.

These services will be available at the county’s Correctional Facility, downtown jail, and the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center – all located in Beaumont.

To streamline facility operations and reduce facility staff burden, the successful proposer must provide, at no cost to Jefferson County, a secure, single login web-based administrative platform that provides an unlimited number of authorized users with access to all administrative controls, reporting, and investigative features and tools of the proposer’s systems.
Steve Cooke
Director of Property Management
City of Fort Worth
Public career and education highlights: I started my public service career at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) as a construction inspector. TxDOT had an incredible tuition reimbursement program that I took full advantage of and completed a degree in business administration at Tarrant County Junior College and finishing at Dallas Baptist University. My career has taken me to many organizations in varied positions ranging from real estate manager, construction services manager, assistant director of several different departments and functions, director of public works and development, and finally to my current position of the last seven years as the director of property management for the great city of Fort Worth where I preside over the architectural construction, real property, fleet, and facilities divisions. 

What I like best about my public service is: Two-fold. First is the amazingly dedicated and talented people I get the opportunity to work alongside each day that have the same passion as me to make things efficient, effective, and lasting. And second, is the honor of building the world around the citizens and visitors that come to my great city. I am so lucky to work with gifted professionals who truly pour their lives into what they do every day to make our workplace and our city a wonderful place to be. These people inspire me on a daily basis and I get a huge charge out of watching people grow in their roles and experience.

The best advice I’ve received is: My mother taught me to lead by example, and I have never forgotten the impact her example has had on me. When your team sees you striving to lead in a meaningful way or when they see your steadfastness in the face of some outside force, they return the favor and provide the same kind of example for you when you need it.

My favorite way to de-stress is: I have the best wife in the world, and spending time with her traveling is my favorite way to de-stress. I am also an avid outdoorsman, and spending time pursuing wild game in remote places feeds my soul as well. 

People might be surprised to know that I: Am clueless about most professional sports. Other than football, I find the idea of watching other people play a game unfathomable. Sitting in one place for a long period of time is almost impossible for me, but the addition of sitting still and watching someone else play baseball, or golf, or almost anything else is like torture. 

One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Fort Worth is: How distinct and unique the culture of Fort Worth is compared to all of the other surrounding cities and suburbs in the Metroplex. Fort Worth has so much to offer culturally. I love how friendly and small-town it feels yet has multiple world-renowned cultural experiences at your fingertips.
The city of Dallas has approved a plan to partner with Dallas ISD for the development, operation, and use of a historic park and baseball field in the middle of a busy urban corridor.

Following the City Council’s May 25 vote of approval for the Reverchon Park and Baseball Field partnership, Dallas ISD is now set to contribute $5 million to the project for improvements to the park’s recreational facilities. These new and refurbished features will include a baseball field, batting cages, parking improvements, restrooms, equipment storage, and concession facilities.

The interlocal agreement to revitalize Reverchon Park’s ballfield, which was originally constructed in 1917, is scoped to encourage equitable and sustainable access to local parks and recreational attractions. The project was originally spearheaded by a task force to restore the park and ballfield after years of neglected maintenance.

That task force was responsible for arranging the conditions of partnership between the city and school district, including the value of Dallas ISD’s contribution and the benefit it would receive in turn. Beyond providing a revitalized historical greenspace for community members, the Reverchon Park and Baseball Field partnership establishes a 30-year venue from which Dallas ISD’s North Dallas High School can maintain baseball programming, despite lacking campus space for a field of its own.

A forecasted timeline for the park renovation project suggests the baseball field — the site of more than 100 years of baseball memories for generations of community members — could once again be ready for use as early as spring 2023.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) plans to issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) on May 31 for vendors interested in being contractors for Asset Management Program for Small Systems (AMPSS) projects. Statements of qualifications will be accepted from May 31 through June 30.

TWDB will post the application for water and wastewater systems interested in being AMPSS participants on the TWDB website and accept submissions from June 6 through July 21.

AMPSS is a funding opportunity offered by the TWDB to assist small water and wastewater systems by creating a comprehensive plan for managing the systems in a financially and technically sustainable manner.

Systems participating in AMPSS may choose a pre-qualified contractor to work with to create: an asset management plan; operations, maintenance, and compliance manuals; and other management tools.

No financial match is required of the systems, but they will be required to contribute at least 80 hours of their staff time toward the project. This project will help systems thoroughly inventory their assets; determine the condition and criticality of each asset; plan for short-, medium-, and long-term capital improvement projects; ensure adequate maintenance is planned for and conducted; and prepare the system for accessing the State Revolving Fund programs.

Together, these tools and information will help the systems prepare for the future, train new staff, and communicate the needs of their system to their staff, governance, and citizens.
A new report by the Center for Houston’s Future finds the city that claims to be the “Energy Capital of the World” could be a contender for one of four clean hydrogen hubs designated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Regional clean hydrogen hubs are networks of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers, and connected infrastructure in proximity.

Several cities across the country are positioning themselves to be named as a clean hydrogen hub after the DOE announced it would open applications this summer for $8 billion in grants to support at least four such facilities to improve clean hydrogen production, processing, delivery, storage, and end use.

According to the report, the Houston region produces and consumes one-third of the nation’s hydrogen and has more than 50 percent of the country’s dedicated hydrogen pipelines.

Other findings in the study are:
  • Clean hydrogen production could grow five times over current hydrogen production by 2050. 
  • The establishment of a clean hydrogen industry could create 180,000 jobs statewide, while adding $100 billion to Texas’ GDP growth. 
  • Globally, a Houston-led clean hydrogen hub could abate 220 million tons of carbon emissions by 2050.   

The report was created as part of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, with input from more than 100 experts representing 70 companies and organizations along the hydrogen value chain.
Texas has the most Fortune 500 companies of any state for the first time since 2010. The companies on this year’s list were ranked by revenue for the 2021 fiscal year and were based in 232 different U.S. cities spread across 37 states.

The Lone Star State reclaimed the top spot with 53 Fortune 500 companies in 2021, as New York dropped to second with 51 companies after a seven-year reign as the leading state. California slid to third with 50.

Among municipalities, Houston was home to the second-most companies with 21 and Dallas was fifth with 11. New York City had the most with 43 companies.

In total, Fortune 500 companies represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP with $16.1 trillion in revenues, $1.84 trillion in profits, and $37 trillion in market value. The companies employ 29.7 million people worldwide.
Missouri City is entering the second phase of the city’s estimated $14 million Mustang Bayou Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion project with design work starting soon.

Design efforts are scheduled for six months. Upon completion, the city will solicit construction bids with work expected to begin in mid-2023.

The existing site, consisting of two plants, is rated at a total capacity of 1.95 million gallons per day (MGD). However, two modular units and a concrete unit are 30-plus years old and will require partial rehabilitation to reliably remain in service with the concrete unit needing to be demolished.

Missouri City intends for the second phase of the expansion to achieve a total combined rated capacity of approximately 3 MGD.

Engineers will continue to act as the city’s representative during the construction phase, including providing engineering, technical personnel, and a construction observer to observe the construction and assist in plan interpretations.
Polk County will host a non-mandatory pre-solicitation meeting and tour of the Polk County Courthouse at 1 p.m. June 7 for a two-phase project involving selective demolition and restoration-rehabilitation to make the building fully functional.

The Texas Historical Commission awarded $3 million to the estimated $10.1 million project that will restore the two-story district courtroom with an upper balcony as well as perform exterior and interior finishes. Project scope also calls for upgrades to the courthouse’s HVAC and electrical systems and accessibility improvements.

Completed in 1924, this is the fifth courthouse to serve Polk County. This courthouse in Livingston is a State Antiquities Landmark and a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The county will seek a construction manager at risk (CMAR) for architectural and engineering design development, contract documents, bidding, negotiations and contract preparation, and construction.
Victoria County leaders are lending their support to a proposed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) expansion at a local hospital.

At a Citizens Medical Center board meeting, Victoria County Judge Ben Zeller said the county could award up to $3 million in federal funds to the ICU expansion.

If the county were to select the project for federal funding, the hospital would be required to follow federal rules to solicit for design and construction work.

Zeller said the county would then issue certificates of obligation to help fund the estimated $11 million project, which will add 14 beds to the 21-bed unit.

A hospital board vote is scheduled for its next meeting on June 22.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) achieved Texas Tier One research status, joining Texas Tech, University of Houston, UT-Dallas and UT-Arlington as the only state universities eligible to participate in the National Research University Fund (NRUF).

The Texas Legislature created the NRUF in 2009 to incentivize and support Texas’ emerging research institutions. NRUF provides a dedicated source of funding to eligible institutions, helping them to achieve national prominence.

UTSA leaders estimate that achieving NRUF eligibility will provide the university with access to approximately $6 million annually in designated state dollars to further attract leading scholars to the university and to ensure they have support they need to advance their groundbreaking research programs.

In addition to being recognized as an emerging research institution by the Texas Legislature, UTSA had to report restricted research expenditures of $45 million or more for two consecutive fiscal years to become NRUF-eligible. The university exceeded this threshold in FY 2020 and FY 2021 with $56 million and $58 million in restricted research expenditures.

UTSA expects to receive its first biennial distribution from the NRUF in FY 2022, following a mandatory audit by the Texas Comptroller’s office.
A public-private partnership (P3) including the city of Houston earned permit approval from the state to develop what will be the largest urban solar farm in the U.S.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently approved the permit for the project that will transform a 240-acre former landfill that has sat dormant for more than five decades into a solar power farm that will provide enough renewable energy to power 5,000 to 10,000 homes. Located on Bellfort Street, the area is in a major commercial corridor in Sunnyside and near Sunnyside Park, across the street from Young Elementary School.

Once completed, it will be the largest urban solar farm in the nation built on a landfill and will take an estimated 120 million pounds of carbon out of the air each year.

The Sunnyside Solar Farm project results from the P3 structured by the Houston Mayor’s Offices of Resilience and Sustainability, Complete Communities, and Economic Development, and the collaboration between the private sector, the community, and city and state agencies.

Solar farm operations are expected to begin by July 2023.
The town of Prosper added 163 acres to its parks and trails system with the acquisition of land from the Windsong Ranch developer.

This parcel is south of Fishtrap Road between the Glenbrooke and Windsong Ranch subdivisions. The property will serve as a significant addition that will allow for more parks and trails as well as trail connectivity and amenities that currently exist on the property, which include a mountain bike trail.

By incorporating the acreage into its system, Prosper will be able to expand its current recreational offerings, add passive recreational space, create future trail connections, and allow for the future addition of park amenities.
Port San Antonio, an independent base redevelopment authority reimagining the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base as a technology innovation destination, will host the Tech Port Vision 2022 on June 14. 

President and CEO Jim Perschbach and his team, in partnership with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will present the conference at the new Tech Port Center + Arena. 

Tech Port Vision 2022 will outline the vision for the next phase in the Port’s growth, and what it will mean for the entire community. 

The event will be a chance for local businesses and entrepreneurs to learn how they can participate in port programs. Port San Antonio’s procurement team will be on hand to help contractors and vendors register to be informed about upcoming opportunities. 

Tickets are available now. 
The city of Frisco named Wes Pierson as its new city manager, effective August 2. He will succeed City Manager George Purefoy who is retiring in June after more than 34 years of service with the city in that position. 

Pierson has more than 13 years of city management experience, including nearly seven years as city manager in the town of Addison where he currently serves.  He also served as assistant city manager at the cities of Corpus Christi and Allen. 
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) of Austin named Dottie Watkins as interim CEO, following the upcoming departure of president and CEO Randy Clarke. 

Watkins currently serves as CapMetro’s deputy CEO. Prior to that, she was the agency’s chief customer officer/chief operating officer and vice president of bus operations and maintenance. 
The Wimberley ISD board of trustees approved Dr. Greg Bonewald as the district’s new superintendent on May 23. He will take over from retiring Superintendent Dwain York, who will assist with the superintendent transition throughout this summer. 

Bonewald has worked at Victoria ISD since 2014, serving most recently as deputy superintendent and also as assistant superintendent and executive director of human resources. Prior to that, he spent 14 years at Wimberley ISD, including seven years as Wimberley High School principal. 
The San Antonio City Council appointed interim City Clerk Debbie Racca-Sittre as the new city of San Antonio city clerk on May 19. 

Racca-Sittre has worked for the city of San Antonio since 2001 in a variety of departments and roles, more notably as assistant director of what is now Public Works and director of Arts & Culture. 
Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall appointed Dr. Carlos Hernandez as interim president of Sul Ross State University. Hernandez will succeed Sul Ross State University President and Alumnus Pete Gallego, who is leaving the university next month. 

Hernandez, who has served since 2014 as chief financial officer and senior vice president for operations at Sam Houston State University, will assume office on June 4. 
The city of Lampasas made Interim Police Chief Jody Cummings the city’s permanent chief of police on May 23. He succeeded Sammy Bailey who retired in March. 

Cummings previously served as the city’s assistant police chief, lieutenant investigator, and patrol sergeant among other assignments. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from May 20-26:

San Jacinto Criminal
District Attorney 
Todd Dillon - Coldspring 
Texas Water Development Board – Community Official Flood Resource Guide – Volume 1

Legislative Budget Board – Overview of Recent Property Tax Legislation

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Texas Employment Forecast

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Texas Economic Indicators 
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 Water Development Board – Engineering Specialist II-IV/Engineer II-IV (Desalination/Reuse Engineer)

  • Texas Water Development Board – CWSRF Program Coordinator

  • Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – Information Resources Manager

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Program Specialist VII

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Data Analyst III

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Administrative Support Officer

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Business Services Manager

  • City of Pflugerville – Budget Analyst
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