Volume 8, Issue 23 - August 31, 2016
Recent hacking startles government officials ... and many others
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
The recent hacking (this month) into a network affiliated with the National Security Agency (NSA) has had a sobering effect on many who believed the agency was the pinnacle of online security. The agency's cyber spy division was hacked by another sophisticated group of hackers called The Shadow Brokers. Frightening? You bet! Dangerous? Absolutely! Even more frightening when one realizes that the NSA's network was thought to surpass anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques.

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1890 land-grant institutions receive funds for facilities

Historically black land-grant colleges and universities will be able to build or improve agriculture and food science research facilities with $18.9 million in grants. The awards were announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture this week. The awards were made through the 1890 Facilities Grants program.

"These awards help colleges and universities make improvements that support cutting-edge academic research and foster 21st-century innovation that will shape the future of American agriculture," said Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

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More than $14 million has been awarded to explore alternative revenue mechanisms to sustain the Highway Trust Fund. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration announced Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) grants for eight pilot projects on Tuesday. 


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Voters approved several bond issues for central Oklahoma schools recently at an August election. A $169 million construction bond and $5 million transportation bond were approved for the Deer Creek school district. Deer Creek projects include construction of two elementary schools and storm shelters. The Piedmont school district will receive $71 million for a new early childhood center, new classrooms and other projects. The Tecumseh district will also construct an early childhood center and other projects after approval of a $12 million bond.


Douglas County, Neb., officials approved a $45 million bond issue for the November ballot. About $20 million would be used to renovate the Thomas Fitzgerald Veterans Home to include a 911 call center. About $15 million would be used for emergency communications equipment. County jail renovations would cost $10 million.


Ohio University trustees are reviewing the 2017-2022 capital improvement plan. The $796 million plan includes $226 million for housing and residence life projects. Renovations to Jefferson Hall and upgrades to residence halls are planned.  Other projects include renovations to Alden Library and Clippinger Hall.


Two nursing homes for veterans are in the works in Virginia. A 120-bed facility will be built in Virginia Beach on 24 acres donated by the city. An identical facility will be built in Fauquier County. The combined cost for construction of the state-funded nursing homes is $96 million. The facilities will provide skilled nursing care and services for veterans with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.


Harford County, Md., has begun a series of stormwater remediation and watershed restoration projects to help protect local waterways that feed the Chesapeake Bay. Construction on four projects is slated to start this year and in 2017. At least 14 more restoration projects are in the design phase. The county will use bond, grant and general funds to pay for the projects.


The Oklahoma City Citizens Advisory Board approved final plans for the route of a proposed downtown streetcar. The project is expected to cost $131 million. Bids will be accepted for the construction of two lines until Oct. 11. A 4.6-mile main line and 2.3-mile Bricktown loop are estimated to cost $57.2 million. Contractors are expected to be selected Nov. 8.


New York state has started awarding $187 million in water infrastructure grants it received from the Environmental Protection Agency in May. The majority of the funds will be used for wastewater projects. About $40 million will be used for drinking water projects.


The California Transportation Commission (CTC) announced $814 million has been allocated to 135 transportation projects. The projects include 34 biking and pedestrian projects throughout the state that will receive $12.1 million in allocations from the Active Transportation Program. About $732 million is funded under the State Highway Operation and Protection Program for 72 "fix-it first" projects covering maintenance, pavement repair and rehabilitation, safety improvements and upgrades to bridges throughout the state.


Japan has pledged $2 million to the state of Maryland for magnetic levitation (maglev) train studies. Another $28 million may come from federal grants for environmental and engineering studies. A maglev has the potential to transport passengers from Baltimore to Washington within 15 minutes, said state officials. The total project cost is estimated around $10 billion.


Charleston, S.C., is seeking consultants to develop a comprehensive master plan for the West Ashley district. The plan should provide strategies and goals to encourage economic development, quality residential and commercial growth, revitalization of obsolete auto-centric commercial areas and general improvements for the protection of the quality of life for residents and businesses. Proposals will be accepted until Oct. 4.


News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

A public-private partnership (P3/PPP) will renovate the historic Broadway Building in Loraine, Ohio. Plans call for 58 apartments and a 300-seat event center adjacent to the building. The project is a partnership between the Lorain Port Authority and a private developer.

South Carolina's Oconee Alliance announced the construction of the Oconee campus of the Tri-County Technical College will begin in April. The alliance is a public-private partnership (P3-PPP) for economic development. An additional project, a career development center that will be built adjacent to the campus, will begin in 2018. Officials estimate the cost of the campus to be $5 million.

A public-private partnership (P3/PPP) has been created to build and operate a seawater desalination plant in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico. The $490 million project could eventually provide water north of the border to San Diego County in California. Plans for the plant include providing a capacity of 100 million gallons of potable water per day. 

Albany, Ga., commissioners are considering a public-private partnership  (P3/PPP) for the redevelopment of the downtown area. Initial estimates are $280 million for the project that includes the Albany Civic Center and surrounding area.

Massachusetts has partnered with a high speed internet provider and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to provide service to 96 percent of towns in the western and north central areas of the state.  The internet provider will receive $4 million to extend its network in nine towns. The program is designed to incentivize the provider to provide high-speed internet in rural regions. Funds will be used to construct the hybrid fiber-optic/coaxial cable network and the internet company will offer a deal to low-income families to provide cheaper service.
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