Volume 12, Issue 18 - Wednesday, April 29, 2020
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Before COVID-19, there were discussions about other types of viruses - particularly digital viruses. While not deadly to people, the threat of any type of digital virus is disruptive, costly and difficult to contain. The displacement of people and the increased reliance on the Internet has only increased this type of risk. As the country moves forward, the demand for telehealth, telework, broadband expansion, and medical tracking increases future risk. Because of this, digital viruses have become a great concern.

Last year, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) dealt with more complaints and greater dollar losses than any time over the past 20 years. In fact, IC3 handled an average of 1,300 attacks every day. Losses last year exceeded more than $3.5 billion. As technology evolves and cyber sleuths get smarter, these viruses and new ones must be watched carefully.

Hardly a day passes when citizens throughout the country are not bombarded with dangerous cyber threats. The digital distractions that reach our personal computers and phones every day have the potential to be extremely costly. One hasty click on something that looks interesting can create havoc. Cyber threats reaching us through computer screens, phones, software downloads, website links, online ads, social media, email attachments, and unpatched software require diligent discernment.

This threat is not new. The first identified computer disruption, called the Creeper System or Creeper Worm, occurred in 1971. Creeper caused infected systems to display the message "I'M THE CREEPER: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN." Other viruses have been called The Reaper, Slammer, Storm Worm, MyDoom, ILOVEYOU, CryptoLocker, and more.

The first ransomware virus was created in 1989, but malicious attacks that occur now are more sophisticated and dangerous. Some of the internet scams that reach us daily look totally legitimate.

Individuals, companies, and governmental entities of all sizes are vulnerable. Large public networks of any kind are the perfect target for cyber sleuths, and it only takes one innocent wrong click to infect an entire network for any organization.

U.S. Treasury
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resumed accepting applications on April 27 after Congress infused the Small Business Administration (SBA) program with $310 billion.

President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act on April 24 that included $60 billion in PPP loans for medium, small, and community lenders and another $60 billion to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program that offers loans up to $2 million.

The act also appropriates $75 billion to hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion to boost testing efforts nationwide. It does not include funding for state and local governments.

Earlier this month, businesses rushed to apply for financial assistance through the PPP, but the program was quickly depleted.
BART train operator
California - The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) allocated more than $780 million in federal funding to Bay Area transit agencies from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on April 22. 

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) will receive $251.63 million, and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will get $197.1 million. 

Some of the other Bay Area transit agencies receiving funds are the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) - $80.37 million, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) - $73.02 million, Golden Gate Transit & Ferry - $30.16 million, and San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) - $28.52 million. 

The allocation formula, developed through a partnership between MTC and transit agency staff, represents the first of two distributions of the roughly $1.3 billion in CARES Act funding for which Bay Area transit agencies are eligible.
University of Kentucky Healthcare
Kentucky - Gov. Andy Beshear outlined the state's phased approach to reopening its health care industry on April 27.

In his overview, Beshear said the state planned to issue a request for proposals (RFP) this week to support the state with infrastructure and staffing of more than 700 people to help with contact tracing of coronavirus patients and those with whom they have contacted.

On April 27, under Phase 1, health care practitioners could resume non-urgent/emergent health care services, diagnostic radiology and lab services in hospital outpatient settings, health care clinics, and medical offices. Other eligible locations are physical therapy settings, chiropractic offices, and optometrist and dental offices.
 
This initial Phase 1 does not apply to long-term care settings, prisons and other industries or other settings, nor does it apply to elective surgeries or procedures.

Phase 2 is set to begin May 6. At that time, outpatient surgeries and other invasive procedures can resume, though hospital and care facilities will have to meet strict guidelines.

Phase 3 is scheduled to start May 13. Hospitals and care facilities can begin doing non-emergency surgeries and procedures at 50 percent of their pre-COVID-19-era patient volume.

The state's phased reopening of health care services is its first step under the Healthy at Work initiative the governor introduced to help businesses restart operations safely. The plan set out public health benchmarks for reopening Kentucky's economy.
Theodore Roosevelt State Park-NPS
North Dakota - Strengthened by a $50 million operations endowment from the 2019 Legislature, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Board launched an international competition April 27 to design new presidential library near Medora, North Dakota. 

Twelve firms will vie for the contract to design a 70,000- to 80,000-square-foot venue to honor Roosevelt in the Badlands where he ranched and hunted. The area is now within the Theodore Roosevelt State Park.

The board's site selection committee recommended a location on the park's Maah Daah Hey Trail in March as the best site to support a world class experience. 

The library board's chief executive officer said the 12 candidates will be trimmed to three finalists by May 18. The three firms will then work on first-round design concepts due in mid-July. The board plans to name a finalist by September 18. 

Upon selection of the winning firm in fall 2020, the foundation intends to initiate a design process based on an architectural program that has been further defined by the results of the competition, the completion of a guiding narrative, the interpretive plan, additional market research, a business plan, further refinement of the architectural program and budget, and potential engagement of other members of the design and construction team. These activities will take place parallel to the competition.
Rendering of Inglewood automated people mover
California - The California State Transportation Agency awarded the city of Inglewood a $95.2 million grant to put toward construction of the city's $1.02 billion automated people mover and three stations.

The Inglewood Transit Connector is designed to transport passengers from the LA Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line's Downtown Inglewood Station to new housing and employment centers and entertainment districts that include professional sports stadiums and facilities.

Up to 11 four-car trains will be able to operate on the system during peak demand.

Nearly 1,000 housing units planned as part of the city's Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plans that feature a significant number of affordable housing units.
 
In the next decade, the city will host the Super Bowl in 2022, the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

The grant is part of $500 million the state agency awarded to 17 recipients through its Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program for transit and rail projects.
Yazoo Backwater Study Area
Mississippi - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is beginning preparations on an environmental impact statement for a pump project in the Yazoo Backwater Area.

District engineers and technical experts determined the need for an updated study based on recent floods and new data on the environment in the backwater area.

New data indicates that the environmental impacts to wetlands and other natural and aquatic resources caused by a pumping plant would be substantially less than originally calculated in the 2007 Reformulation Study and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

In nine of the last 10 years, the Yazoo Backwater Area has experienced significant flooding. In 2019, flooding in the area caused two attributed deaths, hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the flooding of more than 600 homes, the displacement of hundreds of residents, and negative impacts on wildlife.

The majority of water control infrastructure in the area was built in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s. The pump project is the only feature that remains unconstructed, and the Yazoo Backwater Area is the only major backwater area in the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project that does not have a pumping plant.

Construction costs are estimated at $400 million.
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on April 17 for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.

This funding opportunity will provide up to $311.8 million in freight and passenger rail projects that improve transportation safety, efficiency, and reliability under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The CRISI grant program also reserves at least 25 percent of available funds for projects in rural communities.

FRA will consider how projects support key objectives, including enhancing economic vitality, leveraging federal funding, adopting life-cycle accounting, using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery, and holding grantees accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes. No minimum or maximum dollar thresholds exist for awards, but preference will be given to projects where the proposed federal share of total costs does not exceed 50 percent.

Applications for funding under this solicitation are due by 5 p.m. ET June 19.
Palm Beach
Florida - The Palm Beach Town Council recently authorized a water supply feasibility study to assess its options once its service and franchise agreement with the city of West Palm Beach expires in 2029.

Councilmembers discussed several possibilities that include switching service to another provider, developing and taking ownership of a water source and system, forming a public-private partnership (P3) with a water utility, or selecting a combination of these options.

If the town were to develop a system of its own, consultants advised of a potential need for new larger diameter water mains, storage tanks, and re-pump facilities. According to the town's website, its Water Resources Division operates more than 40 wastewater pumping stations and 13 storm water pumping stations.

Other options would be to continue with its current retail agreement or negotiate a wholesale agreement with the city of West Palm Beach.

Consultants will conduct a conceptual review of all the town's options to determine advantages and disadvantages to each one in addition to developing probable costs for each alternative.
Joplin Memorial Hall
Missouri - City leaders in Joplin issued a request for proposals (RFP) for consulting firms to conduct a study on possible uses for Joplin Memorial Hall.

The veterans memorial and community center, which opened in 1925, features a 2,750-seat concert venue with an open floor plan.

Scope of the study will be to conduct a structural analysis, assess the appropriate use of the hall and the area in general with consideration given to other concert venues and meeting spaces nearby, and determine if Memorial Hall should be retrofitted for a different use such as a civic center or memorial park for veterans.

Deadline for proposals is 10 a.m. CST May 29. Vendor selection is scheduled for June 12 with completion of the study's final report by October 23.
Meridian Highway Bridge in South Dakota
South Dakota - The state's Department of Transportation (SDDOT) received more than $33.82 million from the Federal Highway Infrastructure Program to replace bridges throughout the state.

Nearly 1,000 of the state's 5,820 bridges on the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) were rated as poor in 2019, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

About 75 local structures on the NBI are closed to all traffic in South Dakota. Other structures on county, city, and town roads have been removed from the NBI list. They are still intact, but they are closed to traffic and continue to present a risk of liability to the owners.

All counties, cities, and towns with poor condition bridges are eligible for these programs. Applications are due by June 12 for the Local Bridge Replacement Program and July 1 for the Local Bridge Removal Program.
Fort Edward High School
New York - The school districts of South Glens Falls Central and Fort Edward Union Free in eastern New York reached an agreement to conduct a full merger study.

Boards of education from both districts authorized a request for proposals (RFP) to consider the annexation of Fort Edward by South Glens Falls. Fort Edward lost a significant contributor to its property tax rolls when a dewatering plant closed, a loss that led to its budget gap of more than a million dollars.

District officials plan to hire a consultant in July to perform the study. Once complete, both districts will establish a joint advisory committee comprised of district staff and members of the public to review the study results. 

The districts would then present their joint recommendation in 12 to 18 months to the New York State Education Department for approval.
Sunshine Center
Florida - St. Petersburg councilmembers are considering a reimagined senior center as potential expensive refurbishments mount at the city's existing Sunshine Center.

Understanding that COVID-19 restrictions limit congregating, City Council weighed possible public-private partnership (P3) options with suggestions of a first-floor senior center with upper floors devoted to low-income senior housing.

The Sunshine Center has been a multi-service center focused on senior services, but prior to the pandemic it served as a substitute city meeting facility while City Hall underwent renovations.

As the city prepares its capital spending budget for FY 2021, preliminary estimates are that a 1 percent city sales tax will generate $120 million. This sales tax funds several capital projects in the city.
Case Western Reserve University map
Ohio - Public health risk assessments of the COVID-19 threat in the U.S. are being incorporated into a new Case Western Reserve University map.

A team of researchers at the university developed an online risk assessment tool powered by artificial intelligence that scans data from health departments at the state and local levels, U.S. Census Bureau, traffic maps, and social media posts and combines it with user perceptions of risk at any location they choose on the map.

The beta stage map weighs this data based upon different variables such as rural versus urban settings to allow for quick comparisons.

Users who click on a specific location will see demographic density, traffic status, public perception, and a risk index that factors in all available data.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE


Alabama - The Birmingham Airport Authority named Korey Campbell as chief financial officer, effective May 11. He will take over for interim chief financial officer Mani Iyer. Campbell most recently served as deputy director for the Jefferson County Commission in Birmingham. He previously worked for a private consulting firm.

New Mexico - Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham named Brian Moore and Christina Campos as co-chairs of a new 15-member Economic Recovery Council. Moore is a businessowner and former state representative. Campos is the administrator at Guadalupe Regional Hospital.

South Carolina - The city of Goose Creek selected Natalie Zeigler as its new city administrator, effective June 15. Zeigler previously served as city manager of Hartsville and town administrator of Springdale.

Pennsylvania - The Butler Veterans Affairs Health Care System appointed Kevin Amick as its new director. He takes over for interim director Barbara Forsha. Amick previously served as associate director of the Durham Health Care Center in North Carolina. 

Missouri - The city of Liberty named Sherri McIntyre as public works director, effective May 1. McIntyre previously served as public works director of the city of Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to that role, she served as one of the city's assistant city managers and in the Missouri Department of Transportation.
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