Volume 14, Issue 35 - Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Check out spending plans for the launching of $125B in connectivity projects throughout the country

By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

‘Bridging the Digital Divide’ initiatives are being launched throughout the country and as projects are completed, America will be forever changed. The connectivity efforts will result in thousands of new opportunities, more efficient government, better education, enhanced healthcare, and greater public safety. Ultimately, millions of Americans will benefit. 

It is difficult to grasp how costly this undertaking will be, but funding is readily available from numerous programs and sources. A 2022 report, the North American Fiber Broadband Report and 5G Review and Forecast, projects that the cost of closing the U.S. digital divide will have exceeded $125 billion by 2026.

Success will depend on coordination between public and private sector partners because there will be nothing simple about completing the goal of connecting all regions of the country. It will take collaboration, patience, and an abundance of expertise. Private sector partners will be in high demand.

Some visionary leaders will launch projects designed to enhance the benefits of broadband even more. They will use what is called ‘dark fiber’ to create revenue that will flow back to the public entity. As a result, not only will the community benefit from more efficient power grids and the management of water systems, new funding also will be available to provide other citizen services.

Dark fiber is the part of a fiber optic infrastructure that is not being used. That broadband overage can be leased by others and revenue collected will flow back to public entities. A feasibility study prepared for Williamstown Massachusetts suggested that construction of a dark fiber network which would cost $7 million, will provide new revenue back to the city for decades.

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Governor of Pennsylvania highlights anticipated funding through BIL

Pennsylvania – The governor of Pennsylvania announced August 24 that the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is expected to provide the state with $11.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $1.6 billion for bridge replacement and repairs. This funding will repair and rebuild roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

Based on historic formula funding, the White House anticipates Pennsylvania receiving additional federal funding for the following infrastructure improvements: 

  • Improve health, sustainable transportation options. Through formula funding, Pennsylvania expects to receive $2.8 billion over five years to improve public transportation options across the commonwealth. 
  • Build a network of electronic vehicle (EV) chargers to facilitate long-distance travel and provide convenient charging options. Pennsylvania expects to receive $171 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network across the commonwealth. 
  • Help connect every Pennsylvanian to reliable high-speed internet. Pennsylvania will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the commonwealth, including providing access to the at least 394,000 Pennsylvanians who currently lack coverage. Additionally, 23 percent of Pennsylvanians will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access. 
  • Prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events. Based on historical formula funding levels, Pennsylvanian will expect to receive $49 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $26 million to protect against cyber-attacks. Pennsylvanians will also benefit from the bill’s historic $3.5 billion national investment in weatherization which will reduce energy costs for families. 
  • Deliver clean drinking water to Pennsylvanians. Based on the traditional state revolving fund formula, Pennsylvania will expect to receive $1.4 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure and ensure clean, safe drinking water throughout the commonwealth. 
  • Improve commonwealth airports. Pennsylvania’s airports expect to receive $355 million for infrastructure improvements over the next five years. 

BIL provides grants to plug more than 10,000 orphaned wells

Washington, D.C. - The Department of the Interior has awarded an initial $560 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap, and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells. Eligible states have indicated that there are over 10,000 high-priority well sites across the country ready for immediate remediation efforts, with many more lined up for future action. 

Of states eligible for funding, 22 have been allocated $25 million each in Initial State Grants. Arkansas and Mississippi will receive $5 million each to support methane measurement and begin plugging wells. 

Kansas has more abandoned wells than any other state receiving the money. The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) will be responsible for using the funds to plug 2,352 wells according to data from the Department of the Interior. In addition to the initial $25 million, the KCC could be eligible for another $33.6 million in future grant funding. The agency is working to develop a request for proposals to award contracts for the work. 

Funds received by Oklahoma will be used to plug 1,196 documented orphaned wells. These legacy pollution sites are environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, emitting noxious gases and methane, littering the landscape with rusted and dangerous equipment, and harming wildlife. Work on the state's orphaned oil and gas wells will start as early as the first of October. 

Escondido requesting input on Enterprise Resource Planning system

California - The city of Escondido municipal corporation is soliciting proposals for an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The proposed ERP system can be an on-premise solution or Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, but shall include both implementation and ongoing maintenance and support services. 

The modules included in the ERP system are General Ledger, Purchasing, Asset Management, Billing, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Human Resources, Benefits, and Payroll. The city’s goal is to select and begin implementation of a new ERP solution in the first quarter of 2023. 

 A few of the objectives the selected ERP system must provide include:  

  • Compatibility with the city’s technology strategic objectives.  
  • A complete solution that has been successfully implemented in the last 18 months for public agencies of comparable size. 
  • A solution that requires no (or minimal) modification to base code but is configurable to meet the needs of the city now and into the future.  
  • A system for which the patching and upgrading process is simple and streamlined or is completely performed by the contractor.  
  • An intuitive interface and an easy learning curve to facilitate rapid adoption and minimize the need for internal/external on-going training services.  
  • A system that is stable, secure, and accessible and supports business processes, service delivery and transparency.  

The request for proposals is due by October 14, 2022.  

Okanogan County PUD supports Enloe Dam removal

Washington - The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) has expressed its support behind the effort to obtain $2.2 million for the Enloe Dam Removal Project Planning and Feasibility Assessment. The study would take two years and start with a comprehensive and objective feasibility study.

The PUD is one of 11 entities that provided letters of support for the competitive grant application for money available through the 2021 federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The infrastructure law allocated $400 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for fish-passage barrier removal. Funds from the NOAA will be distributed over five years.

The initial study would develop design alternatives for dam removal and then produce a cost estimate for engineering. Risk assessment, liability-management plan, and public and stakeholder involvement also are included in the study.

The study would be an objective evaluation of all options, accessing all alternatives from leaving the dam in place, complete removal, or partial removal. The study also will include an analysis of sediment behind the dam, fish habitat that could become available if the dam were removed, and research into water quality in the Similkameen River. The dam, which hasn’t produced power in more than 50 years, is on the Similkameen River near Oroville. 

Chapman joins SPI consulting team

Charles Chapman began his 16-year career in government as the parks and recreation director of Gadsden County, Florida. Since then, Charles has worked for multiple government agencies across Florida. His knowledge and experience will be a valuable asset to the Strategic Partnerships’ consulting team.

After his tenure as parks and recreation director, Charles served Gadsden County as the admirative coordinator. Then, as the county's public works director, Charles oversaw multiple departments, including Road and Bridge, Right of Way Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance, Parks, Information Technology, Solid Waste, Recycling, Animal Control, Legislative Affairs, and Public Relations. Next, Charles served Hendry County in Florida as the county administrator. Finally, he joined the city of Naples as city manager.

Charles is a member of Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class 33. He also served as president of the Florida Association of County Managers. Charles earned his bachelor of science and master’s degrees in recreation and leisure services administration from Florida State University.

Port of Seattle seeks Energy Management System 

Washington - The Port of Seattle is in need of an Energy Management System (EMS) that includes software implementation services. The selected EMS would provide a solution to the Port of Seattle’s Waterfront (seaport-related buildings and facilities) and aviation terminals and buildings. The proposer is expected to provide an EMS solution that can be deployed to fully cover the port’s diverse metering and energy tracking needs. Implementation approaches will vary between the port’s waterfront properties and aviation properties.  

The Port of Seattle’s Waterfront buildings and facilities—managed by the Maritime and Economic Development Divisions (EDD)—includes roughly 80 properties across ten major campuses. All waterfront campuses use electricity, seven use natural gas, and many have water meters. 

Implementation at the waterfront properties includes:  

  • Utility meter monthly readings across all port Maritime and EDD accounts for about 260 electric meters, 200 water and sewage bills, 42 natural gas accounts.  
  • Solar panel production data from Fisherman’s Terminal, Shilshole Bay Marina, and Pier 69.  
  • Integration with Seattle City Light’s billing system, Seattle Public Utilities billing system, and Puget Sound Energy’s billing systems.  
  • Integration with the port’s already owned smart meters (up to 9, with locations to be determined), that may be connected to the EMS as part of this first phase of the project. 

The port has identified several properties of different uses, complexities, and sizes where the port can install and integrate smart metering that enables a more granular level of data and includes tenant and port submeters by buildings. This smart meter data must be integrated into the EMS. 

The term of this contract will consist of a base contract term of two years with four additional two-year option periods for a total of 10 years. The request for proposals is due by September 12, 2022 at 2 p.m. PDT.

Pennsylvania DEP releases 2022 State Water Plan

Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a draft of the 2022 Pennsylvania State Water Plan. The plan identifies regional and statewide water resources priorities and recommends sitewide and legislative actions. 

The plan can help legislative, governmental, industry, and community leaders make informed decisions regarding water resources. It includes recommendations for policy, programs, projects, infrastructure, water resource protection, health, safety, and climate change adaptation. 

Over 100 actions are recommended in the draft. These actions include continuing, expanding, or initiating projects involving flood control, stormwater management, water withdrawal, legacy coal mining impacts, legacy oil and gas wells, drinking water, wastewater treatment, contaminants, and agricultural non-point source pollution. 

Pennsylvania’s six water planning regions are included in the report: the Great Lakes basin and Upper/Middle Susquehanna, Lower Susquehanna, Potomac, Ohio, and Delaware river basins. The plan promotes an integrated water resource management approach. It also ties several water management and protection recommendations to climate change mitigation and adaptation recommendations found in the 2018 and 2012 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plans.  

Oshkosh City Council considers future of city's underground water tanks

Wisconsin - After receiving a completed feasibility study, the Oshkosh City Council is considering whether to repair the city’s existing clearwell water tanks or build new above-ground tanks. According to the study, repairing the century-old tanks would cost millions of dollars more due to the number of significant repairs needed. 

Repairing the existing tanks would cost about $26.3 million, with the repairs only lasting 20 to 30 years. To refurbish the tanks, the interior would need to be blast-cleaned, pipes would need to be repaired or replaced to be watertight, and new overflow pipes, a pump station, and an ultraviolet light disinfectant station would need to be added. According to the study, the refurbished tanks would require the city to pay for more frequent inspections as there is no guarantee that groundwater would be prevented from flowing into them and affecting drinking water. 

Building new above-ground tanks would cost between $16 million and $20 million and be in service for 60 to 100 years. New tanks would provide more protection from water contamination and comply with drinking water best practices. 

The City Council will vote on whether to replace the existing tanks or build a new above-ground system before October 31.

Beltrami County Board hears jail feasibility study findings, seeks public input

Minnesota - The Beltrami County Jail Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study has been completed and the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners met on August 24 to discuss the findings.  

Recent inspections of the jail have revealed a lack of storage space, a central control area, proper visitation spaces, staff training spaces, and program spaces for inmates.  

In order to responsibly house the projected number of inmates the jail will have in about 30 years, the facility would need to add an additional 105 beds to the current total of 132.  

The study provided seven options, one being to do nothing. Another is to build a new detention center. The advantages of a new build - the county would be able to design a new facility layout, would add the bed capacity to avoid transporting most inmates out of the county, reduce safety risks, local tax dollars would stay within the county, and could add program space for inmates. Disadvantages would include capital construction costs, the need for a new site, and it wouldn't be adjacent to the courthouse.  

The other five options include expanding the current detention center, reducing the jail to a 36-hour holding facility, building a regional detention center, or closing the detention center.  

A site has been set up for residents to provide feedback on the study. A public hearing will be held September 22. The final results of the feedback will be presented to the board for consideration. 

Cedar Rapids Community School District to hold $312M bond election

Iowa - The Cedar Rapids Community School District plans to call for a bond vote March 2023 and ask voters to approve $312 million. Funds will support a comprehensive plan to renovate, replace, and redesign its middle and high schools. 

The 10-year plan envisions renovations at the high schools, including a new aquatic center, as well as an overhaul of its middle schools - including building two new buildings and closing three current middle schools. 

One of the projects is to build a new $19.35 million shared aquatic center. This is cheaper than the $27-$30 million cost to renovate the current pools at three high schools. The new pool could host tournaments, potentially bringing in tourism revenue for the area. This pool would allow high schools to close and renovate their pool areas. 

Additional highlights of the plan include: 

Condense the current six middle schools to four. 

  • Build a new, 1,200-student middle school on the north side of the district. 
  • Renovate Franklin, Wilson, and Taft middle schools - eventually fully replacing Taft and possibly replacing Wilson with a new building on the same site. 
  • Closing and repurposing Harding, McKinley, and eventually Roosevelt middle schools. 

Changing the middle school feeders. 

  • The new middle school would feed Kennedy High School. 
  • Franklin and Wilson would feed Washington High School. 
  • Taft and Roosevelt (until Roosevelt closes) would feed Jefferson High School. 

All four high schools would undergo renovations. 

  • Adding common spaces and turf athletic fields in three high schools. 
  • Renovating and expanding Kennedy’s Cafeteria and Kitchen. 
  • Updating the gym and locker rooms for Metro. 

The Cedar Rapids School District has not asked for a bond since 2000. The district is still organizing community meetings with city leaders, staff, and the public to detail the plans.

UL Lafayette to build $50M College of Engineering

Louisiana - The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) has plans for a 70,000-square-foot building for its College of Engineering that will provide enhanced instruction, improved research, and technology development capabilities. 

The structure is projected to cost about $50 million and will be constructed and operated with an additional $35 million in private and public funds. The Louisiana Legislature recently allocated $15 million for the planned building. 

Amenities planned for the new engineering building include: 

  • Smart classrooms. 
  • A “maker space” with equipment and technology for student development of prototypes and projects. 
  • The Mosing Student Center for Outreach and Career Development. 
  • A student excellence center. 
  • Areas for study, tutoring, and mentoring. 
  • An auditorium. 
  • Conference rooms. 
  • Offices and lounges for student organizations. 

The new engineering building will be situated on the western edge of campus next to Madison and Rougeou halls – the college’s other two buildings. Its construction will augment a renovation to Madison Hall, which is being carried out with $20 million in state funding. 

Madison Hall, which opened in 1957, will be transformed into a space used primarily for teaching labs and research. Rougeou Hall, which was built in 1988, will continue to house classrooms and other academic spaces. 

Fundraising for UL Lafayette, called Together: The Campaign for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, aims to raise $500 million. Among the campaign’s priorities: the renovation, construction, and maintenance of academic spaces, including labs and classrooms. 

Feasibility study to evaluate development needs of Penn-Trafford School District

Pennsylvania - The Penn-Trafford School board has authorized two studies – a demographic analysis of the district and a feasibility study examining consolidation and construction of schools. The studies will cost $18,000 each.  

The studies will evaluate the district’s needs based on population while also addressing the potential for larger schools as part of a consolidation that could better use staff and resources as well as replace aging facilities. Officials anticipate the studies will take about a year to complete before decisions are made about how to proceed. 

More than 3,900 students are enrolled in the Penn-Trafford district. The district includes one high school, two middle schools, and five elementary buildings. Elementary school enrollment has increased by as much as 150 students this year. 

The district’s administration building is more than 100 years old, while several schools have become crowded and outdated. Other buildings in the school district are underused. 

Future plans could include school mergers, realigning boundary lines within the district, and new construction. The school board does not see school closures enacted or new construction completed for at least five years.  

Florida awards $22M through CDBG-CV program 

Florida - On August 22, the governor of Florida awarded more than $22 million for community development projects in 10 Florida communities through the Community Development Block Grant – CARES Act (CDBG-CV) program. The CDBG-CV program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), helps communities support economic development initiatives and address urgent community development needs. 

The CDBG-CV program primarily benefits low- and moderate-income residents. Activities include workforce housing, training, and sustainability, as well as broadband infrastructure and planning. The funds are federally awarded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

The following communities will receive an award through the CDBG-CV program:


  • City of Springfield, $5 million – to rebuild the Springfield Community Center. 
  • Miami-Dade County, $4 million – to offer job training for management of affordable housing properties. 
  • Town of Micanopy, $3 million – to address historical broadband deficiencies. 
  • Town of Glen St. Mary, $2.5 million – to make necessary improvements to existing sidewalks located throughout the town. 
  • Hillsborough County, $2.3 million – to expand multi-family workforce housing. 
  • Broward County, $1.5 million – to provide rental assistance. 
  • Collier County, $1 million – to design and construct a new Golden Gate Senior Center and library facility. 
  • Town of Fort White, $1 million– to facilitate improvements to sidewalks outside of a school in the town. 
  • Lee County, $1 million – to increase the bed capacity at the SalusCare Residential facility to support individuals struggling with substance abuse and mental health. 
  • City of Groveland, $765,000 – to reconstruct roads, sidewalks, and walkways that are adjacent to public parks. 

Massachusetts - Ripon College’s new President Dr. Victoria Folse began her new position in July. She previously led the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Illinois’s Wesleyan University. She was also the executive director for health and counseling. This will be Folse’s first time taking on the role of president. Folse replaces former President Zach Messitte who left his position in January. Messitte had been president of Ripon College since 2012. 

California - Tri Delta Transit Board of Directors selected Rashidi Barnes as the new chief executive officer (CEO). He will assume his new role on September 7, 2022. Most recently, Barnes has been working for First Transit as the director of mobility as a service, a national position where he worked with various transit agencies, transit network companies, payment solution companies, and micro mobility providers to deliver innovative mobility solutions. Barnes replaces long-time CEO Jeanne Krieg who is retiring after 32 years at the agency. 

Ohio - Assistant City Manager Sheryl Long has been promoted as Cincinnati's next city manager. Cincinnati City Council members will officially vote on her new position September 1. Long has been an assistant city manager since 2019, coming to the city from being the city administrator in North College Hill. The city manager's first big job will be to pick a police chief to replace Eliot Isaac, who retired earlier this year. 

Arizona - The Arizona Department of Health Services has selected Mike Sheldon as the new chief executive officer (CEO) for the Arizona State Hospital. As the new CEO, Sheldon will serve as deputy director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Sheldon has experience as interim CEO at the 360-bed facility in Phoenix since May after serving as chief operating officer since 2017. He previously oversaw the operation of two crisis observation and inpatient psychiatric facilities in Phoenix and Tucson. 

Massachusetts - Gordon Carr has been selected by the New Bedford Port Authority Commission to serve as its new executive director. Carr has more than 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors in the areas of public policy and economic development and has previous experience in the city of New Bedford. Carr is slated to start his new job in late September following the negotiation of his employment agreement. 

Arizona - Roxann Favors, a leader with nearly 20 years of management experience at the city of Phoenix, has been named assistant director/chief revenue officer for the city of Phoenix Aviation Department. The Aviation Department owns and operates Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, and Phoenix Goodyear Airport. Favors began her career with the city in 2003, in the city's Management Internship Program. She held several management positions for the next 11 years and in 2015, was selected as the major events administrator. 

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About Government Contracting Pipeline
Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Mary Scott Nabers, Publisher
Kristin Gordon, Editor
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