City’s COVID-19 signals change, hotel deal approved
Abilene City Council on Thursday approved a request to change the frequency of COVID-19 reporting to the public, effective Friday.
Information is now reported only through an online dashboard, located at abilenetx.gov/933/COVID-19, to be updated during the week.
The council also approved a design-build agreement which is another step towards the construction of a planned downtown hotel.
Annette Lerma, director of the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District, said public reporting of COVID data began on March 23, 2020.
This continued every day, including weekends, with the exception of some holidays, using a report template approved by the council in July.
Cases have dropped and the city has an “aggressive” vaccination plan, she said.
Twice this week, no new cases were reported.
“I think the last tally just for what we did here in Taylor County was around 80,000 vaccinations, so we’ve come a long way,” she said.
The locally adopted model requires a staff member to come daily.
The online dashboard is effective, efficient and eliminates duplication of work, Lerma said.
It has tabs for reviewing information in an interactive format and prevents a person from having to work on weekends.
Other communities have opted for a similar model from Monday to Friday, she said.
In other cases …
The advice Thursday:
► Approval of a design-build agreement with DPR Construction for a design-build agreement for the downtown convention center hotel.
City manager Robert Hanna told council the deal had been made for “months.”
“What you are approving today is not a notice to proceed,” Hanna said. “This doesn’t mean the hotel is going to come to fruition. It just means that this is the agreement that we will use for the design-build contract and associated terms and conditions with the contractor to build a hotel once it is completed. ‘it will be funded. “
► Approved a land use plan for the regional airport of Abilene.
The 250-page plan has been in the works for a few years, said Don Green, the city’s director of transportation, with the aim of making full use “for the benefit of the city” of the land available to the airport within its facilities. property lines.
“There are a lot of vacant lots,” he said, with great potential for development, which in turn could create jobs and industry in the city, while helping businesses already there.
Kate Alvarez, the airport’s marketing and business development manager, said the plan contained color-coded aviation, industrial and business opportunities, the latter of which included retail or hotel services.
A phased approach was found to be best, Alvidrez said, given the high costs to make the sites ready for use.
The council saw a 90-second video of what the airport might look like with a development in place. The virtual flyby showed the familiar footprint of the airport filled with new structures.
The sequencing “really depends on how much funding we can get,” Green said.
“The airport relies heavily on FAA grants for a lot of our capital projects,” he said, although the plan is not eligible for airport improvement program funds.
The land will need to be leased because the FAA is “very resistant to the sale of property by airports,” Green said.
But “there are a lot of companies doing this,” he said, as long as the conditions are right.
Future deals could provide the airport with income, making it “financially stronger,” Green said, while also creating jobs – many of which can be well paid “especially if these are type jobs. aerospace”.
Brian Bethel covers city and county government and general news for the Abilene Reporter-News. If you enjoy local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.