Like many of you, TXDOT will be spending this year improving today’s transportation modes, and preparing for tomorrow’s mobility needs. And if those who spend their time making predictions about that future are correct, we will have our work cut out for us. The next time you are sitting in traffic, think about this daunting fact: the population in Texas is expected to double from 28.3 million today to 54 million in 2050, meaning that there will be millions more commuters joining you on your drives to and from work in the future.
The January Membership Luncheon featured a special presentation--and very special guests--as the Chapter posthumously bestowed the Life Member Award to A.J. Clark of Clark Construction, for exceptional efforts in service on the highway industry. Clark, a longtime member and advocate of AGC of Texas, passed away in June of 2017. Life Member Awards honor the men and women who, through extraordinary efforts, influenced the industry in a positive way. The award was presented to his widow, Kathleen Kelly Clark, and attending family: son, President Chad Clark and wife Melanie; son Cody Clark; brother David Clark; niece Ciara Clark and nephew Corey Clark.
Members enjoyed a rollicking good time as they gathered together for one last hurrah in 2017 at the AGC of Texas 2nd Annual Christmas Party, sponsored by the Associate Division. Over 300 members and their spouses attended the December 4 event, held at the Four Seasons Ballroom. The idea for the Christmas Party came about as the Goals and Objectives Committee remarked that the Chapter could do better than the Parking Lot Fish Fry, and charged the Associate Division to come up with an alternative. Chairman Colin Keane organized a Planning Committee of active General and Associate Members who, after the first meeting, immediately took to the idea of a Christmas Party.
The membership welcomed its 2018 officers at the first annual Membership Luncheon and Board of Directors Meeting, held January 3 in Austin. 2017 President Seth Schulgen passed the gavel to Chad Clark of Clark Construction, who takes over leadership in 2018 (after a few gag gifts and sincere words of encouragement and confidence). “Thank you for presenting me with this gavel,” said Clark to Schulgen. “I look forward to serving the industry as president. You did an excellent job last year, which will certainly make things a lot easier for all of us. We have an excellent board of directors and I am looking forward to a great year.”
I have served as Executive Vice President for almost four months since the Board elected me to succeed Tom Johnson on September 6 of 2017. Somehow it only seems like four weeks. As I am writing this article, we are closing out another successful year for the chapter. 2017 saw historic change in the life of AGC of Texas. 2018 will prove more challenging no doubt but the chapter staff and leadership are committed to ensuring that we will adapt, and not only survive but thrive in the new year. The focus of our work at the chapter during the late fall was to partner with the Texas Department of Transportation to execute the work plan established by the voters of Texas to build more roads.
I was born into this industry. I've never known anything else. I grew up going to work with my dad A.J. Some of my first memories are riding around in the truck with him and talking on the C.B. He taught me a lot about this industry. One of the most important was that as long as the industry gets better, you will do better. If you give to the industry, it always gives back. That’s what AGC is about. And that’s the message I want to give to members. The best way—at least in my experience--to enter that door is through area meetings. Getting involved in local issues, supporting the local PAC, and becoming an area chair.
The Legislature’s top transportation expert thanked AGC of Texas members Oct. 2 for a strong partnership and reminded them of the lasting mark they leave on the state. “You actually create something. You build something that was not there before,” Senate Transportation Chair Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said during a reception at the Chapter offices. “You create jobs. You build something that’s an investment in the future that makes things happen. It’s been a lot of fun.” Nichols has served in the Texas Senate since his 2006 election and sat on the Texas Transportation Commission for eight years before moving to the Capitol. His expertise on transportation issues made him the Senate’s go-to-leader when the Legislature struggled to increase highway spending without raising taxes or borrowing additional money.
WHEN DISASTER STRIKES, YOU can always count on Texans to step up and help one another. This rang especially true during and after Hurricane Harvey, when flood waters devastated homes and businesses across much of coastal Texas. People throughout the state immediately organized relief efforts to help affected communities, and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) asked, “What can we do?” By working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other stakeholders, we are pleased to have a clear path forward to assist affected communities through enhanced financial assistance.
AS MANY MEMBERS OF THE AGC OF AMERICA community contemplate making end-of-year charitable gifts, I hope you will consider the association’s two charitable institutions: AGC Charities Inc. and the AGC Education & Research Foundation. Both groups have built impressive track records investing in our communities and the future of our industry. And with the approach of our Centennial year, and the all-too-busy hurricane season we have had, there is ample opportunity, and reason, to give to these two groups this holiday season.