On Thursday, Nov. 9, Council leaders of the Gila River Indian Community, led by Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a solar-covered canal pilot project on the Tribe’s Level Top Canal.
The historic agreement was approved by the GRIC Council on November 1.
The agreement starts the first phase of the solar-over-canal project and will involve construction of solar panels over a portion of the Community’s 1-10 Level Top canal to conserve water and generate renewable energy for tribal irrigation facilities.
This historic agreement represents the first solar-over-canal project of its kind in the United States to initiate construction. The cost of Phase I of the solar-covered canal project is estimated to be $6.744 million, and it is expected to produce approximately 1 MW of renewable energy to offset energy needs and costs for tribal farmers.
With the execution of this historic agreement, the Army Corps will now begin the actual construction phase of the project, with completion expected in 2025.
In his remarks during the event, Governor Lewis offered his appreciation to Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for his partnership in this project.
“I want to personally thank Assistant Secretary Connor for his vision and steadfast support for this innovative project. Our work with the Assistant Secretary dates back decades and the Community deeply appreciates him and his support.”
ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke attended the signing ceremony.
“This is the type of creative thinking that can help move all of us toward a more sustainable future,” said Director Buschatzke.
“Leveraging existing infrastructure such as the Level Top Canal to help provide sustainable, dependable energy – and to do so as part of cooperative partnership like this one – constitutes a win all around.”
Following remarks from Governor Lewis and Assistant Secretary Connor, the parties signed the agreement to begin construction of the project, which is designed to generate clean, renewable energy as well as help reduce evaporation.
A “Project Partnership Agreement,” or PPA, is a legally binding agreement between the federal government and a non-Federal sponsor such as state or municipal governments, or, as in this instance, a Native American Tribe. The projects historically involve construction of a water resources project.
The PPA describes the project and the responsibilities of the federal government and the non-federal sponsor in the cost sharing and execution of work.
The team will support navigation, flood risk management, water resources management, sediment management, and military engineering projects.
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has tasked the joint venture of Taylor Engineering and Woolpert with providing research and development services for its Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL). The $49 million, single-award task order contract will support CHL projects that advance navigation, flood risk management, water resources management, sediment management, and military engineering.
ERDC is the primary scientific research and development organization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and oversees seven research laboratories across the U.S. Located in Vicksburg, CHL is responsible for the discovery, development, and delivery of coastal, estuarine, and hydraulic water resources research in both the Civil Works Program and military domains.
Woolpert Vice President Eric Dillinger said that the JV leadership team has extensive experience managing projects for CHL, ERDC, and USACE. This team includes Woolpert Director of Advisory Services Jeff Lillycrop, a former ERDC technical director with 33 years of experience serving CHL, and Taylor Engineering President Jim Marino, a former USACE officer with over 20 years of USACE experience, including three and a half years leading the military research program at the Coastal Engineering Research Center before it was consolidated into CHL. Marino is the managing partner for the JV.
“The Taylor-Woolpert joint venture represents decades of focused and complementary expertise coming together,” Dillinger said. “This contract will be led by a team intimately familiar with and fully capable of meeting the complex research needs of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory.”
Taylor Engineering Vice President Christopher Bender said this is the first contract executed under Taylor and Woolpert’s new Mentor-Protégé Program agreement, which was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration last year.
“Taylor and Woolpert are currently working as professional partners on multiple projects across a variety of service lines,” Bender said. “We look forward to this next chapter working alongside Woolpert and providing a truly world-class team of engineers and researchers for ERDC and its missions.”
Global research and infrastructure advisory firms are serving as subconsultants for this contract, which is now underway. Those firms include Applied Research Associates and Moffatt & Nichol, as well as Alden Labs, Desert Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Jackson State University.
Since 1983, Taylor Engineering Inc. has provided leading-edge solutions to challenges in the water environment. The company focuses its attention on water-related engineering, planning, management, and environmental challenges with emphasis on coastal regions for public, private, and government clients. A Federal Small Business and a Jacksonville Business Journal’s 2022 and 2023 Best Places to Work, Taylor Engineering has over 50 employees with three offices. Taylor Engineering’s six service groups, Coastal Engineering, Coastal Planning, Dredging and Navigation, Environmental, Water Resources, and Waterfront Engineering, along with our Coastal and Marine Geosciences Laboratory, deliver leading-edge solutions in the water environment. For more information, visit www.taylorengineering.com.
Woolpert is the premier architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG), and strategic consulting firm, with a vision to become one of the best companies in the world. We innovate within and across markets to effectively serve public, private, and government clients worldwide. Woolpert is a Global Top 100 Geospatial Company, a Top 100 ENR Global Design firm, has earned seven Great Place to Work certifications, and actively nurtures a culture of growth, inclusion, diversity, and respect. Founded in 1911 in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has been America’s fastest-growing AEG firm since 2015. Woolpert has over 2,000 employees and more than 60 offices on five continents. For more information, visit woolpert.com.
Rowan University’s Center for Research & Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATES) has been awarded a $30 million, five-year contract—with the first two years funded at $11.5 million— from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), to expand Arctic region research.
Led by Yusuf Mehta, Ph.D., and Ayman Ali, Ph.D., CREATES researchers are developing innovative construction technologies and materials to withstand fluctuating temperatures and surface conditions in cold regions impacted by climate change. The work spans a wide range of projects, including the design and evaluation of new pavement materials, as well as their production and maintenance.
Among other projects, the additional Army Ground Advanced Technology funding will support:
Rising temperatures, thawing permafrost and eroding coastlines are challenging the military’s transportation infrastructure in the Arctic, affecting roads, runways and bridges. Research engineers from ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) work closely with universities around the country, guiding studies, providing expertise and helping to develop the next generation of engineers.
“Our collaboration with Army Corps research engineers allows us to explore creative solutions for cold regions, from pavements that can melt ice and detect frost to more resilient asphalt and concrete materials that can withstand cold conditions,” Mehta said. “Even better, we’re developing the next generation of engineers who will continue to advance the field of transportation engineering.”
Accompanied by a team of scientists, Dr. Ivan Beckman, CRREL deputy director, spent several days recently at Rowan University visiting labs and hearing the latest updates on the center’s progress. He said he was impressed by the center’s facilities, laboratories and procedures, as well as the professionalism of Rowan faculty and students.
“The lifeblood of CRREL is academia,” Beckman said. “Students, scientific research and very basic scientific understanding is very important to our mission and cold regions research. We always seek out great ideas and great partnerships with universities.”
In addition to site visits, Danielle Kennedy, CRREL program director and a research civil engineer, meets weekly with various teams from CREATES.
“We have been working with Rowan since 2016 and the CREATES program has grown a lot since then,” Kennedy noted. “It’s helped us grow our technology areas at the ERDC a lot, as well. We’re going to conferences with the students and presenting work together. We’re publishing papers together. It’s really been a beneficial relationship for both ERDC and Rowan. I think there’s a lot of potential for future capabilities with all these projects that we’re developing now.”
The collaboration includes workforce development. Earlier this year, CRREL hired Seth Wagner, a Rowan University doctoral student at CREATES. Wagner visited campus recently in his professional capacity.
“I went through graduate school specifically so I could continue doing research,” said Wagner, a civil engineer who received his bachelor’s degree in 2016 and his master’s degree in 2019, both from Rowan. “And now I’m being paid full time to do research. It’s pretty much exactly what I was looking for.”
Besides driving innovation and developing new technologies, the center is fully invested in workforce development, noted Rowan University Provost Tony Lowman.
“Ever since CREATES launched in 2016, Dr. Mehta and his team have worked with industry and government partners to meet their needs for workforce training and research goals,” Lowman said. “What has been particularly successful is how well they prepare students to continue that work after graduation. This close working relationship with our partners is exactly what we hoped to accomplish and we’re excited to see where our graduates go next.”
In addition to projects and internships for undergraduates, more than 40 master’s and doctoral students in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering are pursuing CREATES-related research, contributing to the rapid growth of the college’s graduate programs, said Dean Giuseppe Palmese.
“Dr. Mehta and his colleagues are demonstrating the power of our hands-on, minds-on engineering education,” Palmese said. “This award will significantly expand research opportunities for many more students. Their work will make an impact.”
THE SUCCESS MEMO PAVES THE WAY FOR IMMEDIATE INSTALLATION AT OVER 800 U.S. FACILITIES.
TechFlow, a 100% employee-owned forward-thinking energy, mobility, logistics, and digital solutions company, today announced it has received a success memorandum from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for its self-sustaining electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure solution. This distinction marks the DIU’s first recognition for an EV charging solution.
The success memorandum allows all Department of Defense (DoD) Services – including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard – along with Civilian Agencies to enter production agreements with TechFlow, enabling the immediate installation of EV charging infrastructure across more than 800 facilities nationwide.
TechFlow’s EV charging infrastructure solution represents the pinnacle of adaptability and sustainability in EV charging. Adeptly designed for versatility, TechFlow’s solution accommodates a comprehensive suite of applications, including Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS), Government-owned Government-operated (GOGO), Government-owned Company-operated (GOCO), Company-owned Company-operated (COCO), and multiple tenancy models. Compatible with a wide spectrum of vehicles, TechFlow’s solution supports both Government Owned Vehicles (GOVs) and Personally Owned Vehicles (POVs), providing each access to utilize the same Level 2 and Level 3 fast charging assets, thus reducing infrastructure costs.
Beyond mere self-sufficiency, TechFlow’s solution seamlessly integrates cutting-edge energy storage systems, microgrid technologies, and a diverse array of energy sources, ensuring the delivery of robust and efficient EV charging services that are responsive to the rapidly evolving energy landscape.
TechFlow’s year-long collaboration with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has culminated in developing and successfully deploying advanced EV charging infrastructure prototypes at multiple Department of Defense (DoD) sites across the United States, including Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy bases. The DIU thoroughly evaluated TechFlow’s EV charging infrastructure and associated cloud software, confirming TechFlow’s exceptional service delivery with over 99% uptime.
“The recognition from the DIU is a testament to TechFlow’s commitment to engineering excellence and versatility in our EV charging solutions,” said TechFlow Vice President of Energy and Mobility Solutions Michael Genseal. “Our approach is customer-centric, ensuring that our infrastructure not only meets the diverse needs of the Department of Defense but also paves the way for adaptable installations across various agencies, enabling reliability and efficiency in their shift to clean energy.”
“We are immensely proud to be among the first recipients of a success memorandum from DIU’s Energy Portfolio,” said TechFlow President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Carter. “This recognition underscores TechFlow’s pivotal role as a critical partner in delivering innovative solutions for our government customers, and this significant achievement is a testament to our team’s dedication and expertise.”
TechFlow Inc. is a 100% employee-owned company with nearly three decades of success defined by innovation, agility, and proactiveness. As employee-owners, we balance technology and human factors to determine the best outcome for our customers’ missions. The company supports government and commercial sectors as system developers, integrators, and optimizers in mission-critical markets: digital, platform, base management/logistics, and energy and mobility solutions. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, with offices throughout the United States, TechFlow delivers leading-edge solutions for customers in mission-critical markets. TechFlow. Always Ahead. For more, visit https://techflow.com.
November 14, 2023 - NIKA, a global provider of facility life cycle solutions announced that it has been awarded an $840 million multi-disciplinary contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). NIKA will provide general project support services, facility operations and maintenance support, facility support services, project development support services, quantity verification and analysis services, commissioning, occupancy support services, and facilities system support for medical facilities in the Defense Health Agency (DHA) Facilities Enterprise (FE) located in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. Territories.
"We are excited to continue serving our DHA customers under the MFSS vehicle," said Kabir Chaudhary, CEO/President at NIKA. "NIKA is currently providing these critical services to DHA medical facilities across the globe and will continue to bring the same level of commitment to improving health and building readiness as we have successfully done for the last decade of this most important mission."This indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has a duration of seven years with a three-year base and two, 24 month options.
NIKA delivers comprehensive services and solutions to support the full life cycle of facilities. For more than two decades, the Department of Defense and federal civilian agencies, as well as commercial and higher education institutions, have trusted NIKA to design, build, operate, and manage their real property. By combining facilities operations management, engineering, and logistics services, we provide value and expertise for complex and mission critical facilities and infrastructure. Headquartered in Rockville, MD with offices in San Antonio, TX, NIKA helps clients enhance operational excellence in locations around the globe.
For more information about NIKA, please visit http://www.nikasolutions.com.
November 14, 2023 - Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEK), a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services, announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Rock Island District, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, selected Tetra Tech for a $33 million task order to provide architectural and engineering (A-E) services to design a new 1,200-foot navigation lock on the Illinois River.
Tetra Tech was awarded the task order through the USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Contract. Tetra Tech scientists, consultants, and engineers will design the new lock chamber to improve efficiency, reliability, and safety for navigation traffic along the river. The new lock will be twice as long as the existing lock system which will reduce wait times by more than seventy percent, accommodate larger vessels, and improve mariner safety. The project is a top priority of the USACE Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program.
"The USACE Rock Island District maintains navigable waterways that are essential to the transportation of goods throughout the Midwest," said Dan Batrack, Tetra Tech Chairman and CEO. "Tetra Tech looks forward to using our Leading with Science® approach to design systems that improve critical infrastructure, support public safety, and enhance the resilience and reliability of U.S. waterborne transportation supply chains."
About Tetra Tech
Tetra Tech is a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services for projects worldwide. With 27,000 employees working together, Tetra Tech provides clear solutions to complex problems in water, environment, sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, and international development. We are Leading with Science® to provide sustainable and resilient solutions for our clients. For more information about Tetra Tech, please visit tetratech.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Sentar Inc. (Sentar), a women-owned small business specializing in advanced cyber intelligence solutions and technology, announced today it has been awarded the PAX Functional Services and Support Contract.
Through the awarded work, Sentar will be assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering and Support Center Huntsville (CEHNC) with teammate MTA. Sentar will be providing functional support in the areas of customer training (workshops), helpdesk support, and quality assurance.
“We are excited to expand our Army footprint in Huntsville to now include the Army Corps of Engineers,” said April Nadeau, Senior Vice President.
Sentar and teammate MTA will perform the work over one base year with four option years. The work will be primarily performed in Huntsville, AL.
About Sentar, Inc.
Sentar is a leading cyber intelligence solutions provider focused on the National Security sector. Its cyber domain solutions blend expertise in cybersecurity, intelligence and analytics, and systems engineering to deliver superior results to mission partners. Key clients include the Defense Health Agency, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and Missile Defense Agency. Sentar has offices in Huntsville, Alabama; Charleston, South Carolina; San Diego, California; Columbia, Maryland; and San Antonio, Texas. Visit www.sentar.com for more information.
Volcon Inc. (NASDAQ: VLCN) (“Volcon” or the “Company”), the first all-electric, off-road powersports company, announced today the signing of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC). Volcon believes this collaboration marks a significant step forward in the development of EV technology for both civilian and military applications.
Under the terms of this CRADA, Volcon and ERDC will collaborate on research and development efforts aimed at enhancing the capabilities of electric vehicles, with a focus on creating dual-use products that benefit both warfighters and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in their support of emergency services disaster response.
Key objectives of this collaboration include:
This agreement represents a significant step toward addressing known challenges in the EV sector, such as remote tactical recharging, vehicle-to-grid, and microgrid charging, and looks to maximize power efficiency while reducing reliance on traditional fuel-based energy generation.
By working together with ERDC, Volcon aims to create scalable EV solutions that benefit federal, state, and local governments, as well as the Department of Defense (DoD). This collaboration embodies the spirit of the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 and Army Regulation 70-57, which encourage the private sector to leverage federally funded technology developments for the betterment of the United States.
“We are very excited to be working with the Army Corps. We believe that their decades of experience in engineering solutions for the battlefield will bear real fruit for Volcon in the commercial markets. This agreement is crafted in a way that mutually benefits the parties by creating real-world solutions and product features that can be monetized in the future,” said Jordan Davis, Volcon CEO. “On the one hand, we get to play a real role in benefiting the warfighter and humanitarian efforts where our electric vehicles can play a role, all while harvesting technology that may be deployed to commercial segments as well.”
Volcon ePowersports is excited about the potential this collaboration holds for the future of the Company, electric vehicle technology in general, and its broader applications. Together with ERDC, the Company looks forward to advancing the state of the art in EV technology and contributing to a more sustainable and efficient future.
About Volcon, Inc
Based in the Austin, Texas area, Volcon was founded as the first all-electric power sports company producing high-quality and sustainable electric vehicles for the outdoor community. Volcon electric vehicles are the future of off-roading, not only because of their environmental benefits but also because of their near-silent operation, which allows for a more immersive outdoor experience.
Volcon's vehicle roadmap includes both motorcycles and UTVs. Its first product, the innovative Grunt, began shipping to customers in late 2021 and combines a fat-tired physique with high-torque electric power and a near-silent drive train. The Volcon Grunt EVO, an evolution of the original Grunt with a belt drive, an improved suspension and seat, began shipping to customers in September 2023. Volcon will also offer the Runt LT, a fun-sized version of the groundbreaking Grunt, better suited for small-statured riders, more compact properties and trails, or as a pit bike at race events, while still delivering robust off-road capabilities. The Brat is Volcon’s first foray into the wildly popular eBike market for both on road and off-road riding and is currently being delivered to dealers across North America. Volcon is also currently delivering the Volcon Youth Line of dirt bikes for younger riders between the ages of 4 to 11. Volcon debuted the Stag in July 2023 and entered the rapidly expanding UTV market and previously announced that it will begin shipping the Stag to customers in October 2023. The Stag empowers the driver to explore the outdoors in a new and unique way that gas-powered UTVs cannot. The Stag offers the same thrilling performance of a standard UTV without the noise (or pollution), allowing the driver to explore the outdoors with all their senses.
About United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is one of the most diverse engineering and scientific research organizations in the world and serves as the research and development arm of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With seven laboratories in four states and a workforce of more than 2,330 employees, ERDC conducts research and development in support of the warfighter, military installations and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works mission, as well as for other federal agencies, state and municipal authorities and with U.S. industries through innovative work agreements.
Aptim Federal Services, LLC (APTIM), a market leader in decommissioning and environmental solutions, announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Baltimore District has awarded the Company a contract to Decommission and Dismantle the SM-1A Reactor Facility located at Fort Greely, Alaska. In addition to managing the decommissioning and dismantlement of the decades-old reactor, the APTIM-led team will integrate and utilize mature, proven innovations to dispose of both hazardous and radioactive soil and debris from the remote Alaskan installation to the lower-48.
The contract was awarded to APTIM-Amentum Alaska Decommissioning, LLC (A3D), which is a joint venture led by APTIM and Amentum Technical Services, LLC. Other members of A3D’s team include Heritage – M2C1 Joint Venture, a HUBZone small business location in Delta Junction, AK; Lynden Logistics; Brice Environmental; Oak Ridge Technologies; ReNuke Services; AECOM Technical Services; and Delta Junction Medical.
The standalone C-contract has an estimated value of $95.5M, over a 6-year ordering period. The work to be performed under this contract includes planning, permitting, and engineering; site preparation; demolition and disposal of facilities, including components from the deactivated and defueled nuclear reactor, related wells and utility corridors, plus other ancillary facilities. The contract also includes remediation of contaminated soils, a final status survey, and site restoration.
David Lowe, Senior Vice President of APTIM’s Nuclear Decommissioning business unit, said, “APTIM and our heritage companies have a long history of supporting USACE and the Army Reactor Office (ARO) and have managed numerous Decontamination and Decommissioning projects across the federal complex. Our extensive experience performing reactor decommissioning projects for USACE and the ARO enables us to bring advanced innovations and solutions to complete the work safely and effectively at Fort Greely.” Mr. Lowe continued, “We will partner with USACE , regulators, and community stakeholders to eliminate the environmental liabilities of this legacy, aging nuclear facility.”
“We appreciate USACE’s confidence in APTIM and our partners to perform this critical work. We have a tremendous track record of successfully managing high hazard decommissioning work and look forward to bringing innovations and an experienced team to the last standing nuclear reactor constructed as part of the Army Nuclear Power Program (ANPP),” said Steve Moran, APTIM’s Army Reactor Program Manager and the Project Manager for the SM-1A project.
The SM-1A reactor achieved criticality in 1962 and was shut down in March of 1972, followed by the removal and disposition of the spent nuclear fuel in 1973. The primary mission of the single-loop, 20.2 megawatt-thermal pressurized water reactor was to establish a cold-weather nuclear power plant to support power to Fort Greely, with a secondary mission to study the economics of operating a nuclear electric power plant as compared to operating a conventional oil-fired system in a remote location.
An on-site kickoff meeting at Fort Greely will in late October 2023, paving the way for our preparatory work at the site. The team is targeting a full mobilization to the site by mid-2024. Project completion is currently anticipated by 2029. Project information can also be found on the USACE website www.nab.usace.army.mil/SM-1A/.
AECOM, announced that a joint venture between AECOM and Black & Veatch (AECOM-B&V Lakes and Rivers JV) has been selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to provide architectural and engineering services for infrastructure projects for the 17 states within the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, and nationwide. The multiple-award contract has a five-year term and is funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“We’re proud to continue our 100-year partnership with the USACE delivering infrastructure solutions that protect communities and the environment,” said Karl Jensen, executive vice president of AECOM’s National Governments business. “This important work ties directly to our firmwide environmental, social, and governance objectives, which are rooted in our commitment to delivering a better world, and we look forward to teaming with Black & Veatch on this transformative program.”
The program will focus on renovating and modernizing infrastructure, mitigating flood risks, and restoring ecosystems. Projects under this contract are expected to include sustainable design, renovation, and modernization of critical infrastructure, including dams, locks, levees, flood walls, pump stations, bridges, roadways, and canals, as well as stand-alone buildings and ecosystem restoration.
“As the USACE seeks to reduce disaster risks and energize local economies, we’re proud to bring comprehensive expertise in sustainability and resiliency that meets its program’s complex technical needs,” said Matt Crane, chief executive of AECOM’s U.S. West region. “Our team is excited by the opportunity to design innovative solutions that improve critical infrastructure and strengthen resilience for generations to come.”
The scope of work may include master planning; feasibility studies; site assessments; permitting; environmental compliance; and design for design-bid-build and design-build projects. Through an integrated design approach and an emphasis on environmental stewardship, sustainable design efforts may include energy and water conservation, use of recovered and recycled materials, use of alternative energy, and waste reduction measures.
“Black & Veatch’s civil works solutions have supported federal and military clients for more than a century and continue to expand globally,” said Rick Kaiser, Federal Agencies Segment Leader and President of BV Special Projects Corp. for Black & Veatch. “The joint venture will deliver sustainable, critical infrastructure that plays a crucial role in protecting the environment and improving lives in surrounding communities.”