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  • 07/01/2020 2:03 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

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  • 07/01/2020 11:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Late last night the Senate reached a deal to extend the Paycheck Protection Program for an additional 5 weeks - hours before the program was set to expire. From the Washington Post:

    The Senate acted by unanimous consent to extend the Tuesday midnight deadline for when the PPP can accept applications for forgivable loans for an additional five weeks. It came as the program was poised to shut down to new users with more than $130 billion left untapped. Lawmakers were working on legislation to redirect the remaining funding to additional businesses, but no such deal was expected to be reached until late July, and meanwhile the money left in the program would be sitting unspent.

    “We want to make sure the money gets out, and we also want to make sure those who really need it get the funds,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee, said on the Senate floor.

    A similar deal has not been reached in the House, and it is not clear whether the chamber will take up the issue before adjourning at the end of the week: 

    Even if the House manages to pass the measure before adjourning this week, though, thorny questions still remain unresolved about how to repurpose the funds left in the program. Demand for the remaining money has slowed to a trickle, a dramatic change since the program was launched in April and immediately overwhelmed by demand.

    Read the full Washington Post article here, which includes information on the existing proposals for repurposing the remaining funding in the program.

  • 06/29/2020 1:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    On Friday the White House announced that John Frey, a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, has been appointed by the President to serve on the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP). From the Hamlet Hub:

    “It is truly an honor to have been asked to serve, combining my deep appreciation of history and love of public service,” said Representative Frey. Completing twenty-two years as Ridgefield’s state representative, he is the longest serving state representative in Ridgefield’s history. The second longest was the first, Col Phillip Burr Bradley, who served for 13 years starting in 1776.

    A four-year term, Representative Frey’s tenure will begin immediately. The ACHP meets several times a year in Washington, DC.

    Additionally, Rick Gonzalez, whose appointment as an Expert Member to the ACHP was previously announced, was sworn in on June 24 for a term that ends in June 2023. From the ACHP press release:

    “We look forward to utilizing Rick’s expertise as the ACHP enhances opportunities for minority architects and incorporates a preservation ethic for those in the architecture and building fields,” Chairman Jorjani said. “Rick has a lot to contribute to the national historic preservation conversation, through his many efforts within Florida and the local preservation community. We have already enlisted his help in the Traditional Trades Training Task Force we recently launched.”

    Born in Cuba, and raised in Miami and later, Costa Rica, Gonzalez earned two architecture degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he first discovered his love of historic architecture. He also studied design in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Italy. Gonzalez is president of REG Architects in Palm Beach, Florida, which he co-founded with his father Ricardo in 1988, with a focus on building a strong relationship with the community.

    “I am honored that President Trump appointed me as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,” Gonzalez said. “As a Cuban American architect, never in a million years would I think that my work in historic preservation and urban renewal for more than 30 years would result in such an honor. Advocating for historic preservation statewide over the past decades will serve as inspiration to share my time and talents at the national level to help set historic preservation policy to protect our amazing American historic places.”

    Gonzalez is known for his historic preservation work in the West Palm Beach area, including Mar-a-Lago, a National Historic Landmark built from 1924-27 by cereal company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post; the Harriet Himmel Gilman Theater, which was constructed in the 1920s as the First United Methodist Church of West Palm Beach; and the historic 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse.

    Gonzalez is a board member on the Florida Historical Commission, a past president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, former chairman of the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design, and is actively involved with community organizations such as the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. He also is the writer of a popular Facebook blog, Florida Historic Places.

    Chairman Jorjani invited Gonzalez to join the Traditional Trades Training Task Force that was formed last month, which will work to promote the development of a robust workforce in the skilled preservation trades, and he participated in the first meeting that took place June 18.

    Read the full ACHP press release on the swearing in here

  • 06/26/2020 1:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • Representatives of several professional organizations and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs met to discuss the proposed changes to the NEPA regulations. The Administration is aware that Congress could use the Congressional Review Act to roll back the new regulations put in place at the very end of the Administration, so timing is critical for them. We anticipate that a finalized version of the regulations will be issued within 45 to 60 days while Congress is not in session. The Administration is still required to to follow Administrative Procedure Act and address all comments. ACRA expects lawsuits to be filed by various groups once the revised regulations are issued.
    • The revised National Register for Historic Places (NHRP) regulations are moving along within the National Park Service. Expect to see these issued within the next 45 to 60 days, similar to the revised NEPA regulations.

    • As discussions surrounding social justice and heritage continue on Capitol Hill, the Coalition for American Heritage is working to raise the profile of the African-American Burial Grounds bill and several grant programs within the Historic Preservation Fund aimed at minorities, such as funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

    • The House marked up its infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), and plans to pass it before the July 4 recess. The bill provides $1.5 trillion in funding for infrastructure projects. From the fact sheet:

      H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, is a more than $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure—not only our roads, bridges, and transit systems, but also our schools, housing, broadband access, and so much more. By investing in families, workers, and communities across the country, we can support American manufacturing and ingenuity and create millions of jobs that cannot be exported, all while putting our country on a path toward zero carbon emissions, making communities and roads safer, and addressing long-standing disparities. It’s about investing in infrastructure that is smarter, safer, and made to last.

      During a press conference, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said that there is no current need for further reforms to NEPA either in the surface transportation bill or in the broader Democratic infrastructure plan. See the fact sheet on the Moving Forward Act here.

      The President has touted the idea of passing a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, but Senate Republicans have declined to take on the issue.

    • House appropriators will be marking up bills during the first half of July, and plan to pass 2 minibuses in the second half of July. The Senate schedule is similar, but was slowed last week by fights over appropriations riders.

    • The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act by a vote of 73 to 25. The bill would provide funds to the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education for maintenance projects. The House is expected to vote on it in July.

    • A flurry of anti-regulatory legislation has been introduced during the past two weeks:

      H.R. 7130 – This bill would codify the President’s Executive Order (EO) on One Federal Decision. The EO streamlined the project permitting process by placing timelines for government completion of environmental reviews and by consolidating the process across federal agencies. This legislation ensures those changes are permanent and mirrors language in the bipartisan Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization proposal approved in the Environment and Public Works Committee.

      S. 3922/H.R. 6691 – Sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in the House. This bill requires Congress to justify restoring any regulations modified or waived during the pandemic and sets up review committees.

      S. 3941 – Sponsored by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), this bill aims to roll back rules that would harm economic recovery during the pandemic.

      S. 3860 – Another bill sponsored by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), it stipulates that any significant regulations would have to be offset by the repeal of other regulations.

      S.3926 – Sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the bill would establish deadlines for federal agencies under the FAST Act.

      S. 3927 – Also sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, this bill would shorten the timetable to file a petition for judicial review of a permit, license, or approval of infrastructure project from 150 to 90 days.
    • S. 3131, championed in the Senate by Senators Udall (D-NM), Risch (R-ID), and Ihofe (R-OK), aims to fund archaeological research in the Mirador-Calakmul basin in Guatemala. This bill has raised concerns as to why we are providing funds to a major project in a foreign country when we need funds for preservation within the US. VICE did a video news piece on the bill that was published on June 17:

  • 06/24/2020 4:02 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Archaeological Society of Delaware has been producing a new quarantine series - Digging Delaware - on their YouTube channel! In this series, host Curtis McCoy (who is an employee of ACRA member firm Dovetail Cultural Resource Group!) interviews Delaware archaeologists about how they got their start in the industry and their experiences over their careers.

    Two of the interviews of this series feature employees of ACRA member firms: Wade Catts of South River Heritage Consulting and Bill Liebeknecht of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group.

    Check out their installments below, and view more on the ASD YouTube channel!

  • 06/23/2020 3:26 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Join us for another FREE members-only virtual happy hour on Tuesday, June 30 at 6:00 pm EDT.

    There is no fixed agenda - we can talk about the industry trends, get ideas from your peers about continuing to operate in the current climate, or even just vent about the challenges you have experienced during the pandemic. All employees of ACRA member firms are welcome to join.

    Both ACRA President Nathan Boyless and Executive Director Amanda Stratton will be providing updates on ACRA resources and news.

    Simply sign up here and we will send you a link to join!


  • 06/19/2020 2:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that funds repairs at American’s national parks and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), passed the Senate this week in a 73-25 vote. The bill now moves to the House, which is expected to take up the bill before July 4.

    The Great American Outdoors Act will invest $1.9 billion annually for the next five years in deferred maintenance for lands managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. Performing this work will also provide jobs in nearly every state.

    The bill would also provide full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF. These monies come from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars. Since 1965, the LWCF has helped preserve historic sites, cultural parks, battlefields, and archaeological sites. Examples of these sites include: Fort Monroe National Monument, Gettysburg National Military Park, Nez Perce National Historical Park, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

    The bill is supporting by both environmental groups and oil and gas industry organizations alike. From the Washington Post:

    Virtually every major environmental group supported the bill. So too does the oil and gas industry, happy to take credit for providing money to fix parks.

    “It highlights the role we already play in conservation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, head of the Western Energy Alliance.

    Despite that support, nearly half of Senate Republicans voted against the bill.

    Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), long skeptical of the LWCF, decried the idea of the U.S. government seizing more land in states such as his, where federal agencies control nearly two out of every three acres.

    And some Southern representatives, such as Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), wanted more money to go toward shoreline restoration along the Gulf of Mexico, where so much oil drilling that generates money for the programs takes place.

    “The Senate missed an opportunity to invest in coastal resiliency to protect against flooding and hurricanes,” Cassidy said. “The coast needs this money for its communities to survive. This fight is not over.”

    Read the full Washington Post analysis of the bill here, and stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for more information as the House takes up the Great American Outdoors Act.

  • 06/18/2020 4:39 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post was submitted by AECOM, an ACRA member firm.

    AECOM archaeologists and cultural heritage specialists work on projects throughout the world, and Cambridge Scholars Publishing is coming out with a collection of these studies titled The Business of Heritage on August 1.

    Edited by AECOM Australian archaeologist, Darran Jordan, the intention was to collect diverse papers on AECOM projects to contextualise their work within a broader milieu of archaeological study and document the way in which an international business contributes to the development of academic knowledge on a global scale.

    Contributors to The Business of Heritage include:

    • Darran Jordan’s work on Aboriginal midden monitoring at Summerland Point in Australia; 
    • James Lyttleton and Neil Macnab detailing their work on the Ulster Scots Archaeological Services Project, archaeology of the early seventeenth-century in Northern Ireland; 
    • Scott K. Seibel on geophysical investigations of a nineteenth century fort in the USA; 
    • Helen Maclean and Jonathan Shipley on their work avoiding impacts to Roman Archaeology in North Yorkshire, UK for the A1 Dishforth to Barton road project;
    • M. K. Meiser on managing the cultural resources at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountainview, California;
    • Mark Service on managing cultural values in the industrial landscape of Cornwall, UK for the Luxulyan Valley project; and 
    • Andrew McLaren and Geordie Oakes on investigating prehistoric Aboriginal place use on Sydney's Cumberland Plain in Australia.

    You can pre-order The Business of Heritage now from Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • 06/17/2020 1:08 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The voting period for the 2020 ACRA Board elections opens today! The candidates in this year's slate are vying for 4 open positions, including:

    • Vice-President - Government Relations
    • 3 At-Large Board Positions

    Each candidate has submitted a biography and statement to help you make your selection. The slate of candidates is strong, and thus we urge you to review the statements carefully and choose those candidates who you feel best understand the needs of our industry and are committed to providing leadership on the ACRA board.

    Read the Candidate Statements and Bios

    Per ACRA's bylaws, each member firm gets one vote. Only member firms are eligible - student and associate members do not vote in elections.

    Bundle administrators only should have received an invitation from SurveyMonkey this morning. If you do not receive your invitation by 5:00 pm EDT, please first check your spam folder. If you still do not see it, contact us. Voting will be open until July 3, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.

    Your firm can help shape the future of ACRA - submit your vote before the deadline!


  • 06/15/2020 11:35 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Earlier this month Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA), which provided necessary updates for the program regarding the loan coverage period, eligible costs, and more flexibility for employee counts.

    We previously outlined the specifics of the program here, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) just released their updated interim final guidance to implement the PPPFA, which is available here. The SBA also updated its PPP application forms to conform to the changes in the legislation. The new borrower application is available here.

    If you have not applied for a Paycheck Protection Loan yet but are thinking of doing so, submit your application quickly. The new guidance confirms that the deadline for an application to be approved is June 30, 2020.

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