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Austin, TX 78744

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In the News

After-action report gives insight into response

Monday, March 27, 2017

Emergency services teams and their command staff successful mitigated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive incidents during three-days of homeland security training exercises that tested numerous agencies throughout the region stated third-party reports. But the reports also denoted areas where more training and equipment could further improve regional response to such incidents.

“Training for a disaster is a never ending process where you learn from what you did right and the places where you may have made some mistakes,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. After more than 30 agencies from throughout the region participated in the three-day all-hazards training exercise, called Eastside Mayhem, in November, CAPCOG worked with a contractor to complete an exercise after-action report. The report’s goal was to help identify areas for improvement when performing large-scale training exercises.

> Read about the exercise.

Three after-action reports, one for each day of the exercise, were completed in late February. According to each report, “response agencies were able to successfully support the incident’s needs with an effective and efficient response.” The reports summarized the strengths and improvement areas for responses made during each exercise before providing recommendations about specific topics for training, suggestions on specialized equipment purchases, and the adoption of new procedures to improve response.

> Read the after-action report for day one in Govalle.
> Read the after-action report for day two in Giddings.
> Read the after-action report for day three in Lexington.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

CAPCOG partners to teach a career and technical education program

Monday, March 20, 2017

An emergency telecommunicator career and technical education program at Austin Independent School District’s Akins High School is prepping students for a future in public safety communications, but it is also helping fulfill a need in the emergency response industry. The program has partnered with the Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center (CTECC) agencies — Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and Travis County Sheriff’s Office — to give students real-life experience in the field, and this year, CAPCOG joined in educating the students.

Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point Specialist and an emergency telecommunicator trainer, instructs Akins High School students on topics taught to professional emergency telecommunicators.

The program teaches valuable career skills through an apprenticeship or internship style course during the students’ senior year, but it also gives students a career choice to pursue right after graduation, said Carmen Garcia, an Akins High School internship program teacher. CAPCOG is helping ensure the students have the tools they need to enter the field upon graduation by providing guest lecturers such as Kelsey Dean, a CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point Specialist and emergency telecommunicator instructor. During Dean’s first lecture in February, she instructed shorter versions of emergency telecommunicator training courses and explained how students could show their learning experience on resumes.

The Akins High School’s internship program is awe-inspiring for the students and those teaching it, Dean said. “The students understand the seriousness of this profession. They have a passion for helping people and are excited about the career, which is everything you need to do this job. It makes me hopeful that getting students involved with programs such as this will help tackle turnover issues facing the industry nation-, no world-wide.”

Having CAPCOG participate in the program has provided a unique experience for the students, Garcia said. The students learn a lot shadowing CTECC emergency telecommunicators, but working with CAPCOG has offered them a chance to experience adult professional development. Just like a common practice in CAPCOG emergency telecommunicator courses, the Akins students analyzed real 9-1-1 calls to determine how they could answer them differently, while Dean provided feedback and critiques.

“This type of activity helps develop your radio ear and helps improve your call taking and dispatching abilities,” Dean said. “These are improved communications skills that allow you to hear all the details of a conversation and communicate them properly while judging what is most important. As an emergency telecommunicator if you miss one word, you could send an unprepared officer into a dangerous situation or dispatch a medical team to a wrong address when seconds matter.”

Dean taught the students shortened versions of professional telecommunicator training courses — CAPCOG’s 40-hour licensing course and crisis communications course. The students learned about topics such as basic call taking techniques, stress management, and how to talk to hysterical callers. Dean will teach the students again in April. She plans on running mock 9-1-1 calls and introducing the students to Criticall, one of the nation’s foremost pre-employment exams for emergency telecommunicators. Criticall measures a person’s typing, listening, directional and other skills related to answering 9-1-1 calls.

> Find emergency telecommunicator training.

Region to honor emergency telecommunicators in April

Friday, March 17, 2017

Often considered the first, first responder, 9-1-1 call takers and emergency telecommunicators play a more than vital role in local communities’ public safety operations. CAPCOG, operating as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, encourages all local governments and the public to join it in recognizing emergency telecommunicators’ dedication to protecting their communities during National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, April 9-15.

In the ten-county CAPCOG region, more than 700 emergency telecommunicators contributed to the 24/7 9-1-1 operations that answered more than 1.5 million emergency calls in 2016. Their actions helped save lives, arrest criminals, and protect people and their property.

On March 8, the CAPCOG Executive Committee adopted a resolution recognizing National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week. Local governments are welcome to use the resolution as a template to help honor their telecommunicators. To further honor telecommunicators, CAPCOG will visit public safety answering points, or 9-1-1 call centers, between April 9 and April 15 to deliver a special thank you. CAPCOG is proud that many of the local governments in the region traditionally pay tribute to their 9-1-1 call takers with numerous activities such as delivering special meals, hosting teambuilding events, hosting spirit days, and recognizing them during public meetings.

> Read the CAPCOG resolution recognizing April 9-15 as National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communicaitons Division.

Air quality survey focuses outreach

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The CAPCOG Regional Services Division in February completed an analysis of three years of surveys that polled the public about their knowledge and commitment to regional air quality. CAPCOG will use the analysis to enhance its public outreach and education campaigns during the ozone action season by directing efforts to demographics that are less informed but are more likely to take action.

The most recently completed survey, conducted from Oct. 22 to Nov. 26, 2016, yielded 710 responses from Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. CAPCOG made special efforts to ensure adequate representation of younger residents and Spanish-speaking residents during this 2016 sample, since surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015 had not included as many respondents in these groups as represented in the general population. Using three years’ worth data has provided CAPCOG with a larger sample to measure the effectiveness of its public outreach and education campaigns.

> View the 2014-2016 survey analysis.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.
 

AAACAP seeks communities to host wellness programs

Monday, March 13, 2017

Communities in Round Rock, Austin, and Kingsland are hosting evidence based intervention (EBI) programs managed by Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) that benefit the mental, physical and emotional health of older adults and their caregivers. The agency is seeking more communities throughout the CAPCOG region to host additional programs in 2017.

EBIs facilitated by AAACAP, a CAPCOG division, equip older adults and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to maintain and manage their health so they can live as independently as possible. AAACAP offers four different programs that can be hosted anywhere: A Matter of Balance focuses on reducing the risk of falling, Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers teaches stress management for caregivers of Alzheimer’s and chronic disease patients, and Chronic Disease Self-Management helps adults manage the symptoms of chronic diseases or can specifically be tailored to people with Type 2 diabetes. The programs run from six to nine weeks, are conducted for small groups between 8 to 15 people, and can be led by CAPCOG or community members who volunteer to become program lay leaders.

> Learn more about each EBI program.
> Schedule a program by contacting Kate Gibbons, CAPCOG health and wellness coordinator.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

CAPCOG offers criminal justice professionals training

Thursday, March 09, 2017

CAPCOG will host two training workshops in April for criminal justice professionals that focus on helping victims and understanding teen drug use. The workshops are geared toward professions such as court judges, peace officers, victim advocates, and even school educators, so they can improve their understanding of the criminal justice process and further help prevent crimes throughout the region.

The first of the two workshops — “Victim Impact Statement: The Victim’s Voice in the Criminal Justice Process” — will educate its attendees about ensuring victims are heard during all stages of the criminal justice process. Topics to be discussed in the workshop include the important role of the Victim Impact Statement, criminal justice entities’ statutory responsibilities for the statement, revisions to statement forms and statistical reporting. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim Services Division instructors will teach the workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 3. Continuing education units will be offered for several criminal justice professions.

> Learn more about or register for The Victim's Voice workshop.

"Drug Facts: Building awareness of substance use, misuse and dependence among teens" will be the second criminal justice workshop and will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 21. Geared towards professions that deal with teens, the workshop will teach an enhanced understanding of substance use, misuse, and dependence. Representatives from the Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center will lead the workshop and will offer continuing education units for various professional groups.

> Learn more about the Drug Facts workshop.
> Register for the Drug Facts workshop.

> Read more about the Planning and Economic Development Division.

TCEQ accepts TERP rebate applications

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced it will accept grant applications for projects seeking rebates for the upgrade or replacement of diesel on-road heavy duty vehicles and select non-road equipment until May 26, 2017.

The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Rebate Grants Program is a first-come, first-serve program limited to upgrading or replacing diesel on-road heavy duty vehicles and select non-road equipment. On-road vehicles must have a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds and non-road equipment must be equipped with at least a 25 horsepower engine. The vehicles and equipment also must operate within at least one of 42 Texas counties including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson for at least 75 percent of their annual usage.

To help applicants, TCEQ created a table of pre-approved maximum rebate amounts for eligible on-road and non-road replacement and repower projects in the grant’s request for applications.

> Review the request for grant applications.

TCEQ also encouraged qualifying small businesses to apply for the grant as portion of the program’s funding is allocated for them.

> Read the grant guidelines for a definition of qualifying small businesses.

TCEQ will consider applications during this grant period on a first-come, first-served basis. Entities must submit applications to the TCEQ front desk, Room 1301, 1st floor of Building F on the TCEQ premises by 5 p.m. May 26, 2017.

Those seeking rebate grants can contact TERP staff at 800-919-8377 (TERP) with application process questions and to request grant documents via the U.S. Postal Service.

> Get copies of the RFGA, rebate tables, and application forms.
> Read more about the TERP Rebate grant program.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

PLEASE NOTE: The Rebate Grants application forms and rebate tables were changed from the draft versions released for 30-day review. Applicants must use the final application forms and refer to the final rebate tables to determine the eligible funding amounts.

Project information for Water Revolving Fund programs due

Monday, February 20, 2017
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board seeks projects to be funded in the 2018 fiscal year through its State Revolving Fund programs’ Intended Use Plans.

Entities seeking the funding must submit a completed Project Information Form using either the Online Application or the “paper” version in Microsoft Word by 5 p.m., March 3, 2017 to be included in the initial Project Priority List for State Fiscal Year 2018.

The Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs help communities save money by providing cost-effective funding for wastewater and water infrastructure projects. Entities using these programs achieve substantial savings by receiving below-market interest rates and, in some instances, principal forgiveness. Principal forgiveness may be available for entities that qualify as disadvantaged communities and for projects with green components.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund also includes principal forgiveness for small systems and urgent need projects. Although these programs are accessible year round, the principal forgiveness subsidies are generally allocated to projects on the initial project priority list each year.

Communities that submitted project information forms in previous years must update their information for the 2018 fiscal year.

> Access the project information forms.
> Contact Matthew Schmidt at 512-463-8321 or by email for assistance.
> Read more about the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program.
> Read more about the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program.

City of Buda focus groups give older adults civic outlet

Friday, February 17, 2017

The City of Buda conducted two Focus Groups on Aging in January in effort to plan for meeting the needs of the city’s growing senior population. With a great turnout and lot of discussion, the groups are laying the foundation for Buda to become a more age friendly city where residents no matter their age can live, work, and play.

About 20 people attended each of the two Focus Group on Aging meetings, where they addressed issues related to transportation, recreational activities, and other older American related services. The information collected will help inform a plan to improve senior resources, said Buda City Council member Eileen Altmiller, who requested the City Council form an Aging Advisory Commission. Altmiller also serves on the CAPCOG Executive Committee and the CAPCOG Aging Advisory Council. “Sometimes the views of seniors are not adequately represented, and in Buda, we want to make sure our decisions are beneficial to the whole population,” she said.

While older Americans make up a smaller portion of Buda’s population, it’s important to plan to meet their needs, Altmiller said. Residents who are 60 years old and older are the third fastest growing population in Buda increasing by 50.65 percent between 2009 and 2014 according to U.S. Census data. The same age cohort is the fastest growing population in Hays County with a near 40 percent increase in population during the same time period.

“When communities take steps, such as Buda has done, they benefit the community and the older Americans involved in the process,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) director. One in four older Americans make a positive impact on their community by volunteering and becoming involved in civic activities. This increased social and active engagement improves their own mental, social, and physical health through, according to the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

Altmiller hopes the city continues to support the aging community in Buda by eventually forming an Aging Advisory commission, she said. “Seniors are looking for volunteer opportunities and this could make a use of their talents. I think the benefits can be a two-way street where we can do something that help seniors such as transportation and then they can turn around and be more engaged in volunteering in the community.”

> Read about more about CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging.

Get Involved

As an older adult or someone who wants to give back to the senior community, there is a number of ways to support older Americans throughout the region by volunteering with CAPCOG programs through AAACAP.

Become an advisor
CAPCOG’s Aging Advisory Council meets quarterly to discuss issues as they relate to older Americans throughout the CAPCOG ten-county region. The council advises the CAPCOG Executive Committee on older American issues and assists AAACAP with evaluating programs funded through the older Americans Act. It also works to increase awareness on aging related issues and programs.
County representatives on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee nominate residents to the Aging Advisory Council.
> Contact Patty Bordie, AAACAP director to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Become an ombudsman
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program provides advocacy and friendly support for individuals living in nursing and assisted-living facilities by investigating complaints, reporting findings and helping achieve resolutions between the individual and the facility. With more than 230 facilities in the region, volunteers are instrumental to ensuring seniors receive proper care. Volunteers must be 18 or older and complete a training course. They also must complete an internship where they work at an assigned facility for two to four hours a month.
> Contact Pete Moreno, managing lead ombudsman, to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Become a lay leader or coach
AAACAP offers a number of evidence based intervention (EBI) programs to communities throughout the region via its health and wellness program. EBI programs are proven to effectively help older adults to improve or maintain their physical, mental or emotional health. AAACAP’s EBI programs focus on preventing falls, reducing caregiver stress, and managing chronic illnesses. Each program has its own volunteer requirements for lay leaders or coaches.
> Contact Kate Gibbons, health & wellness coordinator, to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Become a benefits counselor
The Benefits Counseling Program works to answer questions about Medicare health care coverage, Medicare related issues and other long-term care public benefits for residents who are 60 years old or older and to Medicare beneficiaries of any age. Counselors are often available by phone, but they visit public locations throughout the region to help residents navigate public benefits in a one-on-one in person atmosphere.
> Contact Janet Barker, program manager, to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Office move could impact access to CAPCOG staff

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Several divisions will move their operations into CAPCOG’s new expansion at 6800 Burleson Road in in Building 310, Suite 155, on Feb. 28. The divisions moving include Administration, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area, Planning and Economic Development, and Regional Services.

From Friday, Feb. 24 through Tuesday Feb. 28, it will be best to contact any personnel from the affected divisions by email. CAPCOG’s general reception line, 512-916-6000, and its front office located in suite 165 will remain open; however, other phone lines may not be answered. The AAACAP information referral hotline and the ADRC hotline will be taking voicemails on Friday, Feb. 24 and should be responding to callers by Monday, Feb. 27.

Homeland Security, the Regional Law Enforcement Academy, and Emergency Communications will remain open in suite 165.

> Check other updates about the CAPCOG office and Public Safety Answering Point expansion.

GLOCK armorer course returns to CAPCOG

Monday, February 13, 2017

GLOCK pistols are a part of many peace officers’ everyday equipment, and even though they often remain holstered, it’s imperative that an officer’s sidearm works properly before it is needed. That is why CAPCOG is partnering with GLOCK for its now annual armorer course on March 7 to help prepare the region’s police agencies about safely using and maintaining their weapons.

The eight-hour course sponsored by the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) will offer active and retired peace officers a chance to receive an armorer certification for all GLOCK model pistols except for G18/C Select-Fire models. The certifications allows departments to work on the pistols in-house without voiding the manufacturers warranty. The course will be held at CAPCOG, 6800 Burleson Road, building 310. Officers can register at capcog.org/training/class/view/glock-armorer before the Feb. 28 deadline.

> Register for the course.

The course is scheduled to discuss a wide range of topics to include: safety rules; safe action system design; field stripping and reassembly; multiple practice disassembly and reassembly of the entire pistol; and alternative parts. In 2015, the course was well attended by agencies throughout the region as well as the state including the US Probation Office, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and TCOLE.

> Learn more about RLEA.
> Find other RLEA in-service courses.
 

Planning and Economic Development blogs regional data

Friday, February 10, 2017

CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development Division relaunched Data Points, its commentary on regional economic issues, as a blog at DataPoints.org. The new website will allow its readers to dive deeper into the topics featured in the digital publication. The blog format has enhanced Data Points’ presentation by allowing readers to engage with its content through dynamic visualizations, such as interactive maps and engaging graphics.

In addition to providing commentary on regional issues, Datapoints.org also features a digital form for research and data requests. For those interested in seeing CAPCOG conduct specific types of research, there is now a streamlined process to submit that information. Find the form at datapoints.org/data-requests.html. CAPCOG will continue to send the e-newsletter version of the blog to your email. Readers can subscribe at capcog.org or datapoints.org.

> Request a Data Points research topic.

The division also has re-activated its twitter account, @CapcogEconomy, to promote Data Points’ articles and provide information about other economic development issues and services throughout the region.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Hays County judge voted CAPCOG chair

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The CAPCOG Executive Committee elected Hays County Judge Bert Cobb to lead the governing body as its chair for 2017. Cobb served as the committee’s second vice chair in 2016 after joining the committee in January 2011. He also has served as the Executive Committee liaison to CAPCOG’s Law Enforcement Education Committee since November 2011. Cobb has represented Hays County as County Judge since 2011.

Other officers elected were:

  • First Vice Chair – Cedar Park Council Member Corbin Van Arsdale
  • Second Vice Chair – Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty
  • Secretary – Leander Council Member Andrea Navarrette
  • Past Chair & Parliamentarian – Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long

> Read more about the CAPCOG Executive Committee. 

Environmental law course curbs illegal waste issues

Monday, February 06, 2017

When old furniture, used vehicle fluids or other household waste gets discarded into illegal dumpsites, they can become harmful and costly to cities and counties and their residents. However, experts with the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF) will be available to help guide local law enforcement and code compliance officers through the legal enforcement of environmental crimes with its Basic Environmental Law training course scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23 at the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins Street.

> Register for the course.

During the course, specialized instructors from throughout the state will discuss topics ranging from nuisance violations to unauthorized discharge violations and their civil versus criminal prosecution measures. Officers must register for the course at capcog.org/training/class/view/basic-environmental-law-training-course3 before the Feb. 16 deadline. The $30 registration fee includes lunch, materials and selected continuing-education credits.

> Learn more about the RETF.
> Read about CAPCOG's Regional Services Division.
 

Air quality calculator estimates NOx contribution

Friday, January 27, 2017

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program launched a new emissions calculator on the Air Central Texas website to let residents calculate the impact of typical day-to-day activities on regional air pollution levels.

The calculator estimates nitrogen oxides (NOX), the key contributor to ground-level ozone air pollution and particulate matter air pollution in the region. These pollutants can make it difficult to breathe and high levels can put the region at risk for violating federal air quality standards. The calculator uses emissions data for vehicles, power plants, natural gas and propane combustion, electricity used to pump and treat water, and gasoline use in lawn care.

Using the calculator lets residents improve their understanding of how their activities can affect regional air pollution and how behavioral changes can reduce their impact.

Residents can use the Air Central Texas emissions calculator to estimate their air pollution contribution. The calculator can be used any time at aircentraltexas.org.

Residents can use the Air Central Texas emissions calculator to estimate their air pollution contribution. The calculator can be used any time at aircentraltexas.org.

> Use or promote the calculator.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Hamilton earns Phill Parmer award

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bill Hamilton, a former member of CAPCOG’s Executive Committee and mayor of Rollingwood, has long been dedicated to serving the region by participating on CAPCOG committees and was honored for his service beginning in 2002 with its Phill Parmer Volunteer Service Award in December.

Hamilton served on the Executive Committee for six years and worked on the ad hoc building committee the last time CAPCOG moved its offices. He was a founding member of the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CARTPO) and has continued to serve on the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) Committee; he currently serves as vice chair. Public service is a 24-hour a day job in which people want to solve problems and sometimes they can do that before problems occur, Hamilton said. Volunteering on CAPCOG’s committees has allowed him to accomplish that.

The Phill Parmer award is named after CAPCOG’s longest serving Aging Advisory Council member from Llano County who also volunteered in the region as an ombudsman and advocated for senior issues in the legislature.

Bill Hamilton accepts the Phill Parmer award from CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights.

Bill Hamilton accepts the Phill Parmer award from CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights.

> Learn more about CARTPO.
> Learn more about CAEDD.

CAPCOG honors Workman for regional efforts

Monday, January 23, 2017

Texas State Representative Paul Workman received CAPCOG’s 15th Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award honoring his commitment to working regionally on key issues.

Workman, whose district serves a portion of Travis County, was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2011, and he was among the first state representatives to join CAPCOG’s Executive Committee in 2012 as a nonvoting member. Workman has been an ally for the region during legislative sessions but he took the lead during the 2013 Legislative Session to introduce a bill that made CAPCOG the first COG to also be an emergency communications district.  The legislation, on which Senator Kirk Watson partnered with the companion bill that ultimately became law, released CAPCOG from state oversight of the region’s 9-1-1 program, ensuring all applicable 9-1-1 fees are available to fund emergency communications as directed by local officials.

Workman still serves on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee.

The regionalism award is named after former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chairman, and recognizes a person who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits and other organizations.

Texas State Representative Paul Workman accepts the  Jack Griesenbeck award from Williams County Commissioner and 2016 CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Long.

Texas State Representative Paul Workman accepts the  Jack Griesenbeck award from Williams County Commissioner and 2016 CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Long.

> Learn more about Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

Legislators discuss upcoming 85th Texas session

Friday, January 20, 2017

Four state legislators, who also served on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee for 2016, provided highlights of issues likely to get attention when the 85th Session starts; Representatives Paul Workman, Jason Isaac, Eddie Rodriguez, and John Cyrier commented on issues outlined by CAPCOG as well as other topics likely to see legislative action.

“The more you can educate us, the more we can educate other members,” Cyrier said answering a question about how local elected officials can help legislators understand the roles COGs play in supporting local governments. Representative Workman noted every legislator has a COG in their district, so it is important for them to know what issues COGs face.

Commissioner Cynthia Long, CAPCOG Chair, moderated the panel and directed questions to the legislators regarding several of CAPCOG’s programs funded by the state, acknowledging that it could be a tight budget year but it’s important to maintain funding levels for solid waste management, law enforcement training, and air quality monitoring work.

During the legislative session, CAPCOG makes an extra effort to keep local elected officials informed about legislative issues that could affect COGs’ programs and services that support local communities, so they can speak at public hearings or directly to legislators. CAPCOG also provides legislators with program related data about legislative issues when requested.

COGs and especially CAPCOG have a “great track record” of providing fact based data about their programs that benefit local governments, Cyrier said.  Such evidence goes a long way in educating legislators about an issue, Rodriguez added.

Long noted COGs can also be an existing mechanism to help the state with new programs. In 2003, Governor Perry made the decision to have the state’s 24 COGs manage homeland security planning. Long also opened the floor for questions.

Texas State Representatives Paul Workman, John Cyrier, Eddie Rodriguez and Jason Isaac discuss the 85th Texas legislative session during CAPCOG's December General Assembly Meeting.

Texas State Representatives Paul Workman, John Cyrier, Eddie Rodriguez and Jason Isaac discuss the 85th Texas legislative session during CAPCOG's December General Assembly Meeting.

In summarizing the discussion, each of the legislators joined in to list the key issues to be discussed during the 85th session:

  • The state budget
  • Ground water conservation and usage
  • The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan
  • Higher education and workforce training
  • Public education
  • Infrastructure
  • Food security
  • Child protective services

CAPCOG builds additional PSAP, office space

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CAPCOG’s current offices in southeast Austin will be expanded significantly in 2017 to allow the City of Austin’s back-up Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to double in size, add an adjoining PSAP to be used for back-up call taking by the other PSAPs throughout the ten-county region, and to expand the training center for emergency communications. The expansion adds 17,000 SF at the Bergstrom Tech Center on Burleson Road – projected completion of work is June 2017.

Adding the emergency communications space triggers changes for the rest of CAPCOG; the offices for the Area Agency on Aging/Aging and Disability Resource Center, Regional Services, Planning & Economic Development, and the Administrative Services Divisions will relocate to new space near the main entrance, an area formerly occupied by LCRA. The Aging Services offices will be at the front of this space allowing easier access by clients.

CAPCOG’s public safety divisions, Homeland Security, the Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA), and Emergency Communications, will stay in the current suite of office space but in new offices relocated within that space to make room for the PSAP expansions. RLEA will benefit by getting more training and storage space which will be across the hallway from its current location.

CAPCOG will be announcing some scheduling shifts in late February to accommodate the phased construction process – all the divisions moving to the new space in Suite 155 are expected to do so by March 5 which means all meetings for criminal justice, solid waste, air quality, economic development, transportation, aging, and GIS could be moved forward or back a week, according to Betty Voights, CAPCOG’s executive director, who added that all of the changes affecting our customers will be on our website by Feb. 1.

> Contact Betty Voights with any inquiries about the expansion work and relocation of offices.

New EPA program loans $1 billion for water projects

Monday, January 16, 2017
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made available about $1 billion in credit assistance for water infrastructure projects under the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

The program will provide long-term, low-cost credit assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to creditworthy water projects. WIFIA provides another option for financing large infrastructure projects – generally at least $20 million – in addition to the State Revolving Funds and the bond market. WIFIA is available to state, local, and tribal governments; private entities; partnerships; and State Revolving Fund programs. 
Some projects that WIFIA enables EPA to provide assistance for include:

  • drinking water treatment and distribution projects
  • wastewater conveyance and treatment projects
  • enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
  • desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling projects
  • drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects

EPA will evaluate projects using criteria such as the extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, helps maintain or protect public health or the environment, protects against extreme weather, and serves regions with significant water resource challenges. EPA will make selections on a competitive basis.

> Read more information about WIFA.

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