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In the News

Retiring silver-haired legislator championed for older Texans

Friday, May 26, 2017

More than a decade and a half ago, Carlos Higgins, a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and attorney, volunteered to be a Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) Representative, and now at 82, the Round Rock resident feels proud to have participated in the Texas legislative process.

Higgins, who is serving his final TSHL term, said the role expanded his passion for influencing change to older Texans and all Texas residents. “We (TSHL representatives) do it for everybody who is a senior citizen,” he said. “At our age, 60 and older, we are parents and grandparents who have an interest in the future of the community.”

Higgins has embraced community engagement most of his life, which included being a Round Rock Independent School District Board President and serving on the Williamson County Literacy Council and the CAPCOG Aging Advisory Council. But as a TSHL representative, he is one of 106 senior citizens who volunteer to recommend legislative changes affecting older Texans before each state legislature. It is a job that works on broader community issues, and requires its members to share ideas, learn from example and be persistent about promoting beneficial change.

“There are many, many laws on the books that were proposed by the Silver-Haired Legislature,” Higgins said. “I gave it a go, and it was rewarding. We made a difference, I have no doubt about that.” In his role, Higgins’ personal triumphs included helping freeze property taxes for seniors on fixed incomes, making it easier for grandparents to serve as their grandchildren’s legal guardians, and supporting Meals on Wheels. These programs benefit a large cross-section of older Texans.

Higgins wants someone else to fill his TSHL seat, because he no longer has the endurance to regularly participate in the lengthy legislative committee process, but that doesn’t mean he will stop championing for older Texans. “There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue,” he said. “If I see something that needs to be changed, I will know who to talk to and where to go.”

> Read more about TSHL.
> Learm more about the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

CAPCOG adopts regional emergency communications strategic plan

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In the 2013 Texas Legislative Session, CAPCOG working with Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Paul Workman, passed legislation to designate the agency as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District (CAECD). As of April, the CAECD board approved the first strategic plan for the district that will provide guiding principles for its core functions: 9-1-1, voice and data interoperability, and training and education. Another category includes support systems or tools that enhance emergency communications for the region such as the regional notification system.

Getting the strategic plan approved was a final step in a process that began in 2014. The CAECD Strategic Advisory Committee, the group designated to provide technical guidance to the managing board, conducted three strategic planning sessions during which several key projects were identified and since completed. Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG’s director of emergency communications which manages the CAECD, noted that funding had not been available prior to 2013’s bill to support several significant projects such as construction of a region wide back-up network to ensure redundancy of the entire 9-1-1 system.

“The Capital Area Emergency Communications Strategic Plan lets the district better anticipate and prepare for larger projects that need to occur on a regional level,” said Peter Behnke, CAPCOG Emergency Communications assistant director. “The five-year plan allows the district to organize projects by category and by priority letting the district take a strategic look forward.”

By setting a framework for potential projects and allowing for a technical and representative vetting process, the plan further ensures projects are regionally focused and align with the district’s vision, mission and guiding principles. It establishes that subject matter experts will develop workgroups to recommend projects at various priority levels and in accordance with short- and long-term components that expand at least five years. Such recommended projects will then be reviewed by the CAPCOG Executive Committee before approval. The plan also provides a system for monitoring projects’ progress and their continued alignment to the district’s guiding principles.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

National Weather Service, CAPCOG, others discuss emergencies with deaf community

Monday, May 22, 2017

CAPCOG joined the National Weather Service at a forum about tools used to inform the deaf community of emergencies and to receive feedback from those community members. Having an open discussion with those who have particular communication access needs helps foster greater communication during emergencies said a National Weather Service representative during the forum.

While the Weather Service discussed many advancements to weather radios that allow for visual alerts, it also brought attention to weather warnings sent to people’s cellphones. CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division and Travis County Office of Emergency Management, another Weather Service guest, also touted cellphone warnings. Registering to receive alerts at WarnCentralTexas.org allows local emergency managers and coordinators to directly inform the public about disasters and how to respond to them by sending emails and text messages to cellphones, said representatives from the organizations. Travis County assisted people in registering at WarnCentralTexas.org to receive the alerts.

> Register for WarnCentralTexas.org

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division spoke about Text to 9-1-1 coming to the region. Those in attendance explained texting 9-1-1 would greatly improve their ability to communicate to emergency telecommunicators instead of using relay calling or teletypewriters, which are transmitted slower and have become increasingly rare. The division also explained emergency telecommunicators are routinely trained for responding to text based communications.

> Learn more about Text to 9-1-1.

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area, a CAPCOG division, also presented information on workshops to help older members of the deaf community live as independently as possible while they age, to include courses such as A Matter of Balance, Fall Prevention.

> Read about the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

CAPCOG taps legal experts for local elected officials training

Thursday, May 18, 2017

CAPCOG will host municipal legal experts for a four-and-a-half-hour workshop on being a local representative and best practices elected officials should follow while conducting city and township business. The workshop will be from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 8 at CAPCOG, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165. It will be geared towards newly elected officials, but may also serve as a refresher that can provide a new perspective for tenured city council members and aldermen.

Topics covered during the workshop include:

  • Types of governments and how they work
  • Open meetings and public information basics
  • Agendas, legislative finds, ordinances, and resolutions
  • Ethical issues and traps for the unwary

The Texas Attorney General’s Office approved this workshop’s Texas Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act presentations, so they meet the state’s requirements for training on the acts. Workshop attendees may also qualify for credit hours towards their Texas Municipal League Institute (TMLI) education.

> Register for the training workshop.

Elected officials representing CAPCOG members can attend the workshop at no cost.

> Contact Mason Canales to receive a discount code.

Planning workshop set for special needs population

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CAPCOG will conduct a homeland security workshop May 24 at St. Edwards University to increase emergency response teams’ understanding about the needs of special populations — such as children and people with functional and access needs — before, during, and after disasters. Researchers and practitioners from Texas and Louisiana will lead the six hour-workshop, “Working with Special Populations in Disaster: Issues and Challenges,” as they share lessons learned from national and international incidents that can help shape more effective local planning for providing aid to these communities.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Addressing the Needs of Youth after Disasters and Critical Incidents
  • Why, When and How to Communicate Effectively with Your Populations with Access and Functional Needs
  • Working with the Elderly
  • Working with Culturally Isolated Groups

The workshop will start at 9 a.m.

> Register to attend the workshop.
> Read the full agenda.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

TCEQ continues accepting applications for clean engine rebates

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is still accepting Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Rebate Grants Program applications on a first-come, first served basis. The grant program helps pay for the upgrade or replacement of diesel on-road heavy duty vehicles and select non-road equipment.

Eligible on-road vehicles must have a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds, while non-road equipment must be equipped with at least a 25 horsepower engine. Tables with pre-approved maximum rebate grant amounts for eligible on-road and non-road replacement and repower projects are provided to applicants in the Request for Grant Applications. The tables list the on-road vehicle weight categories and model years and the non-road equipment types, horsepower ranges, and model years eligible for funding.

Grant-funded vehicles and equipment must be operated at least 75 percent of their annual usage within specific counties to include five in the CAPCOG region — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, Williamson.

A portion of the funding allocated to this program will be set aside for applications from applicants that qualify as a small business, as defined in the TERP Guidelines. Small businesses are encouraged to apply under this program.

Applications will be accepted for consideration during this grant period on a first-come, first-served basis at the front desk, Rm. 1301, 1st floor of Building F on the premises of the TCEQ, no later than 5:00 p.m., Central Time, on May 26, 2017.

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.

Deadline: 5 p.m., Friday, May 26, 2017 or until all funds are awarded

> Get more info on the TERP Rebate Grants Program.
> Find other TERP programs.
> Learn about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Programs.

CAPCOG brings specialized EOD training to regional response teams

Thursday, April 20, 2017

From music festivals to cycling tours to boat and car races, the CAPCOG region is home to numerous popular and massively attended events which can be challenging if a bomb threat occurs. CAPCOG is offering training in May at the San Marcos ALERRT Training Facility to better prepare local, regional and statewide bomb squads for responding to large scale events requiring explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).

“In-Extremis Render Safe Training, also known as Slash and Go, is an advanced level, highly specialized course,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “The people teaching it have international experience handling multiple or serial bombers and explosive devices. They will be instructing our response team leaders on how large areas can be cleared effectively and quickly.”

Over the course of five days, members of EOD teams from across the state will learn best practices for mitigating a complex coordinated attack involving explosive devices that could potentially be placed in hundreds or even thousands of packages, bags and other containers. The training will help develop the skills and knowledge necessary to minimize risk while operating in an effective and efficient manner that keeps the public as safe as realistically possible.

In March, CAPCOG’s Executive Committee approved offering the $72,000 training at the recommendation of its Homeland Security Task Force. Seven Austin Police Department Bomb Squad members along with other regional bomb technicians are enrolled in the training. They will be joined by personnel from San Antonio, Arlington, Irving, and Houston police departments; Fort Worth and Arlington fire departments; and the Texas Department of Public Safety.  “This training will strengthen the capabilities of the local EOD teams, while also improving the skills of those agencies who may be called upon to serve our region during high-profile and large-scale acts of terrorism,” Carter said. “Some of the events held in the CAPCOG region are large enough that teams from other major metropolitan areas could be mobilized to assist in responding to such an incident.”

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Find other emergency management or homeland security training opportunities.
 

Williamson County honors older adults with multigenerational event

Monday, April 17, 2017

Williamson County will bring multiple generations together for a special event that honors and celebrates Older Americans Month, an annual observance throughout May that offers all residents the opportunity to learn about, support and recognize our nation’s older citizens. Family Fun Day will feature intergenerational hands-on activities for all at the historic Williamson County Courthouse from 1-4 p.m., Saturday, April 22.

“This event is a great kick-off for Older American’s Month, which starts in May, by providing a program that really supports this year’s theme, ‘Age Out Loud,’” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG Aging Services director. “The theme and this event are meant to emphasize the way older adults are living their lives with boldness, confidence, and passion while serving as an inspiration to people of all ages.”

During Family Fun Day older adults will lead a number of activities for children and their parents to include woodworking, storytelling, historical cultural dancing, gardening and fishing. “Multigenerational events where older adults share their knowledge and skills with the younger community promote a better understanding of the unique and common perspectives across generations,” Bordie said. These opportunities promote a greater understanding of the value of all generations and help establish a stronger, closer community.

“Our senior Williamson County residents have so much experience and knowledge to share we wanted to create an outlet for them to be able to do that with younger generations,” said Williamson County Commissioner, Cynthia Long, who spearheaded organizing the event. “Family Fun Day will give seniors the opportunity to showcase their talents and teach those skills to younger generations.”

For older adults, these types of events also can provide them with greater sense of purpose and increase their level of community engagement, which has many benefits for the individual, Bordie said. “Participating in face-to-face social interaction becomes more important as we age — social engagement through meaningful activities can combat the risks of social isolation — which can affect an older American’s mental, emotional and physical health.”

CAPCOG’s Executive Committee adopted a resolution recognizing May as Older American’s Month at its April meeting. CAPCOG through the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) will use the month to focus on how older adults in the region’s  communities are redefining aging — through work or family interests, by taking charge of their health and staying independent as long as possible, and through their community and advocacy efforts. Communities throughout the ten-county region are welcome to adopt the resolution or a similar one to honor their older adult residents. CAPCOG and AAACAP also encourage communities to hold events similar to Williamson County’s to recognize the contributions of older residents.

> Downlaod a copy of the CAPCOG resolution.
> Get ideas for celebrating and participating in Older American’s Month.

CAPCOG ranks Homeland Security grants for OOG

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The CAPCOG Executive Committee approved the ranking of 43 Homeland Security grant projects and purchases in March; the projects are now awaiting a final review from the Office of the Governor before the top priority projects are awarded State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant funds. Each project was reviewed by Homeland Security Task Force subcommittees consisting of public safety and emergency management professionals from throughout the region. Projects with the highest priority were those that addressed an identified threat or hazard, demonstrated a regional approach, and either sustained or expanded existing homeland security programs.

The Office of the Governor has not released the SHSP allocation for the CAPCOG region, but last year the ten-county region received about $1.4 million to fund SHSP projects. With a similar allocation, about a third of the projects submitted could be grant funded. Projects that ranked in the upper third included funding for regional training and exercises; bomb disposal, SWAT and Hazmat team equipment purchases; and support of community emergency response teams.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Read about this year's grant process.

San Marcos starts Text to 9-1-1 testing; other PSAPs to follow

Monday, April 10, 2017

San Marcos Police Department will lead the region in testing Text to 9-1-1 systems in mid-April, and public safety answering points (PSAPs), or 9-1-1 call centers, throughout Hays, Travis and Williamson counties will continue the first phase of testing through April. The second testing phase will include Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell, and Fayette counties, and PSAPs in Burnet, Blanco and Llano counties will conclude the testing before Text to 9-1-1 is released region wide.

Text to 9-1-1 allows for cellphone users to communicate with emergency telecommunicators through SMS text messages. CAPCOG has been installing and testing Text to 9-1-1 infrastructure since late 2016 which includes how emergency telecommunicators receive and respond to text messages. The San Marcos test will be the first live event where CAPCOG will send text messages from somewhere in the city to the PSAP. This test will be done separately for each major carrier — Verizon, AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile – to ensure texts are being received properly by the PSAP. It is important that residents not attempt to text 9-1-1 during testing as they may be connected with a live operator instead of receiving a default message explaining texting is not available in the area.

> Read more about Text to 9-1-1.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
 

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.

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