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In the News

USDOT announces $500 Million Funding Opportunity

Monday, September 18, 2017
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

WASHINGTON – State and local stakeholders can apply to receive funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 appropriated $500 million, available through Sept. 30, 2020, for national infrastructure investments or TIGER grants. Funds for FY 2017 TIGER grants program are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will significantly impact the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. The FY 2017 Appropriations Act specifies TIGER Discretionary Grants may not be less than $5 million and not greater than $25 million. Except for projects located in rural areas, the minimum TIGER Discretionary Grant is $1 million.

The FY 2017 TIGER program will give special consideration to projects which emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas, such as projects that improve infrastructure conditions, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness.

To provide technical assistance to a broad array of stakeholders, USDOT is hosting a series of webinars during the FY 2017 TIGER grant application process. A webinar on competing for TIGER grants will be from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Sept. 19 and Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Additional webinars will be scheduled.

> Register for a TIGER Webinar Series.

FY 2017 TIGER grant program applications are due Monday, Oct. 16. Since the program’s start, $5.1 billion has been awarded for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. TIGER grants historically have achieved a co-investment of $3.60 per TIGER dollar invested.

> Learn more about the TIGER program.
> Find out about the Capital Area Regional Transportation Organization.

AAACAP strengthens seniors’ balance for Falls Prevention Day

Thursday, September 14, 2017

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is Sept. 22, 2017, and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) will strengthen the balance of older adults throughout Williamson County by conducting three A Matter of Balance (AMOB) programs in September.

> Organizations in other counties in the region are welcome to schedule future programs by contacting Kate Gibbons.

According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans who are 65 and older falls each year; every 11 seconds an older adult visits the emergency room for a fall; and falls annually result in more than 2.8 million injuries, 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths.

AMOB programs teach older adults how to reduce fall risks through exercises that increase strength and balance and viewing falls as controllable. The scheduled AMOB programs will be at the Allen R. Baca Center in Round Rock, The Wesleyan at Estrella in Georgetown; and Seton Williamson Round Rock Learning Center 1.

Prevent falling by:

  • Asking your healthcare provider to evaluate your falling risk and make recommendations to prevent falling
  • Asking your pharmacist to review your medicines to prevent dizziness or drowsiness 
  • Doing strength and balance exercises
  • Having your eyes checked
  • Making your home safer by removing tripping hazards, adding grab bars to bathrooms, and putting railings on both sides of stairs

> Learn more about AMOB programs.
> Read about AAACAP.

CAPCOG wants to triple Warn Central Texas registrations in September

Monday, September 11, 2017

A regional press conference in August kicked off CAPCOG’s effort to triple the number of residents who have registered their information at WarnCentralTexas.org to receive local warnings about emergencies happening in their neighborhood. The effort will continue regionally as local jurisdictions push outreach messaging through September as part of National Preparedness month.

“In the 2011 (Bastrop) fire, the line between emergency and full scale disaster vanished within a heartbeat,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, who spoke at the press conference. He was one of more than 50 elected, public safety and emergency management officials who attended the press conference. “We knew within a few minutes that this was not a fire we could fight. We just needed to get people out of harm’s way, and had Warn Central Texas been up and running and more active at that time we would have been more successful in evacuating tens of thousands of people more efficiently. … I speak on behalf of all the county judges in the CAPCOG region: ‘Citizens of central Texas, register today for Warn Central Texas and let’s be prepared for the next natural disaster.’”

Every landline in the ten-county region receives calls from the regional notification system CAPCOG uses; however, cellphone users must register their information to receive the same warning messages by cellphone, text message and email. Every jurisdiction in the ten-county region can use the system to share critical emergency information events, such as:

  • Evacuations from floods, wildfires or public health threats,
  • Shelter-in-place information during law enforcement or public health incidents,
  • Boil water notices or prolonged power outages, and
  • Options to receive general, non-emergency community messages.

As of August, about 60,000 people had registered to receive warning messages in the CAPCOG region, and nearly an additional 23,000 residents registered on Aug. 27 in preparation of hurricane Harvey.
“As Central Texas citizens abandon landlines, enrollment in the WarnCentralTexas.org program becomes even more important,” said Burnet County Commissioner Joe Don Dockery at the press conference. “This program is one of the most critical links available between public and local entities during an event.”

To further aid the registration drive, many local governments are conducting social media campaigns and distributing public education materials. CAPCOG has purchased banners and flyers to place inside local government offices, which are available for any jurisdiction to distribute. To join the campaign and receive digital or printed materials for WarnCentralTexas.org, contact Mason Canales or Carolyn Sudduth.

“Reaching 180,000 registrants is a lofty goal, but one this region can make,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “It is important that residents know this tool exists alongside the other many actions emergency personnel take to notify the public about what to do during disasters. If this tool can save one life, then the campaign has worked.”

CAPCOG has revamped WarnCentralTexas.org to not only promote RNS registration but serve as a resource for residents to discover how their communities distribute emergency information, so residents can stay informed whether they live in one county, work in another, and vacation in a third.

> Find more information about the regional notification system and WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Go to WarnCentralTexas.org to register for alerts.

CAPCOG seeks nominations for regional, air quality awards

Thursday, September 07, 2017

CAPCOG is soliciting nominations for its 2017 Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award and its Air Central Texas Awards; each award recognizes people or organizations that have played pivotal roles in strengthening the region through their actions.

Named after Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chair, the regionalism award honors someone who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits, and other organizations. Nominees can include volunteers, community leaders or elected officials whose work has stretched beyond county lines to further regional efforts.

> Get the regionalism award nomination form. 
> Submitt the form to Mason Canales before 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 13.

The Air Central Texas Awards recognize activities by organizations and individuals that have made significant contributions to regional air quality and promote future action on the part of the community to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22.

The second annual Air Central Texas Award ceremony will introduce the new Air Central Texas Media Award to highlight the media’s role in communicating air quality issues to the public. The other awards include:

  • Air Central Texas Public Sector Award - recognizing public sector actions that help improve/protect regional air quality.
  • Air Central Texas Private/Nonprofit Sector Award - recognizing private or nonprofit sector actions that help improve/protect regional air quality during the past year.
  • Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award - recognizing an individual who’s made a significant and lasting impact on Central Texas air quality.

> Find out more about the Air Central Texas Awards and how to submit nominations.

The award ceremony is planned for November.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

September General Assembly features legislator panel

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Texas House of Representatives from CAPCOG’s region will discuss the outcome of the 85th Texas Legislative Session during a panel forum at the 2017 CAPCOG General Assembly meeting at 11:30 a.m., Sept. 13 at the Austin Marriott South, 4415 South IH-35. Participating State Representatives include  John Cyrier, Larry Gonzales, Jason Isaac, Donna Howard, Terry Wilson, and Paul Workman.

The CAPCOG General Assembly will conduct its September business meeting before the panel by electing the new Nominating Committee whose primary job is developing a slate of elected officials for the 2018 CAPCOG Executive Committee, and approving the 2018 Fiscal Year budget.

> General Assembly members RSVP to attend.

Following the meeting, CAPCOG will conduct the “Economic Development Toolbox workshop” for elected officials, planners and economic development stakeholders. The two- and a half-hour workshop will examine the legal aspects of tools cities and counties can use as part of their economic development strategy. It will cover topics such as special economic development districts and zones, incentives, and economic development corporations. Continuing education credits are available for attending.

> Register for the workshop.
> Contact Mason Canales about attending the meeting and workshop for free.

CAPCOG provides local input for state freight network

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Expansion of the freight network into rural areas could increase traffic safety and connectivity throughout the ten-county region by making roadway projects more attractive to receive state and federal funding. With the state currently reviewing its freight network plan, CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development staff provided the state with local input about major rural thoroughfares, to ensure they can accurately be represented.

Freight traffic is growing on many roadways in the rural portions of the region as companies transport goods go or through the northern, central and southern parts of the metropolitan area. To help reflect that reality, CAPCOG collected a variety of local input about growth and use of rural thoroughfares during a series of planning meetings and public forums. The majority of the collected information from those forums are being placed into rural transportation planning documents, but the freight input also was provided to Texas Department of Transportation as part of its freight planning process.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

CAPCOG develops workforce education center database

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CAPCOG and the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) is compiling a workforce education center database to help the region explore opportunities related to workforce development and answer questions about the relationships between training providers and other regional trends, statistics and demographics.

“Our affordability and economic development issues are closely tied to workforce education,” said Chris Schreck, CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development director. “Doing this project links workforce development with other factors. It focuses on getting good information pulled together and examining where opportunity might exist.”

A map shows apprenticeship programs in relation to job availability in the region.

The goal is to create a comprehensive catalogue of workforce training information that can be represented spatially, so it is easier to see how current training systems align with accessibility, concentrations of jobs, and target populations. The database could be used by policy makers to guide future planning and/or it could become public facing which also would allow residents to explore their own career opportunities based on their circumstances and interests.

“The CAEDD wants to engage stakeholders that are working on the same economic development and workforce development issues and make sure they have this data,” Schreck said. “With broad interest and engagement around expanding opportunities for skills development in the Capital Area, I’m excited about where this project may go.” CAPCOG will present the database to the CAEDD in August, which will help direct the project to its next stage.

Identification of the workforce database comes from the region’s five-year economic development plan, also known as the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), which identifies workforce development as one of four key elements in the action plan. CAPCOG is a designated Economic Development District by the Economic Development Administration, US Department of Commerce.

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

August, September temps could bring air pollution risk

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Average temperatures in the Austin area are higher than they have been in the last 17 years according to data collected by the National Weather Service, and higher temperatures can also bring higher levels of ozone air pollution. Half-way through the 2017 ozone season, the CAPCOG ten-county region already had three days when ground-level ozone has reached levels considered unhealthy for children, seniors, adults with asthma, and people who work outdoors, compared to just one day in 2016. There also has been an additional 66 days when ozone has reached “moderate” levels that can affect especially sensitive people.

It’s important for the region’s residents to realize August and September tend to be the worst months for air pollution in the region. They can help “Be Air Aware” by driving less, conserving energy, and checking the air quality forecast each day. Residents can better understand how their day-to-day activities affect air quality, and how changes in those activities can improve air quality by visiting AirCentralTexas.org.

> Visit AirCentralTexas.org.

CAPCOG is challenging area residents to calculate their emissions and make a commitment to take action to help keep our air clean.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Striking a Balance lets caregivers take home experiences

Monday, August 14, 2017

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and AGE of Central Texas bring together family caregivers from around the region to learn how to better care for themselves and loved ones during the Striking a Balance Conference. The 16th annual conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 at DoubleTree by Hilton Austin; with an anticipated attendance of 200 caregivers, the attendees will be their own greatest resources.Jane Meier Hamilton, CEO and founder of Partners on the Path

> Register for Striking a Balance 2017.

“The real strength of this event is the opportunity to communicate with other caregivers, and every year I see a table of caregivers that doesn’t want to leave because they are sharing their experiences,” said Patty Bordie, AAACAP director. “Sharing the caregiving experience validates feelings, emotions, thoughts, and lets people know they are not alone.”

Peer support is often more believable than what one learns from books or classes. Situations peers face may be similar so sharing experiences can lead to solving problems. Knowing the experience of caregiving is one of the many reasons Jane Meier Hamilton, CEO and founder of Partners on the Path, was selected to deliver the conference’s keynote address, “Why am I So Stressed?” and lead two breakout sessions. Hamilton, a 40-year nurse and 20-year family caregiver, runs Partners on the Path which helps professional and family caregivers preserve their health, well-being and capacity to care through research-based resources offered online, in-print and in-person. “There is no boundary in being a caregiver when it is your husband, your parents or your child, unlike when you are a nurse and can go home at the end of the day,” Hamilton said. “When it is your loved one, it is in your heart and in your mind all the time. The talks I do come out of my own struggle to stay healthy and stay resilient.”

Hamilton’s breakout sessions will discuss practical steps to self-care and establishing resiliency in oneself as a caregiver. Other breakout session topics include: addressing difficult behaviors associated with dementia, discussing driving with older family members, and financing long-term care. The conference includes opportunities to connect with community based organizations and service providers with expertise in caregiver support, education, training, in-home and long-term care services.

> Learn more about AGE of Central Texas.
> Read about AAACAP.

AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center will offer free off-site respite by reservation. Call 512-600-9275 to reserve.

CAPCOG seeks nominations for 2017 Air Central Texas Awards

Thursday, August 10, 2017

CAPCOG is soliciting nominations for the 2017 Air Central Texas Awards that recognize activities by organizations and individuals that have made significant contributions to regional air quality and promote future action on the part of the community to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22.

The 2017 awards will mark the second year CAPCOG has held the award ceremony, and it is excited to introduce a new category to highlight the role the media plays in communicating air quality issues to the public, the Air Central Texas Media Award. The awards are a great way to honor those who have made significant differences in Central Texas’ air quality. CAPCOG wants to ensure this effort is a success, so please consider submitting at least one nomination for each of the following categories:

  • Air Central Texas Public Sector Award - recognizes action in the public sector that has helped improve/protect regional air quality during the past year.
  • Air Central Texas Private/Non-Profit Sector Award - recognizes action in the private or nonprofit sectors that has helped improve/protect regional air quality during the past year.
  • Air Central Texas Media Award - recognizes outstanding media coverage — TV, print, radio, or digital — of air quality issues in the region.
  • Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award - recognizes an individual who has had a significant and lasting impact on Central Texas air quality.

> Review award guidelines and submit a nomination form.
> Contact Anton Cox, CAPCOG Air Quality Program specialist, with questions or concerns.

CAPCOG plans to hold an award ceremony in November to announce and celebrate the 2017 nominees and winners.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Advocacy Day to strengthen ADRC partnerships, network

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area will host its first Advocacy Day and Resource Fair, an educational workshop for its steering committee members and community partners to explore using advocacy as a tool to increase the ADRC network’s capacity. The workshop will be from 8 a.m. to noon, Aug. 17 at the JJ Pickle Research Center’s Commons Learning Center.

“This workshop will provide increased awareness about the needs of individuals with disabilities and the importance of person-centered support,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area director who oversees the ADRC program. “In addition, steering committee partners will have the opportunity to highlight their services and make new connections to a broader group of professional stakeholders.”

ADRC agency partners contribute to a “No Wrong Door” system for consumers seeking long-term services and supports in the CAPCOG region. The ADRC coordinates these services across aging and disability networks to increase efficiencies and reduce duplication. This workshop is designed to further strengthen the bonds between those agencies and streamline an individual’s connection to services with a quality consumer experience.

> Parnters or potential partners RSVP for the workshop.
> Learn more about the ADRC.

Homeland Security Strategic Framework guides future planning

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A newly established Homeland Security Strategic Planning Framework defines the capacity and resiliency to support emergency preparedness, efficient disaster response, recovery, and long-term economic sustainability of the communities in CAPCOG’s ten-county region. Adopted by the CAPCOG Executive Committee in June, the framework guides future regional homeland security planning to address current and new challenges.

“Homeland security threats have changed significantly since CAPCOG drafted its first Homeland Security Strategic Plan in 2004,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG homeland security director. “While the threat of terrorism remains and the hazards we have always faced are still present, we are seeing more pronounced risks in the areas of cybersecurity, and area-wide complex, coordinated attacks.” The strategic framework identified eight significant hazards to the region’s population and economy to include traditional Central Texas threats such as flooding and wildfire, but it also calls attention to growing modern threats such as cyberattacks. It also identified several training and planning areas that could positively impact response and recovery if those hazards occurred. Among those areas included were greater public education, data sharing, and further expansion of automatic aid agreements.

To help implement planning efforts throughout the region, seven committees were proposed to work in different focus areas that will assist with the development of regional planning, training, and public outreach activities. They will work under the guidance of the Homeland Security Task Force, a CAPCOG advisory committee consisting of 27 emergency management coordinators and emergency response officials. “By maintaining some of the Homeland Security Task Force’s standing committees and establishing new ones like the technology and communications committee, the framework is helping shape how we interact as a region to better mitigate all incidents in our communities,” Carter said.

Identifying the hazards and the additional capacity needed in the region, the strategic framework also assists in prioritizing grant funding and provides direction to local jurisdictions about which projects and equipment proposals may meet criteria for recommendations for grant funding from the State Homeland Security Program. Each year, CAPCOG through the Homeland Security Task Force prioritizes projects for the Office of the Governor that address an identified threat or hazard, demonstrate a regional approach, and either sustains or expands existing homeland security programs.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Texas General Land Office releases 2015 flood funds

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Source: Texas General Land Office and Texas Association of Regional Councils

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is administering $25.6 million in recovery funds for home and infrastructure projects that were affected by the 2015 floods. The funds also will allow communities to implement mitigation efforts for future disasters. Eligible entities including cities, counties, and local housing authorities in the impact areas will have until Nov. 10, 2017 to apply for funding.

Flooding from the 2015 disaster affected 116 counties in Texas, which are home to nearly 21 million people, but the $25.6 million in funds from the GLO’s Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program are eligible to entities in 112 counties. The most impacted counties, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, and Travis, received dedicated portions of the total $59.6 million awarded to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Counties that can apply for the remaining CDBG-DR funds in the CAPCOG region include Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee, and Williamson.

Funds will be awarded based on scoring and ranking of submitted project applications. Entities may submit three applications; only two of the three may be for non-housing projects. GLO will work with impacted counties to maximize the number of long-term recovery projects that can be completed given the limited funding.

Applications for housing projects should be between $500,000 and $2 million. Housing activities allowed under CDBG-DR include but are not limited to:

  • Single family and multifamily repair, rehabilitation, or new construction
  • Repair and replacement of manufactured housing units
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Elevation
  • Buyouts
  • Planning activities related to housing
  • Other activities associated with the recovery of impacted housing stock

Applications for non-housing projects should be between $100,000 and $1 million. Non-housing activities allowed under CDBG-DR include but are not limited to:

  • Restoration of infrastructures such as water and sewer facilities, streets, and bridges
  • Provision of generators
  • Removal of debris
  • Drainage
  • Demolition, rehabilitation of publicly or privately owned commercial or industrial buildings, and code enforcement
  • Planning activities related to non-housing

> Apply for funding or get more information.
> Read the full release about the funding.
> Learn which counties received a Presidential Disaster Declaration from the 2015 floods.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

 

OOG appropriates $25 million for officer rifle-resistant vest program

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Source: Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD) made $25 million available to law enforcement agencies to equip peace officers with rifle-resistant body armor through a new grant program. The deadline to apply for funds is Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.

Funds from the grant program, Rifle-Resistant Body Armor, may be used by local jurisdictions to purchase bullet-resistant personal body armor compliant with the National Institute of Justice standard for rifle protection to include bulletproof vests, ballistic plates, and plate carriers. 

The grant is available to Texas Department of Public Safety, municipalities, counties, independent school districts, universities, public and private colleges and universities, federally recognized Native American tribes, community colleges and hospital districts if they operate a law enforcement agency. Any applications must be submitted by the entity operating the law enforcement agency, not the agency itself.

Applying jurisdictions will not have to provide a grant match and there is no minimum or maximum request under the Rifle-Resistant Body Armor Grant Program. However, CJD plans to provide resources to as many departments as possible. All projects that receive funding must begin between Jan. 1 and Mar. 1, 2018 and not exceed 12 months.

> For more information, contact the eGrants help desk at eGrant@gov.texas.gov or 512-463-1919.
> Read the full grant announcement and learn how to apply.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.

Care facilities now required to have emergency preparedness plans

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Long-term care facilities, hospices and home health agencies receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding must complete disaster planning by November 2017 including a risk assessment and an emergency plan. Emergency managers from Williamson County and its cities are assisting with this requirement, part of new federal rules which took effect at the end of 2016.

"This regional support is invaluable to the service providers," said Patty Bordie, Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area a division of CAPCOG. “Emergency manager expertise ensures patient-centered plans which include best practices in emergency preparedness.”

The rule also requires some of those organizations to complete a communications plan and emergency policies and procedures, but they all must update their plans and conduct exercises annually to participate in Medicaid and Medicare. These tasks are not as simple as stating you will contact your local emergency management office if a disaster occurs, said Dorothy Miller, Round Rock emergency management coordinator. These are complex tasks to prepare these organizations to respond to all types of emergencies.

Personnel from approximately 45 facilities participated in a forum with Williamson County area emergency managers as they explained the rule and described their roles and the four stages of a disaster. “The forum was really successful,” Miller said. “We had an open discussion about their concerns and what they needed from us. It was nice to work with them and guide them through the process. Now they have a better understanding of what the requirement does.”

Emergency managers distributed booklets with planning templates covering all types of hazards during the forum, while jurisdictional group sessions allowed emergency managers to answer questions and discuss realistic expectations of what local offices can do for the organizations pre and post disaster.

Networking was another great outcome of the forum, said Ron Weaver, Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council emergency preparedness and response coordinator, who attended the forum. “It is always better to know who you are working with, so you are not working with a stranger.” Because of the forum, these organizations have a starting point for building partnerships that support and learn from each other. They also can respond to incidents together instead of relying on themselves and their local emergency offices. “Emergency preparedness plans are extremely valuable to care facilities,” he said. “By instituting a plan and practicing it, these facilities are making their operations safer for their patients, their patients’ families, and their staff.” Other CAPCOG counties are considering hosting similar meetings to help local care facility providers.

> Learn about CATRAC.
> Find information about the new federal rule.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Workshop series curbs solid waste cost for communities

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A three-part workshop training series explores how local communities can reduce the cost of their solid waste programs by delving into three common issues. Conducted in June, the first workshop in the series, “Full Cost Accounting for Municipal Solid Waste Services,” addressed how collecting data and establishing rates could affect the bottom-line cost of providing solid waste services. The next two workshops, “Cost of Illegal Dumping” and “Commercial Food Waste Collection and Diversion”, will take place on July 26 and Aug. 24 respectively.

“Illegal dumping is a pervasive and costly solid waste problem for many departments within our counties and cities,” said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services regional program coordinator. “Besides being unsightly and unsafe, illegal dumpsites are expensive to mitigate. Food waste also is expensive for communities as it is one of the largest components appearing in waste streams in the United States. Less than five percent of food waste that can be diverted from landfills is.”

Each workshop examines the history of the issues before discussing best practices and local and regional collaborative approaches that can help reduce a community’s solid waste costs. These workshops are funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and facilitated by the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

> Register to attend the free workshops.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Crisis communications training enhances emergency response

Friday, July 07, 2017

Emergency Telecommunicators can receive incident specific crisis communications training through two courses CAPCOG is hosting by popular demand. “Suicide Intervention for 9-1-1 Professionals” and “High Risk!” work to improve communications and awareness skills during high stress incidents and to further ensure a caller’s and/or emergency responders’ safety. The courses will be held July 17 and July 18.

“National trends for the emergencies covered in these courses are curving upward, and training and practice is the best away to prepare to answer these forms of crisis communications,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG public safety answering point specialist. The “High Risk!" course shares vital lessons learned from when emergency personnel responds to incidents such as ambushes, felony traffic stops, domestic violence, and home robberies. The suicide course examines the eighth leading cause of death in the United States by exploring the myths and facts of suicide, developing suicide specific communications techniques, and performing suicide risk assessments. For every completed suicide, there are 50 other people who call 9-1-1 or prevention hotlines for help.

“These courses help recognize red flags and help deescalate the situation and eliminate surprises for first responders,” Dean said.

> Contact Dean to inquire about joining these training courses.
> Find other emergency telecommunicators training courses.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

TCEQ seeks municipal waste advisory council members

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is accepting applications for new and vacant positions on the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council, which addresses issues related to the management and recovery of resources from municipal solid waste programs.

Those who wish to submit applications to serve on the council must do so before July 31, 2017. Advisory council members are appointed to six-year staggering terms and meet about four times a year. The advisory council is charged with reviewing and evaluating the effect of state policies and programs on municipal solid waste management; making recommendations to the TCEQ Commissioners municipal solid waste management matters; recommending legislation to encourage the efficient management of municipal solid waste; recommending policies for the use, allocation, or distribution of the planning funds; and recommending special studies and projects to further the effectiveness of municipal solid waste management and resource recovery.

Advisory council terms expiring on Aug. 31, 2017 include:

  • Arden Vance Kemler, Denton - Advisory Council President,
    Manager of Solid Waste and Recycling Department, City of Denton
    An official from a city or county solid waste agency
  • Jeffrey Mayfield, P.E., Wylie
    North Texas Municipal Water District, Assistant Deputy Director, Solid Waste
    A representative from a public solid waste district or authority
  • Honorable Maurice Pitts, Jr., Giddings
    Lee County Commissioner of Precinct One
    An elected official from a county with any population size
  • Honorable City Administrator Leo Smith, Bangs
    A representative of the general public
  • Vacant
    An elected official from a municipality with a population fewer than 25,000
  • Vacant
    An elected official from a municipality with a population of 750,000 or more.

> Read more about the advisory council.
> Download the application.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Fayette County AgriLife Extension busts caregiver stress

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fayette County AgriLife Extension Service agents and Fayette County volunteers added another evidence based intervention (EBI) program to their repertoire to help older Americans continue to live as independently as possible. In May, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) led the group through a Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers group facilitator training course allowing them to coach proven stress management methods to those who care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia or chronic illness.

Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers is a nationally recognized program that instructs family caregivers about techniques and benefits of reducing stress to improve caregivers and patients’ quality of life. CAPCOG, working as AAACAP, delivers the program to communities throughout the ten-county region, but it also certifies volunteer coaches to lead the program, so they can offer the program in their own communities. “Teaching volunteer coaches for EBI programs enables these valuable programs to reach a larger audience at more convenient times for the older Americans or their caregivers,” said Kate Gibbons, CAPCOG health and wellness coordinator. “When an organization like the Fayette County AgriLife Extension Service requests to become coaches of EBI programs and find other volunteers to do the same, it gives us the opportunity to improve more lives.”

Fayette County’s population is steadily growing and about 23 percent of its population is 65 years old or older, so the Extension Service and a steering committee of seniors wanted to make providing programs such as Stress-Busting to the county’s residents a high priority, said Sally Garrett, a county extension agent. “There is a lot of stress for individuals who are caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients or those with chronic illnesses, and I know a lot of people here are family caregivers. Being able to teach Stress-Busting workshops lets us educate caregivers about caring for themselves, but I think those who take the course will also create valuable peer-support groups.”

Having led “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls” workshops for more than a year, the Extension Service and other organizations in the county have experienced the benefits of conducting EBI programs taught by AAACAP, Garrett said. “People have come up and told us (the programs) have made a difference in their lives, and that they are living healthier.” Stress-Busting will be another beneficial success for seniors in Fayette County, she said.

AAACAP also leads EBI programs on topics of fall prevention and chronic disease self-management.

> Learn more about EBI programs offered by AAACAP or schedule an EBI program.
> Read about AAACAP.

CAPCOG, Austin present on special event disaster planning

Monday, June 12, 2017

The CAPCOG Homeland Security Division Director Eric Carter and City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Juan Ortiz delivered a joint workshop during the 2017  Texas Emergency Management Conference about disaster planning for special events and how planning improves incident response.

“A standardized and inclusive planning process for special events can assist in mitigating incidents quickly and successfully,” Carter said. “Planning is the key to determining how to handle issues from lost children to unattended packages at specials events.” Emergency personnel responsible for developing, maintaining, and updating operation plans should involve representatives from as many agencies as possible in the disaster plan to include special event organizers, venue owners, operators and security personnel. The group should work together on the risk assessment, identifying hazards and vulnerabilities, and emergency operations.

Having the experience in disaster planning for anticipated special events such as an annual summer concert series, which may have well established protocols and procedures, also helps navigate no-notice special events, such as protests or a VIP visit, as it familiarizes event teams with the disaster planning process.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Discover the Austin Office Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
 

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