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In the News

Air Quality Awareness Week shares how to “Be Air Aware”, take action against pollutants

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

From Williamson to Bastrop counties and from Austin to Lockhart, communities in the ten-county region recognized April 30 to May 4 officially as National Air Quality Awareness Week to educate residents about the importance of monitoring local air quality and reducing air pollution.

The region’s first Ozone Action Day was April 28 and served as a reminder that throughout the year residents should remain vigilant about taking actions to reduce air pollutants and knowing the air quality. On Ozone Action Days, ozone levels can be especially harmful to sensitive groups — children under 18, adults 65 or older, and adults with lung diseases such as asthma. Bad air quality can pose potential health risks including difficulty breathing, sore and scratchy throat, and aggravation of lung diseases such as bronchitis.

Communities that participated in the awareness campaign educated residents about the causes of air pollution, how they can protect their health against poor air quality, and how they can reduce pollution through actions such as carpooling or biking to work. The communities encouraged people to “Be Air Aware” by downloading the EnviroFlash app for Android and iPhone. The free app gives people the following day’s air quality forecasts and can send them alerts about Ozone Action Days and other air quality concerns.

> Find more air quality information at airnow.gov.
> Read about TCEQ's Air Quality Program.
> Learn about local efforts at AirCentralTexas.org.
> Read about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG, StratMap saves on Orthoimagery

Friday, May 04, 2018

CAPCOG is offering local jurisdictions an opportunity to save on valuable aerial imagery data by joining its 2019 Capital Area Orthoimagery Project, formerly GeoMap, which provides accurate basemaps useful for planning purposes throughout the ten-county region. The project participation deadline is Friday, June 1, 2018.

CAPCOG has partnered with the Texas Natural Resources Information System’s Strategic Mapping Program (StratMap) to purchase twelve-inch resolution imagery throughout the region; however, local jurisdictions are encouraged to participate so they can receive savings on 6- or 3-inch resolution imagery. “Orthoimagery is scale-corrected so it can be used for measuring and creating vector data,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager. “Imagery with higher resolution provides greater detail making it more useful for engineering purposes; higher resolution imagery can even be used for project level infrastructure mapping.” A conservative estimate for six-inch orthoimagery is about $100 per square mile, but participation in the 2018 project reduced costs to about $70 per square mile.

To further save on cost, local jurisdictions can use StratMap to procure other geospatial products, such as LiDAR and contour lines, but such purchases must be done through StratMap directly.

> Read more about joining the CAPCOG Orthoimagery Project and StratMap.
> Learn about the CAPCOG GIS Program.
 

Homeland Security course focuses on reducing terrorist recruitment, radicalization in jails

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The CAPCOG Homeland Security Division, in cooperation with Hays County, will host a full-day training workshop about how emergency and public safety managers can prevent terrorist and hate group recruitment and radicalization from happening in rural correctional facilities. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, May 30 at the Hays County Government Center, 712 South Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos.

“Prevention is just as critical to homeland security planning as successfully responding to an event,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security Division director. “This course helps our responders and law enforcement officers better understand the nature of terrorist and hate groups and how to combat them.”

The course teaches elements for deterrence, intervention, and information gathering and sharing so emergency and public safety managers can institute planning and intervention methods to reduce threats from hate and terrorist groups that may have originated in rural correctional facilities. It builds knowledge around threat group categories, identifiers and philosophies, and focuses on a convergence of methodologies and the practices, policies, and conditions specific to rural correctional facilities.

> Register for the workshop.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

CAPCOG aggregates data for Sustainable Food Center study

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

When the Sustainable Food Center needed information to assist with drafting its “Planning for Central Texas Food Hub: Feasibility Study and Business Plan,” it turned to CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development Division. CAPCOG aggregated data from around the region based on three qualities — prime soil content, publicly owned parcels, and underutilized parcels — and presented that data to the center as a visual and interactive GIS planning tool, so the center could better evaluate the information.

“This is a core capability of our work,” said Chris Schreck, CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development director. “At the root of this project and many others, CAPCOG brings together local, district, state and national datasets so individuals, groups, cities and counties can identify the best use policies or make more informed decisions.”

The center’s study ultimately will determine the viability of a food hub for local food aggregation, minimal processing, storage, and distribution to existing and expanded intermediated markets serving the Greater Austin area. And, while CAPCOG’s involvement provided only research datasets, CAPCOG also can analyze data for planning purposes.

> Read about the Planning and Economic Division.
> Find CAPCOG's public GIS data.
 

Seniors stay valuable members in our communities

Thursday, April 19, 2018

CAPCOG and communities around the region will recognize May as Older Americans Month, a time when everyone should acknowledge the contributions of older adults and encourage them to stay engaged in our communities and lives.

“This year’s theme ‘Engage at Every Age,’ emphasizes the importance of being active and involved at any age,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) director. “Older adults’ continued socialization drastically improves their health and wellness; however, their involvement is beyond beneficial to us, as they provide wisdom and prospective as community planning partners, volunteers, leaders and mentors.”

CAPCOG’s Executive Committee is scheduled to proclaim May as Older Americans Month at its April meeting. In the CAPCOG region, there are more than 314,000 adults who are 60 or older. During April and May, AAACAP will further highlight older adults throughout the region at outreach and community events. “Older adults want to continue to live lives with purpose, and we want to recognize their skills and ensure they know how and where opportunities exist to contribute to our communities’ health and wellness,” Bordie said.

> Learn more about AAACAP.

Caregivers conference to teach approaches for tough family challenges

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a CAPCOG division, and the Austin Senior Resource Alliance will host some of Austin’s foremost senior caregiving experts for A Caregivers Hope, an annual conference to teach how to better care for loved-ones and yourself through family planning and caregiving. The conference will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at 1921 Lohmans Crossing, Suite 100, Austin.

“For many of the caregivers, this is a chance for them to understand they are not alone; there are other caregivers going through the same issues, and they just need to reach out to get help,” said Cyndi Cummings, founder of the Austin Senior Resource Alliance. The alliance provides resources to families as they go through transitional life changes; hosting the conference is one way of helping those who care for older adults.

Founder of Kitchen Table Discussions, Garrick Colwell, will deliver the conference’s keynote discussion about aspects of care planning including early planning for end of life, its importance to families, and how it can provide caregivers with hope. “We are really talking about living life to the fullest until that last breath,” Colwell said. “Having these conversations lets people focus on being with their loved ones at the end instead of what to do for them after the end.”

Other conference speakers will include Patty Bordie, AAACAP director; Margaret Bryant, a Medicaid consultant; Lorna Allen, of New York Life Insurance Company; Michael Gill, owner of Texas Senior Living Locators; Bill Witt, of the Senior Resource Center; Dr. Char Hu, a Texas Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders council member; and Alice Latino, co-founder of Heavenly Care Home Health.

> Caregivers register for the conference.
> Learn about AAACAP.

They can request free respite care by calling 512-423-6782.

CAPCOG recommends projects for homeland security grants

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Office of the Governor (OOG) is expected to award the 2018 State Homeland Security Program Grant funds in August 2018; CAPCOG’s Executive Committee approved a prioritized list of recommendations for regional projects to the OOG in March after more than 34 projects and equipment purchases were reviewed by its Homeland Security Task Force.

“Representatives from across the ten-county region ranked these projects according to their alignment with the regional homeland security strategic plan and their ability to sustain or expand current homeland security capabilities,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “All of the projects support regional response to critical threats and potential disasters; whether it’s training exercises or special hazmat equipment for hazardous materials response teams, every project is geared towards making us all safer.”

Capital Area requests for grant funds totaled over $6.8 million. In recent years, the Capital Area has received between $1.3 and $1.4 million for these projects. CAPCOG anticipates about the same level of funding.

> View the prioritized list.
> Read more about the State Homeland Security Program Grant process.

CAPCOG honors communications heroes across region

Monday, April 09, 2018

Emergency telecommunicators can be the first person a victim speaks with during or even before a crime or life threatening emergency; they can provide assurance that help is coming, save a life, and start the road to recovery. It is because of this service that they are invaluable to their communities. CAPCOG, acting in its capacity as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, along with many local jurisdictions will recognize 9-1-1 operators’ commitment to their communities during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, April 9 through 15.

There are about 750 emergency telecommunicators working 24/7 to respond to individual and public crises throughout the ten-county region; in 2017, they answered more than 1.4 million calls. “Telecommunicators can be a caller’s calm in the storm as they provide lifesaving information and serve as a vital link between the caller and the emergency responders,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Specialist. “You can hear the relief in a caller’s voice when the telecommunicator understands the incident and notifies them that help is on the way. Call takers are heroes, too.”

The CAPCOG Executive Committee adopted a resolution on March 14 recognizing National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and has provided the telecommunicators with special gifts to honor their unending service.

> Read the resolution.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

CAPCOG to host EDA Disaster Recovery Workshop

Thursday, April 05, 2018

CAPCOG will host an Economic Development Administration (EDA) Disaster Recovery Workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., April 20, 2018 to feature programs from federal and state agencies that could be beneficial to communities during a long-time recovery effort. This workshop is for local jurisdictions within the Texas Hurricane Harvey Disaster Declaration — CAPCOG counties include Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, and Lee.

Programs discussed will be for infrastructure, housing, assistance to businesses, school facilities recovery, and philanthropy as well as others to be announced. The format will provide for brief overviews of programs by each agency followed by a roundtable session for project discussions with the agencies’ representatives. The workshop will be held in the Lantana Room at CAPCOG offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 155, Austin, Texas.  

> Read the workshop agenda.
> Read the State and Federal Agency Resource Guide.
> For more information, contact Betty Voights. 
> Learn about the Planning and Economic Development Division.
> Learn about the Homeland Security Division.

Kent Butler Summit focuses on infrastructure, future

Monday, March 26, 2018
Source: https://kentbutlersummit.com/

Local decision makers will come together at the Kent Butler Summit for a conversation about effective regional planning that is good for people and the environment. This year’s summit, “Pipes, People, Pavement and the future of Water in the Hill Country”, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 4 in Texas State University’s LBJ Student Center Ballroom. Local officials will discuss how infrastructure and planning decisions made today influence how and where tomorrow’s growth occurs in the Hill Country.

Decisions made at the local, county, regional, and state-wide level have cascading impacts on the long-term future of our region. Hill Country decision makers increasingly recognize the need for a regional vision that extends beyond traditional boundaries, protects shared values of economic growth and environmental resilience, and ensures a bright future for our region.

> Read the summit’s agenda.
> Register to attend the summit.

AAACAP, Planning correlate data to improve programming

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

GIS mapping of regional demographic information along with consumer and program data allows a more strategic approach to planning for delivering services, so CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and its Planning and Economic Development Division are collaborating to develop these tools and improve programming.

“Better data provides more information about the types of services which may best support individuals who are choosing to age in place in their communities; it can identify service delivery patterns, service gaps; and unknown concentration of individuals in our target demographic,” said Patty Bordie, AAACAP director. Comparing such data helps ensure older adult populations are being reached in an efficient and effective manner that can be tailored on a county, city, neighborhood or census block level. For instance, the data can help AAACAP determine whether one health and wellness program could service several rural communities or if the same program should be offered multiple times throughout an area because of transportation issues.

AAACAP also can use the information to make connections in communities and help deliver the right services, at the right location, at the right time by partnering with organizations already operating in an area.

> Read about AAACAP’s services.
> Learn more about CAPCOG' Planning and Economic Development Division.

RLEA teaches defensive tactics instructor course

Thursday, March 15, 2018

CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) will offer the HFRG/PPCT Threat Pattern Recognition Instructor Course, a five-day training providing instructor certification for a defensive tactics system based on pressure point control tactics (PPCT). The course focuses on two primary areas of defense by controlling low-level resistance with fingertip pressure on nerve points and controlling high-level resistance with defensive counter strikes and batons; it also incorporates research from human factor science and pattern recognition. CAPCOG will offer the course in late April with a recertification course starting after its first three days.

“Ninety-seven percent of resistance police encounter can be handled with the proper application of the two lowest forms of control: officer presence and verbal direction,” said Randy Holmes, RLEA director. Officers will learn those forms, plus safe, effective, field-tested methods to control the other three percent which includes controlling passive protestors, safely handcuffing cooperative and uncooperative persons, and protecting themselves during an assault or a deadly encounter. “A peace officer’s job is much easier and safer when they are more effective at properly escalating force when necessary, de-escalating force when possible, and controlling uncooperative subjects”.

> Register for the course.
> Read more about the academy.

Regional Environmental Task Force focuses on dumping

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF) rallies its efforts to mitigate and prevent illegal dumping and public nuisance sites throughout the region as Burnet County shows its full support, a new tool launches to track dumpsites and deterrents, and the group offers enforcement and abatement training.

The Burnet County Commissioners’ Court and other county officials joined the RETF at its first meeting of the year to discuss the county’s illegal dumping and public nuisance campaign and abatement process. Illegal dumping occurs when someone dumps garbage on public property while public nuisances take place on an individual’s property; both can negatively impact public health and safety as well as the environment. Burnet County emphasized using a teamwork approach that includes county constables, the district attorney’s office and county commissioners to better enforce regulations. Such asserted enforcement efforts lead to more restitution for illegal dumping cases.

A new interactive mapping tool, developed by CAPCOG, will further aid Burnet and the other nine counties in the region to mitigate illegal dumping. The map pinpoints dumping sites throughout the region and shows county-level hotspots for dumpsites. It also shows the placement of “No Dumping” signs that warn of penalties and tell residents how to report illegal dumping. Correlating such data can determine where additional warning signs may be needed and help counties and cities target special enforcement programs in trouble areas. Bastrop and Caldwell counties have submitted their initial data for the map, and Burnet County is nearly complete in submitting its information. Other counties have portions of their information completed; however, if a county needs help geo-locating dumpsites or “No Dumping” signs, they can contact Christiane Alepuz.

> View the map.

The RETF also will hold its first Basic Environmental Law Training Course of the year from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 15 in Austin. The course, which is held twice a year, attracts peace officers, sanitation workers and code enforcement officials from around the state to learn about environmental crimes. It focuses on regulations in Texas Health and Safety Code and the Water Code to help enforce public nuisance, illegal dumping and water pollution issues.

> Register for the course.
> Read more about the RETF.
 

CAPCOG awards solid waste funding to 9 projects

Thursday, March 08, 2018

CAPCOG awarded $176,100 in funding for nine county and city solid waste projects during 2018 and 2019. Another five solid waste projects could receive funding if more money becomes available.

Eight of the nine projects seek to improve household hazardous waste management throughout the region, which is a primary goal of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan. Six projects will conduct special collection events that properly dispose of harmful chemicals and prevents them from entering the region’s water supply and becoming a public health and safety concern. The two remaining hazardous waste projects will fund facility upgrades and equipment at permanent collection sites; such sites have increased proper disposal of the waste by providing residents with routine drop-off locations.

> See a complete list of funded projects.

Funds for these projects are from legislative-appropriated “tipping fees” at landfills. CAPCOG works with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to solicit and select projects that qualify for the funding; TCEQ will review CAPCOG’s selection before the money is distributed.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grants.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Data Points explores job growth rate, other economic issues

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A Data Points blog post examines the data surrounding the region's positive yet slowing job growth rate. "We observed this trend and decided we should dig into the data a bit more," wrote Chris Schreck, CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director in the blog. "Are we looking at the beginnings of a recession in the local economy? Are other metro areas in Texas showing similar signs of slowing down?"

The post explores possible answers to the questions by looking at which industry sectors have gone from experiencing large spikes in job growth to a lower growth trend. It also questions three possible explanations for the weaker gains:

  • A low unemployment rate resulting in limited available workforce 
  • A slowdown in population growth
  • Austin’s job creation rate regressing to the means of other major Texas metro areas

Data Points is dedicated to exploring policy and planning issues in the Capital Area by reviewing available data and making that data interactive for community stakeholders. Other recent topics discussed on the blog included workforce development and youth employment.

> Read about these topics at datapoints.org.
> Read more about the Planning and Economic Development Division.
 

AAACAP expands reach of St. David’s medication program

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a division of CAPCOG, will expand the outreach and services of its medication screening program after the St. David’s Foundation renewed the grant that makes it possible to provide the program to five counties in the CAPCOG region: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson.

“The Senior Medication Safety Program has been very successful in urban areas, and we want to continue that success into the more rural areas,” said Patty Bordie, AAACAP director. “We are currently seeking additional pharmacy consultants to join our effort in screening and analyzing older adult medication routines for high risk health issues and safety concerns.”

Screenings include a review of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and supplements taken by participating adults 60 years old or older to help them reduce the risk of potential negative interactions within their medication routine. Seniors who participate also learn to better manage their care, identify possible medication cost savings, and improve communication with their doctors. AAACAP often pairs the screening with a care coordination visit to assess care needs and recommend in-home services and supports, nutrition and transportation services or health and wellness programs to help seniors successfully age in place. AAACAP is planning medication screening education outreach events geared to providing more people individualized consultation time with a pharmacist.

> Read more about the medication screening program.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

Study lays Travis County’s new economic development plan foundation

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

CAPCOG recently completed the initial data analysis for Travis County’s new Economic Development Plan. The study done by CAPCOG is really a background evaluation that lays a foundation for the county to begin developing strategies to take advantage of opportunities and address problem issues, said Chris Schreck, CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development director. “It is important to start with this data, because it puts people on the same page. Anecdotal information can be important, but it’s most useful in context with the available data.”

The study provided the county with precinct profiles, economic overviews, an equity and affordability evaluation, and a land use and resiliency review to accurately reflect the county’s current economic climate and show relationships between trends. These elements of the study analyzed demographic, socioeconomic, workforce and employment, education, and housing trends. CAPCOG also conducted outreach to stakeholder organizations to provide observations from local economic interest groups on how the county may better facilitate economic growth through programs. It also reviewed other economic development strategies and related plans that have been adopted throughout the county, so the county’s future strategy can align with current efforts and concerns of other local and regional institutions.

A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis closed the study by providing a framework for organizing its findings. A SWOT analysis allows the county to present the information to the community but also provides it with key reference points for evaluating progress on economic development measures. The work done by CAPCOG will feed into a broader planning process to be managed by local consulting firm TIP Strategies.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Vote for Bastrop to get a reality-TV makeover

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Yay Bastrop! Downtowns are one of the best assets cities have for economic development, and being selected for the reality TV show “Small Business Revolution — Main Street” would be a great endorsement of the city’s efforts.

Here’s how all Central Texans can help Bastrop win a spot on the show and a $500,000 makeover of downtown:

  • Vote daily at smallbusinessrevolution.org between now and Feb. 20.
  • Spread the word of the competition on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #MyBastrop and #MyTexas.
  • Sign up for voting reminders by texting MYBASTROP to 48421.

On Feb. 13, Deluxe Corp., a small-business marketing and financial firm, named Bastrop one of the top five finalist to be the star of the show’s third season after narrowing down its possible selection from 10,000 nominations nationwide. The show will stream on Hulu and Youtube and follow the winning town’s $500,000 small-business makeover. The final selection process for winning the makeover is a public vote ending Feb. 20.

> Vote for Bastrop.
> Learn about Bastrop.
> Learn about Small-Business Revolution — Main Street.
> Read about CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development Division.

CAPCOG speaks at 2018 National Air Quality Conference

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Specialist Anton Cox highlighted our region’s initiatives for decreasing air pollutions by lowering emissions as a panel participant at the 2018 National Air Quality Conference held in Austin in January. Cox discussed the Air Central Texas (ACT) initiative, which reduces exposure to air pollution through the public taking voluntary actions to decrease emissions, and the Commute Solutions program, which focuses on reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles and thus lowering emissions.

“Sharing our outreach experiences and hearing others’ strengthens our ability to engage and educate the public by learning about successes achieved throughout the nation,” said Cox, who noted the Austin-Round Rock Metro area is the largest in the nation that meets all of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. “Keeping the public educated about how their actions can affect regional air quality helps us continue to meet these standards as the region grows.”

CAPCOG conducts ACT and Commute Solutions outreach through websites, e-newsletters, social media, and direct contacts to educate the public about driving alternatives, Central Texas’ air quality, possible air quality hazards, and how they can support reduction programs and reduce emissions. The conference, conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, included panels that featured some local collaborations such as CAPCOG and its Clean Air Coalition partners.

> For more on air quality, go to the ACT or Commute Solutions websites, aircentraltexas.org and commutesolutions.com.
> Like Air Central Texas and Commute Solutions on Facebook.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG releases GeoMap 2017 orthoimagery of region

Thursday, February 08, 2018

CAPCOG has made available the most recent aerial imagery, or orthoimagery, of the ten-county region through its GeoMap program. The program provides local governments with accurate imagery for facilitating projects related to economic development, land-use planning, utility maintenance, transportation planning, floodplain mapping, 9-1-1 mapping and more.

GeoMap 2017 captured 6- and 12-inch resolution orthoimagery that provides a useful base-map display as it is spatially accurate for distance measurements and feature identification. It also can be a source for GIS data creations, including planimetrics. Since the project is complete, the imagery also is available for purchase by non-participating organizations such as engineering and development firms.

GeoMap has been a cooperative purchasing program that has saved local jurisdictions more than $11 million since it started in 2002. To provide further savings and more benefits, CAPCOG has partnered with the Texas Natural Resources Information System’s Strategic Mapping Program to collect the 2018 imagery. That project’s acquisition phase was just completed and delivery is expected later this fall. CAPCOG will coordinate the 2019 orthoimagery projects for the region in late spring and into summer of 2018.

> Find information about purchasing orthoimagery and other GIS data.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.
 

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