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In the News

CAPCOG wins federal grant to curb diesel pollution

Friday, October 12, 2012

Capital Area Council of Governments, the agency serving a 10-county region of Central Texas, has won a federal grant of more than $1 million to reduce air pollution from older diesel-powered engines.

The award followed an outreach process in which CAPCOG solicited potential projects from jurisdictions across the eligible five-county Austin metropolitan statistical area, including members of the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition. With less than two months to identify potential partners who could meet grant requirements – including eligible vehicles or equipment, ability to cover 75 percent of project expenses, and the potential for cost-effective results – CAPCOG coordinated a grant application that scored high enough to earn competitive federal funding. 

“This opportunity is a testament to the power of regional collaboration and our continual work to help keep the area within federal ozone standards,” said CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights. “With the combined efforts of government and private industry, including CAPCOG’s leadership on air quality issues in the region, we’ve gained funding that will go a long way in helping reduce harmful diesel emissions that affect public health, the environment and our communities’ pocketbooks.”

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

The $1.016 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Program will help CAPCOG project partners including the cities of Austin and San Marcos, Travis and Williamson counties, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and heavy-equipment dealer HOLT CAT replace selected older diesel-powered engines with cleaner-running vehicles and equipment in 2013 and 2014. CAPCOG’s initiative to rally eligible projects among various potential partners in the region made it possible to meet the grant’s $950,000 minimum funding-request threshold.

Diesel pollution, including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and air toxics, is linked to serious health and financial impacts including asthma attacks, lost work days and premature death. With millions of diesel engines in operation nationwide, reducing the harmful emissions they produce can make a big difference in improving the region’s air quality, protecting human health and saving money.

Grant funding will offset 25 percent of local project costs to replace 27 diesel trucks owned by the participating cities, counties and others with newer, lower-emission trucks and replace 12 pieces of older diesel-powered ground-support equipment at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport with newer electric versions. The projects are expected to yield nearly $441,000 in estimated annual health benefits by reducing particulate matter emissions by 4.8 tons. They’re also expected to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 71.2 tons, hydrocarbons by 6.7 tons, carbon monoxide by 33.8 tons and carbon dioxide by 316.1 tons and avoid the consumption of 28,478 gallons of diesel.

> Attend the next Clean Air Coalition meeting

Grant applicants across the country were evaluated on general criteria as well as factors specific to their EPA region. In Region 6, which comprises Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, applicants additionally needed to show the extent to which their proposed project would occur in areas at risk of violating federal standards for ozone pollution or the extent to which it would minimize exposure and impacts on low-income or otherwise vulnerable communities.

Other than Houston’s Aldine Independent School District, CAPCOG was the only EPA Region 6 applicant awarded grant funding during this round. In the CAPCOG region, the five counties of the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metropolitan statistical area – Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson – are considered at risk of exceeding federal ozone standards. In addition, CAPCOG’s project partners were able to demonstrate that they had eligible equipment, could achieve cost-effective emission reductions and could absorb 75 percent of their respective project expenses.  

CAPCOG, one of 24 regional planning commissions organized under state law, has jurisdiction over several regional issues such as air quality. The agency established its Air Quality Program in 2002 to coordinate regional planning efforts and receives a recurring grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to assist areas nearing “nonattainment” status, or at risk of violating federal pollution standards. In addition, CAPCOG assists the region in recognizing opportunities for cooperation and eliminating unnecessary duplication in emergency communications, elderly assistance, law enforcement training, criminal justice planning, solid waste reduction, homeland security planning, infrastructure development, transportation planning and economic development.

> Explore the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign

State conservation office offering grants for school HVAC efficiency

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Texas State Energy Conservation Office is offering grant funding for eligible public independent school districts to upgrade inefficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems to more energy-efficient versions. With a minimum award of $25,000 and a maximum $100,000, the SECO Public Independent School District Energy Efficiency Grant program aims to reduce recipients' facility operating costs and will consider age of existing equipment, energy savings, county population and other criteria in awarding funds. Questions and nonmandatory letters of intent are due by 2 p.m. CDT Monday, Oct. 15, with grant applications due by 2 p.m. CDT Monday, Nov. 5.

> Learn more, and apply today

Free benefits counseling as 2013 Medicare plan increase looms

Monday, October 08, 2012

As the annual Medicare open enrollment gets under way Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, millions of participating seniors nationwide may see their prescription drug plan premiums increase next year. The Area Agency on Aging, a division of the Capital Area Council of Governments, will provide free benefits counseling to help Medicare beneficiaries tackle crucial decisions related to upcoming changes.

AAACAP will launch its fall assistance and outreach series at the following free event, in partnership with WellMed: Medicare Open Enrollment Kickoff, noon to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the WellMed Senior Community Center, 706 W. Ben White Blvd., Austin, TX 78704. Benefits counselors will answer questions in personalized, confidential appointments that participants must schedule in advance by calling 512-916-6049.   

According to recent reports, seniors currently enrolled in most of the top 10 Medicare prescription drug plans may face up to a 23 percent increase in their premiums if they don’t consider other available, cost-effective options during Medicare’s open enrollment period. The annual open enrollment period allows Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to compare, choose or change their Medicare and prescription drug plans by Dec. 7 for the next calendar year. 

Funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, AAACAP has served as a trusted source of information on services and supports for older individuals and their caregivers for more than 30 years.

> Learn more about Area Agency on Aging upcoming events 

State comptroller: Cities and counties, post your budget

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is reminding cities and counties to share their newly adopted budgets online. 

"The months of September and October are the start of a new fiscal year and a new budget cycle for many cities and counties in Texas," said the state agency in an email announcement. "This is a reminder that Senate Bill 1692, effective Sept. 1, 2011, requires those cities and counties that have a web site and have adopted a new budget for this fiscal year to post it online." The agency, in turn, must link to the posted budgets on its Texas Transparency website.

Jurisdictions that post their new budget or have a new website must also alert the comptroller office's Economic Development and Analysis division at 800-531-5441, ext. 3-4679, or Those that have posted both their current budget and annual financial report may qualify for the comptroller's Leadership Circle Award.

> Explore the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle and tools for local government transparency

Air quality reports now available

Thursday, October 04, 2012

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program has posted several new technical reports produced in partnership with the University of Texas. The reports offer data including the results of a special air monitoring study, a multiyear analysis of ozone formation and the associated meteorology in the region. The reports also depict modeling studies showing the impact of different regions on local ozone levels and the sensitivity of local ozone levels to nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds emissions.

Among other benefits, the research provides documentation of emissions contributed from within the Austin metropolitan statistical area during elevated ozone levels, measured against emissions coming in from outside the region.

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition, comprising elected officials from the five-county MSA of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, will review the research as it evaluates strategies to further reduce ozone pollution. The coalition earlier this year helped identify diesel fleets and equipment to target for an emissions-reduction federal grant and will participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Ozone Advance program, which helps selected areas continue to meet national air quality standards for ground-level ozone.   

> Download the new air quality reports
> Get the Clean Air Coalition's Oct. 10 meeting agenda

Regionalism leadership award nominations due Nov. 1

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Nominations for the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award, which honors significant efforts in regional cooperation within CAPCOG’s 10-county area, are due Nov. 1. The ninth annual award is named for CAPCOG's first chairman in 1970, former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, who understood the need for collaboration across city and county lines and played a key role in creating the 24-member Texas Association of Regional Councils.

Nominees can include volunteers, community leaders or elected officials, including non-CAPCOG members. Past honorees include state Sen. Troy Fraser; Kirk Watson, former mayor of Austin; Neal Kocurek, former chairman of the Envision Central Texas project; Robert Huston, former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; Ray Sanders, former Lockhart mayor and CAPCOG Executive Committee member; Bob Daigh, former district engineer of the Texas Department of Transportation; former Austin-area Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos; and former Caldwell County Judge H. T. Wright.

The 2012 winner will be announced at the Dec. 12 CAPCOG General Assembly meeting.

> Download the nomination form

CAPCOG alert system helps find missing woman

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The CAPCOG Emergency Notification System contributed to another success story recently when the City of Austin used it to help find a missing elderly woman. At least two community members responded with helpful information when residents received an automated phone call Saturday night, Sept. 22, requesting assistance in the search. 

ENS is an automated phone-dialing tool that enables authorized public safety personnel in CAPCOG's 10-county region to notify residents in emergencies. Using telephone numbers and addresses maintained by the 9-1-1 system, the service is activated only when property or human life is in jeopardy. CAPCOG's Homeland Security division oversees the system, which is also used to notify emergency response groups, disaster recovery planners and other key contacts during emergencies. Residents who want to receive ENS alerts on their cellphones can register online.

> Learn more about CAPCOG ENS and registering your cellphone
> Watch KEYE TV's news segment on ENS and the successful search

May joins CAPCOG as solid waste program manager

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

KenMayPhoto9-12CAPCOG has hired Spring, Texas, native Kenneth “Ken” May as its new solid waste program manager. May, who brings more than 15 years’ combined experience in solid waste planning and drinking water quality, will coordinate with area partners in developing local, regional and state-level plans and programs on solid waste management. He’ll also facilitate the Solid Waste Advisory Committee; coordinate grant funds; supervise CAPCOG’s regional environmental coordinator position; and serve as the agency’s liaison to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for solid waste issues and the Regional Solid Waste Grants Program. May’s background additionally includes 13 years in the restaurant industry and service as an army medic. The Southwest Texas State University alumnus holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and planning.

> Learn more about solid waste planning at CAPCOG

CAPCOG General Assembly approves budget, appoints nominating committee

Friday, September 14, 2012

CAPCOG's General Assembly has adopted the agency's budget for the 2013 fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The $22,743,398 annual budget, reduced by $253,000 from the previous year, supports solid waste planning, aging services, 9-1-1 communications, homeland security, law enforcement training, air quality and other CAPCOG regional programs for the 10-county area of Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson.

The General Assembly also has appointed an eight-member nominating committee to help select the 2013 Executive Committee, CAPCOG's governing body:

• Commissioner Will Conley, Hays County
• Judge Donna Klaeger, Burnet County
• Commissioner Cynthia Long, Williamson County
• Council Member Scott Mitchell, City of Cedar Park
• Mayor Caroline Murphy, City of Bee Cave
• Commissioner Maurice Pitts, Lee County
• Mayor Debbie Holland, City of Hutto
• Mayor Dennis A. Maier, City of Granite Shoals

Members of the nominating committee serve one year and will consider Executive Committee nominations this fall.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's General Assembly and Executive Committee

Bastrop launches tourism app

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Want the scoop on fine dining, events, shopping and more in historic Bastrop, Texas? Look no farther than your smartphone. The city, which reportedly entertains up to 10,000 visitors per major community event each year, recently launched a free tourism app available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android-operated cellphones.

"I think every city or town should have [a tourism app for their area]," said Cindye Wolford, director of the Bastrop Visitor Center. Wolford, who also heads the Bastrop Texas Main Street Program Promotions Committee and helped develop the app's content, welcomes inquiries from other jurisdictions interested in producing their own version. "It was easy to do," said Wolford.

Bastrop's app, the brainchild of City Council Member Kay McAnally, offers photos, contact information and tips on various services, historic sites, entertainment opportunities and other local finds for visitors and residents. The app is downloadable at iTunes and Android websites. Call 512-303-0904 for more information.

> Visit Bastrop Texas Main Street Program online

Elgin, Hutto participants to share ideas, vision of sustainable future

Monday, September 10, 2012

Community members in Elgin and Hutto can share ideas and explore possibilities during Sustainable Places Project workshops in their area this month.

Sustainable Places Project is an ambitious regional initiative to help Central Texas cities proactively link housing and public infrastructure near job centers and services. Five demonstration sites were chosen through a competitive process to receive planning assistance and serve as best practice examples for other cities in the region.

Upcoming visioning workshops will feature conversations about the choices faced by participant cities and by Central Texas on housing, transportation, economic development, fiscal responsibility, community health and vitality, the natural and cultural environment and more. All are invited to take part in this innovative planning effort, with even more public events in Austin, Dripping Springs and Lockhart to be announced soon.

Next public workshops: 
?  Elgin – 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, Elgin High School, 14000 County Line Road.
?  Hutto – 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, Cottonwood Creek Elementary, 3160 Limmer Loop.

> Learn more about the Sustainable Places Project

Austin area nears ozone-pollution overload

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Austin area is once again just a single bad-ozone day away from violating federal air quality standards. But even with the worst part of ozone-pollution season still ahead, residents and businesses can help keep the area’s air quality in check.

Ozone pollution results when emissions from industrial facilities, electric utilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are baked in sunlight. Ground-level ozone, even at low levels, can cause adverse health effects, especially for those with lung disease, and in children, older adults and people who are active outdoors.

If air-quality readings during the current season measure another eight-hour ozone concentration of 79 parts or more per billion in the monitored area, Travis County will have violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone air quality standard for 2012. A violation could put the entire metropolitan area, including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties and possibly Burnet County at risk of being designated a “nonattainment area” area by the EPA, potentially triggering changes such as new pollution-control measures and greater requirements in regional transportation-planning to help ensure compliance with air quality standards. 

Businesses and residents can help limit ozone pollution by reducing combustion-related activities on predicted high-ozone days. Steps such as reducing electricity use during afternoons and early evenings, avoiding rush-hour traffic, postponing running errands until after sunset and offering flexible schedules that curb traffic congestion on predicted high-ozone days make a difference.

As part of the EPA-led Ozone Advance Program, a national initiative involving states, tribes and local governments, CAPCOG's Air Quality Program is working with the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition and other stakeholders on an enhanced emission reduction plan to be submitted next year. 

> Learn about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program and ways to reduce ozone pollution

State emissions reduction program accepting grant applications through Nov. 30

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering grant funding to reduce air pollution from fleets and equipment such as older heavy-duty vehicles, nonroad equipment, locomotives, marine vessels and stationary equipment. Applications for the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants, a program of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. The grant targets projects intended to reduce nitrogren-oxide emissions in eligible counties, helping improve air quality by upgrading or replacing older trucks and machines. Vehicles or equipment primarily used for competition or recreation are ineligible. > Learn more, and apply today 

CAPCOG region aces response hurdle

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The CAPCOG region has earned a thumbs up for accurate address mapping, clearing a crucial step toward a more advanced 9-1-1 call system.

CAPCOG is participating in a statewide pilot program to develop a comprehensive geographic database that can route emergency calls with Next Generation 9-1-1, an eventual nationwide system more adapted to modern mobile technologies.

In the most recent quality assurance check to ensure that program participants have no gaps or overlaps in their mapped emergency-response boundaries, the CAPCOG region scored a perfect rating.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Emergency Communications division

West Nile Virus - Important Information for Texas

Friday, August 24, 2012


The Department of State Health Services has asked CAPCOG to disseminate the following messages:


Take the following precautions:

  • Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Regularly drain standing water, including water that collects in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters, and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
  • Texans who are elderly and those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to developing West Nile illness if they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • There is no effective treatment for West Nile Virus illnesses, so it’s important to prevent mosquito bites.


  • Help neighbors who are elderly, have disabilities or access and functional needs to repair their windows or door screens to keep mosquitoes out and with other precautions to reduce their risk of becoming ill.
  • Also remember other Texans with access or functional needs in your communities who may need assistance in reducing their risk of illness.

 For the latest information about West Nile Virus in Texas, go to: .

The Texas Clean School Bus Grant Program Accepting Applications Through November 30

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is offering grant funding through the Texas Clean School Bus Grant Program. This grant program is designed to improve the health of school children and bus drivers by reducing emissions of diesel exhaust from school buses. The TCEQ provides grant money to purchase and install devices on school buses to reduce emissions. All sizes of diesel-powered school buses are eligible. The bus must operate on a regular, daily route to and from a school and have at least five years of useful life remaining.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis through November 30, 2012. While there is not a limit on the amount of funding that can be applied for, the amount award is at the discretion of the TCEQ. Download the Request for Grant Applications at and get your school's buses in line for these retrofits!

Regional Law Enforcement Academy Update

Thursday, August 16, 2012

RLEA Update

CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) is accepting applicants for the day and night Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC) academies scheduled to begin in October, 2012. In-service training schedule including course descriptions, dates and times are posted to (

CAPCOG’s state of the art training tool, the “Use of Force” simulator is available to communities throughout the region. The system  is a firearms simulator and  judgment  tool designed to effectively prepare law enforcement personnel to react appropriately in a variety of situations.

Elgin Mayor Marc Holm Selected Chairman of the Capital Area Economic Development District

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Capital Area Economic Development District, the board that oversees CAPCOG’s economic development program under designation of the Economic Development Administration, elected Elgin Mayor Marc Holm as the new chairman and former Lockhart Mayor Ray Sanders and Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland as vice chairs.  Its members are drawn from local governments, economic and workforce development organizations, educational institutions, labor interests, and the private sector. The district board meets quarterly to discuss regional economic development issues. Additionally, the district board guides the development of the Capital Area’s comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS),  which benchmark’s the region’s competitiveness and identifies policies to improve economic dynamism throughout Central Texas.

CAPCOG Recommended for Diesel Emission Reduction Act Funds

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

CAPCOG received notice that the Environmental Protection Agency recommended full funding for CAPCOG's National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance proposal. This would provide partial funding for replacing 27 older trucks owned by the Cities of Austin, San Marcos, Travis County, Williamson County and others with newer, lower-emission trucks, as well as electric airport ground support equipment and electric motors replacing older diesel-powered equipment at Austin Bergstrom International Airport. CAPCOG estimates that these projects will reduce 71.2 tons of nitrogen oxides emissions, 4.8 tons of particulate matter emissions, 6.7 tons of hydrocarbon emissions, and 33.8 tons of carbon monoxide emissions, with an estimated $441,400 in annual health benefits from the reduced particulate matter emissions.

Disaster Debris Management Workshop a Success

Thursday, August 02, 2012

CAPCOG’s first Disaster Debris Management Workshop was a success with 50 attendees representing more than 20 organizations. Participants received an overview of planning for and recovering from debris generating disasters, contracting for disaster debris management, state and federal guidance, and a case study of Bastrop County’s response to the September 2011 wildfires. The workshop was taught by experts in the field representing SAIC/Beck Disaster Recovery, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Houston-Galveston Area Council, CAPCOG, and Bastrop County.

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