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In the News

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.
 

Van Arsdale leads CAPCOG Executive Committee

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The CAPCOG Executive Committee elected Cedar Park City Council Member Corbin Van Arsdale to serve as its 2018 chair. Van Arsdale was first elected to the Executive Committee in 2015 and served as its first vice chair in 2017 when he presided over a number of meetings. He also has served as the Executive Committee liaison to the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee. Van Arsdale, a former Texas House representative, was first elected to the Cedar Park City Council in 2014.

Other officers elected to serve in 2018 by the CAPCOG Executive Committee included:

  • First Vice Chair – Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty
  • Second Vice Chair – Leander Council Member Andrea Navarrette
  • Secretary – Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape
  • Immediate Past Chair – Hays County Judge Bert Cobb
  • Parliamentarian – Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long

The Executive Committee meets every second Wednesday of the month and serves as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District Board of Managers.

> Learn more about the governing body.
 

TCEQ seeks alternative fueling stations grant applications

Thursday, February 01, 2018
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced a second round of grants to continue the development of a network of natural gas and other alternative fuel fueling stations. Seven counties in the CAPCOG region are in the grant’s eligibility area including Lee and Fayette counties.

Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) grants are meant to help build a foundation for a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel vehicles in the state. Grants are available to eligible individuals, businesses, and governmental entities in 83 counties. Counties in the CAPCOG region include Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson. The TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m. CST, Thursday, March 29, 2018.

AFFP grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) and are offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own, and operate alternative fuel or natural gas fueling stations in the Clean Transportation Zone. AFFP grants offset a portion of the cost of either the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels, or the expansion of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities. Eligible fuels for the AFFP include compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG); biodiesel; hydrogen; methanol; propane (LPG); and electricity.

> Apply for an AFFP grant.
> Learn more about TERP.
> Learn about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

TCEQ offers clean school bus grants

Thursday, January 25, 2018
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) started taking applications for the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), Texas Clean School Bus (TCSB) program. The program grants money to school systems to replace pre-2007 diesel-fueled school buses with new ones or to cover costs of eligible retrofit projects.

TCEQ will accept applications on first-come, first-served basis until 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, 2019, or until all available funds have been awarded.

Texas school districts, charter schools and transportation systems provided by countywide school districts can help Texas reduce air emissions from diesel-powered school buses by applying for the TCSB program. School buses proposed for replacement or retrofit must be used on a regular daily route during the standard school year and have at least five years of useful life remaining.

Maximum grant amounts for school bus replacement projects are included in the TCSB Request for Grant Applications. TCSB grants may reimburse up to 100 percent of the cost to purchase and install a retrofit device and associated equipment.

> Read the TCSB Request for Grant Applications.
> Learn more or get updates about TERP.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Contact TERP at 800-919-TERP (8377). 

New facility brings enhanced training to 9-1-1 district

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Emergency telecommunicators enrolled in Solacom and teletypewriter (TTY) courses in December were the first to train in the new CAPCOG facility designed specifically for enhancing the education of answering 9-1-1 calls.

“The new training center is designed for the telecommunicator educational environment,” said Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division director. “It is much more flexible for mock training and can allow instructors to easily transition into lectures and demonstrations.”

CAPCOG’s previous training space allowed for 11 students and shared the outer edge of the Austin backup center while the new dedicated space allows for 16 workstations. Each workstation is equipped with a fully functional 9-1-1 console like they have at their municipal or county public safety answering points (PSAPs) which allows students to experience scenario driven training as if it was a live call. The room also is more conducive for telecommunicators to view instructors or demos while interacting with workstations. “This facility allows CAPCOG instructors to further immerse trainees in a call taking environment very similar to what they are used to, so the motions and responses learned during courses are more likely to become second nature,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG PSAP specialist.

The dedicated training room, which is adjacent to the new regional backup center, also will allow for additional emergency call taking space if a situation needs more telecommunicator space. Once fully equipped the regional backup center could house more than 100 emergency telecommunicators from around the region.

> Find 9-1-1 related training courses.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

National Air Quality Conference comes to Austin

Friday, January 19, 2018

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies is hosting the 2018 National Air Quality Conference from Wednesday to Friday, Jan. 24 to 26, 2018, at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol.

The conference will bring together air quality professionals from federal, state, local and tribal air pollution organizations; metropolitan and regional planning organizations; environmental and research organizations; and industry representatives. Attendees will learn the latest information on air quality forecasting and mapping, air quality and your health, and innovative outreach programs.

Conference programs will begin Wednesday morning with an optional "AQI & AirNow 101" session for those new to air quality programs, and it will officially kick off Wednesday afternoon with an opening plenary session, followed by focused breakout sessions, exhibits, and a poster session. Breakout sessions will include two tracks: air quality forecasting and mapping, and communicating air quality. Friday afternoon will feature a closing plenary session.

> Learn more about the conference.
> Read the conference agenda.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Texas Silver-Haired Legislature grants region extra seats

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

To help fill the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) with active and committed representatives who are 60 or older, the organization expanded the number of representatives for the counties in the CAPCOG region from five to eight.

“Having extra positions from across the region provides higher visibility to older adult issues that we are facing regionally and statewide,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) director. “These new positions aren’t just for our region; they are really at-large positions with the expectation that you represent seniors throughout the state.”

TSHL representatives volunteer to recommend legislative changes affecting older Texans before each state legislature. They work on broader community issues requiring members to share ideas, learn from example, and be persistent about promoting beneficial change. Before each State Legislative Session, the TSHL provides a platform to state legislators for consideration. Its members also testify on bills during the session.

AAACAP works with TSHL to find representatives willing to serve and has sought to fill these new positions with rural volunteers to help ensure issues are addressed by a diverse demographic.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Learn more about TSHL.

CAPCOG honors Stephens with Parmer Volunteer Award

Thursday, January 11, 2018

CAPCOG presented Cathy Stephens, a Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources senior planner, with its Phill Parmer Volunteer Service Award in December for her many years of service on the Clean Air Coalition Advisory Committee and her contributions to improving regional air quality.

Stephens first joined the advisory committee in 2001 while working with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations, but continued to contribute to the group after being hired by Travis County. As an advisory committee member, she helped draft several regional air quality plans including the current Ozone Action Plan. She has helped pass idling legislation and played a vital role for Travis and Williamson counties becoming the only counties in the country to voluntarily implement a mandatory vehicle inspection and maintenance program.

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

Travis County Senior Planner, Cathy Stephens, holds the CAPCOG Phill Parmer Volunteer Services Award. She was presented the award in December. Travis County Senior Planner, Cathy Stephens, holds the CAPCOG Phill Parmer Volunteer Services Award. She was presented the award in December.

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