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In the News

Striking a Balance moves to December, balances family caregivers

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area and AGE of Central Texas rescheduled one of the region’s largest educational events for family caregivers, Striking a Balance, to Saturday, Dec. 2 after the heavy rains threatened the conference’s August attendance. Family caregiver attendees will learn coping skills to address the challenges of caregiving from national, state and local experts, but also their peers.

This year’s keynote address, “Why am I so Stressed?” will be delivered by Jane Meier Hamilton, CEO and founder of Partners on the Path, an organization that helps caregivers preserve their health, well-being and capacity to care through education. Hamilton herself is a 40-year nurse and 20-year family caregiver. “Unlike when you are a nurse who goes home at the end of the day, when it is your loved one, it is in your heart and in your mind all the time,” she said. “The talks I do come from my own struggle to stay healthy and resilient.”

Striking a Balance will feature multiple breakout sessions with topics addressing caregiver resiliency, difficult behaviors related to dementia, safe driving for older adults, and financing long-term care. Caregivers will also connect with organizations and service providers that offer caregiver support, education, training, and in-home and long-term care services.

Family caregivers register for Striking a Balance.

The conference will be held at DoubleTree by Hilton Austin, 6505 North IH 35. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center will offer free off-site respite by reservation. Call 512-600-9275 to reserve.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Learn more about Age of Central Texas.

General Assembly to hear State of the Region Address

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

CAPCOG will present the State of the Region address with a new twist involving audience participation this year at the Dec. 13 General Assembly Meeting at the Wyndham Garden Hotel Austin, 3401 South IH 35 Frontage Road. This interactive State of the Region presentation will let attendees learn about progressing regional efforts and their corresponding data across all CAPCOG program areas.

During the meeting, the General Assembly also will elect the 2018 Executive Committee, and CAPCOG will honor two individuals by presenting the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award and the Phill Parmer Volunteer Service Award. Named after Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chair, the award honors someone who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits, and other organizations. The Parmer award recognizes someone’s dedication to the region through their volunteer efforts. It is named after CAPCOG’s longest serving Aging Advisory Council member and longtime aging volunteer, Phill Parmer of Llano.

> RSVP to attend the meeting. 
> General Assembly Representatives and CAPCOG Advisory and Policy Committee members contact Mason Canales for a code for a complimentary lunch.

Solid Waste grant funding available

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Local governments can apply for CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program funding to help implement diversion programs throughout the region. The grant program has an estimated $177,000 in pass-through funding available from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The application deadline is Dec. 29 and funding will be distributed in 2018 and 2019.

“This popular program is the only state offered grant monies designed to provide residents with responsible avenues for managing solid and household hazardous waste, extend local landfills’ life expectancies, and increase solid waste recycling rates,” said Ken May, CAPCOG regional program coordinator, who noted CAPCOG has distributed more than $9 million to over 350 projects since 1992.

CAPCOG is hosting grant application workshops on Nov. 10 and Dec. 6 which will cover topics such as eligibility, the selection process, reporting requirements and sample projects. Morning and afternoon workshops will be available. Project funding categories include:

  • Household hazardous waste management
  • Environmental local enforcement
  • Litter and illegal dumping clean-up and community collection events
  • Source reduction and recycling
  • Citizens’ collection stations
  • Educational and training programs
  • Other projects, including scrap tires projects

> Learn more about the grant.
> Register for a workshop.
> Read about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

TCEQ announces TERP rebate grants

Monday, November 06, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program announced its Rebate Grants Program that provides financial incentives to repower or replace older heavy-duty diesel vehicles and select non-road diesel equipment.

The grant program will official open Nov. 30, 2017, and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications may not be submitted at this time; however, TCEQ made draft documents available for would-be applicants to review.

> Check out the draft documents.

A portion of the funding allocated to the Rebate Grants Program will be set aside for applications from entities:
that qualify as a small business as further explained in this document; and
with vehicles or equipment destroyed by Hurricane Harvey

The final request for applications, application forms, and maximum rebate grant amount tables will be available on Nov. 30, 2017. TCEQ is hosting a workshop on the grant's application process in Austin on Dec. 4, 2017 and in several cities around the state before the Austin date.

Austin
1 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2017
TCEQ
12100 Park 35 Circle, Building E
Austin, TX 78753

San Antonio
1:00 p.m., Monday, Nov. 13, 2017
Southwest Service Center
6927 W. Commerce
San Antonio, TX 78228

Victoria
1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
1905 Leary Lane
Victoria, TX 77901

Corpus Christi
1 p.m., Monday, Nov. 20, 2017
Coastal Bend COG
2910 Leopard Street
Corpus Christi, TX 78408

Beaumont
1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017
South East Texas Regional Planning Commission
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX 77703

Houston
6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017
Trini Mendenhall Community Center
1414 Wirt Road
Houston, TX 77055

Pasadena
9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017
Cleveland-Ripley Neighborhood Center
720 Fairmont Parkway
Pasadena, TX 77504

> Look for upcoming TERP meetings and workshops.
> Read more about the TERP Rebate Grants Program.
> Contact TERP staff  at 800-919- 8377 or terp@tceq.texas.gov with questions.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG recognizes Caregivers, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

November highlights two important older adult issues that the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) supports through services and programs year around — family caregiving and Alzheimer’s awareness.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of the long-term care system in Texas, and this is especially true for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients; the disease can take a devastating toll on the caregiver,” said Patty Bordie, AAACAP director. CAPCOG through AAACAP supports caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients with respite care, health and safety equipment, home modifications, and connections to resources to help caregivers better balance self-care with care for their loved ones.

Some 360,000 Texans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, making the state home of the nation’s fourth largest Alzheimer’s population and ranking it second in Alzheimer’s related deaths. Of the 2.8 million family caregivers in Texas about 1.4 million provide roughly 1.6 million hours of unpaid care for Alzheimer’s patients. Many caregivers provide at least 18 hours of care per week while working full- or part-time jobs.

The CAPCOG Executive Committee recognized November as National Caregiver’s and Alzheimer’s Awareness month at its Oct. 11 meeting.

> Find the proclamation drafts.
> Learn more about family caregiver programs.

Texas Freight Mobility Plan Update seeks public review, comments

Thursday, October 19, 2017
Source: Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is seeking comments on The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 from public and private freight industry stakeholders, and all interested parties, to ensure the updated plan captures the state’s freight needs. Comments will be accepted until Oct. 26, 2017.

In 2016, TxDOT released the Texas Freight Mobility Plan, the agency’s first comprehensive multimodal transportation plan focused on the state’s freight industry. The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 allows TxDOT to refresh data sources, add critical elements, and comply with new federal legislation. The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 has been developed to meet the requirements of the current federal transportation act, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.  

> Review the plan.

> Submit comments by email.

Or email your comments to:
TxDOT Freight and International Trade Section, 
125 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701 (mailed comments must be postmarked by Oct. 26, 2017)

> Contact Kale Driemeier with TxDOT about questions or additional information.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

CAPCOG releases 2015 flood impact, resiliency report

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development Division recently completed an economic impact and resiliency analysis of the 2015 floods that affected eight counties in the region — Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis, and Williamson. The report summarizes available disaster data from multiple sources and used flood plain modeling to quantify economic impacts and assist communities in prioritizing future mitigation efforts.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and another federal disaster declaration for the region, disaster recovery and resiliency planning is salient once again. Regional opportunities to conduct hazard mitigation planning, to accelerate business recovery, and to regulate impervious cover are highlighted in the report. The project also brings attention to resiliency projects and programs which have already been implemented across the region, including WarnCentralTexas.org and a promising real-time flood forecasting project, ATXFloods.com. Given the likelihood that some future disaster will once again impact the Capital Area, this report is designed to serve as a catalyst for continued disaster resiliency planning across the region.

> Read the “Disaster Resiliency and Recovery in the Texas Capital Area, The Economic Impact and Local Response to the 2015 Memorial Day Disaster Event."
> Get the GIS data used in the report.
> Find interactive maps coinciding with the report.

AAACAP counselors assist with Medicare open enrollment

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) benefits counselors will be available to help adults living in the CAPCOG ten-county region who are 65 and older navigate through the National Medicare Open Enrollment Period starting Oct. 15 and ending Dec. 7.

This period lets Medicare consumers switch their Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage plans. For years, AAACAP counselors have provided insight on the many choices involved in selecting a Medicare program. They also provide screening for qualification into the Medicare Savings Program and low-income subsidies for every person counseled during the period.

Residents can seek assistance from benefits counselors at 512-916-6062 or 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

> Get more information on Medicare open enrollment.
> Contact an  AAACAP benefits counselor.

Campaign doubles WarnCentralTexas.org registrations

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A region-wide media campaign launched for the September National Preparedness Month nearly doubled the amount of residents who have signed up to receive emergency alerts at WarnCentralTexas.org and set the stage for continued awareness about the regional notification system (RNS).

“About 120,000 people have registered their cellphone numbers to receive alerts from their local emergency response personnel, and this is a success,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security Director. “But we want to continue to encourage every resident in the ten-county CAPCOG region to register to receive these alerts.”  Carter noted the campaign was kicked off on Aug. 23 as Hurricane Harvey moved toward the Texas coast, likely a contributing factor to the high number of new users.

Once a cellphone is registered at WarnCentralTexas.org, local jurisdictions can use the system to share critical emergency information with that resident via email, phone call or text message about 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.

CAPCOG also launched a new WarnCentralTexas.org website that continues to serve as a self-registration portal for residents to receive emergency alerts, but now it is also a place where they can discover how the communities in which they live and work communicate emergency information. It also will house information on how residents can be prepared for natural and man-made disasters. Communities seeking promotional materials for WarnCentralTexas.org can contact Carolyn Sudduth.

> Learn more about the Homeland Security Division.
> Read more about RNS.

CAPCOG launches Text to 9-1-1 region wide

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Capital Area Council of Governments has deployed Text to 9-1-1 service region wide after successfully testing for the region’s 31 public safety answering points (PSAPs), or 9-1-1 call centers, capability to receive and respond to SMS text messages. The service is now activated on the four major cellphone service providers —Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

“Text to 9-1-1 is a great addition to emergency response; however, the service has several limitations, so residents should familiarize themselves with them before texting 9-1-1 and most importantly remember to ‘Call if you can, text if you can’t,’” said Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Director.

Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send a cellphone text message to a local 9-1-1 call center. It is especially beneficial to those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired, but residents should only text 9-1-1 when calling 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible.

Examples of when texting 9-1-1 would be beneficial include:

  • The caller cannot speak due to a threat, illness or medical condition
  • The caller has poor reception and can only send text messages
  • Phone lines and cellphone towers are overwhelmed and only texts can get through

Cellphone service providers only offer text messaging as a “best effort service” meaning providers do not guarantee a message will be delivered, said Obuch, who noted that text messages also can take longer to receive or can be delivered out of order. The only way to know a text reached a 9-1-1 call center is when the center texts back. If the sender thinks a text was not received, he or she should call 9-1-1.

Text to 9-1-1 only is available in English. However, 9-1-1 voice calls can be processed in multiple languages, because all CAPCOG 9-1-1 call centers provide emergency interpretive services. Text to 9-1-1 does not work if the sender texts using group messages, emojis, pictures or videos. Apps that text other app users (such as WhatsApp) or texting via social media (such as Facebook Messenger) do not support Text to 9-1-1.

To help educate residents about using Text to 9-1-1, CAPCOG has developed video and audio PSAs and a FAQ about the service. All are available at www.capcog.org/text911. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to share the FAQ and PSAs with residents via social and other media. They always should encourage residents to “Call if you can, text if you can’t” – the national slogan for Text to 9-1-1.

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

$7 million available from EPA School Bus Rebate Program

Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting applications for its 2017 School Bus Rebate Program which could provide up to $20,000 per vehicle to replace older school buses and up to $6,000 per vehicle for retrofits. The program will take applications until 4 p.m., ET, Tuesday Nov. 14.

Older school buses without emission reduction retrofits emit significant amounts of harmful exhaust, so participating in this program will help improve the health of students and other members of your community. Eligible entities include regional, state, or tribal agencies including school districts and municipalities, or private entities that operate school buses under a contract with an entity listed above. More than $7 million is available through this program and up to $1 million for retrofits.

> Read more or download an application for the 2017 School Bus Rebate Program.
> Contact CleanDiesel@epa.gov with questions.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

$6 million available for alternative fuel, natural gas fueling stations

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) is accepting applications for grants to help defray the costs of building or modifying alternative fueling facilities. The state has made up to $6 million available to individuals, businesses, and governments that qualify.

The facilities will serve as the foundation of a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel in Texas. Developing this network of facilities will create jobs, ensure viable use of clean energy, and will help reduce air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels.

This grant under the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) offsets 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 natural gas, biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, propane, and electricity. Eligible individuals, businesses, and governments must be within the state’s Clean Transportation Zone, which includes seven counties in the CAPCOG region — Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson.

The TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. It also has scheduled eight AFFP grant application workshops to review the grant requirements and the application process.

AUSTIN
9 a.m., TUESDAY, NOV. 21, 2017
TCEQ's Austin Office
Building E, 2nd Floor, Room 254S
12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, TX 78753

EL PASO
1 p.m., WEDNESDAY, NOV. 1, 2017
Rio Grande Council of Governments (Main Conference Room)
8037 Lockheed Drive, Suite 100
El Paso, Texas 79925

TYLER
9 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
TCEQ Region 5 Office, Large Conference Room
2916 Teague Dr.
Tyler, Texas 75701

ARLINGTON
9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

LAREDO
9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
Laredo Chamber of Commerce, Boardroom
2310 San Bernardo Ave.
Laredo, Texas 78040

CORPUS CHRISTI
9 a.m, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017
Coastal Bend COG, Large Conference Room
2910 Leopard Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78408 

SAN ANTONIO
9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 20, 2017
8700 Tesoro Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78217

HOUSTON
9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Conference Room A
3555 Timmons, Suite 120 
Houston, TX 77027

> RSVP for a workshop by emailing Camen Gupta, TCEQ Program Coordinator.
> Read more about the AFFP.
> Learn more about the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
> Find out about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Homeland security director completes advanced academy

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Eric Carter, CAPCOG homeland security director, recently graduated from FEMA’s National Emergency Management Advance Academy adding more specialized skills and training to help communities manage their dynamic and resilient emergency management needs throughout the CAPCOG ten-county region.

The week-long residency academy reinforced qualities needed to manage emergency management programs and provided relevant management theories and concepts. It also taught critical skills to perform emergency management responsibilities such as program management and oversight, effective communication at all levels, integrated collaboration, and strategic thinking.

Carter has completed incident command training and FEMA's professional development series, which teaches seven courses to include training on conducting exercises and emergency planning, being an influential leader and effective communicator, and developing and managing volunteers. Carter has a bachelor's degree in Emergency Administration and Planning from the University of North Texas, and a master’s in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

TDA seeks Small Town Environmental Program applications

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture will accept Small Town Environmental Program (STEP) applications Feb. 1, 2018 but any applications completed and submitted before the date will be considered received and date‐stamped Feb. 1, 2018.

Applicants are invited to apply for STEP. Before a community submits a STEP application, they must first submit a letter of interest and schedule a Town Hall meeting with TDA. Communities interested in submitting a Feb. 1, 2018 application can submit their letter of interest and contact TDA to schedule a town hall meeting now. A Community Assessment must also be completed after the town hall meeting, but before an application is submitted. Contact TDA for the Community Assessment form.

The amount available for the 2018 Program Year is $700,000. The STEP Fund is:

  • Available for water and sewer infrastructure improvements utilizing self-help methods
  • Must demonstrate a 40 percent cost saving off the retail construction price by using volunteer labor and material resources 
  • Must demonstrate strong local participation
  • Overall construction and implementation must be performed predominately by community volunteer workers

Applications will be accepted until all funds expended. Ties will be broken using criteria previously established for the TxCDBG‐Community Development Fund (per capita income, poverty rate, and unemployment rate).

> Get more information about STEP.
> Learn about the Regional Review Committee.

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.
 

EPA extends 2015 Ozone NAAQS area designation deadline

Friday, June 09, 2017
Source: Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt notified states that the agency will extend the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) initial area designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS by one year.

“States have made tremendous progress and significant investment cleaning up the air. We will continue to work with states to ensure they are on a path to compliance,” said the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

NAAQS for ground-level ozone is an outdoor air regulation under the Clean Air Act. As part of the process to determine what areas of the country are able to meet the current air quality standards, states are currently submitting their proposals for area designations under the 70 parts per billion (ppb) standard, which was lowered from 75 ppb in 2015. Areas designated as being in “nonattainment” of the standard face consequences, including: increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses.

The EPA is giving states more time to develop air quality plans, and EPA is looking at providing greater flexibility to states as they develop their plans. And, pursuant to the language in the recently-enacted FY2017 Omnibus funding bill, Administrator Pruitt is establishing an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force to develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard.

> Read the full release. 
> Read Pruitt's letter to governors.
> Find your community’s ozone designation.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Workshop seeks to reduce cyber threats through information sharing

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

When it comes to preparing for cybersecurity threats, an organization’s best ally may be other entities attempting to do the same. Sharing cyber information in an effective manner across multiple organizations can prevent wide-spread impacts from an incident, prevent future incidents and even help catch perpetrators of cybercrimes.

To increase cybersecurity mitigation efforts, the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division will conduct a two-day workshop, June 15 through 16, designed to introduce private and public organizations to information sharing concepts, their value, and how they can help reduce the risk of cyberattacks. The workshop’s target audience is government and private sector stakeholders responsible for cyber security, critical infrastructure protection and information sharing policies. By the end of the workshop, participants will develop a framework to help establish an effective regional information sharing program.

> Organizations interested in sending representatives can register personnel on PreparingTexas.org.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

CAPCOG transitions GeoMap to state StratMap program

Monday, June 05, 2017

Since 2002, CAPCOG’s GeoMap program has worked to efficiently coordinate the acquisition of the region’s aerial imagery and other geographic information systems (GIS) data collection projects while saving taxpayer dollars for jurisdictions in the ten-county region. This year, CAPCOG hopes to create greater value for jurisdictions by participating in the Texas Natural Resources Information System’s Strategic Mapping Program (StratMap), which will reduce jurisdictions’ administrative work and offer a larger variety of products from 16 preselected vendors.

To ensure former GeoMap participants will receive the program’s most valuable data, CAPCOG is coordinating a region-wide orthoimagery project through StratMap. “We want to help our communities to transition,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager. “Orthoimagery is the same as a map; it is a picture that is scale corrected and can be used as a source for creating vector data, like planimetrics for planning and engineering purposes.” The CAPCOG project seeks to purchase 3-, 6- or 12-inch resolution images where the highest resolution allows for the most uses to include project level infrastructure mapping. Jurisdictions can purchase other geospatial products, such as LiDAR and contour lines, through StratMap directly.

StratMap uses the Texas Department of Information Resources contracting services to streamline the acquisition process and reduce administrative fees. Jurisdictions also can help the state program lower its cost by submitting projects by June 16; however, StratMap will accept projects until Sept. 30.

> Contact Eissler to participate in the CAPCOG orthoimagery project. 
> Learn more about the GeoMap StratMap transition.
> Learn more about StratMap.

CAPCOG, TxDOT conduct transportation needs open house series

Friday, June 02, 2017

CAPCOG is partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to solicit local feedback on transportation needs and priorities in Blanco, Lee, and Llano counties and to help identify possible funding mechanisms for future projects that improve the safety, maintenance and connectivity of the Central Texas transportation network.

To gather public input on local transportation needs and priorities, CAPCOG is hosting a series of open houses. The first open house took place in the City of Llano, where local stakeholders articulated their transportation priorities, identified mobility and congestion issues for the region, and provided feedback on how Llano County is likely to develop. Additional open houses will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on June 7, 13, 16, 22 at the Blanco Library, Kingsland Community Center, Lee County AgriLife Extension Service Office, and Johnson City Library, respectively. Residents attending the open houses will be able to review and provide feedback on recently completed, current, and planned TxDOT projects. They also are encouraged to share any unaddressed current transportation needs and foreseeable future transportation needs based on their knowledge of local growth and development.

Once the open houses are completed, CAPCOG will draft a planning document for each county that reflects the local priorities and explores possible funding sources, solicit feedback from local leaders, and finalize the documents for TxDOT.

> Get more information about each open house.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.
 

Retiring silver-haired legislator championed for older Texans

Friday, May 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAPCOG adopts regional emergency communications strategic plan

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

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

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

> Register for WarnCentralTexas.org

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

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

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

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

CAPCOG taps legal experts for local elected officials training

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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

Topics covered during the workshop include:

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

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

> Register for the training workshop.

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

> Contact Mason Canales to receive a discount code.

Planning workshop set for special needs population

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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

The workshop will cover the following topics:

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

The workshop will start at 9 a.m.

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

TCEQ continues accepting applications for clean engine rebates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebate Grants application forms and rebate tables were changed from the draft versions released for 30-day review. Applicants must use the final application forms and refer to the final rebate tables to determine the eligible funding amounts.

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

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

CAPCOG brings specialized EOD training to regional response teams

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Williamson County honors older adults with multigenerational event

Monday, April 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAPCOG ranks Homeland Security grants for OOG

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

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

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

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

After-action report gives insight into response

Monday, March 27, 2017

Emergency services teams and their command staff successful mitigated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive incidents during three-days of homeland security training exercises that tested numerous agencies throughout the region stated third-party reports. But the reports also denoted areas where more training and equipment could further improve regional response to such incidents.

“Training for a disaster is a never ending process where you learn from what you did right and the places where you may have made some mistakes,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. After more than 30 agencies from throughout the region participated in the three-day all-hazards training exercise, called Eastside Mayhem, in November, CAPCOG worked with a contractor to complete an exercise after-action report. The report’s goal was to help identify areas for improvement when performing large-scale training exercises.

> Read about the exercise.

Three after-action reports, one for each day of the exercise, were completed in late February. According to each report, “response agencies were able to successfully support the incident’s needs with an effective and efficient response.” The reports summarized the strengths and improvement areas for responses made during each exercise before providing recommendations about specific topics for training, suggestions on specialized equipment purchases, and the adoption of new procedures to improve response.

> Read the after-action report for day one in Govalle.
> Read the after-action report for day two in Giddings.
> Read the after-action report for day three in Lexington.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

CAPCOG partners to teach a career and technical education program

Monday, March 20, 2017

An emergency telecommunicator career and technical education program at Austin Independent School District’s Akins High School is prepping students for a future in public safety communications, but it is also helping fulfill a need in the emergency response industry. The program has partnered with the Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center (CTECC) agencies — Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and Travis County Sheriff’s Office — to give students real-life experience in the field, and this year, CAPCOG joined in educating the students.

Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point Specialist and an emergency telecommunicator trainer, instructs Akins High School students on topics taught to professional emergency telecommunicators.

The program teaches valuable career skills through an apprenticeship or internship style course during the students’ senior year, but it also gives students a career choice to pursue right after graduation, said Carmen Garcia, an Akins High School internship program teacher. CAPCOG is helping ensure the students have the tools they need to enter the field upon graduation by providing guest lecturers such as Kelsey Dean, a CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point Specialist and emergency telecommunicator instructor. During Dean’s first lecture in February, she instructed shorter versions of emergency telecommunicator training courses and explained how students could show their learning experience on resumes.

The Akins High School’s internship program is awe-inspiring for the students and those teaching it, Dean said. “The students understand the seriousness of this profession. They have a passion for helping people and are excited about the career, which is everything you need to do this job. It makes me hopeful that getting students involved with programs such as this will help tackle turnover issues facing the industry nation-, no world-wide.”

Having CAPCOG participate in the program has provided a unique experience for the students, Garcia said. The students learn a lot shadowing CTECC emergency telecommunicators, but working with CAPCOG has offered them a chance to experience adult professional development. Just like a common practice in CAPCOG emergency telecommunicator courses, the Akins students analyzed real 9-1-1 calls to determine how they could answer them differently, while Dean provided feedback and critiques.

“This type of activity helps develop your radio ear and helps improve your call taking and dispatching abilities,” Dean said. “These are improved communications skills that allow you to hear all the details of a conversation and communicate them properly while judging what is most important. As an emergency telecommunicator if you miss one word, you could send an unprepared officer into a dangerous situation or dispatch a medical team to a wrong address when seconds matter.”

Dean taught the students shortened versions of professional telecommunicator training courses — CAPCOG’s 40-hour licensing course and crisis communications course. The students learned about topics such as basic call taking techniques, stress management, and how to talk to hysterical callers. Dean will teach the students again in April. She plans on running mock 9-1-1 calls and introducing the students to Criticall, one of the nation’s foremost pre-employment exams for emergency telecommunicators. Criticall measures a person’s typing, listening, directional and other skills related to answering 9-1-1 calls.

> Find emergency telecommunicator training.

Region to honor emergency telecommunicators in April

Friday, March 17, 2017

Often considered the first, first responder, 9-1-1 call takers and emergency telecommunicators play a more than vital role in local communities’ public safety operations. CAPCOG, operating as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, encourages all local governments and the public to join it in recognizing emergency telecommunicators’ dedication to protecting their communities during National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, April 9-15.

In the ten-county CAPCOG region, more than 700 emergency telecommunicators contributed to the 24/7 9-1-1 operations that answered more than 1.5 million emergency calls in 2016. Their actions helped save lives, arrest criminals, and protect people and their property.

On March 8, the CAPCOG Executive Committee adopted a resolution recognizing National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week. Local governments are welcome to use the resolution as a template to help honor their telecommunicators. To further honor telecommunicators, CAPCOG will visit public safety answering points, or 9-1-1 call centers, between April 9 and April 15 to deliver a special thank you. CAPCOG is proud that many of the local governments in the region traditionally pay tribute to their 9-1-1 call takers with numerous activities such as delivering special meals, hosting teambuilding events, hosting spirit days, and recognizing them during public meetings.

> Read the CAPCOG resolution recognizing April 9-15 as National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communicaitons Division.

Air quality survey focuses outreach

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The CAPCOG Regional Services Division in February completed an analysis of three years of surveys that polled the public about their knowledge and commitment to regional air quality. CAPCOG will use the analysis to enhance its public outreach and education campaigns during the ozone action season by directing efforts to demographics that are less informed but are more likely to take action.

The most recently completed survey, conducted from Oct. 22 to Nov. 26, 2016, yielded 710 responses from Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. CAPCOG made special efforts to ensure adequate representation of younger residents and Spanish-speaking residents during this 2016 sample, since surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015 had not included as many respondents in these groups as represented in the general population. Using three years’ worth data has provided CAPCOG with a larger sample to measure the effectiveness of its public outreach and education campaigns.

> View the 2014-2016 survey analysis.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.
 

AAACAP seeks communities to host wellness programs

Monday, March 13, 2017

Communities in Round Rock, Austin, and Kingsland are hosting evidence based intervention (EBI) programs managed by Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) that benefit the mental, physical and emotional health of older adults and their caregivers. The agency is seeking more communities throughout the CAPCOG region to host additional programs in 2017.

EBIs facilitated by AAACAP, a CAPCOG division, equip older adults and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to maintain and manage their health so they can live as independently as possible. AAACAP offers four different programs that can be hosted anywhere: A Matter of Balance focuses on reducing the risk of falling, Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers teaches stress management for caregivers of Alzheimer’s and chronic disease patients, and Chronic Disease Self-Management helps adults manage the symptoms of chronic diseases or can specifically be tailored to people with Type 2 diabetes. The programs run from six to nine weeks, are conducted for small groups between 8 to 15 people, and can be led by CAPCOG or community members who volunteer to become program lay leaders.

> Learn more about each EBI program.
> Schedule a program by contacting Kate Gibbons, CAPCOG health and wellness coordinator.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

CAPCOG offers criminal justice professionals training

Thursday, March 09, 2017

CAPCOG will host two training workshops in April for criminal justice professionals that focus on helping victims and understanding teen drug use. The workshops are geared toward professions such as court judges, peace officers, victim advocates, and even school educators, so they can improve their understanding of the criminal justice process and further help prevent crimes throughout the region.

The first of the two workshops — “Victim Impact Statement: The Victim’s Voice in the Criminal Justice Process” — will educate its attendees about ensuring victims are heard during all stages of the criminal justice process. Topics to be discussed in the workshop include the important role of the Victim Impact Statement, criminal justice entities’ statutory responsibilities for the statement, revisions to statement forms and statistical reporting. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim Services Division instructors will teach the workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 3. Continuing education units will be offered for several criminal justice professions.

> Learn more about or register for The Victim's Voice workshop.

"Drug Facts: Building awareness of substance use, misuse and dependence among teens" will be the second criminal justice workshop and will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 21. Geared towards professions that deal with teens, the workshop will teach an enhanced understanding of substance use, misuse, and dependence. Representatives from the Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center will lead the workshop and will offer continuing education units for various professional groups.

> Learn more about the Drug Facts workshop.
> Register for the Drug Facts workshop.

> Read more about the Planning and Economic Development Division.

TCEQ accepts TERP rebate applications

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced it will accept grant applications for projects seeking rebates for the upgrade or replacement of diesel on-road heavy duty vehicles and select non-road equipment until May 26, 2017.

The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Rebate Grants Program is a first-come, first-serve program limited to upgrading or replacing diesel on-road heavy duty vehicles and select non-road equipment. On-road vehicles must have a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds and non-road equipment must be equipped with at least a 25 horsepower engine. The vehicles and equipment also must operate within at least one of 42 Texas counties including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson for at least 75 percent of their annual usage.

To help applicants, TCEQ created a table of pre-approved maximum rebate amounts for eligible on-road and non-road replacement and repower projects in the grant’s request for applications.

> Review the request for grant applications.

TCEQ also encouraged qualifying small businesses to apply for the grant as portion of the program’s funding is allocated for them.

> Read the grant guidelines for a definition of qualifying small businesses.

TCEQ will consider applications during this grant period on a first-come, first-served basis. Entities must submit applications to the TCEQ front desk, Room 1301, 1st floor of Building F on the TCEQ premises by 5 p.m. May 26, 2017.

Those seeking rebate grants can contact TERP staff at 800-919-8377 (TERP) with application process questions and to request grant documents via the U.S. Postal Service.

> Get copies of the RFGA, rebate tables, and application forms.
> Read more about the TERP Rebate grant program.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

PLEASE NOTE: The Rebate Grants application forms and rebate tables were changed from the draft versions released for 30-day review. Applicants must use the final application forms and refer to the final rebate tables to determine the eligible funding amounts.

Project information for Water Revolving Fund programs due

Monday, February 20, 2017
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board seeks projects to be funded in the 2018 fiscal year through its State Revolving Fund programs’ Intended Use Plans.

Entities seeking the funding must submit a completed Project Information Form using either the Online Application or the “paper” version in Microsoft Word by 5 p.m., March 3, 2017 to be included in the initial Project Priority List for State Fiscal Year 2018.

The Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs help communities save money by providing cost-effective funding for wastewater and water infrastructure projects. Entities using these programs achieve substantial savings by receiving below-market interest rates and, in some instances, principal forgiveness. Principal forgiveness may be available for entities that qualify as disadvantaged communities and for projects with green components.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund also includes principal forgiveness for small systems and urgent need projects. Although these programs are accessible year round, the principal forgiveness subsidies are generally allocated to projects on the initial project priority list each year.

Communities that submitted project information forms in previous years must update their information for the 2018 fiscal year.

> Access the project information forms.
> Contact Matthew Schmidt at 512-463-8321 or by email for assistance.
> Read more about the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program.
> Read more about the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program.

City of Buda focus groups give older adults civic outlet

Friday, February 17, 2017

The City of Buda conducted two Focus Groups on Aging in January in effort to plan for meeting the needs of the city’s growing senior population. With a great turnout and lot of discussion, the groups are laying the foundation for Buda to become a more age friendly city where residents no matter their age can live, work, and play.

About 20 people attended each of the two Focus Group on Aging meetings, where they addressed issues related to transportation, recreational activities, and other older American related services. The information collected will help inform a plan to improve senior resources, said Buda City Council member Eileen Altmiller, who requested the City Council form an Aging Advisory Commission. Altmiller also serves on the CAPCOG Executive Committee and the CAPCOG Aging Advisory Council. “Sometimes the views of seniors are not adequately represented, and in Buda, we want to make sure our decisions are beneficial to the whole population,” she said.

While older Americans make up a smaller portion of Buda’s population, it’s important to plan to meet their needs, Altmiller said. Residents who are 60 years old and older are the third fastest growing population in Buda increasing by 50.65 percent between 2009 and 2014 according to U.S. Census data. The same age cohort is the fastest growing population in Hays County with a near 40 percent increase in population during the same time period.

“When communities take steps, such as Buda has done, they benefit the community and the older Americans involved in the process,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) director. One in four older Americans make a positive impact on their community by volunteering and becoming involved in civic activities. This increased social and active engagement improves their own mental, social, and physical health through, according to the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

Altmiller hopes the city continues to support the aging community in Buda by eventually forming an Aging Advisory commission, she said. “Seniors are looking for volunteer opportunities and this could make a use of their talents. I think the benefits can be a two-way street where we can do something that help seniors such as transportation and then they can turn around and be more engaged in volunteering in the community.”

> Read about more about CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging.

Get Involved

As an older adult or someone who wants to give back to the senior community, there is a number of ways to support older Americans throughout the region by volunteering with CAPCOG programs through AAACAP.

Become an advisor
CAPCOG’s Aging Advisory Council meets quarterly to discuss issues as they relate to older Americans throughout the CAPCOG ten-county region. The council advises the CAPCOG Executive Committee on older American issues and assists AAACAP with evaluating programs funded through the older Americans Act. It also works to increase awareness on aging related issues and programs.
County representatives on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee nominate residents to the Aging Advisory Council.
> Contact Patty Bordie, AAACAP director to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Become an ombudsman
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program provides advocacy and friendly support for individuals living in nursing and assisted-living facilities by investigating complaints, reporting findings and helping achieve resolutions between the individual and the facility. With more than 230 facilities in the region, volunteers are instrumental to ensuring seniors receive proper care. Volunteers must be 18 or older and complete a training course. They also must complete an internship where they work at an assigned facility for two to four hours a month.
> Contact Pete Moreno, managing lead ombudsman, to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Become a lay leader or coach
AAACAP offers a number of evidence based intervention (EBI) programs to communities throughout the region via its health and wellness program. EBI programs are proven to effectively help older adults to improve or maintain their physical, mental or emotional health. AAACAP’s EBI programs focus on preventing falls, reducing caregiver stress, and managing chronic illnesses. Each program has its own volunteer requirements for lay leaders or coaches.
> Contact Kate Gibbons, health & wellness coordinator, to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Become a benefits counselor
The Benefits Counseling Program works to answer questions about Medicare health care coverage, Medicare related issues and other long-term care public benefits for residents who are 60 years old or older and to Medicare beneficiaries of any age. Counselors are often available by phone, but they visit public locations throughout the region to help residents navigate public benefits in a one-on-one in person atmosphere.
> Contact Janet Barker, program manager, to volunteer.
> Learn more.

Office move could impact access to CAPCOG staff

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Several divisions will move their operations into CAPCOG’s new expansion at 6800 Burleson Road in in Building 310, Suite 155, on Feb. 28. The divisions moving include Administration, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area, Planning and Economic Development, and Regional Services.

From Friday, Feb. 24 through Tuesday Feb. 28, it will be best to contact any personnel from the affected divisions by email. CAPCOG’s general reception line, 512-916-6000, and its front office located in suite 165 will remain open; however, other phone lines may not be answered. The AAACAP information referral hotline and the ADRC hotline will be taking voicemails on Friday, Feb. 24 and should be responding to callers by Monday, Feb. 27.

Homeland Security, the Regional Law Enforcement Academy, and Emergency Communications will remain open in suite 165.

> Check other updates about the CAPCOG office and Public Safety Answering Point expansion.

GLOCK armorer course returns to CAPCOG

Monday, February 13, 2017

GLOCK pistols are a part of many peace officers’ everyday equipment, and even though they often remain holstered, it’s imperative that an officer’s sidearm works properly before it is needed. That is why CAPCOG is partnering with GLOCK for its now annual armorer course on March 7 to help prepare the region’s police agencies about safely using and maintaining their weapons.

The eight-hour course sponsored by the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) will offer active and retired peace officers a chance to receive an armorer certification for all GLOCK model pistols except for G18/C Select-Fire models. The certifications allows departments to work on the pistols in-house without voiding the manufacturers warranty. The course will be held at CAPCOG, 6800 Burleson Road, building 310. Officers can register at capcog.org/training/class/view/glock-armorer before the Feb. 28 deadline.

> Register for the course.

The course is scheduled to discuss a wide range of topics to include: safety rules; safe action system design; field stripping and reassembly; multiple practice disassembly and reassembly of the entire pistol; and alternative parts. In 2015, the course was well attended by agencies throughout the region as well as the state including the US Probation Office, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and TCOLE.

> Learn more about RLEA.
> Find other RLEA in-service courses.
 

Planning and Economic Development blogs regional data

Friday, February 10, 2017

CAPCOG’s Planning and Economic Development Division relaunched Data Points, its commentary on regional economic issues, as a blog at DataPoints.org. The new website will allow its readers to dive deeper into the topics featured in the digital publication. The blog format has enhanced Data Points’ presentation by allowing readers to engage with its content through dynamic visualizations, such as interactive maps and engaging graphics.

In addition to providing commentary on regional issues, Datapoints.org also features a digital form for research and data requests. For those interested in seeing CAPCOG conduct specific types of research, there is now a streamlined process to submit that information. Find the form at datapoints.org/data-requests.html. CAPCOG will continue to send the e-newsletter version of the blog to your email. Readers can subscribe at capcog.org or datapoints.org.

> Request a Data Points research topic.

The division also has re-activated its twitter account, @CapcogEconomy, to promote Data Points’ articles and provide information about other economic development issues and services throughout the region.

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

Hays County judge voted CAPCOG chair

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The CAPCOG Executive Committee elected Hays County Judge Bert Cobb to lead the governing body as its chair for 2017. Cobb served as the committee’s second vice chair in 2016 after joining the committee in January 2011. He also has served as the Executive Committee liaison to CAPCOG’s Law Enforcement Education Committee since November 2011. Cobb has represented Hays County as County Judge since 2011.

Other officers elected were:

  • First Vice Chair – Cedar Park Council Member Corbin Van Arsdale
  • Second Vice Chair – Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty
  • Secretary – Leander Council Member Andrea Navarrette
  • Past Chair & Parliamentarian – Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long

> Read more about the CAPCOG Executive Committee. 

Environmental law course curbs illegal waste issues

Monday, February 06, 2017

When old furniture, used vehicle fluids or other household waste gets discarded into illegal dumpsites, they can become harmful and costly to cities and counties and their residents. However, experts with the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF) will be available to help guide local law enforcement and code compliance officers through the legal enforcement of environmental crimes with its Basic Environmental Law training course scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23 at the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins Street.

> Register for the course.

During the course, specialized instructors from throughout the state will discuss topics ranging from nuisance violations to unauthorized discharge violations and their civil versus criminal prosecution measures. Officers must register for the course at capcog.org/training/class/view/basic-environmental-law-training-course3 before the Feb. 16 deadline. The $30 registration fee includes lunch, materials and selected continuing-education credits.

> Learn more about the RETF.
> Read about CAPCOG's Regional Services Division.
 

Air quality calculator estimates NOx contribution

Friday, January 27, 2017

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program launched a new emissions calculator on the Air Central Texas website to let residents calculate the impact of typical day-to-day activities on regional air pollution levels.

The calculator estimates nitrogen oxides (NOX), the key contributor to ground-level ozone air pollution and particulate matter air pollution in the region. These pollutants can make it difficult to breathe and high levels can put the region at risk for violating federal air quality standards. The calculator uses emissions data for vehicles, power plants, natural gas and propane combustion, electricity used to pump and treat water, and gasoline use in lawn care.

Using the calculator lets residents improve their understanding of how their activities can affect regional air pollution and how behavioral changes can reduce their impact.

Residents can use the Air Central Texas emissions calculator to estimate their air pollution contribution. The calculator can be used any time at aircentraltexas.org.

Residents can use the Air Central Texas emissions calculator to estimate their air pollution contribution. The calculator can be used any time at aircentraltexas.org.

> Use or promote the calculator.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Hamilton earns Phill Parmer award

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bill Hamilton, a former member of CAPCOG’s Executive Committee and mayor of Rollingwood, has long been dedicated to serving the region by participating on CAPCOG committees and was honored for his service beginning in 2002 with its Phill Parmer Volunteer Service Award in December.

Hamilton served on the Executive Committee for six years and worked on the ad hoc building committee the last time CAPCOG moved its offices. He was a founding member of the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CARTPO) and has continued to serve on the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) Committee; he currently serves as vice chair. Public service is a 24-hour a day job in which people want to solve problems and sometimes they can do that before problems occur, Hamilton said. Volunteering on CAPCOG’s committees has allowed him to accomplish that.

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

Bill Hamilton accepts the Phill Parmer award from CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights.

Bill Hamilton accepts the Phill Parmer award from CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights.

> Learn more about CARTPO.
> Learn more about CAEDD.

CAPCOG honors Workman for regional efforts

Monday, January 23, 2017

Texas State Representative Paul Workman received CAPCOG’s 15th Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award honoring his commitment to working regionally on key issues.

Workman, whose district serves a portion of Travis County, was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2011, and he was among the first state representatives to join CAPCOG’s Executive Committee in 2012 as a nonvoting member. Workman has been an ally for the region during legislative sessions but he took the lead during the 2013 Legislative Session to introduce a bill that made CAPCOG the first COG to also be an emergency communications district.  The legislation, on which Senator Kirk Watson partnered with the companion bill that ultimately became law, released CAPCOG from state oversight of the region’s 9-1-1 program, ensuring all applicable 9-1-1 fees are available to fund emergency communications as directed by local officials.

Workman still serves on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee.

The regionalism award is named after former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chairman, and recognizes a person who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits and other organizations.

Texas State Representative Paul Workman accepts the  Jack Griesenbeck award from Williams County Commissioner and 2016 CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Long.

Texas State Representative Paul Workman accepts the  Jack Griesenbeck award from Williams County Commissioner and 2016 CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Long.

> Learn more about Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

Legislators discuss upcoming 85th Texas session

Friday, January 20, 2017

Four state legislators, who also served on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee for 2016, provided highlights of issues likely to get attention when the 85th Session starts; Representatives Paul Workman, Jason Isaac, Eddie Rodriguez, and John Cyrier commented on issues outlined by CAPCOG as well as other topics likely to see legislative action.

“The more you can educate us, the more we can educate other members,” Cyrier said answering a question about how local elected officials can help legislators understand the roles COGs play in supporting local governments. Representative Workman noted every legislator has a COG in their district, so it is important for them to know what issues COGs face.

Commissioner Cynthia Long, CAPCOG Chair, moderated the panel and directed questions to the legislators regarding several of CAPCOG’s programs funded by the state, acknowledging that it could be a tight budget year but it’s important to maintain funding levels for solid waste management, law enforcement training, and air quality monitoring work.

During the legislative session, CAPCOG makes an extra effort to keep local elected officials informed about legislative issues that could affect COGs’ programs and services that support local communities, so they can speak at public hearings or directly to legislators. CAPCOG also provides legislators with program related data about legislative issues when requested.

COGs and especially CAPCOG have a “great track record” of providing fact based data about their programs that benefit local governments, Cyrier said.  Such evidence goes a long way in educating legislators about an issue, Rodriguez added.

Long noted COGs can also be an existing mechanism to help the state with new programs. In 2003, Governor Perry made the decision to have the state’s 24 COGs manage homeland security planning. Long also opened the floor for questions.

Texas State Representatives Paul Workman, John Cyrier, Eddie Rodriguez and Jason Isaac discuss the 85th Texas legislative session during CAPCOG's December General Assembly Meeting.

Texas State Representatives Paul Workman, John Cyrier, Eddie Rodriguez and Jason Isaac discuss the 85th Texas legislative session during CAPCOG's December General Assembly Meeting.

In summarizing the discussion, each of the legislators joined in to list the key issues to be discussed during the 85th session:

  • The state budget
  • Ground water conservation and usage
  • The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan
  • Higher education and workforce training
  • Public education
  • Infrastructure
  • Food security
  • Child protective services

CAPCOG builds additional PSAP, office space

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CAPCOG’s current offices in southeast Austin will be expanded significantly in 2017 to allow the City of Austin’s back-up Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to double in size, add an adjoining PSAP to be used for back-up call taking by the other PSAPs throughout the ten-county region, and to expand the training center for emergency communications. The expansion adds 17,000 SF at the Bergstrom Tech Center on Burleson Road – projected completion of work is June 2017.

Adding the emergency communications space triggers changes for the rest of CAPCOG; the offices for the Area Agency on Aging/Aging and Disability Resource Center, Regional Services, Planning & Economic Development, and the Administrative Services Divisions will relocate to new space near the main entrance, an area formerly occupied by LCRA. The Aging Services offices will be at the front of this space allowing easier access by clients.

CAPCOG’s public safety divisions, Homeland Security, the Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA), and Emergency Communications, will stay in the current suite of office space but in new offices relocated within that space to make room for the PSAP expansions. RLEA will benefit by getting more training and storage space which will be across the hallway from its current location.

CAPCOG will be announcing some scheduling shifts in late February to accommodate the phased construction process – all the divisions moving to the new space in Suite 155 are expected to do so by March 5 which means all meetings for criminal justice, solid waste, air quality, economic development, transportation, aging, and GIS could be moved forward or back a week, according to Betty Voights, CAPCOG’s executive director, who added that all of the changes affecting our customers will be on our website by Feb. 1.

> Contact Betty Voights with any inquiries about the expansion work and relocation of offices.

New EPA program loans $1 billion for water projects

Monday, January 16, 2017
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made available about $1 billion in credit assistance for water infrastructure projects under the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

The program will provide long-term, low-cost credit assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to creditworthy water projects. WIFIA provides another option for financing large infrastructure projects – generally at least $20 million – in addition to the State Revolving Funds and the bond market. WIFIA is available to state, local, and tribal governments; private entities; partnerships; and State Revolving Fund programs. 
Some projects that WIFIA enables EPA to provide assistance for include:

  • drinking water treatment and distribution projects
  • wastewater conveyance and treatment projects
  • enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
  • desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling projects
  • drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects

EPA will evaluate projects using criteria such as the extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, helps maintain or protect public health or the environment, protects against extreme weather, and serves regions with significant water resource challenges. EPA will make selections on a competitive basis.

> Read more information about WIFA.

TWDB offers 2017 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2017 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants. Applications are due to the TWDB no later than noon Feb. 15, 2017.

The TWDB has up to $600,000 in grant funding available. Eligible grant categories this year include:

  • Agricultural water use monitoring equipment
  • Demonstration and technology transfer
  • Study of irrigation efficiency in Texas

> Review the request for applications.
> Read the application instructions.

For more information, contact Cameron Turner at 512-936-6090 or cameron.turner@twdb.texas.gov.

> Learn more about the Agricultural Water Conservation Grants Program.

CAPCOG hosts Criminal Justice grant workshops

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) is accepting applications from governmental and nonprofit organizations for four grant programs which anticipate distributing $8.5 million in the ten-county CAPCOG region during the 2018 fiscal year to improve victim services, reduce crime and increase public safety. Entities seeking 2018 funds must apply to the appropriate program by 5 p.m., Feb. 20, 2017.

They also must attend one of two grant writing workshops held by CAPCOG from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 12 and 13 at 6800 Burleson Road Building 310, Suite 165 in Austin. Each workshop will cover who is eligible to apply, eligible activities, application requirements, funding periods, regulations, certifications and other rules for the following CJD funding sources:

General Victim Assistance - Direct Services, about $7.2 million is available

Violent Crimes Against Women Criminal Justice and Training Projects, $385,851 is available

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, $430,979 is available

Justice Assistance Grant, $462,612 is available

> Register for the Jan. 12 workshop.
> Register for the Jan. 13 workshop.

Each year, CAPCOG works with regional stakeholders to develop or update a criminal justice strategic plan and funding priorities. Because of this planning, applications received, and CJD fund allocations developed in 2016, organizations in the region will receive about $3.4 million during FY 2017.

After the CJD deadline, CAPCOG’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee will conduct applicant scoring and prioritization meetings, scheduled for March 29 and 30.

> Check for grant updates.
> Contact Matt Holderread, criminal justice program specialist.

New Executive Committee to hold first 2017 meeting

Monday, January 09, 2017

CAPCOG’s new Executive Committee for 2017 will meet on Jan. 11 with five new committee members taking seats on the council of governments’ (COG) governing body after the December General Assembly elections. New to the committee are: Round Rock Council Member Frank Leffingwell, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales, San Marcos Council Member Jane Hughson, Smithville Council Member William Gordon, and Taylor Mayor Pro Tem Brandt Rydell.

The Executive Committee, which includes 25 city and county elected officials, conducts business for the COG regarding budgets, contracts, and general policies and procedures for operating the agency. The committee will also include three state legislators; returning from 2016 are Representatives Cyrier, Isaac, and Workman.

The Executive Committee convenes the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

> Find a complete list of CAPCOG's Executive Committee members.

Texas Silver-Haired Legislatures seeks election candidates

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) released its Notice to File for Candidacy earlier this month seeking older adults to serve the organization. Interested parties must complete and submit four required forms to the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area by Feb. 28, 2017 to file for the election.

The vision of TSHL is that applied wisdom, energy, and experience of aging will improve the lives of all Texans through education, knowledge and involvement in legislation and governmental affairs. TSHL is comprised of representatives across Texas who are 60 years of age or older elected by their peers. These legislators become directly involved in the state legislative process, working closely with Texas legislators during each legislative session. Currently, the Capital Area THSL District, which is the ten-county CAPCOG region, has six legislative positions available. 

> Download the Notice to File for Candidacy.
> Contact CAPCOG Aging Services Director Patty Bordie with applicant inquires and to request candidate forms.
> Learn more about the TSHL.

Text to 9-1-1 outreach gears up for service launch

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

As network connectivity testing for the Text to 9-1-1 service continues and the service prepares to launch in January or February, CAPCOG and its partners are completing several public outreach materials to be used region wide via social media and websites to educate residents about how and when to text 9-1-1.

Three Public Service Announcements (PSA) — two videos and an audio clip — are wrapping and will be available to distribute in late December, so they can go live with the region-wide launch of the Text to 9-1-1 service. These PSAs will include a brief, 30-second video and audio clip for airing on municipal access channels and possibly as radio and television commercials. A longer video, which provides a more robust explanation and demonstration of the services, was produced to be shared on social media and websites. A series of frequently asked questions about texting 9-1-1 and the service’s capabilities are already online at capcog.org/text911. The PSAs and other outreach materials also will be located at capcog.org/text911.

> Go to capcog.org/text911.

As Text to 9-1-1 outreach efforts get underway, it is important to remind residents that cellphone carriers provide texting services as a “best effort service” so a text message may not get delivered, and in an emergency residents should “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.”

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

Elgin Retail Trade Analysis helps local businesses

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division recently completed a retail trade analysis for the Elgin Economic Development Corporation (EDC) that will help the city identify business opportunities for local entrepreneurs and national corporations to meet residents’ retail needs.

At its core, the analysis studies Elgin’s retail trade supply and demand by evaluating where people who live in and around the city purchase their goods and services. The study also includes customer segmentation demographics for the same population as well as provides an economic overview, a general population demographic overview and a population growth forecast.

Municipalities such as Elgin can use a retail trade analysis to market commercial growth potential to local entrepreneurs and national big box stores by letting them know if their product or service is absent or in abundance in the area. This information is critically valuable for prospective retailers, as it helps to estimate potential market size for a new business. In particular, local and small businesses — those businesses without the resources to conduct market assessments on their own — stand to gain from community sponsored retail analyses like this one.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development director, about partnering with CAPCOG for a similar study or related economic development services.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Labor Study to focus on educating career possibilities

Monday, December 12, 2016

The first phase of a study outlining vital statistics about the ten-county region’s labor market was presented in November to the Capital Area Economic Development District board, the region’s only economic development organization that covers the entire Metropolitan Statistical Area plus the surrounding counties.

The study shows that the region’s unemployment rate is low, but there are pockets of unemployment throughout the region especially among low skilled workers. It also showed that a significant share of new jobs were created in industries that pay less than $40,000 a year; however, there are several higher paying occupations that may require some education, such as nursing and accounting, where employers are seeking a number of workers.

“There are clearly, in general terms, positive returns to education, but a lot of that depends on the type of degree or credentials you obtain,” said Chris Schreck, CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development director, who compiled the statistics. “The data shows we need to do more to support efforts to align education and skills development with in-demand occupations if we want to sustain economic growth in the region.” Many of the region’s education and workforce organizations are already championing this cause, but the CAEDD wants to provide further support.

The CAEDD study includes a compilation of statistics such as the region’s unemployment rate, an employment by industry cluster forecast, employment by occupation group, wages by occupation group, occupation supply gaps in the region, and occupation supply gaps by education attainment. The next step at the committee’s direction will be to condense the data into a more focused statement of key issues to help draw attention to critical workforce needs that span across the Capital Area.

> Review the first phase of the study.
> Read more about the Planning and Economic Development Division. 

TWDB seeks State Water Implementation Fund for Texas project applications

Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) opened the application period for the 2017 funding cycle of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program, which will accommodate about $500 million for projects in 2017 State Water plan.

“The first two cycles of funding through the SWIFT program were extremely successful, with the TWDB financing approximately $1.6 billion in state water plan projects,” said TWDB Board Chairman Bech Bruun. “In fact, our first SWIFT transaction was announced as the winner of the Bond Buyer's 2016 Southwest Region Deal of the Year in part because of the groundbreaking nature of the program. We are pleased to continue providing communities with this dedicated funding source.”

The TWDB is considering an important change for this cycle—the increase of subsidies offered for rural and agricultural projects. Preliminary projections indicate a subsidy level of up to 50 percent for loans. This year’s cycle will provide non-rural entities with interest subsidies that range from 16 to 35 percent depending upon the length of the loan and type of project.

The two-page preliminary SWIFT Program applications are due Feb. 3, 2017, and may be submitted via the TWDB’s online application or by paper copy.

> Submit an online application.

These applications provide information the TWDB needs to prioritize projects. Projects that receive priority for financial assistance will be invited to submit a full application, which will include a financial, legal, engineering, and environmental review.

> Learn more about the SWIFT program.
> Learn about the TWDB.
> Read TWDB’s full announcement about the SWIFT program.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Regional Services Division.

Regional homeland security exercise educates response crews

Monday, December 05, 2016

More than 30 local, state, federal, and private business emergency response agencies conducted an all hazards training exercise in early November to deploy specialized teams and equipment used in regional disaster response. The three-day event, which occurred in Lee and Travis counties, worked to improve communications, enhance partnerships and reinforce command protocols between agencies.

“Lee County and everyone involved learned some valuable takeaways from the exercise, and we all will be expanding on what we learned to continue to improve our disaster response,” said Delynn Peschke, Lee County Emergency Management Coordinator. It was the first time for the county to participate in a large scale exercise so pooling resources such as Austin Fire Department and Williamson County Hazardous Materials Response Team to work alongside the county’s volunteer firefighters demonstrated a higher level of training experience. “Training like this is invaluable for knowing what resources are available and how to facilitate their response,” Peschke said. “It also helps build relationships that strengthen communication and cooperation with other local jurisdictions and state agencies.”

Lee County hosted sites for mock incidents for two of the three days the training occurred. At the El Dorado Chemical Co. fertilizer plant in Giddings, emergency crews simulated responses to an explosion, an unexploded bomb, a hostage situation, radiation leaks, and hazardous chemical leaks. Hazardous material and mass fatality response also was simulated at City Park in Lexington.

Every scenario the teams practiced could occur somewhere in the region, said Marty Herrin, Chief of Williamson County’s Hazardous Materials Response Team who planned the exercise. Fortunately in most cases, training events are the only times specialty equipment such as a toxic chemical monitor gets used. It is critical that public safety personnel train using this equipment so when it is needed they know how it works.

Lee County also tested CAPCOG’s regional notification system that alerts residents of emergencies through phone calls, text messages and emails. Within 36 minutes, the system called, emailed and texted enough people to reach 81 percent of the households in Lee County, 64 percent of those notifications were answered. The system only contacts residents who have landline phones and those who self-registered cellphones and email addresses at WarnCentralTexas.org. “The notification system worked very well,” Peschke said. “In a real event, it is beneficial to know how fast these alerts can go out. It would be our primary way of delivering information in a real emergency.” Residents throughout the CAPCOG region can register their cellphone numbers and email addresses at WarnCentralTexas.org.

> Help spread the word about WarnCentralTexas.org.

CAPCOG has begun work on an after action report to provide greater insight on how emergency teams and command staff performed during the exercise. “The report will show us where we excelled and where our response can be improved,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “Training for disasters is a never ending process because every situation is a little different no matter how much you plan.” A debriefing meeting will occur Dec. 16 at CAPCOG, and the after action report should be completed in January. It will then help local governments develop a plan to improve their response.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

DPS, CAPCOG help policing agencies apply for NIBRS grant

Friday, December 02, 2016

More than $14 million is available through a state grant program to help Texas law enforcement agencies update their crime reporting system for submitting it to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). On Dec. 8, CAPCOG will host a National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) workshop where DPS staff will discuss the newer system’s benefits and how local agencies can apply for the grant’s funds.

The state has a goal for all local agencies to transition from the FBI’s Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the NIBRS by September 2019. NIBRS like its predecessor provides an aggregate tally of crimes, but it also helps derive circumstances and context for crimes. Crime reporting using NIBRS includes all offenses within a single incident and additional aspects about each event, such as location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.

During the first round of the grant program, the state awarded $1.8 million to Texas law enforcement agencies. The second application round opened Nov. 15, 2016 and will close Jan. 16, 2017.

> Register to attend the workshop.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.

CAPCOG puts accurate mapping in emergency responders’ palms

Monday, November 28, 2016

The CAPCOG region’s 9-1-1 County Addressing Coordinators are testing a brand new mobile application that lets emergency responders know they are responding to the correct location anywhere in the 10-county region. Developed by CAPCOG’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program with guidance from its GIS Planning Council, the Emergency Locator Map gives first responders the same mapping information as 9-1-1 call takers see on their screens when receiving a call.

“We wanted the data to be consistent across the platforms, especially in this case where we have the first responders communicating with the call takers,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS Program manager. “The data we are using for the Emergency Locator Map is the most authoritative 9-1-1 data available about the region.”

How first responders identify address locations differ from one local agency to another. In some cases, third-party mobile mapping applications are used while in others, they are reliant on printed map books. Both can be inaccurate and use outdated information, especially since commercial and residential growth is booming throughout the region. Often peace officers and emergency medical personnel manually draw new roadways and write street names in map books to update them, which may not be printed annually. The Emergency Locator Map uses CAPCOG’s 9-1-1 addressing and street centerline data which is updated monthly — adding new subdivisions, roadways and addresses routinely. “Going to the right location is paramount,” Eissler said also noting typing in the address on a smartphone could be faster than flipping pages of a book. “We are talking about emergency situations where lives and property could be at stake. Efficiency, accuracy, and consistency is what we’re trying to accomplish.”

CAPCOG has asked its stakeholders, including the 9-1-1 Addressing County Coordinators, the GIS Planning Council, and GIS and Maps User Group (a CAPCOG advisory committee and workgroup), to evaluate the application, provide quality assurance, and recommend possible enhancements. Once those improvements are made, first responders will be asked to test the mobile application in the field and provide real-world feedback. CAPCOG hopes to use the real-world feedback, so the Emergency Locator Map will become emergency responders’ first choice of methods to respond to a scene.

Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager, explains how the Emergency Locator Map app works during a meeting with stakeholders in October.

> Find future updates about the application and read more about the GIS program.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.
 

Ozone impact analysis earns national honor

Monday, November 21, 2016

CAPCOG earned a National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) 2016 Innovation Award in October for evaluating the cost of economic development opportunities in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) if the area fails to meet national air quality ozone standards.

The project entitled “The Potential Costs of an Ozone Nonattainment Designation to Central Texas”, estimated the economic impact between $24 and $41 billion from 2018 through 2046 if this region’s ozone levels fell outside the EPA’s acceptable standards and triggered onerous regulatory consequences. CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program and the Planning and Economic Development Division collaborated on the project for which a final report was released in September 2015.

NADO, based in Washington, DC, promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies. Its Innovation Awards recognize regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness.

Chris Schreck, Planning and Economic director, and Andrew Hoekzema, Regional Services director, stand next to NADO Innovation Awards received by CAPCOG. Their  work earned CAPCOG its 10th Innovation Award.

Chris Schreck, Planning and Economic director, and Andrew Hoekzema, Regional Services director, stand next to NADO Innovation Awards received by CAPCOG. Their  work earned CAPCOG its 10th Innovation Award.

> Read the report.
> Learn about the Air Quality Program.
> Learn about the Planning and Economic Division.

Legislators to discuss priorities at General Assembly

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The 85th Texas Legislature starts in January, but before it begins, State Legislators from the CAPCOG region will provide insight into the upcoming session at the CAPCOG General Assembly Meeting being held at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 14, 2016, at the Omni SouthPark Hotel, 4140 Governors Row in Austin. General Assembly Representatives also will elect the 2017 Executive Committee.

After the meeting, CAPCOG will offer an elected officials workshop covering the Texas Public Information and Open Meetings Acts. The workshop will provide an engaging training experience for newly elected officials, who require the training within 90 days of taking office. It also may serve as a valuable interactive update for veteran elected officials.

> RSVP for the General Assembly and the workshop.

General Assembly Representatives can contact Mason Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator, to receive a code for a complimentary lunch at the meeting or to attend the workshop for free.

Hoekzema takes reins of Regional Services

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Andrew Hoekzema stepped into a new role as CAPCOG Regional Services Director Oct. 1. As the agency’s former Air Quality Program Manager, Hoekzema will continue to manage the air quality program, but also will supervise the solid waste program and other environmental and natural resource issues for the region.

Hoekzema joined CAPCOG’s Regional Services Division in 2010 as an air quality program specialist and was promoted to program manager in 2013. During his tenure, Hoekzema has increased the program’s profile and expanded the region’s air quality efforts, including serving on EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, presenting at the EPA’s 2015 International Emissions Inventory Conference, authoring an award-winning report on the potential economic costs of non-compliance with federal air quality standards, and securing an EPA Clean Air Excellence Award for the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition. Before joining CAPCOG, Hoekzema worked in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality and Small Business and Environmental Assistance Divisions.

Kelly Claflin, a 9-year veteran of CAPCOG, also was promoted in October to Information Technology Services director. Claflin takes over as CAPCOG embarks on a 50,000-square-foot facility expansion/renovation for its offices, law enforcement academy, and regional 9-1-1 center and will oversee design and installation of all support systems for security, phones, IT, audio visual and training systems, and all digital equipment.

CJD announces $16 million available for policing agencies

Friday, November 11, 2016
Source: Office of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) will open two funding opportunities on Nov. 15, 2016 for law enforcement agencies — one for body cameras and digital video storage, and the other for upgrading crime reporting systems. The grant process will run concurrently closing Jan. 16, 2017. 

This is the second round for the funding opportunities’ grant process and applications must be submitted through eGrants. While CJD will be making slight changes to the request for applications, interested agencies can review the previous year’s request.

> Review the final request of applications starting Nov. 15, 2016.

About the grants

The Body Warn Camera Program will provide funding for cameras worn by frontline officers, digital video storage, and systems for the retrieval and service of the video and equipment. About $2.2 million is available through the Body Worn Camera program with a 20 percent match required for funding. Municipal police departments and county sheriff’s offices are eligible to apply. Agencies that received funding during the first round are eligible for second round funding, but preference may be given to first time applicants.

> Read the previous request for applications.
> Get more information about applying in this year’s grant process.

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Program will make about $14 million available to assist agencies in switching from the FBI’s Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the NIBRS. While SRS provides an aggregate monthly tally of crimes, NIBRS provides circumstances and context for crimes. Its reporting includes all offenses within a single incident and additional aspects about each event, such location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.

> Read the previous request for applications.
> Get more information about applying in this year’s grant process.
> Sign up for the CAPCOG NIBRS workshop on Dec. 8, 2016.

Costs associated with NIBRS and body worn cameras are not eligible through the Justice Assistance Grant Program or any other CJD funding source. 

> Contact Matt Holderread, CAPCOG criminal justice program specialist, for more information or questions about these funding opportunities.
> Read more about CAPCOG’s Criminal Justice Program.

TCEQ extends bus grant application deadline

Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program extended the application deadline for the Texas Clean School Bus (TCSB) Program to 5 p.m. Dec. 15, 2016. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

More than $5.9 million in grant funds are available to cover the cost of retrofitting diesel-powered school buses with emission-reduction devices to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.

School buses remain the safest way to transport children, and their diesel engines are both durable and economical. However, the Texas Education Agency reports more than 40 percent of the school buses in local fleets are more than 10 years old. In the years since these vehicles were purchased, several advancements in vehicle and engine technology have helped reduce emissions from school buses.

The TCSB Program may make funding available to help school districts when purchasing and installing emissions reduction technologies such as diesel particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, and crankcase filters. School districts located in designated counties also may qualify for funding to replace existing school buses with newer, lower-emitting buses through one of several grants from TERP.

> Apply for the TCSB Grant.

Applications submitted using application forms from previous TCSB grant rounds will not be accepted. Eligible applicants must be a public school district or charter school in the state of Texas that operate diesel-powered school buses on a daily route to and from schools.

> Read the TCSB Grant flier for more details.
> Learn about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG hosts first-ever Air Quality Awards ceremony

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) hosted its first ever Air Central Texas (ACT) Awards in San Marcos on Nov. 4, 2017 to celebrate organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to regional air quality in Central Texas and to promote future action to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Texas State Representative Donna Howard (Dist. 48 – Austin) delivered the keynote speech at the ceremony at which former Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison, the Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA), and Tom “Smitty” Smith from Public Citizen won awards.

Former Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ronald Morrison posthumously received the 2016 ACT Public Sector Award for his longtime service and leadership on the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition and the Clean Air Force of Central Texas. Capital Metro and the City of Cedar Park were also nominated for the Public Sector Award.

The LSCFA received the 2016 Air Central Texas Private/Nonprofit Sector Award for their role in cleaning the air through various projects such as migrating vehicles to alternative fuels, converting much of the booming landscaping industry in Texas to propane mowers, and development of alternative fuel infrastructure. Texas Lehigh Cement Company and the Beyond Coal campaign were also nominated for the Private/Nonprofit Sector Award.

Tom “Smitty” Smith received the 2016 Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award for his work as the Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office since 1985, where he organized efforts that lead to the development of the renewable energy boom across Texas and the Texas Emission Reduction Program — both reduced air pollution in the Central Texas area and other parts of the state. This award is named in honor of CAPCOG’s former Air Quality Program Manager Bill Gill, who worked on air quality throughout his career and was instrumental in the establishment and success of the region’s air quality program. Former City of Austin and CAPCOG employee Fred Blood was also nominated for this award.

> Find more information about the 2016 Air Central Texas Awards and photos.
> Read about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program.
 

Voights leads Southwest Regional Executive Directors Association

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Southwest Region Executive Directors Association (SWREDA) in October elected CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights as the chair of the association’s board of directors. SWREDA spans Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas and works to advance regional issues, to develop professional improvement activities and training, and to advocate for a regional approach to economic and community development planning.

As the SWREDA chair, Voights will help spearhead a cooperative initiative with the National Association of Development Organizations, an association that advocates for regional planning and development organization related issues, to provide comprehensive and practical best-practices training for emerging leaders and staff of economic development districts and regional planning organizations between 2016 and 2019.

Voights, who has served as CAPCOG’s Executive Director since 1996, also chairs the economic development committee for the National Association of Regional Councils and serves as a Texas Manufacturing Assistance Centers board member. She was the Director of Business Development under Governor George Bush prior to joining CAPCOG staff.

> Learn more about NADO.

Data builds bridge to flood resiliency

Monday, October 24, 2016

Damage assessment data from the 2015 Memorial Day Flood was presented to city of San Marcos staff in September as part of CAPCOG’s project to analyze disaster impacts and plan for regional resiliency. CAPCOG staff plans to present information to the region’s governments affected by the disaster throughout the end of the calendar year. The project, funded by the Economic Development Administration, focuses on the use of damage assessment data to inform local governments’ efforts to mitigate the impacts of future flooding and disaster events.

The data came from a variety of sources including damage estimates from the Small Business Administration, FEMA, other state and federal agencies, and HAZUS — software that models flood events and estimates damages. Having the multiple source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data can assist governments and residents in determining what homes and businesses may exist in future flood plains, what properties and their structures may suffer from significant repetitive losses, and when and where infrastructure improvements may be most economical for a resident, business owner or city.

Moving forward, CAPCOG will make the information available to planners as it works collaboratively with its member governments to research and create better flood resiliency plans.

> Learn about CAPCOG’s GIS program.
> Read more about CAPCOG's Planning and Economic Development Division.

Air quality outreach goes digital

Friday, October 21, 2016

CAPCOG launched a new online air quality campaign in September to help protect Central Texas residents from air pollution. While the region is in compliance with federal air quality standards, it can still have several days a year when air quality is still considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The campaign includes a new “Air Central Texas” website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and electronic advertising designed to encourage residents to “Be Air Aware,” including tips on reducing emissions and exposure.

More than 1,000 residents visited the website in the last month, and CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is routinely posting new air quality information on the social media accounts. CAPCOG expects to launch a Spanish-language version of the website in the next few weeks.

The Twitter bird logo linking to the Air Central Texas twitter page.

Find us on Facebook link. 

> Check out the new website.
> "Like” the campaign on Facebook at facebook.com/AirCentralTexas/.  
> Follow it on Twitter @AirCentralTexas.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Bordie leads AAACAP with passion

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Taking the helm of the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a CAPCOG division, is completing a lifelong goal and dream for Patty Bordie. Her 30 year career of advocating for older adults on a local, regional and state level has been driven by her love for the age group, and now as the AAACAP director, she will continue her work at a higher capacity.

“I did my college internship at an (Area Agency on Aging), and right away I said that is where I want to be,” Bordie said. “AAACAP’s work really is a grassroots regional approach to meeting the needs of the community, and when I got into the field, there wasn’t a lot of people speaking up for older adults. I wanted to be someone who was.”

During her career, Bordie has provided advocacy, education and resources for older adults. From 1999 to 2008, she worked at AAACAP, and from 2008 to 2015, she worked for Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Bordie returned to CAPCOG in 2015 as AAACAP’s program manager for Care Coordination and Caregiver Support before her promotion in September.

Bordie wants to continue AAACAP’s great work but also looks forward to expanding the agency’s services by developing new programs and strengthening community partnerships to meet the needs of the growing population.

> Learn more about AAACAP.

TCEQ grant available, CAPCOG funds application help

Monday, October 17, 2016

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications for the Emission Reduction Incentive Grant (ERIG) program, which funds the upgrade or replacement of trucks and non-road equipment in order to accelerate the emission reduction benefits from newer, cleaner engines. CAPCOG will assist Clean Air Coalition (CAC) members in applying to the grant program.

The deadline to submit applications is 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

This program is the largest source of NOX reductions within our region – even more than the vehicle inspection and maintenance programs in Travis and Williamson counties. It is also one of the most cost-effective air pollution control strategies available.

CAPCOG has contracted with Hazel Barbour, who is an expert in the program, to assist CAC members with applying for these grants. If would like to avail yourself of this assistance, contact her directly at 512-236-8498 or by email.

CAPCOG budgeted the contract to make about four hours of this assistance available to each CAC member for this grant opportunity. If your organization needs additional assistance, contact CAPCOG Regional Services Director, Andrew Hoekzema.

> Contact Andrew Hoekzema.

Austin-Round Rock area organizations have received significant funding from this program during the last two grant rounds. It is CAPCOG’s goal to help ensure the region gets as much funding assistance for these projects as possible.

Applications submitted from previous ERIG grant rounds will not be accepted.

Eligible CAPCOG counties include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.

> Get a grant applications form.
> Learn more about other TCEQ air quality grants.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

ERIG Workshops

Grant application workshops and dealer trainings have been scheduled to provide an overview of the ERIG application process.

The ERIG program has several new changes this year. Please plan to attend a workshop to learn more about new program requirements and new grant application forms. 
All workshops are free and no registration is required. 

Austin
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ, Building F, Conference Room 2210
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

Longview
2-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 
Longview Public Library, Moeschile Meeting Room
222 W. Cotton St. 
Longview, TX  75601

El Paso
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ Region 6, El Paso, Video-Teleconference Room
401 E. Franklin Ave, Ste. 560
El Paso, TX 79901-1212

Corpus Christi
2-5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016
TCEQ Region 14, Conference Room 1003
Carlos Truan Natural Resources Center 
6300 Ocean Dr., #5839 
Corpus Christi, TX 78412

San Antonio
Dealer workshop: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Applicant: 1:30- 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Alamo Area Council of Governments, Al Notzon Board Room
8700 Tesoro
San Antonio, TX 78217

Houston
Dealer: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Applicant: 1:30-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
En Espanol: 5:30 -7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Tracy Gee Community Center, Room AR-1
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

Beaumont
1:30-4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016
Southeast Regional Planning Commission, Transportation Conference Room
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX 77703

Arlington
8:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Regional Forum Room
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

State of the Region: use momentum to tackle challenges!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The 2016 State of the Region presentation compared popular conceptions against realities to convey the region’s strengths and discuss challenging issues in the areas of population growth, job growth, transportation, land use, development and more.

“We have a lot of positive momentum in our region,” said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck presenting the 2016 State of the Region. “The challenge for us is to identify how to best use that momentum to tackle some of the challenges that still remain.”

The region’s continual growth is a healthy economic statistic as it “zoomed past 2 million,” and shows no signs of slowing with about 50,000 people coming to the area per year, Schreck said. According to popular narrative, the majority of the new residents are young, millennial-hipsters, but more accurately those new residents could be “hipster-grandmothers”, he said. The largest growing demographic by percentage is people 60 to 74, whose population doubled in the last 10 years.

There are several positive trends for job and employment growth, such as advanced industries employment growing by about 40,000 jobs since 2005; however, of the 1.05 million jobs in the Capital Area, 58 percent are in occupations where people make less than $20 per hour on average. “In our region we don’t have an unemployment problem. Our problem is that many folks can work a fulltime job and still be incredibly financially stretched,” Schreck said.

Travis County is still the region’s employment epicenter, which caused about 315,000 workers to commute into the county from elsewhere as of 2014. The increasing traffic continues to congest the already stressed transportation infrastructure which is costly to expand. Developing more employment centers throughout the region, and encouraging telecommuting can help traffic and improve air quality.

The region’s environmental quality, affordability and equity, and disaster resiliency are other areas Schreck addressed in the presentation.

> Review the 2016 State of the Region.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Division.
> Read other Planning and Economic Division Publications.
 

Training, partnership, communication are lessons from mass shootings

Friday, October 07, 2016

Speakers from Orlando, Aurora, and Chattanooga sit on a panel during the

Public officials from Orlando, Aurora, Chattanooga, Austin and Dallas discussed the important roles training, establishing partnerships and communicating play when responding to mass shooter incidents during CAPCOG’s “Crisis Challenge, the Leadership Role,” a critical incident workshop held in September.

City of Orlando Chief Administrator, Byron Brooks, talks about the city's response to the Pulse Night Club shooting.

Training on a regional, organizational and an individual scale is a great investment for communities when it comes to responding to disasters, according to the speakers discussing how their police, emergency medical and other personnel responded to mass shooting incidents. When it comes to running mass training exercises, there may never be an incident exactly the same as a planned exercise, but routinely running them can identify response gaps, better establish command roles and create an instinct style of response. “My job is to make sure the first time we do something is not the first time we do something,” said Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga police chief. He and his officers responded to the July 2015 shooting that killed four Marines and one Navy sailor. The incident spanned about 7 miles.

Orlando routinely plans for hurricanes, said Byron Brooks, city of Orlando chief administrative officer, during the workshop. The Pulse Nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people in June 2016, was a different type of event, but city-run emergency exercises had built an organizational wide culture where non-emergency departments knew they would have to respond to meet the community’s needs. For example, Orlando’s parks department responded quickly to support the community’s response by turning a senior center into a family reunification center.

> Read the workshop's agenda.
> View the speaker's biographies.

During the Crisis Challenge: the Leadership Role,Training personnel regularly leads to a better understanding of when to act, when to follow protocol and develops trust. “Train people to make decisions,” said James Puscian, Aurora assistant police chief. During the July 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, which killed twelve and injured 70 others, several police officers realized there weren’t enough ambulances to transport the wounded who needed immediate care, so they used squad cars to take victims to nearby hospitals. Those officers’ actions saved lives, Puscian said. “Training makes it muscle memory,” said Tony Reavley, Director of Hamilton County Emergency Services in Tennessee who responded to the Chattanooga shooting. “It pays off.”

Sana Syed, City of Dallas public information officer, discusses the city's response to shooting that occurred in July 2016. Syed was one of several speakers who spoke during the

The partnerships developed during regional training and planning exercises made the Hamilton County departments’ role clear when responding to the Chattanooga shooting. “We were there to help them, and we wanted to make sure that they had the stuff they needed,” Reavley said. Hamilton County established the Emergency Operations Center, investigated other possible related incidents, helped manage the media, and assisted in organizing other agencies response to the incident, which included state police, the Navy, the Marines, the FBI and many other organizations. They also planned and coordinated security at several large related and un-related events happening in Chattanooga including two funerals, a vice-presidential visit, and a sold out U.S. Women’s soccer game. Those actions let the Chattanooga Police Department continue its investigation and management of the incident scenes. “If you don’t have a relationship with your peer agencies, it is going to affect your plan,” Fletcher said.

Sharing accurate and timely information with the public and the media is another important tool to aid in a community’s physical and emotional recovery from a mass shooting, said Sana Syed, city of Dallas public information officer; and April Michael, city of Orlando Communications Manager. Communicating what has happened, how and where people can grieve, and the incident’s effects on the community reminds residents that communities are resilient and stronger than any tragedy.

“At the end of the day, we are working together to protect the community,” said Frank Dixon, Austin Police Department Assistant Chief. That protection is born from constant learning, training, and sharing of information from people who have experienced disasters. Those who attended the “The Crisis Challenge” took a great step in preparing for a disaster. “The more you sweat here, the more you sweat during exercises, the less blood you have on your hands,” said John Jones, Assistant Director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as one of the openers of the conference.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

John Jones, Assistant Director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, opens the

Text to 9-1-1 enters testing: get familiar with texting 9-1-1

Friday, September 23, 2016

Text to 9-1-1 is one step closer to being implemented in the Capital Area as testing for the service’s delivery and receiving networks begins in October. After testing is completed and the system is switched on, residents will be able to send a text message for emergency assistance if they are unable to speak on the phone. CAPCOG anticipates the service will be available by January 2017.

It is recommended that residents only text 9-1-1 when making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. Residents should follow the guidance of the national slogan for Text to 9-1-1, and “Call if you can, text if you can’t” as the service has more limitations. For instance, cell phone carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint only offer texting services as a “best effort service” meaning they do not guarantee delivery of text messages. 9-1-1 call centers can’t receive text messages sent via a group message or that have an emoji, video, or picture. There also isn’t translation services for text messages, so text messages must be sent in English.

Below are some frequently asked questions to help residents be more aware of using Text to 9-1-1 when it is available in the 10-county region.

What is Text to 9-1-1?
Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send text messages from a U.S. phone number to local 9-1-1 call centers. Only use Text to 9-1-1 if making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. This service is especially beneficial to those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Some other examples of when Text to 9-1-1 would be beneficial:

  • The caller cannot speak due to a threat, illness or medical condition.
  • The caller has poor reception and can only send out a text message.
  • Phone lines and cellphone towers are overwhelmed and only  texts can get through.

Is Text to 9-1-1 available to me?
Text to 9-1-1 is planned for Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Remember to “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.”
Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be made available in three separate phases:

  • Hays, Williamson and Travis counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
  • Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell and Fayette counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
  • Burnet, Blanco and Llano counties are projected to start testing the system in November 2016.

Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be fully operational in the 10-county region by January 2017. An online version of this FAQ will be updated as timelines change and the systems come online. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have agreed to offer Text to 9-1-1 in the region.

What are Text to 9-1-1 limits?
Text messaging is a “best effort service” provided by cellphone service providers; meaning cellphone service providers do not guarantee a message will be or ever was delivered. Since the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t required them to guarantee the service, there is a chance that a 9-1-1 call center will not receive a text from a person having an emergency.
Text messages also can take longer to receive, can be delivered out of order or may not be received. Additionally, Text to 9-1-1 does not work if the sender texts using a group message, emojis, sends pictures or videos. Apps that text other app users (such as WhatsApp) or texting via social media (such as Facebook Messenger) do not support Text to 9-1-1.

What languages can be used?
Text to 9-1-1 is only available in English. However, voice calls to 9-1-1 can be processed in multiple languages because all CAPCOG 9-1-1 call centers provide emergency interpretive services.

How do I know a 9-1-1 call center received my text?
Since texting is a “best effort service” for  cellphone service providers, the only way to know a text reached a 9-1-1 call center is when the center texts back. If you believe a text was not received, call 9-1-1.

Why is it better to call 9-1-1?
Voice calls to 9-1-1 are the most efficient way to reach emergency help. That’s why the slogan for the service is “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.” Voice calls allow the 9-1-1 operator to quickly obtain information. Anyone can make a voice call to 9-1-1 using any wireless phone, regardless of the contract or plan.
Disadvantages of texting 9-1-1 include:

  • Texting takes more time and is limited to the text messages.
  • Texting is a best effort service. In some instances cellphone service providers may not relay the message from sender to the 9-1-1 center.
  • A person cannot text to 9-1-1 without a service contract that includes texting.
  • Texting to 9-1-1 does not automatically provide the location of the phone texting.

How do I Text to 9-1-1?

  1. Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.
  2. The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed.
  3. Push the send button.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  5. Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.
  6. Keep text messages brief and concise.
  7. Once you have initiated a Text to 9-1-1 conversation, do not turn off your phone until the dispatcher tells you it is ok to do so.

> Read just this FAQ or download it.
> Read an overview FAQ about the Text to 9-1-1 service.
> Learn more about CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
 

Upgrade enhances virtual EOC

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WebEOC is a virtual, real-time incident management software that allows for data flow and multijurisdictional communications. It helps jurisdictions organize and assign tasks to team members during disasters and alerts other jurisdictions of neighboring and regional incidents. CAPCOG’s new upgrades will ensure increased accessibility, better user interface, and a more resilient cloud-based infrastructure that will enhance the tool’s capabilities and strengthen local emergency management coordinators (EMCs) organizational control of disaster incidents as they occur and after they happen. It also will allow their municipalities and counties to record valuable information that can assist in submitting for disaster recovery funding.

It also can help allocate local, state, and federal resources. The tool documents every action taken through the system providing an exact record of response and recovery, which speeds up applying for state and federal disaster recovery aid.

Because of the new user interface, the system allows its users to see all their operational boards at a glance and prompts them with tasks and missions assigned to them. The upgrade includes sub-administrator accounts allowing local jurisdictions to setup user groups and grant response teams to get faster access to the tool during incidents. A move to the cloud hosting also means the system can remain online and in use by EMCs regardless if an incident occurs in the Austin area.

CAPCOG is rolling out the upgraded version across the region and will continue to work with EMCs to support and enhance the system. WebEOC training occurs monthly.

> Learn more about WebEOC.
> Discover the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Attend a WebEOC training course.

Availability of diabetes self-management course expands

Monday, September 19, 2016

A new partnership will aid the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) in providing the Stanford Diabetes Self-Management Program to more underserved populations. The new funding opportunity increases AAACAP’s, a division of CAPCOG, capacity to conduct these evidence-based classes throughout the region. To expand the program, AAACAP is seeking communities to host the peer-group program.

Nearly one-third of people who are 65 or older have diabetes, which is a common cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and stroke. To help prevent such medical issues from occurring to older Americans, TMF Health Quality Institute partnered with CAPCOG to provide the self-management program to Medicare beneficiaries who are 60 or older and are considered a special target population for diabetes education: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and rural residents.

This self-management program is proven to help diabetes patients better manage the disease by teaching techniques and exercises to manage pain, maintain and improve strength, eat heathier, work with health care providers and identify appropriate medication use. The program has improved the quality of life for many participants and reduced emergency room and hospital visits; a benefit to the individual and the health care system. According to TMF, people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on health care than people without the disease.

> To request a diabetes self-management program in your community, contact Michelle Davis.

Workshops are held one day a week for 2-2 ½ hours during a six week period.

> Read more about AAACAP.
> Discover other Health and Wellness Programs.

Nominations open for Executive Committee, Regionalism award

Monday, September 12, 2016

County and city elected officials interested in serving on the 2017 CAPCOG Executive Committee should submit their nominations before Sept. 30  by using the forms they will receive in the mail after Sept. 9. The 29-member committee serves as CAPCOG’s governing body providing direction to staff on program implementation, budgets, contracts and general policies and procedures. It also serves as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District’s board of managers.

Twenty-five Executive Committee positions are for county and city officials, the remaining four seats are for state legislators representing any portion of CAPCOG’s 10-county region. City and county officials must serve as their jurisdictions’ General Assembly representative to qualify for the Executive Committee. Their jurisdiction must also have paid their dues by Dec. 1 before being elected at the December General Assembly meeting.

> For more information about the election process read CAPCOG’s bylaws.
> Submit Executive Committee nominations to Michelle Mooney.

Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award

CAPCOG also is soliciting nominations for this year’s Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award. Named for CAPCOG's first chairman in 1970 and the former Bastrop County Judge, the award recognizes a person who consistently advocates for regionalism and takes a multijurisdictional approach when working with local governments, nonprofits and other organizations.

> Get the Griesenbeck nomination form (.pdf).
> Download the Griesenbeck nomation form (.docx).
> Griesenbeck award nominations should be submitted to Mason Canales by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4.

CAPCOG’s Basic Peace Officer Course graduates 14

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Led by instructors from Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, 14 cadets trained nights and weekends to earn their peace officer certification and graduate from a seven-month, CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) course on Aug. 19. Several graduating officers were hired by the Travis County Constable’s Precinct 2 office; Williamson County and Llano County sheriff’s offices; and Lago Vista, Austin Community College, and Bertram police departments.

Two RLEA Basic Peace Officers Courses are underway. A full-time, day course at CAPCOG started Aug. 8, and a part-time, evening course will officially begin in Pflugerville Sept. 6. The enrolled cadets will graduate on Jan. 20 and April 14, 2017 respectively.

> Read more about peace officer courses.
> Discover CAPCOG's RLEA.

CAPCOG to present Annual State of the Region

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Perception versus reality will be this year’s theme for the State of the Region report to be presented by Chris Schreck, Planning & Economic Development Director, at the General Assembly meeting September 14, 2016. What we think is happening and what gets reported is not always the whole picture when it comes to issues related to traffic, population growth, and the economy. CAPCOG, a regional economic development district by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, focuses on planning and policy issues that impact the region’s economic competitiveness and provide data and GIS mapping support to its member governments and stakeholder organizations.

Discover how this woman relates to Capital Area trends at the General Assembly meeting.

> General Assembly Representatives can register to attend.

GIS mapping service heightens cities, counties’ capabilities

Monday, August 15, 2016

CAPCOG’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program, part of the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division, wants to support cities and counties’ planning capabilities by offering mapping services throughout the region.

“Every community needs to know where their assets and resources are to make better informed and smarter planning decisions,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager. “Maps containing basic layers can set a foundation that allows planners and community leaders to best serve the community and plan effectively.”

CAPCOG’s mapping services can provide standard maps with information important to the daily management of a community’s services and development which include zoning, parcels, floodplains, utilities, and other basic layers of information. Add-on data if beneficial can include economic and demographic data, aerial imagery, ETJs, and current and future land-use zones as well as existing and planned infrastructure networks. GIS mapping allows multiple types of information to be viewed interactively to allow analyses of residential and commercial growth, response time for emergency calls, and support general planning functions. CAPCOG can assist cities and counties by creating a starting point or expanding their current map sets that can translate into printed, digital or interactive maps. The CAPCOG GIS program also can assist communities with map presentations for leadership, residents and developers to market the community or track development opportunities.

> Communities interested in using CAPCOG’s GIS Program’s mapping services should contact Eissler.
> Read more about the GIS program.

CAPCOG General Assembly set for Sept. 14

Friday, August 12, 2016

The September General Assembly meeting will mark the start of a new fiscal year as CAPCOG member representatives consider the proposed $32.7 million budget. The other primary duty of the membership is to select the new nominating committee that will recommend the 2017 Executive Committee for elections at the  December General Assembly. The meeting and luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m., Sept. 14, at the Omni Hotel Southpark, 4140 Governors Row in Austin. CAPCOG Member Services Coordinator Mason Canales will begin receiving nominations for the Executive Committee in mid-September; eligible candidates are elected city and county officials who serve on the General Assembly.

Following the September meeting, the Texas Comptroller’s Office and the Texas Association of School Boards will lead a two-hour, Procurement and Cooperative Purchasing Workshop for local elected officials. The workshop will cover procurement best practices and explain how joining cooperative purchasing groups can benefit cities, counties, school districts and other local jurisdictions. Representatives from purchasing cooperatives such as BuyBoards, Purchasing Solution Alliance, and TxSmartBuy will discuss the advantages of joining their cooperatives and the types of purchasing in which they specialize.

> RSVP for the General Assembly meeting.
> Register for the Procurement and Cooperative Purchasing workshop.
> Learn more about the General Assembly.

General Assembly Representatives will receive a complimentary lunch during the meeting and representatives of CAPCOG members can attend the workshop for free.

> Contact Canales at mcanales@capcog.org to receive the discount codes.

Funds available for alternative fuel, natural gas fueling stations

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) made available about $17.7 million in grants to continue the development of a network of natural gas and other alternative fuel fueling stations to serve as a foundation for a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel vehicles in the state. 

About $9.8 million is available for projects under the Clean Transportation Triangle (CTT) and $7.9 million is being offered under the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP). The 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 eligible Texas counties, which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson counties for the CTT program.
 
The grants offset a portion of the cost for the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels, or the substantial reconstruction of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels. Eligible fuels for the CTT program include compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Eligible alternative fuels for the AFFP include biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, propane, and electricity. 
 
TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m., Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
 
Three application workshops are scheduled to review the grants’ requirements and application process. 

  • AUSTIN: 1:30 p.m., Sept. 13, 2016
    TCEQ's Austin Office Building F, 2nd Floor, Room 2210
    12100 Park 35 Circle
    Austin, TX 78753
  • HOUSTON: 1:30 p.m., Sept. 14, 2016
    Houston-Galveston Area Council
    3555 Timmons, Suite 120
    Houston, TX 77027 
  • ARLINGTON: 1:30 p.m., Sept. 15, 2016
    North Central Texas Council of Governments
    616 Six Flags Drive
    Arlington, TX 76011 

> RSVP to Camen Gupta, TCEQ Program Coordinator. 
> Read more about or apply for the grants.
> Learn about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
 

Leaders share response experiences to mass shootings

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Community leaders from Dallas; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Aurora, Colo. will share their firsthand experience in responding to and recovering from mass shooting incidents as part of a CAPCOG Homeland Security Division conference. “The Crisis Challenge: the Leadership Role in Terrorism and Mass Shooting Incidents” conference will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16 at the Omni Hotel Southpark, 4140 Governors Row in Austin.

“By bringing together leaders who have handled these tragic events, CAPCOG is providing a learning experience that can help our community leaders be more successful in building a public safety team and environment that is successful at preventing, planning for, and responding to similar incidents,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security Division director. “Hopefully, these types of incidents never happen in the Capital Area, but we all should be prepared if they do.”

Conference attendees will hear from practitioners including George K. “Skip” Noe, the Aurora Colo. city manager who responded to the July 2012, theater shooting that killed 12 and injured 70 residents. Chattanooga Police Chief, Fred Fletcher, and Hamilton County, Tenn. Emergency Services and Homeland Security Director, Earl “Tony” Reavley, will discuss the response to the July 2015 shooting that crossed Chattanooga and left five Marines dead. Dr. Jeremi Suri, a Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, will serve as a key note speaker addressing topics such as international security and protest and dissident movements. Also speaking at the conference will be John Jones, Texas Department of Public Safety’s assistant director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism.

> Register to attend the conference.

Seating is limited and priority will be given to mayors, county judges, and city managers representing CAPCOG’s 10-county region.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Striking a Balance gives caregivers learning, sharing experience

Friday, August 05, 2016

One of the Austin area’s largest conferences for family and nonprofessional caregivers will return for its 15th year to provide Central Texas residents with valuable information about support resources that assist caregivers in caring for their loved ones and themselves. “Striking a Balance” will take place Aug. 20 at the Doubletree by Hilton, 6505 North Interstate Highway 35 in Austin. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with the keynote speaker beginning at 9:30 a.m. Other conference activities will continue until 2 p.m.

AGE of Central Texas and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, host “Striking a Balance” so attendees can learn about local, state and national resources to address the practical, emotional, legal, and financial supports family caregivers need. “Caregiving is a journey unique to each individual,” said Patricia Bordie, a CAPCOG AAACAP program manager. “It is a journey that doesn’t have clear ups and downs or beginnings, middles and ends.” “Striking a Balance” is a conference where family caregivers can come to get answers about all stages and aspects of caregiving but more importantly know they aren’t alone.

> Discover AGE of Central Texas.

About 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care for adults who are 50 or older. Among those Americans is Cara Magrane, a longtime advocate for caregivers, who is delivering this year’s keynote address, “A Caregiver’s Journey: from Advocacy to Caregiving and Back.” Magrane is the chief operating officer for Respite Care of San Antonio and serves on many boards that advocate for caregiving, especially caregiving for children. But her caregiving experience became personal after her husband suffered a stroke. Magrane’s speech will detail her caregiving experience and highlight the importance of asking for help, using respite care, and sharing your story to raise public awareness.

“For decades, I was the navigator for families, then suddenly, I found myself the person in need of direction and assurance,” Magrane said. “It has been a humbling few years, moving from sympathy to empathy; knowing I had not practiced what I had been preaching. I hope all caregivers truly hear that they have permission to take a break; to take care of themselves first. I hope they understand by sharing their story — their journey — with others, they are increasing awareness and demystifying what respite is and how valuable it is to our communities.”

AAACAP and AGE of Central Texas hope Magrane’s story won’t be the only one shared during “Striking a Balance.” When the conference first started, it was thrilling to have 60 caregivers attend. In recent years, attendance has close to tripled indicating the growing need for caregiver education. This year the conference space is large enough to accommodate more than 200 caregivers and expand the pool of expert vendors and educational breakout sessions.

> Read more about AAACAP.

“The most important outcome of an event like this is the connections caregivers make with other caregivers,” Bordie said. In some cases, caregivers are experiencing similar physical and emotional pressures while providing care. Knowing other caregivers share some of the same challenges may empower them to learn new ways to handle stress and recharge themselves, so they can continue to provide care to their family members or friends. “We want everyone who attends the conference to leave knowing it is important to take care of yourself so you can return to care renewed, refreshed and ready to continue to support your loved one.” Bordie said.

The educational breakout sessions provide caregivers with a deeper understanding of specific topics. This year’s sessions will teach caregivers about legal issues, such as wills and powers of attorney; communication and support issues; dementia specific concerns; and access to in-home and caregiver support services for veterans. In addition to educational sessions, Central Texas care providers and caregiver support organizations will be present to meet with caregivers face-to-face and assist them with assessing their needs, planning for care and accessing service and programs.

“We urge all caregivers to come to this type of event, because this is where they learn about balancing care for their loved ones with care for themselves,” Bordie said.

> Register for the conference.
 


Free off-site respite care available

AGE of Central Texas will provide free adult respite care at its Austin Adult Day Health Center, 3710 Cedar St. in Austin. Reservations are required.
Contact Gailyn Trammell at 512-600-9275 to request the respite care.

RETF tools help prevent illegal dumping in counties, cities

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF), in its 20 years of operation focused on protecting the environment through awareness and enforcement activities, offers a range of resources and tools that can assist communities in the 10-county CAPCOG region to curtail illegal dumping and catch violators who still do it.

One of the most used and effective tools are road signs purchased by the RETF, said Mike Bittner, Caldwell County code enforcement officer. Setting up the signs brings awareness to illegal dumping in trouble areas and provides an avenue for witnesses to report incidents.  “The signs help in a number of ways,” according to Dennis Rudder, a sergeant investigator with the Travis County Attorney’s Office Environmental Crimes Unit and founding member of the RETF. “One way is just by educating people that they shouldn’t be dumping their trash.”

Caldwell County has placed 70 signs along county roadways and bridges; the area surrounding the signs have experienced about a 75 percent decline in illegal dumping, according to Bittner. Signs also were used by Travis County in a large, unfinished subdivision on South Imperial Drive after a massive volunteer cleanup effort removed a lot of illegally dumped trash. “Illegal dumping was a huge problem in that area,” Rudder said. “The paved roads gave people easy access to the site, so large piles of trash started to build up.” Eventually, the piles could have polluted the Colorado River waterway since the subdivision sits in the floodplain, but after the area was cleaned, the signs prevented further illegal dumping.

The use of one the RETF’s 10 HD-digital-video cameras requires a bit more time and effort, but they are extremely useful when collecting evidence of environmental crimes. Ken May, CAPCOG’s Director or Regional Services but formerly in charge of solid waste programs at TCEQ explains that cameras, which can be checked out by enforcement personnel whose jurisdiction is in the CAPCOG region, are constantly in use throughout the region, assisting in recording what happens at illegal dumpsites, and their video can be used as evidence leading to ticketing or prosecuting people who commit environmental crimes.

In one case, cameras were used to catch a man illegally dumping and burning materials after he would steal copper wiring from buildings. “We caught this guy acting like Tarzan, banging on his chest and swinging stuff around, as he was throwing this stuff into the fire,” Rudder said. That video helped convict the man for stealing the copper piping and his environmental crimes.

For Bittner, the best tool the RETF provides is an intangible one: the continuing education of code and law enforcement officers.

CAPCOG organizes four environmental law training courses for code and law enforcement officers every year — three beginner courses and one intermediate course. Local governments across the state send representatives to attend the RETF’s courses, which can be taught outside of CAPCOG upon request. In recent years, RETF instructors taught three courses in Beeville, Rockport and Eagle Pass. Each course instructed about 25 officers from the Costal Bend and Middle Rio Grande regions. Attendees learn the difference between civil and criminal environmental crimes as well as how to investigate, prepare case reports and what is needed to prosecute the crimes. Many officers who attended the training have recommended it to others and requested additional, more specific environmental law courses such as developing case reports for environmental violations. CAPCOG is investigating offering such courses.

“The instruction I got through the task force was immeasurable,” Bittner said. “Because I am a code enforcement officer, it gave me a law enforcement perspective, too. Knowing the proper law enforcement procedures allows me to work with peace officers and help put cases together.”

Having staff complete the intermediate course gives a jurisdiction an environmental law expert who becomes a powerful resource for protecting the public’s health, welfare and safety from environmental crimes and prevents the need for expensive clean-ups by local governments.

List of RETF tools:

Environmental Law Training — Annually, the RETF offers four courses on environmental law geared for sanitarians, code enforcement, and peace officers. CAPCOG also added an environmental law segment to its basic peace officers course.

Environmental Enforcement Guide — This small pocket sized  guide contains information on Texas environmental laws. It is published by Pocket Press and can be ordered on its website.

10 SPYPOINT Tiny W-3 Cameras — RETF members can check out cameras for conducting surveillance and investigating illegal dump sites and other solid waste crimes.

No Dumping Road Signs — These signs can be put up on county and city roads or common dumping locations. They state the location is under surveillance and provide the 1-877-No-Dumps (663-8677) for witnesses to report illegal dumping.

The 1-877-No-Dumps Hotline — The hotline lets citizens report illegal dumping. All calls are reviewed by the RETF coordinator and directed to the appropriate jurisdiction’s investigator.

RETF Sampling Trailer — The RETF trailer contains all the supplies needed to conduct environmental sampling. It is housed in Travis County but available to any RETF member.

Outreach materials — From posters to magnets to reusable bags to pens, the RETF provides educational materials about the No-Dumps hotline and illegal dumping.

> Learn about the RETF.
> Read about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Air Quality funding available for New Technology Implementation projects

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has made available $3.5 million in grants to individuals and businesses to offset the incremental cost of emissions reductions of air pollutants from facilities and other stationary sources in Texas.

The New Technology Implementation Grant (NTIG) program is part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) and is offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own, and operate new technologies to reduce emissions from point sources or store electricity related to renewable energy.

There are three NTIG project categories:

  • Advanced Clean Energy projects that involve the use of certain hydrocarbons (coal, natural gas, or petcoke), biomass, solid waste, or derived-hydrogen fuel cells, while meeting minimum emissions reductions requirements.
  • New Technology projects that reduce emissions of regulated pollutants (such as criteria pollutants or hazardous air pollutants) from point sources.
  • Electricity Storage projects that store electrical energy related to renewable energy sources.

The TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m., Oct. 18, 2016.

It has scheduled a grant application workshop to review the grant requirements and the application process from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Aug. 17 at the TCEQ headquarters, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building F, Conference Room 2210A, in Austin.

> Learn more about the grant.
> Find more TERP grants.
> Read about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Homeland Security increases training opportunities

Monday, July 25, 2016

CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division is ramping up its coordination of training events and workshops. Its goal is to offer training on specialized topics at least once a quarter, but three courses are already scheduled for August.

“We want to sponsor training workshops that provide an engaging experience for those who respond to hazards in our region,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security Division director. “These training classes are places for emergency personnel to learn, talk about, and share the skills needed to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.”

CAPCOG’s 10-county region consists of diverse communities with differing training needs. While some courses are beneficial to all local jurisdictions, it also strives to host specialized training for its urban and rural partners and for all levels of an organization’s personnel from first responders to elected public officials.

The three training courses scheduled for August are Mass Fatalities Planning & Response for Rural Communities, Continuity of Government Operations Planning for Rural Communities, and Crisis Management for School-Based Incidents.

> Learn about these courses or to find future training opportunities.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Caregivers to get hands-on experience

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), Nurses Unlimited, Health Training Services, and the City of San Marcos will host “Hands On, Caregiving at Home”, a seminar to support families caring for elderly loved ones in the home. The seminar will start at 9 a.m., July 22, at the City of San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins St.

“’Hands On, Caregiving at Home’ is designed to uplift local caregivers and boost their confidence in providing care by giving them instructions on assisting family members or friends with routine tasks and activities needed for daily living,” said Jill Findlay, AAACAP assistant director.

Staff from Health Training Services will demo proper techniques used to perform day-to-day activities. These include assisting someone in and out of bed and safely bathing. Caregivers also will learn proper use of adaptive equipment such as walkers, canes and gait belts, and receive an instructional handbook.

AAACAP will open the seminar by presenting several local services and programs available to people older than 60 and family caregivers. Other caregiving topics will be discussed.

Lunch will be provided. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required by calling 512-392-4662 or 512-916-6041.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Discover more about local caregiving resources.

TERP Texas Clean School Bus Program seeks Grant Applications

Friday, July 15, 2016
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program is accepting applications for the Texas Clean School Bus (TCSB) Program. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis with a deadline to submit them by 5 p.m. Nov. 1, 2016.

More than $5.9 million in grant funds are available to cover the cost of retrofitting diesel-powered school buses with emission-reduction devices to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.

School buses remain the safest way to transport children, and their diesel engines are both durable and economical. However, the Texas Education Agency reports more than 40 percent of the school buses in local fleets are more than 10 years old. In the years since these vehicles were purchased, several advancements in vehicle and engine technology have helped reduce emissions from school buses.

The TCSB Program may make funding available to help school districts when purchasing and installing emissions reduction technologies such as diesel particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, and crankcase filters. School districts located in designated counties also may qualify for funding to replace existing school buses with newer, lower-emitting buses through one of several grants from TERP.

> Apply for the TCSB Grant.

Applications submitted using application forms from previous TCSB grant rounds will not be accepted. Eligible applicants must be a public school district or charter school in the state of Texas that operate diesel-powered school buses on a daily route to and from schools.

> Read the TCSB Grant flier for more details.
> Learn about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Discover CAPCOG Air Quality Grant opportunities.

CAPCOG brings national call taker training to region

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

For the first time in years, the nationally recognized and popularly requested Public Safety Training Consultants (PSTC) will educate emergency telecommunicators from around the region in July and August on professional development topics that complements CAPCOG’s already robust telecommunicator training.

CAPCOG requested PSTC teach five courses:

  • Progressive Supervision on July 12
  • It’s Your Ship - Navigating Communications Center Leadership on July 13
  • Complacency, Cannibalism, and Critical Thinking on July 14
  • Providing Exceptional Service - “What if it Were Family?” on Aug. 25
  • Active Shooter on Aug. 26

“Leadership and customer service are two very valuable skills for all 9-1-1 dispatchers,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG PSAP specialist. “Emergency telecommunicators have to provide outstanding customer service while also controlling the call with someone who is often in a high stress situation. They have to appropriately calm the caller and know how to not only explain an agency’s response but sometimes how to save a life.”

Like CAPCOG’s telecommunicator courses, PSTC’s courses help attendees maintain and hone those critical skills dispatchers and supervisors use daily. They also reinforce best practices for meeting the public’s expectation of telecommunicators.

> The July classes have limited space, but call takers can contact Dean about enrolling.
> Register for the August classes.
> Read about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

Funding available for Austin-Round Rock MSA air quality projects

Friday, July 08, 2016

CAPCOG is commencing its second round of funding opportunities for projects to improve air quality in the Austin-Round-Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. The funding opportunity has an application deadline of Aug. 19, 2016.

The Regional Air Quality Grant program will allow for a broader range of projects to be funded than the Local Emissions Reduction Grant program completed earlier in 2016. It will fund projects supporting the goals of the regional air quality plan, the Ozone Advance Program Action Plan. A project’s funding will be based on its cost, instead of the amount of Nitrogen Oxides (NOX), a major contributor to the creation of ground level ozone, it reduces. Clean Air Coalition members and action plan participants are eligible for the grant. Other organizations must submit a letter committing to the action plan to qualify.

Through the Local Emissions Reduction Grant Program, CAPCOG awarded Austin Community College a $29,450 grant to install solar panels on the roof of the Highland Learning Center campus. The project is expected to reduce the amount NOX emitted by about 1.2 tons during its lifespan. The installation will include 324 320-watt solar panels which will be able to create 100 kilowatt hours of power per hour of sunlight.

> Read more about the grant. 
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG offers Downtown Development workshop

Friday, June 24, 2016

CAPCOG’s downtown development workshop will make the case for why communities that aren’t focusing some of their economic development resources on their downtown are missing an opportunity for new investment, small business development and jobs.

“It’s about return on investment for a city, because they must already maintain infrastructure and provide services in their downtown business district; this workshop will be about how to maximize that investment,” said Chris Schreck, Director of Planning & Economic Development at CAPCOG. 

The workshop will feature presentations by Georgetown Main Street Manager Shelly Hargrove and Debra Drescher who is State Coordinator of the Texas Main Street Program. Georgetown was one of the first cities designated as a Texas Main Street in 1982 and still has a successful downtown program, a testament to the Main Street concept and principles. 

Downtowns can become a live/work/play center of a city which means jobs and housing, so Elgin, also a Texas Main Street city, is developing housing choices in their downtown which will be discussed by Sean Garretson, local consultant and developer. Chris Schreck will lead a brief discussion over lunch about assessing the economic impact of a downtown program. 

CAPCOG in its role as the Capital Area Economic Development District provides this workshop to support strategies in its regional economic development plan. This workshop is tailored for county and city elected officials, city managers, city planners, and economic development directors and board members. The workshop will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas.

A registration fee of $25 will be charged to reserve a seat and cover the lunch and refreshments; however, there is no charge for CAPCOG members. Attending elected officials can qualify for four CEUs toward their state or TML educational requirements.

> Register for the workshop.
> Review the agenda.
> Contact Mason W. Canales to receive a code to register for free.

TCEQ announces grant funds for natural gas vehicles

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Source: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is still accepting applications for funding consideration under the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program, part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.

Individuals, businesses, and governmental entities that own and operate a heavy-duty or medium-duty vehicle may qualify for the grant to replace a vehicle with a natural gas vehicle or repower the vehicle with a natural gas engine. Counties in the Capital Area Council of Governments that are eligible grant include Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Fayette, Travis, and Williamson counties.

The TCEQ will accept the grant program’s applications through May 26, 2017.

Interested parties should contact a Participating Dealer under contract with the TCEQ to determine eligibility. Program staff at the TCEQ are always available to answer questions.

> Learn information on the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program, its participating dealers, the application process and eligibility requirements.
> Read more about the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
> Discover more air quality related grants.
> Read about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

WarnCentralTexas boosts emergency warning registrations

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

WarnCentralTexas.org is a new web portal launched region wide in May to increase participation for a regional emergency communications tool that sends alerts via text, email or phone calls during a disaster.

The website allows residents in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties to register their emails and cellphone numbers to an address or addresses in those counties. Local government emergency personnel, who are responding to incidents and disasters in their communities, can then send location-based, direct warnings via email, text message and phone calls to WarnCentralTexas.org registered participants. Visitors are also encouraged to register if they often stay in the region.

CAPCOG has supported an emergency warning service for the region’s local governments for more than a decade. The emergency notification service was launched when most residents still had landline phones; its ability to reach residents continues to decline as more people move to cellphone only households. CAPCOG registers landlines into the system automatically using the 9-1-1 database, but cellphone numbers and email addresses have to be self-registered. About 45,000 cellphone users are currently self-registered. Using the same easy-to-remember branding region wide should provide greater recognition with more users as the outcome.

Warn Central Texas dot org logo and web address.

“Protect your family, property and self. Sign up for emergency warnings in your neighborhood by voice, text, or email.” — WarnCentralTexas tagline.

CAPCOG uses CodeRED as the software tool for emergency notifications. Residents who are signing up to participate in the program at WarnCentralTexas.org may find the following questions and answers helpful.

WarnCentralTexas FAQ

How do I know that my local community is using WarnCentralTexas.org?
CAPCOG purchased the use of the system for its member organizations in the 10-county region — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Cities and county officials have access to the CodeRED system for sending notifications to areas in their jurisdictional boundaries.

Who will be making the emergency calls and sending the text and emails to my devices?
Emergency management coordinators and other public safety officials have the authority to push emergency warnings to residents through CodeRED’s database. The tool allows those sending the alerts to choose geographic areas to receive warnings based on the type of emergency. 

Who will the call come from?
Emergency calls will come from the following phone numbers regardless of which city or county officials may be sending them. Residents may find it useful to save the numbers in their phones’ contacts.

  • Emergency Alert 866-419-5000
  • Community Alert 855-969-4363
  • Weather Warning 800-566-9780

What if I don’t know if I signed up at WarnCentralTexas.org already?
If you are a managed account holder, CodeRED will tell you if your phone number is already in its system while you are registering. You will then be prompted to login. If you are not a managed account holder, you can simply resubmit your information, and it will be updated in CodeRED’s self-registration database. There is no harm in re-registering to ensure the CodeRED database has your correct information.

How will my personal information be used?
CodeRed’s database of registered users is not shared or sold. CAPCOG can request information from the CodeRed database, but it doesn’t request personal information such as phone numbers and addresses so the information remains private.

Can I get emergency warnings based on my location instead of my address?
CodeRED offers a free mobile app for Android and iPhone devices. The app allows device owners to receive alerts based on the geo-location of their phone as long as they are within any jurisdiction that uses CodeRED. Download the CodeRED Mobile Alert app at Google Play or the Apple Store.

What other information can I receive by signing up at WarnCentralTexas.org?
The primary use of the emergency communications tool is to contact residents during disasters, but self-registrants can choose to receive general notifications, such as street closures, from local jurisdictions that use CodeRED. When registering for the system, residents also can request severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service about tornados, thunderstorms, flash floods or winter storms. More than one phone number and email address can be registered to a residential or business address.

> Register with WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Get educational outreach materials for WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

NCOA, GreenPath provide personalized financial help for older Americans

Friday, June 10, 2016
Source: National Council on Aging

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and GreenPath Financial Wellness joined forces to provide older adults. people 60 years older or older, with unbiased reverse mortgage, debt and bankruptcy counseling as well as money management and financial education services.

“Our partnership with GreenPath is the evolution of NCOA’s holistic approach to helping seniors maintain their economic security and independence,” said Amy Ford, director of NCOA’s Home Equity Initiatives. “NCOA is an innovator in providing unbiased information for older Americans. GreenPath’s expertise will help us significantly increase the number of seniors we can assist.”

GreenPath is the hub for calls from older adults seeking reverse mortgage counseling from NCOA. Beyond reverse mortgage counseling, GreenPath provides consumers a full range of services to help them pay down debt, avoid bankruptcy, and manage their limited incomes wisely. NCOA will train GreenPath counselors to enhance their understanding of the specific needs of older adults, as well as the array of community-based supports available to help seniors stay independent in their community.

To schedule a reverse mortgage counseling session, call toll-free 855-899-3778, Monday-Saturday.

> Learn more about NCOA’s work in economic security.
> Find out about GreenPath Financial Wellness.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s Benefit Counselor program.

The Area Agency on Aging, a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, has Certified Benefits Counselors that assist seniors to identify and understand public benefit programs that they may be qualified for which provide financial assistance to lower Medicare Costs, such as Medicare Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Plans.

CAPCOG BPOCs add environmental law training

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Illegal trash dumping, air pollution, water pollution, hazmat incidents and incidents involving medical waste that affect the region’s water supply and threaten public health and safety are often criminal environmental activities. So starting this August, every cadet enrolled in CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC) will be better equipped to combat such environmental crimes when they are working as commissioned officers.

In April, the CAPCOG Law Enforcement Education Committee added a 4-hour segment of specialized environmental law training to the future BPOCs. Expert trainer Dennis Rudder, a sergeant investigator with the Travis County Attorney’s Office Environmental Crimes Unit, will lead the course segment. Rudder, the president of the Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF), serves as an instructor for Basic and Intermediate Environmental Law Training Courses requested throughout the state.

“It's not necessarily a single act, but the aggregation of numerous violations over time which is detrimental to the environment,” Rudder said. The addition of these course hours provides the foundation for new peace officers to prevent environmental crimes  from affecting the public’s health, safety and welfare.

The RETF is composed of code and law enforcement officers who work in  the CAPCOG 10-county region. The RETF creates awareness and addresses illegal dumping and the enforcement of Texas’ environmental laws. It is funded through CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program; operates an illegal dumping hotline, 1-877-NO-DUMPS; and provides environmental law training, investigation, and prosecution assistance to local governments statewide.

> Learn about the RETF.
> Find out about CAPCOG's Basic Peace Officer Course.
 

CAPCOG shares economic analysis expertise throughout the region

Monday, June 06, 2016

For every 10 jobs we create in the food production, processing, and distribution sectors, we create roughly another eight jobs elsewhere throughout the local economy. Moreover, 54 cents of every dollar in sales earned by food producers, processors, and distributors gets funneled back into the local economy. There are important opportunities in these sectors that exist for communities in our region, said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck.

Schreck explained how linking components of the supply chain locally can have significant economic benefits for individual communities and the entire region during the Local Food as an Economic Development Driver seminar on April 27 in Elgin.

The information delivered during the seminar is a sample of the economic development analysis CAPCOG can provide for its members on an ad hoc or as needed basis. Analysis can get more in-depth when CAPCOG partners with communities on economic development or planning projects, and or leverages its GIS capabilities. CAPCOG excels in evaluating the fluidity between local and regional trends and examining the relationship between the two and how those can create benefits for a local community.

“Housing for instance is a very local issue. It’s a neighborhood issue at its core,” Schreck said. “But housing has really substantial impacts on regional issues, like transportation, workforce, and affordability. CAPCOG is really well-suited to work with communities on these kinds of issues that span both local and regional interests.”

Other presentations Schreck gave in the recent months include:

  • Workforce analytics during an Austin Chamber Regional Partners Meeting;
  • The future development of the region at a Real Estate Council of Austin Meeting; and
  • CAPCOG economic development services for local communities to the City of Kyle Economic Development Board.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG planning and economic development director.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Division.

CJD to seek grant applications for crime reporting systems

Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Source: The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD) announced a $16.2 million funding opportunity for Texas law enforcement agencies to implement a national incident-based reporting system (NIBRS) or upgrade infrastructure to support an agency’s current use of NIBRS.

NIBRSes collect data on 24 offense types comprised of 52 distinct offenses and agencies report based upon the specific incident that includes data related not only to offenses and arrests, but also to location, victim and offender data, and other measures. During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, the legislature enacted legislation to move the state away from previous summary reporting, which provided less reporting categories, to NIBRS. It appropriated $17.3 million for the purpose of establishing a goal that all local law enforcement agencies will use NIBRS by Sept. 1, 2019.
    
CJD will start accepting grant applications on July 1, 2016 to help convert agencies from summary reporting to NIBRS or to upgrade current NIBRS. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 1, 2016. The minimum award for the grant is $5,000 and there is no matching requirement.

Preference will be given to those agencies that are either not submitting any data to the Texas Department of Public Safety currently or are submitting summary reporting data only. DPS and CJD also will consider applications from current NIBRS contributors who wish to upgrade their reporting system but will evaluate these applications based on their overall response to the solicitation and availability of funding. 

> Read the full funding announcement.
> Apply for the grant at egrants.gov starting on July 1, 2016.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program. 

CAPCOG builds resiliency into 9-1-1 infrastructure

Monday, May 23, 2016

Construction should begin by the end of the year on the installation of a secondary, or backup, 9-1-1 fiber-optic network for 23 of CAPCOG’s 27 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) locations where 9-1-1 calls are received. The additional network will allow PSAPs to continue to answer 9-1-1 calls if a network outage occurs instead of the calls being rerouted to another PSAP or call center. The calls are never in jeopardy of not being answered, according to CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Director Gregg Obuch, but when a call is rerouted it doesn’t carry with it the address and map of the caller. “We really want the location information of that caller in case the call gets dropped before we get a responder to the site.”

In early April, the CAPCOG Executive Committee, in its capacity as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District board, approved the $7 million project to install fiber lines on different routes to the 23 PSAP locations.  While the district maintains 31 PSAPs, four are located at the Combined Transportation, Emergency & Communications Center and two at CAPCOG’s offices. The remaining four PSAPs — Lee, Fayette, and Blanco counties’ and Marble Falls’ — need an alternative solution to fiber lines to provide a secondary network, such as installing radio towers and using microwaves. CAPCOG continues to work on identifying a secondary network solution for the remaining sites.

The backup network has been a priority for the last two years; often outages occur due to construction sites cutting fiber or even network maintenance – the network is owned by AT&T and, while they try to be responsive to these events, it still means 9-1-1 calls may be disrupted, said Obuch. The first phase of the project addressing 23 PSAPs will be completed in three years.

> Read about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
> Learn about the Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

Text-to-9-1-1 coming to region

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CAPCOG expects cellphone users will be able to text 9-1-1 in case of an emergency by this October and perhaps earlier depending on when the wireless carriers enable this feature. Regional agencies in the ten-county region are partnering to roll out a text-to-9-1-1 educational outreach campaign as telecommunicators and cellphone network providers prepare to bring the emergency communications service to the region.

Because text-to-9-1-1 is rolled out by each cellphone network provider, the companies can activate the service at different times. To limit confusion, CAPCOG only will announce text-to-9-1-1’s availability in a community when the four major cellphone network providers have activated it. The COG has planned a phased approach to test text-to-9-1-1. Hays, Travis and Williamson counties will be in the first implementation group, which could have text-to-9-1-1 by August or September. Group 2 — Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Lee counties — and Group 3 — Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties — will follow. Text-to-9-1-1 should be available by either September or October and October or November respectively.

Emergency telecommunicators will begin training to respond to text messages in May. While the services will be new, telecommunicators are already familiar with communicating to people using text based systems. The interface for responding to emergency text is nearly identical to the telecommunications teletype writer interface used to communicate with the hearing impaired.

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

CAPCOG and AACOG air quality committees discuss regional issues

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Travis County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt, and San Antonio Council Member, Ron Nirenberg, lead the first ever joint-meeting between the Capital Area Clean Air Coalition and the Alamo Area Air Improvement Resources Executive Committee. The group discussed strategies to keep the two major metro areas within the EPA’s NAAQS.

CAPCOG’s Clean Air Coalition (CAC) and Alamo Area Council of Governments’ (AACOG’s) Air Improvement Resources (AIR) Executive Committee, the committees representing the two largest U.S. cities not currently burdened with an EPA air quality nonattainment designation, held their first-ever joint meeting to discuss strategies for keeping the cities and their metro areas in compliance with EPA’s new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) on April 29. The committees consist of elected officials from city and county governments that participate in regional air quality planning efforts, and are chaired by Travis County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt, and San Antonio Council Member, Ron Nirenberg, respectively.

Eckhardt opened the meeting and recognized its significance noting, “a unified front on these issues is very powerful” and went on to lead the discussion joined by Nirenberg about the linkages between the two regions and the benefits of collaborating. San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero added that his city is “squarely in between” the two regions and impacted by what happens in each of them, so the effort to work together is “monumental and historic.” Each region has proactively implemented measures to control air pollution, to create awareness of the issue, and to conduct air quality research and planning to guide future strategies that will prevent the EPA designation and the transportation and economic development challenges that accompany it. The joint committees unanimously approved a resolution directed to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and EPA seeking flexibility with implementing the 2015 Ozone NAAQS with regard to geographic area, type of classification, consideration of ozone measurement uncertainty as well as interstate and intrastate impacts.

The CAC and AIR Executive Committee each represent years of leadership in innovative regional air quality planning efforts. The CAC started in 2002 and has implemented four voluntary regional air quality plans, including the 1-Hour Ozone Flex Program in 2002, a Clean Air Action Plan and Early Action Compact State Implementation Plan (SIP) in 2004, the 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan in 2008, and, most recently, an Ozone Advance Program Action Plan in 2013. The AIR Executive Committee was formed even earlier, in 1997, shortly after the state established the Near-Nonattainment Area grant program to support regional air quality planning efforts in areas that had ozone problems but had not yet been designated nonattainment. The AIR Executive Committee also adopted a Clean Air Action Plan and participated in an Early Action Compact SIP in 2004, and is also participating in EPA’s Ozone Advance Program. Both committees have had success in helping their respective metro areas narrowly avoid nonattainment designations for the 1997 and 2008 Ozone NAAQS, the 2015 Ozone NAAQS poses new challenges for the regions.

The committees agreed to start meeting twice a year in order to facilitate future collaboration and cooperation. The next meeting was set tentatively for November which will afford an opportunity to discuss legislative issues, including state funding for the Near Nonattainment planning work carried out by AACOG and CAPCOG.

> Find more information on CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Learn about the AACOG's Natural Resources Department.

Austin, Don’t Rush day encourages drivers to carpool, use a flex schedule or telecommute

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Source: City of Austin

Mayor Steve Adler has declared Wednesday, May 11, Austin, Don’t Rush, and is asking that, during rush hours Wednesday, Austinites choose any transportation option other than driving alone to participate in a one-day challenge to reduce traffic and air pollution. 

The long-term goal of Austin, Don’t Rush, day is to show people that it isn’t difficult to occasionally choose not to drive alone at peak hours so they might begin to make that choice one or two days a week.

The one-day challenge is an effort to reduce traffic in the Austin area and reduce exhaust in the air. It suggests that people carpool, bus, walk or bike to work in an effort to keep single-occupancy vehicles off the road.

> Learn more about Austin, Don’t Rush.
> Discover tips on how to participate in Austin, Don’t Rush.
> Read about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG celebrates Older Americans Month

Monday, May 09, 2016

Older individuals in the CAPCOG region are blazing the way for the future by advocating for themselves, their peers and communities; making our region a better place to live.

CAPCOG proclaimed participation in Older Americans Month by adopting May as a month to honor and celebrate the efforts of the more than 322,000 residents who are 60 or older and live in the region. CAPCOG recognizes the value of inclusion and support in assisting older adults to successfully contribute to our communities.

The national observance of Older Americans Month is led by the Administration for Community Living. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves by taking charge of their health, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail for positive impact on the lives of others.

CAPCOG encourages communities throughout the region to participate in Older Americans Month by:

  • Promoting and engaging in activities, wellness and social involvement,
  • Emphasizing in-home and community-based services that support independent living, and
  • Ensuring communities can benefit from the contribution and experience of older adults.

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) supports older individuals by assisting them in accessing in-home and community-based services. AAACAP will participate in area events including health fairs, caregiver events and the local May Fest. Contact AAACAP for more information, to volunteer, or to report on the ways older individuals are blazing trails and making a difference in your community at (888) 622-9111 ext. 6062.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Discover ways to participate in Older Americans Month.

Experts address caregiving at annual conference

Friday, May 06, 2016

Family caregivers engage in a wide-range of activities every day to support their family members who need assistance. According to Pew Research Center, 33 percent of adult caregivers are now turning to technology to help support their caregiving tasks.

A Caregivers Hope, a third annual conference taking place May 21, will connect family caregivers with area resources and four healthcare experts who will share the benefits of using technology to assist in providing care. The event also will focus on how to recognize, avoid and lessen caregiver stress.

Dr. Mark Carlson will give the conference’s keynote speech addressing effective communication with doctors to ensure a better understanding of medical issues. He will be followed by Dr. Norma Perez, Dr. Natasha Dewald, and Dr. Bruce Wayne Meleski, who will discuss caregiver stress, signs to look for and how to avoid it; in-home technology; technology for untreated hearing loss; and technology to aid in sleeping.

A Caregiver’s Hope is a special opportunity to learn about new tools to support family caregivers. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 21 at 1921 Lohmans Crossing, Suite 100 in Lakeway.

> Register for the conference.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

Elected officials can learn emergency management roles

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Newly elected county judges and mayors may be surprised to learn they are the leading authority for emergency management at the local level when a disaster occurs, according to Texas law. CAPCOG will conduct a Texas Division of Emergency Management workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26, so elected and appointed officials can be better prepared when a disaster strikes their cities and counties.

This workshop will provide an overview to the officials about their roles and how they can contribute to the process of planning, mitigation and recovery. “The first action during a disaster might be calling in aid from the State which the county judge would need to do if it’s not a delegated action to the emergency management coordinator,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG’s Homeland Security director.

The course also highlights: the local, state, and federal organization for emergency management; the local emergency management functions; and more.

Elected officials who attend the workshop at CAPCOG’s offices can qualify for continuing education credits to meet state education requirements or the Texas Municipal League’s Leadership Program.

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

GIS data helps clear debris from Hays County rivers

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finding and clearing debris left by the Memorial Day and October floods from the Blanco, Little Blanco and San Marcos rivers that stretch throughout Hays County is a massive undertaking still underway. Efforts to locate debris alone could have taken months as the three riverbeds span about 58 miles throughout the county, but a visual survey of the riverbanks lasted only three days after the county deployed GIS techniques.

Using GIS data and aerial ortho- and oblique imagery, the Hays County GIS Department saved the county personnel time and lowered the cost of locating debris. The effort aided the county and FEMA’s Private Property Removal Program (PPRP) in spotting more than 7,000 points of debris on 600 parcels of river adjacent property. Debris found during the GIS survey included mostly fallen trees, but vehicles and several areas of exposed pipelines were also discovered.

“The best method of assessing the big picture is from aerial evaluations without having to get onto private properties, and it is much less treacherous for those doing the assessment,” said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb. “Aerial views of the affected areas are the safest and most cost-effective method currently available to preserve property rights and get the necessary information needed to comply with the demands of several agencies and authorities.”

Days after the October flood occurred the county attempted a boots-on-the-ground survey for debris in the riverbeds. But because of the large area, the number of private properties with in it, and the size of the floods events, the survey proved challenging. The Memorial Day flood, the worst of the two events, was so significant in size thousands of trees were ripped out, broken or bent along the Blanco River. It is estimated that the flood damaged or destroyed 12,000 trees county wide. October’s flood added more damage and moved debris further down the riverbeds.
About 40 county employees participated in the on the ground survey. The survey worked well in urban areas, where property was close to the street, said Steve Floyd, Hays County GIS and 911 Addressing program manager who participated in the survey. Employees could talk to people from the street and sometimes even see into riverbeds. In rural areas, gaining access to property was rare and notes were sometimes left on gates at the end of mile long driveways.

Ending the ground survey, the county pursued aerial imagery options that allowed for a detailed and procedural visual inspection of the disaster areas. To meet a FEMA deadline, the county quickly needed planes in the air to capture the events as they were. As a consistent participant in CAPCOG’s GeoMap program, Hays County already had aerial imagery from before the flood events. To consider new imagery options, Floyd contacted CAPCOG’s GIS Program Manager, Craig Eissler. Eissler helped coordinate a suitable solution that met the county’s timeframe and budget demands. Within two weeks, flights captured images along the Blanco River and portions of the Little Blanco and San Marcos rivers.

In January, the Hays County GIS staff began using new 6-inch resolution images to review and map debris piles within the rivers’ 10-year floodplain. The four-person staff used the orthoimagery catalog in the ArcMap data view on one monitor and the oblique viewer on a second monitor. The views were synchronized to pan at the same time. After three days of viewing, the staff identified debris piles on about 600 parcels and sent a list of properties to the debris removal contractor. In many instances, the GIS staff created a single point to represent clusters of debris.

One challenge faced by the GIS staff during the scanning process included identifying fallen trees at the base of steep bluffs obscured by shadows in the ortho views. Another challenge was sighting fallen trees not clearly visible through the densely overlapping limbs of still vertical trees, but the oblique images made both visible.

The staff also discovered areas of severe riverbank erosion exposing segments of pipelines. Some segments included active natural gas pipelines, up to 30-inches in diameter. In two other places, inactive or empty segments of 12.75-inch diameter pipelines were discovered. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality informed the county the two lines were purged and capped years ago.

Since the GIS staff’s review of the riverbanks, many landowners have granted access to the county’s debris removal contractor. As of Feb. 22, 2016 about 2,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris was hauled from private property and about 3,000 cubic yards of debris was removed from public rights-of-way. However, no estimates have been made for the amount burned by property owners.

TDA hosts workshop, webinar for small and microenterprise fund

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture will conduct a workshop and a webinar for communities interested in applying for grant funds to support small businesses and microenterprises in their jurisdictions.

A Small and Microenterprise Revolving Loan Fund (SMRF) grant workshop will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 3, at 1700 Congress Avenue in Austin. The webinar on the same topic will be at 2 p.m., Thursday, June 9.

> Register for the grant workshop.
> Get the link for the webinar.

SMRF provides funds for rural communities to invest in new or existing small businesses and microenterprises. In cooperation with a qualified, nonprofit development organization, SMRF monies are loaned to local small businesses and microenterprises to support job creation and retention activity for predominately low and moderate income persons. Once the contractual job creation or retention requirements are satisfied, the contract is monitored for compliance and closed by TDA.

Eligible applicants are non-entitlement local governments, incorporated cities and counties not participating or designated as eligible to participate in the entitlement portion of the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. Non-entitlement cities that are not participating in urban county programs through existing participation agreements are eligible applicants unless the city’s population counts toward the urban county CDBG allocation.

> Learn more about the SMFR grant.
> Go to TDA’s websites. 
> Read about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Local seniors need advocates

Monday, April 18, 2016

Passionate advocates can volunteer to help seniors in their local community by becoming a certified volunteer ombudsman with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP). Ombudsmen provide older persons who reside in nursing and assisted living facilities a voice about their quality of life and the care they receive when they can no longer do it for themselves or are too afraid to do so.

As a program of CAPCOG, AAACAP ombudsmen serve about 250 nursing and assisted living facilities in the 10-county region. Volunteer ombudsmen play a key role in ensuring the well-being of those living in facilities as many residents have no relatives or regular visitors, and no one to act on their behalf. Family members with a loved one who resides in a care facility also need ombudsmen to help navigate the process necessary to achieve change and improve the care of their loved ones.

Volunteer ombudsmen are certified and specially trained to advocate for residents’ rights and quality of care by visiting and observing  residents’ care at long-term care facilities. Volunteer ombudsmen, working with AAACAP staff ombudsmen, identify and help resolve complaints. They also educate residents, families, and care-facility staff on maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of residents. Ombudsman services are free and confidential.

No prior experience is required to be a volunteer ombudsman, but they must be at least 18. AAACAP provides the required training to become a volunteer ombudsman. Seniors in your area need you.

> Contact Pete Moreno, managing lead ombudsman.
> Learn more about the ombudsman program.

CAPCOG approves Text-to-9-1-1 with October deadline

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CAPCOG’s Capital Area Emergency Communications District board approved the deployment of Text-to-9-1-1 for the 10-county region in its meeting this week; the action triggers notice to the wireless carriers who then have six months to provide the service.

Often the service is made available sooner than six months, according to Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG Emergency Communications Director, but it must be working by October.

Watch for the launch of the Text-to-9-1-1 educational campaign in  late summer.

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

CAPCOG prioritizes homeland security grants

Monday, April 11, 2016

The CAPCOG Executive Committee approved the prioritized list of all 56 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) applications from throughout the region at its March meeting, but the funding being allocated to the 10-county area will only fund the first 13 projects. While $7 million of projects were submitted, the expected allocation at the time of the meeting was $1.77 million.

The process for reviewing applications is led by four subcommittees working under the Homeland Security Task Force that focus on preparedness, response, communications, and public health. Projects that received the highest prioritizations included purchases for rescue and response equipment, school safety kits, a remote automated weather station, bomb robots, and funding for community emergency response teams.

It was recommended that the $4.7 million of emergency communication projects focused on radio interoperability be sent to the Capital Area Emergency Communications District board and its strategic advisory committee for consideration. With decreasing HSGP regional funds, this source is no longer viable for many of these radio communication projects, CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights suggested. The CAECD will look at these once a regional plan is completed and recommended by the CAECD committee.

Subsequent to the Executive Committee’s approval of the grants prioritization, CAPCOG received notice the region would receive $300,000 less than the anticipated $1.77 million. According to new information from the Texas Office of the Governor to which all projects are finalized and contracted, CAPCOG anticipates  about $1.49 million in grant funds.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

Telecommunicators nationally recognized

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

CAPCOG, as the lead agency for regional emergency communications working through the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, urges all local governments to recognize the 700 9-1-1 telecommunicators for their unwavering service to the 10-county region. In March, CAPCOG’s Executive Committee proclaimed April 10-16 National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week to honor local telecommunicators throughout the 10-county region.

The nationally recognized week celebrates and honors 9-1-1 call takers and their important role as the first, first responder. By providing 24/7 service, telecommunicators help save lives, apprehend criminal suspects, and protect property and people. Other emergency service personnel and municipal and county officials will show their appreciation for their local 9-1-1 call takers throughout the week by hosting an array of activities and events just for the public safety telecommunicators.

Because 9-1-1 telecommunicators are a vital link between first responders and their communities, CAPCOG encourages all local governments to honor their telecommunicators by signing proclamations or resolutions and celebrating this week in April so citizens also understand the value of the telecommunicators’ role in public safety.

> Read the CAPCOG Executive Committee resolution for National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Read the State proclaimation for National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communication Division.

CJAC to rank criminal justice grants

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee will hold two meetings to receive presentations from organizations that submitted for a 2017 Office of the Governor’s, Criminal Justice Division grant.

The meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 29 and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 30 in the CAPCOG Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, in Austin.

Participating organizations will be contacted about presentation times, but a schedule of the presentations has also been released.

> Review the Criminal Justice grant presentation schedule.
> Read more about the Criminal Justice grant process.

CAPCOG ships GeoMap 2015

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

GeoMap Program partners in 2015 can expect their 6- and 12-inch resolution orthoimagery any day. CAPCOG received data in late February, and is distributing it to the partner organizations.

The GeoMap Program provides crucial planning data that assists organizations with a variety of projects such as appraisals, growth management, conservation, local development and more. The GeoMap data release also means it is available for purchase by non-participating entities such as engineering and development firms.

> Purchase GeoMap 2015 data.

The GeoMap Program is an annual cooperative-purchasing effort that provides GIS base map data to many local governments. The program has saved more than $9 million since 2002 by minimizing potential duplicative efforts and receiving large volume discounts.

The 2016 GeoMap Program work is currently underway and the leaf-off orthoimagery acquisition is complete. CAPCOG expects to deliver the 2016 data this fall. It’s also time to prepare and budget for GeoMap 2017. The first call for 2017 projects will be in late March.

> Learn more about the upcoming 2017 GeoMap Program project.
> Discover the CAPCOG GIS Program.

TDHCA takes comments on Amended 2016 One-Year Action Plan

Friday, March 11, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) started a 30-day public comment period for the Amended 2016 State of Texas Consolidated Plan: One-Year Action Plan on March 7, 2016. Comments will be accepted until 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

TDHCA, Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) prepared the plan in accordance with 24 CFR §91.320. TDHCA coordinates the preparation of the State of Texas Consolidated Plan documents. The plan covers the State's administration of the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) by TDA, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) by DSHS, and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program and the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program by TDHCA.

The Plan reflects the intended uses of funds received by the State of Texas from HUD for Program Year 2016. The Program Year begins on Feb. 1, 2016, and ends on Jan. 31, 2017. The plan also illustrates the State's strategies in addressing the priority needs and specific goals and objectives identified in the 2015-2019 State of Texas Consolidated Plan.

Based on updated HUD guidance, TDHCA has amended the plan to include a change in allocation amounts for all programs from estimated to final 2016 allocations; updates the HOME Method of Distribution; updates the definition of Chronically Homeless for ESG; and the addition of contingency provision language to the Citizen Participation Plan for estimated and actual allocation amounts for future years.

Anyone may submit comments on the plan in written form by mail to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Housing Resource Center, P.O. Box 13941, Austin, TX 78711-3941 or by fax to 512-475-0070.

> Submit comments by email to info@tdhca.state.tx.us.
> Go to the TDHCA Public Comment Center to access the plan.

AAACAP director headlines caregiving conference

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area Director, Jennifer Scott, will deliver a keynote speech about practical tips for caregivers who care for a person with  Alzheimer’s or other related dementia during Alzheimer’s Texas and Riverbend Church’s symposium - GPS, a Road Map for Caring for Aging Family Members.

“Learning about how the disease affects the person’s abilities is the key to being able to understand why the person struggles to complete the most basic tasks each day and struggles to follow directions of the caregiver,” Scott said. Her presentation will provide information on making the caregiving experience better for caregivers and their loved ones.

The conference will be from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 12 at Riverbend Church Fellowship Hall in Austin.

Other speakers include Dr. Dewayne Nash, who will discuss Alzheimer's research and his connection with it; Pastor Reg Larkin, minister and counselor, who will discuss faith, celebration and grief in Caregiving; and Mary Koffend, owner of Accountable Aging, who will discuss Medicare, Medicaid, and Medigap.

> Register for the conference.
> Discover AAACAP.

Excited Delirium course stresses recognition of condition

Monday, March 07, 2016

Incidents of excited delirium create a number of challenges for peace officers, correctional officers, emergency medical personnel, and dispatchers as they respond to the substance induced medical condition. A March 25 Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) course, Excited Delirium, will educate public safety personnel on the best practices for recognizing, responding, and treating a subject with excited delirium.

“The (Excited Delirium) condition itself is always changing,” said Doug Wheless, the Lieutenant over the Medical Department in the Williamson County Jail, who is teaching the course. “There are always new examples of incidents, and the technology, practices and legal response behind the methods used to handle excited delirium incidents are always changing, too. This course will be beneficial to everyone in the public safety field.”

One of the first challenges public safety officers face is recognizing the symptoms of excited delirium and distinguishing it from other medical and mental conditions. People suffering from the condition can become violent, paranoid, appear to have superhuman strength and can suffer from asphyxia and hyperthermia. A subject in this state often removes their clothes, becomes aggressive to objects — especially glass, hides, thrashes in restraints and can cause further harm to themselves and others.

Similar side effects can be found in people suffering from schizophrenia and even strokes. By the end of the course, students will understand the differences between multiple ailments, so they can react appropriately.

“You don’t want to treat everyone like a drug addict that is acting out of control,” Wheless said. “You need to recognize that this is a medical emergency first.”

Excited Delirium Course Details

Course Time: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 25, 2016
Location: Mesquite Conference Room
CAPCOG Training Center
6800 Burleson Road, Building 310
Austin, TX 78744
Number of TCOLE CEUs: 8 Hours
> Register for the course
Registration Deadline: March 18, 2016

The violent and delirious nature of the subject’s condition also poses a challenge for those responding to the incidents. Officers often have to use force to subdue a subject, which can exacerbate the condition. The condition itself can be fatal, but this course teaches officers how to reduce that risk by using proper, specialized restraining methods and administering basic medical response so the subject can be transported safely to an emergency room for treatment. Each year there are between 250 to 350 in-custody deaths related to excited delirium incidents; this course aims to prevent those fatalities.

“This training teaches officers to recognize this condition as quickly as possible and have emergency medical services respond as quickly as possible while still protecting the subject, others and the officer,” said Randy Holmes, RLEA director.

An increase in the use of drugs that cause excited delirium such as K2, spice, bath salts, methamphetamine and cocaine combined with the subject’s bizarre behavior and officer response has caused many of these incidents to garner national media attention. Officers enrolled in this course will learn the importance of properly documenting these incidents to accurately portray the subject’s state and the officer’s response.

“The course teaches the safest way to handle a difficult, no win situation,” Wheless said. “Excited delirium is something that is not going to go away, and it is going to get worse and worse. We have to have a setup protocol that is defensible in a court of law.”

Wheless’ Excited Delirium course is backed by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

> Find other RLEA courses.
> Discover RLEA.

Lake Travis center provides regional hazardous waste options

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A household hazardous waste facility in western Travis County has created a regional solution to costly annual collection events. The facility is helping six communities properly dispose of hazardous waste while reducing disposal cost, eliminating long wait times for residents, providing more collection times and deterring harmful illegal dumping.

The Lake Travis Regional Re-use and Recycling Center (LTRRRC) opened for its first household hazardous waste collection event on June 10, 2015. At that event, residents from 95 area households visited the facility to dispose of household hazardous waste. They dropped off 1,795 pounds of paint, 204 pounds of pesticides, 450 pounds of flammable solids and many other items. Two other events, one in September and one in December, experienced similar participation. The center is opened quarterly for the residents living in the cities of Lakeway and Bee Cave, The Village of the Hills, the Hurst Creek and Lakeway municipal utility districts and the Travis County Water Control and Improvement District No. 17.

“Participation from the community is going very well,” said Julie Oakley, Lakeway finance director, who helped start the facility. “We have been able to handle the flow of citizens coming to the center. The community has been very happy with the service, and we are accomplishing our goals.”

By increasing the frequency of collection events, the facility gives more residents greater access to proper disposal methods for chemicals and products that are harmful to people and the environment.

Before the center opened, the six communities participated in annual events with an attendance so abundant that cars and trucks stretched a mile long on Ranch-to-Market 620; sometimes residents were turned away.  And, instead of residents storing harmful chemicals for a year waiting for a collection event, this allows routine disposal.

Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Director, explained that a 2012-13 CAPCOG solid waste grant helped offset the six communities’ cost for opening the facility. The grant supported its initial construction, employee training and equipment purchases. LTRRRC met a number of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan goals by encouraging household hazardous waste collection, alternatives to managing special types of waste and creation of a regional permanent facility.

CAPCOG solid waste grant funds have continued to support annual household hazardous waste events throughout the region, May added, and resident participation has continued to grow at such events which is great for disposal efforts but has caused many collections to exceed their budgets.

Because the LTRRRC has conducted more routine collections, planning budgets have become more consistent. The facility saves money because staff bundles the materials instead of a contractor. Contracting regularly scheduled shipping disposal trips and the ability to re-use certain items like latex paint also saves money.

Three more collection events at the facility are currently scheduled for fiscal year 2016 — March 2, June 1, and Sept. 7. The center is located at 3207 Neidhardt Drive, behind Lake Travis Fire Rescue Station 601.

> Learn more about the Lake Travis Regional Re-use and Recycling Center.
> Discover the CAPCOG Solid Waste Planning Program.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program.

The LTRRRC will accept: 

  • Household products — cleaning products, drain cleaners, oven cleaning solvents, degreasers, polishers, pool chemicals, household batteries, mercury thermometers, gas grill propane tanks; 
  • Paint products — latex and oil-based paints, spray paints, preservatives, strippers, etc.; or, 
  • Automotive products — antifreeze, car batteries, oil, oil filters, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. 
  • Accepted materials must come in their original containers for transport. 

The center will not take: 

  • Asbestos products — including linoleum tiles containing asbestos from older homes; 
  • Industrial waste — anything from a business; 
  • Medical waste — needles, prescriptions, etc.; 
  • Ammunition or explosives — fireworks, dynamite, etc.; 
  • Radioactive waste — smoke detectors, etc.; 
  • Compressed gas cylinders — except for gas grill propane tanks which are accepted; 
  • Tires; 
  • Appliances — small or large; or, 
  • Technology products — computers, printers, televisions, speakers, surround sound, other electronic equipment.

CAPCOG plans cybersecurity training

Monday, February 22, 2016

An assessment of how well critical communication systems and their support infrastructure will withstand cyberattacks is currently underway. The information will help improve cybersecurity preparedness for emergency managers and emergency communication directors by identifying cybersecurity gaps and facilitating future planning and training.

“Understanding your vulnerabilities and protecting against them builds resiliency and ensures systems continue to work despite a cyberattack,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director.

Several cities and counties in the CAPCOG region recently completed a voluntary cybersecurity survey offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A contractor, hired with U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funds, will evaluate the survey results and provide the participating entities with greater insight about their cybersecurity emergency communication gaps. The survey results also will lay the foundation for workshops and several training exercises for communities region wide.

The workshop and first tabletop exercise are scheduled to take place in March 2016. A final report will give future direction on establishing plans throughout the region to prevent cyberattacks and aid in response and recovery efforts if critical communication systems are attacked.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

TCEQ program converts vehicles to natural gas engines

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program (TNGVGP) provides funds to encourage an entity that owns and operates a heavy-duty or medium-duty motor vehicle to repower the vehicle with a natural gas engine or replace the vehicle with a natural gas vehicle.

The program is eligible to those that own, lease, or commercially finance a heavy-duty or medium-duty vehicle that operate in a list of 64 counties in Texas — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties included. Eligible applicants include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity.

Grant applicants must go through a participating dealer under contract with the TCEQ to apply.

The deadline to apply to the grant is May 26, 2017.

> Find out more on the TNGVGP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Learn about other vehicle emission reduction programs.

Department of Agriculture seeks rural communities for internship program

Thursday, February 18, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is inviting proposals from rural communities for the Texas Rural Internship Program. The program provides urban college students, who are at least juniors, an opportunity to experience life in a rural Texas community during the summer.

The program gives a unique, educational and productive summer internship that will mutually benefit the student and the community.

Participating communities have benefited from the program with a new perspective and talent from an intern to include updated technical skills, fresh computer skills, and working knowledge of social networking. In previous years, interns performed a variety of tasks and projects benefiting the host community.

Communities must submit a proposal by 5 p.m. March 15, 2016 to the TDA. In the proposal, communities will outline the work experience or project that would be assigned to a student intern. Communities also will provide details on room and board for the student, community service opportunities, opportunities for the student to gain knowledge about government and non-government organizations and unique regional opportunities.

The internship is designed to last five to ten weeks — one or two summer sessions. Internship dates are negotiable based on the schedule of the student intern and the host community.

> Read the full announcement for more details about applying to be a host community.

CAPCOG seeks local emission reduction projects for grant program

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments opened the application process for a new local emission reduction grant program on Feb. 16, 2016. The grant, which targets commuter emission reduction projects and capital investments projects that reduce emissions, has an application deadline of April 15, 2016.

The grant is available to businesses, local governments, nonprofits and other organizations in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

CAPCOG has allocated about $240,000 from its 2016-17 near-nonattainment area air quality planning grant for the new program. Organizations participating in the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will have an opportunity to receive more funding per ton of emissions reduced.

> Learn about and apply for the grant.
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG GIS launches free data website

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

CAPCOG’s GIS Program launched a new interactive-map website that increases accessibility to free regional information and makes the data easily downloadable. The creation of the CAPCOG Free Regional Data website has further enhanced the GIS Program’s ability to be a single resource of regional geographic information.

Hosted by ArcGIS Online, the site allows users to visually review numerous datasets before downloading the information for their own use. Currently available datasets include items such as city limits, floodplain boundaries, school district boundaries, the location of airports and parks, and archived street centerlines. Parcel boundaries also are available by county.

CAPCOG has generated a number of datasets located on the website, but it also has collected and compiled datasets from other entities. Some data placed on the website has more up-to-date counterparts such address points and street centerlines, which are packaged with the purchase of the Capital Area Addressing & Referencing Map (CAAR Map) database.

> Discover the regional data website.
> Learn about other GIS Program data services such as CAAR Map.

Newest Health and Wellness workshop teaches full course, more programs available

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s (AAACAP) first Diabetes Self-Management Program kicked off in January with a full class at the Bluffs Landing Senior Village in Round Rock. But like all of the agency’s Health and Wellness Programs, there is always room for more in communities around the region.

The Stanford Patient Education Research Center Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a six-week, small-group workshop led by 2 trained facilitators. It is highly interactive and focuses on building skills and sharing experiences that help the day-to-day management of diabetes while maintaining or increasing daily activity. Participants must be 60 or older.

Other AAACAP Health and Wellness programs include: A Matter of Balance, which helps older adults reduce their risk and fear of falling; Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers, which helps caregivers manage the difficulties of caring for older adults and those with disabilities; and Better Choices, Better Health – Chronic Disease Self-Management, which helps adults manage chronic disease symptoms.

In January, seven programs were started in three CAPCOG counties allowing nearly 100 residents the opportunity to improve their health and wellness.

> Bring a AAACAP Health and Wellness Program to your community.
> Learn more about AAACAP.
 

CAPCOG to request air quality grant applications

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments will start accepting applications for a new local emission reduction grant program in mid-February. The grant will target commuter emission reduction projects and capital investments that reduce emissions in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)— Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

CAPCOG has allocated about $240,000 from its 2016-17 near-nonattainment area air quality planning grant for this new program. Entities in the Austin-Round Rock MSA can apply to the grant program. Organizations participating in the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will have an opportunity to receive more funding per ton of emissions reduced.

CAPCOG will post additional details about the grant program in mid-February on capcog.org.

> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG Executive Committee elects officers

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee elected Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long as its board chair for 2016. Long, who has served on the Executive Committee since 2007, was the committee’s first vice-chair in 2015. The committee elected Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland as its first vice chair. Holland has been on the Executive Committee since 2013 and serves on the Capital Area Economic Development District and the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition.

Last year’s chair, Elgin Mayor Marc Holm, remains an officer moving to the immediate past chair slot.

Other officers elected were Hays County Judge Bert Cobb as second vice chair and San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero as secretary and parliamentarian.

> Discover CAPCOG's Executive Committee.

USDA extends application deadline for grants to help repair housing in rural communities

Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is seeking applications for grants to make housing repairs for low- and very-low-income rural residents and has extended the deadline to March 15, 2016.

The grants are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Housing Preservation Grant Program. This program is intended to help rural homeowners and rental housing owners repair and improve their properties. Funds may be used to resolve health or safety issues, make accessibility modifications for people with disabilities, or make energy efficiency improvements to reduce utility costs.

Eligible applicants for Housing Preservation Grants include town or county governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. USDA does not provide funding directly to homeowners under this program.

Funding is limited, and applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis with scoring preference for applications that serve very-low-income households, demonstrate leveraged funding, show the applicant's capacity to successfully manage a housing repair program, and address other considerations as listed in the Federal Register notice.

> Read additional eligibility information.

Applications are accepted on an annual basis through a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register.

> Read more about the extended deadline.
> Discover more about the grant.
> Read the grant overview.
> Contact your Rural Development State Office with questions.

CAPCOG committees serve vital role

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Seven advisory committees are integral to the program work performed by CAPCOG; their roles vary but ultimately the goal is to make recommendations on regional issues to CAPCOG’s Executive Committee. The committees’ work may include strategic planning, planning specific to a program’s work plan and funding goals, or making recommendations specific to state and federal funding. Some perform technical analysis and planning to assist CAPCOG staff with program implementation.

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) assists with the development and implementation of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan. It also contributes to establishing procedures for reviewing solid waste projects and evaluates the projects, such as landfills, as they are proposed throughout the region. The committee also preliminarily scores projects for CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant funding every biennium.

> Read more about the SWAC.

The CAECD Strategic Advisory Committee’s primary role is to conduct short- and long-term planning for the delivery of emergency communications throughout the region. It also forms ad hoc technical committees to focus on specific issues including Text-to-911, regional radio communications interoperability solutions, and back-up network systems for 9-1-1 delivery.

> Read more about the CAECD Strategic Adivsory Committee.

The Homeland Security Task Force works to develop plans to address the use of tools and training needed to respond to man-made or natural disasters. It also makes recommendations for the State Homeland Security Program grants. The Task Force has subcommittees who develop plans on technical response, regional preparedness, communications, and public health and medical issues.

> Read more about the Homeland Security Task Force.

The Aging Advisory Council (AAC) serves as a forum for planning and providing feedback on aging related issues to drive some of the initiatives for the region. It also provides input on the use of funding for services and assists in the review of the Area Agency on Aging Area Plan.

> Read mroe about the AAC.

The Criminal Justice Advisory Committee contributes to developing the annual funding priorities and regional strategic planning documents for criminal justice grants. It also scores and ranks grant funding applications.

> Read more about the CJAC.

The GIS Planning Council (GISPC) helps coordinate the mutual development, implementation, sharing and maintenance of geospatial data and Geographic Information Systems applications among CAPCOG members. It has created ad hoc committees to address the uses of GIS by government practitioners and to deploy more useful mapping tools for emergency responders.

> Read more about the GISPC.

The Law Enforcement Education Committee (LEEC) identifies training issues and helps establish standards followed by the Regional Law Enforcement Academy for Basic Peace Officer Courses and other specialized and mandated in-service training for law enforcement officers.

> Read more about the LEEC.
> Discover more about these committees. 

CAPCOG recognizes Mallia for volunteer service

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

CAPCOG honored Melinda Mallia, Travis County Natural Resources Division Director, with its second annual volunteer service award.

“Mallia’s commitment to the proper planning, management, and disposal of solid waste and household hazardous waste in the CAPCOG region can’t be eclipsed,” said Ken May, CAPCOG regional services director.

Mallia served on the CAPCOG Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC), from 1996 to mid-2015 — the longest serving local government staff member of any CAPCOG committee. Mallia was instrumental in the development of the Regional Solid Waste Grant Program, the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan and its priorities, the landfill conformance review process, the closed landfill inventory process, and the private industry dispute and resolution process. During her service on SWAC, she contributed to selecting more than 300 projects, which received $11.3 million in regional solid waste funding.

> Read more about the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

Solid waste grants applications available for industry review

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments posted all 25 CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program applications, which local entities submitted to receive funding during the 2016-17 grant cycle, on capcog.org so private industry groups can review the applications.

Private industries that find issue with any of these applications have until 5 p.m. Jan. 19, 2-16to notify CAPCOG of their intent to dispute any application.

According to state law (Section 361.014 (b) of the Texas Health & Safety Code), a project or service funded under the Texas Regional Solid Waste Grants Program must promote cooperation between public and private entities, and the grant-funded project or service may not be otherwise readily available or create a competitive advantage over a private industry that provides recycling or solid waste services.

The request for applications ended Dec. 17 and the projects to receive funding should be selected in February.

> Review the applications.
> Discover more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program.
> Read Section 361.014 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
> Contact Matt Holderread, CAPCOG regional services grant coordinator, with concerns about an application, related to promoting cooperation between public and private entities.

Pitts earns Griesenbeck award

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts accepts the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award from Elgin Mayor and CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Marc Holm.

The Capital Area Council of Governments presented the 14th Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award to Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts at its annual December meeting.

Pitts, who has more than 20 years of service as a Lee County Commissioner, began serving CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee in 1994. He was elected to CAPCOG’s Executive Committee in 1999 and in 2007 was elected chair of the governing body. Pitts also has served for several years on the Capital Area Economic Development District and was a founding member of the Capital Area Transportation Planning Organization, the state’s first rural planning organization created by CAPCOG in 1999. He still serves on all the committees today.

But it’s also the work beyond CAPCOG’s boundaries that distinguishes Pitt’s service toward regionalism. He represented CAPCOG on the board of the Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) from 2003 to 2015. There he served on TARC’s legislative and transportation committees and was elected TARC President in 2014. Pitts also represents the interests of COGs statewide on solid waste issues; he is serving a six-year term on the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Committee that ends August 2017.

The award honors former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chair and TARC’s first president.

Senator Watson addresses regionalism at General Assembly

Friday, January 08, 2016

The General Assembly of the Capital Area Council of Governments held its annual meeting in December at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos, which featured Senator Kirk Watson as the keynote speaker.

Senator Watson, who was the first recipient of CAPCOG’s Leadership in Regionalism Award, discussed the need for local governments to work as a region when addressing issues such as transportation, economic development, affordable housing and air quality.

Watson, during his tenure as Austin Mayor in 2000, initiated the Clean Air Coalition at CAPCOG, which has become a model for city and county elected officials working to maintain EPA ozone standards and prevent a nonattainment designation that would decrease transportation funds and economic development opportunities.

He noted the region faces challenges concerning affordable housing, jobs and transportation. These issues are better addressed on a regional level, because they are intimately tied together and their impacts on one community affect communities region wide making the challenges hard to tackle independently. Efforts such as regional economic development initiatives can further improve access to affordable housing and jobs while limiting transportation strain by supporting balanced growth in communities increasing the possibility for more people to live near where they work.

Senator Watson’s comments opening the meeting were supported by the State of the Region report that closed it; CAPCOG’s Economic Development Manager Chris Schreck focused on the region’s population growth, economic growth, educational attainment, workforce availability, housing and regional transportation.

By many measures, 2015 was another banner year for the Capital Area, Schreck said. The region is attracting huge numbers of highly skilled workers. Firms are growing and jobs are being created. The unemployment rate is at 3.3 percent. However, the continued growth in the region has exacerbated long-standing issues and has created new challenges in the Capital Area. Inequity in educational outcomes limits the opportunity for everyone to benefit from the region’s growing economy. Rising housing costs are displacing many residents in Austin and parts of Hays and Williamson counties, forcing them to move to more suburban and rural locations. This has the effect of isolating them from employment opportunities and from the public services many low-income households depend upon.

> Read more about the 2015 State of the Region.

The General Assembly also elected a new Executive Committee for 2016, which will hold its first meeting of the year on Jan. 13, including Leander Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Navarrette and State Representative John Cyrier, the two newest members.

Twenty-five elected officials serving in CAPCOG’s 10-county region are elected to the Executive Committee each year after interest is solicited from member cities and counties. Texas COGs are also required to have at least one slot for a state legislator; however, CAPCOG solicits interest from the 17 who serve all or portions of its ten counties and typically selects 3-4 to serve.

Navarrette has served on Leander City Council since 2003. Cyrier, state representative for House District 17, was elected in 2015 to serve the residents of Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes and Lee counties. He is a former Caldwell County commissioner and served on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The Executive Committee meets monthly to oversee the management of the agency and focuses on the administrative policies and practices such as budgeting, auditing, procurement, and other operational policies necessary to carry out a wide menu of programs, many of which are dictated by contractual scopes of work from state and federal agencies. The Executive Committee is led by five officers who will be elected at the January meeting. It also serves as the managing board for the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, which governs the region’s 9-1-1 systems.

> See a full list of 2016 Executive Committee members. 

MyPermitNow, MyGovernmentOnline tracks development process

Monday, January 04, 2016

MyPermitNow creates a clear path through the permitting and inspection process for governments and contractors. The web-based application has simplified several Central Texas cities’ permitting process while saving them time and money. It is now part of a larger suite of online tools, MyGovernmentOnline, meant to provide similar benefits.

“MyPermitNow has been great. It has helped Leander streamline and speed up our process, which desperately needed to be done because we have a high volume of permits,” said Kent Cagle, Leander city manager. Without MyPermitNow, Leander would need more staff to maintain its records and keep up with demand.

Leander issues about 1,500 permits per year and MyPermitNow lets inspectors, permit filers, contractors, and city planners be aware of every step in the process, said Linda Alger, Leander building official.

Specifically, MyPermitNow allows online permit submission, processing, and automated notifications for the entire permitting process, starting with the submission of building documents through the issuance of a permit to a building’s occupancy. The software is customizable to a government’s needs and can store plans, photos and other information as needed. The service also offers archiving of past documents and records to maintain continuity for government record keeping.

Putting the information in the web-based software allows governments to use a paperless system that provides better document management and limits human error. Its other benefits include increased transparency, an auditable process, an online approval process, empirical verifications, improved project management, and better process controls.

Going to paperless permitting increased the amount of information a building inspector can access on a job site, Alger said. Instead of carrying large plans and paperwork, MyPermitNow gives inspectors access to  the project’s documents at the project site via a computer tablet. Those documents can include building plans, previous permit results and other items an inspector may need. The inspector also can update the inspection status on site.

“It gives instant notifications about the inspections,” Alger said. “The permit applicant gets an email, text, or an automated phone call about the results of their inspections, sometimes before the inspector leaves.”

The South Central Planning and Development Commission (SCPDC) in Louisiana developed MyPermitNow as a tool in response to the higher levels of plan review and permit tracking that became mandatory in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The SCPDC has since expanded the application to MyGovernmentOnline, which provides additional online resources including tools for code enforcement and planning and zoning.

The code enforcement tools allow for reporting complaints, tracking the complaint and seeing the complaint resolution. For the planning and zoning module, it lets officials search projects, check and review variances, and review subdivision and zoning requests.

CAPCOG is the Texas administrator of MyPermitNow and has registered 18 governments to use the software, since it began demonstrating it to local governments in 2011.

“As a regional partner to its local jurisdictions, CAPCOG realized the benefits MyPermitNow could provide to governments by creating more efficient processes that lead to cost savings,” said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director. “MyGovernmentOnline is now offering a whole suite of applications to assist cities with several processes, and the value added permitting portion of the program is on a whole other level.”

“(Permit applicants) don’t have to come to the front counter for anything,” said David Harrell, director of development services for Lago Vista. “MyPermitNow is a true representation of E-government.”  For instance, a general contractor can sit in his Austin office and submit a permit for a single-family home construction project in Lago Vista. From the same office, he can see when inspections will occur and their results.

Because of MyPermitNow’s increased capabilities, reporting for planning purposes are more readily available and accurate.

Using a code enforcement module, Lago Vista, which has used MyPermitNow since 2011, can provide weekly and monthly updates on actions taken by the department, Harrell said. The Lago Vista City Council and residents can review what code complaints were filed and how code compliance offers responded to the complaint.

> Contact Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director, for more information about MyGovernmentOnline.

CAAR Map puts data at fingertips

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Accurate information is invaluable for  planning — the CAPCOG Geographic Information System Program’s latest product, the Capital Area Addressing and Referencing Map (CAAR Map), delivers accurate, regional and timely data to planners and others.

CAPCOG uses the monthly updated address points and street data in the CAAR Map dataset for 9-1-1 emergency response and planning purposes. But these datasets are also useful in determining transportation routes for buses, taxis and other transit. When overlaid with demographic data, it can help determine area development trends for demographic analysis and growth planning. CAAR Map data can also be used as an excellent reference for plotting an organization’s customer database or other address information onto the map. This can be useful for marketing and many other purposes.

Because CAAR Map is based on emergency response data, the information goes through a rigorous process for correcting errors and a geocode testing. The process has led to 99.6 percent accuracy rating of its data. The high accuracy rating plus monthly updating and archiving makes CAAR Map a unique and superior product. CAAR Map is offered as a seamless, region-wide dataset covering all jurisdictions in CAPCOG’s 10 counties — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis, and Williamson.

> Discover more about CAAR Map and how to order its data.
> Learn about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

Holmes heads Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Training and educating people is at the core of Randy Holmes. Since the age of 19, the now 61 year old has trained soldiers and peace officers around the world on protecting people and being admirable public servants. In late October, CAPCOG promoted him to Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) director.

“I enjoy people that want to learn,” said Holmes. “It is very satisfying to see someone perform a skill they couldn’t perform when they came to me.”

Holmes worked eight years as the CAPCOG RLEA chief instructor. He has provided oversight and instruction for 32 basic peace officer courses and many law enforcement in-service classes. Before coming to CAPCOG, Holmes, who always wanted to be a police officer, served San Marcos as a patrol officer, patrol corporal, detective, patrol sergeant, and commander. Three years into his 22 year stint at San Marcos Police Department, Holmes began instructing his fellow officers on topics such as fire arms and self-defense. Holmes also was recruited to participate in United Nations Mission of Kosovo to train law enforcement officers in the region.

Holmes began his instructor career as a U.S. Army sergeant in Germany. He trained his fellow soldiers in skill courses such as demolition and bridge construction.

> Discover the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Review upcoming RLEA courses.
 

TCEQ announces alternative fuel, natural gas fueling station grants

Monday, December 14, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced up to $11.8 million in grants is available to eligible individuals, businesses, and governmental entities to continue the development of a network of alternative fuel and/or natural gas fueling stations to serve as a foundation for a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel vehicles.

The Clean Transportation Triangle (CTT) and Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and are offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own, and operate alternative fuel or natural gas fueling stations in eligible Texas counties.

The CTT/AFFP joint request for grant applications (RFGA) closes at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Because of the similarities between these programs, the TCEQ is soliciting applications for the programs under this joint RFGA. It is providing joint application forms for applicants to apply to one or both programs, depending on the eligibility of the project.

CTT/AFFP grants offset a portion of the cost of either the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels, or the substantial reconstruction of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels. Eligible fuels for the CTT program include compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Eligible alternative fuels for the AFFP include biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, propane, and electricity. 

The TCEQ has scheduled three application workshops to review the grant requirements and the application process. Reservations are not required.

ARLINGTON: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 11, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

HOUSTON: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 13, 2016
Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons, Suite 120 
Houston, TX 77027

AUSTIN: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 14, 2016
TCEQ's Austin Office 
Building E, Room 254
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

> Learn more about the grants.
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.
> Find other air quality programs.

Homeland Security grant process opens

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The FY 2016 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant application period began in December. SHSP grant funding assists local governments with purchasing and maintaining tools and equipment, training and planning required to respond to natural disasters and terrorist incidents.

The Homeland Security Division will conduct mandatory pre-application workshops for entities seeking funding at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2015 at CAPCOG in Austin.

> Register to attend a required grant writing workshop.
> Download the grant application template.

Applications must be submitted to CAPCOG by Jan. 15, 2016 to be considered.

Last year CAPCOG facilitated the allocation of about $1.9 million to 29 regional projects supporting interoperable communications, citizen volunteer response programs, rescue and terroristic-threat-response equipment purchases, and other emergency services programs. Since 2003, $36.4 million in funds have been awarded regionally.

> Discover more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Workshop teaches importance of economic analysis

Monday, December 07, 2015

Three economic development experts will outline and explain the advantages of conducting a successful economic impact analysis for development projects during a 2-hour workshop at the San Marcos Conference Center on Dec. 9.

The workshop, coordinated by CAPCOG, will focus on measuring economic impacts, particularly within the context of economic development incentives. It will address the alignment of economic development incentives to strategic goals, how to accurately measure the benefits and costs of an economic development project, and ongoing monitoring of economic impacts.

Chris Schreck, CAPCOG’s economic development program manager, will lead the workshop. The other featured presenters are two leading economic development practitioners in the CAPCOG region: Amy Madison, interim executive director of the Pflugerville Community Development Corporation, and Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation. Madison and Fletcher will describe how economic development incentives are used and impacts are measured in their communities. They will be available to answer specific questions.

Elected officials who attend the workshop can qualify to earn credit hours towards their state mandated or voluntary continuing education.

> Register to attend the workshop.

The workshop is free for officials residing in CAPCOG’s 10-county region.

> To receive a registration code, contact Mason Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator. 

Taylor credits public participation for award winning master plan

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Creating a master plan is about more than just designing a look for an area in town. It is about creating a distinct feel and experience for both residents and visitors. It is about synergizing new growth while maintaining a sustainable atmosphere for current businesses and residents. And most importantly, it is about the people, the community and the vision to move forward.

In early October, the American Planning Association – Texas Chapter awarded the city of Taylor its Project Planning Award in recognition for exemplary planning for the creation of Taylor’s new Downtown Master Plan. And while the physical award goes to the city, the honor and the credit go to the residents.
“We are extremely proud of the community support that went into the creation of the Downtown Master Plan,” said Holli Nelson, the city’s public information officer. “People care about Taylor and where we are going and how we are going to get there.”

More than a hundred people contributed to the Downtown Master Plan during its creation, which consisted of visioning secessions, community forums, stakeholder workshops, open houses, city council meetings and more.

Taylor’s Downtown Master Plan is innovative, transferrable, comprehensive and implementable, said Cameron Walker, APA-Texas Chapter committee chair for the planning awards. It also included a good record of public participation.

“Any plan without community support is a plan that will sit on the shelf,” said Noel Bernal, Taylor assistant city manager. Master plans can take years to fulfill, but when residents and business owners back them, developments guided by master plans can move faster as those who are already invested in the area continue to grow and redevelop themselves.

Taylor’s Downtown Master Plan combined previous work from seven other plans to encompass about 30 of the city’s blocks and about 14 streets. According to the plan, its goals set out to stimulate economic development, protect the unique history of Taylor, provide entertainment, recreation, programming and events and serve the needs of visitors and residents alike over other goals — all of which were prioritized by community stakeholders. Taylor adopted the plan in April 2015.

> Riewed Taylor's Downtown Master Plan.
> Discover the American Planning Association - Texas Chapter.

CAPCOG assists in disaster recovery, resiliency planning

Monday, November 23, 2015

Using funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), CAPCOG is in the beginning stages of mitigation and resiliency planning for communities in the eight counties affected by the May 2015 storms — Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis, and Williamson.

The first stages of the project focus on data collection and damage assessment to help quantify the impact of the May storms. CAPCOG has already met with the federal team responsible for economic recovery support, which includes representatives from the EDA, FEMA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Army Corp of Engineers. The intent is to coordinate with those organizations along with local government agencies to build upon data they have already collected. CAPCOG has also begun conversations with emergency management coordinators in Blanco, Hays, and Caldwell counties to establish processes for collecting additional information and coordinating efforts going forward.

Once the data collection process is completed, the next stage of the program will be an impact evaluation before moving to the mitigation and resiliency planning. The final planning effort will identify geographic areas of mitigation interest, target areas without proper mitigation, and enhance short-term recovery and long-term resiliency. The plan will help identify future projects that mitigate disaster risk and also promote economic development, the projects’ possible funding opportunities from EDA and other sources, and work to prioritize those projects.

CAPCOG received an EDA grant of $150,000, to be distributed over two years, to conduct the disaster recovery project.

> Discover CAPCOG's Economic Development Program.
> Learn about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

Water Development Board offers jurisdictions assistance with water plan projects

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board announced it will accept applications for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (Swift) that helps finance water projects.

SWIFT provides affordable, ongoing state financial assistance for projects in the state water plan. The fund helps communities develop and optimize water supplies at cost-effective rates. The program provides low-interest loans, extended repayment terms, deferral of loan repayments, and incremental repurchase terms for projects with state ownership aspects.

Any political subdivision of the state with a project included in the adopted regional water plans and that will be included in the state water plan can apply for assistance through this program.

  • Political subdivisions include:
  • Non-profit water supply corporations
  • Municipalities
  • Counties
  • River authorities
  • Special law districts
  • Water improvement districts
  • Water control and improvement districts
  • Irrigation districts
  • Groundwater conservation districts

Eligible projects are recommended water management strategies in the adopted regional water plans and that will be included in the state water plan, and have an associated capital cost.

> Read more about SWIFT.
> Review the 2015 SWIFT savings.

TCEQ schedules Emissions Reductions Incentive Grant workshops

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold seven grant application workshops for its Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) program throughout December to include one Austin workshop on Dec. 10.

The ERIG program funds the upgrade or replacement of older heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, and stationary equipment. Each workshop will provide an overview of program requirements and the application process. Workshops are free of charge and registration is not required.

ERIG is eligible to any person who operates or plans to operate on-road heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, or stationary engines primarily in one or more of the eligible counties. For infrastructure projects, persons owning or operating the infrastructure in an eligible county may also be eligible for funding.

Applicants can include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity. Applicants must have the legal authority to dispose of the vehicle being replaced.

Eligible CAPCOG counties for the grant include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson.

Application submissions will have a 5 p.m., Feb. 2, 2016 deadline.

Austin: Dec. 10, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
TCEQ's Austin Office 
Building E, Room 254S
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

> Get the grant application.
> Learn more about TERP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Other workshops:

El Paso: Dec. 3, 2015
1:30-4:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop 
El Paso Public Library-Main Branch
501 North Oregon Street
El Paso, TX 79901

Arlington: Dec. 7, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

Longview: Dec. 8, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Longview Public Library
222 West Cotton Street
Longview, TX 75601

San Antonio: Dec. 14, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Alamo Area Council of Governments 
8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 700 
San Antonio, TX 78217

Corpus Christi: Dec. 15, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
TCEQ Region 14 Office 
NRC Bldg., Ste. 1200
6300 Ocean Dr., Unit 5839
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412

Houston: Dec. 15, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop 
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop 
6 p.m. Applicant Workshop (en Español)
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

Beaumont: Dec. 16, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, Texas 77703

AAACAP assists with Medicare

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Seniors can face difficult decisions when changing their Medicare plans during the federal program’s open enrollment period. The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area Medicare benefit counselors can aid beneficiaries in determining which plan options may best fulfill their needs.

Since Medicare Open Enrollment began on Oct. 15, AAACAP benefit counselors have assisted hundreds of adults who are 60 years old or older in CAPCOG’s 10-county region. The counselors specialize in decoding the enrollment process by educating beneficiaries on their Medicare options and assisting them through the process. Changes to Medicare plans can save seniors money and enhance their benefits.

Residents seeking help with the open enrollment process should be ready to provide their full name, address and contact number, red-white-and blue Medicare card information, and a list of prescription medications (name of medication, dosage and how often they take it).

The deadline for seniors to change their Medicare plan is Dec. 7, and residents shouldn’t hesitate to get assistance from a benefit counselor at 512-916-6062 or 888-622-9111 ext. 6062. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.

> Read more about Medicare Open Enrollment.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Learn more on the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area.

November honors Caregivers, brings Alzheimer’s awareness

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments proclaimed it is joining many communities around the nation who recognize November as National Caregiver and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

“It is important to acknowledge the significant role that family, friends and neighbors play in caring for sick, elderly and disabled relatives,” said Jennifer Scott, director of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area. 

An estimated 43.5 million caregivers nationwide provide unpaid care, valued at an estimated $450 billion per year, to an adult or child who can’t care for themselves, according to a 2015 AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving report. 

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious public health problem that particularly affects older adults, Scott said. About 1 in 9 older adults have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Fifteen percent of people ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s and the percentage increases to 43 for adults between the ages of 75 and 84.

Through services provided by the AAA and ADRC, the Capital Area Council of Governments supports both causes year around with a variety of programs, services, and events. Some of the programs include:

  • The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), which provides in-home respite care, voucher respite, mental health services and more services directly to caregivers
  • Stressbusting for Family Caregivers, which helps caregivers with reducing stress and coping with the emotional decisions they are faced with while caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a chronic disease
  • Caregiver education, which sends a gerontologist into the home for an assessment and family counseling
  • Caregiver educational presentations, which brings lecturers and caregiving experts to communities throughout the region

> Read the Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Proclamation.
> Read the National Caregiver Awareness Month Proclamation.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Discover the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area.

CARTPO to discuss Proposition 7 funding, project priorities

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CARTPO) will discuss the anticipated funding the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will receive from the passing of Proposition 7 as it relates to regional transportation infrastructure projects during its 9:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 20 meeting.

Proposition 7 will provide a permanent funding stream of about $2.5 billion through state fees to TxDOT for transportation projects starting in 2018. It is being enacted after a constitutional amendment was drafted during the 84th legislative session and authorized by the Senate Joint Resolution 5.

CARTPO members also will reevaluate their local priorities for transportation funding which CARTPO provided to TxDOT in 2014 for consideration in several of the agency’s programs. The programs included the Long-Range Transportation Plan, Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, Unified Transportation Program and other TxDOT initiatives requiring consultation with rural planning organizations.

The meeting will be in the CAPCOG Pecan Room.

> Discover the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

CAPCOG solid waste grant program seeks projects

Monday, November 09, 2015

Slightly more than $204,000 of pass-through funding is available to local communities during the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program 2016-17 cycle.

The grant program began taking applications Nov. 3 and has a Dec. 17 deadline. A Nov. 18 grant writing workshop will provide assistance to applicants. Grant funds are available to local governments, school districts, and general and special law districts. The funds may be used in seven project categories:

  • Local enforcement;
  • Litter and illegal dumping cleanup and collection events;
  • Source reduction and recycling;
  • Citizen collection stations;
  • Household hazardous waste management;
  • Education and training;
  • And other (projects in this category must be approved by the TCEQ on a project-by-project basis).

During 2014 and 2015, the solid waste grant funded 14 projects. The majority of the projects provided funding for communities to conduct household hazardous waste collection events and community cleanups. Funds helped Fayette County, Smithville, and Austin Community College purchase recycling program equipment. Bastrop County used funds to create and update outreach materials on proper waste disposal.

> Apply for a CAPCOG solid waste grant.
> Register for the upcoming grant writing workshop.
> Discover the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.
 

TCEQ seeks applications for Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants

Thursday, November 05, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program announced it is now accepting applications for the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG). The grant funds the upgrade or replacement of older heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, and stationary equipment.

Application submissions will have a 5 p.m., Feb. 2, 2016 deadline.

The grant is eligible to any person who operates or plans to operate on-road heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, or stationary engines primarily in one or more of the eligible counties. For infrastructure projects, persons owning or operating the infrastructure in an eligible county may also be eligible for funding.

Applicants can include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity. Applicants must have the legal authority to dispose of the vehicle being replaced.

Eligible CAPCOG counties for the grant include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson.

Grant Application Workshops, Dealer Trainings, and Application Assistance Sessions will be scheduled to provide an overview of the ERIG application process. The ERIG program has several new changes this year. Plan to attend a workshop to learn more about new program requirements and new grant application forms.

> Watch for upcoming grant workshops and trainings.
> Get the grant application.
> Learn more about TERP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG launches criminal justice plan survey

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments opened an online survey for criminal justice planners and professionals and area residents to provide input into the Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan.

Two planning meetings were held on Oct.29, 2015, but CAPCOG wanted to solicit additional input from area criminal justice stakeholders and developed the survey for those who were unable to attend the planning meetings.

The survey is available until 5 p.m. Nov. 9, 2015. Please pass the survey's link to anyone who would be interested in providing input on the Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan in the CAPCOG region. People who attended either stakeholder meeting should not complete the survey, since they already provided input for the plan.

> Take the 2016 Criminal Justice Strategic Plan survey.

The Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan indentifies gaps in direct victim assistance, juvenile justice, mental health, and criminal justice issues so that services, existing programs, new initiatives, and funding opportunities may be reviewed and resources targeted accordingly.

> Read the current Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan.
> Discover more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.
> For more information about the survey, contact Matt Holderread.

Governor’s office opens body camera grants

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Source: Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division.

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, on Oct. 26 announced a new grant program to aid municipal police departments and county sheriff’s offices in establishing or enhancing body-worn camera (BWC) programs.

The Criminal Justice Division anticipates up to $10 million may be funded through the grant program to municipal police and county sheriff’s departments. Such departments must employ officers who are engaged in traffic or highway patrol, otherwise regularly detain or stop motor vehicles, or are primary responders to calls for assistance from the public. Funds may only be used for the one-time purchase of cameras and to procure digital video storage resources (not to exceed one year).

Grantees must provide matching funds equal to 25 percent of the awarded amount. Match requirements can be met through cash or in-kind contributions. Grant applications will be accepted until 5 p.m., Dec. 7, 2015.

> Review and learn how to apply for the grant.
> Learn about the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division.
> Discover the Capital Area Council of Governments Criminal Justice Division.

19 graduate from Capital Area peace officer academy

Monday, October 26, 2015

Walking across a stage in the Texas Capitol on Friday, 19 former Capital Area Regional Law Enforcement Academy cadets commenced their police officers careers.

“All 19 cadets worked hard to achieve the honor of graduating from the academy to pursue a career in law enforcement,” said Mike Jennings, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy director. “Their dedication for learning what it takes to become a peace officer has paid off. Every graduating cadet passed their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement certification exam, seven earned a 90 or higher on the exam.”

For seven months, the graduating cadets spent nights and weekends taking the academy’s Basic Peace Officer Certification Course, which started in March. CAPCOG offers a part-time, night academy at least once a year, so prospective peace officers can maintain jobs while enrolled in the course.

State Representative Marsha Farney gave the keynote commencement speech telling the graduates they are embarking on a noble profession that will inspire their neighbors, friends, families and even themselves.

This is the 76th graduation held by the academy, four of which were held this year. The class president of the graduating cadets was Margaret Acuna. Brett Engstrom was honored as the course’s salutatorian. Ryan Staha earned the honors of being Valedictorian.

> Learn when the next Basic Peace Officer Course will be conducted.
> Discover the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Find other courses offered by the academy.

The following cadets graduated from the course:

  • Margaret Acuna
  • Billy Brown
  • Bradley Brown
  • Richard Ciolfi
  • Ian Clark
  • Shawn Conway
  • Brett Engstrom
  • Eric Graham
  • Jesus Hernandez
  • Jarrod Jarmon
  • Bryce Johnson
  • Cameron Moore
  • David Oberg
  • Tyler Schafer
  • Carly Serna
  • Traci Smith
  • Ryan Staha
  • Kathryn Stewart
  • Raul Valdez

Nursing students educate capital area seniors about falls

Thursday, October 22, 2015

After several trips to thrift stores, a pair of Texas A&M nursing students unloaded 1/2 dozen pairs of sneakers and other shoe styles on a classroom table.

The two students were collecting tangible examples of shoes that help prevent seniors from falling. They wanted to make sure every student in their class had a pair to display while teaching “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls” in the communities served by the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), said Darla Gruben, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.

Texas A&M Health Science Center, College of Nursing in Round Rock, and AAACAP partnered to teach A Matter of Balance. The partnership benefits everyone the program touches. It increases the number of older adults who learn about fall prevention; allows for AAACAP, a Capital Area Council of Governments division, to reach more seniors with the program, and the students learn valuable skills and information.

“The Texas A&M and AAACAP partnership has greatly benefited older residents living in Williamson County,” said Liz Salinas, AAACAP Health and Wellness Coordinator. “It allows for a continual pool of passionate and devoted coaches who can educate older residents in several area communities at once.”

A Matter of Balance is an evidence based program created by the Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function at Boston University. The course teaches older adult participants to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risks at home, and exercises to increase strength and improve balance. The course is taught over eight, 2-hour sessions by two coaches.

AAACAP provides the course throughout the 10-county region, trains program coaches and oversees program fidelity. For the partnership with Texas A&M, it trains the nursing students to be certified program coaches.

> To volunteer as a Matter of Balance coach contact Liz Salinas.

Every year, there are 20 students at the Round Rock campus who take the course that teaches A Matter of Balance as part of its curriculum. They become certified A Matter of Balance coaches after 8 hours of training over two days conducted by Salinas, a master trainer for the program. The nursing students can then lead A Matter of Balance programs for about 48 seniors a year. Since the program began 6 years ago, about 300 older adults have received fall prevention classes.

The nursing student led A Matter of Balance classes started Sept. 28 and are being facilitated at senior living communities in Round Rock, Georgetown and Leander; and at a senior center in Round Rock.  
The dedication and enthusiasm of the nursing students tends to transfer to the older-adult participants in each A Matter of Balance program, Gruben said. Every session is full of energy from both the nursing students and the seniors.

While seniors benefit from learning about fall prevention, the students are learning from teaching the classes.

“At first they are fearful, because they have been in a hospital setting and not educating groups of people, but after that first class, they are so excited and realize the A Matter of Balance materials give them a lot in their tool kit, and it allows them to give back to their community,” Gruben said. “They realize they are really fulfilling a need in the community.”

A large part of nursing is patient education. This partnership teaches the students how to handle that education at a different level and bring it back to a one-on-one patient setting. It also shows the nursing students there is a variety for job opportunities in the community for nurses because these programs are held in a non-hospital setting.

Just learning about fall prevention is another great aspect of the partnership for the nursing students, Gruben said.

Injuries resulting from falls make up about 88 percent of emergency room visits nationwide.

“Everyone is given a fall risk assessment in the hospital,” she said. “The students can use what they have learned during their A Matter of Balance training to better assess a patient, prevent a patient from falling at the hospital, and educate the patient about fall prevention once they return home.”

A Matter of Balance is a very important program that educates everyone from the programs participants to the student coaches about the risk of falling, Gruben said. It is a wonderful cause for Texas A&M nursing students to be passionate about and doing the “selfless service that we promote as an Aggie Core Value here at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.” That passion drives some students to not only talk about what types of shoes help prevent falls, but also to voluntarily rush out and buy appropriate examples of shoes.

> Discover more about A Matter of Balance.
> Learn about the Area Agency on Aging. 

CAPCOG telecommunicator licensing training passes 100%

Monday, October 19, 2015

CAPCOG has always trained telecommunicators, and its year-old, 40-hour basic telecommunicator course demonstrates another outstanding addition to educational opportunities in which call-takers can partake.

The state began requiring telecommunicators to be licensed by Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in 2014. Since then, CAPCOG has offered four Basic Telecommunicator classes. Students of the classes achieved a 100 percent pass rate. Students are required to score an 85 percent or greater to pass the class. All students who took the licensing exam also excelled with a 100 percent pass rate, passing the exam on their first try.

CAPCOG has taught about 30 students with an average exam score of 82 percent. CAPCOG offers the Basic Telecommunicator course four times a year free of charge to telecommunicators working within the 10-county region. Outside agencies are welcome to send students to our class for a fee.

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division offers a variety of other training courses.

> For more information contact Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG PSAP specialist.

The next Basic Telecommunicator class is from Dec. 7 through 11. The exam will be Dec. 14.

> Discover more emergency communicaitons courses.

Area residents can register to receive emergency warnings in 2 minutes

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments wants to remind area residents registering for the regional notification system (RNS), a messaging service that alerts residents of emergency and non-emergency situations, can take as little time as two minutes.

RNS messages sent by local officials may include content such as incident-specific information, recommended protective actions or response directives. They can be delivered to various devices that accept voice, email or text messaging content and to alpha or numeric pagers. The message sender identifies recipients, develops the message and determines which types of devices receive the message.

> Register to receive emergency messages from RNS.

All you need to register is your phone or cellphone number and an address.

Once registered for CAPCOG’s RNS provider, CodeRed, residents will recognize the RNS call when their caller ID displays the following numbers. Please be sure to add these telephone numbers into your telephone's contacts, when applicable:

  • 866-419-5000 or Emergency Comm for Emergency Notifications
  • 855-969-4636 or ECN Community for General Notifications 
  • 800-566-9780 or Emergency Comm for CodeRED Weather Warning Alerts

To hear the last message delivered to a phone, simply dial the number back.

> Want to more about RNS, discover more on how it is used.

CAPCOG General Assembly adopts FY 2016 budget

Thursday, October 15, 2015

CAPCOG’s approved 2016 budget estimates expenditures of $24.4 million and revenues of $24.42 million.

The Area Agency on Aging, including the Aging and Disability Resource Center, and the Capital Area Emergency Communications District consist of the largest budget expenditures — $8.4 million and $13.2 million respectively.

New programs and projects planned for the budget year include: text to 9-1-1, a regional radio communications interoperability plan, an in-home caregiver respite program, scenario place-making, the Capital Area Addressing and Referencing Map (CAAR Map) GIS program, and more.

The 2016 fiscal year budget is almost a 2 percent increase from the 2015 fiscal year budget. The General Assembly approved the budget in September, and a complete budget book was posted in October.

> Review CAPCOG's Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
> Read other CAPCOG financial documents.
> Discover more about CAPCOG.

Capital Area Mutual Aid Plan coordinates region

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Capital Area Mutual Aid Plan’s goal is to make available the appropriate resources at the appropriate time in response to large-scale, emergency management incidents as they develop.

Covering all 10-counties in CAPCOG and the Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council 11-county region, the plan provides guidance for the coordination of many different types of available local, public resources needed for regional response in the event of catastrophic incidents. It addresses the system of requesting, locating, and mobilizing those resources and the coordination of their deployment before and after substantial state, federal or distant local resources can arrive.

CAPCOG’s Executive Committee approved the plan in September, which is different than the Capital Area Mutual Aid Agreement approved in 2006. The agreement pertains to counties and municipalities and what resources — police, fire, and emergency medical units — they may make available, while the plan is directed at those local governments and other organizations not eligible through agreement, such as the American Red Cross.

If a local government adopts the agreement, then it automatically becomes a participant of the plan. Other political subdivisions, nonprofits, and private sector organizations can partake in the plan and not the agreement.

> Read the full plan.
> Review the mutual aid agreement.
> Discover the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

EPA announces $7 million to reduce diesel emissions from school buses

Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of about $7 million for rebates to public and private school bus fleet owners for the replacement and retrofit of older school buses. Replacing buses with older engines will reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality.

New to this year’s program is the option of implementing retrofit technologies. Fleet owners can install diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) plus closed crankcase ventilation (CCV) systems to reduce emissions up to 25 percent, and they can replace older buses with newer ones that meet the latest on-highway emission standards as in previous EPA rebate programs. EPA will pay up to $3,000 for each DOC plus CCV, and between $15,000 and $25,000 per replacement bus, depending on the size.

EPA will accept applications from September 28 to October 30, 2015. Applicants may request up to 10 buses for replacement and up to 10 buses for the retrofit option on each application. Fleets with more than 101 buses in operation may submit two applications.

Public school bus fleets and those owned privately but contracted with a public school system are eligible to apply for rebates to replace school buses with engine model years of 2006 or older.  They may also apply to install DOC plus CCV technology on school buses with engine model years 1994-2006.

Many of the nation’s school buses are powered by diesel engines. EPA standards for new diesel engines make them more than 90 percent cleaner than older ones, but many older diesel engines remain in operation and predate these standards. Older diesel engines emit large quantities of pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These pollutants are linked to health problems, including aggravated asthma, lung damage and other serious health issues.

This is the third rebate program offered under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) reauthorization to fund cleaner school buses. Nearly 25,000 buses have been made cleaner because of the funding.

> Learn more about the rebate program, applicant eligibility and selection process, and informational webinar dates.
> Email the EPA questions about the program.
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program.
 

Central Texas likely to remain designated in ozone “attainment”

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new ozone standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) may not have a significant impact on Central Texas since the region’s air pollution levels will likely remain low enough to avoid a “nonattainment” designation. The new, more stringent health-based ozone standard, announced Oct. 1, 2015, tightens the National Ambient Air Quality Standard from 75 ppb to increase protections for human health and the environment. Peak ozone levels in Central Texas have averaged 68 ppb between 2013 and 2015. If the region’s ozone levels were above 70 ppb, it would be at risk for being designated nonattainment, which could cost $24 to $42 billion in economic losses for the region, according to a report by the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG).

“Central Texas has been a national leader in voluntarily reducing ozone-forming emissions, and every resident of Central Texas can be proud of the success of the region’s efforts to keep the air clean and avoid the burdens of an ozone nonattainment designation,” Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, who serves as the chair of the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC) said. “I encourage residents to continue these efforts in 2016 to help ensure that the region can remain designated attainment for this new ozone standard.”

Since 2002, the CAC has led local efforts to remain in attainment of ground-level ozone standards. Through these efforts, local governments, businesses, and other organizations in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties have worked with the EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to voluntarily reduce local ozone-forming emissions. As part of the region’s current air quality plan, 30 organizations have voluntarily implemented more than 500 emission reduction measures, and another 24 organizations participate through CLEAN AIR Force’s Clean Air Partners Program. These emission reductions were critical in keeping the region designated attainment for the two previous ozone standards, and will be important to remain designated attainment for the EPA’s new ozone standard. The EPA has recognized these local efforts by awarding Clean Air Excellence awards for Community Engagement to the Clean Air Coalition in 2014 and the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas in 2015.

Although the region’s current ozone levels are in compliance with the new standard, pollution levels can vary substantially year-to-year. Keeping ozone levels low in 2016 will be important to ensuring the region can avoid a nonattainment designation under the new standard.

Residents of Central Texas can help the region remain in compliance with the new air quality standard and improve public health protections by purchasing newer, cleaner vehicles; avoiding driving alone to work; and conserving energy. On “Ozone Action Days,” when meteorologists expect ozone levels to be particularly high, children, seniors, and people with respiratory problems should avoid prolonged exposure outdoors, and motorists should avoid idling and taking unnecessary trips.

> Discover more information on regional air quality in Central Texas.
> Read CAPCOG's fact sheet about EPA’s new ozone standard, and how it affects Central Texas.

CAPCOG Disaster Debris Plan earns award

Monday, September 28, 2015

CAPCOG’s Disaster Debris Plan, which can be used by municipalities and counties, offers guidance via a template for a coordinated, quick, and succinct response to large scale, debris generating events by establishing a common and standardized approach to handling debris. The recently completed plan has earned national recognition for its contribution in strengthening economic resiliency in communities affected by disaster.

The National Association of Development Organizations announced in August CAPCOG’s Disaster Debris Plan will receive a 2015 Innovation Award. The plan, which was funded through Texas Homeland Security State Administrative Agency’s Regional allocations, was completed earlier in 2015 with help from regional stakeholders. It strives to allow local governments to hastily secure the public health, safety and welfare of a community; let communities realize their maximum disaster reimbursement; and sustain resiliency against debris negatively impacting their economies.

> Discover more about the plan and see helpful debris management documents.
> Read more a full article about the plan.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Planning Program.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Homeland Security Director to retire

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ed Schaefer, the Capital Area Council of Governments Homeland Security Division director, will retire Sept. 30 after 25 years of his career dedicated to emergency management and disaster preparedness.

“It has been a great pleasure to work in homeland security in Central Texas both as a member of the Homeland Security Task Force and as its CAPCOG staff support,” Schaefer said. “The Task Force has focused on coordination and cooperation and shown it works.”

For the last eight years, Schaefer has worked for CAPCOG where he coordinated the task force. His work has helped improve regional communications interoperability, regional planning, communities’ use of emergency notifications, and regional cooperation.

Schaefer was instrumental in starting cellphone self-registration for emergency notifications; developing the statewide mutual aid system; and coordinating the purchase of regional resources to deploy throughout CAPCOG’s 10 counties.
Much of what the Homeland Security Task Force has accomplished during Schaefer’s tenure surpasses preparing for any one incident, he said. Its efforts have helped public safety personnel in preparing for and responding to a wide range of incidents.

Prior to coming to CAPCOG, Schaefer served on the Task Force as the Lower Colorado River Authority’s emergency management coordinator. He worked for LCRA for 10 years and previously served with the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management for 7 years and as the emergency management coordinator for Burnet County.

> Read more about CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division.

Nonattainment designation for new ozone standard could cost Central Texas

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) released a report that estimated that a “nonattainment” designation for the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could cost Central Texas $24 - $42 billion over the next 30 years.

“This report shows that there are real economic consequences of an ozone nonattainment designation, and underscores that there are real economic benefits to taking voluntary action to reduce ozone levels in areas like Central Texas to avoid a nonattainment designation,” said Andrew Hoekzema, CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program Manager.

A nonattainment designation would mean added permitting requirements, extra hurdles for infrastructure development, and regulations on emissions of existing businesses within the region. CAPCOG’s new report estimates what the economic impact of these regulations could be if the region is designated nonattainment.

By Oct. 1, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required under a court order to finalize a new ozone NAAQS or retain the existing standard. Last year, the EPA proposed to reduce the level of the ozone NAAQS from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 65-70 ppb. Ozone levels in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties — are currently at 68 ppb, putting it right in the middle of that range. If the EPA sets the standard at the lowest end of that range, it is likely that one or more counties in the Austin-Round Rock MSA will be designated a “nonattainment” area for the new NAAQS.

Since 2002, the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC) has led local efforts to remain in attainment of ground-level ozone standards. Through voluntary regional air quality planning efforts, local governments, businesses, and other organizations in the Austin-Round Rock MSA have worked with the EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to voluntarily reduce local ozone-forming emissions. As part of the region’s current air quality plan, 30 organizations have voluntarily implemented more than 500 emission reduction measures, and another 24 organizations participate through CLEAN AIR Force’s Clean Air Partners Program. These emission reductions have been critical to keeping the region designated attainment for the two previous ozone standards, and are likely to be important again in the area’s ability to remain designated in attainment for the EPA’s new ozone standard. The EPA has recognized these local efforts by awarding Clean Air Excellence awards for Community Engagement to the Clean Air Coalition in 2014 and the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas in 2015.

“We hope that this report can help motivate the Central Texas community to continue the good work it has been doing for over a decade to voluntarily reduce ozone-forming emissions,” Hoekzema said. “This will be especially important in 2016, since designations will likely be based on 2014-2016 ozone levels. We also hope that this report can serve as the starting point for discussions between our community and the EPA to find creative ways to work within the Clean Air Act to improve air quality without designating an area nonattainment unless absolutely necessary.”

> Read the full report.
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Striking a Balance 2015 shares caregiver resources

Monday, September 21, 2015

Striking a Balance 2015, a caregivers conference will place national and local resources in front of family caregivers who have dedicated a portion of their life caring for their loved ones.

Organized by the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and AGE of Central Texas, the conference will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 26 at Norris Conference Center, 2525 W Anderson Lane, No. 365, Austin. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

“A family caregiver’s dedication to their loved one can be stressful and equal the work of a fulltime job, leaving little time for themselves,” said Jennifer Scott, AAACAP division director. “We have partnered to bring Striking a Balance to Austin for 14 years, so family caregivers have a venue to learn about their resources and know that they are not alone in facing their challenges.”

This year’s conference will feature nationally-acclaimed speaker and author, Dr. Sara Honn Qualls. Qualls will speak on how caregiving changes over time and explain when and how to implement changes. She is the Kraemer Family Professor of Aging Studies and Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

The conference also will feature a number of breakout sessions lead by local experts and vendor information tables.

> Find out more about the conference.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

TCEQ Announces Workshops for TERP Grant Recipients

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality scheduled "I Just Received a TERP Grant-Now What?" workshops to assist Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) grant recipients with using their recently awarded funds.

Four workshops, slated to take place across the state, will provide an overview of the reimbursement, disposition, and monitoring process to grantees who recently were awarded a grant under the TERP Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) and Rebate Grants programs. The Austin workshop will be from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Sept. 29, at TCEQ’s Austin Offices.

TERP Staff will be available to address specific questions or concerns following the workshop. The workshop will be beneficial to grantees, vehicle and equipment dealers, third-party preparers, and financing entities.

Please visit www.terpgrants.org or call 1-800-919-TERP (8377) for more information regarding the scheduled workshops.

Austin: 1:30 - 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015
TCEQ's Austin Office
Building F, Room 2210 
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753 

Houston: 1:30 - 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

Arlington: 1:30 - 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive, Centerpoint II
Arlington, TX 76011 

San Antonio: 1:30 - 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
Alamo Area Council of Governments
8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 700
San Antonio, TX 78217

> Learn more about the TERP Grants.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Austin seeks nonprofit, business participation on disaster census

Monday, September 14, 2015
Source: City of Austin

The City of Austin is asking businesses and nonprofits to participate in a survey that will help assess their readiness and ability to recover from a disaster event. The census will run through Sept. 21.

> Take the survey.

According to a study by the Institute for Business and Home Safety, 25 percent of companies do not reopen after a major disaster.

The census is a part of an ongoing collaborative effort to make the Austin community more resilient and aid in recovery from disaster.

The City of Austin was the only city to be awarded a $150,000 Economic Recovery Preparedness Grant in 2014 by the Texas Homeland Security State Administrative Agency – State Homeland Security Program to enhance Austin’s business preparedness to recover from a natural or human-caused disaster. The grant is a result of a collaborative application by the City Economic Development Department (EDD) and Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM).

As a result of the grant, Austin has engaged a professional disaster assistance consultant, ProSource Technologies, and a policy research firm, Morningside Research, to survey how prepared Austin’s business community (including nonprofit, artist, artist organizations and musicians) are for an interruption in operations.

The team will make recommendations to the city on the most effective means to engage Austin businesses on resiliency and disaster recovery on an ongoing basis and later this year will conduct forums with practical information on existing community resources available to local businesses at little or no cost to assist with business continuity planning and workforce readiness.

“Recent natural disasters, such as the Memorial Day floods, proved that a disaster can hit at any time,” said Kevin Johns, Director for the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department.  “There is much that a business owner — from those that provide critical infrastructure like gas or groceries, to a music venue, nonprofit or big business — can do today to protect their employees, reduce their financial losses, and re-open quickly to support Austin’s economic recovery.”

> Take the survey.
> Discover more about the City of Austin Economic Development Department. 
> Learn about the City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM).

Travis County promotes RNS, safety tips during National Preparedness Month

Thursday, September 10, 2015
Source: Travis County Emergency Services

As part of National Preparedness Month, Travis County reminds residents to plan now for emergencies.—Don't wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today. Any time of the year, Travis County and Central Texas could face wildfires, tornadoes, flash floods, or man-made disasters. This year, we have seen the dangers of flash flooding, while still experiencing drought and wildfire danger.

How can anyone prepare for the possibility of these different disasters? Go to ready.gov/september or ready.gov/es/septiembre to learn more. Take practical steps, so that you are informed and ready for events beyond your control: 

  1. Stay informed. Monitor news reports for emergency information. Remember that there may be no electricity during a disaster, so a hand-crank radio is recommended. Register your cell phone, phone landline, email address or pager to receive Regional Notification System alerts by voice call, email or text at http://wireless.capcog.org. The Travis County Emergency Services Facebook (TravisCoEmergencyServices) and Twitter (@TravisCountyES) pages also provide updates during emergencies.
  2. Build a disaster supply kit. Your kit should include enough non-perishable food, one gallon of water per day per person, prescription medication and other supplies, such as flashlights, batteries and a first-aid kit. Learn more about disaster supply kits at ready.gov/kit
  3. Make a plan that extends from home to vehicle, workplace and other locations. Remember to have supplies at all locations, and keep vehicle fuel tanks at least half full. 
  4. Prepare your home and decrease the threat of wildfires to you and your property by following the Ready, Set, Go! brochure at traviscountytx.gov/wildfire.  
  5. Get involved–Prepare your community for emergencies: For more information on National Preparedness Month and getting others involved, go to:  ready.gov/september or ready.gov/es/septiembre, and follow #NatlPrep.

> Learn more about Travis County Emergency Services.
> Read more about CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Discover more about the Regional Notification System that serves all ten CAPCOG counties.

Jack Griesenbeck Award solicits nominations

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck was a man of vision when he decided to be the first chairman of the now Capital Area Council of Governments in 1970 and subsequently the first president of the Texas Association of Regional Councils, the state association representing all 24 Texas councils of governments. These organizations by definition must focus on regional issues that mutually benefit multiple local governments when doing their work. It is not always easy to wear your “regionalism hat” when you represent a more narrow constituency, but Judge Griesenbeck did that consistently as have the recipients of the award named after him.

In 2001, CAPCOG created the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award to recognize those who have articulated the need for regionalism and supported the activities to achieve it. The first recipient was Senator Kirk Watson who brought together county and city officials to develop the state’s first voluntary air quality plan recognized by EPA in 2002. The Early Action Compact was a proactive approach to keep the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area from entering a nonattainment status and to avoid onerous federal mandates. The region and the organization Watson started, the Clean Air Coalition, continues to implement its third voluntary emission reduction plan.

Dr. W. Neal Kocureck, a local doctor and community leader, followed in 2002 after he launched Envision Central Texas, an effort to create a long-term vision of how the region should grow through a collaborative community by community approach. Bob Daigh, then district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation- Austin office, was the first in his position statewide to embrace the benefits of regional transportation planning among urban and rural county elected officials sharing ideas and prioritizing projects that would have the most impact on regional mobility.

Others recognized include former Caldwell County Judge H.T. Wright. Wright served many years on CAPCOG’s board until he died in 2010, but he also represented all Texas COGs and their 9-1-1 programs by serving on the Commission for State Emergency Communications. The most recent honoree was former Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, who always kept goals of the region at the forefront during his 20 years serving on CAPCOG’s board.

“Being regional isn’t always an easy thing to do when often leaders in our communities must prioritize their goals starting with the organization they represent,” explained CAPCOG’s executive director Betty Voights. “But when they can link those goals with what’s good for our region, they typically become more involved with CAPCOG, and we all benefit from their involvement.” 

After seeing so many work for the region for so long, Voights said it was important for CAPCOG to acknowledge those who consistently advocate a regional approach.

This September, CAPCOG is seeking its 14th honoree to receive the annual Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award. Nominations will be accepted from CAPCOG General Assembly Representatives until Oct. 7. The recipient of the award will be announced at the Dec. 9 CAPCOG General assembly meeting.

Previous Jack Griesenbeck Leadership Award in Regionalism Recipients
  • Mayor Kirk Watson, City of Austin
  • Dr. W. Neal Kocurek
  • Robert J. Huston, Chair of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
  • Mayor Ray Sanders, City of Lockhart
  • Bob Daigh, Texas Department of Transportation Austin District Engineer
  • Texas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos
  • Mike Simpson, City of Austin and Texas Radio Coalition
  • County Judge H.T. Wright, Caldwell County
  • Police Chief Mark Whitacre, City of Marble Falls
  • Texas Senator Troy Fraser
  • Mike Fisher, Emergency Management Coordinator of  Bastrop County
  • Seth S. Searcy, Attorney at Law
  • County Judge Sam Biscoe, Travis County

> Download a Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award nomination form.
> Submit the nomination form to Mason W. Canales, the CAPCOG member services coordinator, by Oct. 7.

TCEQ issues first 2015 ozone action day for Austin area

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued an Ozone Action Day for the Austin area for Thursday, August 27, 2015.

Atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for producing high levels of ozone air pollution in the Austin area, stated the TCEQ.

You can help prevent ozone pollution by sharing a ride, walking or riding a bicycle, taking your lunch to work, avoiding drive-through lanes, conserving energy, and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.

The day will mark the Capital Area’s first ozone action day of the year.

> Read about ozone facts.
> Discover the Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality Program.
> Learn about CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas.

TCEQ offers funds to reduce school bus emissions, better student health

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

A Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) grant program to reduce emissions and improve the health of school children and bus drivers started taking applications earlier this month. It will accept grant request until Dec. 2, 2015.

The Texas Clean School Bus Program strives to improve the health of school children and bus drivers through reducing school bus diesel exhaust. It is a comprehensive program designed to reduce emissions of diesel exhaust by retrofitting older school buses. The TCEQ provides the grant money so districts can purchase and install devices on diesel-powered school buses to reduce emissions.

According to the Texas Education Agency more than 33 percent of school buses in local fleets are more than 10 years old. Several advancements in vehicle and engine technology have helped reduce emissions from school buses, which helps reduce air pollution, since those buses were purchased.

The Texas Clean School Bus Program has retrofitted more than 7,200 buses across the state since the TCEQ started the program.

All public school districts and charter schools in Texas are eligible to apply for the grant. Public school districts that lease buses also are eligible. Private schools are not eligible for funding.

To meet the TCEQ qualifications, a school bus must:

  • have an engine model year 2006 or older;
  • be used on a regular, daily route, to and from school; and
  • be kept and used by the school district for a least five years after installing the retrofit device.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. The TCEQ doesn’t limit the amount of funding for which districts can apply, but it will use its own discretion when awarding the grants.

> Download the grant application and learn more about the grant.
> Discover the Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality Program.
> Learn more about emission reduction grants, you can use.

Learn about the Aging and Disability Resource Center

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area, a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, assists residents living in the 10-county capital region with accessing information about long-term services and supports, and public benefit programs offered to older Americans, the disabled, and their caregivers.

The ADRC partners with more than 25 nonprofit, local, state, and federal organizations to ensure residents in need of support services are connected to resources using a No-Wrong-Door Approach. The No-Wrong-Door approach is a single point of entry for accessing public and private long-term services and supports for older adults, caregivers, veterans and people with disabilities. The ADRC lessens the burden of connecting a resident with the information they need through its information, referral and assistance services, or resource navigators.

The following FAQ can help residents better understand how the ADRC can help them.

Q:  How does the ADRC provide help?
A: Resource navigators provide extensive and ongoing resource options for older Americans (those 60 years old or older), the disabled and their caregivers. Navigators provide help over the phone and in person. They follow the consumer through the ADRC services and are extremely beneficial to people who have multiple needs and who may need help from various resources and agencies. Navigators work to connect consumers as quickly and easily as possible to the resources they need.
Navigators also work to ensure consumers can make informed decisions and have streamlined access to long-term services and support agencies.

Q: Can the ADRC help apply for disability benefits or long-term care? 
A: Yes. Because the ADRC works with a number of organizations, it can either help people apply for benefits or direct an organization, such as the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area, to the person seeking the benefits.

Q: Does the ADRC offer help for family members? 
A: Yes. Family caregiver support also is part of the ADRC’s mission. Taking care of loved ones may seem overwhelming at times, and the resource center works to alleviate such stress by referring the appropriate partner agencies to the consumers. 

Q: Who can use the ADRC?
A: The ADRC offers assistance to older Americans, children and adults with disabilities, and people caring for those with disabilities. The ADRC serves people living within Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties.

Q: What is the best way to contact the ADRC?
A: Consumers can contact the resource center by phone, email, or in person. They should use which ever method they are most comfortable.
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on holidays. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are strongly suggested.
Consumers can meet with a resource center navigator in person at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas 78744. They can also call the ADRC at 855-937-2372 or email the center at ADRCCAP@capcog.org.

Q: When is the best time to contact the ADRC?
A: Consumers can contact a resource center navigator during normal business hours, but a phone line is always available to accept messages after business hours. Emails also are received by the center after business hours.  A resource center navigator will promptly respond to messages and emails during the next business day.
The ADRC wants to help consumers navigate through long-term support services and benefits regardless of the circumstances or challenges a consumer is facing. Consumers are welcome to contact the center anytime they have questions or concerns. 

Q: Does the ADRC tell me what to do? 
A: No. Consumers make their own choices. The ADRC does not and cannot tell a consumer what to do. It offers information and resources to the consumer or caregiver so they can make their own choices about the support services they may require. 

Q: Can I call even if I am the one not receiving support services or benefits? 
A: Yes, family and friends often are the caregivers. Regardless, if you are a caregiver or not, the ADRC accepts calls from people seeking information to support their loved ones. 

Q: Does the ADRC need my name? 
A: No. The resource center does not require a consumer’s name. However, providing a name would be helpful for the ADRC navigator to return their call, make an appropriate referral on behalf of the caller, and follow up to ensure the correct long-term support services and benefits fit their needs.

Q: How long do ADRC services last?
A: The ADRC is not the service provider. Durations of services and benefits are dictated by the various organizations the consumer elects to use after the resource center connects them with those resources.

Regional counties host family caregiver mini-conferences

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Aging Advisory Council and the Area Agency on Aging are sponsoring mini-conferences in counties throughout the region to educate and support family caregivers.

Informal family caregivers provide the majority of care for the nation’s aging population. An estimated 40 million family caregivers devote 37 billion hours a year to assist older adults, an economic value of about $470 billion. Each conference will educate attendees on balancing caregiving responsibilities with everyday life and provide local resource information.

Background for the conferences is provided by the National Family Caregiver Support program developed by Area Agencies on Aging and supported through the Older Americans Act. Conferences will target informal caregivers of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Tam Cummings, a local gerontologist, will give keynote presentations. She is dedicated to untangling the complexities of dementia.

The first conference is in Williamson County from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.,  Sept. 10, Six Flags Ballroom, 2 Texas Drive, Georgetown. On site, registration begins 10:30 a.m.

Other caregiver support events:

  • September 12: Travis County Caregiver Conference hosted with AARP Texas, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (10:30 a.m. doors open for registration), La Quinta Inn & Suites Austin Airport, 7625 E. Ben White Blvd., Austin 78741
  • September 26: Striking A Balance Caregiver Conference hosted with AGE of Central Texas, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (doors open for check-in at 8:30 a.m.), Norris Conference Center, Northcross Mall, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin.
  • September 30: Fayette County Caregiver Mini-conference, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (10:30a.m. doors open for registration), County Extension Office, 255 Svoboda Lane, La Grange
  • November 14: SW Travis/Hays County Caregiver Conference hosted with AARP Texas, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (10:30 a.m. registration), Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 10408 HWY 290 West, Austin.

> To pre-register for any of these events please contact Michelle Davis.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Register for Striking a Balance 2015.

Governor’s Committee conducts Impact on Aging survey

Monday, August 17, 2015
Source: Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.

The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities is conducting its annual survey on an aspect of living in Texas. The survey will conclude at the end of September.

This year the committee is interested in examining the impact of the aging population across 10 issue areas: access, communication, education, emergency management, health, housing, recreation, transportation, veterans and workforce.

People are living longer, and the U.S. population is increasingly getting older. Beginning in 2005, Texas has experienced the largest annual population growth of any state.

Seniors, those older than 65 years of age, are projected to more than triple from 2010 to 2050. This will mean the number of seniors will approach about 7.9 million. The age category of people 45 to 64 years old is projected to be the second fastest growing age group. That demographic is estimated to increase 55 percent by 2050 to a population more than 9.3 million.

Population growth in Texas is projected to come from large urban areas in and surrounding Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis counties, stated Texas State Demographer reports.

This year the survey will be divided into two parts.  
> Take Part 1 of the survey, the Impact of the Aging Population Survey.  
> Take Part 2 of the survey, the Aging Related Disabilities Survey.

Alternative survey formats are available in large print, Spanish or can be voiced out by phone with assistance of staff.  For any alternative format, contact at Stephanie.Myers@gov.texas.gov or 512-463-5739.

Si a usted le gustaría aprovechar esta encuesta en español por favor envíe un correo electrónico a Stephanie Myers, Stephanie.myers@gov.texas.gov.

> Visit the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities website.
> Learn about the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Discover the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area.

General Assembly to vote bylaws, budget

Thursday, August 13, 2015

General Assembly members will decide the Capital Area Council of Governments' 2016 fiscal year budget and bylaw amendments pertaining to the process of electing the council’s Executive Committee at its annual September meeting.

The meeting will be at 11 a.m., Sept. 9, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Austin, 6121 N. IH 35, Austin.

> General Assembly Representatives can register for the luncheon on CAPCOG's training website.

A public safety workshop will follow the luncheon. It will cover what elected officials need to know about policing, homeland security and emergency communications. Workshop attendees will learn about the tools CAPCOG has available for its members and career expertise on topics such as keeping good peace officers and the benefits of having tenured officers.

Seating will be limited at the workshop. General Assembly Representatives should use a coupon code to register for the meeting and/or workshop for free.

> Register for the public safety workshop.
> Discover more about the General Assembly.
> Contact Mason W. Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator, for more information.

TCEQ, STAR seek award nominations

Monday, August 10, 2015

Numerous communities in the Capital Area Council of Governments’ 10-county region have strived to achieve excellent environmental stewardship, and CAPCOG wants to encourage its communities to apply for accolades from two state wide environmental organizations seeking award nominations through August and September.

The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling’s (STAR) 2015 Texas Environmental Leadership Awards recognize stewards of environmental change in Texas that develop and maintain programs involving recycling, composting, sustainable material management, public education and outreach, special event recycling and more. The deadline is 5 p.m. Aug. 28.

> Learn how to apply for a STAR award in one of its six categories.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is offering awards in nine categories, such as education, pollution prevention, and innovative operations and management, for those that make inspiring efforts to preserve and protect the state’s environment. TCEQ will accept applications for its awards until Sept. 25.

> Discover more or apply for the TCEQ awards.

Both organizations accept awards nominations for efforts made by individuals, students, communities, organizations, local governments and businesses.

> Contact Matt Holderread, CAPCOG solid waste planning manager, for more information or help applying for an award.
> Read about the CAPCOG solid waste planning program.

Department of Aging and Disability Service holds strategic planning hearings

Monday, July 27, 2015
Source: Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) is seeking public input on a three-year strategic plan for aging and disability resource centers (ADRC) and their role within the no-wrong-door approach for seeking long-term care services and supports. The approach allows people to call one number for information opposed to calling multiple agencies.

DADS will host five forums and two webinars. The forums will gather ideas, thoughts and opinions about the current and future systems for accessing long-term services and supports.

DADS specifically is wanting input on the following:

  • General public awareness of the ADRC and long-term services and supports system
  • Current system success and suggested improvements
  • Person-centered planning
  • Resource requirements
  • Suggestions for sustainability
  • Suggestions for improved service to all populations
  • Future vision for the ADRC system (3 years and beyond)
  • ADRC role with respect to managed care programs (e.g., STAR+)

Participants can arrive and leave any time during any of the meetings. They will be asked to sign in, provide their name, contact information, which ADRC they are associated with, and whether they wish to provide public comment.

After an overview of the strategic planning process, the meeting will open for public comment. Each participant will get five minutes to share their comments. Comments will be recorded, reviewed and used to inform the strategic planning process. 

The meetings will be as follows:

3:30-6:30 p.m., Aug. 4, 2015
John H. Winters Complex 
1st floor - Public Hearing Room 
701 West 51st Street 
Austin, Texas 78751

1-4 p.m., Aug. 4, 2015
Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) 
Al J. Notzon III Board Room 1st Floor 
8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 700 
San Antonio, Texas 78217

3:30-6:30 p.m., Aug. 5, 2015
United Way of Greater Houston 
50 Waugh Drive 
Houston, Texas 77007

3:30-6:30 p.m., Aug. 5, 2015
North Central Texas Council of Governments 
Centerpoint Two 
Metroplex Conference Room 
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, Texas 76011

11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Mountain Time), Aug. 6, 2015
Sierra Providence East Medical Center Auditorium 
3280 Joe Battle Blvd 
El Paso, TX 79938-2622

If you are planning to attend the meeting and have accessibility needs or need special accommodations, contact Laura Summers at 801-538-5082 or laura.summers@leavittpartners.com by July 30.

The webinars will take place from 3:30-5 p.m. Central Time Aug. 10 and 11.

> Register for the Aug. 10 webinar.
> Register for the Aug. 11 webinar.
> Submit comments about the strategic plan from now until Aug. 12, 2015.
> Discover the ADRC of the Capital Area.

TCEQ looks for solid waste advisory council members

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) seeks nominations for nine people, five of which must be elected officials, to serve on the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council.

People interested in serving on the council can file an application before the Aug. 17, 2015 deadline.

The 18 elected members, who serve staggered six-year terms, review and evaluate the effects of state policies and programs on municipal solid waste management. They make recommendations on legislation to encourage the efficiency of municipal solid waste management. They also recommend policies for the use, allocation, or distribution of the planning fund; and recommend special studies and projects to further the effectiveness on municipal solid waste management and recovery for Texas. By law, members meet at least once every three months. Meetings can last a full business day and are held in Austin.

The following six positions can serve on the council until 2021:

  • a professional engineer from a private engineering firm with experience in the design and management of solid waste facilities
  • a registered waste tire processor
  • an elected official from a county with a population less than 150,000
  • a representative from a planning region
  • a solid waste professional with experience managing or operating a commercial solid waste landfill
  • a representative from a private environmental conservation organization

The remaining three positons have terms that would expire in 2017 and 2019:

  • an elected official from a municipality with a population fewer than 25,000
  • an elected official from a municipality with a population of 750,000 or more
  • an elected official from a municipality with a population between 100,000 or more but less than 750,000

The application and materials must be postmarked Aug. 17, 2015 and emailed to mswper@tceq.texas.gov or sent to Steve Hutchinson, MC-126, TCEQ, Waste Permits Division, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087. If submitting by overnight mail, please send to: Steve Hutchinson, Building F, TCEQ, Waste Permits Division, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, Texas 78753.

> Learn more about how to apply or to nominate a person to the advisory council.
> Direct questions regarding the Advisory Council to Steve Hutchinson at 512-239-6716 or by e-mail.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Planning Program.

CAPCOG releases disaster debris planning resources

Monday, July 20, 2015

Debris generated from disasters can affect the public health, safety and welfare of a community, and the risk increases if large areas of debris are left unattended. The Capital Area Council of Governments recently completed an effort to help counties and municipalities alleviate and dispose of disaster debris in a timely and effective manner.

As part of the work during the program, CAPCOG and its regional partners created a common approach for the disaster debris management planning process that facilitates a coordinated, quick, and succinct response to such incidents. It also provides for the future establishment of a regional disaster debris management plan.

Like most homeland security plans, a disaster debris management plan lays the foundation for response before an incident occurs. Such a foundation lets responding entities construct and tailor the needs of managing and removing the debris to a particular disaster event.

“The plan allows an entity to know how the clean-up will be handled as the event occurs, so debris response efforts can begin immediately or when resources are available,” said Matt Holderread, CAPCOG Solid Waste planner.

The standardized disaster debris plan template developed by CAPCOG prepares governments for large scale events, ones which would require additional assistance, and smaller events, which an entity can manage itself. Every plan includes a section about the roles and responsibilities for government staff, residents and volunteers. It also provides guidance on how to manage the debris from its collection to its proper disposal, with various disposal options. A timeline for response as well as drafts of potential notifications to residents, and media releases are drafted as appendices to the plan.

> Discover more resources for disaster debris planning.

Plans include potential debris management sites and some additional analysis of their feasibility as such sites. They also provide information on how the federal reimbursement process works, provide documents used by FEMA for entities seeking federal reimbursement, instruct entities how to manage their debris to be approved and reimbursed by federal programs.

Several communities are working on completing their own disaster debris plans, but CAPCOG is finishing a final draft of the Burnet County plan and drafting a plan for Llano County.

Burnet’s plan is a great plan to showcase, as it outlines a number of debris collection sites and factors in several types of events to include a terrorist attack. Using GIS modeling CAPCOG estimated the damage caused by different types of disasters to determine how much debris could be generated and what level of response would be needed.

CAPCOG can conduct similar modeling for other entities seeking to create disaster debris plans and work with or for the entities to find and evaluate debris management sites.

The goal is to have a plan for every county and have those plans work cooperatively to form a regional disaster debris plan, said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director. CAPCOG is willing to help facilitate the work to complete the plan, but also has templates available for entities wanting to do the work themselves.

> Read disaster debris guidance from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
> Read The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Debris Management Guide.

Advocates needed for seniors and the disabled in long-term care facilities

Thursday, July 16, 2015

More than 230 nursing and assisted living facilities care for older Americans in the 10-county region, and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area Council of Governments needs dedicated volunteers to be advocates for seniors living in those facilities and to serve in its ombudsman program.

 

 

 

 

The ombudsman program is recruiting volunteers who have a sense of civic duty and want to give back to the elderly community. A volunteer ombudsman assists residents and their families by ensuring a voice for those unable to speak for themselves. “Serving as an ombudsman is an important job, because seniors deserve to have their communities take proper care of them,” said Pete Moreno, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area managing lead ombudsman. “They should have the best care possible and an advocate who has a passion for helping seniors.”

Ombudsmen are specially trained and certified volunteers. They advocate for residents’ rights and quality of care by regularly visiting and observing residents in long-term care facilities. Volunteer ombudsmen also identify and investigate complaints; and educate residents, families, and staff on maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of facilities’ residents. Ombudsman services are both free and confidential.

CAPCOG is enlisting volunteers throughout the region, but the region would greatly benefit by increasing the number of ombudsmen in Llano, Lee and Fayette counties. CAPCOG’s 10-county region also includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

No experience is required to volunteer as an ombudsman. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and complete a free training course consisting of classroom study and training at local nursing homes. After training, volunteers serve in an internship where they work two to four hours per month in an assigned facility. Hours are flexible and determined by the volunteer. After their internship, volunteers ideally will visit a nursing or an assisted living facility in their local community once a week.

> Learn more about the Area Agency on Aging's Ombudsman Program.
> Contact Pete Moreno for more information on volunteering.

 

CAPCOG seeks EDA grant for Memorial Day disaster relief

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) is pursuing grant financing that will allow the COG to provide technical assistance in the areas of economic development and recovery, infrastructure planning, and damage assessment to local jurisdictions affected by the Memorial Day weekend floods.

CAPCOG applied in June to receive a U.S. Economic Development Administration, Economic Development Assistance grant. If awarded, the federal monies would be about $177,000 distributed over two years. The grant would allow CAPCOG to direct staff resources to assist with disaster recovery planning and development and redevelopment efforts.

Specifically, the funds could allow CAPCOG to gather information from organizations involved in taking damage assessments, so CAPCOG can perform mitigation mapping. Such mapping would benefit infrastructure reconstruction and ensure resilience is a key component of future economic development. CAPCOG would also help identify funding opportunities for local jurisdictions, so they can leverage and match various monetary sources.

As part of its economic development efforts, CAPCOG would provide an economic impact assessment to local emergency management coordinators and help coordinate medium and longer term recovery efforts with local businesses. This will help to leverage redevelopment and new development to help prevent future flood damage and assess the diversification of business to offer greater economic resiliency to areas affected.

New RNS training underway

Thursday, July 09, 2015

CAPCOG worked with CodeRED, the region’s new Regional Notification System (RNS) provider, in June to transfer data and functionality to the new application. As the transition approached, CAPCOG also coordinated 21 web-based training sessions preparing about 150 personnel from various jurisdictions to use the new RNS.

RNS is a web-based application that allows participating jurisdictions to make notifications to the general public and personnel during events that affect them, especially emergencies that require quick action to protect lives and property.  CodeRED’s RNS allows cities and counties to notify residents about emergencies using landline and cell phone calls, emails and text messages.

With the majority of training concluded, CAPCOG will continue to provide resources to familiarize RNS users with the new system and ensure users can properly send warnings to residents during disaster incidents. Participating jurisdictions that did not receive training can request it from CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division. A video webinar will be available for new users, and CAPCOG will conduct quarterly meetings with local public safety staff to facilitate the best use and improving the capabilities of the RNS region wide. CAPCOG recommends all jurisdictions served by the CodeRED RNS practice using the tool, since the system is new.

> Read more about the regional notification system.
> Discover CAPCOG's Homeland Security Division.
> Contact Aisha Henderson, CAPCOG Homeland Security regional technical communication coordinator.
 

CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy earns Lt. Governor recognition

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) graduated its 75th basic peace officer course on July 1 with 12 cadets ready to start a career in law enforcement. At the graduation ceremony, the cadets presented a letter of congratulations from Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for reaching the milestone course number. CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy Director, Mike Jennings, and Chief Instructor, Randy Holmes, received the certificates.

“This course and its cadets exemplified why CAPCOG has reached this milestone,” Jennings said. “The cadets who enrolled in the course took all our lessons about being peace officers to heart. They performed exemplary in the classroom and during field tests, where they awed police trainers who traditionally work with in-service officers.”

CAPCOG’s peace officer training curriculum has come a long way since the program began in 1997, Jennings said. A CAPCOG basic peace officer course instructs about 150 hours of additional law enforcement material as well as the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement recommended 643 hours. Providing the extra course material, helps CAPCOG prepare every cadet to go directly to work for local law enforcement agencies and their communities.

New course material is continually added to improve cadets’ ability to serve residents upon their graduation. The 75th course cadets were the first group to complete an Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Level I and Level II course, which teaches response techniques to active shooter situations, as additional training sponsored by CAPCOG.

Cadets graduating from the 75th course are being hired by San Marcos and Lockhart police departments and Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. Other cadets are interviewing with Leander, Elgin and Austin ISD police departments; and the Texas Attorney General’s office.

> Learn more about Basic Peace Officer Courses.
> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy.

GeoMap projects approach deadline

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Cities, counties, appraisal districts and other regional partners can submit geographic information gathering projects to CAPCOG as a part of the 2016 GeoMap program until July 31.

Local jurisdictions throughout the region have saved more than $9 million by cooperatively purchasing the base mapping data contracted through the program since its inception in 2002. Savings are realized because the program eliminates redundant purchases of information and pools multiple projects together so the data can be obtained at the same time.

Aerial imagery, LiDAR data, orthoimagery, PanoramiX oblique imagery, GeoSAR Radar mapping and other data are all products that can be purchased through the 2016 GeoMap program. Such base map data sets can be used to help facilitate economic development, land-use planning, utility maintenance, transportation planning, floodplain mapping, 9-1-1 mapping and more.

> Get more information or submit programs.
> Learn more about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

CAPCOG to offer government transparency workshop

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments will provide a four-hour workshop for elected officials about the Texas Open Meetings and Public Information Acts on July 29, 2015 at the CAPCOG offices.

Attorneys from the Texas Attorney General’s Office will be joined by a Texas Municipal League attorney to provide a comprehensive and interactive presentation on the laws and how they regulate elected officials and their institutions. All three presenters will participate in an open-floor, question-and-answer panel, where elected officials can inquire about specific quandaries in regards to the two laws.

Since the training will occur after the State’s 84th Legislative Session, any updates to the Open Meetings and Public Information Acts also will be addressed during the workshop.

The course will meet the legally required training by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and count toward continuing education credits for elected officials.

> Local government officials contact Mason W. Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator, to learn about free registration.
> Register for the course.

TCEQ stretches emission grant program deadline

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) extended the application deadline for its Texas Emission Reduction Plan, Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive (LDPLI).

TCEQ will stop taking applications for the program, which rebates vehicle owners for purchasing alternatively fueled automobiles, at 5 p.m. July 8. As of June 22, about $3.8 million rebate funds were still available through the program.

LDPLI gives up to $2,500 in financial incentives for the purchase or lease of eligible new vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or electric drives (plug-ins).

To apply for a rebate grant under the LDPLI, applicants must purchase or lease from a dealership or leasing company authorized to sell or lease new vehicles in Texas.

> Discover how to apply for the LDPLI.
> Learn about other Texas Emission Reduction Plan programs.
> Read more on CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

ATXFloods.com welcomes addition of all CAPCOG counties

Friday, June 19, 2015

When Austin launched TXfloods.com website in September 2012, about 100 dots denoted low-water crossings on the online map. Those points depicted mostly locations in Austin.

Today, about 800 low-water crossings are visible to the website’s visitors, and they lay across six counties — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Travis, and Williamson — and the city of Marble Falls.

The goal of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department is for all the Capital Area Council of Governments’ counties and municipalities to participate in the website by the year’s end.

 

“Floods are not jurisdictional,” said Matt Porcher, who works for Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, Watershed Engineering Division; helped develop the website; and maintains it. Flood waters can traverse large recharge zones, he said. For instance, flooding in Blanco County affects what happens downstream in Hays and Travis counties.

People throughout the region also tend to cross city and county lines daily, making the inclusion of other jurisdictions on the online map extremely useful for commuters and other travelers. ATXFloods.com allows for drivers to check for low-water crossing closures before they get in their car to make a trip home or to work. It allows them to plan a safe travel route ahead of time compared to coming across a closed crossing.

Austin developed ATXFloods.com with the help of a Code For America grant in 2012 as a means to inform residents about low-water crossing closures and hopefully prevent vehicles from being swept away, which could cause a possible fatal incident.

“Flash flooding is a big threat in our area,” Porcher said. “A couple of people die every year from flash floods in the area, about 75 percent of those deaths happen on roadways at low-water crossings, and ATXFloods.com is a chance to prevent people from using those roadways.”

In mid-2014, Williamson County Emergency Management Coordinator and CAPCOG Homeland Security Task Force Chairman Jarred Thomas recommended the site expand to other regions. At the time, Williamson County was looking to create a similar website and Hays County already was using a blog feed to continually update residents of such closures. In late 2014, Porcher gave a presentation about Austin‘s implementation of the website to the Task Force, which he partially attributes to other jurisdictions’ making use of the site.

Since the meeting, Porcher has talked to other emergency management coordinators and brought their counties or municipalities into the system. The plan is to have Fayette County on the system in the near future. Burnet, Llano and Blanco counties hopefully will soon follow.

It takes a little bit of training and preparation before other jurisdictions can place their low-water crossings online. Each point is entered manually and statuses of low-water crossings are updated manually by many administrators throughout the region. New points can be added at any time, which is helpful during instances of non-traditional flooding.

Jurisdictions need to know how to quickly and accurately add and change the map’s information, Porcher said. They also need to update it as soon as possible to keep the integrity of ATXFloods.com viable to the public.

“We want people to have confidence that the website is accurate, so when a roadway is reopened then it should be updated as soon as practical,” he said. To avoid confusion that can occur with shift changes, Austin crews check crossings marked as closed on the website in its jurisdiction every morning.

Since its launch in September 2012, ATXFloods.com has experienced almost 3 million visitors. More than 700,000 of those visitors viewed the site from May 22 to 25.

CAPCOG radio ads encourage residents to clean up commutes

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CAPCOG launched an air quality ad campaign to run from June through September on 11 radio stations throughout the region. The ads will air during peak drive-time commuting hours Monday through Friday and will highlight ways Central Texas residents can “clean up” their commutes, including through carpooling, vanpooling and taking advantage of funding opportunities to repair or replace vehicles that fail emissions tests.

Download or listen to the following radio outreach messages:

> Carpooling and vanpooling No. 1

> Carpooling and vanpooling No. 2

> Drive clean machines

> KUT sponsorship radio spot

> Drive clean machines: Spanish

The ads are funded by the city of Austin and Travis County. Beginning last year, CAPCOG started coordinating air quality radio advertisement purchases on behalf of local organizations in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public education efforts.

Cities, counties, and other organizations within the region can help amplify these messages’ reach by posting the audio recordings of the radio spots on their websites and social media pages. They also can share links to regional air quality information available on CAPCOG’s website. Organizations can join in future radio ad buys if interested.

> Go to aircentraltexas.org for more information.
> Discover funding opportunities for cleaner vehicles.
> Learn carpooling, vanpooling and commuter tips.

AAACAP teaches A Matter of Balance coaches

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Volunteers around the region can change older Americans' lives by becoming A Matter of Balance lay leaders who coach seniors to reduce their risk and fear of falling.

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area regularly welcomes volunteers who want to better senior’s lives by teaching the nationally recognized program — developed by Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function at Boston University — in their own community. 

After an eight-hour training course, volunteers can take the eight-session program back to their communities. There they will show seniors to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risk at home, and exercise to increase strength and balance.

Upcoming courses for prospective lay-leaders will take place in Jarrell on June 19 and at the CAPCOG offices in Austin on June 30. Training and materials are free.

> Interested in volunteering contact Liz Salinas, AAACAP health and wellness coordinator.
> Register for the upcoming courses.
 

CAPCOG recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Friday, June 12, 2015

With about 304,851 residents who are 60 years old or older in the Capital Area Council of Governments’ 10-county region, CAPCOG wants to promote the awareness and prevention of issues involving elder abuse.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15 and draws attention to the fact that every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  Experts also believe for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported as many as 23.5 cases are unreported. With 10,000 people in the United States every day turning 65, the United States will have more elder adults than ever before.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) encourages individuals and organizations across our nation, states and local communities to take a stand and to raise public awareness about elder abuse. The ACL provides information, tools and resources to support efforts to shed light on the importance of preventing, identifying and responding to this serious, often hidden public health problem. CAPCOG and its Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area want to share the ACL’s information and message with every local government and organization in the region.

> Learn what you and your community can do for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging.
> Read the CAPCOG proclamation.

CAPCOG hosts school officer training

Monday, June 08, 2015

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) is teaching a course to educate peace officers who serve as law enforcement for school districts at the CAPCOG offices from June 8 to 12.

“School resource officers play an important role in our educational system,” said Mike Jennings, the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy director. “Not only do they work to protect the safety of students and teachers, they can help develop and shape the lives of children and prevent incidents before they happen by being a positive role model.”

By hosting NASRO at CAPCOG, school resource officers throughout the region can improve valuable law enforcement specialization that helps keep students and teachers safe. The training will further their education on a number of topics to include responding to incidents in a school setting and communicating with children.

Such skills can be beneficial to preventing incidents before they occur and helping students make responsible and lawful life decisions. School resource officers like other peace officers are a trusted part of the community they work in; however, officers who work on educational campuses have a greater chance of affecting the lives around them as they work the same beats every day and can really get to know the community they serve. This class is full; however, CAPCOG is interested in determining additional demand for its training.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Register for upcoming law enforcement in-service training opportunities.

Disaster Relief Fund available for local governments

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

After this weekend’s storms, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) reminded local governments that state disaster relief funds are available and how those governments should apply for them.

Cities and counties may apply for Texas Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief Fund monies following a disaster declaration or for qualifying urgent infrastructure needs. Grants range between $50,000 and $350,000.

Applications from local governments must provide documentation that the applicant experienced the whole process, as follows:

  1. Local official declares a local disaster and completes disaster summary outline (DSO), which is available from Texas Division of Emergency Management (DEM).
  2. Local official requests assistance from the County Judge, who then requests assistance from the Governor’s Office.
  3. The Governor mobilizes DEM that reviews the DSO and decides whether to visit the local government’s jurisdiction and perform a preliminary damage assessment (PDA), as summarized in a PDA Worksheet.
  4. If PDA finds costs above a certain per capita amount, the Governor declares a disaster. 

Applications must have sufficient backup documentation for the budget. If applicants know insurance money covering the damage is applicable, then they should not request funds. Applicants should provide documentation that damage is not covered by insurance. 

The full PDA will include a separate sheet for each damaged site. Applicants should be able to furnish the needed level of detail if DEM visited and assessed actual damages associated with the reported storm event. Applicants also should inquire whether the Texas Governor’s letter or declaration of disaster has made it to the DEM Office of Deputy Assistant Director for Recovery, Mitigation and Standards.

> Get DEM contact information.

Applicants should have DEM to provide applicable copies of PDAs for their record and to accompany applications filed with Texas Department of Agriculture. 

They should gather information regarding the eligibility information needed to file applications with the Texas Department of Agriculture for disaster relief. Such information should show the entity has less than six months of unencumbered general operations funds available in its balance according to last available audit required by state statute or funds from other state or federal sources are not available to completely address the problem. An easy-to-understand explanation and most recent audit indicating the unrestricted fund balance must be submitted. The explanation or audit should highlight the applicable amounts of unrestricted balance, the annual general fund expenditures, monthly general fund costs, and the number of months reserve will cover.

All CDBG contract procedures and regulations apply in contract implementation; except, applicants can submit with their application letters requesting the pre-agreement stratagem and waiver of procurement requirements. These methods save considerable time and make the one-year contract period feasible. Sample letters that would be submitted with an application are available upon request.

Under the pre-agreement stratagem, TDA shall not reimburse any costs under the agreement until a Disaster Relief Fund contract is fully executed with the grantee. For non-drought disasters, TDA will consider reimbursement of eligible costs incurred from the date of the disaster event.

> Read more about the Department of Agriculture Disaster Relief Fund.
> Download the Texas CDBG Implementation Manual.
> Download the Disaster Relief application checklist.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division.

TCEQ closes request for TERP Rebate grants

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) is encouraging organizations, including small businesses, to submit applications for the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Rebate Grant Program before it closes.

TCEQ will stop taking applications on the TERP Rebate Grant Program at 5 p.m., Friday, May 29, nearly a month before the original closing date.

The rebate grant is a first-come, first-serve program to upgrade and replace diesel heavy-duty vehicles and non-road equipment. Vehicles and equipment must have 75 percent of their annual usage spent in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, Williamson, and/or 34 other Texas counties.

Interested applicants should submit applications before the deadline. Applications received after Friday will not be reviewed, but may be held for later review and consideration if more funds become available.

> Find out more about the TERP Rebate Grant Program.
> Learn about other TERP grants.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Kari’s Law ensures direct dialing to 9-1-1

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kari’s Law, signed by Governor Greg Abbott on Friday, requires multi-line telephone systems to have 9-1-1 direct dialing. An inexpensive feature to deploy in most cases, 9-1-1 direct dialing allows for any caller to dial the numbers 9-1-1 to reach a public safety answering point without first entering another number for an outside line.

“We should be taking every possible step to make access to first responders as fast and easy as possible” said Gregg Obuch, emergency communications director for the Capital Area Emergency Communications District (CAECD), a division of Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG). “Kari’s Law will allow people in office buildings, hotels and other multi-lined phone facilities to access emergency telecommunicators via the simplest way possible – dialing 9-1-1.”

Kari’s Law is the result of Texas Senate Bill 788 filed by Senator Kevin Eltife, of Tyler, after a 9-year-old child could not reach 9-1-1 from a hotel room during a deadly assault on her mother.

Since Abbott has signed the bill into law, the CAECD is prepared to respond to inquiries from businesses and organizations with multi-line telephone systems.

“There’s a lesson virtually every parent teaches their child – if you face an emergency, call 9-1-1,” Abbott said. “I am signing Kari’s Law to ensure that whenever there is an emergency, any child and any adult who dials 9-1-1 is going to be able to connect with emergency personnel to ensure they come to the rescue of those who need help the most.”

According to Obuch, most large businesses and hotels with multi-line telephone systems in Central Texas already implemented a 9-1-1 direct-dial function, but the new law will ensure everybody who uses such a phone system can reach an emergency telecommunicator.

Every business and organization with multi-line telephone systems not using a 9-1-1 direct-dial function should contact their phone providers to request its programing changed to accommodate 9-1-1 direct dialing.

The district is available to assist any business service users in complying with Kari’s Law.

> Read more about Kari's Law and how to achieve compliance or request a waiver.
> Learn about the CAECD.
> Discover CAPCOG's emergency communications division.

CAPCOG calls for GeoMap 2016 projects

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments has launched its first call for GeoMap 2016 projects. GeoMap is a data-collection program run by CAPCOG to obtain expensive, geographic information while saving local dollars. The first call will end May 29.

The cost-sharing, base map purchasing program has saved local jurisdictions in CAPCOG’s 10-county region more than $9 million since 2002.

Aerial imagery is a mainstay of the products offered, but this year CAPCOG expects LiDAR data to be a high priority for many organizations – especially in fast-developing areas. GeoMap vendors offer many unique and custom products that program participants can also purchase.

CAPCOG is pleased to guide project participation for appraisal districts, county governments, city governments and planning-related organizations.

> Discover more about the GeoMaps program.
> Submit your GeoMaps Projects.
> Contact Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager.

EPA seeks National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program proposals

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Source: The Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Transportation and Air Quality is soliciting proposals nationwide for projects to fund that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions in terms of tons of pollution.

The National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program looks particularly for projects from fleets operating at (or servicing) goods movement facilities in areas designated as having poor air quality. Priority for funding also may be given to projects which:

  • Result in outcomes that benefit affected communities;
  • Engage local communities with respect to the design and performance of the project; and
  • Can demonstrate the ability to promote and continue efforts to reduce emissions after the project has ended.

EPA's deadline for project submittals is 4 p.m. (ET), June 15, 2015.  Proposal packages must be submitted electronically to EPA through Grants.gov (www.grants.gov)

> Download the program request application.

Eligible diesel emission reduction solutions include verified emission control technologies, such as exhaust controls, cleaner fuels, and engine upgrades, verified idle reduction technologies, verified aerodynamic technologies and low rolling resistance tires, certified engine repowers, and/or certified vehicle or equipment replacement.

Eligible diesel vehicles, engines and equipment may include buses, Class 5 - Class 8 heavy-duty highway vehicles: marine engines; locomotives and non-road engines; equipment or vehicles used in construction; handling of cargo, including at a port or airport; and agriculture, mining or energy production, including stationary generators and pumps.

Eligible entities include regional, state, local or tribal agencies or intertribal consortia; or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality; and nonprofit organizations or institutions that represent or provide pollution reduction or educational services to persons or organizations that own or operate diesel fleets or have, as their principal purpose, the promotion of transportation or air quality.

> Read more about EPA air quality grant programs.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Seiley: “The dispatcher is the very first, first responder”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Before 9-1-1 became a number Burnet County residents could dial to reach an emergency telecommunicator, Vickie Seiley manned two emergency phone lines and five administration lines, all of which could ring at once when residents called county dispatch seeking help.

At the age of 22 in 1984, she was one of four people who worked at the Burnet County dispatch center and the only person to work during her shift. There weren’t any computers to aid her in directing or answering calls from all over the county. She connected residents to area police, fire and emergency medical services including municipal departments such as Marble Falls, Burnet and Granite Shoals.

“It could get pretty hairy in there because there was only one person working at a time,” Seiley said. The population was smaller and so was the workload, but the job was still critical. Seiley “loved it.”

Seiley, who is now the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office communications supervisor, didn’t mind the hustle and bustle of busy hours back then. She worked the job for the same reasons emergency telecommunicators do the job today – to serve the community, help their neighbors during times of crisis, and aid emergency crews.

“I lived and breathed it,” Seiley said. “It was awesome. Whenever you make a difference in someone’s life, it makes you feel good.”

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week was April 12-18. The week honored the endless commitment emergency call-takers make for serving their communities and ensuring those facing crisis are connected to services they need.

The Capital Area Emergency Communication District, which serves CAPCOG’s 10-county region and  31 public safety answering points (PSAPs), has more than 600 telecommunicators that answered more than 1.5 million emergency calls during the 2014 fiscal year, about 130,000 a month. The Burnet County Sheriff’s Office PSAP has 12 people handling about 1,100 monthly 9-1-1 calls.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division.

“I don’t think people realize the dispatcher is the very first, first responder,” Seiley said.  “They are not at the scene, but they try to do what they can before help arrives.”

The job has changed a lot since Seiley worked the switch board.  There is so much more information at the fingertips of emergency telecommunicators, Seiley said. That doesn’t mean the job is any easier. Larger populations, bigger cities, more information, and modern equipment all adds to a call-takers job.

GIS mapping is a common tool to help telecommunicators and emergency crews locate people making calls now, but that wasn’t always the case.
Seiley used to be a roadmap for officers. Seiley would describe roads, turns, and landmarks to officers who needed help navigating county and city streets to arrive at emergencies.

Officers didn’t carry maps in their squad cars, and there would be large areas where radios would go dead, Seiley said.  Sometimes the only way for officers to find a location would be to stop at a local store and call dispatch. Occasionally, officers called from payphones.

When 9-1-1 first came to Burnet County, a large box was placed inside the dispatch center. Red letters and numbers scrolled across a digital display, Seiley said. It either displayed a phone number or an address. A large tape reel, probably the size of a movie reel, used to record every conversation that came into the dispatch center. Whoever worked at night was responsible for changing it.

Thanks to computers and GPS, such critical information is almost always guaranteed.

In the district now, more than 95 percent of 9-1-1 calls are answered within 10 seconds; almost 98 percent are answered within 20 seconds. The national recommended goals for answering calls are 90 percent at less than 10 seconds and 95 percent at less than 20 seconds.

Each second an emergency telecommunicator is on the phone, they are providing residents with public safety.

“(Telecommunicators) are trying to keep all the guys out there safe and make sure everyone gets the help they need,” Seiley said.

Find training opportunities for emergency telecommunicators.

RLEA hosts regional Glock armorer course

Friday, May 08, 2015

Many Texas police agencies use Glock pistols as part of their everyday equipment. While the weapons often remain holstered, it’s critical to ensure an officer’s sidearm is working properly before it is needed.

On April 23, CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) hosted a Glock Armorer Certification workshop so agencies throughout the state could ensure the safety and functionality of the weapons.

Participants in the course learned how to dissemble and reassemble the pistols, but more importantly, the instructor taught how to diagnose problems with the firearms and make repairs if needed.

Twenty-nine law enforcement officers attended. Attendees included Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Executive Director Kim Vickers; members of the US Probation Office and Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife; officers from Houston, The Colony, Port Aransas, San Angelo, Pflugerville, Texas State University; and others.

Upcoming Courses

In May, RLEA will offer multiple law enforcement in-service courses including: Report Writing; and Intermediate Arrest, Search, and Seizure. 

Registration has started for the full-time, day basic peace officer course (BPOC) No. 77. The course will begin in September at Georgetown Police Department.

> Register for an RLEA in-service course or a BPOC.
> Discover more about RLEA.

Seniors “Get into the Act” during Older Americans Month

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Older Americans Month has been celebrated since 1963, and the CAPCOG Executive Committee urges area residents to honor older individuals throughout May.

This year’s Older American Month’s theme, “Get into the Act”, focuses on taking charge of your health, investing in communities, and making an impact in the lives of others. The theme highlights the 50th Anniversary of the Older Americans Act signed into law by President Johnson in 1965. Through Area Agencies on Aging, the Act provides for services to support individuals wishing to remain in their homes.

Services such as home-delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, respite, and health and wellness activities promote independence. Central Texans can “Get into the Act” because the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) provides these services year-round.

Although, Older Americans Month emphasizes access to in-home and community-based services, the month also is an opportunity to celebrate how older Americans make a difference in the region. More than 304,000 individuals over the age of 60 live in the CAPCOG 10-county region.

Contact AAACAP at 888-622-9111 ext. 6062 for information, to volunteer, or to report how older adults are making a difference in your community.

> Discover more on Older Americans Month.
> Read the CAPCOG Proclamation for Older Americans Month.
> Find out more about AAACAP.

Volunteer advocates needed for seniors, disabled in long-term care facilities

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) ombudsman program is seeking volunteers to fulfill ombudsmen roles throughout its 10-county service area – Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis, and Williamson counties. Volunteer ombudsmen serve as advocates for residents living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They assist residents and their families and provide a voice for those unable to speak for themselves.

An ombudsman is a specially trained and certified volunteer who advocates for resident’s rights and quality of care by regularly visiting and observing residents in long-term care facilities. Volunteer ombudsmen also identify and investigate complaints; and educate residents, families, and staff on maintaining the health, safety, welfare of the facilities’ residents. Ombudsman services are both free and confidential.

With 239 nursing and assisted living facilities in the AAACAP region, a strong volunteer force helps ensure every facility and their residents have access to ombudsman services.

No prior experience is required to volunteer as an ombudsman, but volunteers must be at least 18 years old and complete a free training course consisting of classroom study and training at local nursing homes. After training, volunteers serve an internship, working two to four hours per month in their assigned facility. Hours are flexible and determined by the volunteer.

Authorized by the Older Americans Act, each state has an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Local staff and volunteer ombudsmen work in local areas as part of the statewide program.

> For more information on volunteering, contact Pete Moreno, AAACAP’s managing local ombudsman.
> Read about the AAACAP ombudsman program.

Central Texas responds to EPA ozone standard proposal

Friday, April 24, 2015

Local air quality efforts in 2015 and 2016 could be the last chance for the region to reduce emissions and ozone levels before U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses new, lower standards as the basis of its nonattainment designation process.

CAPCOG staff has conducted an extensive outreach effort during the past few months to inform local officials about EPA’s proposal and what the region can do to respond. This has included more than a dozen presentations to city councils and commissioners courts in the region. CAPCOG also provided technical support to the Clean Air Coalition in developing comments to the EPA on the proposed rule.

The EPA has proposed tightening the national ground level ozone air quality standard from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level between 65-70 ppb . EPA is under a court order to finalize the standards by Oct. 1, 2015.

Central Texas’s ozone levels were at 69 ppb in 2014 and continue to decrease. If EPA were to set the standard at 70 ppb, the region would likely avoid a nonattainment designation, but if it is set at 65 ppb, the region’s ozone levels may not be reduced quickly enough to avoid a nonattainment designation, despite nationally-recognized local efforts that have won EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Award for community engagement in both 2014 and 2015.

By identifying ways EPA could exercise some flexibility under the Clean Air Act to implement the proposed standards and by continuing to voluntarily implement local emission reduction measures, Central Texas is trying to ensure it can enjoy clean air and a healthy economy, while avoiding the long-lasting regulatory consequences of a nonattainment designation.

At a March 11 meeting, the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition, a committee of local elected officials in the Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties, approved a formal comment letter to the EPA on its proposal, asking for flexibility in implementing the proposed standards.

The comment letter asked EPA to:

  • Calculate compliance differently, better accounting for year-to-year fluctuations in ozone levels; 
  • Designate areas as “unclassifiable” or defer designations by a year if their 2016 ozone levels are close to the level of the standard;
  • Fully implement requirements under the Clean Air Act that protect metropolitan areas from interstate and intrastate ozone transport; and
  • Fully account for any voluntarily implemented measures if EPA does designate the region as nonattainment.

The CAC and other regional partners will continue to implement the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan in order to:

  • Stay in attainment of the eight-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS);
  • Continue reducing the region’s 8-hour ozone design value to avoid being designated nonattainment; 
  • Bring the area into attainment of an ozone standard if it is designated nonattainment;
  • Reduce the exposure of vulnerable populations to high ozone levels, and
  • Minimize the costs to the region of any future nonattainment designation.

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program will continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure existing emission reduction measure commitments are fully implemented. It also will help secure additional emission reduction commitments to put the region in the best position to avoid a nonattainment designation for the proposed standards.

> Discover more about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program.

Round Rock PD hosts all sponsored BPOC

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Round Rock Police Department will host and run a Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s (RLEA) fully-sponsored cadet basic peace officer course (BPOC).

The Round Rock BPOC, which will start June 15 and end Nov. 20, 2015, only will enroll cadets who have been sponsored by area police agencies and sheriff offices. The course will provide cities and counties with the opportunity to accommodate new hires that occurred later in the fiscal year. It will provide the necessary training for those new hires to pass their TCOLE exams. The course also will be the final RLEA BPOC during the 2015 fiscal year. The registration deadline is May 18, 2015.

Having only sponsored cadets will allow the BPOC to also have more physical training requirements. The BPOC will be a full-day course.

> Police departments and sheriff offices can contact Mary Ramirez, RLEA administrative assistant, to sign up prospective cadets.
> Learn more about RLEA BPOC's.

TCEQ awards $7.7 million for cleaner Austin area vehicles

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s award of more than $7.7 million in grants to vehicle and non-road equipment owners in the Austin area is a great win for regional air quality. The funds are part of the TCEQ’s 2015 fiscal year Emission Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG).

The ERIG money will be spent on replacing or conducting engine retrofits on 143 older, on- and off-road vehicles and equipment, such as agricultural tractors, construction trucks and delivery vehicles, in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. Because of the projects and purchases provided by the grants, NOx emissions are estimated to decrease by more than 122 tons per year in the region. NOx emissions are a contributing factor to the generation of ground-level ozone.

Capital Metro was the largest grant recipient in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. It received $1.7 million to replace 47 buses with cleaner, alternative fuel based buses. Coors of Austin also will replace or conduct engine retrofits on 10 delivery trucks. It received $200,000 from the grant.

TCEQ announced the ERIG recipients on Tuesday. The grant is part of the Texas Emission Reduction Program grant system.

> Read the complete list of ERIG awardees.
> Discover other TCEQ grants seeking to reduce emissions.
> Learn about the Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality Program.

TCOLE cycle ends in August

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Every two years peace officers need 40 hours of continuing education credits to maintain their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement certificates.

Between now and August, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) will offer numerous courses so area officers can earn continuing education hours and keep their certificates.

Area policing agencies and their officers should review their training hours now to ensure they remain certified. For officers who haven’t already met the continuing education requirements, they can find course schedules and descriptions of each upcoming class on the CAPCOG training website.

> Visit the CAPCOG Training website for law enforcement officers.

TCOLE recently mandated that peace officers be required to have four hours of human trafficking education and training. RLEA will offer several courses on the topic at least once a month until the end of the training cycle. There should be plenty of time and courses to ensure every Capital Area peace officer maintains their law enforcement certificate.

> Read more about the RLEA.
> Discover more about TCOLE training requirements.

EPA appoints Hoekzema to committee

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Central Texas local governments will be represented on an important U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy advisory committee.

The EPA appointed CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program Manager, Andrew Hoekzema, to a two-year term on the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. He will provide independent advice from a local government perspective on issues about implementing the Clean Air Act. Hoekzema is one of about 40 people nationwide selected to serve on the committee.

Established in 1990, the committee is a senior-level policy committee that provides advice to EPA on air pollution issues. According to the committee’s charter, its major objectives are to provide recommendations on:

  • Approaches for new and expanded programs, including those using innovative technologies and policy mechanisms to achieve environmental improvements.
  • The potential health, environmental, and economic effects of Clean Air Act programs on the public, the regulated community, state and local governments, and federal agencies.
  • The policy and technical contents of proposed major EPA rulemaking and guidance required by the act in order to help effectively incorporate appropriate outside advice and information.
  • The integration of existing policies, regulations, standards, guidelines, and procedures into programs for implementing requirements of the Act.

CAPCOG hired Hoekzema in 2010. He became CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program manager in 2013.

Hoekzema will attend his first committee meetings April 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG, CAECD honors Telecommunicators Week

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee and Emergency Communication District Board of Managers have recognized the dedication of the more than 600 public safety telecommunicators in the 10-county region.

National Telecommunications Week is April 12-18, and telecommunicators who work throughout the Capital Area are the “backbone of the 9-1-1 system” and provide an “unending service” to the region, stated the board and committee in a resolution. Telecommunicators are not only the link for residents facing emergencies to emergency response agencies, they save lives each and every day.

CAPCOG encouraged all local governments to honor their telecommunicators by also signing proclamations or resolutions and celebrate the week with appropriate activities and ceremonies.

The Capital Area Emergency Communications District will recognize the great job telecommunicators do by sponsoring a region-wide, bowling and social event on April 18.

> Learn more about the Capital Area Emergency Communication District.
> Read the CAPCOG Executive Committee's resolution for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
> Read Texas Governor Greg Abbott's National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week proclamation.

Two new courses lead older adults to better lives

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) is excited to announce two new Stanford Model-Evidence Based Intervention Programs that strive to keep the 10-county region’s aging population living active lives by offering free instructional six-week workshops.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (Better Choices, Better Health Workshops) and Diabetes Self-Management Program workshops – both developed by Stanford University’s School of Medicine – expand AAACAP’s evidence-based programs into two new areas of wellness care.

AAACAP chose to offer these programs because they are designed to help people gain self-confidence in their ability to control their symptoms, better manage their health problems, and lead fuller lives.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is offered for people who have different chronic health problems to attend together for a shared learning experience. The program teaches the skills needed in the day-to-day management of treatment and to maintain and/or increase one’s activities.

It provides techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation. It instructs people about the appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance.  The program also discusses the appropriate use of medications. Course attendees will learn how to communicate effectively with family, friends, and health professionals; how to manage their nutrition; and how to make decisions and evaluate new treatments.

Each class in the workshop is highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives. To improve on the course’s mutual support and success, workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders, one or both of whom are non-health professionals with chronic diseases themselves.

Participants in the chronic disease workshop have access to a copy of the companion book, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, 4th Edition”, and an audio relaxation CD, “Relaxation for Mind and Body”.

The Diabetes Self-Management workshops are meant to benefit people with type 2 diabetes.

Two trained leaders, one or both who are peer leaders with diabetes themselves, will teach techniques on dealing with the symptoms of diabetes such as fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia, stress, and emotional problems to include depression, anger, fear and frustration. Course leaders will instruct individuals on the appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength and endurance while eating healthy. The appropriate use of medication and working more effectively with health care providers also are topics covered during the course.

Participants are guided through a process of making weekly action plans, sharing experiences, and helping each other solve problems they encounter in creating and carrying out their self-management program. Physicians, diabetes educators, dietitians, and other health professionals both at Stanford and in the community have reviewed all materials in the workshop.

Both programs are available at no cost to consumers who are 60 years old or older or who are caring for someone 60 years old or older. They will be conducted during a once-a-week, two-and-a-half-hour, six week course. AAACAP will provide the workshops in community settings, such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals, to bring the lessons to the general public.

Other evidence based programs provided through AAACAP include A Matter of Balance, falls prevention and Stressbusting for Family Caregivers.

> Learn more about the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area. 
Read about other Evidence Based Intervention Programs. 

Night course offers more cadets to area police departments

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy began a part-time, evening basic peace office course (BPOC) on March 23. Ending in October, it will be the second part-time course to conclude this year and supply Capital Area policing agencies with capable and knowledgeable cadets to serve their communities.

Held at CAPCOG offices, the course is training cadets to become certified Texas Peace Officers. Cadets are learning in a classroom setting but also are getting hands-on experience from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The alternative schedule allows a wider range of cadets to take the course, graduate and pass Texas Commission on Law Enforcement exams.

Twenty-four graduating cadets marked the success of this year’s first part-time BPOC ending March 20, 2015. Several cadets, from the Williamson County based BPOC, will serve as Williamson and Travis county sheriff deputies and become part of other area police departments upon graduation.

RLEA graduated 18 BPOC No. 74 cadets, a full-time course, on Feb. 13, 2015. Before graduation cadets from BPOC No. 74 were hired by Leander, Cedar Park, and Copperas Cove police departments; Austin Fire Department; and Austin Independent School District. Another full-time course will graduate in July.

> Learn more about your city, county or school district sponsoring or recruiting BPOC cadets.
> Find upcoming BPOCs and other courses offered by the Regional Law Enforcement Academy.

White House Conference on Aging issues advisory on pension advances

Monday, March 23, 2015
Source: 2015 White House Conference on Aging blog

The White House Conference on Aging website is warning older adults to avoid pension advance traps and offered three tips to protect one’s retirement pension.

Retirees who are facing financial challenges should be wary of pension payment advance programs that can seem like a quick fix to their financial problems, stated a blog post from the website. Such programs can reduce retirement incomes because their repayment includes the advance plus interest and fees.

Often pension advances are cash advances in exchange for a portion, or all, of one’s future pension payments, stated the website. Companies that offer pension advances typically charge high interest rates and fees and often target government retirees with pensions.

The White House Conference on Aging website offered the following ways to protect one’s retirement pension:

  • Avoid loans with high fees and interest. Pension advance companies may not always advertise their fees and interest rates, but you will certainly feel them in your bottom line. Before you sign anything, learn what you are getting and how much you are giving up.
  • Don’t sign over control of your benefits. Companies sometimes arrange for monthly payments to be automatically deposited in a newly created bank account so the company can withdraw payments, fees and interest charges from the account. This leaves you with little control.
  • Don’t buy life insurance that you don’t want or need. Pension advance companies sometimes require consumers to sign up for life insurance with the company as the consumer’s beneficiary. If you sign up for life insurance with the pension advance company as your beneficiary, you could end up footing the bill, whether you know it or not.

> Read more about the 2015 White House Conference on Aging consumer advisory.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

New CAPCOG IT director brings additional IT insight

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments operates several technology based tools to enhance the capabilities of cities and counties in its 10-county region. The reverse notification system and the WebEOC are two such tools that counties and cities can use to help mitigate disasters.

To improve its use of such technology, CAPCOG hired a new Information Technology Director, Lee Cooper. Cooper's expertise will become instrumental in expanding CAPCOG’s technology capabilities and assisting with CAPCOG’s first regional public safety communication plan.

Cooper comes to CAPCOG after retiring from 11 years of working for the state. Working for Texas Health and Human Services, Cooper managed multiple enterprise level IT projects and served on its Technology and Architecture Review Board. With the Texas Department of Public Safety’s, Division of Emergency Management and Law Enforcement Division, he helped revive the amateur radio program at the state’s EOC and encouraged more interaction with Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES).

As an amateur radio operator, Cooper is active in the local ARES where he served as Travis County Emergency Coordinator for four years. In the position, he was instrumental in creating the Travis county hospital emergency communications group, which later became regional amateur radio network.

Cooper also has worked with Austin emergency management to integrate amateur radio and ARES into the combined transportation, emergency and communications center.

Central Texas Clean Air Coalition offers EPA ideas on proposed ozone standards

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC) last week submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed ozone standards. The comment letter addresses regional concerns by providing ideas on how to implement the standard.

EPA’s proposal would change the national ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb. The CAC has enacted many voluntary actions to reduce the region’s ground-level ozone. The CAC consists of city and county officials throughout the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area – Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.

Thanks in part to its efforts the Austin-Round Rock MSA has remained in attainment of the current standard and would be in attainment of a standard set as high as 70 ppb. However, if EPA sets the standard at 65 ppb, the MSA’s ozone levels may not be able to reach that level until after EPA has proposed to designate areas as “nonattainment.” New regulations on industrial expansion, road construction, and other activities could have significant economic consequences for the region if Central Texas is designated nonattainment.

The comment letter asked the EPA to consider the following:

  • Use a more stable measurement for determining if an area’s ozone levels comply with the standard than what is currently in use; 
  • Exercise the flexibility that exists in the Clean Air Act in the designation process, possibly designating areas as unclassifiable or extending the process by a year if a region’s ozone levels are close to the standard; 
  • Ensure adequate controls on interstate and intrastate ozone transport; and
  • For any new nonattainment areas, fully account for voluntarily adopted emission reductions that are already in place.

The comment period for the standard began in December and will end March 17. The EPA is under a court order to finalize the standard by Oct. 1, 2015.

> Review CAC’s EPA comment letter and its technical support document.
> Read more about the Clean Air Coalition.

CAPCOG ramps up Llano County Transportation and Economic Development Plan

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Llano County Transportation and Economic Development Plan is entering the public participation phase of the project where the county, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and the Capital Area Council of Governments will work with county stakeholders.

The public will have several opportunities to participate and provide feedback for the development of the plan. The upcoming planning process will include surveys, stakeholder work sessions, and public meetings to ensure the plan represents Llano County residents. Two committees, one providing insight to economic development and the other over transportation, should begin meeting this month.

The development of the Llano County Transportation and Economic Development Plan began in early 2015. It is a project funded by TxDOT.

As part of its role in the plan’s development, CAPCOG will combine traffic patterns and future trends, provided by TxDOT and TTI, and economic and demographic information to create a data-driven plan for the future transportation needs of Llano County.

The final plan will serve as a blueprint to accommodate growth and build the local economy.  Broad public involvement in developing the plan will give Llano County residents a greater voice in future road and economic development projects and state funding decisions.

Llano County will be the third transportation and economic development plan developed by CAPCOG.  TxDOT, TTI and CAPCOG previously completed plans for Blanco and Lee counties.

> For additional information or to find out how to get involved, contact Neil Frydrych, CAPCOG senior planner.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Regional Services Division.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy opens for comments

Monday, March 09, 2015

CAPCOG started accepting public comments on the 2015-2020 Capital Area Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) on March 2. The comment period will end March 31.

Every five years, the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) and its many regional partners develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Each CEDS intends to identify and illustrate the economic dynamics shaping the region, call attention to important issues, and provide a guide for working as a region to capitalize on the region’s economic opportunities.

> Review the 2015-2020 CEDS draft.
> Send comments to Chris Schreck, CAPCOG economic development manager.

After the comment period ends, the CAEDD will produce a final CEDS draft. The CAEDD will adopt the CEDS in June and submit it to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Community and Economic Development Program.

CJAC reviews Criminal Justice grants

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Area agencies that submitted grant applications for the Office of the Governor’s Division of Criminal Justice grants will need to attend an appointed time during one of two CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) meetings on March 31 or April 1.

The 17-member CJAC, consisting of representatives from every county in CAPCOG’s 10-county region, will discuss scoring criteria for grant applications based on the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan on March 27. Applicants will then present information about their proposed grant projects on either March 31 or April 1. CJAC will review and score the projects based on applications and presentations, before it submits recommendations to the CAPCOG Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will make a final review and submit the region’s recommendations to the Office of the Governor.

CAPCOG will contact all agencies that submitted applications and schedule their appointments to present to the CJAC after the Office of the Governor has released a completed list of applicants.

The review will take place for the General Victim Assistance - Direct Services Programs, Violent Crimes Against Women Criminal Justice and Training Projects, Juvenile Service Projects – Local, Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Programs grants. The Office of the Governor stopped accepting applications Feb. 27, 2015.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Services Divison.
> Read more about the Criminal Justice Grant Process.

CAPCOG conducts free disaster debris workshops

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Three free workshops offered by the Capital Area Council of Governments Solid Waste Planning Program will instruct local area governments on methods of mitigating debris caused by disasters.

The courses will give emergency management personnel, county and city elected officials, and code enforcement and sanitation workers insight to recovery processes after a disaster strikes their jurisdiction. Course topics in the workshops will include information ranging from planning before the disaster to helping secure federal funding assistance for the debris’ removal. Topics also will cover protecting public health and safety after a debris generating event, conducting exercises before a disaster, best practices for documenting the debris management and more.

Each course will build upon on knowledge of the previous class allowing newer emergency managers to build a strong foundation of expertise on the topic and giving veteran managers a chance to grow their knowledge on the topic.

The courses are as follows:

> Discover CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Planning Program.
> Find out more about CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division.

ADRC of the Capital Area gets respite care grant

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) awarded a $15,500 grant to the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area to provide emergency and urgent respite services to family caregivers.

The grant will fund a project that is multifaceted and designed to provide caregivers with limited access to services, urgent or emergency respite in rural and urban areas. The project will serve Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson counties. It will target the isolated, multi-cultural, non-English speaking informal, unpaid caregivers caring for individuals of any age with any disability or condition requiring care.

The resource center is developing an outreach plan and working with DADS on program implementation.

Funds are through the 2015 Lifespan Respite Care Program Grant from the Administration for Community Living to support building sustainable community-based respite care services in Texas.

CAPCOG conducts additional criminal justice grant workshop

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments will hold a third and final mandatory criminal justice grant writing workshop from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 in the CAPCOG Pecan Room.

Workshop topics will focus on submitting applications for four Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division grants – General Victim Assistance, Violent Crimes Against Women, General Juvenile Justice, and Justice Assistance. Attendees will be instructed on how to write grant applications and how applications will be scored. Changes to the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan also will be discussed.

This is the final opportunity for entities to attend a writing workshop for the grants. If an organization plans to apply for any of the criminal justice grants, its attendance to one of the grant writing workshops is mandatory. If an organization did not attend a workshop and submits a grant application, the application will be deemed ineligible by the Office of Governor's Criminal Justice Division. If an organization already attended a previous workshop but still has questions or needs additional assistance, it can attend this last workshop.

Seating is limited to 50 people.

CAPCOG is located at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas 78744-2306.

> RSVP for the workshop or inquire about questions with Kate Barrett or Ken May.
> Read the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Criminal Justice Program.

Saving on Household Hazardous Waste Collections

Friday, February 13, 2015

Costs of conducting household hazardous waste collection (HHWC) events increase with greater participation and more materials collected for disposal. A rising price-tag can cause entities conducting the events to go over budget, but Blanco County used its already available resources, recycling and reuse techniques, and partnerships to keep its 2014 HHWC event under budget.

“It is just very hard to budget for these events, because you just never know what attendance to expect,” said Blanco County Commissioner Paul Granberg.

Blanco County HHWC event budgets are based on historical participation and cost data, but resident participation can double between events. A hundred vehicles one year could be 200 the next which results in more materials for disposal causing a greater cost, Granberg said. Often government entities don’t want to turn people away, because HHWC events offer a proper way of disposing of hazardous materials, which helps prevent illegal dumping.

The county’s Oct. 25, 2014 HHWC event experienced 125 vehicles dropping off 6 tons materials.

To curb costs, Blanco County road and bridge staff and volunteers sorted materials that could be redirected for either recycling or reusing purposes. Paint for instance was one of several materials placed in a reusable area before being disposed by the contractor.

People brought a lot of usable latex paint, Granberg said. Some gallon-paint containers weren’t even opened or only half of the paint was used.

After being set aside, attending residents could take any of the reusable materials they wanted. The remainder of the good paint and the non-usable paint was given to the contractor for recycling or disposal once the collection event finished.

With items like scrap metal, oil and batteries, the county used its already established recycling program to sell the items. Computer parts were also separated from the disposal pile and given to Goodwill, which recycles the electronics.

Blanco County received $500 for selling recyclable oil and batteries. While it may not seem like a lot of money, it was money earned as opposed to a cost.

“(Recycling and reusing) is one way you save,” Granberg said. “The contractor will take everything, but every pound the contractor takes, you pay for it.”

Blanco accepted donations in lieu of charging residents to drop off material. Some people were happy to contribute, because they knew paying for disposal would cost more. 
Donations raised about $2,000, Granberg said.

The county also partnered with other government entities and organizations – Johnson City, city of Blanco, city of Round Mountain, Blanco Pedernales Underground Water Conservation District and Keep Blanco Beautiful – to help fund the event and make it a county wide endeavor.

Granberg attributed a routine schedule for HHWC and other waste collection events to staying under budget, too. Every year a bulk item collection event takes place, allowing the county HHWC events to just collect harmful materials. Focusing just on household hazardous materials limits excess materials disposed by the contractor and saves time sorting materials. The county also strives to have an HHWC event every three years so storage times between collections aren’t too long. Shorter times between events allows for less accumulation of materials.

Blanco County is one of seven HHWC events funded through CAPCOG’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Solid Waste Grant cycle. It was allocated $10,000 in grant monies and budgeted $23,200 for the event. The cost of the event was almost $22,600.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Solid Waste Planning Program.

AAACAP speaks at Senior Wellness Expo

Monday, February 09, 2015

Program managers with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) will lead discussions about the benefits of evidence based programs during the Senior Wellness Expo on Feb. 24.

Evidence based programs teach people how to mentally, physically and emotionally address issues caused by becoming an older adult. For several years, AAACAP has offered Matter of Balance courses, which teach fall prevention methods to reduce the fear and risk of falling, and Stress Busting courses, which help Alzheimer’s caregivers mitigate stress.

AAACAP program coordinators will discuss benefits of two new programs – Chronic Disease Self-Management and Diabetes Self-Management. The programs strive to empower older adults to learn about nutrition, exercise choices and treatment options and effective ways to talk to doctors and family about their disease.

Information about other agency services such as Medicare benefits counseling and medication screening will be available at the expo.

The Senior Wellness Expo, sponsored by Austin Senior Resource Alliance, will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Feb. 24, at the Lakeway Activity Center, 105 Cross Creek, Lakeway, Texas.

> Find a list of AAACAP’s services.

AAACAP is partially funded by the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services.

> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Learn about Austin Senior Resource Alliance.

CAPCOG assists with EDA Public Works Program grants

Friday, February 06, 2015

Local governments seeking U.S. Economic Development Administration grant projects can contact the Capital Area Council of Governments for assistance in applying to the EDA’s Public Works Program.

The EDA designated CAPCOG as the economic development district for CAPCOG’s 10-county region. Serving as the district, CAPCOG provides its local entities with technical assistance to develop and submit applications for EDA funding grant projects that strive to increase regional economic opportunities.

EDA’s Public Works Program supplies funds to communities to revitalize, expand or upgrade their physical infrastructure to attract new industry; encourage business expansion; diversify local economies; and generate or retain long-term, private sector jobs. It also can be used for acquisition or development of land and infrastructure investments needed to establish or expand industrial or commercial enterprises.

Most program projects should offer a 50 percent local match. Application scores are affected by having greater local and private matching funds and more job creation benefits.

The next two funding cycle deadlines are March 12, 2015 and June 12, 2015.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG economic development manager.
> Find out more about the EDA Public Works Program.

CAPCOG Executive Committee appoints 2015 officers

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Elgin Mayor Marc Holm took the reins of the Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee as board chair in January. Holm was appointed to the position by the board after serving as its first vice-chair in 2014. Holm has served as Elgin’s Mayor since 2008 and been an executive committee member for CAPCOG since 2009. Holm also chairs the Capital Area Economic Development District.

The board appointed Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long as its first vice-chair. Long started on the CAPCOG Executive Committee in 2007. She has been Williamson County’s Precinct Two Commissioner since 2007. Long also serves on the Capital Area Emergency Communications District’s 9-1-1 Strategic Advisory Committee.

Other board appointments included:

  • Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland, second vice-chair
  • Hays County Judge Bert Cobb, secretary
  • Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw retained his role as past chair.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Executive Committee.

TxDOT seeks TAP projects

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Source: Texas Department of Transportation, Public Transportation Division

Texas Department of Transportation is calling for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) candidate projects seeking to build non-driver public transit infrastructure.

TAP funds a variety of alternative transportation projects including on- and off road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure for non-driver access to public transportation, projects that enhance mobility and Safe Routes to School infrastructure projects. Funding from the program is limited to construction of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects for areas with populations less than 200,000.

The 2015 TAP Call for Candidate Projects began Jan. 16, 2015 and ends 5 p.m., May 4, 2015.

> Discover more about TAP and how to nominate projects.

Entities seeking to nominate projects should review TAP’s program guide, nomination form, and rules in consideration of their candidate project before contacting TxDOT. The program guide includes a TxDOT district map and a list of TxDOT district TAP coordinators. Local TxDOT district staff is available to discuss TAP and the project nomination process.

> Visit the Texas Department of Transportation Public Transportation Division's website.
> Read about the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

Basic Peace Officer Course adds ALERRT training

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy is adding 40 hours of active shooter training to its Basic Peace Officer Courses (BPOCs).

Cadets in the BPOC class 75, which began Jan. 5, will spend four days in an Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Level I and Level II courses. ALERRT will continue to be offered in future BPOCs.

The Level I course is designed to prepare cadets as first responders to isolate, distract, and neutralize an active shooter. The course curriculum includes weapon manipulation, threshold evaluation, concepts and principles of team movement and solo officer strategies, room entry techniques, approach and breaching the crisis site and much more.

During the Level II course, cadets will be trained in point-of-wound casualty care techniques to save lives. The cadets will learn tactical emergency combat care based in self-aid and buddy-aid techniques to include hemorrhage control and tourniquets, bandaging, airway management, triaging, casualty collection points, and casualty evacuation methods. “Force-on-force” mass casualty scenarios also will be taught. Cadets will have to neutralize a threat and treat the wounded, establish casualty collection points, conduct triage, and integrate responses with emergency medical personnel.

> Find a schedule of BPOCs and other law enforcement training.
> Discover the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Learn more about the BPOCs.

CAPCOG will help with diesel vehicle replacement, repower grant applications

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is offering assistance to entities interested in applying for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Texas Emission Reduction Plan (TERP) Rebate Grant Program.

The rebate grant program provides funding for replacement or repower projects of diesel on-road and certain non-road equipment and vehicles. It is a simplified application process under the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grant Program. The program process will open for applications on Feb. 9 and will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis.

The CAPCOG Air Quality Program will support local organizations and businesses with determining their eligibility for the grant and/or help with the completion of the application.

> Contact Linda Daubert, air quality program specialist, for assistance with the grant.

Part of the funds allocated to the rebate grant program will be set aside for applications from entities that qualify as a Small Business under the TERP Guidelines for Emissions Reduction Grants. Small and large businesses are encouraged to apply.

To qualify, vehicles and equipment must have 75 percent of their annual usage spent in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, Williamson, or 34 other Texas counties.

> Read more about the TERP Rebate Grant Program and download an application.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG offers two Criminal Justice Division grant workshops

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Service Division will conduct two mandatory workshops for the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) grants in February.

Both mandatory workshops will focus on writing applications for the General Victim Assistance, Violent Crimes Against Women, General Juvenile Justice and Justice Assistance Grants. Those in attendance will be provided instructions on how to complete grant applications, how applications will be scored, and changes to the Capital Area Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan.

> Read the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan.

Organizations seeking any of the four criminal justice grants must attend one of the workshops. The CJD will deem grant applications ineligible if the submitting organization failed to attend one of the mandatory workshops.

Workshop No. I: 1-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 at the J.B. Hallie Jester Building located at 1801 Old Settlers Blvd., Round Rock, TX 78664 in the Harrell Room. Please note the seating capacity is 200.

Workshop No. II: 1-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb.  10, 2015 at the CAPCOG offices located at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744 in the Pecan Room.  Please note the seating capacity is 50.

> RSVP for the workshop or inquire about questions with Kate Barrett or Ken May.

CAPCOG facilitates the criminal justice grants solicitation and ranking and scoring of applications for the state 2016 funding year through an interlocal agreement with the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division. CAPCOG is assisted with the process by its Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.

The state posted the request for applications on Dec. 12, 2014, which is open until Feb. 27, 2015, when all applicants must have uploaded their applications to the CJD E-grants website.

> Read more about the Criminal Justice Division Program and its grant funding opportunities.

Counselors assist with 600 hours of Medicare open enrollment

Monday, January 12, 2015

Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area benefit counselors provided assistance to hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries’ during the federal program’s 53-day open enrollment period, Oct. 15 – Dec. 7.

During open enrollment, which allows people to change their health or prescription drug coverage, benefits counselors provided assistance based counseling on Medicare Part D plan searches and the application process.

The AAACAP Benefits Counseling Program provided assistance to 372 consumers offering almost 600 hours of assistance activities. Counselors helped about 29 percent more consumers and provided about 30 percent hours of assistance during the period compared to the 53 days before open enrollment started. About 266 consumers were provided with 420 hours of assistance during the 53 days before open enrollment began.

Benefit counselors continue to educate older adults, caregivers, family members and the general public about relevant information for eligibility and requirements for Medicare and other public programs. They travel throughout CAPCOG’s 10-county region educating consumers about making informed decisions related to Medicare, advance planning, preventing and identifying Medicare fraud, and other aging issues.

> Read more about AAACAP's benefits counseling program.
> Discover local opportunities to receive benefit counseling.
> Learn about AAACAP.

TCEQ announces workshops for TERP Rebate Grant

Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Source: Texas Commission of Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality will open the application process for 2015 Texas Emission Reduction Plan (TERP) Rebate Grant Program on Feb. 9, 2015. To the assist interested governments and organizations with the grant process, the state agency is offering four application workshops in January.

The rebate grant is a first-come, first-serve program to upgrade and replace diesel heavy-duty vehicles and non-road equipment. Vehicles and equipment must have 75 percent of their annual usage spent in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, Williamson, and/or 34 other Texas counties.

An Austin application workshop will be conducted at the following time and location:

1:30-4:30 p.m., Jan. 27, 2015
TCEQ's Austin Office
Building E, Room 201S (Agenda Room)
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, Texas 78753

> Read more about the TERP Rebate Grant Program.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Other workshops will be at:

  • 1:30-4:30 p.m., Jan. 14, 2015
    North Central Texas Council of Governments
    616 Six Flags Drive
    Arlington, Texas 76011

  • 1:30-4:30 p.m., Jan. 22, 2015
    Alamo Area Council of Governments
    8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 700
    San Antonio, Texas 78217-6228

  • 1:30-4:30 p.m., Jan. 29, 2015
    5:30-7:30 p.m. (en Español), Jan. 29, 2015
    Tracy Gee Community Center
    3599 Westcenter Drive
    Houston, Texas 77042

New Executive Committee meets January 14

Monday, January 05, 2015

CAPCOG’s 2015 Executive Committee will meet for the first time on Jan. 14 after being selected by the organization’s General Assembly Representatives in December.

The Executive Committee, which consists of 29 elected officials from throughout the region, serves on the board to conduct business for the council of governments and direct staff on program implementation, budgets, contracts and general policies and procedures for managing the agency. The governing committee meets once a month, generally on the second Wednesday of the month.

It also serves as the managing board for the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, which governs the region’s 9-1-1 systems.

Representing counties

  • Judge Paul Pape, Bastrop County
  • Judge Brett Bray, Blanco County
  • Judge James Oakley, Burnet County
  • Judge Ken Schawe, Caldwell County
  • Judge Ed Janecka, Fayette County
  • Judge Bert Cobb, Hays County
  • Commissioner Maurice Pitts, Lee County
  • Judge Mary Cunningham, Llano County
  • Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County
  • Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Travis County
  • Judge Dan A. Gattis, Williamson County

Representing the City of Austin

  • Council Member Kathie Tovo

Representing cities greater than 100,000

  • Mayor Alan McGraw, Round Rock

Representing cities with 25,000 to 100,000

  • Council Member Donald Tracy, Cedar Park
  • Council Member Kirsten Lynch, Leander
  • Mayor Jeff Coleman, Pflugerville
  • Mayor Daniel Guerrero, San Marcos

Representing cities with less than 25,000

  • Mayor Caroline Murphy, Bee Cave
  • Council Member Eileen Altmiller, Buda
  • Mayor Marc Holm, Elgin
  • Mayor Debbie Holland, Hutto
  • Mayor Lew White, Lockhart

At-large members

  • Commissioner Joe Don Dockery, Burnet County
  • Commissioner Will Conley, Hays County
  • Commissioner Cynthia Long, Williamson County

Legislators from State Planning Region 12 (nonvoting) 

  • State Rep. Jason Isaac
  • State Rep. Paul Workman
  • State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez
  • Senator Judith Zaffirini

> Discover more about the CAPCOG Executive Committee.
> Read the upcoming meeting's agenda.

EPA holds a Texas hearing on proposed smog standards

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold one of three public hearings on the proposed updates to national air quality standards for ground-level ozone, or smog, in Arlington, Texas.

The EPA proposed to strengthen the standards to a level within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level down to 60 ppb, stated the EPA. The agency estimates the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will outweigh the costs by preventing asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days, premature deaths, and other health effects.

A Texas public hearing about the standards will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Jan. 29 at Arlington City Hall, 101 W. Abram St. in Arlington.

The public may register to speak at a specific time during a hearing by contacting Eloise Shepherd at 919-541-5507 or shepherd.eloise@epa.gov. People also may register in person the day of the hearing. The EPA will accept written comments on the proposed standards until March 17, 2015. The agency will issue a final rule by Oct. 1, 2015.

> Find additional information on the proposal and instructions for submitting written comments.

Two other hearings will take place at the following local times and locations:

9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Jan. 29
Washington
U.S. EPA
William Jefferson Clinton East building, Room 1153
1301 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Feb. 2
Sacramento, Calif.
California Air Resources Board
Byron Sher Auditorium
1001 “I” St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

> Read more about CAPCOG’S Air Quality Program.
> Discover the Clean Air Coalition.

Mass fatality plan to benefit response and training

Friday, December 26, 2014

Educating area governments and emergency response teams on how to respond to mass fatality incidents has been priority for the Capital Area Council of Governments Homeland Security Division for years. Entities in the region have participated in a number of training sessions, hosted national recognized trainers on the subject, and focused several planning initiatives on the topic.

In the summer of 2014, CAPCOG received a grant to develop a mass fatality plan so it could provide local jurisdictions with assistance in improving the responses to such incidents throughout its 10-county region. The plan is still under development, but CAPCOG Homeland Security Director Ed Schaefer and Homeland Security Planner Carolyn Sudduth answered questions about why creating a mass fatality plan is important.

What constitutes a mass fatality incident?
Simply stated, a mass fatality incident is any incident resulting in more fatalities than can be managed by a local jurisdiction using its own available resources. Because the level of available resources varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, an incident that would be a “mass fatality incident” in one jurisdiction might not reach that threshold in another.

Mass fatality incidents can result from natural causes, such as tornadoes or pandemic influenza; or have man-made origins, such as the crash of an airliner or an explosion of hazardous chemicals. Mass fatality incidents are sometimes referred to as “mass casualty incidents” but, for planning purposes, mass casualty incidents focus on the need to manage surviving victims while mass fatality incidents focus on the need to manage victims who did not survive. Sometimes, an incident can be both a mass casualty incident and a mass fatality incident.

These types of incidents require multiple agencies and communities coordinate with each other.

Why do governments need to have a mass fatality response plan? And how can the plans help them prepare for a mass fatality incident?
State and federal law require governments at all levels be prepared to respond to emergencies of all types and all degrees of severity, including those that reach the level of a mass fatality incident. Such incidents can occur with little or no warning, as shown by the May 27, 1997 tornado that killed 27 people in Jarrell in Williamson County.

When such incidents have occurred, local officials have used the principles and processes in their jurisdictions’ emergency management plans to guide their response. Development of a mass fatality response plan prior to such an occurrence allows them to focus on the unique issues associated with mass fatality incidents before, not during, the response to such an incident.

Pre-planning provides the opportunity to identify and arrange for needed resources, develop processes and procedures, and train government and private-sector personnel in their roles and responsibilities when such an incident occurs.

What are some of the downfalls of incorrectly handling mass fatality incidents?
A response to a mass fatality incident has several components, including recovery of bodies, processing and final disposition of the remains, and assistance to the families of the deceased. These activities take place in an emotionally charged, highly visible environment that elevates the consequences of failure to follow the requirements of the law or to be sensitive to the needs of the survivors. Any missteps can subject local officials to legal action, negative publicity or both. Every component needs to be handled with a degree of precision, sensitivity and dignity.

How does a mass fatality response plan relate to other homeland security plans and how can it be integrated into those plans?
All jurisdictions are required to develop comprehensive, all-hazard emergency management plans. Such plans outline how local jurisdictions will work with other organizations, including non-governmental organizations and state and federal agencies to provide an effective, coordinated response. Mass fatality response planning is integrated into a broad array of emergency management, law enforcement and public health planning processes. This planning provides the basis for the training and exercise that facilitate such a response.

How will jurisdictions be able to use the developed plan after it is finished? And how can further help those jurisdictions prepare?
CAPCOG is taking a two-pronged approach to mass fatality response planning. The most visible product of this effort will be written plans, guidelines and templates that can be modified by local jurisdictions to meet their particular needs. More important, however, is the opportunity to engage in a process of identifying the issues that will be encountered in a response to a mass fatality incident and to work with other personnel to formulate approaches to dealing with those issues. Our approach focuses on incorporating the unique considerations of mass fatality response into the jurisdiction’s incident command structure, including ensuring that medico-legal authorities continue their statutory oversight of fatality incidents, and incorporating the application of “best practices” to the mass fatality response.

> Discover more about CAPCOG's Homeland Security Divison.

Travis County Judge receives CAPCOG regionalism award

Friday, December 19, 2014

Travis County Judge Samuel T. Biscoe received the Jack Griesenbeck Award from the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) honoring his longtime dedication to regionalism and service to CAPCOG’s 10-county district.

Named after Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, who was CAPCOG’s first chairman, the award recognizes a person who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits and other organization.

Biscoe has done that by serving numerous years on the CAPCOG Executive Committee and serving as the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition’s chairman for the last five years. Biscoe has led the coalition and its other elected officials by consistently addressing issues through a regional lens which is necessary for air quality. With Biscoe’s leadership, the cities and counties have worked hard together taking fairly vigorous actions to keep the region out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s nonattainment air quality status.

Biscoe has been a part of the CAPCOG Executive Committee since he was first elected as a Travis County Commissioner in 1989. He served as the CAPCOG Executive Committee chairman and became the Clean Air Coalition chairman in 2009.

Through his work with both CAPCOG committees, Biscoe has more than proved a commitment to regionalism.

CAPCOG has honored individuals with this award for more than 10 years.

CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights presents Travis County Judge Samuel T. Biscoe with CAPCOG's Jack Griesenbeck Award. 

> Read about the previous Jack Griesenbeck Award winner.
> Find out more about the CAPCOG Executive Committee.
> Discover the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition.
 

Hays County Commissioner honored for service to transportation

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hays County Commissioner, Will Conley, received the Texas Department of Transportation Road Hand award, a prestigious tradition acknowledging those who have made improvements to transportation in their communities.

Commissioner Conley has been a major player in planning viable transportation projects in the region. He has made a difference by serving as chairman on the Capitol Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, as well as through his work in Hays County to make safety improvements to roadways and establish transportation plans to prevent future traffic congestion.

“Commissioner Conley, along with other leaders in Hays County, faces the challenge of planning transportation in one of the fastest growing counties in the state,” said Greg Malatek, Austin District Engineer. “He has devoted time and effort to improving TxDOT and the way the agency does business. His enthusiasm, leadership, and dedicated public service are invaluable and appreciated.”

The Road Hand Award was created in 1973 by former State Highway Engineer Luther DeBerry. He recognized that TxDOT owes a great deal to its many friends and supporters for their efforts to make the Texas highway program the best in the world. The award is the highest tribute to citizens who freely give their time, energy, and vision to champion transportation projects in Texas.

“It was a surprise and honor to receive the State's highest recognition for a local official in transportation,” Conley said. “Thank you to the citizens of Precinct 3, Hays County Commissioner's Court, and my colleagues across the region for giving me the opportunity to work on this important issue for our community and State.”

> Discover more on the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

Law enforcement academy teaches a lifelong career

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thanks to funding from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy operates one of the area’s most affordable education opportunities for people looking for a lifelong career in law enforcement.

Last year, CAPCOG conducted five basic peace officers courses (BPOCs) graduating 92 cadets which joined law enforcement agencies around the region. Those same agencies and ones outside the region often recruit the BPOC’s cadets during the course. Two courses are underway and a third will start in January.

> Find a schedule of future BPOCs and additional training opportunities.

For $2,300, prospective officers can enroll in a BPOC. Law enforcement agencies in the region can sponsor cadets for a discounted rate of $1,900. Military veterans also can qualify for Chapter 30, Montgomery GI Bill benefits, and Chapter 33, Post 911 GI Bill benefits. Veterans who plan to use the Post-9/11 or Montgomery GI Bill must submit a certificate of eligibility from the VA, Muskogee, Okla. Office, stating the percent of tuition that will be paid. If it is less than 100 percent, the student will pay the remainder.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy.

GeoMap program improves orthoimagery resolution

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments GIS Program’s GeoMap, a cooperative buying program, is coordinating the purchase of orthoimagery with 12 participating local entities that include counties, municipalities and the Capital Area Emergency Communications District in 2015.

For the first time ever, the entire 10-county region — more than 8,800 square miles — will be captured in 12-inch or 6-inch resolution. CAPCOG GIS is working to make the data available by county mosaics and ultimately the entire region in one file.

The GIS program provides mapping, GIS consulting, spatial analysis to CAPCOG divisions, member governments and the public. Its most prominent service is maintaining and publishing digital maps for 9-1-1 telecommunicators and dispatchers. In FY 2015, CAPCOG GIS is continuing the  implementation of new data layers for Next Generation 9-1-1 geospatial data, database maintenance, regional support and training.

> Contact Jonathan Pattiwael, CAPCOG GIS analyst II.
> Read more about CAPCOG's GIS program.

CAPCOG honors Parmer with volunteer award

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments recognized Phill Parmer, of Llano, with its first volunteer service award on Dec. 10. Parmer, 94, is the longest serving Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area volunteer.

He has dedicated more than 19 years to assisting with the care of older adults throughout CAPCOG’s 10-county region. Since 1995, Parmer has participated as a CAPCOG Aging Advisory Committee member. He served as a past committee chair and held every position on the board. He has conducted numerous focus groups in Llano County to help identify and strategize to meet those needs of seniors in the capital region.

Palmer has dedicated an enormous amount of time on the aging evaluation committee by visiting senior centers and nutrition meal sites to conduct contract on-site monitoring each year. Annually, he also assisted scoring applications from outside entities to provide home delivered and congregate meal programs.

In 1996, Parmer became a Certified Ombudsman. As a volunteer ombudsman, he has visited and advocated for seniors and their families monthly and weekly by visiting nursing homes and assisted-living centers in Llano and surrounding cities. He continues to be an active ombudsman but resigned from the Aging Advisory Committee earlier this year because of health reasons.

Parmer also was elected to the Texas Silver Haired Legislature from 1992-1996, where he advocated and spearheaded legislative initiatives related to senior issues.

 
Phill Parmer, 94 of Llano, accepts the CAPCOG Volunteer Service Award from Llano County Judge and CAPCOG Executive Committee Chairman Wayne Brascom during CAPCOG's Dec. 10 General Assembly Meeting.

> Read more about the Area Agency on Aging.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging ombudsman program.

Llano transportation & economic development plan begins

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Llano County Commissioners’ Court hosted CAPCOG on Nov. 24 to announce support for a 2015 countywide transportation and economic development plan.

The effort, funded by the Texas Department of Transportation, will pick up steam in early 2015 as the county nominates advisory committees from public and private sectors. TxDOT and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute started researching traffic patterns and future trends. CAPCOG will combine their research with economic and demographic info to create a data-driven plan for the future county growth.

Counties outside Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s jurisdiction can use comprehensive prioritization of transportation projects to get the most from out-of-state and federal funding sources and to preserve right-of-way corridors.

The upcoming planning process will include surveys, stakeholder work sessions, and several public meetings to ensure the plan represents Llano County residents.

> Contact Chad Coburn, CAPCOG manager of community development and planning, for more information.
> Read more about CAPCOG's Community and Economic Development Program.

CAPCOG offers basic telecommunicators course

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments offered its first 40 Hour Basic Telecommunicator Licensing Course from Nov. 10 to Nov. 14, 2014 helping 19 9-1-1 operators meet a new state requirement. Additional courses will be available throughout the 2015 fiscal year.

The Basic Telecommunicator Licensing Course is now a required course by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) that emergency telecommunicators must complete within their first year of hire.

The 40 hour course is designed to provide a beginning telecommunicator with an understanding of situations encountered in an emergency communications environment. Course content includes training such as radio dispatching, call taking, call classification, emergency and non-emergency situations, liability and legal issues and stress management.

The 19 students in attendance were from Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) throughout the CAPCOG region and other outside agencies. They all passed the final exam with a required score of 85 or higher. The course is offered to CAPCOG’s regional PSAPs at no charge.

> Find future training courses.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
> Contact Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG PSAP specialist.

TCEQ extends emission reduction grant opportunity

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) extended the grant application process for its Emissions Reduction Incentive Grant Program.

Applications now will be accepted until 5 p.m., Dec. 16, 2014.

> Apply for the grant on the Texas Emission Reduction Plan website.

The grant encourages entities to upgrade or replace heavy-duty on-road vehicles or non-road equipment, equipment, locomotives, marine vessels, stationary equipment, refueling infrastructure, on-site electrification and idle reduction infrastructure, on-vehicle electrification and idle reduction infrastructure, and rail relocation and improvement projects in Texas.

Entities that operate or plan to operate such vehicles and equipment in the nonattainment areas and other areas of Texas, to include the Austin area, are eligible for the grant.

> Discover more air quality grant opportunities.
> Read about the Capital Area Council of Governments’ Air Quality Program.

Proposed Ozone Standards Pose a Challenge for Central Texas

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Proposed new national ground-level ozone standards put Central Texas at risk of being designated a “nonattainment” area by 2017. However, ongoing regional air quality planning efforts could make the difference in preserving the region’s attainment status. On Nov. 26, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed tightening the “primary” ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65-70 ppb to protect public health and welfare. Ozone levels in Central Texas are currently within the range proposed by EPA for the standards.

While ozone levels in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties — continue to improve, progress may not occur quickly enough to remain in compliance under the proposed standards. If EPA sets the new primary ozone standard at the lowest end of its proposed range –65 ppb – current projections indicate that continuing and strengthening the region’s emission reduction program will be necessary to stay in attainment.

If EPA designates Central Texas “nonattainment” for ground-level ozone, which might occur by October 2017, there could be significant economic impacts for the region. New regulations could restrict industrial expansion, delay funding for roadway construction, and increase the cost of doing business throughout the region. The regulatory consequences of a nonattainment designation could last for 25-40 years.

Ongoing regional air quality planning efforts are led by the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC), which consists of local elected officials from all five counties in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. They have developed a series of voluntary emission reduction plans that have helped the region remain in attainment of EPA’s air quality standards following the last two revisions to the ground-level ozone standards.

These nationally-recognized efforts are supported by local businesses, government entities, and nonprofit organizations, as well as state programs designed to reduce local emissions. Regarding the challenge the region may face addressing the proposed standards, CAC Chair and outgoing Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe said, “Central Texans should be very proud of the efforts our region has successfully pursued, and will continue to pursue, in order to stay in attainment of national ozone standards. Continued collaboration will help ensure the best possible protection for public health and protection against costs arising from a possible nonattainment designation.” The region’s planning efforts earned the CAC the EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Award for Community Engagement in 2014.

High ozone levels can cause breathing problems, particularly for children, seniors, and people who suffer from chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. High ozone can also cause damage to plants and reduce growth rates for vegetation. Many countries have set ozone standards similar to what EPA has proposed, although implementation methods vary. For comparison, Canada has set its ozone standard at 65 ppb; the European Union ozone standard is 60 ppb; the United Kingdom has an ozone standard of 50 ppb.

> Discover more about the region's air quality.
Download CAPCOG's - EPA Ozone Standard Fact Sheet.

EPA announces proposed air quality standards

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Source: The Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – Based on extensive recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, or smog, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to strengthen air quality standards within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level as low as 60 ppb. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb.

"Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk. It empowers the American people with updated air quality information to protect our loved ones - because whether we work or play outdoors – we deserve to know the air we breathe is safe,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act has always been EPA’s responsibility. Our health protections have endured because they’re engineered to evolve, so that’s why we’re using the latest science to update air quality standards – to fulfill the law’s promise, and defend each and every person’s right to clean air.”

EPA scientists examined numerous scientific studies in its most recent review of the ozone standards, including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last update. Studies indicate that exposure to ozone at levels below 75 ppb – the level of the current standard – can pose serious threats to public health, harm the respiratory system, cause or aggravate asthma and other lung diseases, and is linked to premature death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes.

Ground-level ozone forms in the atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like cars, trucks, buses, industries, power plants and certain fumes from fuels, solvents and paints. People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and those who are active or work outside. Stronger ozone standards also will provide an added measure of protection for low income and minority families who are more likely to suffer from asthma or to live in communities overburdened by pollution. Nationally, 1 in 10 children has been diagnosed with asthma.

According to EPA’s analysis, strengthening the standard to a range of 65 to 70 ppb will provide significantly better protection for children, preventing from 320,000 to 960,000 asthma attacks and from 330,000 to 1 million missed school days. The new standard also could prevent more than 750 to 4,300 premature deaths; 1,400 to 4,300 asthma-related emergency room visits; and 65,000 to 180,000 missed workdays.

EPA estimates the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs.  If the standards are finalized, every dollar we invest to meet them will return up to three dollars in health benefits. These large health benefits will be gained from avoiding asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths, among other health effects valued at $6.4 to $13 billion annually in 2025 for a standard of 70 ppb, and $19 to $38 billion annually in 2025 for a standard of 65 ppb.  Annual costs are estimated at $3.9 billion in 2025 for a standard of 70 ppb, and $15 billion for a standard at 65 ppb.

A combination of recently finalized or proposed air pollution rules – including “Tier 3” clean vehicle and fuels standards – will significantly cut smog-forming emissions from industry and transportation, helping states meet the proposed standards. EPA’s analysis of federal programs that reduce air pollution from fuels, vehicles and engines of all sizes, power plants and other industries shows the vast majority of U.S. counties with monitors would meet the more protective standards by 2025 just with the rules and programs now in place or underway. Local communities, states, and the federal government have made substantial progress in reducing ground-level ozone. Nationally, from 1980 to 2013, average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent. EPA projects this progress will continue.
The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards. To ensure people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is proposing to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, including children and people with asthma because it will provide information so families can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.

The agency is also proposing to strengthen the “secondary” ozone standard to a level within 65 to 70 ppb to protect plants, trees and ecosystems from damaging levels of ground-level ozone. New studies add to the evidence showing that repeated exposure to ozone stunts the growth of trees, damages plants, and reduces crop yield. The proposed level corresponds to levels of seasonal ozone exposure scientists have determined would be more protective.

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and the agency plans to hold three public hearings. EPA will issue final ozone standards by October 1, 2015.

> View EPA’s proposal.
> Read more about EPA air quality standards.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Read the CAPCOG Air Quality Program's EPA Ozone Standard Fact Sheet.

Environmental summit to take place in Bastrop

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Texas Senator Kirk Watson will conduct the 2014 Central Texas Environmental Summit “Collaboration Along the Corridor,” so community stakeholders can learn about and discuss solutions to environmental challenges facing the area.

The summit will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 8, at the Bastrop Convention and Exhibit Center, 1408 Chestnut St. in Bastrop.
Keynote speakers will address two topics: Texas Water Update: Drought, Water Conservation, and State’s Role; and Central Texas Air Quality Update.

Key state and regional government staff will man outreach and education booths to provide one-on-one discussion opportunities and answer questions for attendees. The Capital Area Council of Governments Solid Waste and Air Quality programs will present exhibits in their areas of expertise. 

Attendance is free, but registration is required. 

> Learn more about and register for the Central Texas Environmental Summit.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Find out about CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program.

Schreck delivers economic expertise to region

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chris Schreck, the Capital Area Council of Governments’ Economic Development Manager, wants to bring economic growth expertise to every jurisdiction in the region. He is eager to lend expertise but also is seeking to learn more from the region’s communities.

“I’m a big believer in development initiatives that begin with the community,” Schreck said. “People have their priorities and places have their unique assets. Economic development that begins by taking an inventory of those items can reveal really unique opportunities to create growth and jobs while preserving or creating a distinct sense of place.”

Schreck already is meeting with jurisdictions throughout the region, such as Eanes Independent School District, to present on economic development opportunities.

Before coming to CAPCOG in October, Schreck provided economic and technology policy consulting for SRI International, where he focused on technology-based economic development, higher education, and economic data analysis.

Schreck also is developing the next Capital Area Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy with the CAEDD, which creates and supports goals and objectives the region should seek to continue economic prosperity. 

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG's Economic Development Manager.
> Learn more about the Community and Economic Development Program.

CAPCOG seeks projects for Homeland Security Grant

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) is accepting requests from counties and cities in the CAPCOG region for projects to be funded through the FY 2015 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP).

As in previous years, it is anticipated that Fiscal Year 2015 HSGP funding will continue to be limited and will focus on sustaining capabilities developed during prior funding cycles. CAPCOG is awaiting additional guidance about specific federal and state priorities and will make this information available on the CAPCOG website as it becomes available.

This grant is being administered in accordance with the “Capital Area Council of Governments FY 2015 Homeland Security Program Regional Grant Process,” as approved by the CAPCOG Executive Committee Sept. 10, 2014.

> Read the FY 2015 Homeland Security Program Regional Grant Process.

To apply, each jurisdiction must submit a project worksheet form for each project no later than 5 p.m., Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Instructions for completion of this form are contained in it. Late or incomplete submissions cannot be accepted.

In addition, jurisdictions planning to apply for this funding must complete a survey regarding their implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Failure to complete this survey by the deadline, Dec. 4, 2015, will disqualify jurisdictions from consideration for Fiscal Year 2015 HSGP funding. Jurisdictions are encouraged to complete this survey even if they do not plan to apply for HSGP funding.

> Take the survey.

For any questions or request for additional information, please contact Ed Schaefer, CAPCOG’s Homeland Security director.

> Download the FY 2015 project worksheet form.
> Read the grant announcement.

AAACAP accepts medication screenings by mail

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area is expanding its free medication screening capabilities so more seniors and caregivers can access the service and prevent possible negative effects of combining medicines.

Screening applications are now available online. Elderly caregivers and people who are 60 or older can download the form and mail it to 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas, 78744.

> Download the applications here.

Allowing digital access to the free medication screenings will let people across the 10-county region receive the benefit of their prescriptions and other medicines being reviewed for negative reactions, cost savings and effectiveness.

Since St. David’s Foundation and Department of Aging and Disability Services awarded the grant, AAACAP has provided 417 medication screenings.

> Discover more services provided by AAACAP.
> Learn more about medication screens and download the forms to mail.

RETF cameras catch illegal dumpers in the act

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Using a camera purchased by the Capital Area Council of Government’s Regional Environmental Task Force, Williamson County Deputy Constable Eric Thomas is on the verge of closing four illegal dumpsite cases in two months. He has issued two warrants, made one arrest, and one case is still outstanding.

CAPCOG purchased 10 SpyPoint cameras to assist with illegal dumping surveillance in earlier 2014, and an additional 10 cameras are on order. The current cameras, which have already spent almost 1,000 hours in the field, have helped apprehend illegal dumpers and cleaning up dumpsites.

> Learn more about the RETF.

Because the cameras have worked so well for Thomas, Williamson County Constable Kevin Stofle purchased two additional cameras to assist the deputy’s efforts.

“They have been very effective in showing what was going on at these dumpsites,” Thomas said.

In some cases, the use of surveillance in the area has led the Constable’s office to create deterrents for people using an illegal dumpsite, such as where to post signage or showing how and why people access the site. In other instances, the equipment captured video of non-environmental criminal activity which helped the Williamson County Sheriff’s office make arrests.

One of the most important parts of having access to the cameras is they become a force multiplier, said Sgt. Douglas MacDougall, an investigator for the Travis County Attorney’s office.A SpyPoint camera, which is being used by the RETF to help catch illegal dumpers, is hung in a tree as a demonstration.

Twenty-four hour surveillance on an illegal dumpsite at minimum would require three officers, but it should have six, said MacDougall. That costs law enforcement agencies time and money.  A camera however can drastically decrease the personnel resources and time spent at a scene.

One officer can spend three hours or less getting the information from a camera and reviewing it in a sped up manner, MacDougall said.

“With the case load I carry, I can set it up in the area and come back in a week’s time to check the activity,” Thomas said. He normally replaces batteries and gets the footage at the same time. “It definitely gives us a tool to better utilize our time.”

Being the only person, who works environmental crimes for Williamson County precincts 2 and 3, time is important. Thomas currently has 75 active cases spanning on issues of nuisance to illegal dumping to hazardous waste complaints.

> Help stop illegal dumping by reporting incidents.

MacDougall, who serves a third of Travis County and assists with cases in the nine other CAPCOG counties, visits and works investigations on about 20 illegal dumpsites a week.

“There is not a ton of us that do environmental crime work,” MacDougall said. “But now we have 10 camera systems that are expandable that we can give to people in the 10 counties. It is to their benefit and ultimately to the region’s benefit, because ultimately solid waste dumping affects the whole region and enters the water system.”

RETF members can reserve a camera and schedule a pickup or drop-off time for the equipment.

> Contact Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Director.
> Contact Matt Holderread, CAPCOG Solid Waste Program Planner.
 

Workshops set for strategic criminal justice plan revisions

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments and its Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) are coordinating two meetings for input on Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan revisions.

The plan identifies gaps and prioritizes needs related to direct victim assistance, juvenile justice, mental health, and criminal justice services. Regional criminal justice stakeholders developed the plan last year.

> Read the current Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan.

Agendas for the meetings will include a presentation and review of the 2014 plan, an analysis of data on past state funding to the region, and small group discussions to identify needs and suggest plan priority revisions. Topics will include training; direct services; education and outreach; housing, sheltering, or other facility needs; investigation and/or prosecution; support technology and equipment; and personnel support.

Criminal justice planners can attend the meetings at the following times and locations:

  • 9 to 11 a.m., Nov.  14, at J.B. Hallie Jester Building, 1801 Old Settlers Blvd., Round Rock, Texas.
  • 9 to 11 a.m., Nov. 19, in the CAPCOG Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas.

A complete analysis of regional input and data from the meetings will be provided to CJAC in December to develop plan revisions.

> Contact Chad Coburn, CAPCOG manager of community development planning.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.

EPA offers technical assistance workshop for sustainable economic growth

Monday, November 03, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting letters of interest from local governments, so it can provide technical assistance for up to 25 communities about ways to promote sustainable economic growth.

The Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program helps increase a community’s capacity to implement smart growth and sustainable approaches by demonstrating to local communities how to use various tools. The growth techniques in the program strive to protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for the effects of climate change, and improve overall quality of life.

The program will provide technical assistance through a 1- to 2-day workshop on a specific smart growth development topics to include:

  • Bikeshare Planning
  • Equitable Development
  • Infill Development for Distressed Cities
  • Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas
  • Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities

The deadline to apply to participate in the program is Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.

> Learn more about and apply for the program.
> Read about CAPCOG’s Economic Development Program.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Planning Program.

Got questions about text-to-9-1-1? Get answers

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Source: Answers are compiled from the FCC and CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Director, Gregg Obuch.

If cellphone users in the Capital Area text their emergency to 9-1-1 today, they would receive a message telling them to call. But soon those messages will be answered by a live operator who can dispatch the proper emergency responders.

While a few areas in the United States already rolled out a text-to-9-1-1 service, the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Capital Area Emergency Communications District anticipate responding to text-to-9-1-1 reported emergencies in 2015.

But what is text-to-9-1-1, and why would someone want to use it?
Text-to-9-1-1 is the ability to send a "short message" (SMS) or other kind of text message to 9-1-1. Texting during an emergency could be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, or if a voice call might otherwise be dangerous or impossible. However, those who are able should always call 9-1-1.

Do area phone companies support text-to-9-1-1, and do regional Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) have the equipment and training to use it?
The "Big Four” wireless carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile – began providing text-to-9-1-1 capabilities in mid-May of this year. Under current FCC requirements, other service providers have until Dec. 31, 2014 to provide the service. The PSAPs in the CAPCOG region have the necessary equipment in place. Training for call takers will be provided before text-to-9-1-1 is activated in the region. Planning for the deployment of text-to-9-1-1 currently is underway.

Why is it important to plan the implementation of text-to-9-1-1?
Text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today, especially younger people and people with hearing and speech disabilities. Several studies estimate more than 6 billion SMS text messages are sent daily in the United States. To ensure emergency texts are routed to the proper 9-1-1 center; it requires proper coordination with each service provider.

What are issues CAPCOG and the emergency communications district want to avoid when implementing text-to-9-1-1?
A key challenge in activating text-to-9-1-1 in our regional call centers is selecting the text-to-9-1-1 platform that works best in the emergency call centers. CAPCOG is conducting extensive research and reviewing methods used by other 9-1-1 areas that participated in the testing phase of the deployment and were the first to activate text to 9-1-1 in their areas. This will help CAPCOG and the regional call centers select the best option that fits our needs.

If I am able to text-to-9-1-1, will the 9-1-1 center automatically know my location?
Texting 9-1-1 is different from making a voice call. During a voice call to 9-1-1, the call taker will typically receive a phone number and the phone’s approximate location automatically. This is called "Enhanced 911" or "E911." However, in most cases when texting 9-1-1 from a wireless phone, the call taker will not receive this automated information. For this reason, it is important to give the 9-1-1 call taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible when using text-to-9-1-1.

If text-to-911 is available to me, why should people use it only when calling 9-1-1 is not an option?
Voice calls to 9-1-1 are usually the most efficient way to reach emergency help. For example, voice calls allow the 9-1-1 operator to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from the caller, while two-way communication by text can take more time and is subject to limits on the length of text messages.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division.
> Learn more about text-to-9-1-1.

CAPCOG seeks nominations for Jack Griesenbeck Award

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments will accept nominations for its annual Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award until Nov. 7.

Named after Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, who was CAPCOG’s first chairman, the award traditionally honors someone that consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits, and other organization. Nominations can be either an elected official or a volunteer who has played a pivotal role in bringing the spirit of regionalism to the 10-county CAPCOG region.

CAPCOG has honored individuals with this award for more than 10 years. Previous recipients of the award include:

  • Mayor Kirk Watson, City of Austin
  • Dr. W. Neal Kocurek
  • Robert J. Huston, Chair of Texas Commission of Environmental Quality
  • Mayor Ray Sanders, City of Lockhart
  • Bob Daigh, Texas Department of Transportation Austin District Engineer
  • Texas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos
  • Mike Simpson, City of Austin and Texas Radio Coalition
  • County Judge H.T. Wright, Caldwell County
  • Police Chief Mark Whitacre, City of Marble Falls
  • Texas Senator Troy Fraser
  • Mike Fisher, Emergency Management Coordinator of Bastrop County
  • Seth S. Searcy, Attorney at Law

To submit nominations to CAPCOG, download the form and submit it to Mason W. Canales, the CAPCOG member services coordinator, by email or fax, 512-916-6001, by Nov. 7. The recipient of the award will be announced at the Dec. 10 CAPCOG General Assembly meeting.

> Download the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award nomination form.
> Contact Mason W. Canales, the CAPCOG member services coordinator.
> Read about last year’s honoree, Seth S. Searcy.

Schreck joins CAPCOG to aid economic development across the region

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chris Schreck has joined the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) staff as its economic development manager. In the position, he will assist with regional economic planning and provide analysis support for entities in CAPCOG’s 10 counties.

Schreck looks forward to helping area communities take advantage of economic opportunities as the region’s technological, demographic, and competitive landscapes continue to develop.

Prior to starting at CAPCOG, Schreck provided economic and technology policy consulting for SRI International, where he focused on technology-based economic development, higher education, and economic data analysis. He also worked for the US Treasury Department and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and provided wireless market forecasting for IMS Research.

Schreck earned a master of public policy from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG’s community and economic development manager.
> Read more about CAPCOG’s community and economic development program.

AAACAP aids residents with Medicare enrollment

Friday, October 10, 2014

Benefit counselors with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) are prepped to assist those in the region with Medicare open enrollment that starts Oct. 15.

Medicare open enrollment is the one time of year people who use Medicare can switch their Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage plans. There are so many choices involved in selecting a Medicare program; it can be hard for people to determine what provides the best savings for them.

AAACAP counselors are available to help navigate those tough decisions. They also provide screening for qualification into the Medicare Savings Program and low-income subsidies for every person they counsel during the open enrollment period.

Residents can receive assistance from AAACAP benefit counselors at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

> Learn more about Medicare open enrollment.
> Discover more about AAACAP benefit counselor services.

Bastrop County and its students promote sustainability

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Several Bastrop County entities teamed up to improve proper household hazardous waste disposal and recycling awareness and reduce the amount of trash entering landfills.

In September, Bastrop County, the cities and school districts of Elgin and Smithville, and Keep Bastrop County Beautiful began creating an informational campaign that will educate the public about their local waste disposal options.

Students around the county will be the primary movers and shakers by creating the campaign, which is anticipated to be completed before the end of the school year.

Bob Haisler’s high school marketing class in Elgin ISD will develop print materials such as bookmarks, advertisements, and other traditional media to distribute to students, place in public buildings and hand out at events.

Smithville ISD students will create videos about how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and, when all else fails, keep hazardous waste off garbage trucks and out of landfills. The videos will be posted on several social media sites operated by entities throughout the county.

 “I am so very proud to see Bastrop County students working together and using new media to educate the public about the importance of proper disposal of hazardous household waste,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape. “This program enables us to continue achieving the goals we established in our regional Solid Waste Management Plan (back in 2007) to reduce improper disposal of hazardous materials and stop illegal dumping in our beautiful county.”

The Capital Area Council of Governments administered about $7,500 in grant funds for the project through its Solid Waste program, which selects local projects to receive state funds acquired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

“This grant supports our commitment to sustainability in Bastrop County, and we appreciate the confidence and support from the Capital Area Council of Governments,” Pape said.

The projects also will update Keep Bastrop County Beautiful’s interactive website and the companion “Talking Trash in Bastrop County” guidebook.

The program continues a long partnership between Bastrop County and its cities and school districts. The entities worked on the Recycling in the Schools project in 2010, which provided recycling resources for Smithville and Cedar Creek schools, and the Household Hazardous Waste Clean Up in 2013. Both were funded in part by the CAPCOG Solid Waste program.

> Visit Keep Bastrop County Beautiful’s website.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.
> Contact Jill Strube, Bastrop County grant administrator, or Jack Page, Smithville public works director

General Assembly approves CAPCOG FY 2015 Budget

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Capital Area Council of Governments General Assembly representatives in September approved a $23.8 million budget for expenses during the 2015 fiscal year.

The FY 2015 budget will continue to support CAPCOG’s numerous programs such as nutrition assistance of older adults, air quality planning, and the regional law enforcement academy. But it also allows for the expansion of other programs to include the creation of an Aging and Disability Resource Center and a Homeland Security Emergency Management disaster debris management plan.

Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s portion of the budget included $7.9 million in expenditures and the Capital Area Emergency Communication District’s budget included $11.9 million in expenditures.

The General Assembly also appointed the nominating committee that will help select CAPCOG’s 2015 Executive Committee.

The next General Assembly meeting will be Dec. 10.

> Download the CAPCOG Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Budget and Work Plan.
> Read more about the General Assembly.

Regional Law Enforcement Academy graduates 23

Thursday, October 02, 2014

CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy cadets of the No. 72 Basic Peace Officer Course prepare to enter their graduation ceremony at the Texas Capitol on Sept. 26.

Eight of the 23 cadets from the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy No. 72 Basic Peace Officer Course filled positions in area policing agencies right after graduation on Sept. 26. The remaining cadets are expected to also obtain jobs in the region after completing testing for peace officer positions in area communities.

With the region’s growth, there are plenty of opportunities for cadets to serve the public as law enforcement officers. CAPCOG and the academy are honored to help fill that need by providing practical training and exercises to ensure cadets become TCOLE certified before serving their communities.

The cadets also learned about opportunities outside the region when police departments from Houston, College Station, Flower Mound, Pasadena and Lubbock pitched their agencies to the cadets during the five-month course.

Other departments coming to the academy is a testament to the training CAPCOG is offering, said Mike Jennings, RLEA director. “I would like to think that it says our academy is recognized as one of the best for producing a quality police officer.”

The eight cadets will become officers for San Marcos and Llano police departments, Caldwell and Williamson counties sheriff’s offices, and the Travis County Fire Marshall’s Office.

Another full-time, day class is accepting registration for a course beginning in January 2015.

> Learn details about the January 2015 Basic Peace Officer Course.
> Discover more training opportunities offered by CAPCOG.

Lee County Commissioner earns statewide leadership award

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts poses with Penny Redington, Texas Association of Regional Councils executive director, after receiving the TARC Regional Leadership Award given in honor of Wilbur R. Dunk.

The Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) in late September presented Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts with its 2014 regional leadership award.

Pitts earned the award, which is given in honor of former Kimble County Judge Wilbur Dunk, because he has shown extraordinary dedication to the purposes and possibilities of regional cooperation through his work with councils of governments, stated TARC.

Commissioner Pitts, having served on Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) boards and committees for more than two decades, is a true advocate and spokesman for regionalism, said Betty Voights, CAPCOG executive director. Pitts always has been a board member who is consistently active in CAPCOG's programs and committees.

Pitts, a current CAPCOG Executive Committee member, is the 19th person to earn the award since its inaugural year in 1995. Elected officials on the TARC Board of Directors and members of its Executive Directors' Council selected Pitts after soliciting nominations from all 24 regional councils in the state.

TARC is a statewide organization established in 1973 that provides training, outreach, legislative representation and other support to area councils of governments.

CARTPO selects U.S. 290 projects as top regional transportation priorities

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Elected officials from eight counties selected two U.S. Highway 290 projects to be the highest ranking priorities for the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization, a rural planning organization.

The number one ranked project proposes to widen and reconstruct U.S. 290 in Lee County from the Bastrop County line to Navarro Street in Giddings as a four-lane, divided highway. The proposed project would span about 7.5 miles and has an estimated cost of $31.1 million.

A U.S. 290 project in Bastrop County earned the second highest ranking based on elected officials’ scoring. The Bastrop County project, with an estimated $12.6 million cost, would stretch about 3 miles from Ranch to Market 2104 to the Lee County line. The project also would make the highway a four-lane, divided roadway.

Both projects ranked the highest during CARTPO's previous prioritization in March 2013. They were selected this year among 23 submitted projects from eight counties.

By prioritizing the projects, CARPTO is providing Texas Department of Transportation with guidance on the region’s most pressing transportation needs, so the state agency can make informed decisions about funding highway construction.

County and city officials from Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Llano, and Williamson counties ranked the 23 projects. They scored the projects based on six criteria: safety enhancement, congestion relief, air quality improvement, system preservation, economic opportunity and local participation in the project.

> Find out how the remaining 21 projects ranked.
> Discover more about CARTPO.

CAPCOG promotes vehicle grant opportunities to improve air quality

Monday, September 22, 2014

Area grant opportunities for purchasing or retrofitting vehicles to help improve the region’s air quality now can be found in one location on the CAPCOG website.

> Visit the Drive Clean webpage.

The Drive Clean: Get help buying a cleaner vehicle webpage provides information on multiple grants residents, businesses and governments can use to purchase, lease or retrofit vehicles, so they can replace their old vehicles with newer, cleaner ones.

Purchasing newer, cleaner model vehicles is only one way to help improve air quality by reducing emissions that can produce ground-level ozone.

> Read more about ground-level ozone and CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Justice Department launches website for crimes relating to elderly

Friday, September 19, 2014

The United States Department of Justice launched the Elder Justice website earlier this month. The site provides the elderly and people who support them with information about crimes affecting older Americans.

Justice.gov/elderjustice/ is a resource for victims, their families, practitioners, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and researches seeking to understand and address elder abuse and financial exploitation, stated the website.

The website hosts a number of databases for each group to include a searchable list of local resources for reporting crimes, thousands of articles and reviews with information about elder abuse and financial exploitation, and information and resources on how to prevent elder abuse and assist older crime victims.

> Go to the Elder Justice website.
> Discover other resources for older American and their families.
> Learn about Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

CAPCOG uses homeland security grant for cyber-attack recovery

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments will use a recently awarded $135,000 State Homeland Security Program grant to assist in preparing the region to respond and recover from cyber-attacks.

Funds from the grant will be used to perform a cyber-attack vulnerability analysis for CAPCOG’s 10-county region. The analysis will help identify how such an incident could affect business processes, critical infrastructure, and the financial stability and viability of businesses. It will have an emphasis on small and medium-sized businesses.

Determining the impact of such an attack is the initial step in the planning process which will help the region and its businesses and governments develop a stronger, more responsive approach to handling cyber-security and cyber-attack recovery.

Ultimately, the work performed in the analysis could be used to facilitate the creation of economic recovery plans for individual businesses.  After the analysis is concluded, CAPCOG plans to facilitate workshops with businesses and local governments during the 2015 year. The workshops will help businesses and governments identify their own risks and plans for economic recovery to include job restoration.

Cyber terrorism was identified as one of six possible threats to the region in the 2013 Regional Threat and Hazard Identification and Ricks Assessment.

> Discover more about CAPCOG's Homeland Security Division.

A caregiver’s balanced life provides for better care

Friday, September 12, 2014

Everything seemed to be happening all at once for Cheri and Barry Krockover. In 2009, Cheri lost her job as a software analyst and tester, and Barry, her husband of 22 years, started to show behavioral changes related to memory loss.

By 2010, Barry, who is now 78, was diagnosed with dementia.Cheri Krockover

“In 2010, I officially felt like my life was over,” said Cheri, who is now 64. “Then I came to the realization, that ‘no, my life is not over. It is just going to be different.’ What I have learned during the last four years is that your love for your spouse continues, but it also is very different… but it is still a powerful force.”

In hindsight, Cheri sees losing her job as a blessing. It allowed Cheri to notice the signs of dementia early and Barry and her to spend the next few years being active together. But outlining a support system, learning about resources, and handling stress ensured Cheri stayed her positive, fun and happy self. More importantly, it helped her remain a great caregiver for her husband.

Early during her caregiving years, Cheri joined a job club where she discovered other unemployed caregivers. Rallying around their commonality, the caregivers created a second support group that let members share resources about caregiving. It also provided an outlet to discuss the common problems they faced and had to overcome.

“We shared ideas on how to cope, and other caregivers can find humor in some of the stresses and issues that arise while providing for a loved one,” Cheri said. Having a connection with people who are going through similar trials and tribulations is almost priceless, she said.

The support group led Cheri to programs such as the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s Stress Busting Program for Family Caregivers. The nine-week course helped explain the grief Cheri felt, she said. It also let her accept her role as a caregiver and taught her techniques to manage the pressures of providing for an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia patient.

> Become a Stress Busting Program for Family Caregivers volunteer.
> Discover more about AAACAP.

To further mitigate stresses, Cheri created a resource wheel to organize her support system. Each person or group in the wheel is a different spoke that helps manage a different stress in life such as money, your spirit and caregiving.

Communication plays a key role in using a resource wheel, Cheri said. Telling your friends and associates about their role, lets them know exactly how they can help. It also lets them understand your situation. Some friends can help you relax during daily routine stresses such as shopping. Others, such as fellow caregivers, can make awkward caregiving moments funny, which helps you stay optimistic.
“That is a key to being a healthy caregiver, holding onto that optimism,” Cheri said. “The better my own mental outlook it is, the more able I am to care for him. I was always the fun person in our marriage, and he still needs me to be the fun person.”

Cheri is now a Stress-Busting course master trainer and will be speaking during the Striking a Balance 2014: the 13th annual conference for nonprofessional caregivers. Barry is doing well in a living and caregiving facility. The Krockovers see each other almost every day and still laugh with and love each other.

> Register for Striking a Balance 2014: the 13th annual conference for nonprofessional caregivers.

NCoA and AAACAP remind seniors about flu shots

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Flu season can begin in October, last until May and peak in January and February. With the start of the season nearing, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and the National Council on Aging (NCoA) wants to remind seniors to get their flu shots.

Seniors, 65 and older, are one of the demographics at risk of experiencing complications after contracting the contagious respiratory illness caused by the flu virus.

Annually between 5 to 20 percent of U.S. residents become infected with the virus, but people 65 years of age or older make up 9 of 10 flu-related deaths and 6 of 10 flu-related hospital stays, according to NCoA and flu.gov. Getting a flu shot is the best preventive against the virus.

It is recommended that older adults receive one flu shot, preferably the high dosage shot, before flu season begins. The shot is free for people with Medicare who uses a provider that accepts the assignment. Medicare Advantage members also cannot be charged for the flu shot if it is given by an in-network provider.

> Read more about the flu shot and other routine vaccines.
> Learn more about the flu.
> Discover more resources for seniors to stay healthy.

TCEQ seeks emission reduction grant projects

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Program is accepting applications for the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) Program.

The program provides grant funds to upgrade or replace older heavy-duty vehicles to include school buses; non-road equipment; locomotives; marine vessels; and stationary equipment.

Applications for the grant must be submitted by 5 p.m., Dec. 2, 2014.

> Get a grant application.

Eligible CAPCOG counties include Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson.

Because of several changes to the ERIG program this year, the TCEQ has scheduled grant application workshops, dealer trainings, and application assistance sessions to provide an overview of the application process. All workshops are free and don’t require registration. 

> Review the workshop schedule.

Contact the TERP program at 800-919-TERP (8377) or terp@tceq.state.tx.us.

> Read more about Central Texas Air Quality.

AAACAP and WellMed Senior Center offer aging resource fair

Friday, September 05, 2014

A resource fair, for people 60 or older, will provide aging adults with a variety of resources to benefit their wellbeing. The fair is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 26 at the WellMed Senior Community Center, 706 W. Ben White Blvd. Suite 125A in Austin.

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area and WellMed Senior Community Center are presenting the event. Attendees will have access to AAACAP staff that assists with benefit counseling, care coordination, health and wellness and medication screenings. Other local agencies also will be present to provide health and wellness information and resources.

To receive a medication screening one must be 60 years of age or older; take five or more prescription and/or over-the counter medications, supplements, or vitamins; and agree to participate in a short safety survey before and after the medication screening report is completed. Attendees wishing to have their medications screened also must bring their prescriptions or a list of their drugs to include any supplements.

Area Agency on Aging staff works with a pharmacist to review medications to identify potentially harmful interactions, reactions and related issues. 

> Contact Amy Flanigan, AAACAP health & wellness coordinator, for questions.
> Read the event flier.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program coordinates clean air outreach campaign

Friday, August 29, 2014

Air quality in Central Texas is traditionally at its worst in August and September, which is why the Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality Program launched a new radio advertising campaign. The campaign encourages residents to help reduce emissions that lead to high ozone levels.

Ground-level ozone can cause breathing problems for children, seniors and people with asthma. Reducing ozone is also important in order to avoid expensive regulations required for areas that violate federal air quality standards.

The radio campaign targets drivers to tell them how they can reduce their impact on local air pollution by carpooling, reducing idling, and replacing older vehicles.

Using about $54,000 in regional air quality outreach funding provided by the City of Austin, CAPCOG purchased 450 radio spots on six radio stations during the next month. The advertisements will air during the busiest drive-time hours, 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

CAPCOG's radio spots are anticipated to reach a significant number of people, but local governments, school districts, businesses and nonprofits also can help increase that number by participating in the campaign. They can download or share the campaign's scripts and audio files to post on their own websites and social media platforms.

> Read the scripts.
> Listen to the Drive Clean radio spot.
> Listen to the Drive Clean radio spot in Spanish.
> Listen to the Back to School radio spot.
> Listen to the Back to School radio spot in Spanish.

Regional caregivers to gather during annual Striking a Balance Conference

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area and AGE of Central Texas will host the Striking a Balance 2014: 13th Annual Caregiver Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20.

Held at the Norris Conference Center, 2525 W. Anderson Lane in Austin, the conference will bring together about 200 regional, nonprofessional caregivers of older residents for an educational and networking experience.

 “Striking a Balance is a day for pampering caregivers and providing them with meaningful information to help care for their loved ones and themselves,” said Rene Oldstein, Area Agency on Aging care coordination program manager.

Attendees of the conference can learn about local resources available to them, hear from aging experts and network with other caregivers. 

The conference will feature keynote speaker Wendy Lustbader, a nationally-renowned expert on caregiving and author of "Life Gets Better" and "Taking Care of Family Members".

Following Lustbader, there will be breakout sessions on caregiving topics from other experts, area volunteers and caregivers. Several vendors will be on site to provide information about resources available to caregivers.

“Caregivers are so enthralled with their day-to-day lives, they don’t get a lot of chances to find resources or learn how to cope with the stress they face,” Oldstein said. “This is a place where they can capture all that information. It gives them an opportunity to educate themselves.”

The conference also will offer a free lunch for caregivers and free off-site respite by reservation only at AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center, 3710 Cedar St., Austin, TX. Call 512-458-6305 by Sept. 17 to request respite care.

> Register for the conference.
> Download the event's flier.
> Learn more about AAA of the Capital Area.

CAPCOG updates training website to improve registration

Monday, August 18, 2014

Capital Area Council of Governments will launch a new training course website this month.

The website will provide better navigation through CAPCOG’s available training courses by allowing users a clearer search of topics, targeted audiences and dates. Course registrants also will have access to a list of similar and related training opportunities while signing up for courses. Other added features include an improved map display to the course’s training location and more course details.

To accommodate the update, access to CAPCOG’s training website will be closed from Aug. 18 to Aug. 22. Registration for training opportunities will resume at capcog.org/training once the new website is available.

Emergency communication equipment available for purchase

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is offering to sell equipment no longer in use by the 9-1-1 emergency communications program, the Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

About 1,000 items are listed in the sell to include computers, phones, servers and switches, and other communication equipment.

Quantity and descriptions are provided by CAPCOG in good faith, but it is recommended that interested buyers contact the Emergency Communications department for an appointment to view the items offered for sale. All property is sold “first come, first serve” on a "where is/as is" basis, without warranty.

To respond to the offer, prospective buyers must complete an Offer to Sell form, sign and return it to CAPCOG before 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5, 2014.

> Download the form, instructions on the bid process, and the complete list of equipment.
> Contact Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG emergency communications director.
> See other opportunities to do business with CAPCOG.

TCEQ issues first 2014 ozone action day for Austin area

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued an Ozone Action Day for the Austin area for Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014.

Area residents are encouraged to help prevent and lessen ozone pollution they produce throughout the day. They can do so by sharing a ride, walking or riding a bicycle when traveling; taking their lunch to work; avoiding drive-through lanes; conserving energy; and keeping vehicles properly tuned.

> Learn more ozone prevention tips from Take Care of Texas.

Ozone action days occur when atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for producing high levels of ozone air pollution. While stratospheric ozone is helpful, ground-level ozone can cause acute respiratory problems to include coughing, respiratory irritation and aggravated asthma symptoms.

Ground-level ozone is created by sunlight causing chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Emissions from industrial and electrical facilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are a few major sources that contribute to ground-level ozone creation.

> Get more TCEQ ozone facts.
> Watch the ozone forecast at EPA Air Now.

Thursday will be the first 2014 ozone action day issued for the Austin area during its ozone forecast season. The season runs through April 1 to Oct. 31, when ozone is predicted to be more concentrated. Traditionally, the Austin area experiences more Ozone Action Days later in its forecast season.

> Read about Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality program.
> Learn about CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas and get involved.

CAPCOG grant seeks diesel engine replacement projects

Friday, August 08, 2014

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is calling for project submissions for a grant that could pay up to 25 percent of the replacement cost for diesel-powered vehicles and non-road equipment.

The grant’s call for projects started Aug. 8, 2014 and will end Sept. 5, 2014 and is meant for vehicles and non-road equipment primarily used in Bastrop, Bexar, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.

It is the grant’s intention to pay for the incremental cost of lower-emission engines in order to accelerate fleet turnover. Replacement of existing vehicles and non-road equipment funded under this grant must occur earlier than the owner would normally have planned.

Diesel-powered on-road vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 16,001 pounds or more that have a model year from 1989 to 2003 are eligible for replacement funding. Diesel-powered non-road engines, equipment, and vehicles that are used in construction, handling of cargo (including at port or airport), agriculture, mining, or energy production (including stationary generators and pumps) also are eligible for replacement funding.

About $650,000 is available for organizations, to include private sector firms, governments, and non-profits, with vehicles and non-road equipment that meet the grant’s criteria. The funding is the remainder of $1.02 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program grant under the Diesel Emission Reduction act which CAPCOG received in 2012.

Grant recipients will need to place an order for new vehicles or equipment no later than Dec. 31, 2014, and physically acquire the vehicles or equipment no later than June 30, 2015.

> Read more details about the call for projects and the grant.
> Download the EPA’s non-road engine eligibility list.
> Get the non-road equipment replacement application form.
> Get the vehicle replacement application form.
> Contact Andrew Hoekzema for more information.

Interoperable communication systems help save two lives and apprehend suspect

Thursday, August 07, 2014

When two visitors to Horseshoe Bay in Llano County sustained serious injuries from an attacker in June, communication teams responded with a number of regional tools to save their lives and apprehend their suspected attacker.

Response to the incident used technology developed through the cooperation of CAPCOG members. The technology helped 9-1-1 dispatchers communicate with a non-English speaker and allowed police officers to arrest a suspect more than 80 miles away from the crime scene while investigations were still under way.

On June 10, the Marble Falls Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call from an address in Horseshoe Bay. The seriously injured caller did not speak English, but the 9-1-1 operator quickly linked the caller to the Language Line translation service. The service, which is available through the regional 9-1-1 system, assists 9-1-1 center operators with translation when processing a call.

The caller spoke German and provided critical details to the 9-1-1 operator, enabling rapid dispatch of Horseshoe Bay police, fire and emergency medical services. Fire and EMS units staged at a safe location until police arrived and secured the scene. Due to the severity of the injuries, requests were made for additional EMS units and the support of Air Evac and STAR Flight for patient transport.

> Read more about 9-1-1 technology

While medical assistance was being summoned, information about a possible suspect was disseminated to regional law enforcement agencies. Personnel from the Horseshoe Bay Police Department, Marble Falls Police Department, Llano County Sheriff’s Office, Burnet County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety used a regional law enforcement talk-group on the newly implemented Western Region Radio System to communicate. This allowed multiple units from several agencies to coordinate their efforts and receive real-time updates about a possible suspect.

The 9-1-1 center processed additional calls for suspicious activity, and field units searched for and made contact with vehicles matching the suspect’s description. Upon learning the suspect was likely en route to a residence in Bastrop County, personnel at the Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center in Austin were contacted. They connected the talk group being used by law enforcement agencies in Horseshoe Bay with a regional talk group on the Greater Austin-Travis County Regional Radio System, The connection enabled law enforcement agencies in Llano and Burnet counties to talk directly to their Bastrop County counterparts.

The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office used information from personnel in Llano County to locate the suspect and possible evidence related to the attack at a Bastrop residence.

While police apprehended the suspect, EMS personnel used the regional radio system to communicate with fire department personnel and the Air Evac and STAR Flight staff to coordinate treatment and transport the victims to University Medical Center-Brackenridge in Austin.

> Discover more about CAPCOG's Communications Interoperability Planning

CAPCOG reviews waste facility expansion and proposed sites

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is in the process of reviewing proposed a municipal solid waste facility application submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

CAPCOG is one of 24 regional planning commissions provided the opportunity by Texas statute to review a municipal solid waste facility when such a site either plans an expansion or is being proposed. CAPCOG reviews plans for the facility for conformance with regional and local solid waste management plans.

To ensure a facility's application is reviewed properly, CAPCOG developed Conformance Review Process Guidance and a Checklist to provide direction on reviews conducted within the region. The process focuses on ensuring the following objectives:

The use of a site for a facility does not adversely impact human health or the environment by evaluating and determining impacts of the site upon counties, cities, communities, groups of property owners, or individuals in terms of compatibility of land use, zoning in the vicinity, community growth patterns, and other factors associated with the public interest.

  • The use of a site for a facility does not adversely impact human health or the environment by evaluating and determining impacts of the site upon counties, cities, communities, groups of property owners, or individuals in terms of compatibility of land use, zoning in the vicinity, community growth patterns, and other factors associated with the public interest. 
  • Facilities comply with local zoning requirements, ordinances, and other local government land use regulations.
  • Facilities’ impacts on roads, drainage ways, and other infrastructure are assessed for existing and planned future land uses. 
  • Facilities are good neighbors, by assessing and considering every applicant’s five-year compliance history in Texas to the fullest extent allowed by TCEQ.
  • Encourage programs that provide incentives for using landfills instead of illegal dumping.
  • Avoid, or minimize if avoidance is not possible, concerns about visual and aesthetic impacts from facilities on adjacent land uses.
  • Address local land use concerns about the long term and cumulative effects off facilities and protect the public interest in a natural landscape.
  • Avoid, or minimize if avoidance is not possible, nuisance conditions associated with facilities that generate community concerns.

TCEQ’s permitting process is done independently, and while CAPCOG is required to review the application, it can abstain from making recommendations about the applications to the state agency.

CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee and then the Executive Committee vote to recognize the project in conformance, deem it as nonconforming, or waive taking a position.

> Read more about CAPCOG’s Conformance Review process.
> See the Conformance Review Checklist.
> Discover the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

AAA of the Capital Area heads to Bastrop and Buda

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area will conduct outreach and informational sessions in Bastrop and Buda during August.

Benefit counselors will assist Medicare beneficiaries with Medicare inquiries and provide information or services about other programs available through CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging. They will explain and assist with applications for low income programs such as Medicare Savings Program and the Extra Help Program. They also will assist with Benefits Checkup and prepare a report to help individuals find resources and benefit programs that can help pay for medications, health care, food and more.

Benefits Checkup is a free service of the National Council on Aging.

Counselors will be at the following locations at the following times:

  • 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 11, 2014
    1100 Church St., Bastrop, TX 78602, the Bastrop Public Library
  • 10 a.m.-4.30 p.m., Monday, Aug 25, 2014
    303 Main St., Buda, TX 78610, the Buda Public Library

Benefit counselors are available to schedule other individual appointments by calling 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

> Find additional locations where benefit counselling will take place.
> Learn more about CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging.

CAPCOG allocates $1.2 million to 13 area homeland security projects

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thirteen area projects and equipment purchases received about $1.2 million to help local agencies respond to regional disasters and terroristic incidents.

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee recently approved the 13 projects to receive Federal Homeland Security Grant Program funds. The funds for the projects will be distributed to several public safety departments that include homeland security operations in Travis, Williamson, Burnet, and Hays counties.  They also allow the Capital Area to continue regional homeland security planning, grant management, and interoperable communications.

“The projects approved by the CAPCOG Executive Committee will continue regional support and coordination of homeland security and emergency management activities,” said Ed Schaefer, CAPCOG’s homeland security director. “CAPCOG member jurisdictions will use these funds to sustain their capabilities to identify and respond to a variety of hazardous events, especially those resulting from acts of terrorism.”

Projects selected for the funds ranged from radio communications infrastructure to rescue equipment to terroristic-threat-response equipment.

The Texas Homeland Security State Administrative Agency approved the funds for the 2014 fiscal year, which CAPCOG’s Executive Committee prioritized and submitted to the state agency based on local jurisdictions’ submissions and a regional homeland security strategic plan created by CAPCOG members. CAPCOG’s Executive Board gave final approval after the state agency accepted the projects.

> Discover more about CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

State offers online forum about housing and community development needs

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For the development of the Draft State of Texas 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, state staff is seeking input via an online forum about procedures for housing and community development needs and market analysis for the State of Texas.

The forum will be online until July 31, 2014.

The Consolidated Plan is a document required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It governs funds for the next five years received by the state from HUD for four programs.

  • The Emergency Solutions Grants Program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • The HOME Investment Partnerships Program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • The Community Development Block Grant Program operated by the Texas Department Agriculture
  • The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program operated by the Texas Department of State Health Services

To participate in the online forum, go to: https://tdhca.websitetoolbox.com/ and click on the "Register" tab in the top right-hand side of the page. After completing registration, you will receive a confirmation email inviting you to begin participating in the forum.

When questions are asked in the forum, the administering state agencies will attempt to provide additional information, clarification or other ideas for participants to review and consider. Participants should not expect responses to all posted questions.

Comments published on the online forum will not be considered official public comments. However, the comments will be taken under advisement when staff presents the State of Texas Draft 2014-2015 Consolidated Plan to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Governing Board on Sept.  4, 2014. Input from the forum may be considered as consultation as it relates to the State of Texas 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan.

> Read how to make official public comments on the Consolidated Plan.

RRC to discuss 2015-16 Community Development Fund application cycle

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Capital Area Regional Review Committee (RRC) meeting will be held on Friday, August 1, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Pecan Room of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) located at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744.  Visit www.capcog.org for additional information and a map to the building.

The Capital Area RRC will hold a public meeting to discuss and adopt scoring criteria for the 2015-2016 Community Development Fund application cycle. The role of each RRC is to participate in the process for determining regional priorities for projects funded through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Community Development Fund. The purpose of these RRC Meetings/Public Hearings is to develop the objective scoring criteria used to prioritize applicants for the 2015-2016 funding cycle.

This meeting is open to the public and individuals who require auxiliary aids or services for this meeting should notify CAPCOG staff at 512-916-6012 at least two business days before the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

To learn more about the Texas Community Development Fund and the Texas Community Development Block Grant program, visit its website located here.

If you have any questions, please contact Chad Coburn, Manager of SPP.

CAPCOG economic development program earns national award

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Integrating economic development and planning to help Central Texas cities leverage future growth is the focus of the Sustainable Places Project, now being recognized for its innovative approach to community development.

The National Association of Development Organizations just announced that CAPCOG’s Sustainable Places Project, which was conducted in coordination with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, received a 2014 Innovation Award.

“We are proud to have demonstrated place making as a viable strategy for economic development in our small communities,” said Chad Coburn, CAPCOG’s Sustainable Places Project Director. “The award further validates our continued work with the project, now renamed the Prosperous Places Program (P3), and our effort to provide elected officials and staff with the analytics needed to prepare for and capitalize on the growth of Central Texas.”

The Sustainable Places Project integrated planning, analytic tool development and community visioning to help Central Texas cities create vibrant districts to attract new residents and businesses. The project addressed code revisions, infrastructure improvements, and economic strategies needed for development plan implementation.

Hutto, Elgin, Lockhart, Dripping Springs and Austin participated in the Sustainable Places Project between 2011 and 2014 to plan and evaluate a variety of development and redevelopment scenarios.

For instance, Elgin developed a vision of new, walkable residential and commercial uses; revived civic spaces along the railroad right-of-way; a network of roads and trails to connect the high school, downtown, and community college; and a farm-to-table approach toward food-related businesses. Recent upward trends in real estate have already provided opportunities for the plan’s implementation.

With the end of the Sustainable Places Project, CAPCOG instituted P3. P3 provides data and research tools to evaluate the long-term impacts of various growth scenarios on city budgets, the environment, the housing market and the economy.

“The notion of place making as economic development has great potential to spur quality growth and improve regional transportation outcomes,” Coburn said. “CAPCOG is excited to help our communities prepare and capitalize on the growth of the region.”

> Learn more about Prosperous Places Program.
> Read more about Sustainable Places Project.

Texas Clean Fleet Program offers $7.7 million to transition fleet vehicles

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering up to $7.7 million in grants for entities operating large fleets to replace diesel-powered vehicles with alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles. Applications to receive grant funds must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

TCEQ’s Texas Clean Fleet Program (TCFP) grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and are available to owners who operate fleets of 75 or more vehicles in the state. Applicants must commit to replacing at least 20 diesel-powered vehicles.

Projects eligible for funding must result in a reduction of nitrogen oxides emissions by at least 25 percent. Eligible projects may be limited to certain counties.

TCEQ is offering three grant application workshops to review TCFP requirements and application procedures for potential applicants at no cost.

  • 1:30 p.m., July 28, 2014 at TCEQ headquarters, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building F, Room 2210, Austin, Texas 78753
  • 1:30 p.m., July 29, 2014 at the Tracy Gee Community Center, AR-1, 3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston, Texas 77042
  • 1:30 p.m., Aug. 4, 2014, at North Central Texas Council of Governments, Transportation Council Room, 616 Six Flags Drive, Centerpoint II, Arlington, Texas 76011

> Read more about the Texas Clean Fleet Program grant and apply at TCEQ’s website.

CAEDD prepares regional economic road map

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Capital Area Economic Development District started creating the 2015-2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) earlier this year. The efforts for developing the strategy will continue throughout the year and be completed by June 2015.

Such a strategy is a broad assessment of major trends affecting the regional economy and the identification of opportunities to support growth during the next five years.

As an U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration supported economic development district, CAEDD is required to produce a new strategy every five years and to update that plan annually.

But it is more than a federal requirement. The strategy serves as a valuable tool for planners, economic developers, and policy makers to identify key underlying changes that impact the region. It allows entities in the region to respond to changes and keep the Capital Area economically competitive for many years to come.

Once complete, the CEDS will be available at www.capcog.org.

> Contact Michael Hennig.
> Read the current CEDS.
> Learn about ways CAPCOG can support community and economic development.

Law enforcement academy course educates about crime scenes

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Besides being required to advance a police officer’s career, the intermediate crime scene in-service training course allows departments and officers in the region to ensure evidence is properly handled and criminal cases are solved.

“In order to do an investigation, you are going to need all the tools available to you, and this goes over the basics with more details,” said Randy Holmes, Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy chief instructor.

The course offers a chance for patrol officers to learn advanced techniques for preparing a crime scene investigation, finger printing, photographing a crime scene and more. It also can serve as a refresher for current investigators since it provides 32 hours towards required continuing education to maintain a Texas Commission of Law Enforcement peace officer’s license.

Intermediate Crime Scene training discusses the legal aspects of crime scene searches and the handling of evidence.

After taking the course, students are able to explain certain objectives and legal obligations that must be followed during a crime scene search. Objectives for a crime scene search include establishing a crime was committed, identifying the type of crime committed and placing a suspect at the scene. The latter can be determined from items such as shoe impressions that may match those of a known suspect in the community or a witness’s description of the criminal.

While police and public safety departments may have their own procedures and plans for handling crime scenes, this course helps ensure individual portions of those plans are correctly and legally handled, Holmes said. “All of that is critical, because if you don’t do it right, very guilty people can go free.”

Major investigations, such as the OJ Simpson murder case, can hinge on the evidence and how it was treated from start to finish. Handling evidence poorly may lead to a jury having doubts about the results of the investigation.

Since 2010, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy has conducted the intermediate crime scene training course 12 times. More than 200 officers inside and outside the region have attended the course since 2005. A course, which was conducted from June 23 to June 27 in Williamson County, instructed nine officers.

Courses such as the intermediate crime scene training are often done at the request of law enforcement jurisdictions in the region. Police departments and sheriff offices look to ensure their officers are staying knowledgeable about new and best practices in the field and often want their officers to advance their careers.

Continued education and learning is important for any field but especially for law enforcement, Holmes said.

“The more you know the better job you do,” Holmes said. “Being an expert in something is all about mastering the basics.”

> Learn more about the Capital Area Council of Governments Law Enforcement Training Academy.
> Review courses available.

Solid waste funds awarded to 13 area projects

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) on June 26 awarded $215,726.05 to 13 county and municipal projects as part of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Regional Solid Waste Grants Program.

Funding for the 13 projects, which include household hazardous waste collection, tire collection, educational events and other programs, will support the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan’s goals and objectives in 2014 and 2015.

“These monies go a long way to help our membership agencies with a means to properly manage solid and household hazardous waste,” said Ken May, CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program Manager. “Our cities and counties use these monies to help offset the cost of solid waste diversion.”

Solid waste diversion programs can be costly and funds from TCEQ help ensure diversion efforts receive state aid for responsible, local solid waste management planning, May said.

Funds from the Solid Waste Grants come from legislative-appropriated “tipping fees” at landfills. CAPCOG works with the TCEQ to solicit and select programs in the region that qualify for grant funding.

The Solid Waste Grants program is considered for appropriation each biennium by the residing legislative body. Should the program receive continued funding during the next legislative session, more grant funds should be available by fiscal year 2016. 

The 2014 and 2015 awarded programs are listed below.

2014

CAPCOG

Regional Environmental Task Force

$70,000.00 

2014

Fayette County

Forklift for Recycling Center

$25,000.00 

2014

Caldwell County

Tire Collection Events

$8,640.05 

2014

City of San Marcos

HHW Event

$10,000.00 

2014

Brushy Creek MUD

HHW Vouchers

$6,000.00 

2014

City of Hutto

Adopt-A-Spot Litter Abatement

$5,000.00 

2014

Bastrop County

Misc. Education

$7,459.00 

       
2015

Blanco County

HHW Event

$10,000.00 

2015

City of Granite Shoals

Community Collection Event

$13,000.00 

2015

City of Lockhart

HHW Event

$9,037.00 

2015

City of Cedar Park

HHW Event

$28,000.00 

2015

Burnet County

HHW Event

$12,000.00 

2015

Lee County

HHW Event

$11,590.00 

> Learn about the individual projects.
> Read more about solid waste planning.

Area Agency on Aging offers benefit counselors in several communities

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Benefit counselors with CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging will conduct informational and outreach sessions at several locations throughout July.

Counselors will be available to assist people with Medicaid and Medicare benefits at the following times and sites:

  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., July 2, 2014 at the Texas Housing Foundation, 1016 Broadway, Marble Falls, TX
  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., July 10, 2014 at the Switzer Senior Center, 410 W. 7th Street, Taylor, TX
  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., July 16, 2014 at the Park Ridge Apartments, 100 Legend Hills Blvd., Llano, TX

Counselors also will assist Medicare beneficiaries with general Medicare and Area Agency on Aging inquiries from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday, July 28, 2014 at the Buda Public Library, 303 Main St., Buda, TX.

While on site, the counselors will provide information and discuss services provided by CAPCOG’S Area Agency on Aging. They can explain and assist with applications for low income programs such as the Medicare Savings Program and the Extra Help Program if beneficiaries meet eligibility requirements.

Benefits counselors also are able to assist with Benefits Checkup and prepare a report to aid individuals in finding resources and programs that help pay for medications, health care, food and more.

Benefits Checkup is a free service of the National Council on Aging.

Call the Area Agency on Aging at 512-916-6062 or toll free at 1-888-622-9111.

> Find out more about Area Agency on Aging services.

COPS grant application submission deadline approaches

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Source: http://efficientgov.com/

The U.S. Department of Justice application submission process closes June 23, 2014 for three Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grant programs.

Open solicitation for the grants includes the following programs:

  • The COPS Hiring Program provides funding for hiring police officers to focus on certain community issues. Applicants may request funds for new officers, recently laid-off officers or retaining officers who are scheduled to be laid-off.
  • The COPS Community Police Development Program provides funding to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance.
  • The Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistant Program provides funding to technical institutions to work with law enforcement agencies in assessing issues that affect police and community relationships.

>Learn more about the grants.

Grant award helps airline reduce emissions

Friday, June 13, 2014

With funding from CAPCOG's Air Quality Program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant program, Southwest Airlines has electrified the first six of a dozen pieces of ground-support equipment to help reduce pollution.

Southwest was awarded $135,000 to electrify six diesel-powered baggage tugs and six belt loaders, representing more than 30 percent of the company’s equipment at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

During its tenure, the project is expected to reduce 10 tons of nitrogen oxides emissions, 2 tons of particulate matter emissions, 299 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 26,922 gallons of diesel usage.

These reductions also include annual health benefits of nearly $300,000.

> Learn more about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program

Area Agency on Aging screenings aim to curb bad medication interactions

Monday, June 09, 2014

Are you 60 or older, taking five or more medications and living in Central Texas? Call CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area to schedule a free medication screening.

AAACAP, with help from a St. David's Foundation grant, offers free screenings to residents and family caregivers across the region. Aimed to reduce the risk of medication problems, screenings include a pharmacist review of prescription medications and over-the-counter products for potentially harmful interactions, reactions and related issues.

Participants will receive a written report that includes information such as when and how to take their medications and any special precautions. They can additionally opt for a phone consultation with the pharmacist. Medications can include over-the-counter products or prescription products, creams and liquid medication.

Set up your medication screening today by calling 512-916-6062.

> Explore AAACAP, funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
> Learn more about the Medication Screening Program

CAPCOG seeking emissions-inventory project proposals by June 23

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals from qualified contractors by  5 p.m. Central Time Monday, June 23, 2014, to develop emissions inventories for the region and provide other technical assistance in air quality planning assessments.

> Learn more, and download the RFP today

Solid waste funding slated for 14 area projects

Thursday, June 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s Executive Committee has approved $140,000 in pass-through Solid Waste Program funding for 14 eligible local government projects in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Full funding is available for 11 of the projects.

With state funding, the grant program supports eligible projects that help implement the regional solid waste management plan.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will review the eligible projects for approval before CAPCOG initiates applicable contracts, which may be available starting July 2014.

> Get more details on the eligible projects

Coming soon to the CAPCOG region: Text to 9-1-1

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Texting to 9-1-1 in Central Texas? Voice calls
are still the best bet today, but more options lie ahead.


Can anyone send a text message to 9-1-1? Except in a few locations across the nation where testing has been conducted, the answer is “No.” However, new regulations and technology will make this possible in the near future.

Today, phone companies must transmit all 9-1-1 voice calls to 9-1-1 centers, also referred to as Public Safety Answering Points or PSAPs. Those calls include information about your telephone number and location, so the PSAP can get help to you more easily.

 > Get the list of capital area PSAPs

Federal Communications Commission rules govern services provided by wireless phone companies. The rules don’t require any companies to transmit text messages to 9-1-1 PSAPs. However, the FCC is seeking public comment on proposed rules that would require wireless phone companies and certain other text-message providers to begin transmitting text messages to 9-1-1 by year’s end.

As part of a voluntary agreement with the National Emergency Number Association and the Associated Public Safety Communications Officials International Inc., the four major wireless providers — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile — began providing text-to-9-1-1 service within their network areas, with the 9-1-1 center ready to receive text messages. This service has been in the testing stage at about a dozen locations throughout the nation.

> Learn about the National Emergency Number Association

CAPCOG has installed new equipment to support the delivery of text messages at all 31 PSAPs in the region and expects to request the service from the carriers around the end of the year.

Implementation will take about six months, getting the service in operation across all four carriers after the request is processed. This provides time for call-taker training and a public education campaign.

The text-to-9-1-1 service provided by the four wireless companies is the current short-message-service-based texting option and has limitations. Because SMS texting is a “best efforts” service not designed for emergency communications, it does not provide automatic location or caller information. There’s no guarantee that a series of messages will be delivered in the proper order or that the message will even be delivered to the PSAP.

> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Texting to 9-1-1 is a viable option, however, when it’s not safe for the caller to speak or if the caller is hearing- or speech-impaired and requires help.Voice calls to 9-1-1 remain the most efficient way to reach emergency help, allowing the call taker to quickly ask questions and obtain additional information from the caller. So even when text-to-9-1-1 is available, callers should continue to contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call if they can and use text only if voice is not a feasible or safe option.

CAPCOG releases housing report

Friday, May 23, 2014

Did you know? Since 1980, the Austin metropolitan area's population has grown five times faster than the U.S. overall.

The population and economic growth in Central Texas is without par, but with it has come rising housing costs in the urban core and changing economic realities.

The region faces a growing imbalance of location and opportunity. Many residents have been displaced from previously affordable neighborhoods to areas that lack community networks and services.

CAPCOG's newly published Housing Opportunity in Central Texas report, created as part of the HUD-funded Sustainable Places Project, summarizes key findings of data analysis, deliberation and application of the many planning tools - built by the project - that will impact future policy decisions. 

> Download the new report
> Discover CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

Available: Training tool against active-shooter threats

Monday, May 19, 2014

CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy's Use of Force Simulator, a state-of -the-art training tool that helps public safety personnel prepare for potential active-shooter situations and other threats, is available for local jurisdictions.

The mobile simulator, an integrated system using software, a video screen and hundreds of incident scenarios, provides realistic use-of-force training that helps participants develop the skills required of law enforcement personnel armed with both lethal and less-lethal weapons.

Contact RLEA Director Mike Jennings to schedule the tool, which any agency that employs peace officers can use for a nominal fee. > Go

> Learn more about the Use of Force Simulator and related training
> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

State offers financial incentive for cleaner-running light-duty vehicles

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Thursday, June 26, 2015 - or until depletion of funds - to buy or lease eligible new vehicles powered by cleaner-running compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas or electric drives. 

With about $7.8 million in funding now available through TCEQ's Light Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program - part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan - qualified applicants may receive up to $2,500 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants - governments, companies, individuals and any other legal entity can participate - must meet selected equipment and usage requirements for eligibility.

> Get the grant application and other details at TCEQ's website

At your service: CAPCOG’s new Prosperous Places Program

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Flexibility: Scenario planning is no longer tied to color-coded land-use maps. CAPCOG’s Prosperous Places Program offers a library of Central Texas building models that can portray various development scenarios.

On the heels of the successful three-year Sustainable Places Project comes CAPCOG’s Prosperous Places Program (P3), a host of new planning and economic development services to help local communities proactively seize the future.

P3 offers a suite of analytics tools built to identify opportunities for development and evaluate on a wide range of important planning and economic development issues.

> Bookmark the Prosperous Places Program Web page

The program is a natural transition from the grant-funded Sustainable Places Project, which built the suite of tools and provided revitalization strategies and policy guidance for Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto and Lockhart. These participating communities applied beta versions of the P3 tools to align housing, jobs and transportation options, complement existing community values and strengthen their economies.

For example, the planning team revised the design standards for several city-owned properties, making them more marketable to developers, adaptable to economic changes and attractive to the project’s team of stakeholders.

A key strength of the P3 toolkit? Its basis in financial aspects of planning. The tools incorporate research about what can be built in a community within a given time horizon, grounding public initiatives with market realities.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

Another strength? Flexibility. Once the data is in hand, the model for a community can be changed quickly, and most indicator outputs become automatic. Multiple scenarios can be created to analyze everything from public sector fiscal impacts (“Can we afford this type of growth?”) to proximity to essential services (“How many people could live within walking distance of the new school?”).

P3 also can deliver realistic, easily revised 3D renderings of potential buildings from the street level.

The project process works on a range of scales. Staff can study development potential of one parcel, examining how policy changes such as zoning and parking requirements could affect the likelihood of development or the efficiency of incentives. P3 also offers tools to look at a whole city district, like the plans created through the demonstration sites of the Sustainable Places Project.

> Get started with Community & Economic Development Director Michael Hennig

Current P3 projects include studying potential transportation mode shifts at the regional level that might come from continued activity-center growth. The City of Austin is using the tools to calculate personal savings and gross-domestic-product growth that could be generated by new transportation investments envisioned in its transit-system exploration, Project Connect.

State grant eyes clean technology

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting grant applications until June 27, 2014, for new-technology initiatives aimed to reduce emissions from facilities and other stationary sources in the state.

The New Technology Implementation Grant Program, part of TCEQ's Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, especially seeks applications involving advanced clean energy, new technology or electricity storage projects.    

> Get the grant details

Older Americans Month 2014: Honoring one of our region’s best assets

Thursday, May 01, 2014


"Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow": Participants (above) enjoy a meal at the Bagdad Activity Center in Leander, Texas. This year’s theme for Older Americans Month in May focuses on injury prevention and safety to encourage seniors to protect themselves and remain active and independent for as long as possible.

Seniors have made countless contributions and sacrifices to ensure a better life for future generations. Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May.

The celebration recognizes older Americans for their contributions and demonstrates our nation’s commitment to helping them stay healthy and active.

This year's theme, “Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow,” focuses on injury prevention and safety to encourage older adults to protect themselves and remain active and independent for as long as possible.

> Learn more about Older Americans Month

Unintentional injuries among older adults result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths each year. With an emphasis on safety during Older Americans Month, participating agencies and organizations can encourage older adults to learn about various ways to avoid the leading causes of injury, such as falls.

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAA) provides services, support and resources to older adults year-round, and Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to provide specialized information and services regarding injury prevention. This information will help older adults take control of their safety and live longer, healthier lives.

> Explore CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging

Throughout the month, the Area Agency on Aging will conduct activities and provide tips on how to avoid the leading causes of injury. Some outreach examples:

  • Interactive placemats that spotlight AAA services and offer healthy tips are being distributed to all senior nutrition centers and to all seniors who receive nutritious home-delivered meals throughout the region.
  • A special celebration is scheduled 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at the Onion Creek Senior Citizens Center, 420 Barton’s Crossing, Buda, TX. Call 512-916-6060 for details.

To learn more about ways to support Central Texas seniors and get involved, contact CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging Program Manager Rene Oldstein. > Go 

Adapted with permission from the U.S. Administration for Community Living

 

> Follow the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area on Facebook

Law enforcement education in Central Texas: New round of cadet training underway

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s day cadet class No. 72 began mid-April, with 30 aspiring Texas peace officers enrolled.

The six-month Basic Peace Officer Course, underway at CAPCOG’s Austin headquar-ters, includes sponsored cadets from the Caldwell Sheriff’s Office, San Marcos Police Department, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Lake Travis Fire Rescue, Llano Police Department, Travis County Constable Precinct No. 2 and Westlake Hills Police Department.

Registration for Class No. 73, the academy’s next part-time night cadet course, is open, and the class will be hosted by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy
> Explore courses available for aspiring and current peace officers

From household hazardous waste to end-use markets, CAPCOG tackles ‘Recycling 101’

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Whether green-waste diversion, electronics recycling, household hazardous waste collection or end-use market development, explore the various components of material recovery programs with “Recycling 101: Tools for Local and Regional Governments,” presented by the Capital Area Council of Governments, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, 2014, at CAPCOG’s Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744.

> Register by May 12, 2014

Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for check-in and refreshments.

Participation is open to the public, with emphasis on solid waste planners, industry contractors, elected officials and neighborhood leaders. The $35 admission includes refreshments, lunch and – for eligible participants – Texas Municipal League continuing education credits.

> Learn about the Regional Environmental Task Force

The full-day training, featuring government and industry experts such as David Yanke, director of NewGen Strategies & Solutions and Stacy Guidry, president of Texas Zero Waste Strategies, will provide candid tips and case studies on programs and tools to help participants increase solid waste diversion in their jurisdictions and across the region.

As the state-designated planning agency for solid waste management issues in the region, CAPCOG maintains the state-adopted Regional Solid Waste Management Plan, reviews applications for landfill permits, administers solid waste grants, provides education and technical assistance and supports the multijurisdictional Regional Environmental Task Force. 

> Discover CAPCOG's Solid Waste Program

National Air Quality Awareness Week, April 28-May 2: Help curb pollution as smog season arrives

Friday, April 25, 2014

As the season for increased ozone pollution settles in through early fall, the Capital Area Council of Governments, participants in the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan and others around the country are promoting National Air Quality Awareness Week, April 28 to May 2, reminding folks to pitch in to keep pollution at bay.
 
“Whether carpooling, commuting by bike once a week, avoiding energy usage at peak times or taking other important steps to reduce ozone, all residents and businesses can make a difference,” said Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, who chairs the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition. “Staying in attainment of federal air quality standards is important to protecting the health and the economy of Central Texas, so National Air Quality Awareness Week offers a timely opportunity for public outreach, education and engagement.”

> Discover the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC)
 
Ozone pollution results when emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from sources such as vehicles, power plants, factories, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents react in the presence of sunlight. Ground-level ozone can cause health problems, especially among more vulnerable populations such as children, older adults and people with lung diseases. Ozone pollution also affects animals and the environment.

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition, a regional collaboration of 11 cities and all five county governments in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties in partnership with CAPCOG, recently won a 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award for its innovative work to help decrease area emissions, but the work to reduce pollution continues.

> Get the details on CAC's 2014 EPA Clean Air Excellence Award  

CAPCOG’s ozone-monitoring network – a system of eight stations in Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties – is collecting data to help support regional air quality research and planning initiatives.

Other participants in the Ozone Advance Program Action Plan include CAPCOG, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Capital Metro, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, the Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Lehigh Cement Company and the Texas Nursery and Landscaping Association.
 
Here’s how residents and businesses across Central Texas can “Be Air Aware”:

  • Drive less – Avoid unnecessary driving by bringing your lunch to work, combining errands, carpooling and trying out transportation alternatives such as walking and cycling.
  • Drive clean – Avoid driving during peak congestion times, make sure to properly maintain your vehicle, avoid idling and use the lowest-emission vehicle available when necessary to drive. 
  • Conserve – Reduce electricity consumption, water consumption and natural gas consumption.
  • Know before you go – Before going out, know what the ozone forecast is for the day by signing up for ozone notifications or downloading the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency's AirNow app.
  • Learn more – Explore additional air quality resources at  CAPCOG's Air Quality Program page.

> Download the AirNow mobile app
 
CAPCOG, one of 24 regional planning commissions organized under state law, administers programs on several regional issues including 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 at risk of violating federal pollution standards.
 
The Clean Air Coalition comprises elected officials from the five-county Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area who represent governmental parties to the Central Texas Ozone Advance Program Action Plan, the region’s voluntary ozone management plan.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Air monitoring: 2014 ozone season begins

Thursday, April 24, 2014

As April marks the beginning of the ozone season for the region, CAPCOG’s ozone monitoring network comes back online this month to help support regional air quality research and planning activities.

This year, CAPCOG will operate eight ozone monitoring stations in the region, including one each in Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Travis counties and two each in Hays and Williamson counties.

These stations will help supplement the two regulatory monitoring stations operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Travis County to provide a better picture of ozone within the region.

The next three-year period will likely prove crucial in maintaining the region’s status as compliant on federal ozone standards.

Efforts across the region to drive less, drive cleaner, conserve and know when ozone action days are forecast will help keep the air in Central Texas healthy.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program
> Explore ways to reduce ozone pollution in Central Texas

Honoring our seniors: May marks Older Americans Month

Friday, April 18, 2014

Did you know that May 2014 marks Older Americans Month? Join Central Texas, the state and the nation in honoring our seniors.

With the theme of "Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow," the national Older Americans Month celebration includes logos, posters, safety-tip sheets and other resources to help communities and organizations tailor their activities. CAPCOG's Executive Committee has approved a resolution recognizing the monthlong observance. The City of Austin and Gov. Perry also have issued proclamations.

The annual observance, launched in 1963, recognizes the contributions, sacrifices and achievements of older Americans from the past and present.

More than 304,841 adults aged 60 and older call the 10-county CAPCOG region home, according to the Executive Committee resolution, offering an opportunity to learn from area elders, help them remain healthy and active and benefit from their participation in every aspect of Central Texas living. 

CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging, for example, offers programs and services to support the health, safety, and well-being of older individuals. 

> Read the Texas proclamation
> See the City of Austin's proclamation
> Discover volunteer opportunities with CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging
> Explore Older Americans Month activity ideas and materials at the national website 

Criminal Justice Advisory Committee prioritizes grants

Friday, April 11, 2014

CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee has reviewed and prioritized more than 40 applications totaling $2,655,000 in fiscal 2015 funding requests to provide criminal justice programs, juvenile services programs and victim services programs throughout the 10-county region.

The annual CJAC application review and prioritization process is facilitated per CAPCOG’s contract with the Governor’s Office, Criminal Justice Division, and follows the state office's funding schedule. 

Once approved by the CAPCOG Executive Committee, which will consider the grant recommendations during its regular meeting on May 14, the prioritized lists will be submitted to the CJD for potential funding.

> See the prioritized funding list, pending final Executive Committee approval

National Telecommunicator Week: April 13-19, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

As the annual National Telecommunicator Week gets underway April 13-19, 2014, CAPCOG salutes public safety communications professionals!

The Capital Area Emergency Communications District (CAECD) Board of Managers has adopted a resolution recognizing the region's more than 600 telecommunicators, who serve as an important bridge between people needing emergency assistance and the response agencies reaady to help. 

In addition, the CAECD will host an event for all 9-1-1 telecommunicators in the region to attend a Texas Stars hockey game April 19 at Cedar Park Center.

Telecommunicators will have the opportunity to present the American flag on the ice during the National Anthem before the game.

> Read Gov. Perry's proclamation for Public Safety Telecommunicators Week 2014
> Get a behind-the-scenes look at 9-1-1 call takers at your service across the region
> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Signed up with CAPCOG’s Regional Notification System yet? Just 15 minutes could save a life.

Monday, April 07, 2014

More than 10,000 people across Central Texas have signed up with the Capital Area Council of Governments’ newly updated Regional Notification System (RNS) – and friends, neighbors and relatives are encouraged to join in today.

No Internet access? No problem. To register for the Regional Notification System by phone, just call toll free 866-484-3264, and you’ll be prompted for your contact information.

“It takes just 15 minutes to register on the free Regional Notification System, but the benefits last forever,” said CAPCOG Homeland Security Task Force Chair Johnny Campbell of Marble Falls Area Emergency Medical Services. “People want to be in the loop if a large emergency or major incident were happening in their area or a loved one’s area, and the RNS helps make that happen.”

 > Spare 15 to prepare - sign up today for the RNS!

CAPCOG’s system, formerly called the “Emergency Notification System,” previously was limited to telephone calls to people that were included in the 9-1-1 database and to those who had registered their cellular telephones on CAPCOG ENS. The new RNS includes capacity to send messages by email or text and – eventually – Twitter and Facebook. Residents can register their cellphones, landlines, email addresses, pagers and other devices that receive text-based messages.

The improved system also will allow local officials to send a wider range of notifications. The previous system could only be used in situations in which life and property were directly threatened. Instead, the upgrades permit delivery of messages that may not comprise an emergency but nonetheless are important to public health, well-being and convenience. These could include restrictions on water usage, traffic disruptions due to major events and weather-related cancellations of public events.

> Get the RNS frequently asked questions sheet in English or Spanish

How has the CAPCOG Regional Notification System helped Central Texans? Some examples:

  • During the Labor Day wildfire outbreak of 2011, the CAPCOG RNS was used to make telephone calls to more than 9,000 residences and businesses in Bastrop, Travis, Fayette, Caldwell, Hays and Burnet counties to warn of the danger posed by rapidly moving wildfires.
  • The system has been used on numerous occasions to instruct residents to lock their doors and remain inside in the area of an ongoing law enforcement SWAT operation.
  • The system has been used to notify persons in the path of floodwaters to take immediate action to protect lives and property.

So, don't delay. Sign up today, and spread the word!

Don’t delay – sign up at http://wireless.capcog.org today. And to learn more about the Regional Notification System, download the frequently asked questions sheet in English or Spanish at www.capcog.org/divisions/homeland-security/rns.
About CAPCOG: The Capital Area Council of Governments, governed by elected officials from the 10-county region it serves, has worked for more than 40 years as an advocate, planner and coordinator on important regional issues. Programs and services related to public safety and emergency response, environmental planning, economic and community development and the elderly are delivered at a regional level to leverage funding, maximize cooperation and eliminate duplication. CAPCOG serves Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Learn more at www.capcog.org

Fayette County: 20 years of recycling with pride

Friday, March 28, 2014


Metal cans at the Fayette County Recycle Center, baled and ready for
market, an important part of
material recovery.

In rural Texas, solid waste services aren’t mandated by the state legislature. They also can be expensive and might not include recycling opportunities. Fayette County, however, shows how it can be done.

“I never met a recycler I did not like,” says Fayette County Commissioner Tom Muras, who administers the Fayette County Recycling Program.

Initiated by Fayette County Judge Ed Janecka in 1993 with solid waste grant funding provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality through the Capital Area Council of Governments, the program has received 14 solid waste grants totaling more than $330,000 to address the unique challenges of rural recycling.

Effective network

Adding its own matching funds, the county over 20 years has established an effective and convenient network of public collection stations and mobile drop-off opportunities.

Each Saturday, Fayette County Commissioner Gary Weishuhn facilitates mobile drop-off locations throughout the county, where residents can drop off recyclables, household garbage, motor and transmission oil and large goods such as refrigerators.

The county, which has no local landfill and few rural public solid waste service providers, currently operates three permanent facilities in La Grange, Schulenburg and Flatonia and temporary drop-off sites in Fayetteville, Round Top, Ledbetter, Carmine and Ellinger.

The county also must pay to transport and dispose of household garbage and some other items and thus established a “Buy the Bag” trash bag program, offering color-coded bags priced by capacity and offered at nominal price in county hardware stores and at the county public collection stations.

Service costs 

Each of the eight public collection stations takes all recyclables, and residents can drop off household hazardous waste and other materials — fridges, freezers, air conditioners, washing machines, water heaters and oil filters, for example — at the La Grange location. Applicable fees range from 50 cents to $25, depending on the type of item collected.

With the rising costs of green waste management and the increasing amount of green waste being brought to the La Grange location from fire mitigation management and planning initiatives, the county has initiated a fee schedule for limbs and brush, based on trailer size or pickup.

To help further close the recycling loop, the program offers some materials while supplies last — crushed polished glass is free to county residents, for example, and compost is just $5 a bucket load or $10 per pickup load. In addition, the county now accepts electronics for reuse at the Schulenburg and La Grange public collection stations.

Outcomes

In the last twelve months, Fayette County has recycled 308 tons of newsprint; 42 tons of scrap metal; 67 tons of plastics; 277 tons of cardboard and 4,089 gallons of used oil, earning more than $43,000. Still, it’s looking to grow the program, including boosting the percentage of participating residents, businesses and schools.

To Commissioner Muras, the program’s like a successful sports franchise: “We try to keep building a Super Bowl-caliber team, and with recycling we’re almost there. All we need are some citizen-type special team players to fill out our roster.”

> Discover recycling in Fayette County
> Get a copy of the regional Environmental Law Enforcement Guide
> Register by April 10 for the RETF's April 17 Basic Environmental Law Class 

New interoperable radio system now serving Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties

Monday, March 24, 2014

Emergency communications in CAPCOG’s westernmost counties — Blanco, Burnet and Llano — have entered a new era.

In early February, the first phase of the CAPCOG Western Counties Radio Interoperable Communications System began serving law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel in Burnet County and the cities of Burnet and Bertram.

> Discover CAPCOG's Homeland Security Division

Additional agencies are being switched over to the new system weekly as part of a phased approach to implementing the system. This approach ensures all equipment is programmed correctly and all users are trained on the new system when they begin using it.

To ensure that critical public safety communications are not interrupted during the transition, the existing radio system remains operational.

The new system, funded from local funds and CAPCOG-managed federal homeland security grant funds from nine grant years, gives emergency responders of all disciplines in the 10-county region the ability to communicate with each other. In addition, the system is linked to the Greater Austin-Travis County Regional Radio System (GATRRS) that covers Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell and Lee counties. GATRRS is linked to the public safety radio systems serving Hays and Fayette counties.

> Sign up today on the Regional Notification System

In a February briefing to the CAPCOG Homeland Security Task Force, Burnet County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Barho referred to the development of this project as “an excellent example of regionalism and cooperative partnership between jurisdictions with different governing bodies.” He emphasized the importance of “partnerships and trust” among the participating jurisdictions in the success of this long and complex project.

Ongoing management of the system is overseen by an Executive Committee comprising the county judges of the three participating counties — Bill Guthrie, Blanco County; Donna Klaeger, Burnet County; and Wayne Brascom, Llano County — and Marble Falls Mayor George Russell. Each also serves on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee.

Day-to-day operations of the system are supervised by an Operations Committee that includes personnel from each of the primary jurisdictions. Ongoing costs of maintaining the system are borne by participating jurisdictions in accordance with terms of an interlocal cooperation agreement. Grant funding for the project was provided by the federal Homeland Security Grant Program per recommendations from the task force.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Homeland Security Task Force 

Since the task force’s 2003 inception, its primary focus has been the development of interoperable radio communications — the ability of public safety personnel to talk with each other. The lack of interoperable communications was cited in the report of the federal commission that reviewed the response to the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, as a major factor contributing to the deaths of personnel who responded to assist.

Online resource: Free video series for in-home dementia caregivers

Friday, March 21, 2014

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health is offering a free video series for family caregivers assisting loved ones with dementia.

The 20-part online series, which follows a family navigating dementia-related challenges such as in-home care, home safety, legal issues, problem behaviors and more, also includes an introductory trailer. 

> Watch the series, and explore other VA caregiver resources
> Learn about CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's caregiver support

Regional training puts spotlight on illegal dumping

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From junk cars to chemical-discharge violations, learn about the growing problem of illegal dumping and other environmental crimes with Basic Environmental Law, a training course scheduled 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, 2014, at the Dunbar Recreation Center, 801 W. Martin Luther King Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666.

> Register today for the regional training

Certified instructors from various agencies including the City of Austin and the Travis County Attorney's Office will address topics such as solid waste, nuisance violations, civil versus criminal prosecution, unauthorized discharges and more. 

> Learn more about the Regional Environmental Task Force

Whether a code compliance officer, business owner or concerned resident, sign up by April 10 for this session presented by the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force. The $30 registration includes lunch, materials and selected continuing-education credits.

> Discover CAPCOG Solid Waste Planning

CAMPO series invites input on transportation planning

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a CAPCOG partner, has set a series of opportunities in March and April for public input on long-range transportation plans and the Transportation Improvement Program.  

Residents and other stakeholders can weigh in on potential changes to the 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Plan; development of the 2015-2018 TIP; amendments proposed to the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan; and priorities for the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which eventually will replace the current 2035 version.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

The open houses, each running from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and featuring the same information, are scheduled across the region:

  • Tuesday, March 25, Burnet County Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St., Burnet, TX 78611
  • Thursday, March 27, Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., Lockhart, TX 78644
  • Monday, March 31, One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325, Austin, TX 78704
  • Tuesday, April 1, Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX 78602
  • Wednesday, April 2, San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos, TX 78666
  • Thursday, April 3, Williamson County Central Maintenance Facility, 3151 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown, TX 78626

Input opportunities also will include a public hearing during CAMPO's Transportation Policy Board meeting, 6 p.m. Monday, March 17, at LBJ Auditorium, 2300 Red River St., Austin, TX 78712. Attendees wishing to speak must sign up at arrival, before the hearing.

> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Explore progress on the developing 2040 Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

CAPCOG calls for diesel-reduction projects

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is calling for truck-replacement projects eligible for funding under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant.

The call for projects runs March 1 through April 18, 2014, for funding up to 25 percent of replacement costs for as many as 18 city or county trucks and three utility trucks. 

Diesel pollution, including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and air toxics, can affect health and cause financial impacts. 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.

Among the funding requirements, replacement trucks must be model years 2011 or newer. The retired vehicles must be model years 1993-2003; be operated primarily in Bastrop, Bexar, Caldwell, Hays, Travis or Williamson counties; and not have been slated for replacement before Sept. 30, 2015.

Acquisition of the new truck and destruction of the engine and chassis of the old truck must occur before Sept. 30, 2014.

> Visit the "Doing Business with CAPCOG" page for more details
> Learn about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

CAPCOG expands access to Medicare benefits counseling in Marble Falls, Taylor and Llano

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging, a division of the Capital Area Council of Governments, has expanded access to Medicare benefits counseling in three Central Texas communities. 

A state-certified benefits counselor will now be available with monthly office hours at the following new locations through September 2014:

  • First Wednesday of the month - 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. 
    Texas Housing Foundation, 1016 Broadway, Marble Falls, TX 78654
  • Second Thursday of the month - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Switzer Senior Center, 410 W. Seventh St., Taylor, TX 76574
  • Third Wednesday of the month, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Park Ridge Apartments, 100 Legend Hills Blvd., Llano, TX 78643

CAPCOG's Benefits Counseling Program offers free, unbiased information about health insurance to Medicare beneficiaries, their caregivers or anyone 60 or older. In addition to the monthly hours in community locations, benefits counselors are available to schedule other individual appointments by calling 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

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.

> Get the Area Agency on Aging flier
> Explore the Benefits Counseling Program

Medicare vs. Health Insurance Marketplace

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its Q&A on the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace, explaining what it means for consumers with Medicare.

Learn whether the Marketplace affects your Medicare choices, whether Medicare coverage meets Affordable Care Act requirements and more with the four-page information sheet available at the CMS website. The Q&A also offers phone numbers and websites for help with Medicare enrollment and costs.

> Get the Q&A at the federal website
> Discover CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging services

Collaboration with BVCOG yields winning cadet class

Friday, February 21, 2014


Police cadets stand to perform the pledge of allegiance during their January 2014 graduation ceremony, a culmination of the successful CAPCOG- Brazos Valley Council of Governments collaboration. 

CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy has conducted basic peace officer courses (BPOC) for 19 years with a mission to produce the best-prepared peace officers for the capital area’s cities and counties.

The program’s success includes a feat few academies can claim: consistently achieving a 100 percent pass rate among cadets when they take the state’s licensing exam for the first time.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Two years ago, CAPCOG began getting requests to conduct satellite academies for neighboring regions; other COGs that didn’t operate academies were interested in CAPCOG conducting a BPOC and perhaps eventually helping them ramp up their own efforts.

The academy has just finished its first satellite BPOC in another region, with 16 cadets graduating from a course conducted in partnership with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments in Bryan, Texas.

Because RLEA staff take an intensely hands-on approach that ensures cadets get the best training possible — with a heavy focus on the academic portion — overseeing the eight-month evening course posed a challenge.

> Apply for the next Basic Peace Officer Certification Course

A lack of daily contact with the course’s 23 adjunct instructors teaching more than 30 topics made RLEA Director Mike Jennings a bit nervous, but his leadership helped yield a 100 percent pass rate on the cadets’ first crack at the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement licensing test.

CAPCOG will again carefully consider future collaborations — producing a lengthy course outside the region can add a significant work-load to an already robust schedule — but partnerships between councils of governments remain a hallmark of helping communities across the state succeed.

CAPCOG accepting senior-services proposals ‘til April 21

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals by 3 p.m. Monday, April 21, to provide selected services and supports from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2016, to consumers ages 60 and older.

Proposals must be received at CAPCOG offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744, by the closing deadline

> Get the details, and download RFP materials today

Regional Environmental Task Force releases new enforcement guide

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's a public nuisance? What parts of Texas state law address water pollution, illegal dumping or outdoor burning? Get the scoop on this and more in the newly published 2013-2104 Environmental Law Enforcement Guide. 

The easy-to-read, 90-page booklet, published by the Regional Environmental Task Force in partnership with the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, offers helpful facts and tips for law enforcement officers, sanitarians, code enforcement professionals and others interested in solid-waste issues. 

Get the booklet as a downloadable PDF file, or order the hard copy edition online.

> Discover the Regional Environmental Task Force
> Get the PDF version of the enforcement guide  
> Order the hard copy through Pocket Press

Ozone efforts garner EPA Clean Air Excellence Award

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC), a regional collaboration of city and county governments in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties in partnership with the CAPCOG, has won a national award for its ozone-reduction efforts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award honors innovate work that helps decrease emissions from targeted pollutants, serves as a model for others and proves sustainable.

CAC's successful implementation of its Regional 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan, a voluntary pollution-curbing initiative that has helped the Austin-Round Rock metroplitan area stay in compliance with federal air quality standards, won in the award competition's Community Action category that recognizes partnership-based efforts.

The EPA will host an awards ceremony honoring the various winners on April 2 in Arlington, Va. 

> Learn more about the Clean Air Coalition
> Explore the Ozone Flex Plan's successor, Ozone Advance 
> Get more details on the EPA 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award

CAPCOG’s 2013 State of the Region presentation now available

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s annual State of the Region presentation showed how Central Texas is scoring continued momentum out of the recession, staying ahead of the pack on key economic factors and experiencing renewed interest in rural communities’ traditional downtowns.

Explore the slide show online, and contact CAPCOG Community & Economic Development Director Michael Hennig for additional details on the featured trends and stats. 

> Contact Michael Hennig
> Download the 2013 State of the Region slides
> Discover CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

CAPCOG seeks bank depository; proposals due March 14

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals from eligible institutions by March 14, 2014, to be designated as depository for the agency and the Capital Area Emergency Communications District. 

> Get the details, and download RFP materials today

Mandatory workshops for criminal justice grant applicants rescheduled

Monday, January 27, 2014

CAPCOG has rescheduled its mandatory workshops for potential grant applicants interested in state funding opportunities regarding criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim services, expanding to three separate sessions.

Grant writers, coordinators and others involved in completing the applications or entering them at the CJD's eGrants website need attend only one of the workshops - 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30; 1:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31; or Wednesday, Feb. 5, at CAPCOG Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744 - to get details on applying for the following fiscal 2015 funding available from the Governor's Criminal Justice Division:

• General Victims Assistance
• Violent Crimes Against Women
• Criminal Justice Programs
• General Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs

Workshop attendance is mandatory for all applicants, new or returning. Applications submitted by organizations not attending one of the workshops will not be reviewed or prioritized by CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) or recommended for funding to the CJD.

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, will make potential grantees’ applications available to CAPCOG in March or April 2014 for review, prioritization and recommendations by CJAC in April 2014.

> Contact Cindy Hood for questions or to RSVP
> Learn about CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Program

CAPCOG Q&A added to air-monitoring request for proposals

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments has added a question-and-answer update to the collection of materials for its recently published request for proposals on operation of continuous air monitoring stations. 

The Q&A addresses questions received during the initial inquiry period after CAPCOG's Jan. 10 release of the RFP.

Proposals are due at CAPCOG's Austin, Texas, office by 5 p.m. CDT Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. 

> Download the RFP and Q&A

Applications for federal economic development grant due March 14

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The U.S. Economic Development Administration is accepting grant applications from local governments and other selected entities until March 14, 2014, for the current funding cycle of its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs.

The programs seek both rural- and urban-area projects that maximize regional assets in implementing effective economic development strategies for distressed communities.   

> Get the grant details

Signed up with ENS? Update now for more options

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

With CAPCOG's Regional Notification System expanding the ways to reach people and the types of information shared, participants who previously registered their cellphone will get a second automated phone message this week inviting them to sign up for the newly upgraded system.

CAPCOG’s system, formerly called the “Emergency Notification System,” previously was limited to telephone calls to people that were included in the 9-1-1 database and to those who had registered their cellular telephones on CAPCOG ENS. The new RNS includes capacity to send messages by email or text and – eventually – Twitter and Facebook. Residents can register their cellphones, landlines, email addresses, pagers and other devices that receive text-based messages. The improved system also will allow local officials to send a wider range of notifications.

The previous system could only be used in situations in which life and property were directly threatened. Instead, the upgrades permit delivery of messages that may not comprise an emergency but nonetheless are important to public health, well-being and convenience. These could include restrictions on water usage, traffic disruptions due to major events and weather-related cancellations of public events. Some have already received a call, which alerts people who previously registered their cellphones that they must re-register if they wish to continue receiving alerts. Current users and new participants can register or update their information online today.

> Register with CAPCOG's newly updated Regional Notification System
> For questions, contact Aisha Henderson

CAPCOG’s 2014 Executive Committee officers named

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CAPCOG's 2014 Executive Committee has elected its officers for the year, affirming the Nominating Committee's recommendations.

Officers, who serve a one-year term and serve in the same capacity on the Capital Area Emergency Communications District Board of Managers, also compose the Budget, Audit and Strategic Planning Subcommittee, help guide the audit team, oversee the CAPCOG budgeting process with staff, annually evaluate the agency's executive director and make recommendations on administrative or programmatic strategies.

The five officers include Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom, Chair; City of Elgin Mayor Marc Holm, First Vice Chair; Caldwell County Judge Tom Bonn, Second Vice Chair; City of Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland, Secretary; and City of Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, Immediate Past Chair. 

CAPCOG, serving Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties, has helped its member governments and organizations maximize opportunities and eliminate duplication on key regional issues for more than 40 years. Formed in 1970, the agency is one of 24 councils of governments in Texas.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Executive Committee 
> Explore COGs statewide at the Texas Association of Regional Councils website

Area Agency on Aging: Seniors, it’s not too late for a flu shot!

Friday, January 10, 2014

With flu season in full swing, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging wants seniors - who are at greater risk from the dangerous virus - to help protect themselves.

One key toward prevention? Flu vaccine. The virus generally peaks around January or February in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but there's still time to get a flu shot. 

> Get answers on Medicare coverage for flu vaccine
> Learn more about flu and older adults at the CDC website

State grant targets pollution with natural gas replacements

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, 2015 - or until depletion of funds - for a grant to replace or repower medium- and heavy-duty motor vehicles with cleaner-running natural gas versions.

With about $24 million in funding available during the current two-year fiscal cycle, the TCEQ's Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program will fund eligible projects on a first come, first served basis.

Applicants - governments, companies, individuals and any other legal entity can participate - must meet selected equipment, usage and reporting requirements for eligibility. Learn more about the grant at TCEQ's website. > Go

A closer look: CAPCOG’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Monday, January 06, 2014

"Ombudsman" might mean "citizen representative," but some may consider it a longer word for "hero." Here's a closer look at CAPCOG's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which provides advocacy and friendly support for individuals living in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.

Ombudsmen investigate complaints made by residents, their families, or any other concerned party. They then work with complainants and facility staff to achieve resolutions. They can help one person resolve a problem, address issues that affect several residents or work to change a systemic problem. Their work takes many forms:

  • Handling complaints — Ombudsmen support residents and families to resolve any problems or differences with the facility staff by defining concerns, explaining rights and identifying possible courses of action. An ombudsman can help resolve the problem in most cases, but complaints involving serious abuse or neglect are referred to the appropriate agency. In all situations, confidentiality is maintained and no information is released without the resident or legal guardian’s permission. ?
  • Providing information — Ombudsmen are a good source of information about selecting a long-term care facility, including guiding callers to CAPCOG’s website for links to maps of both nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the region and to federal and state quality ratings. ?
  • Advocating system and legislative changes — State and regional ombudsman programs work cooperatively with other advocacy organizations to recommend legislation and regulatory changes that affect older Texans.

The sheer volume of facilities in the CAPCOG region, including 77 nursing homes with a total capacity of 8,400 beds and 122 licensed assisted living communities representing about 3,638 beds, demonstrates the high need for this advocacy service.

CAPCOG’s Ombudsman Program includes three staff members and approximately 40 trained and certified volunteers who routinely visit facilities throughout the region. With the program’s aim to advocate for resident rights, quality of life and good resident care, staff attend resident and family council meetings and care-plan meetings. They help ensure residents are not inappropriately discharged and help train facility employees on resident rights issues.

In addition, ombudsmen help ensure that Medicaid-funded residents who have expressed the desire to move back home or to a less restrictive environment are provided the opportunity for referral to the Money Follows the Person program, a federal initiative in which many states participate.

> Learn more about the Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Program
> Discover other AAA services

Regional coalition approves new air quality plan

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition has adopted a new plan to help keep the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area in compliance with federal ozone standards.

The Ozone Advance Program Action Plan, developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will replace the 8-O3 Flex Plan, which expires Dec. 31, 2013. It represents a voluntary initiative in which local governments and other organizations in the region will continue implementing measures to reduce ozone pollution.

Remaining in compliance with federal ozone standards continues to be a high priority for this region, both to protect public health and to avoid the costly impacts of a “nonattainment” designation.

Reducing ozone levels provides health benefits for children, seniors, and people with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

If an area is designated “nonattainment” for ozone, consequences also could prove serious for the regional economy, including new constraints on transportation planning, strict limits on industrial growth and a host of costly pollution regulations.

Nonattainment would result in the loss of local control of air quality planning and would impose new costs on the state in preparing implementation plans for the region. 

> Read the new plan
> Discover the Clean Air Coalition
> Learn more about Ozone Advance
> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Regional forum showcases analytics in action for community planning

Friday, December 20, 2013

CAPCOG’s Sustainable Places Project will present the free regional forum “Putting It All Together with Tomorrow’s Tools Today,” 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, at Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, 4140 Governors Row, Austin.

The free session, open to local governments, planning consultants, real estate developers and the public, includes breakfast and marks the seventh and final session in a series of SPP regional forums focused on mobility, housing, economic development and other factors of future prosperity. 

 Eventbrite - Sustainable Places Project Regional Forum | Putting It All Together

Funded by one of U.S. Housing and Urban Development's first-round Sustainable Communities Initiatives grants, the SPP set out to change the way communities plan in this region. Attendees will find out whether that happened and what the next steps are.

With the project's much-acclaimed Analytics Tool now completed, learn about its capacity to project impacts for transportation, environmental, fiscal and economic development initiatives. 

The forum will also include other updates:

  • The City of Austin has aggressively applied the Analytics Tool to decide what the development value of urban rail could be, depending on locations of the stations. The tool’s ability to predict impact will be demonstrated on selected sites in the city. Hear the latest from city representatives. 
  • CAPCOG's Sustainable Places Project will become the Prosperous Places Program, or "P3." Project successes in Elgin, Hutto, Lockhart and Dripping Springs demonstrated that place-making must be considered as an economic development strategy if small cities are to be competitive in today’s economy. Find out how P3 can help Central Texas communities large and small strategize and implement place-making.

Limited seating. Reserve your spot by Jan. 8 at the forum's registration site. > Go

CAPCOG looks ahead to expanded 9-1-1 capacity

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Moving forward from the recent 9-1-1 issue, the Capital Area Council of Governments and partners continue to evaluate new methods for enhancing and augmenting the 10-county region’s emergency communications capacity.   

At about 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, calls to the Austin-Travis County 9-1-1 center were rerouted to other local emergency communications facilities because of a temporary server failure and – due to maintenance at the time – unavailability of the backup center. The redirecting of calls to the backup agencies worked exactly as planned, and systems were repaired and returned to normal by approximately 7:46 p.m. that day. 

Such was the power of partnerships, with backup assistance from the City of Austin Police and Fire departments, Travis County EMS and Sheriff’s Office, Pflugerville Sheriff’s Office, Round Rock and Williamson County. The agencies worked closely with CAPCOG, which oversaw the repairs and coordinated the response. 

Looking ahead, CAPCOG is exploring options to further expand backup capabilities. Our vendors are already investigating enhancements to the system to improve resiliency and diversity options to prevent a similar situation in the future.

This includes moving closer to testing newer technology aligned with Next Generation 9-1-1, a national initiative to help emergency communication centers accept calls by text messages, photos, videos, alarm systems, vehicle devices such as OnStar and medical-alert systems for seniors — all in addition to voice-only calls. 

Most important, the 10-county region as of this year is its own 9-1-1 district, allowing for more flexibility in meeting the emergency communications challenges of today and tomorrow.

One of the early actions of the new Capital Area Emergency Communications District, the nation’s first COG-managed emergency communications district, was to establish a Strategic Advisory Committee. The committee, starting at its inaugural meeting in January, will consider several long-term 9-1-1 upgrades for the region.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division
> Sign up for Regional Notification System updates on your phone

CAPCOG General Assembly names the agency’s 2014 Executive Committee

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments' General Assembly has selected the organization's 2014 Executive Committee, approving the full slate recommended by the Nominating Committee. 

As CAPCOG's governing body, the 27-member Executive Committee comprises city and county elected officials nominated and selected annually to provide direction to CAPCOG staff regarding program implementation, budgets and contracts, and general policies and procedures for managing the agency.

The committee also includes nonvoting seats for state legislators from Texas Planning Region 12.

Executive Committee members are self-nominated from the pool of current General Assembly participants. Though eligibility requirements help ensure equal representation of cities, counties, small communities and large areas, selection also considers geographical representation and candidates' involvement with other CAPCOG programs and committees.

CAPCOG's 2014 Executive Committee - approved during the Dec. 14 General Assembly annual meeting - listed by membership category:

Counties (One per county, except two for Travis County)
Bastrop - Judge Paul Pape
Blanco - Judge Bill Guthrie
Burnet - Judge Donna Klaeger
Caldwell - Judge Tom Bonn
Fayette - Judge Ed Janecka
Hays - Judge Bert Cobb
Lee - Commissioner Maurice Pitts
Llano - Judge Wayne Brascom
Travis - Judge Sam Biscoe, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty
Williamson - Judge Dan A. Gattis

City of Austin (1 representative)
Council Member Kathy Tovo

Cities with more than 100,000 people (1 representative)
Round Rock - Mayor Alan McGraw

Cities with 25,000 to 100,000 people (4 representatives)
Eligible cities: Cedar Park, Georgetown, Kyle, Leander, Pflugerville, San Marcos
Cedar Park - Mayor Pro Tem Don Tracy
Kyle - Council Member Samantha LeMense
Pflugerville - Mayor Jeff Coleman
San Marcos - Council Member Shane Scott

Cities under 25,000 (5 representatives)
Bee Cave - Mayor Caroline Murphy
Buda - Council Member Eileen Altmiller
Elgin - Mayor Marc Holm
Lockhart - Mayor Lew White
Hutto - Mayor Debbie Holland

At-Large
Hays County - Commissioner Will Conley
Williamson County - Commissioner Cynthia Long 
City of Marble Falls - Mayor George Russell

Legislators from State Planning Region 12 (nonvoting)  
Rep. Jason Isaac
Rep. Paul Workman

The new Executive Committee will serve from January through December 2014 and formally select its five officers next month.

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

CAPCOG honors Seth Searcy with Regionalism Award

Thursday, December 12, 2013



Judith Searcy (left) accepts the 2013 Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award in behalf of her husband, longtime CAPCOG attorney Seth Searcy. 

University of Texas at Austin alumnus Seth Searcy III, a well-known authority on local government law who served as the Capital Area Council of Governments' legal counsel for more than 35 years, has been named the 2013 recipient of the agency's Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award.

The 10th annual award, announced at the CAPCOG General Assembly's annual meeting on Dec. 11, honors significant efforts in regional cooperation within the 10-county capital area. Searcy, who passed away this year, was recognized for his measured counsel and tireless advocacy to the collective benefit of the region's local jurisdictions.

Searcy built a robust career. He worked with the Texas Legislative Council and oversaw the massive revision of the state’s penal code. In 1979, he was among the founding members of the Save Barton Creek Association, which became Austin’s foremost environmental group.

The distinguished honoree is survived by his wife, Judith, and daughters Mary and Sarah.

CAPCOG's award is named after former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, who served as the agency’s first chair in 1970. Griesenbeck, who  understood the need for collaboration across city and county lines, played a key role in creating the 24-member Texas Association of Regional Councils.

> Learn more about CAPCOG

CAPCOG releases 2013 annual report

Thursday, December 12, 2013

CAPCOG2013AnnualReportCover

Did you know? The Capital Area Council of Governments provided more than $100,000 in solid waste grants to seven local jurisdictions during the last fiscal year.

Funded activities included recycling, litter and illegal dumping cleanup, local enforcement, household hazardous waste management, scrap tire management and more, helping people and the environment. 

Learn about accomplishments across CAPCOG's Solid Waste Management Program and other initiatives in the agency's newly published 2013 annual report. 

> Download the annual report
> Read past annual reports

Dec. 6 CAPCOG criminal justice regional planning meeting rescheduled

Friday, December 06, 2013

Due to a weather-related delayed opening at its building, CAPCOG has rescheduled the Dec. 6 criminal justice regional planning meeting to 9 a.m.-noon Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. The meeting will take place at the agency's headquarters, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744.

Staff have worked to notify all registrants of the change, but participants unable to attend the Dec. 20 meeting can instead reserve a spot at the 1-4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, session at the Williamson County Jester Annex, 1801 E. Old Settlers Blvd. Suite 110, Round Rock, TX 78664, by contacting Cindy Hood.

General registration for the planning meetings - developed to gain stakeholder input for a regional criminal justice strategic plan due to the Governor's Criminal Justice Division by March 1, 2014 - closed on Dec. 2.

> For questions, contact Cindy Hood 
> Learn more about CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Program
> Explore the Office of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division

Emergency notification now available by text and email, too, in Central Texas

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Don’t hang up the phone, ditch that text or scrap that email! The message you receive could save your life. The Capital Area Council of Government’s Regional Notification System, the telephone-based warning system used by public safety agencies in CAPCOG’s region since 2006 to share time-sensitive information with local residents, can now alert users by text and email too. A quick online registration is all it takes.

CAPCOG’s system, formerly called the “Emergency Notification System,” previously was limited to telephone calls to people that were included in the 9-1-1 database and to those who had registered their cellular telephones on CAPCOG ENS. The new RNS includes capacity to send messages by email or text and – eventually – Twitter and Facebook. Residents can register their cellphones, landlines, email addresses, pagers and other devices that receive text-based messages.

The improved system also will allow local officials to send a wider range of notifications. The previous system could only be used in situations in which life and property were directly threatened. Instead, the upgrades permit delivery of messages that may not comprise an emergency but nonetheless are important to public health, well-being and convenience. These could include restrictions on water usage, traffic disruptions due to major events and weather-related cancellations of public events.

If local officials need to spread the word widely and quickly, the CAPCOG RNS provides another option: The system can send 10,000 telephone calls, 6,000 text messages and 20,000 email messages per minute.

Largely as a result of interest generated after the 2011 Labor Day wildfire outbreak, the number of cellular telephones registered on the system is approaching 70,000. Current participants on the old system will get an automated phone message inviting them to sign up for the newly expanded features. These include the option of being automatically notified when the National Weather Service issues tornado, severe thunderstorm or flash-flood warnings for their area.

> Sign up for RNS alerts or update your currently registered contact information now
> Learn more about the RNS, overseen by CAPCOG's Homeland Security Divison

Pick your plan! Annual Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7

Monday, November 25, 2013

CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging (AAA) encourages eligible consumers to compare, choose or change their Medicare and prescription drug plans before annual open enrollment ends Dec. 7, 2013.

The annual open enrollment period, underway since Oct. 15, sets participants' plans for the following 12-month period.

AAA's Benefits Counseling Program can help participants sort the various options. For free one-on-one confidential counseling, call a Medicare benefits counselor today at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

The National Council on Aging is also on hand to assist. Its My Medicare Matters website now includes two additional tools to help in Medicare planning:

  • RX Calculator, which estimates savings from switching Medicare Part D plans.
  • Medicare QuickCheck, which helps participants review current coverage.

> Explore options, prescription savings and more at My Medicare Matters' website
> Get a closer look at Medicare open enrollment

New CAPCOG police cadet training coming spring 2014

Friday, November 22, 2013

CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy is accepting applications for six-month daytime cadet training slated to start April 2014.

Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC) No. 72, launching a few months after the start of RLEA’s eight-month, part-time class currently underway in Pflugerville, will run from April 14 to Oct. 2, 2014.

The rigorous BPOC saw more than 120 cadet students in fiscal 2013 and includes 780 hours of classroom and field instruction.

RLEA's Basic Peace Officer Class No. 68, hosted by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, graduated Oct. 18, 2013, representing the host agency, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Learn more about the BPOC application process for prospective peace officers and explore continuing-education classes for current law enforcement professionals at the academy's training page. > Go

Disaster Debris Management 101: Presentation materials now available

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Miss CAPCOG's Oct. 30, 2013, training, Disaster Debris Management 101: Tools for Local and Regional Governments? Get the presentation materials now available online.

The full-day session, featuring government and industry experts such as Mike Fisher, Bastrop County’s emergency management coordinator, offered candid tips and case studies on planning, protecting public health and natural resources and ensuring disaster debris cleanups meet state and federal funding requirements. 

Area experts discussed debris management plans, debris recycling and contractor monitoring and discussed successes and lessons in handling debris from the Bastrop County Complex Fire of 2011.

> Download PDF versions of selected speaker presentations today

Stakeholders wanted: CAPCOG adds third December date for criminal justice planning

Saturday, November 09, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments has opened registration and added a third December date to gather stakeholder input for a regional criminal justice strategic plan.

Eventbrite - CAPCOG Criminal Justice Regional Planning

CAPCOG is funded by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division to assist with the grant application process and - new this year - to develop a regional plan due to the CJD by March 1, 2014.

Previously, CAPCOG staff facilitated a community planning process reflecting a compilation of plans developed at the county or multicounty level. Counties may still develop their own respective local plan but must use the CAPCOG-provided template for inclusion in the regional effort.

The upcoming outreach sessions allow representatives from law enforcement, victims services, mental health and juvenile programs to help identify challenges, solutions and necessary resources for their respective disciplines.

In addition, CAPCOG staff will analyze demographic trends and criminal justice data to help prioritize criminal justice-related needs. CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee will then complete the prioritization process in January.

Participants need select only one of the free sessions, now with a third date added - Dec. 6, 9 or 12 - and register online.

To further help in the outreach process, interested organizations are asked to contact CAPCOG's Mary Ramirez with the name, phone number and email address of their primary point person for criminal justice planning. > Go

> RSVP online for Dec. 6, 9, or 12 today
> Contact CAPCOG's Mary Ramirez for email updates
> Learn more about CAPCOG's criminal justice program
> Explore the Office of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division

GeoMap looks ahead to 2014 with new product in tow

Saturday, November 09, 2013

CAPCOG’s Geospatial Base Mapping Project, “GeoMap,” is on track to cap a robust year and further expand services for 2014.

GeoMap 2014 will debut high-resolution oblique imagery, allowing stakeholders such as appraisal districts to now view properties from all four sides and measure structures vertically and horizontally without ever leaving the office.

The new product’s multiperspective viewing capabilities offer significant reductions in field work and can be an important tool for property assessment, planning, public safety, emergency management, fire and rescue and many more applications.

Award-winning GeoMap comprises a cost-sharing initiative to produce and maintain current geospatial base map data for local jurisdictions, developers, consultants and other interested parties.

GeoMap’s current year has included coordinating more than 12,000 miles of aerial photography for the Central Texas Council of Governments.

Looking ahead, GeoMap has already booked 2014 projects to secure aerial imagery, Lidar images, building footprints and more for area participants. Also, CAPCOG has competitively selected a vendor for GeoMap 2014: Fugro EarthData Inc., a leader in geospatial technology, brings a rich history of geospatial data acquisition and analysis.

> Learn more about GeoMap

Area stays in attainment of ozone standards for 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It appears the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area - Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties - will remain in attainment with federal ozone standards for 2013, according to data collected through October at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's two regulatory monitors.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determines violations of the ozone standard if the three-year average of any monitor's fourth-highest daily eight-hour ozone average is above 75 parts per billion.

The preliminary 2011-2013 average, or "design value," is 73 ppb for the monitor at the Austin Audubon Society and 72 ppb for the one at Murchison Middle School.

The EPA is currently considering whether to change the ozone standard in late 2014 or early 2015, likely in the range of 60-70 ppb.

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

2014 Social Security benefits rise 1.5 percent

Friday, November 01, 2013

Nearly 63 million beneficiaries will see a 1.5 percent boost in their monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2014, the Social Security Administration announced in a news release.

Increased payments to SSI recipients will begin Dec. 31, 2013, followed by the Social Security adjustment set to start January 2014.

Learn more about the upcoming changes at the Social Security Administration website, and contact CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging for information on free services such as benefits counseling, medication screening, caregiver support and more for older adults in the 10-county region. 

> Read the Social Security Administration news release
> Learn about Social Security cost-of-living adjustments
> Discover CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging Services
> Get the latest on Medicare changes for 2014

Flood threat, CAPCOG training prompt KXAN story

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Austin-area KXAN meteorologist and reporter David Yeomans (left, white shirt), interviews Jim Barho of Burnet County's Office of Emergency Management.

As area and statewide experts convened in Austin for CAPCOG's Oct. 30, 2013, training, Disaster Debris Management 101: Tools for Local and Regional Governments, NBC affiliate KXAN-TV dropped by for a timely story on reducing the impact of floods. 

Meterologists warned of heavy rains and potential flooding in Central Texas - including Austin - on Oct. 30. CAPCOG's training - focused on planning, protecting public health and natural resources and ensuring disaster debris cleanups meet state and federal funding requirements - offered an opportunity for KXAN to get an expert's take on keeping potential flood debris at bay and out of the way. 

Watch the brief story, featuring Burnet County Office of Emergency Management's Jim Barho, at KXAN's website. > Go

New MIT report takes closer look at place-making

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Urban Studies and Planning has released the new research report, "Places in the Making: How Placemaking Builds Places and Communities," now available for free download. 

The 72-page white paper includes a dozen case studies from across the country along with a look at the past, present and future of place-making itself.

> Get the PDF report at MIT's website
> Explore CAPCOG's regional Sustainable Places Project

Bastrop draws firefighters nationwide for training

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Camp Swift National Guard Training Facility in Bastrop is hosting firefighters from around the country for hands-on instruction through Oct. 24.   

The 16th Annual Capital Area Interagency Wildfire & Incident Management Academy, coordinated by the Texas A&M Forest Service in partnership with a consortium of state, federal and nonprofit agencies, offers a two-week opportunity for firefighters of every discipline to take classes ranging from leadership, GPS orientation and equipment operation to fire behavior, tactical maneuvers, water use and more.

“It’s as close to a fire assignment as you can get without actually going to a fire that has the potential to burn houses down,” said public information officer Jan Amen, in an academy news release. “It is set up just like a wildfire incident so you know exactly what it’s like.”

> Learn more about the 16th annual firefighter academy
> Sign up for CAPCOG's Oct. 30 training, Disaster Debris Management 101

CAMPO adds tools to weigh in on 2040 Regional Transportation Plan

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With development of the next 25-year regional transportation plan revving up, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has launched additional ways for the public and community partners to share input and stay informed.

A revamped website for even easier navigation; a new idea-sharing site with maps and other tools for real-time participation; and a Mobile Meetings toolkit with fact sheets, a PowerPoint presentation and other materials all aim to help individuals and communities weigh in as this important plan gets underway.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

In addition to the new tools, other outreach efforts have included opportunities such as a regional survey that concluded in August and public meetings.

The eventual 2040 Regional Transportation Plan will replace the current 2035 version.

> Learn more about CAMPO and the upcoming 2040 Plan

From preparation to recovery: CAPCOG training tackles disaster-debris management

Friday, October 18, 2013

From wildfires and tornadoes to chemical spills and flooding, learn about preparation, response and recovery with “Disaster Debris Management 101: Tools for Local and Regional Governments,” presented by the Capital Area Council of Governments, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, at CAPCOG’s Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744. 

Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for check-in and refreshments.

The full-day training, featuring government and industry experts such as Mike Fisher, Bastrop County’s emergency management coordinator, will provide candid tips and case studies on planning, protecting public health and natural resources and ensuring disaster debris cleanups meet state and federal funding requirements. 

Experts in the field will address debris management plans, debris recycling, contractor monitoring and more. Discussion also will include successes and lessons in managing debris after the Bastrop County Complex Fire of 2011. 

Participation is open to the public, with emphasis on emergency planners and response staff, industry contractors, local government planners, elected officials and neighborhood leaders. 

The $35 admission includes refreshments, lunch and – for eligible participants – Texas Municipal League continuing education credits.

> Register by Oct. 28, 2013
> Download the training flier and agenda

Clean Air Coalition seeks local emission reduction commitments

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC), a regional collaboration of city and county governments in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, is seeking commitments from local governments and other organizations in the region to implement local, voluntary measures to reduce ozone.

Remaining in compliance with federal ozone standards continues to be a high priority for this region, both to protect public health and to avoid the costly impacts of a “nonattainment” designation.

> Discover the Clean Air Coalition

Ozone Advance is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest effort to promote voluntary adoption and implementation of measures in areas close to violating the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. The region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will be the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area’s fourth voluntary air quality plan, replacing the  8-O3 Flex Plan when it expires Dec. 31, 2013.

Reducing ozone levels provides health benefits for children, seniors, and people with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. If an area is designated “nonattainment” for ozone, consequences could prove serious for the regional economy, including new constraints on transportation planning, strict limits on industrial growth and a host of costly pollution regulations. It also would result in the loss of local control of air quality planning and would impose new costs on the state in preparing implementation plans for the region. 

> Learn more about Ozone Advance

In 2012, the region was only 2 parts per billion away from being out of compliance with the three-year average the EPA uses to determine if areas are in attainment, also called the “design value.” With the EPA now considering tightening the standard to a range of 60 to 70 ppb, additional efforts will be needed to ensure the region’s continued compliance. Previous local air quality plans have been a critical component of the success the region has enjoyed in twice avoiding nonattainment designations for stricter ozone standards – years 2004 and 2012 – and the 17 percent reduction in the region’s design value from 89 ppb in 1999 to 74 ppb in 2012. 

The CAC will collect commitments for the action plan through Nov. 15 and, during its Dec. 11 meeting, will consider the plan’s adoption and submission to the EPA. Over the next month, jurisdictions currently participating in the CAC are scheduling time on their agendas to consider which measures to implement for the new plan. The City of Cedar Park on Oct. 3 was the first CAC member to pass a resolution with commitments for the plan. 

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Priority measures the CAC has identified include reducing emissions from fleet vehicles and equipment; implementing commuter trip reduction programs; improving enforcement of existing regulations; planning for transportation emission reduction measures; implementing Ozone Action Day programs; and annually tracking and reporting electricity, gas and fuel consumption. Any measures local jurisdictions or other organizations are willing to commit to will be included in the region’s new action plan. 

Area businesses, organizations and jurisdictions that aren't CAC members but want to add their own pollution-reduction commitments to the plan can send them to Andrew Hoekzema, CAPCOG air quality program manager, by Oct. 31. > Go

> Get the CAC Advisory Committee's list of Ozone Advance recommendations

Mess with Central Texas? Not on RETF’s watch

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tattered couches, chairs and mattresses thrown down a ravine? Old tires sitting in a waterway? Toxic chemicals and piles of garbage stashed just off a park trail? No, thank you!

Incidents of illegal dumping are a nightmare for neighborhoods — including people, pets, wildlife and the environment — but the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force is helping communities fight back.

The multijurisdictional collaboration of 12 government agencies in Central Texas was initiated in May 1996 through a memorandum of agreement. It provides education opportunities, an illegal dumping reporting hotline, environmental sampling and environmental enforcement support to member governments and the State of Texas.

Considered the state's premier formal environmental task force created to address issues regionally, the RETF includes both law and code enforcement officers who share tools and leverage resources to tackle illegal dumping and other environmental crimes. It's primarily funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality through the Regional Solid Waste Grants Program and has annually received grant funding from the CAPCOG Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

RETFIllegalDumpingSign&CutlineIn addition to assisting one another on investigations and pending casework, RETF members meet quarterly to discuss trends, target areas for outreach and education and learn about new and pending legislation. The task force may also hear expert testimony while sharing insight and experiences.

The RETF provides training courses for continuing education credits, conducting two basic and one intermediate environmental law training class per year. Since 2008, more than 550 officers from more than 50 different Texas governmental entities have received training through these important sessions.

The task force also has posted more than 500 no-dumping signs in the CAPCOG region, displaying a toll-free number to report illegal dumping. The hotline receives an average of 120 calls per year. Callers may remain anonymous, and each call is investigated by a licensed law enforcement officer who may collect environmental samples, facilitate site cleanup, pursue enforcement against violators and seek restitution for environmental damages.

Depending on the type of misdemeanor or felony violation, punishment can include costly fines and significant jail time.

Help stop illegal dumping by getting involved. Call the illegal dumping hotline at 1-877-NO-DUMPS to report violations, and save the date - more details to come - for the RETF’s Dec. 12 Basic Environmental Law training.

> Learn more about the RETF 
> Report illegal dumping using the online form

Questions, dilemmas as Medicare open enrollment looms? CAPCOG can help

Monday, September 30, 2013

What new preventive services are now available through Medicare? How can I avoid becoming a victim of fraud while trying to get my Medicare benefits? What Medicare prescription drug plans are available where I live? How do I evaluate the costs in relation to my budget?  

As the upcoming Medicare annual open enrollment gets underway Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2013 – one of the periods when eligible consumers can select or adjust their Medicare prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage Plans – participants will have questions, and CAPCOG can help. 

> Discover the Area Agency on Aging's Benefits Counseling Program

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), affiliated with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, provides free, unbiased, one-on-one counseling and enrollment assistance. The agency’s benefits counselors, who also speak to groups across the region and conduct outreach at community events and health fairs, help consumers who are 60 or older, their caregivers and anyone who’s Medicare eligible.   

AAACAP has launched its fall Medicare open enrollment outreach campaign with various presentations and information tabling at events throughout the region, including enrollment-assistance opportunities scheduled through October 2013. Participants at the enrollment-assistance events are asked to bring a list of their prescription drugs, including frequency and strength.  

> Get the dates, locations and flier for upcoming open-enrollment events

The Capital Area Council of Governments was created by state statute and is governed by elected officials from the 10-county region it serves. Programs and services related to public safety and emergency response, environmental planning, economic and community development and the elderly are delivered at a regional level to leverage funding, maximize cooperation and eliminate duplication. CAPCOG serves Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties.  

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

CAPCOG Executive Committee member takes TARC reins

Friday, September 27, 2013


TARC Immediate Past President Ramsey Cantu (right), mayor of Eagle Pass, Texas, passes the gavel to newly elected President Maurice Pitts, a Lee County Commissioner and CAPCOG Executive Committee member.

Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts, a CAPCOG Executive Committee member, has been elected president of the Texas Association of Regional Councils. The statewide organization, established in 1973, provides training, outreach, legislative representation and other support to area councils of governments.

Pitts, who has represented the Capital Area Council of Governments on the TARC board in various capacities since 2003, starts his one-year term immediately.  

The longtime commissioner brings a robust record of public service to his new role, with nearly 21 years and counting as a Lee County elected official and service on groups such as the Giddings Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Board, the Giddings Economic Development Corp. Advisory Board, the Capital Area Economic Development District and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Committee.

Pitts' tireless work with CAPCOG spans two decades. With his interest in recycling and solid waste, he joined CAPCOG's Solid Waste Advisory Committee in 1994 and continues to serve. Since first being elected to CAPCOG's Executive Committee in 1999, Pitts led the board as chair in 2007, has spearheaded legislative issues and has helped recruit new elected officials to the agency. 

Pitts also is a founding member of CAPCOG's Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization, launched in 1999, for which he continues to serve as vice chair.

Competition for Citizen Corps mobile trailers ends Oct. 4, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) and the Texas Citizen Corps are accepting competitive applications from area corps programs by Oct. 4, 2013, for two mobile outreach trailers complete with accessories and graphics.

 

 

 

 

 

The two awards, each valued at $5,800 retail, are for permitted purposes such as Citizen Corps programs, selected homeland security trainings, approved community events, and CCP activations by local jurisdictions or Texas state government.

Citizen Corps, part of a national initiative launched after 9/11 to help train and mobilize community volunteers in efficient preparedness and response related to disasters, terrorism and other threats, involves collaboration among individuals, government and business.

Texas has about 50 Citizen Corps councils across the state.

> Get the trailer award application
> Learn more about the Texas Citizen Corps
> Explore CAPCOG's Homeland Security Division

Sept. 25, 2013: An Ozone Action Day

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

With high ozone levels forecasted for the Austin area by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Sept. 25, 2013, will mark the fifth Ozone Action Day of the season.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to help curb pollution by combining errands into one trip, vanpooling, cycling, walking, keeping vehicles properly tuned, telecommuting, fueling fleets after 6 p.m. and making other mitigating efforts. Sensitive populations such as young children, the elderly and people with lung disease should avoid exposure by minimizing outdoor exertion.

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 among more vulnerable groups.

> Learn more about ozone alerts and ways to reduce air pollution
> View a map of current ozone levels at TCEQ's website
> Check out TCEQ's Ozone Q&A

Nominations now open for CAPCOG’s 2014 Executive Committee

Monday, September 23, 2013

With a newly elected nominating committee in place, nominations are open through Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, for the Capital Area Council of Governments’ 2014 Executive Committee. 

> Learn more about CAPCOG’s Executive Committee

The 28-member Executive Committee, CAPCOG's governing body, largely comprises city and county elected officials who provide direction to CAPCOG staff on program implementation, budgets, contracts and general policies and procedures for managing the agency. It also serves as the board of managers for the newly created Capital Area Emergency Communications District, the first COG-managed 9-1-1 district in the nation.

Committee members serve a one-year term from January through December and meet at 10 a.m. on second Wednesdays. 

> Get the self-nomination form for eligible local elected officials  

The Executive Committee includes three nonvoting seats for state legislators representing Texas Planning Region 12. Except for the nonvoting seats, only elected officials who are from CAPCOG member cities and counties and serve as their respective jurisdiction’s official General Assembly representative can be nominated.

Jurisdictions with a vacancy on the General Assembly can appoint a representative simultaneously with nominating an Executive Committee candidate. 

> Get the self-nomination form for eligible state legislators

The bylaws require the nominating committee to consider geographic diversity. Continued efforts to maintain a diverse committee also include a balance of city and county representatives from large and small jurisdictions while also taking into consideration a candidate’s support and involvement in various CAPCOG activities. 

CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights will present the nominating committee’s eventual slate of candidates to the General Assembly for a December vote as required by agency bylaws. 

The eight-member nominating committee, also selected from the General Assembly, includes the following participants:

  • Judge Tom D. Bonn, Caldwell County
  • Commissioner Will Conley, Hays County
  • Judge Donna Klaeger, Burnet County
  • Commissioner Cynthia Long, Williamson County
  • Council Member Don Tracy, City of Cedar Park
  • Mayor Caroline Murphy, City of Bee Cave
  • Mayor Debbie Holland, City of Hutto
  • Mayor Alan McGraw, City of Round Rock

> Learn more about CAPCOG's General Assembly

Graduation, perfect pass rate for CAPCOG Cadet Class 69

Friday, September 20, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A graduating cadet from Basic Peace Officer Class 69 receives her certificate from Mike Jennings, director of CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy, on Sept. 20, 2013.

As CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy Class 69 graduated Friday morning, Sept. 20, 2013, at the Texas State Capitol, the group carried an additional badge of success: a 100 percent first-attempt pass rate on the state exam for new peace officers. 

The achievement continues RLEA's years-long pass-rate record, with all but two of the agency's more than 20 cadet classes in the last five years having scored this feat. In addition, more than half the group scored 90 or higher on their state test.

Class 69, which started CAPCOG's six-month Basic Peace Officer Course last spring, comprised more than 25 cadets representing area agencies including the following:

  • Austin Independent School District
  • Bertram Fire Department
  • Elgin Police Department
  • Fayette County Sheriff’s Office
  • Georgetown Police Department
  • Hays County Sheriff’s Office
  • Leander Police Department
  • Lexington Police Department
  • Round Rock Fire Department
  • San Marcos Police Department
  • Taylor Police Department

Cadets must pass the state exam administered by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to become licensed peace officers.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy
> Sign up for the next cadet class or continuing-education opportunity

A closer look: Medicare annual open enrollment

Friday, September 13, 2013

As the annual Medicare open enrollment gets underway from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2013, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging’s Benefits Counseling Program is on hand to help eligible consumers sort the various options.

Each year, Medicare participants get a chance to adjust their health insurance coverage, whether comparing, choosing or changing their Medicare and prescription drug plans for the following 12-month period. Get a closer look at Medicare’s annual open enrollment and CAPCOG’s regional role in navigating the process.

Who’s eligible for Medicare coverage?

People age 65 or older, younger than 65 with certain disabilities or of any age with end-stage renal disease can participate. The Area Agency on Aging’s (AAA) benefits counselors can help consumers 60 or older, their caregivers and anyone who’s Medicare eligible.

What coverage changes does open enrollment allow? ?

  • Switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Ad-vantage Plan — or vice versa. ?
  • Switching Medicare Advantage Plans. ?
  • Switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to one that does — or vice versa. ?
  • Joining, switching or dropping Medicare prescription drug plan coverage.

How does the Area Agency on Aging help Medicare consumers? ?

  • The Benefits Counseling Program offers state-certified staff and volunteers for free, one-on-one, confidential sessions to answer questions, review forms, explain the enrollment process and more. ?
  • Counselors can demystify potential confusion regarding the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, especially as Medicare’s own open enrollment overlaps the new federal health exchange’s kickoff enrollment period that runs Oct. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. ?
  • AAA, funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, partners with other agencies and organizations across the region for trainings and other outreach opportunities. Staff work with the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol, for example, to empower and educate participants on fraud prevention, and AAA maintains office hours at the WellMed Charitable Foundation Senior Community Center in Austin to reach a mutual audience.

How can local governments, organizations and agencies team with AAA for Medicare open enrollment? ?

  • Schedule a benefits counselor presentation for your next public meeting, addressing topics such as Medicare preventive services, medication coverage, eligibility, fraud prevention and more. > Go
  • As the Area Agency on Aging launches its fall 2013 season of free open enrollment presentations across the region, check AAA's Web page for times and dates to share with constituents. > Go

“Capture Your Commute” for a chance at $50 Amazon gift card

Friday, September 13, 2013

From biking and vanpooling to taking transit or walking, your alternative commute could score a prize with Commute Solutions' Sept. 16-30, 2013, contest.

The Capture Your Commute Contest, hosted in partnership with the City of Austin Air Quality Program for commuters living or working in Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, encourages the use of pollution-reducing alternative transportation options.

Once the contest starts, simply submit a photo of your commute to info@commutesolutions.com.

With a $50 Amazon gift card as the prize, Commute Solutions will announce the first winner on Sept. 23, 2013, and the second victor on Sept. 30.  

> Get more contest details at Commute Solutions' website
> Explore the City of Austin's Air Quality Program
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

CAPCOG nabs second national award for innovation

Thursday, September 12, 2013

For the second consecutive year, the Capital Area Council of Governments has won an Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations.

CAPCOG’s GeoMap, a cost-sharing initiative to produce and maintain current geospatial base map data for local jurisdictions, developers, consultants and other interested parties, earned a coveted spot among NADO’s 2013 slate of honorees that included more than 90 projects from 25 states.

The Innovation Award recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations nationwide for improving local and regional economic and community competitiveness. Honors were announced at NADO's recent annual training conference in San Francisco. Last year, CAPCOG also won NADO innovation honors for its role in Pecan Street Inc., an Austin-area economic development project centered on clean energy.

> Get the full list of NADO 2013 Innovation Award winners

Launched in 2002  to maximize taxpayer dollars and help minimize data-development duplication, GeoMap offers cost advantages including an economy of scale. CAPCOG, as project coordinator, secured vendor rates that decrease as product volume increases. Coordinating and pooling the region’s resources increases the total volume of an order, securing lower prices per entity than if single participants separately purchased selected products.

­­­Further discounts are realized when multiple participants share the same area of interest and therefore share the cost. Also, a regional discount is often spread across the project when large organizations – CAPCOG or the Texas Department of Transportation, for example – participate, reducing costs for all.

> Discover CAPCOG's GeoMap

GeoMap's products include aerial photography, Lidar imagery, underwater depth depictions, elevation data, structures, road centerlines, pavement, vegetation and land cover. The program also produces critical data for use in disaster preparedness, 9-1-1 operations, regional planning and infrastructure management.

By securing competitive pricing for services and coordinating area cost-sharing, CAPCOG’s GeoMap has saved the region an estimated $8.6 million since 2002.

TARC seeks leadership award honorees

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Texas Association of Regional Councils is accepting nominations for its annual Jack Colley Citizen Corps Leadership Award.

The award, named for the Texas Division of Emergency Management chief who served from 1998 to 2010, recognizes a Citizen Corps volunteer or group for exemplary leadership and service locally, regionally, statewide or nationally.

Nominations are due to tarc@txregionalcouncil.org by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

> Get the award nomination form
> Learn more about TARC

CAPCOG adds ozone monitor in SW Austin

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments is establishing a new ozone air monitoring station in southwest Austin at Gorzycki Middle School.

The temporary monitor will help provide a more complete and accurate picture of peak ozone levels in the region, especially when winds come out of the northeast.

This winter, CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program will review data collected in September and October to determine whether to continue collecting data at the new location during next year’s ozone season.

> Learn more about air quality monitoring

Task force report looks at growing senior population

Friday, September 06, 2013

From healthy living and affordable housing to greater integration in civic life, a City of Austin task force has released a set of goals and strategies to enhance the lives of older adults while maximizing available resources.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Aging, which included participation from local leaders such as CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging Director Jennifer Scott, produced the recommendations with assistance from various partners including the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Seton Foundations, St. David’s Foundation and an advisory council.

Key categories in the report include Health, Housing and Basic Needs, Transportation and Community Infrastructure, Societal Participation and Inclusion, and Caregivers and Long-Term Supports.

Download the summary of recommendations and strategies or the full 95-page report at the city's website. > Go

CAMPO sets public meetings for 2040 Transportation Plan input

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Fresh on the heels of its recent community survey, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization - a CAPCOG partner - will hold a series of meetings for additional public input on the next regional transportation plan in Central Texas. The eventual 2040 Regional Transportation Plan will replace the current 2035 version.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

In addition to CAMPO's recent survey on transportation priorities and challenges, opportunities to weigh in include the following public meetings, each from 5:30 to 7 p.m.:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 10, Kyle City Hall, 100 W. Center Street, Cedar Park, TX 78613
  • Wednesday, Sept. 11, Cedar Park Recreation Center, 1435 Main Street, Cedar Park, TX 78613
  • Thursday, Sept. 12, Taylor City Hall Auditorium, 400 Porter Street, Taylor, TX 76574
  • Tuesday, Sept. 17, One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325, Austin, TX 78704
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, Marble Falls Public Library, 101 Main Street, Marble Falls, TX 78654
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX 78602
  • Monday, Sept. 23rd, Lockhart City Hall, 308 W. San Antonio Street, Lockhart, TX 78644

Input opportunities also will include a public hearing during CAMPO's Transportation Policy Board meeting, 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, Joe C. Thompson Center, 2405 E. Campus Drive, Austin, TX 78705. 

> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

State grant targets prostitution prevention

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office will award grants from $10,000 to $75,000 for eligible prostitution-prevention projects that begin on or after Sept. 1, 2013, and conclude by Aug. 31, 2014.

Potential grantees - Texas counties, cities and judicial districts - can get the application kit online starting Sept. 1 and must submit a completed version to CJD's eGrants website by Oct. 31, 2013.

The Prostitution Prevention Program does not require matching funds but applicants must meet certain other conditions to eligibility.

> Learn more and apply at the CJD site starting Sept. 1

Got thoughts on transportation? Weigh in with CAMPO survey

Friday, August 23, 2013

Just another week left to take the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's kickoff survey for the next regional transportation plan. The online survey, part of an outreach effort that also will include public meetings and a website for information and comments, closes Aug. 31, 2013.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

Residents, commuters, business owners and others are invited to take the survey, available in English and Spanish. The eventual 2040 Regional Transportation Plan will replace the current 2035 version. 

> Take the survey on transportation priorities and challenges today
> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

TCEQ: Nominations for 2014 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards open ‘til Oct. 4

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Know an individual, a community, a business or an agency committed to stewardship of Texas' natural resources? Tell the world! The public is invited to submit nominations for the 2014 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards by Oct. 4, 2013.

The Office of the Governor and the Texas State Commission on Environmental Quality, honoring contributions to waste reduction, conservation and pollution prevention, will present awards in nine categories: Agriculture, Civic/Community, Education, Individual, Innovative Operations/Management, Pollution Prevention, Technical/Technology, Water Conservation and Youth.

> Nominate your pick today at TCEQ's website
> Explore CAPCOG's Sustainable Places Project

CAMPO and City of Austin launch Aug. 19-30 back-to-school commute contest

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bike, walk or carpool to work? Always wanted to give vanpooling or transit a try? Join the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Commute Solutions' Back-to-School Challenge for a chance at one of five $50 Alamo Drafthouse gift cards. 

The Aug. 19-30, 2013, contest, hosted in partnership with the City of Austin Air Quality Program for commuters living or working in Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, encourages the use of pollution-reducing alternative transportation options.

Simply sign up for the challenge, and log your biking, walking, vanpooling or carpooling trips for the chance to win a prize. When logging trips, participants also can track cost savings, fuel saved, calories burned and pollution reduced. 

> Learn more at CAMPO's Commute Solutions website
> Discover the region's Ozone Advance initiative
> Explore CAMPO, a CAPCOG partner
> Share the contest poster

Regional forum highlights growth, rail and bang for the buck

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Eventbrite - Sustainable Places Project Regional Forum | Growth. Transit. ROI.

Reserve your spot by Aug. 26 to explore robust scenarios of Austin's new development potential — including the $1.2 billion urban rail transit system — with opportunities for increased tax revenue, job creation, expanded affordable housing options, watershed protection, savings by residents who bike or walk to work, local reinvestment of those savings, and efficiencies gained by businesses whose employees’ vehicle expenses decrease. 

The event, CAPCOG’s sixth in a series of regional forums launched last year, will feature local experts in economic development, planning and computer modeling to demonstrate today’s tools to help communities make the most of their resources.

> Learn more, and RSVP today

CAPCOG can help: Tax increment finance districts

Thursday, August 08, 2013

When understood and properly used, tax increment finance districts - also known as "tax increment reinvestment zones” - can be a valuable tool for community and economic development.

TIFs work by having one or more taxing jurisdictions — a city, county or hospital district, for example — collectively commit to setting aside property taxes generated within a selected area or district in excess of the amount currently received. Instead of going to the general fund, this extra revenue — the “increment” — is set aside for direct reinvestment into the TIF district in the form of public infrastructure improvements.

Despite common misconception, a TIF doesn’t involve a tax increase. The tax rate remains the same, but any additional tax revenue produced by an increase in property values within the district helps fund infrastructure improvements and other public investments.

> Explore CAPCOG's Economic Development Program

TIFs serve to fund public improvements in areas otherwise unable to support new development without the improvements. In this way, TIFs are often used to revitalize blighted areas, but they have a fairly wide range of potential applications. Using the added or — through the use of bonds — future tax revenue produced by new development within the district, TIFs can pay for water and sewer lines, pedestrian amenities, parking garages, infrastructure for transit-oriented development and much more. TIFs have even been used to lease parking for free public use on nights and weekends.

A simple pay-as-you-go TIF could involve waiting for enough development along a particular road to then apply the added property tax value generated to improvements along that road, ultimately attracting additional development, and so on. Sometimes TIFs are used to support the issuance of bonds that can fund upfront the infrastructure needed to support a specific development project.

> Learn more about TIFs with CAPCOG's Michael Hennig

At the end of the life of a TIF, the district is formally dissolved and all taxes over and above the original base value of the district are once again given to each respective taxing jurisdiction. When successful, this leads to a larger tax base for these jurisdictions. In addition to the larger tax base, the retired TIF district is now equipped with new infrastructure and development that can serve as assets for future community and economic development.

Tax increment finance districts are versatile, so it’s important to develop a plan for incorporating a given TIF within the target area’s broader strategy. A good place to start? Collaborating with the Capital Area Council of Governments. In addition to its team of professionals who can help create a TIF, CAPCOG offers sophisticated planning tools that can help identify an area’s development potential.

> Discover economic trends with CAPCOG's Data Points blog

State grant for cleaner-running fleets closes Aug. 31

Friday, August 02, 2013

Reminder: Don't miss the Aug. 31, 2013, deadline for a pollution-curbing state grant to replace older forklifts and medium- or heavy-duty diesel vehicles with low-emission fleets. Public, private and nonprofit fleets in selected areas are potentially eligible.

The $6 million Railroad Commission Alternative Fuels Equipment Initiative, funded through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, averages $9,500 per award and covers eligible new equipment that meets current emissions standards and will be operated in one of more than three dozen eligible Texas counties.

Replacement vehicles and equipment fueled by natural gas and propane are expected to help grant program participants cut fuel costs and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 600 tons, according to an earlier Railroad Commission (RRC) of Texas news release.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the RRC's Pat Wilson at 512-475-2911 or patrick.wilson@rrc.state.tx.us soon.

> Download the grant's frequently asked questions flier
> Read the RRC's spring 2013 news release on the grant  
> Learn more about rebates and incentives at the RRC website

Medicare moves closer to Big 5-0; local benefits counseling on tap

Monday, July 29, 2013

As Medicare marks its 48th anniversary July 30, 2013, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's Benefits Counseling Program stands ready to help older adults and other eligible consumers navigate Medicare issues such as health care coverage, plan enrollment, fraud prevention and more.

Medicare, a federal program signed into law along with Medicaid nearly five decades ago, provides health insurance to seniors 65 and older, to younger participants with certain disabilities and to people of any age with end-stage renal disease. The program has helped millions of beneficiaries since its 1965 launch.  

CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's certified staff and volunteers assist eligible consumers on Medicare issues ranging from open enrollment, prescription drug plans and preventive health to supplemental insurance, savings programs and fraud prevention.

Free, confidential counseling for older adults and other eligible Medicare beneficiaries starts with a call to CAPCOG at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062, for one-on-one help. Call today.

> See the U.S. Health & Human Services news release on Medicare's milestone
> Discover CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's Benefits Counseling Program
> Get trained as a benefits counseling volunteer 

Current federal ozone standards stay – for now

Friday, July 26, 2013

With a federal appeals court upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 health-based air pollution standard, the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area remains in compliance with ozone requirements.

Several government, industry and environmental parties petitioned the court to set aside the EPA standard as, respectively, either too stringent or not strong enough to comply with clean air law. The court let stand the ozone standard for protecting public health, but ordered EPA to further review its secondary rule related to environmental protection.

Recent air quality modeling indicates that the region comprising Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties may be able to comply with stricter federal ozone standards expected in 2014 if the area can continue reducing its emissions.

> Read the federal appellate opinion
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program
> Explore local participation in EPA's Ozone Advance program, and take the survey

CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging: Seniors, watch for fraud calls

Monday, July 22, 2013

With Medicare and Social Security scammers often enlisting the phone for their criminal deeds, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging wants seniors to help protect themselves with some simple steps.

The phone is a convenient tool for fraudsters wanting to steal Medicare dollars, wrote Better Business Bureau Education Foundation Program Director Barbara Parrott McGinity in a recent Houston Chronicle special section column. Seniors can be defrauded without even leaving home.

Screening calls with an answering machine, requiring charity solicitors to submit their requests in writing and hanging up when hearing certain tell-tale signs such as an unsolicited request for credit card information are among the ways to fight back, according to the column. Consumers can find even more tips in the full column and get McGinity’s phone number for questions. 

> Read McGinity's column for steps against fraud
> Discover the Agency on Aging's free services

Air quality modeling shows need for continued emissions reductions

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recent modeling indicates that the region comprising Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties may be able to comply with stricter federal ozone standards expected in 2014 if the area can continue reducing its emissions. To make that happen, it’s all hands on deck for residents, business and government.

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Being out of compliance with new ozone standards would have serious consequences for the region, including loss of local control over air quality planning, strict limits on industrial growth, new constraints on transportation planning and costly pollution regulations.

In 2004 and again in 2012, the region barely avoided a formal designation of being a “nonattainment” area for ozone after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued stricter standards. By pursuing voluntary emission reduction strategies, the region could avoid this designation. 

> Learn about ozone pollution and nonattainment at EPA's website

Air quality modeling performed by both the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) and the EPA indicate that by 2015, ozone levels in the region may fall to the upper range of the federal agency’s expected new standards. The 2015 ozone levels likely will be used by EPA to formally designate areas as complying with or running afoul of the new standards.

Local modeling results show that the Austin area’s ozone levels should decline from 74 parts per billion in 2012 to about 70.0 to 70.9 parts per billion by 2015, right at the edge of the 60 to 70 parts per billion EPA will likely propose. These modeling results, however, do not account for some recent emissions research conducted by CAPCOG and AACOG, who will collaborate this year to further refine the estimates.

------------------------------------

Did you know?
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current ozone standard is 75 parts per billion (ppb), averaged over eight hours.
  • EPA determines an area’s emissions compliance by calculating the three-year average of the fourthhighest daily eight-hour ozone average at each monitoring station, a statistic known as the area’s design value. If the design value exceeds the standard, the area is considered in violation.
  • In 2012, the Austin area’s ozone design value was 74 ppb.

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Still, the projections demonstrate an ongoing urgent need for businesses, governments and residents to reduce emissions for continued compliance with federal ozone standards. As part of that effort, CAPCOG is leading a regional initiative to develop and implement reduction measures through EPA’s Ozone Advance Program.

> Take the Ozone Advance survey

Emission reduction strategies can include procurement policies, fleet management practices, local air quality ordinances, transportation emissions reduction measures, promotion of development and growth measures that reflect efficient and sustainable energy use and transportation solutions, public outreach and awareness campaigns and installation of pollution-control devices.

Funding is periodically available for implementing some of these emission reduction strategies through the Texas Railroad Commission’s Alternative Fuels Grant, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign.

> Discover the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition

9-1-1 updates reach new milestone

Monday, July 15, 2013

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division has cleared another round in the quest to further modernize the region’s 9-1-1 infrastructure.

The recent installation of new equipment in 20 area public safety answering points or emergency communication centers ends the first phase of key updates to expand 9-1-1 capabilities.

In addition, the PSAPs now have newer mapping software to better assist 9-1-1 call takers in pinpointing caller locations. Call takers translate the mapping data into location information for police, medical and fire personnel responding to emergencies.

As previously reported, ongoing digital updates will help the PSAPs eventually accept calls from text, video images and other sources beyond the traditional voice-only calls.

> Discover CAPCOG's emergency Communications Division

July 12 marks deadline for interest in statewide solid waste advisory group

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With applications from interested parties due by July 12, 2013, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is still seeking stakeholders to serve on its Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council.

The council, whose charge to help further the efficient and effective management of solid waste includes evaluating state policy impacts and recommending applicable legislation, projects, special studies and funding-related policies, meets four times a year. 

Members serve six-year staggered terms and represent interests such as public agencies, commercial landfill operators, composting and recycling companies, financial advisors, the general public and others.

TCEQ is accepting membership applications in the following eight categories:

  • A representative from a solid waste management organization comprised primarily of commercial operators.
  • A person experienced in the management and operation of a composting or recycling facility or an educator with knowledge of the design and management of solid waste facilities.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population between 100,000 and 750,00.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population between 25,000 and 100,000.
  • A representative of the financial community.
  • An elected official from a county with a population less than 150,000.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population less than 25,000.
  • A representative of the general public. 

For more information or to apply, visit TCEQ's website. > Go

Cadets’ achievement caps record year for Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Monday, July 08, 2013


Cadets from CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Peace Officer Class No. 67.

With its most recent round of cadets having passed the state exam for new peace officers on the first try, CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy closes its 2012 series on a perfect record.

The success marks yet another notch in the academy's pass-rate record, with all but two of the agency’s more than 20 cadet classes in the last five years having scored this feat.

Class 67, which started CAPCOG's Basic Peace Officer Course last November and graduated in early June 2013, comprised 24 students representing the Texas State University Police, Round Rock Fire Department, Elgin Police and Fire departments and Georgetown Police Department.

Cadets must pass the state exam administered by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to become licensed peace officers.

> Discover the Regional Law Enforcement Academy
> Sign up for the next Basic Peace Officer Course

Ozone Advance survey extended through July

Friday, July 05, 2013

Want your say on measures the region should implement to stay in step with federal ozone standards? There’s still time!

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program and the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition have extended the Ozone Advance survey through July. Stakeholders can share their views to help develop a new regional air quality plan for Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

Local elected officials need your input on which strategies the region should pursue to keep the area in compliance with federal ozone standards as part of its Ozone Advance plan, including whether new measures should be adopted, whether existing measures should be modified or whether some measures should end.

Take the survey today at CAPCOG's Ozone Advance page. > Go

CAPCOG issues emissions reduction progress report

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

CAPCOG has filed its final annual progress report under the 8-O3 Flex Plan, an ozone reduction initiative to be replaced next year by regional participation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Ozone Advance program.

The annual report, compiled on behalf of the Clean Air Coalition and submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA, provides updates on the implementation of emission reduction measures that were included in the region’s 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan adopted in 2008.

The report discusses the status of state-implemented programs, regional emission reduction measures and measures implemented by local jurisdictions and other local participating organizations. Details include the number of vehicles subjected to emissions tests, efforts under the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan program, the number of users of the regional rideshare website, local commitments to reduce emissions within respective communities and more.

With the 8-O3 Flex Plan expiring Dec. 31, 2013, CAPCOG, the Clean Air Coalition and area partners are gathering stakeholder input on potential emission reduction measures for the upcoming Ozone Advance initiative.

> Read the final annual report 
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program
> Learn about Ozone Advance, and take the survey

July 4, 2013: Austin area gets second consecutive Ozone Action Day

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

With high ozone levels again forecasted for the Austin area by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, July 4, 2013, will mark the second consecutive Ozone Action Day on which residents and businesses can help curb pollution by carpooling, combining errands into one trip, fueling up after 6 p.m. and making other mitigating efforts.

Sensitive populations such as young children, the elderly and people with lung disease should avoid exposure by minimizing outdoor exertion.

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 among more vulnerable groups.

> Learn more about ozone alerts and ways to reduce air pollution
> View a map of current ozone levels at TCEQ's website

July 3, 2013: Season’s first Ozone Action Day

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

With high ozone levels forecasted for the Austin area by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, July 3 will mark the first Ozone Action Day of the season.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to help curb pollution by carpooling, combining errands into one trip, telecommuting, fueling fleets after 6 p.m. and making other mitigating efforts. Sensitive populations such as young children, the elderly and people with lung disease should avoid exposure by minimizing outdoor exertion.

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 among more vulnerable groups.

> Learn more about ozone alerts and ways to reduce air pollution
> View a map of current ozone levels at TCEQ's website

Seniors reminded to to take steps against heat stress

Friday, June 28, 2013

As capital area temperatures hover in the 100s this summer, CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging reminds seniors to protect themselves from dangerous heat-related illness.

"Older adults can be at greater risk of heat stroke and other problems," said Area Agency on Aging Director Jennifer Scott, "so prevention and protection during the high heat of the season are key."

Seniors have greater challenges in adjusting to heat and sudden temperature changes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

The CDC site, which also discusses the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, advises cool, nonalcoholic beverages; rest; lighter clothing; and other steps to help seniors prevent heat stress.

> Discover more ways to protect seniors from heat stress at the CDC website
> Explore the Area Agency on Aging's services for seniors in the capital area

USDA Rural Housing Preservation Grant closes Aug. 2

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service is accepting grant applications from eligible public agencies and private nonprofits to help low-income homeowners in rural areas repair and rehabilitate their homes.

Housing Preservation Grant funds, estimated at more than $3.8 million, also can be used to help repair and rehabilitate units made available to low-income residents in rental properties and cooperative housing complexes.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, at the applicant's Rural Development State Office. 

> Learn more at the federal Grants.gov website

Letters of interest for state grant on water, sewer work due June 30

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Texas Department of Agriculture is accepting letters of interest by June 30, 2013, for its Small Towns Environmental Program to help fund water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

Qualified projects by eligible cities and counties must include local community participation such as volunteer labor and equipment to show a 40 percent savings from the retail construction cost.

The initial letter marks the first step in the application process, followed by other requirements before final selection. The announcement of awards is expected in December.

> Get details and the application at the TDA website

New technology next step in 9-1-1 updates

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division is moving the region another step closer to Next Generation 9-1-1, a national initiative to expand emergency call-taking capabilities in today’s technologically mobile world.

The division has been training area public safety answering points, or emergency communication centers, on new equipment that eventually will help PSAPs handle calls from sources such as text, video, images and more — in addition to voice-only calls.

Training and equipment installation will continue at PSAPs across the region through summer.

> Explore CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Survey seeks input from I-35 commuters

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do you commute for work along Interstate Highway 35? The City of Austin and the Texas Department of Transportation want your input in a survey to gauge preferences for new travel services and IH-35 improvements.

Available in English and Spanish, the IH-35 Commute Alternatives Survey is part of an ongoing public outreach effort to explore potential mobility improvements along the interstate corridor through Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

Take the 10-minute survey today to help craft important travel solutions for tomorrow. > Go

Community grant applications scored; funding TBD

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Community grant applications scored; funding TBD CAPCOG and the Texas Department of Agriculture have scored the 2013-14 Community Development Block Grant applications for the region’s counties and cities with populations less than 50,000.

The grants aim to expand economic opportunities and improve living conditions with projects that meet U.S. Housing and Urban Development program priorities.

The local grant awards will help support water and sewer-related projects. Applicants will be notified of their award amount once federal allocations to Texas for the 2013 cycle and related regional funding amounts are determined.

> Get the final scoring sheet and learn more about the CDBG program

Air monitoring station comes to Caldwell County

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments has launched its first air quality monitoring station in Caldwell County.

The new addition, installed May 28 at the Lockhart police and EMS station, should help improve understanding of air quality upwind of Austin on high-ozone days when winds come out of the south and southeast and will provide a more complete picture of ozone exposure within the five-county Austin- Round Rock metropolitan statistical area.

CAPCOG’s network of ozone monitors throughout the region includes six permanent stations: two in Williamson County, two in Hays County, one in Bastrop County and another in Fayette County. Those stations supplement the two regulatory ozone monitors in Travis County operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and help characterize ozone transport throughout the region.

Data from CAPCOG’s six existing monitoring stations are reported to TCEQ’s website. Though data from the Lockhart station won't be reported to the state’s site, it will be available monthly upon request.

> See TCEQ's reporting page for ozone averages in selected metro areas
> Learn more about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

New program manager aboard for Area Agency on Aging care coordinators

Thursday, June 06, 2013


           Rene Oldstein

Rene Oldstein has joined CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging as the new program manager for care coordinators.

Oldstein, whose career has spanned banking, real estate and health care, brings diverse experience including service as executive director of a 103-bed assisted living and Alzheimer’s care facility. She also helped in the startup and operation of two 22-bed Alzheimer’s communities in Austin.

Oldstein holds an Assisted Living Manager certification in Texas and an Administrator license in Alabama.

Her passion for working with older adults has included volunteering with organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and participating in fundraisers to benefit seniors.

Footage highlights ugly truth about illegal dumping

Friday, May 31, 2013

From discarded paint and pesticides ditched in a field to old furniture, unwanted tires and piles of brush tossed in a creek, illegal dumping in Central Texas can take a toll on public health, the environment and wildlife. Get an up-close look as KEYE-TV goes on patrol with the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force.

 

> Watch the video and read the story at KEYE's website
> Learn about the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force
> Report illegal dumping online or with the 1-877-NO-DUMPS hotline

FEMA: Senior benefits unaffected by disaster aid

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Seniors can apply for federal disaster assistance without sacrificing Social Security benefits, paying more taxes or dropping their income-based benefit programs, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency news release.

The timely reminder comes amid recent disasters such as the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas, which also resulted in tremendous property loss.

“We want to reassure seniors not to be afraid to apply for assistance. FEMA assistance is available to all eligible survivors to include senior citizens,” FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes said in the release. “Receiving disaster funds will not impact non-FEMA assistance or assistance from other programs.”

> Learn more about FEMA assistance
> Explore CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's services

Austin-area mandatory 10-digit dialing starts June 1; 9-1-1 not affected

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remember to reprogram those phones! With the introductory six-month grace period ending, mandatory 10-digit dialing in Central Texas starts June 1, 2013.

The change, needed to accommodate an expanding population and demand for more phone numbers, also includes a new, additional area code coming this summer. 

First announced last year, the move echoes other communities across the country whose days of seven-digit dialing are a thing of the past. It affects Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Lampasas, Milam, Travis and Williamson counties.

Key components of the change, also called an "overlay":

  • Optional 10-digit dialing, or dialing the applicable area code and seven-digit phone number, ends its six-month introductory period on May 31, 2013.
  • Mandatory 10-digit dialing starts June 1, 2013; calls will not be completed without it.
  • Starting July 1, 2013, new phone lines may receive the new "737" area code, an addition to the area already served by "512."
  • Eventually all new telephone numbers within the 512 area will be assigned the 737 area code.
  • Customers can keep the 512 phone numbers they already have.
  • The three-digit 9-1-1 local emergency number will remain the same.

Customers can contact their local phone-service provider for more information, or visit the "Texas Area Codes" section of the state Public Utility Commission website. > Go

> Read a KUT news story on the region's new area code
> Learn how CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division supports 9-1-1

Area Agency on Aging: Eye on preventive services

Friday, May 10, 2013


From annual flu vaccinations and diabetes self-management training to obesity screening and tobacco counseling, preventive services can make a major difference in helping people protect their health. Learn how CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging’s Benefits Counseling Program helps connect eligible consumers with needed preventive services in the 10-county region.

Funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging has assisted older adults and their caregivers for more than 30 years. As a part of the AAA, the Benefits Counseling Program provides Medicare guidance to adults 60 and older and to Medicare beneficiaries of any age.

> Discover AAA's Benefits Counseling Program, including volunteer opportunities

Consumers can count on the agency’s state-certified benefits counselors to provide confidential, unbiased, one-on-one assistance in understanding Medicare eligibility requirements, navigating open enrollment periods, choosing applicable coverage options, helping prevent fraud, applying for help with drug prescription costs and more. All without having to pay a benefits counseling fee.

Benefits counselors, well-versed in the preventive services available under Medicare, also advise consumers on how to efficiently and cost-effectively access such resources. They don’t refer clients to specific doctors, social workers or other providers but do, for example, provide timely, relevant information about health insurance plans and insurance policies.

Preventive services covered by Medicare has expanded under the federal Affordable Care Act, making it even more important for eligible consumers to seek benefits counseling. Since Jan. 1, 2011, beneficiaries can receive a wide range of preventive services, with most at low to no cost.

> Learn more about Medicare at the official federal website

For example, depending on age, eligible Medicare participants may access free preventive services such as the following:

  • Blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests. ??
  • Cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies. ??
  • Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio or meningitis. ??
  • Counseling on health and wellness topics such as smoking cessation, weight management, nutrition and mental health. ??

How does the Benefits Counseling Program get the word out about Medicare-covered preventive services? A combination of today’s tools and time-honored outreach. The Area Agency on Aging coordinates outreach events with a range of providers and coalitions within the region. Benefits counselors also discuss the services during group presentations and individual sessions. And in addition to sharing program updates, volunteer opportunities, events and more on its website, AAA is planning to raise its social-media profile.

Scheduling free one-on-one confidential benefits counseling, including learning more about preventive services available with Medicare, is as easy as requesting a benefits counselor at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111. Call or refer someone who needs help today!

> Share your support for Older Americans Month, May 2013

CAPCOG honors 9-1-1 pros

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments recently honored area emergency communicators, naming the winners of its annual Telecommunicator Awards contest.

  • Cindy Ledesma, Austin Police Department; Michael Brimble, Cedar Park Police Department; and Tammie Reyna, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, each received a Dedicated Service Award, given for exceptional professionalism.
  • Kim Haba and Brenda Parkinson of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office won the 9-1-1 Team Award, which recognizes two or more telecommunicators for exemplary handling of a specific emergency call involving coordination of multiple public safety responses and other emergency resources.

The regional awards helped mark the April 14 to 20, 2013, National Telecommunicators Week, which was also recognized by a CAPCOG Executive Committee resolution.

> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Data Points brings latest on regional economy

Friday, May 03, 2013

After a brief hiatus, CAPCOG’s monthly economic development update is back with a new look and a new format, making it even easier to keep up with the capital area’s regional economy.

The revamped Data Points, available online and by free email subscription, still delivers analysis on topics important to the regional economy. It now also features “Vital Signs,” a quick-reference section offering essential metrics of the regional economy such as employment growth, building permits and retail sales.

Count on Data Points for updates provided exclusively by CAPCOG’s Economic Development Program, including monthly patents awarded and two new stock indices respectively tracking businesses headquartered in the capital area and major employers in the region.

Data Points additionally will spotlight one of the capital area’s 10 counties each month. Look for these changes and other improvements to come.

> Read the May 2013 issue 
> Explore CAPCOG's Economic Development Program

State clean-air grant makes way for low-emission solutions

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Railroad Commission of Texas has launched a $6 million pollution-curbing grant to help businesses retire older forklifts and medium- or heavy-duty diesel vehicles for low-emission replacements.

“We’re pleased to help operators use Texas-produced alternative fuels to save money and help continue to clean up Texas air,” said Chairman Barry T. Smitherman in a commission news release. “Our program works for large and small operators in eligible counties, whether they have a single piece of warehouse equipment or an entire fleet of heavy-duty trucks.”

The grant, funded through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, averages $9,500 per award and covers eligible new equipment that meets current emissions standards and will be operated in one of the 43 eligible Texas counties.

Replacement vehicles and equipment fueled by natural gas and propane are expected to help grant program participants cut fuel costs and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 600 tons, according to the release.

> Read the Railroad Commission of Texas news release
> Download the grant's frequently asked questions flier

Federal economic development competition for area universities closes June 17

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The U.S. Economic Development Administration's University Center Competition, assisting higher education institutions in developing regional systems that support high-growth entrepreneurship, is accepting applications for the fiscal 2013 funding round through June 17, 2013.

Accredited institutions from the Austin region - including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas - and Denver region can apply for funding, according to the EDA annoucement. Past awards have ranged from $80,000 to $200,000 per recipient. Visit the federal Grants.gov website for more details on the funding competition. > Go

State emissions reduction program accepting rebate applications through June 28

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering rebate grants to reduce air pollution from heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment, with applications accepted until 5 p.m. Friday, June 28, 2013, or until all $5 million in available funding is distributed. 

Funding from TCEQ's Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Rebate Grants Program, aimed at replacing or upgrading selected on-road vehicles of a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds or nonroad equipment with a minimum 25-horsepower engine, is available first come, first served to eligible applicants and expected to go quickly.

Call 800-919-8377 or visit TCEQ's website for application materials and additional eligibility requirements. > Go

CARTPO: US 290 expansion to 4-lane highway a top priority

Monday, April 15, 2013

A recent ranking by Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization members placed expansion of U.S. 290 in Bastrop and Lee counties at the top of the priority list.

> Discover CARTPO

CARTPO, a committee of the Capital Area Council of Governments, offers a forum for elected officials from Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties to discuss and make recommendations on transportation policy, direct planning and data initiatives, oversee the federally prescribed local consultation process and collaborate with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

The committee's March 2013 vote prioritized larger, longer-term regional roadway projects from seven Central Texas counties. Counties were allowed to submit three projects for ranking.

> View the project rankings spreadsheet

Delegates from all nine counties present at the committee's March meeting cast ballots, with counties not allowed to vote on their own projects. Each delegation awarded one to 10 points per project, based on the project's urgency and ability to improve congestion, road conditions and safety.

As with several recent CARTPO project prioritizations, expansion of U.S. 290 in Bastrop and Lee counties to a four-lane divided highway ranked first. The area represents the only non-four-lane portion of U.S. 290, adding to the ranking's significance beyond the capital area.

The Texas Department of Transportation considers the regional recommendations and rankings as funding for area projects becomes available.

> Contact David Fowler, CAPCOG senior planner, for more on the prioritization process

Behind the scenes: 9-1-1 call takers

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Nine-one-one. What is the address of your emergency?”

Call takers at public safety answering points or 9-1-1 communication centers throughout CAPCOG’s 10-county area ask that question more than 3,500 times a day.



Telecommunicators at the Combined Transportation Emergency and Communications Center in northeast Austin, Texas, handle dispatch for various response agencies.

As Central Texas and the nation observes National Telecommunicators Week from April 14 to 20, 2013, get a closer look at the various “hats” 9-1-1 call takers wear in providing diverse support to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and community members.

Plus, learn how CAPCOG helps prepare call takers for their important role.

A typical shift starts with getting updated on calls that occurred previously in the day and calls currently in progress. Staff must be ready to handle a variety of 9-1-1 calls — from the report of a fire, medical emergency or robbery to a request for other police assistance.

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Did you know?
  • The CAPCOG region, comprising Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties, includes more than 600 telecommunicators.
  • CAPCOG leads the region in local implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1, a national initiative to help emergency communication centers accept calls by text messages, photos, videos, alarm systems, vehicle devices such as OnStar and medical-alert systems for seniors — all in addition to voice-only calls.

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Telecommunicators are masters of multitasking. They not only answer 9-1-1 emergency phone calls but also dispatch units over the radio and field calls from citizens with routine inquiries. Plus, staff work with both statewide and national computer systems to share information or assist officers with investigations. They accomplish these tasks with accuracy and in a timely manner to serve the community.

CAPCOG helps contribute to that success. With expertise in 9-1-1-related issues and in telephony, radio systems, operations, networks and police and fire operations, the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division supports the public safety answering points by providing a wide range of training for call takers.

> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications division

New call takers receive training on the 9-1-1 equipment; a 40- hour basic telecommunicator course; and a variety of classes on dispatching, crisis communications, pre-arrival dispatch protocols and other public-safety topics.

Call takers serve as the link between people seeking help in an emergency and the emergency response agencies that arrive on the scene. In honor of call takers' service and important public-safety role, entities including CAPCOG and the State of Texas also have adopted their own resolutions recognizing National Telecommunicators Week.

> Read the Texas proclamation

Getting data a cinch with GeoMap

Monday, April 08, 2013

From aerial and Lidar imagery to depictions of underwater depth measurements, CAPCOG’s Geospatial Base Mapping Project, “GeoMap,” makes it easy to get crucial, quality planning data without breaking the budget.

Want customized maps for projects such as appraisals, growth management, conservation, local development or disaster response? No need for a lengthy procurement process. GeoMap’s competitively selected vendor provides the customized map data, with CAPCOG managing the vendor contract and coordinating quality assurance and control.

Project participants historically have received several dollars of data for every dollar contributed. As current interest in regional 6-inch aerial photos for 2014 grows, for example, the resulting product may include cost-sharing and volume discounts for all participants.

> Discover GeoMap, which currently has 19 participating governments

Texas grant for alternative fuels closes April 26, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Texas State Energy Program is accepting grant applications from local governments and other eligible public entities to transition or convert their fleets to alternative fuels.

Alternative fuels can include compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum, liquefied natural gas, electrical power or hybrids of conventional fuel and battery electrical power.

The overall pool of available funding comprises about $1,400,000, with selected maximum grants per applicant and per vehicle and a matching-funds requirement equal to 20 percent of total project costs.

Applications for the Alternative Fuels Initiatives Grant Program are due to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts office by 2 p.m. CT Friday, April 26, 2013.

Visit the State Energy Conservation Office website for more details. > Go

Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area seeks volunteers

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging’s Benefits Counseling Program, whose certified staff helps older adults and other eligible consumers in Central Texas navigate Medicare issues such as health care coverage, plan enrollment, fraud prevention and more, is seeking caring volunteers.

The program has scheduled a free four-part series of volunteer training sessions from April through August 2013. Volunteers will learn about topics ranging from Medicare programs, eligibility guidelines and prescription drug coverage to documentation requirements, Medigap insurance and community outreach. Training also will include hands-on practice with mock consumer phone calls.  

Applicants are encouraged to reserve class spots early by calling 512?916?6022 or sending an email to bcpvolunteer@capcog.org. Space is limited, and registration closes five days before each class.

Please note: Insurance agents, insurance brokers, and financial planners are not eligible to volunteer with the Benefits Counseling Program.

> Get the training schedule
> Download the volunteer application
> Explore the Benefits Counseling Program
> Discover other Area Agency on Aging volunteer options

2-year TX anniversary for MyPermitNow

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

MyPermitNow, a customizable Web-based application for land-use permitting, planning, addressing and code enforcement, has hit the two-year mark in Texas.

Since its capital area launch, the time-saving software has operated successfully in five cities and one county, with six local governments expected to implement it soon and several signing up now.

Created by government to help local jurisdictions streamline their permitting and related processes, MyPermitNow features low monthly fees; no hourly charges for installation or technical support; and greater efficiencies that help jurisdictions save developers, contractors and residents time and money.

Learn more about the software by contacting CAPCOG senior planner David Fowler. > Go

CAPCOG law enforcement cadets score another perfect pass rate

Monday, March 25, 2013


Cadets from CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy Class 66 prepare to graduate March 22, 2013, in Austin, Texas.

Another class of CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy cadets has achieved a 100 percent first-attempt pass rate on the state exam for new peace officers.

The success marks another notch in the academy's pass-rate record, with all but two of the agency's approximately 20 cadet classes in the last five years having accomplished this feat.

What contributes to the academy's high pass rate? "Hard work and personal time spent with cadets," said RLEA Director Mike Jennings. "We work with them one-on-one and as a group."

Class 66, which started CAPCOG's six-month Basic Peace Officer Course last fall, comprised 28 cadets representing area agencies such as Cedar Park Police Department, Round Rock Fire Department, Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, San Marcos Police Department and Texas State University.

Cadets must pass the state exam administered by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to become licensed peace officers.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy
> Explore upcoming RLEA training opportunities

EPA seeks Smart Growth Achievement honorees

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 12th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, recognizing innovative communities, is accepting nominations through 5 p.m. Eastern time Friday, April 12, 2013.

Public-sector, private-sector and nonprofit entities can apply for the award, which honors use of "smart-growth principles to improve communities environmentally, socially and economically," according to the EPA website. Competition categories include "Built Projects"; "Corridor and Neighborhood Revitalization"; "Plazas, Parks and Public Places"; and "Policies, Programs and Plans."

The competition will culminate in a December 2013 awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Learn more at EPA's website. > Go

CAPCOG law enforcement training: opportunities available now

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

RLEA cadets
Cadets practice during a class conducted by the state-accredited CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.

CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy is offering training opportunities for aspiring peace officers and veteran professionals this spring.

The academy is accepting applications for its eight-month Basic Peace Officer Course, or cadet training, starting May 6, 2013, in Bryan, Texas. The part-time night class, offered in cooperation with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments and designed to meet the needs of working adults, includes academic instruction and preparation for the state licensing exam.

For current law enforcement professionals, CAPCOG’s continuing-education opportunities include the five-day Firearms Instructor Course starting March 18; the free class Focus on Reducing Impaired Driving Among Youth, March 22; the five-day Basic Instructor Course in mid-May; and more.

Also, CAPCOG’s Use of Force Simulator, a state-of -the-art training tool that helps law enforcement personnel prepare for a variety of sensitive situations, is available. Contact RLEA Director Mike Jennings to schedule the tool, which any agency that employs peace officers can use. > Go

> Explore the Basic Peace Officer Course
> Learn more about the Use-of-Force Simulator
> Discover CAPCOG's continuing education for law enforcement professionals

CAPCOG offers dispatcher applicant testing

Monday, March 11, 2013

CAPCOG Emergency Communications offers public-safety dispatcher, call-taker, and telecommunicator applicant testing for Public Safety Answering Points, or 9-1-1 communication centers, throughout the 10- county region.

Call-testing helps PSAPs select employees with the critical skills and abilities necessary to succeed on the job.

For more information or to schedule testing for your applicants, contact Devin Huntley. > Go

Regional forum showcases smart growth scenario-planning tools

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

With three speakers, free breakfast and an interactive demonstration of scenario-planning tools to help Central Texas cities shape future growth, the Capital Area Council of Governments Sustainable Places Project will present the free regional forum, Planning for Prosperity, 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Austin. 

The forum, open to local governments, planning consultants, real estate developers and the public, marks the fourth in a series of SPP regional forums and will demonstrate a suite of Web-based interactive tools aimed at helping local jurisdictions and their communities develop and explore scenarios for a more efficient, financially sustainable future.

Speakers will include urban and regional planning expert John Fregonese of Fregonese Associates and members of the University of Texas analytics tool team.  

Eventbrite - Sustainable Places Project Regional Forum: Planning for Prosperity

It all began a decade ago, as the nonprofit Envision Central Texas and consultant Fregonese launched a planning effort to help the region manage future growth. The "activity centers" concept emerged as a preferred vision: nodes of growth – connected by transportation options – with pedestrian-oriented housing, employment, education and retail opportunities.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization 2035 Plan continued that vision, aligning transportation funding with activity centers. 

> Read the CAMPO 2035 Plan

Carrying the activity centers concept forward, CAPCOG and regional partners have teamed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and others to host the Sustainable Places Project, an initiative integrating planning, analytics tools and community visioning to help Central Texas governments maximize public-sector return on investment.

The project includes demonstration sites – in Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto and Lockhart – that will use scenario-planning tools developed in collaboration with UT. 

> Learn more about the Sustainable Places Project

Forum participants will learn how these Web-based tools work on a range of scales, whether assessing the feasibility of developing a few individual parcels or looking at the big picture of housing, jobs and transportation options across strategically connected centers throughout the region. Attendees will get a hands-on look at tomorrow's tools today. Register for the limited-seating free forum by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26. > Go

CAPCOG’s Use-of-Force Simulator: a timely training tool

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

CAPCOG Use-of-Force Simulator
CAPCOG's mobile Use-of-Force Simulator helps law enforcement prepare for situations such as active-shooter threats.

With recent mass shootings nationwide putting the spotlight on prevention, preparedness, protection and response, ongoing professional training for peace officers holds a crucial role in helping law enforcement keep communities safe.

For 18 years and counting, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy has been training new and veteran police officers in using force and responding to emergency situations. A key tool? CAPCOG’s Use-of-Force Simulator, which provides active-shooter training to law enforcement agencies and police cadets.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

The simulator, an integrated system using software, a video screen and hundreds of potential incident scenarios, provides a realistic use-of-force training that helps participants develop the skills required for law enforcement personnel armed with both lethal and less-lethal weapons. Scenario content sets include various potential outcomes relevant to patrol; tactical matters; corrections; airport, school or military situations; drug enforcement; security; and active-shooter incidents. The simulator’s mobility — it’s contained in a wheeled trailer — allows for use at permanent facilities or off-site locations.

A typical training session lasts about 45 minutes. To begin, the simulator operator first refreshes the officer or cadet on use-of-force issues and departmental policy. The student then receives a weapon similar to what he or she carries while on duty. The simulator weapon does not fire live rounds but produces the same sound and recoil of a live weapon upon discharge.

> Learn more about RLEA cadet training

The officer or cadet is then shown a video scenario during which the student must ask questions, give commands and ultimately decide the amount of force needed to resolve the situation. Depending on the student’s questions or commands, the simulator operator is able to escalate or deescalate the scenario with the onboard computer system.

Once the session ends, the instructor and student review it using video replay.

> Get the current lineup of continuing-education classes for peace officers

Participants can expect all the hard realities of a real encounter. Judgment calls, indecision, sudden fear, partial understanding, blind-side surprise, eye-blink response, physical and psychological responses and life or death choices all contribute to the training experience that conditions the officer or cadet for survival.

The simulator features exceptionally realistic video and environments for all aspects of firearms handling, including marksmanship, tactical strategies, observation skills, scene assessments, interactive dialogue, problem-solving and decisionmaking. The tool provides for practice of high-stress, highliability incidents that can be more costly or difficult to recreate by conventional methods.

In operation locally since August 2010, the simulator has visited every county that CAPCOG serves. Personnel trained on the simulator report that it has helped them during critical incidents such as an officer-involved shooting. One local officer reported that the training helped prepare him to save not only his life but other officers during a recent such incident.

> Contact RLEA Director Mike Jennings today to schedule the simulator

A closer look: helping the region manage household hazardous waste

Monday, March 04, 2013

HHW

With the average home potentially containing as much as 100 pounds of environmentally harmful products, promoting responsible household hazardous waste management is a primary goal of CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program. Here’s a closer look at how CAPCOG makes it happen.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) includes leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients. Products such as paints, thinners, varnishes, cleaners, oils, batteries, cellphones, automotive fluids, pool chemicals and bug and weed killers may be considered HHW. These products are labeled “DANGER,” “WARNING,” “CAUTION,” “TOXIC,” “CORROSIVE,” “FLAMMABLE” or “POISON” and may prove harmful to people, pets and the environment when used, stored or discarded improperly.

> Explore CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program or household hazardous waste

CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program maintains the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan, which provides a structure for solid waste planning in the region. A key goal? Encouraging local and regional HHW collection and diversion programs.

To that end, CAPCOG promotes (1) coordination of public and private partnerships to share costs and provide services, (2) development of collection programs that encourage permanent reuse facilities and (3) cost-efficient collection programs other than one-day events.

CAPCOG also manages pass-through grants provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which may fund permanent HHW collection facilities or one-day collection events where permanent facilities aren’t available.

CAPCOG facilitates the regional plan’s goals and objectives through the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) and the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program. Committee participants help establish and promote priorities for solid waste planning, including HHW initiatives.

During the last funding cycle, the SWAC approved support for three upcoming HHW initiatives: Burnet County HHW and tire collection, scheduled April 20, 2013; a new City of Lakeway HHW Facility; and a Bastrop County HHW education and collection event on May 4.

> Learn more about the 2012-13 solid waste grant awards

CAPCOG’s 10-county region includes four permanent facilities that accept household hazardous waste from residents:

  • City of Austin HHW Facility, 2514 Business Center Drive, 512-974-4343 — Free to city of Austin and Travis County residents; fee charged to other residents.
  • Williamson County Recycle Center, 495 County Road 156, at FM 971, Georgetown, 512-869-7287 — Free to Georgetown and Hutto residents; fee to Williamson and Burnet county residents.
  • City of San Marcos HHW Facility, 630 E. Hopkins St., 512-393-8440 — Free to Hays County residents.
  • City of Round Rock Recycling Facility, 310 Deepwood Drive, 512-218-5559 — Free to Round Rock Water utility customers with copy of Round Rock Water utility bill and a driver’s license.

> For more information, contact Ken May, CAPCOG's solid waste program manager

Hennig to helm CAPCOG Economic Development Program

Monday, March 04, 2013


Michael Hennig

The Capital Area Council of Governments has hired Texas native Michael Hennig as its new Economic Development Program manager.

Hennig joins CAPCOG from Austin-based AngelouEconomics, a nationally recognized economic development and site selection firm where he served as president.

With his extensive public- and private-sector experience on tap, Hennig will oversee the development and execution of services that support local and regional economic development activities. This includes analyzing and sharing economic data, managing special projects that support regional planning efforts and economic prosperity and more.

Hennig, whose project experience reaches across the U.S. and abroad, holds a Master of Public Administration degree in economic development from the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Urban and Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Business Administration in entrepreneurship from Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business.

CAPCOG Q&A added to Emergency Notification System request for proposals

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments has added a question-and-answer update to the collection of materials for its recently published Capital Area Regional Emergency Notification System request for proposals.

The Q&A addresses questions received during the initial inquiry period after CAPCOG's early-February release of the RFP.

Proposals are due at CAPCOG's Austin, Texas, office by 4 p.m. CST Friday, March 8, 2013. 

> Learn more, and get the RFP materials

Ozone Advance Web page launches; survey offers chance to weigh in

Thursday, February 21, 2013

CAPCOG and partners have launched a new online resource to help gain stakeholder input on an upcoming regional ozone-reduction plan.

The project's Web page, which offers details on the emissions-reduction initiative, tools for stakeholder outreach and individual pollution-curbing efforts and a look at next steps - is now live at www.capcog.org/ozoneadvance.

With the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition’s (CAC) acceptance into the Ozone Advance Program, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative to help areas stay in step with federal ozone standards, stakeholders are invited to help develop a new regional air quality plan.

CAC, a Capital Area Council of Governments committee, comprises five area counties charged with implementing the 8-Hour O3 Flex Plan, an ongoing regional initiative to reduce ozone pollution.

Through its advisory subcommittee, the coalition kicked off outreach efforts in February 2013 by presenting a training for interested local government staff and others willing to participate in helping obtain public input. Participating outreach partners would help spread the word about the OAP’s purpose, ozone air quality challenges facing the region and more.

In addition to the tools already available, the new Web page will also soon include links to a calendar for outreach organizers and to an Ozone Advance brochure. 

Organizations interested in outreach training or offering input on the plan as stakeholders can contact Andrew Hoekzema. > Go

> Take the survey at CAPCOG's new Ozone Advance page

Executive Committee plans up-close look at mobile communications resource

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee will get a chance to kick the tires of Williamson County's emergency mobile communications vehicle during the committee's 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, session at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, in Austin.

The Regional Mobile Communications Platform 3 vehicle, made possible in part by federal Homeland Security Grant Program funds awarded through CAPCOG, can provide rapid mobile voice and data communications support - including replacing a damaged or destroyed 9-1-1 communication center - in the event of a natural disaster or other major event. Staff from Williamson County's Emergency Communications Department will brief the committee on RMC-3's capabilities and provide a tour.

Also on the meeting agenda: a presentation on regional water issues, updates to Travis County representation on the committee and review or approval of selected agency business. 

As CAPCOG's governing body, the 28-member Executive Committee - including three nonvoting legislators representing State Planning Region 12 - largely comprises city and county elected officials nominated and selected annually to provide direction to CAPCOG staff regarding program implementation, budgets and contracts, and general policies and procedures for managing the agency. Members meet the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

CAPCOG, serving Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties, helps its member governments and organizations maximize opportunities and eliminate duplication on key regional issues.

> Get the agenda packet
> Learn more about CAPCOG

Ozone Action Plan outreach gets under way

Monday, February 11, 2013

With the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition’s (CAC) acceptance into the Ozone Advance Program, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative to help areas stay in step with federal ozone standards, stakeholders are invited to help develop a new regional air quality plan.

CAC, a Capital Area Council of Governments committee, comprises five area counties charged with implementing the 8-Hour O3 Flex Plan, an ongoing regional initiative to reduce ozone pollution. 

Through its advisory subcommittee, the coalition kicked off outreach efforts this month by presenting a training for interested local government staff and others willing to participate in helping obtain public input. Participating outreach partners would help spread the word about the OAP’s purpose, ozone air quality challenges facing the region and more.

Organizations interested in outreach training or offering input on the plan as stakeholders can contact Andrew Hoekzema. > Go

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program
> Learn more about EPA's Ozone Advance Program

CAPCOG seeking ENS project proposals by March 8, 2013

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals by March 8, 2013, to provide an emergency notification system for its 10-county area. Contact Ed Schaefer at eschaefer@capcog.org to register, receive a hard copy of the RFP and scope of work and ensure receipt of any addenda or related communication.

> Get the details, and download RFP materials

Grant proposals for rural community design workshops due March 5, 2013

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) is seeking grant proposals from rural communities by 5 p.m. EST Tuesday, March 5, 2013, to plan and host facilitated workshops addressing local livability including quality of life and economic vitality. Selected hosts will receive a $7,000 grant and technical assistance to develop and conduct the resepctive two-day workshop in their area. Cash or in-kind matching funds required. Get details at the CIRD website. > Go

CAPCOG recognizes Constable Dussetschleger for longtime service

Friday, February 01, 2013


CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy Director Mike Jennings (right) heartily thanks Constable Dussetschleger for longtime volunteerism.

The Capital Area Council of Governments has honored Lee County Constable L.E. “Buster” Dussetschleger for a robust record of CAPCOG volunteerism. 

Dussetschleger, with 40 years’ experience in law enforcement, has volunteered with CAPCOG in various capacities including more than three decades of participation on the Law Enforcement Education Committee, service on the Homeland Security Task Force and teaching duties with the Regional Law Enforcement Academy. He was recently presented with a framed certificate of appreciation for his dedication and commitment.

Though newly retired, Dussetschleger will continue serving on the LEEC.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Law Enforcement Education Committee
> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

CAPCOG Q&A, agenda added to GeoMap request for proposals

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments has added a question-and-answer update and a pre-proposal conference agenda to the collection of materials for its recently published GeoMap RFP. 

The Q&A addresses questions received during the initial inquiry period after CAPCOG's mid-January release of a request for proposals to create and update geospatial map data in a two-year regional project.

With proposals due at CAPCOG's Austin, Texas, office by 4 p.m. CST Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, potential applicants can ask additional technical questions at the Jan. 31 pre-proposal session. 

> Learn more, and get the RFP materials

Feb. 28 marks Silver-Haired Legislature filing deadline

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Want to serve in the 15th Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL), representing senior constituencies for a two-year term? Be sure to file by Feb. 28 for May 28, 2013, elections. Candidates must be 60 or older, registered voters and residents of the Texas district they wish to represent.

The 69th Texas Legislature authorized the TSHL in April 1985 for participants to identify issues and concerns of their peers and propose solutions. In a tradition spanning more than two decades, the 14th TSHL met last September at the Texas State Capitol and adopted 65 resolutions to address the needs of older Texans.

Candidates for the 15th Texas Silver-Haired Legislature whose residence is within the Capital Area Agency on Aging's 10-county jurisdiction should contact agency director Jennifer Scott for information on filing, duties of the office, necessary forms and deadlines. > Go

> Download the election kit
> Learn more about the TSHL
> Sign up for a candidates' course about the TSHL

CAPCOG seeking GIS map project proposals by Feb. 14

Thursday, January 17, 2013

CAPCOG is seeking proposals to create and update geospatial map data in a two-year initiative for the capital area. The RFP process includes a voluntary pre-proposal conference in late January, with proposals due at CAPCOG's Austin office by 4 p.m. CST Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.

> Learn more about the RFP

Federal bureau seeks nominations for Congressional Badge of Bravery

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Know a law enforcement hero? Tell the world! Law enforcement agency heads are invited to submit nominations for the federal Congressional Badge of Bravery by Feb. 15, 2013. The award, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, honors federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officers for exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty during the 2012 calendar year. Participants must provide their nominations online.

> Learn more, and nominate someone today

New report shows regional investments in solid waste reduction

Friday, January 11, 2013

With funding from the state's Regional Solid Waste Grants Program, CAPCOG distributed more than $860,000 for recycling projects and other waste-management initiatives among local jurisdictions across the capital area.

Learn about efforts by CAPCOG and similar agencies across the state to curb illegal dumping, increase material recovery and ensure proper waste disposal in a newly released fiscal 2011 report from the Texas Association of Regional Councils.

> Download the report from TARC's website

CAPCOG Executive Committee gets Congressional guest

Thursday, January 10, 2013

USRepRogerWilliams1-13The first session of CAPCOG's 2013 Executive Committee included a visit from newly elected U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, who introduced himself and welcomed the group as its Jan. 9 meeting and legislative forum got under way. 

Williams, representing the 25th Congressional district, will serve on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Committee on the Budget, joining fellow members of the North Texas delegation in the 113th Congress.

CAPCOG's Executive Committee convened at the Robert E. Johnson Legislative Conference Center in downtown Austin to elect officers, hear staff updates, review or approve selected agency business and discuss regional service priorities with state legislators. Topics included emergency communications, homeland security, air quality, solid waste management, law enforcement training, rural transportation, aging programs and economic development.

As CAPCOG's governing body, the 28-member Executive Committee - including three nonvoting legislators representing State Planning Region 12 - largely comprises city and county elected officials nominated and selected annually to provide direction to CAPCOG staff regarding program implementation, budgets and contracts, and general policies and procedures for managing the agency. Members meet the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

CAPCOG, serving Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties, has helped its member governments and organizations maximize opportunities and eliminate duplication on key regional issues for more than 40 years. Formed in 1970, the agency is one of 24 councils of governments in Texas.

CAPCOG launches Blanco County Transportation and Economic Development Plan

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments and partners have launched an initiative that for the first time will result in an integrated economic development strategy and official major thoroughfare plan for a rural county in the region.  

The upcoming Blanco County Transportation and Economic Development Plan, expected to cover the current period to 2035, will identify opportunities and solutions to help residents, businesses, local leadership and other stakeholders travel more efficiently and maximize the county's economic potential.

With the initiative proposed to include an advisory committee, public involvement and other key components, project team members from CAPCOG, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute got efforts under way with a Nov. 27 opening presentation to the Blanco County Commissioners’ Court.

A draft of the plan is expected to be completed by August 2013. 

> Download the November 2012 presentation

CAPCOG workshops for state criminal justice funds rescheduled

Friday, January 04, 2013

CAPCOG's Homeland Security division has rescheduled its two January 2013 workshops for potential grant applicants interested in new state funding opportunities regarding criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim services.

The Jan. 7 workshop on the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and the Juvenile Service Projects funding has been rescheduled to Jan. 18. The Jan. 14 session on the General Victim Assistance - Direct Services Programs grant and the Violent Crimes Against Women Criminal Justice and Training Projects funding has moved to Jan. 23. Both rescheduled workshops will run from 9 a.m. to noon at CAPCOG's Austin offices.

After potential grantees attend the mandatory workshop for the grant in which they're interested and submit their applications to the Governor's Criminal Justice Division, the state agency will forward applications to CAPCOG for review, prioritization and recommendations.

> Learn more

CAPCOG Executive Committee to elect officers, meet with legislators

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments' 2013 Executive Committee will hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the Robert E. Johnson Legislative Conference Center in downtown Austin to elect officers, hear staff updates, review or approve selected agency business and discuss regional service priorities with state legislators.

As CAPCOG's governing body, the 28-member Executive Committee - including three nonvoting legislators representing State Planning Region 12 - largely comprises city and county elected officials nominated and selected annually to provide direction to CAPCOG staff regarding program implementation, budgets and contracts, and general policies and procedures for managing the agency. Members meet the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

Immediately following the January meeting, the Executive Committee will host a Capital Area Legislative Delegation Luncheon to discuss legislative priorities for regional services related to emergency communications, homeland security, air quality, solid waste management, law enforcement training, rural transportation, aging programs and economic development.

CAPCOG, serving Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties, helps its member governments and organizations maximize opportunities and eliminate duplication on key regional issues. 

> See the 2013 Executive Committee roster
> Download the meeting agenda
> Learn more about CAPCOG

Central Texas sees decline in college-educated residents

Friday, December 28, 2012

In recent years, the tremendous reservoir of human capital within Central Texas has proved crucial to sustaining the region’s enviable economic performance. Central Texas bests virtually every other U.S. region in annual net influx of college-educated residents per capita, but emerging trends suggest a decline in the area's education-attainment rates. Explore this shift and more in CAPCOG's newly released State of the Region 2012 report. > Go

CAPCOG helps area charities in spirit of holiday season cheer

Saturday, December 22, 2012

 CAPCOGCharitableGiving2012

With employee fundraising, CAPCOG was able to donate a total of more than $600 to two area charitable organizations this holiday season.

CAPCOG contributed to Operation Blue Santa, a longtime Austin Police Department outreach effort to bring food and gifts to families in need around Christmastime and Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which helps people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. 

Staff raised the money by buying "dress-down days," which allowed them to wear jeans and denim at work during selected days in December. Participants could also purchase dress-down days for their colleagues.

CAPCOG delivered a donation check to both charities the week before Christmas. Happy holidays!

CAPCOG’s 2012 annual report now available

Saturday, December 15, 2012

CAPCOG2012Annual ReportThumbnail

Did you know? The Capital Area Council of Governments has added more than 64,000 cellphones and 146,000 Voice over Internet Protocol phones to the regional emergency notification system, which has been used to warn residents of threats posed by wildfires, floods, chemical releases and criminal activity. Learn about the ENS and more in CAPCOG's newly published 2012 annual report.

> Download the annual report

CAPCOG honors Mike Fisher for regional leadership

Thursday, December 13, 2012

MikeFisherRegionalLdrshpAward12-12-12

Mike Fisher, Bastrop County's emergency management coordinator, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Capital Area Council of Governments' Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award.

The ninth annual award, announced at the CAPCOG General Assembly's annual meeting on Dec. 12, honors significant efforts in regional cooperation within the 10-county capital area. Fisher was recognized for long-standing dedication to wildfire prevention and for tireless support and commitment to emergency response with a regional approach.

The honoree’s distinguished career includes experience in various crucial capacities with the City of Bastrop and Bastrop County, including a decade of service as the city’s fire chief. In addition, Fisher is a founding member of the Capital Area Wildfire and Incident Management Academy at Camp Swift in Bastrop County. This year marks the 15th continuous offering of the academy, held each October.   

In September 2011, Fisher served as the local incident commander along with state and federal counterparts to manage the Bastrop County Complex Wildfire.

Fisher is currently assigned as deputy team leader of the Capital Area Type 3 Incident Command Team; serves on the state’s Emergency Management Preparedness Grant Advisory Committee; and since 2006 has actively served on CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Task Force, which provides regional coordination and response for major events such as the Bastrop County fires.

Among his many honors and awards, Fisher also was named Citizen of the Year by the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce in 2011.

The CAPCOG award is named after former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, who served as the agency’s first chair in 1970. Griesenbeck, who  understood the need for collaboration across city and county lines, played a key role in creating the 24-member Texas Association of Regional Councils.

> Explore CAPCOG's Homeland Security division

GIS: new regional base map ready to download

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A new version of the 10-county general base map, updated by CAPCOG’s team of geospatial information experts, is now available online. The map includes administrative boundaries such as county boundaries, city limits and adjacent councils of governments; major roads; water features; state parks; and census-designated places.

In addition to large- and small-format printing sizes, the map is available in the individual layer files used to create the base map or as an Esri map package file. For questions, send an email to GIS analyst John Arkinson.

> See the new base map
> Get details on free map-downloading or CAPCOG's nominal-cost map-printing

CAPCOG regional forum tackles growth, housing trends

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

With the Central Texas five-county metropolitan area population expected to double by 2035 – adding about 1.7 million new residents – where will people live, what will housing look like and how can governments prepare for such robust change? Join the discussion at a free regional forum presented by the Capital Area Council of Governments’ Sustainable Places Project (SPP), 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Thompson Conference Center, University of Texas at Austin, 2405 East Campus Drive, Austin.

> Get census and demographic data from CAPCOG

The presentation, “Central Texas Market Trends, Preferences and Opportunities,” marks the third in a series of SPP regional forums and will explore the future of housing and real estate market trends for the area based on projected population and demographic changes in the next 20 years. The event will feature two renown experts in land use, transportation, housing and community planning:

•  Dr. Arthur Nelson, presidential professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah and director of the Metropolitan Research Center, is a scholar, consultant and prolific author of nearly 20 books and more than 300 other works. His work, which has helped shape the field of urban and regional planning, currently focuses on how demographics, economics and housing preference choices will reshape America's metropolitan areas over the next generation.

•  Scott Polikov, a town planner and finance consultant, is president of Fort Worth-based Gateway Planning Group. Polikov has directed multiple planning efforts in Central Texas, integrating  transportation economics in community planning. He will share his ideas on design and implementation of walkable urban neighborhoods in rural communities, suburban areas and downtowns.

> Discover the Sustainable Places Project

John Hockenyos, local economist and founder of TXP Economics, has been invited to moderate the discussion and tie the speakers’ concepts to the challenges facing cities in the region.

The Sustainable Places Project is hosted by the Capital Area Council of Governments and a regional consortium of local governments and organizations that have been collaborating since November 2011 to implement a $3.7 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Key components of the project include working directly with selected demonstration sites in Elgin, Dripping Springs, Lockhart, Hutto and Austin and developing an analytic tool to help local governments maximize public-sector return on investment.

Registration is required. RSVP to Ange Kogutz at regionaladmin@capcog.org, and learn more about the free event. > Go

TCEQ extends emissions-reduction grant deadline to Dec. 19, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The deadline to apply for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants program has been extended to Dec. 19, 2012. 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 such as heavy-duty vehicles, nonroad equipment, locomotives, marines vessels and other eligible items. Vehicles or equipment primarily used for competition or recreation are ineligible. > Learn more, and apply today

Ozone nonattainment: What’s at stake for the region?

Monday, November 26, 2012

With another ozone season over, greater Austin has notched a fourth consecutive year of keeping in step with federal ozone standards. The region has even become the state’s largest metropolitan area for which pollution levels measured by local monitors are indicating compliance with all federal air quality standards.

The challenge? Staying compliant in the face of potentially tighter ozone standards that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering for 2014. Without a substantial reduction in nitrogen oxides emissions by 2015, the region could find itself afoul of revised federal standards, significantly impacting regional economic development and transportation planning.

> Get to know the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition

EPA must review selected federal air quality standards every five years for potential science-based changes that could further protect human health, says CAPCOG Air Quality Manager Bill Gill. With new proposed ozone standards expected next year and finalized in 2014, preliminary communications from EPA’s Science Advisory Committee indicate some members believe the research supports significantly tightening the standards.

If an area is designated “nonattainment,” or in violation of federal ozone standards, the state must then adopt a plan to bring the area into attainment, including a series of mandatory emission-control measures. After reviewing the plan, EPA may approve it or reject and replace it.

A nonattainment designation would mean that local jurisdictions that have led the effort to comply with federal ozone standards over the last 12 years would no longer be the primary decision-makers selecting air quality strategies. Instead, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA would assume that role.

> Learn about CAPCOG's federal grant to curb diesel pollution

The consequences of being designated a nonattainment area are significant. New or expanding industrial facilities would face significant hurdles to growth, including requirements for emission offsets and highly stringent emission standards. Many emissions sources, including some small businesses, would also likely be required to retrofit their equipment to reduce pollution, significantly raising the costs of operating businesses within the region. For 25 years, the region also would be subject to “conformity,” a process requiring that local and regional transportation plans be limited to projects that keep emissions within allowable limits. To gain EPA and Federal Highway Administration approval, new transportation projects may need to restrict the projected amount of vehicle activity.

Local governments have a crucial chance to implement their own ozone-reduction strategies. Doing so will not only help jurisdictions maintain more local control but also help protect the health of Central Texans, especially more vulnerable populations such as children, seniors and people with chronic respiratory problems. With research and other tools, CAPCOG aims to continue assisting local governments in this important initiative.

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

CAPCOG observes Thanksgiving holiday, will reopen Monday, Nov. 26

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! CAPCOG offices are closed in observance of the holiday and will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26, 2012.

> Learn more about CAPCOG

CAPCOG hires regional environmental coordinator

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

LayneDuesterhaus

CAPCOG has hired recent Texas State University alumnus Layne Duesterhaus as its new regional environmental coordinator. Duesterhaus, a Lubbock-area native who previously worked in the City of San Marcos Community Services Department, will support the region’s illegal dumping enforcement program, coordinate environmental law trainings, manage the area landfill and recycling inventory and assist on other regional solid waste issues.

In May 2012, the unicycle football enthusiast earned a bachelor’s degree in resource and environmental science, with a minor in business administration and certificates in geographic information systems and water resource management.

Duesterhaus, who joins CAPCOG’s solid waste program, also will be responsible for working closely with the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force.

> Learn more about solid waste planning at CAPCOG
> Read Layne's "Bobcat" profile at Texas State University's website 

Travis County housing boards seek new members

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Travis County Commissioners Court is seeking to fill two seats each on the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of Travis County and the Board of Directors of the Strategic Housing Finance Corp., with applications from interested parties due by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, 2012.

Both boards offer opportunities to share in the discussion on Austin area affordable housing. The Housing Authority operates and maintains 105 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development public housing units for low-income families and manages a housing voucher program. The Strategic Housing Finance Corp. issues bonds and uses Low Income Housing Tax Credits to buy housing and build new developments.

The vacancies will become available Jan. 1, 2013, with the new appointees to the five-member Housing Authority expected to serve two-year terms. The two new appointees to the seven-member Strategic Housing Finance board will serve a staggered term ending Dec. 31, 2015, or Dec. 31, 2016, respectively.  

> Get more details, and download the application packets

For Austin area, 10-digit dialing debuts Dec. 1

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

As area population and the need for additional phone numbers increase, Central Texas is getting 10-digit dialing and an additional area code on Dec. 1, 2012.

The move echoes other communities across the country whose days of seven-digit dialing are a thing of the past. 

Key components of the upcoming change, also called an "overlay":

  • New area code "737" will be added to the area currently served by "512." 
  • Starting Dec. 1, all local calls within the region will require the applicable area code and seven-digit telephone number for completion.
  • Eventually all new telephone numbers within the 512 area will be assigned the 737 area code.
  • Customers can keep the 512 phone numbers they already have.
  • The three-digit 9-1-1 local emergency number will remain the same.

During an initial grace period, calls mistakenly dialed without the area code will still go through until June 1, 2013, when all 10 digits must be used.

Customers can contact their local phone-service provider for more information, or visit the "Texas Area Codes" section of the state Public Utility Commission website. > Go 

> Read a KUT news story on the region's new area code

PBS: Pick your favorite square mile

Friday, November 09, 2012

Capital Area folks, what's your favorite square mile in Texas? Producers of the PBS documentary television series One Square Mile: Texas are seeking your nominations by 11:59 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

The series, expected to air in summer 2013, follows the previous Emmy-winning production One Square Mile: America and will offer a first-person look at cultures, life and landscapes from one-square-mile perspectives across Texas. Producers, wanting to showcase the diversity of life in Texas, welcome suggestions from every area of the state's more than 268,000 square miles.

Whether your favorite square mile comprises a big-city neighborhood, a slice of a small town, a park or another Texas spot, be counted by submitting your pick online.

> Learn about One Square Mile: Texas, and nominate your favorite spot
> Watch the trailer for the original One Square Mile: America series

2012-2013 solid waste grants awarded

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved CAPCOG’s recommendation to award more than $350,000 in grant funding for fiscal 2012-2013 solid waste projects, listed in the table below. 

The 10 projects, from community cleanups to a household hazardous waste facility, support the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan.

CAPCOG will next solicit applications for TCEQ’s Regional Solid Waste Grant Program in fall 2013, dependent upon future funding. The program’s funding was reduced 50 percent during the last legislative session.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Solid Waste Planning

Grant recipient Project Amount
CAPCOG Regional Environmental Task Force $111,000
City of Bastrop chipper $32,500
Burnet County Household hazardous waste (HHW) and tire collection event $12,975
Caldwell County Four community cleanup events $18,349
City of Johnson City recycling center forklift $18,697
City of Smithville recycling center enhancements $5,000
City of Lakeway HHW facility and equipment $87,358
Bastrop County HHW event and education $33,420
City of Granite Shoals Cleanup event $13,450
City of Lockhart recycling center forklift $18,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Grant applications for crime data conversions due Dec. 21

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office is seeking grant applications for local government units to convert crime data from the Uniform Crime Report to the National Incident Based Reporting System format. Applications, available online, must be certified by the CJD's grant management website by Dec. 21, 2012.

> Explore the National Incident Based Reporting System funding opportunity 
> Register at the CJD's website and apply for the grant 

Agency on Aging to reach thousands at Nov. 20 HEB Feast of Sharing

Friday, November 02, 2012

Organizers expect to serve about 14,000 meals at HEB grocery chain’s free 23rd annual Feast of Sharing in Austin, and CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging will be on hand with information about Medicare’s 2013 open enrollment ending Dec. 7.

The four-hour celebration kicks off at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin. 

Annual open enrollment allows Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to compare, choose or change health and drug plans for the next calendar year. With some prescription drug plan premiums reportedly expected to jump by up to 23 percent, CAPCOG’s state-certified benefits counselors can help participants navigate the various options.

The counselors will staff a booth at the HEB community event, which features food and entertainment, to educate key audiences about Area Agency on Aging’s free assistance.

> Discover Area Agency on Aging's free benefits counseling
> Get details on HEB's 23rd annual Feast of Sharing celebration

CAPCOG wins 2012 Innovation Award from National Association of Development Organizations

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Capital Area Council of Governments has won a 2012 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations for its role in Pecan Street Inc., an Austin-area economic development project centered on clean energy.

The award, which recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations nationwide for improving local and regional economic and community competitiveness, was presented at NADO's annual training conference this month. Organizations in 22 states, including four honorees in Texas, garnered recognition in a dozen award categories ranging from aging, health and human services to youth education.  

With funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, CAPCOG collaborated with project organizers to expand Pecan Street Inc.'s exploration of renewable energy and use of an advanced system of efficient residential electricity delivery and consumption, or a smart grid, to additionally develop an innovation-based industry cluster of Central Texas clean-energy companies. As part of the project, CAPCOG also commissioned technical reports to detail the logistics, challenges and benefits of creating a smart grid and clean-energy economic cluster.

> Read the April 2012 Pecan Street Inc. Summary Report and technical addendum 
> Learn more about CAPCOG's Economic Development Program
> Download NADO's 2012 Innovation Awards booklet

Regional leadership award: Nov. 1 nominations deadline nears

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Members of the Capital Area Council of Governments can still submit their pick for the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award, with nominations closing Nov. 1, 2012.

The ninth annual award, named for CAPCOG's first chairman in 1970, honors significant efforts in regional cooperation within the association's 10-county Central Texas area. Former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck 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 Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon in Austin.

> Download the nomination form

> Learn about CAPCOG's Dec. 12 annual meeting

11th annual Striking a Balance conference coming Nov. 2 and 3

Monday, October 22, 2012

CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging will host a free conference of education and networking opportunities for professional and family caregivers in early November. The 11th annual Striking a Balance conference, produced in partnership with Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE), will include complimentary off-site respite for family caregivers and continuing-education credit for professionals.

Following last year's format, the two-day conference will provide training for professionals on the first day and a session for family caregivers on day 2. Both sessions are at Norris Conference Center, Northcross Mall, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX:

9 a.m.-noon Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 - Gerontologist and author Tam Cummings will present "Untangling Dementia" for professional caregivers, including a discussion on identifying the disease; using a common tool for assessing depression, dementia and behavior; and understanding end-of-life characteristics. Session includes three social work CEUs. 
> Learn more, and register by Oct. 31

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 - Family caregivers will learn about local resources, gain skills to better manage their caregiving situation and connect with other caregivers and local aging experts. Event includes keynote speaker Kimberly Butrum, a gerontological nurse practitioner for more than 30 years with a special interest in treating memory issues. AGE's Austin Adult Day Health Center will provide free off-site respite for caregivers, but space is limited, so call 512-458-6305 for reservations. > Register for the conference today  

AGE of Central Texas and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) partner to provide a wide range of services and information for caregivers and older adults, including this annual conference. Explore AAACAP services online, or call 512-916-6182 for information. > Go

RLEA class features speaker from National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA), which offers instruction to aspiring and current Texas peace officers, hosted a speaker from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at its recent Advanced Child Abuse Investigation class. David Boatright, executive director of the national center's Texas regional office, discussed crime statistics and the various resources available from his agency.

About 800,000 children are reported missing to law enforcement each year, according to Boatright's presentation, and more than 1.6 million in one year left home or stayed away overnight to escape physical or sexual abuse.

The three-day class, produced by the Texas Municipal Police Association, works to improve law enforcement's response to child abuse and neglect, especially sexual abuse and exploitation cases. RLEA's schedule of other continuing-education classes and its Basic Peace Officer Course are available online. > Go

CAPCOG releases new land data

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CAPCOG's Regional Services division, in partnership with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) and the Texas Department of Transportation, has posted new GIS data showing the location of vacant parcels of at least 5 acres and partially developed larger parcels with developable vacant areas of more than 5 acres. The research covers Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties as of 2010.

The 2010 Land Fragmentation Inventory data - which updates the 2005 and 2008 reports for all the counties except Burnet, a new participant whose data starts with the latest survey - provides helpful information for local governments, developers and others interested in learning where development has occurred since the last study and where vacant land is currently potentially available. CAMPO, for example, uses such information for household growth forecasting and traffic modeling.  

For more information, call David Fowler, senior planner, at 512-916-6165, send an email to dfowler@capcog.org or download the data at CAPCOG's website. > Go    

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 transparency@cpa.state.tx.us. 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

WEST NILE VIRUS—IMPORTANT INFORMATION

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

PREVENTION

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.

COMMUNITY

  • 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:  www.TxWestNile.org .

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 www.TexasCleanSchoolBus.org 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 (training.capcog.org).

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

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