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Building 310, Suite 165
Austin, TX 78744

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In the News: News from December 2013

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

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


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

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