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In the News: News from March 2014

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

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