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Austin, TX 78744

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In the News: News from August 2014

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 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.

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