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In the News: News from September 2014

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.

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