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In the News: News from March 2015

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.

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