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In the News: News from June 2015

CAPCOG to offer government transparency workshop

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments will provide a four-hour workshop for elected officials about the Texas Open Meetings and Public Information Acts on July 29, 2015 at the CAPCOG offices.

Attorneys from the Texas Attorney General’s Office will be joined by a Texas Municipal League attorney to provide a comprehensive and interactive presentation on the laws and how they regulate elected officials and their institutions. All three presenters will participate in an open-floor, question-and-answer panel, where elected officials can inquire about specific quandaries in regards to the two laws.

Since the training will occur after the State’s 84th Legislative Session, any updates to the Open Meetings and Public Information Acts also will be addressed during the workshop.

The course will meet the legally required training by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and count toward continuing education credits for elected officials.

> Local government officials contact Mason W. Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator, to learn about free registration.
> Register for the course.

TCEQ stretches emission grant program deadline

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) extended the application deadline for its Texas Emission Reduction Plan, Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive (LDPLI).

TCEQ will stop taking applications for the program, which rebates vehicle owners for purchasing alternatively fueled automobiles, at 5 p.m. July 8. As of June 22, about $3.8 million rebate funds were still available through the program.

LDPLI gives up to $2,500 in financial incentives for the purchase or lease of eligible new vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or electric drives (plug-ins).

To apply for a rebate grant under the LDPLI, applicants must purchase or lease from a dealership or leasing company authorized to sell or lease new vehicles in Texas.

> Discover how to apply for the LDPLI.
> Learn about other Texas Emission Reduction Plan programs.
> Read more on CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

ATXFloods.com welcomes addition of all CAPCOG counties

Friday, June 19, 2015

When Austin launched TXfloods.com website in September 2012, about 100 dots denoted low-water crossings on the online map. Those points depicted mostly locations in Austin.

Today, about 800 low-water crossings are visible to the website’s visitors, and they lay across six counties — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Travis, and Williamson — and the city of Marble Falls.

The goal of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department is for all the Capital Area Council of Governments’ counties and municipalities to participate in the website by the year’s end.

 

“Floods are not jurisdictional,” said Matt Porcher, who works for Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, Watershed Engineering Division; helped develop the website; and maintains it. Flood waters can traverse large recharge zones, he said. For instance, flooding in Blanco County affects what happens downstream in Hays and Travis counties.

People throughout the region also tend to cross city and county lines daily, making the inclusion of other jurisdictions on the online map extremely useful for commuters and other travelers. ATXFloods.com allows for drivers to check for low-water crossing closures before they get in their car to make a trip home or to work. It allows them to plan a safe travel route ahead of time compared to coming across a closed crossing.

Austin developed ATXFloods.com with the help of a Code For America grant in 2012 as a means to inform residents about low-water crossing closures and hopefully prevent vehicles from being swept away, which could cause a possible fatal incident.

“Flash flooding is a big threat in our area,” Porcher said. “A couple of people die every year from flash floods in the area, about 75 percent of those deaths happen on roadways at low-water crossings, and ATXFloods.com is a chance to prevent people from using those roadways.”

In mid-2014, Williamson County Emergency Management Coordinator and CAPCOG Homeland Security Task Force Chairman Jarred Thomas recommended the site expand to other regions. At the time, Williamson County was looking to create a similar website and Hays County already was using a blog feed to continually update residents of such closures. In late 2014, Porcher gave a presentation about Austin‘s implementation of the website to the Task Force, which he partially attributes to other jurisdictions’ making use of the site.

Since the meeting, Porcher has talked to other emergency management coordinators and brought their counties or municipalities into the system. The plan is to have Fayette County on the system in the near future. Burnet, Llano and Blanco counties hopefully will soon follow.

It takes a little bit of training and preparation before other jurisdictions can place their low-water crossings online. Each point is entered manually and statuses of low-water crossings are updated manually by many administrators throughout the region. New points can be added at any time, which is helpful during instances of non-traditional flooding.

Jurisdictions need to know how to quickly and accurately add and change the map’s information, Porcher said. They also need to update it as soon as possible to keep the integrity of ATXFloods.com viable to the public.

“We want people to have confidence that the website is accurate, so when a roadway is reopened then it should be updated as soon as practical,” he said. To avoid confusion that can occur with shift changes, Austin crews check crossings marked as closed on the website in its jurisdiction every morning.

Since its launch in September 2012, ATXFloods.com has experienced almost 3 million visitors. More than 700,000 of those visitors viewed the site from May 22 to 25.

CAPCOG radio ads encourage residents to clean up commutes

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CAPCOG launched an air quality ad campaign to run from June through September on 11 radio stations throughout the region. The ads will air during peak drive-time commuting hours Monday through Friday and will highlight ways Central Texas residents can “clean up” their commutes, including through carpooling, vanpooling and taking advantage of funding opportunities to repair or replace vehicles that fail emissions tests.

Download or listen to the following radio outreach messages:

> Carpooling and vanpooling No. 1

> Carpooling and vanpooling No. 2

> Drive clean machines

> KUT sponsorship radio spot

> Drive clean machines: Spanish

The ads are funded by the city of Austin and Travis County. Beginning last year, CAPCOG started coordinating air quality radio advertisement purchases on behalf of local organizations in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public education efforts.

Cities, counties, and other organizations within the region can help amplify these messages’ reach by posting the audio recordings of the radio spots on their websites and social media pages. They also can share links to regional air quality information available on CAPCOG’s website. Organizations can join in future radio ad buys if interested.

> Go to aircentraltexas.org for more information.
> Discover funding opportunities for cleaner vehicles.
> Learn carpooling, vanpooling and commuter tips.

AAACAP teaches A Matter of Balance coaches

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Volunteers around the region can change older Americans' lives by becoming A Matter of Balance lay leaders who coach seniors to reduce their risk and fear of falling.

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area regularly welcomes volunteers who want to better senior’s lives by teaching the nationally recognized program — developed by Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function at Boston University — in their own community. 

After an eight-hour training course, volunteers can take the eight-session program back to their communities. There they will show seniors to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risk at home, and exercise to increase strength and balance.

Upcoming courses for prospective lay-leaders will take place in Jarrell on June 19 and at the CAPCOG offices in Austin on June 30. Training and materials are free.

> Interested in volunteering contact Liz Salinas, AAACAP health and wellness coordinator.
> Register for the upcoming courses.
 

CAPCOG recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Friday, June 12, 2015

With about 304,851 residents who are 60 years old or older in the Capital Area Council of Governments’ 10-county region, CAPCOG wants to promote the awareness and prevention of issues involving elder abuse.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15 and draws attention to the fact that every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  Experts also believe for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported as many as 23.5 cases are unreported. With 10,000 people in the United States every day turning 65, the United States will have more elder adults than ever before.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) encourages individuals and organizations across our nation, states and local communities to take a stand and to raise public awareness about elder abuse. The ACL provides information, tools and resources to support efforts to shed light on the importance of preventing, identifying and responding to this serious, often hidden public health problem. CAPCOG and its Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area want to share the ACL’s information and message with every local government and organization in the region.

> Learn what you and your community can do for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging.
> Read the CAPCOG proclamation.

CAPCOG hosts school officer training

Monday, June 08, 2015

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) is teaching a course to educate peace officers who serve as law enforcement for school districts at the CAPCOG offices from June 8 to 12.

“School resource officers play an important role in our educational system,” said Mike Jennings, the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy director. “Not only do they work to protect the safety of students and teachers, they can help develop and shape the lives of children and prevent incidents before they happen by being a positive role model.”

By hosting NASRO at CAPCOG, school resource officers throughout the region can improve valuable law enforcement specialization that helps keep students and teachers safe. The training will further their education on a number of topics to include responding to incidents in a school setting and communicating with children.

Such skills can be beneficial to preventing incidents before they occur and helping students make responsible and lawful life decisions. School resource officers like other peace officers are a trusted part of the community they work in; however, officers who work on educational campuses have a greater chance of affecting the lives around them as they work the same beats every day and can really get to know the community they serve. This class is full; however, CAPCOG is interested in determining additional demand for its training.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Register for upcoming law enforcement in-service training opportunities.

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