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In the News: News from February 2016

CAPCOG plans cybersecurity training

Monday, February 22, 2016

An assessment of how well critical communication systems and their support infrastructure will withstand cyberattacks is currently underway. The information will help improve cybersecurity preparedness for emergency managers and emergency communication directors by identifying cybersecurity gaps and facilitating future planning and training.

“Understanding your vulnerabilities and protecting against them builds resiliency and ensures systems continue to work despite a cyberattack,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director.

Several cities and counties in the CAPCOG region recently completed a voluntary cybersecurity survey offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A contractor, hired with U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funds, will evaluate the survey results and provide the participating entities with greater insight about their cybersecurity emergency communication gaps. The survey results also will lay the foundation for workshops and several training exercises for communities region wide.

The workshop and first tabletop exercise are scheduled to take place in March 2016. A final report will give future direction on establishing plans throughout the region to prevent cyberattacks and aid in response and recovery efforts if critical communication systems are attacked.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

TCEQ program converts vehicles to natural gas engines

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program (TNGVGP) provides funds to encourage an entity that owns and operates a heavy-duty or medium-duty motor vehicle to repower the vehicle with a natural gas engine or replace the vehicle with a natural gas vehicle.

The program is eligible to those that own, lease, or commercially finance a heavy-duty or medium-duty vehicle that operate in a list of 64 counties in Texas — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties included. Eligible applicants include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity.

Grant applicants must go through a participating dealer under contract with the TCEQ to apply.

The deadline to apply to the grant is May 26, 2017.

> Find out more on the TNGVGP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Learn about other vehicle emission reduction programs.

Department of Agriculture seeks rural communities for internship program

Thursday, February 18, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is inviting proposals from rural communities for the Texas Rural Internship Program. The program provides urban college students, who are at least juniors, an opportunity to experience life in a rural Texas community during the summer.

The program gives a unique, educational and productive summer internship that will mutually benefit the student and the community.

Participating communities have benefited from the program with a new perspective and talent from an intern to include updated technical skills, fresh computer skills, and working knowledge of social networking. In previous years, interns performed a variety of tasks and projects benefiting the host community.

Communities must submit a proposal by 5 p.m. March 15, 2016 to the TDA. In the proposal, communities will outline the work experience or project that would be assigned to a student intern. Communities also will provide details on room and board for the student, community service opportunities, opportunities for the student to gain knowledge about government and non-government organizations and unique regional opportunities.

The internship is designed to last five to ten weeks — one or two summer sessions. Internship dates are negotiable based on the schedule of the student intern and the host community.

> Read the full announcement for more details about applying to be a host community.

CAPCOG seeks local emission reduction projects for grant program

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments opened the application process for a new local emission reduction grant program on Feb. 16, 2016. The grant, which targets commuter emission reduction projects and capital investments projects that reduce emissions, has an application deadline of April 15, 2016.

The grant is available to businesses, local governments, nonprofits and other organizations in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area — Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

CAPCOG has allocated about $240,000 from its 2016-17 near-nonattainment area air quality planning grant for the new program. Organizations participating in the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will have an opportunity to receive more funding per ton of emissions reduced.

> Learn about and apply for the grant.
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG GIS launches free data website

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

CAPCOG’s GIS Program launched a new interactive-map website that increases accessibility to free regional information and makes the data easily downloadable. The creation of the CAPCOG Free Regional Data website has further enhanced the GIS Program’s ability to be a single resource of regional geographic information.

Hosted by ArcGIS Online, the site allows users to visually review numerous datasets before downloading the information for their own use. Currently available datasets include items such as city limits, floodplain boundaries, school district boundaries, the location of airports and parks, and archived street centerlines. Parcel boundaries also are available by county.

CAPCOG has generated a number of datasets located on the website, but it also has collected and compiled datasets from other entities. Some data placed on the website has more up-to-date counterparts such address points and street centerlines, which are packaged with the purchase of the Capital Area Addressing & Referencing Map (CAAR Map) database.

> Discover the regional data website.
> Learn about other GIS Program data services such as CAAR Map.

Newest Health and Wellness workshop teaches full course, more programs available

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s (AAACAP) first Diabetes Self-Management Program kicked off in January with a full class at the Bluffs Landing Senior Village in Round Rock. But like all of the agency’s Health and Wellness Programs, there is always room for more in communities around the region.

The Stanford Patient Education Research Center Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a six-week, small-group workshop led by 2 trained facilitators. It is highly interactive and focuses on building skills and sharing experiences that help the day-to-day management of diabetes while maintaining or increasing daily activity. Participants must be 60 or older.

Other AAACAP Health and Wellness programs include: A Matter of Balance, which helps older adults reduce their risk and fear of falling; Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers, which helps caregivers manage the difficulties of caring for older adults and those with disabilities; and Better Choices, Better Health – Chronic Disease Self-Management, which helps adults manage chronic disease symptoms.

In January, seven programs were started in three CAPCOG counties allowing nearly 100 residents the opportunity to improve their health and wellness.

> Bring a AAACAP Health and Wellness Program to your community.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

CAPCOG to request air quality grant applications

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments will start accepting applications for a new local emission reduction grant program in mid-February. The grant will target commuter emission reduction projects and capital investments that reduce emissions in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)— Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

CAPCOG has allocated about $240,000 from its 2016-17 near-nonattainment area air quality planning grant for this new program. Entities in the Austin-Round Rock MSA can apply to the grant program. Organizations participating in the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will have an opportunity to receive more funding per ton of emissions reduced.

CAPCOG will post additional details about the grant program in mid-February on

> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG Executive Committee elects officers

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee elected Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long as its board chair for 2016. Long, who has served on the Executive Committee since 2007, was the committee’s first vice-chair in 2015. The committee elected Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland as its first vice chair. Holland has been on the Executive Committee since 2013 and serves on the Capital Area Economic Development District and the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition.

Last year’s chair, Elgin Mayor Marc Holm, remains an officer moving to the immediate past chair slot.

Other officers elected were Hays County Judge Bert Cobb as second vice chair and San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero as secretary and parliamentarian.

> Discover CAPCOG's Executive Committee.

USDA extends application deadline for grants to help repair housing in rural communities

Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is seeking applications for grants to make housing repairs for low- and very-low-income rural residents and has extended the deadline to March 15, 2016.

The grants are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Housing Preservation Grant Program. This program is intended to help rural homeowners and rental housing owners repair and improve their properties. Funds may be used to resolve health or safety issues, make accessibility modifications for people with disabilities, or make energy efficiency improvements to reduce utility costs.

Eligible applicants for Housing Preservation Grants include town or county governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. USDA does not provide funding directly to homeowners under this program.

Funding is limited, and applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis with scoring preference for applications that serve very-low-income households, demonstrate leveraged funding, show the applicant's capacity to successfully manage a housing repair program, and address other considerations as listed in the Federal Register notice.

> Read additional eligibility information.

Applications are accepted on an annual basis through a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register.

> Read more about the extended deadline.
> Discover more about the grant.
> Read the grant overview.
> Contact your Rural Development State Office with questions.

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