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6800 Burleson Road
Building 310, Suite 165
Austin, TX 78744

T:  (512) 916-6000
F: (512) 916-6001


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In the News: News from June 2016

CAPCOG offers Downtown Development workshop

Friday, June 24, 2016

CAPCOG’s downtown development workshop will make the case for why communities that aren’t focusing some of their economic development resources on their downtown are missing an opportunity for new investment, small business development and jobs.

“It’s about return on investment for a city, because they must already maintain infrastructure and provide services in their downtown business district; this workshop will be about how to maximize that investment,” said Chris Schreck, Director of Planning & Economic Development at CAPCOG. 

The workshop will feature presentations by Georgetown Main Street Manager Shelly Hargrove and Debra Drescher who is State Coordinator of the Texas Main Street Program. Georgetown was one of the first cities designated as a Texas Main Street in 1982 and still has a successful downtown program, a testament to the Main Street concept and principles. 

Downtowns can become a live/work/play center of a city which means jobs and housing, so Elgin, also a Texas Main Street city, is developing housing choices in their downtown which will be discussed by Sean Garretson, local consultant and developer. Chris Schreck will lead a brief discussion over lunch about assessing the economic impact of a downtown program. 

CAPCOG in its role as the Capital Area Economic Development District provides this workshop to support strategies in its regional economic development plan. This workshop is tailored for county and city elected officials, city managers, city planners, and economic development directors and board members. The workshop will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas.

A registration fee of $25 will be charged to reserve a seat and cover the lunch and refreshments; however, there is no charge for CAPCOG members. Attending elected officials can qualify for four CEUs toward their state or TML educational requirements.

> Register for the workshop.
> Review the agenda.
> Contact Mason W. Canales to receive a code to register for free.

TCEQ announces grant funds for natural gas vehicles

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Source: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is still accepting applications for funding consideration under the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program, part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.

Individuals, businesses, and governmental entities that own and operate a heavy-duty or medium-duty vehicle may qualify for the grant to replace a vehicle with a natural gas vehicle or repower the vehicle with a natural gas engine. Counties in the Capital Area Council of Governments that are eligible grant include Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Fayette, Travis, and Williamson counties.

The TCEQ will accept the grant program’s applications through May 26, 2017.

Interested parties should contact a Participating Dealer under contract with the TCEQ to determine eligibility. Program staff at the TCEQ are always available to answer questions.

> Learn information on the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program, its participating dealers, the application process and eligibility requirements.
> Read more about the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
> Discover more air quality related grants.
> Read about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

WarnCentralTexas boosts emergency warning registrations

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

WarnCentralTexas.org is a new web portal launched region wide in May to increase participation for a regional emergency communications tool that sends alerts via text, email or phone calls during a disaster.

The website allows residents in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties to register their emails and cellphone numbers to an address or addresses in those counties. Local government emergency personnel, who are responding to incidents and disasters in their communities, can then send location-based, direct warnings via email, text message and phone calls to WarnCentralTexas.org registered participants. Visitors are also encouraged to register if they often stay in the region.

CAPCOG has supported an emergency warning service for the region’s local governments for more than a decade. The emergency notification service was launched when most residents still had landline phones; its ability to reach residents continues to decline as more people move to cellphone only households. CAPCOG registers landlines into the system automatically using the 9-1-1 database, but cellphone numbers and email addresses have to be self-registered. About 45,000 cellphone users are currently self-registered. Using the same easy-to-remember branding region wide should provide greater recognition with more users as the outcome.

Warn Central Texas dot org logo and web address.

“Protect your family, property and self. Sign up for emergency warnings in your neighborhood by voice, text, or email.” — WarnCentralTexas tagline.

CAPCOG uses CodeRED as the software tool for emergency notifications. Residents who are signing up to participate in the program at WarnCentralTexas.org may find the following questions and answers helpful.

WarnCentralTexas FAQ

How do I know that my local community is using WarnCentralTexas.org?
CAPCOG purchased the use of the system for its member organizations in the 10-county region — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Cities and county officials have access to the CodeRED system for sending notifications to areas in their jurisdictional boundaries.

Who will be making the emergency calls and sending the text and emails to my devices?
Emergency management coordinators and other public safety officials have the authority to push emergency warnings to residents through CodeRED’s database. The tool allows those sending the alerts to choose geographic areas to receive warnings based on the type of emergency. 

Who will the call come from?
Emergency calls will come from the following phone numbers regardless of which city or county officials may be sending them. Residents may find it useful to save the numbers in their phones’ contacts.

  • Emergency Alert 866-419-5000
  • Community Alert 855-969-4363
  • Weather Warning 800-566-9780

What if I don’t know if I signed up at WarnCentralTexas.org already?
If you are a managed account holder, CodeRED will tell you if your phone number is already in its system while you are registering. You will then be prompted to login. If you are not a managed account holder, you can simply resubmit your information, and it will be updated in CodeRED’s self-registration database. There is no harm in re-registering to ensure the CodeRED database has your correct information.

How will my personal information be used?
CodeRed’s database of registered users is not shared or sold. CAPCOG can request information from the CodeRed database, but it doesn’t request personal information such as phone numbers and addresses so the information remains private.

Can I get emergency warnings based on my location instead of my address?
CodeRED offers a free mobile app for Android and iPhone devices. The app allows device owners to receive alerts based on the geo-location of their phone as long as they are within any jurisdiction that uses CodeRED. Download the CodeRED Mobile Alert app at Google Play or the Apple Store.

What other information can I receive by signing up at WarnCentralTexas.org?
The primary use of the emergency communications tool is to contact residents during disasters, but self-registrants can choose to receive general notifications, such as street closures, from local jurisdictions that use CodeRED. When registering for the system, residents also can request severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service about tornados, thunderstorms, flash floods or winter storms. More than one phone number and email address can be registered to a residential or business address.

> Register with WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Get educational outreach materials for WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

NCOA, GreenPath provide personalized financial help for older Americans

Friday, June 10, 2016
Source: National Council on Aging

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and GreenPath Financial Wellness joined forces to provide older adults. people 60 years older or older, with unbiased reverse mortgage, debt and bankruptcy counseling as well as money management and financial education services.

“Our partnership with GreenPath is the evolution of NCOA’s holistic approach to helping seniors maintain their economic security and independence,” said Amy Ford, director of NCOA’s Home Equity Initiatives. “NCOA is an innovator in providing unbiased information for older Americans. GreenPath’s expertise will help us significantly increase the number of seniors we can assist.”

GreenPath is the hub for calls from older adults seeking reverse mortgage counseling from NCOA. Beyond reverse mortgage counseling, GreenPath provides consumers a full range of services to help them pay down debt, avoid bankruptcy, and manage their limited incomes wisely. NCOA will train GreenPath counselors to enhance their understanding of the specific needs of older adults, as well as the array of community-based supports available to help seniors stay independent in their community.

To schedule a reverse mortgage counseling session, call toll-free 855-899-3778, Monday-Saturday.

> Learn more about NCOA’s work in economic security.
> Find out about GreenPath Financial Wellness.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s Benefit Counselor program.

The Area Agency on Aging, a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, has Certified Benefits Counselors that assist seniors to identify and understand public benefit programs that they may be qualified for which provide financial assistance to lower Medicare Costs, such as Medicare Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Plans.

CAPCOG BPOCs add environmental law training

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Illegal trash dumping, air pollution, water pollution, hazmat incidents and incidents involving medical waste that affect the region’s water supply and threaten public health and safety are often criminal environmental activities. So starting this August, every cadet enrolled in CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC) will be better equipped to combat such environmental crimes when they are working as commissioned officers.

In April, the CAPCOG Law Enforcement Education Committee added a 4-hour segment of specialized environmental law training to the future BPOCs. Expert trainer Dennis Rudder, a sergeant investigator with the Travis County Attorney’s Office Environmental Crimes Unit, will lead the course segment. Rudder, the president of the Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF), serves as an instructor for Basic and Intermediate Environmental Law Training Courses requested throughout the state.

“It's not necessarily a single act, but the aggregation of numerous violations over time which is detrimental to the environment,” Rudder said. The addition of these course hours provides the foundation for new peace officers to prevent environmental crimes  from affecting the public’s health, safety and welfare.

The RETF is composed of code and law enforcement officers who work in  the CAPCOG 10-county region. The RETF creates awareness and addresses illegal dumping and the enforcement of Texas’ environmental laws. It is funded through CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program; operates an illegal dumping hotline, 1-877-NO-DUMPS; and provides environmental law training, investigation, and prosecution assistance to local governments statewide.

> Learn about the RETF.
> Find out about CAPCOG's Basic Peace Officer Course.
 

CAPCOG shares economic analysis expertise throughout the region

Monday, June 06, 2016

For every 10 jobs we create in the food production, processing, and distribution sectors, we create roughly another eight jobs elsewhere throughout the local economy. Moreover, 54 cents of every dollar in sales earned by food producers, processors, and distributors gets funneled back into the local economy. There are important opportunities in these sectors that exist for communities in our region, said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck.

Schreck explained how linking components of the supply chain locally can have significant economic benefits for individual communities and the entire region during the Local Food as an Economic Development Driver seminar on April 27 in Elgin.

The information delivered during the seminar is a sample of the economic development analysis CAPCOG can provide for its members on an ad hoc or as needed basis. Analysis can get more in-depth when CAPCOG partners with communities on economic development or planning projects, and or leverages its GIS capabilities. CAPCOG excels in evaluating the fluidity between local and regional trends and examining the relationship between the two and how those can create benefits for a local community.

“Housing for instance is a very local issue. It’s a neighborhood issue at its core,” Schreck said. “But housing has really substantial impacts on regional issues, like transportation, workforce, and affordability. CAPCOG is really well-suited to work with communities on these kinds of issues that span both local and regional interests.”

Other presentations Schreck gave in the recent months include:

  • Workforce analytics during an Austin Chamber Regional Partners Meeting;
  • The future development of the region at a Real Estate Council of Austin Meeting; and
  • CAPCOG economic development services for local communities to the City of Kyle Economic Development Board.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG planning and economic development director.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Division.

CJD to seek grant applications for crime reporting systems

Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Source: The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD) announced a $16.2 million funding opportunity for Texas law enforcement agencies to implement a national incident-based reporting system (NIBRS) or upgrade infrastructure to support an agency’s current use of NIBRS.

NIBRSes collect data on 24 offense types comprised of 52 distinct offenses and agencies report based upon the specific incident that includes data related not only to offenses and arrests, but also to location, victim and offender data, and other measures. During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, the legislature enacted legislation to move the state away from previous summary reporting, which provided less reporting categories, to NIBRS. It appropriated $17.3 million for the purpose of establishing a goal that all local law enforcement agencies will use NIBRS by Sept. 1, 2019.
    
CJD will start accepting grant applications on July 1, 2016 to help convert agencies from summary reporting to NIBRS or to upgrade current NIBRS. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 1, 2016. The minimum award for the grant is $5,000 and there is no matching requirement.

Preference will be given to those agencies that are either not submitting any data to the Texas Department of Public Safety currently or are submitting summary reporting data only. DPS and CJD also will consider applications from current NIBRS contributors who wish to upgrade their reporting system but will evaluate these applications based on their overall response to the solicitation and availability of funding. 

> Read the full funding announcement.
> Apply for the grant at egrants.gov starting on July 1, 2016.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program. 

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