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In the News: News from October 2016

Data builds bridge to flood resiliency

Monday, October 24, 2016

Damage assessment data from the 2015 Memorial Day Flood was presented to city of San Marcos staff in September as part of CAPCOG’s project to analyze disaster impacts and plan for regional resiliency. CAPCOG staff plans to present information to the region’s governments affected by the disaster throughout the end of the calendar year. The project, funded by the Economic Development Administration, focuses on the use of damage assessment data to inform local governments’ efforts to mitigate the impacts of future flooding and disaster events.

The data came from a variety of sources including damage estimates from the Small Business Administration, FEMA, other state and federal agencies, and HAZUS — software that models flood events and estimates damages. Having the multiple source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data can assist governments and residents in determining what homes and businesses may exist in future flood plains, what properties and their structures may suffer from significant repetitive losses, and when and where infrastructure improvements may be most economical for a resident, business owner or city.

Moving forward, CAPCOG will make the information available to planners as it works collaboratively with its member governments to research and create better flood resiliency plans.

> Learn about CAPCOG’s GIS program.
> Read more about CAPCOG's Planning and Economic Development Division.

Air quality outreach goes digital

Friday, October 21, 2016

CAPCOG launched a new online air quality campaign in September to help protect Central Texas residents from air pollution. While the region is in compliance with federal air quality standards, it can still have several days a year when air quality is still considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The campaign includes a new “Air Central Texas” website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and electronic advertising designed to encourage residents to “Be Air Aware,” including tips on reducing emissions and exposure.

More than 1,000 residents visited the website in the last month, and CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is routinely posting new air quality information on the social media accounts. CAPCOG expects to launch a Spanish-language version of the website in the next few weeks.

The Twitter bird logo linking to the Air Central Texas twitter page.

Find us on Facebook link. 

> Check out the new website.
> "Like” the campaign on Facebook at  
> Follow it on Twitter @AirCentralTexas.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Bordie leads AAACAP with passion

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Taking the helm of the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a CAPCOG division, is completing a lifelong goal and dream for Patty Bordie. Her 30 year career of advocating for older adults on a local, regional and state level has been driven by her love for the age group, and now as the AAACAP director, she will continue her work at a higher capacity.

“I did my college internship at an (Area Agency on Aging), and right away I said that is where I want to be,” Bordie said. “AAACAP’s work really is a grassroots regional approach to meeting the needs of the community, and when I got into the field, there wasn’t a lot of people speaking up for older adults. I wanted to be someone who was.”

During her career, Bordie has provided advocacy, education and resources for older adults. From 1999 to 2008, she worked at AAACAP, and from 2008 to 2015, she worked for Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Bordie returned to CAPCOG in 2015 as AAACAP’s program manager for Care Coordination and Caregiver Support before her promotion in September.

Bordie wants to continue AAACAP’s great work but also looks forward to expanding the agency’s services by developing new programs and strengthening community partnerships to meet the needs of the growing population.

> Learn more about AAACAP.

TCEQ grant available, CAPCOG funds application help

Monday, October 17, 2016

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications for the Emission Reduction Incentive Grant (ERIG) program, which funds the upgrade or replacement of trucks and non-road equipment in order to accelerate the emission reduction benefits from newer, cleaner engines. CAPCOG will assist Clean Air Coalition (CAC) members in applying to the grant program.

The deadline to submit applications is 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

This program is the largest source of NOX reductions within our region – even more than the vehicle inspection and maintenance programs in Travis and Williamson counties. It is also one of the most cost-effective air pollution control strategies available.

CAPCOG has contracted with Hazel Barbour, who is an expert in the program, to assist CAC members with applying for these grants. If would like to avail yourself of this assistance, contact her directly at 512-236-8498 or by email.

CAPCOG budgeted the contract to make about four hours of this assistance available to each CAC member for this grant opportunity. If your organization needs additional assistance, contact CAPCOG Regional Services Director, Andrew Hoekzema.

> Contact Andrew Hoekzema.

Austin-Round Rock area organizations have received significant funding from this program during the last two grant rounds. It is CAPCOG’s goal to help ensure the region gets as much funding assistance for these projects as possible.

Applications submitted from previous ERIG grant rounds will not be accepted.

Eligible CAPCOG counties include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.

> Get a grant applications form.
> Learn more about other TCEQ air quality grants.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

ERIG Workshops

Grant application workshops and dealer trainings have been scheduled to provide an overview of the ERIG application process.

The ERIG program has several new changes this year. Please plan to attend a workshop to learn more about new program requirements and new grant application forms. 
All workshops are free and no registration is required. 

1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ, Building F, Conference Room 2210
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

2-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 
Longview Public Library, Moeschile Meeting Room
222 W. Cotton St. 
Longview, TX  75601

El Paso
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ Region 6, El Paso, Video-Teleconference Room
401 E. Franklin Ave, Ste. 560
El Paso, TX 79901-1212

Corpus Christi
2-5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016
TCEQ Region 14, Conference Room 1003
Carlos Truan Natural Resources Center 
6300 Ocean Dr., #5839 
Corpus Christi, TX 78412

San Antonio
Dealer workshop: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Applicant: 1:30- 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Alamo Area Council of Governments, Al Notzon Board Room
8700 Tesoro
San Antonio, TX 78217

Dealer: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Applicant: 1:30-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
En Espanol: 5:30 -7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Tracy Gee Community Center, Room AR-1
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

1:30-4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016
Southeast Regional Planning Commission, Transportation Conference Room
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX 77703

8:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Regional Forum Room
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

State of the Region: use momentum to tackle challenges!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The 2016 State of the Region presentation compared popular conceptions against realities to convey the region’s strengths and discuss challenging issues in the areas of population growth, job growth, transportation, land use, development and more.

“We have a lot of positive momentum in our region,” said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck presenting the 2016 State of the Region. “The challenge for us is to identify how to best use that momentum to tackle some of the challenges that still remain.”

The region’s continual growth is a healthy economic statistic as it “zoomed past 2 million,” and shows no signs of slowing with about 50,000 people coming to the area per year, Schreck said. According to popular narrative, the majority of the new residents are young, millennial-hipsters, but more accurately those new residents could be “hipster-grandmothers”, he said. The largest growing demographic by percentage is people 60 to 74, whose population doubled in the last 10 years.

There are several positive trends for job and employment growth, such as advanced industries employment growing by about 40,000 jobs since 2005; however, of the 1.05 million jobs in the Capital Area, 58 percent are in occupations where people make less than $20 per hour on average. “In our region we don’t have an unemployment problem. Our problem is that many folks can work a fulltime job and still be incredibly financially stretched,” Schreck said.

Travis County is still the region’s employment epicenter, which caused about 315,000 workers to commute into the county from elsewhere as of 2014. The increasing traffic continues to congest the already stressed transportation infrastructure which is costly to expand. Developing more employment centers throughout the region, and encouraging telecommuting can help traffic and improve air quality.

The region’s environmental quality, affordability and equity, and disaster resiliency are other areas Schreck addressed in the presentation.

> Review the 2016 State of the Region.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Division.
> Read other Planning and Economic Division Publications.

Training, partnership, communication are lessons from mass shootings

Friday, October 07, 2016

Speakers from Orlando, Aurora, and Chattanooga sit on a panel during the

Public officials from Orlando, Aurora, Chattanooga, Austin and Dallas discussed the important roles training, establishing partnerships and communicating play when responding to mass shooter incidents during CAPCOG’s “Crisis Challenge, the Leadership Role,” a critical incident workshop held in September.

City of Orlando Chief Administrator, Byron Brooks, talks about the city's response to the Pulse Night Club shooting.

Training on a regional, organizational and an individual scale is a great investment for communities when it comes to responding to disasters, according to the speakers discussing how their police, emergency medical and other personnel responded to mass shooting incidents. When it comes to running mass training exercises, there may never be an incident exactly the same as a planned exercise, but routinely running them can identify response gaps, better establish command roles and create an instinct style of response. “My job is to make sure the first time we do something is not the first time we do something,” said Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga police chief. He and his officers responded to the July 2015 shooting that killed four Marines and one Navy sailor. The incident spanned about 7 miles.

Orlando routinely plans for hurricanes, said Byron Brooks, city of Orlando chief administrative officer, during the workshop. The Pulse Nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people in June 2016, was a different type of event, but city-run emergency exercises had built an organizational wide culture where non-emergency departments knew they would have to respond to meet the community’s needs. For example, Orlando’s parks department responded quickly to support the community’s response by turning a senior center into a family reunification center.

> Read the workshop's agenda.
> View the speaker's biographies.

During the Crisis Challenge: the Leadership Role,Training personnel regularly leads to a better understanding of when to act, when to follow protocol and develops trust. “Train people to make decisions,” said James Puscian, Aurora assistant police chief. During the July 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, which killed twelve and injured 70 others, several police officers realized there weren’t enough ambulances to transport the wounded who needed immediate care, so they used squad cars to take victims to nearby hospitals. Those officers’ actions saved lives, Puscian said. “Training makes it muscle memory,” said Tony Reavley, Director of Hamilton County Emergency Services in Tennessee who responded to the Chattanooga shooting. “It pays off.”

Sana Syed, City of Dallas public information officer, discusses the city's response to shooting that occurred in July 2016. Syed was one of several speakers who spoke during the

The partnerships developed during regional training and planning exercises made the Hamilton County departments’ role clear when responding to the Chattanooga shooting. “We were there to help them, and we wanted to make sure that they had the stuff they needed,” Reavley said. Hamilton County established the Emergency Operations Center, investigated other possible related incidents, helped manage the media, and assisted in organizing other agencies response to the incident, which included state police, the Navy, the Marines, the FBI and many other organizations. They also planned and coordinated security at several large related and un-related events happening in Chattanooga including two funerals, a vice-presidential visit, and a sold out U.S. Women’s soccer game. Those actions let the Chattanooga Police Department continue its investigation and management of the incident scenes. “If you don’t have a relationship with your peer agencies, it is going to affect your plan,” Fletcher said.

Sharing accurate and timely information with the public and the media is another important tool to aid in a community’s physical and emotional recovery from a mass shooting, said Sana Syed, city of Dallas public information officer; and April Michael, city of Orlando Communications Manager. Communicating what has happened, how and where people can grieve, and the incident’s effects on the community reminds residents that communities are resilient and stronger than any tragedy.

“At the end of the day, we are working together to protect the community,” said Frank Dixon, Austin Police Department Assistant Chief. That protection is born from constant learning, training, and sharing of information from people who have experienced disasters. Those who attended the “The Crisis Challenge” took a great step in preparing for a disaster. “The more you sweat here, the more you sweat during exercises, the less blood you have on your hands,” said John Jones, Assistant Director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as one of the openers of the conference.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

John Jones, Assistant Director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, opens the

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