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In the News: News from November 2016

CAPCOG puts accurate mapping in emergency responders’ palms

Monday, November 28, 2016

The CAPCOG region’s 9-1-1 County Addressing Coordinators are testing a brand new mobile application that lets emergency responders know they are responding to the correct location anywhere in the 10-county region. Developed by CAPCOG’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program with guidance from its GIS Planning Council, the Emergency Locator Map gives first responders the same mapping information as 9-1-1 call takers see on their screens when receiving a call.

“We wanted the data to be consistent across the platforms, especially in this case where we have the first responders communicating with the call takers,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS Program manager. “The data we are using for the Emergency Locator Map is the most authoritative 9-1-1 data available about the region.”

How first responders identify address locations differ from one local agency to another. In some cases, third-party mobile mapping applications are used while in others, they are reliant on printed map books. Both can be inaccurate and use outdated information, especially since commercial and residential growth is booming throughout the region. Often peace officers and emergency medical personnel manually draw new roadways and write street names in map books to update them, which may not be printed annually. The Emergency Locator Map uses CAPCOG’s 9-1-1 addressing and street centerline data which is updated monthly — adding new subdivisions, roadways and addresses routinely. “Going to the right location is paramount,” Eissler said also noting typing in the address on a smartphone could be faster than flipping pages of a book. “We are talking about emergency situations where lives and property could be at stake. Efficiency, accuracy, and consistency is what we’re trying to accomplish.”

CAPCOG has asked its stakeholders, including the 9-1-1 Addressing County Coordinators, the GIS Planning Council, and GIS and Maps User Group (a CAPCOG advisory committee and workgroup), to evaluate the application, provide quality assurance, and recommend possible enhancements. Once those improvements are made, first responders will be asked to test the mobile application in the field and provide real-world feedback. CAPCOG hopes to use the real-world feedback, so the Emergency Locator Map will become emergency responders’ first choice of methods to respond to a scene.

Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager, explains how the Emergency Locator Map app works during a meeting with stakeholders in October.

> Find future updates about the application and read more about the GIS program.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Ozone impact analysis earns national honor

Monday, November 21, 2016

CAPCOG earned a National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) 2016 Innovation Award in October for evaluating the cost of economic development opportunities in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) if the area fails to meet national air quality ozone standards.

The project entitled “The Potential Costs of an Ozone Nonattainment Designation to Central Texas”, estimated the economic impact between $24 and $41 billion from 2018 through 2046 if this region’s ozone levels fell outside the EPA’s acceptable standards and triggered onerous regulatory consequences. CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program and the Planning and Economic Development Division collaborated on the project for which a final report was released in September 2015.

NADO, based in Washington, DC, promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies. Its Innovation Awards recognize regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness.

Chris Schreck, Planning and Economic director, and Andrew Hoekzema, Regional Services director, stand next to NADO Innovation Awards received by CAPCOG. Their  work earned CAPCOG its 10th Innovation Award.

Chris Schreck, Planning and Economic director, and Andrew Hoekzema, Regional Services director, stand next to NADO Innovation Awards received by CAPCOG. Their  work earned CAPCOG its 10th Innovation Award.

> Read the report.
> Learn about the Air Quality Program.
> Learn about the Planning and Economic Division.

Legislators to discuss priorities at General Assembly

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The 85th Texas Legislature starts in January, but before it begins, State Legislators from the CAPCOG region will provide insight into the upcoming session at the CAPCOG General Assembly Meeting being held at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 14, 2016, at the Omni SouthPark Hotel, 4140 Governors Row in Austin. General Assembly Representatives also will elect the 2017 Executive Committee.

After the meeting, CAPCOG will offer an elected officials workshop covering the Texas Public Information and Open Meetings Acts. The workshop will provide an engaging training experience for newly elected officials, who require the training within 90 days of taking office. It also may serve as a valuable interactive update for veteran elected officials.

> RSVP for the General Assembly and the workshop.

General Assembly Representatives can contact Mason Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator, to receive a code for a complimentary lunch at the meeting or to attend the workshop for free.

Hoekzema takes reins of Regional Services

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Andrew Hoekzema stepped into a new role as CAPCOG Regional Services Director Oct. 1. As the agency’s former Air Quality Program Manager, Hoekzema will continue to manage the air quality program, but also will supervise the solid waste program and other environmental and natural resource issues for the region.

Hoekzema joined CAPCOG’s Regional Services Division in 2010 as an air quality program specialist and was promoted to program manager in 2013. During his tenure, Hoekzema has increased the program’s profile and expanded the region’s air quality efforts, including serving on EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, presenting at the EPA’s 2015 International Emissions Inventory Conference, authoring an award-winning report on the potential economic costs of non-compliance with federal air quality standards, and securing an EPA Clean Air Excellence Award for the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition. Before joining CAPCOG, Hoekzema worked in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality and Small Business and Environmental Assistance Divisions.

Kelly Claflin, a 9-year veteran of CAPCOG, also was promoted in October to Information Technology Services director. Claflin takes over as CAPCOG embarks on a 50,000-square-foot facility expansion/renovation for its offices, law enforcement academy, and regional 9-1-1 center and will oversee design and installation of all support systems for security, phones, IT, audio visual and training systems, and all digital equipment.

CJD announces $16 million available for policing agencies

Friday, November 11, 2016
Source: Office of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) will open two funding opportunities on Nov. 15, 2016 for law enforcement agencies — one for body cameras and digital video storage, and the other for upgrading crime reporting systems. The grant process will run concurrently closing Jan. 16, 2017. 

This is the second round for the funding opportunities’ grant process and applications must be submitted through eGrants. While CJD will be making slight changes to the request for applications, interested agencies can review the previous year’s request.

> Review the final request of applications starting Nov. 15, 2016.

About the grants

The Body Warn Camera Program will provide funding for cameras worn by frontline officers, digital video storage, and systems for the retrieval and service of the video and equipment. About $2.2 million is available through the Body Worn Camera program with a 20 percent match required for funding. Municipal police departments and county sheriff’s offices are eligible to apply. Agencies that received funding during the first round are eligible for second round funding, but preference may be given to first time applicants.

> Read the previous request for applications.
> Get more information about applying in this year’s grant process.

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Program will make about $14 million available to assist agencies in switching from the FBI’s Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the NIBRS. While SRS provides an aggregate monthly tally of crimes, NIBRS provides circumstances and context for crimes. Its reporting includes all offenses within a single incident and additional aspects about each event, such location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.

> Read the previous request for applications.
> Get more information about applying in this year’s grant process.
> Sign up for the CAPCOG NIBRS workshop on Dec. 8, 2016.

Costs associated with NIBRS and body worn cameras are not eligible through the Justice Assistance Grant Program or any other CJD funding source. 

> Contact Matt Holderread, CAPCOG criminal justice program specialist, for more information or questions about these funding opportunities.
> Read more about CAPCOG’s Criminal Justice Program.

TCEQ extends bus grant application deadline

Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program extended the application deadline for the Texas Clean School Bus (TCSB) Program to 5 p.m. Dec. 15, 2016. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

More than $5.9 million in grant funds are available to cover the cost of retrofitting diesel-powered school buses with emission-reduction devices to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.

School buses remain the safest way to transport children, and their diesel engines are both durable and economical. However, the Texas Education Agency reports more than 40 percent of the school buses in local fleets are more than 10 years old. In the years since these vehicles were purchased, several advancements in vehicle and engine technology have helped reduce emissions from school buses.

The TCSB Program may make funding available to help school districts when purchasing and installing emissions reduction technologies such as diesel particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, and crankcase filters. School districts located in designated counties also may qualify for funding to replace existing school buses with newer, lower-emitting buses through one of several grants from TERP.

> Apply for the TCSB Grant.

Applications submitted using application forms from previous TCSB grant rounds will not be accepted. Eligible applicants must be a public school district or charter school in the state of Texas that operate diesel-powered school buses on a daily route to and from schools.

> Read the TCSB Grant flier for more details.
> Learn about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG hosts first-ever Air Quality Awards ceremony

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) hosted its first ever Air Central Texas (ACT) Awards in San Marcos on Nov. 4, 2017 to celebrate organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to regional air quality in Central Texas and to promote future action to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Texas State Representative Donna Howard (Dist. 48 – Austin) delivered the keynote speech at the ceremony at which former Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison, the Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA), and Tom “Smitty” Smith from Public Citizen won awards.

Former Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ronald Morrison posthumously received the 2016 ACT Public Sector Award for his longtime service and leadership on the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition and the Clean Air Force of Central Texas. Capital Metro and the City of Cedar Park were also nominated for the Public Sector Award.

The LSCFA received the 2016 Air Central Texas Private/Nonprofit Sector Award for their role in cleaning the air through various projects such as migrating vehicles to alternative fuels, converting much of the booming landscaping industry in Texas to propane mowers, and development of alternative fuel infrastructure. Texas Lehigh Cement Company and the Beyond Coal campaign were also nominated for the Private/Nonprofit Sector Award.

Tom “Smitty” Smith received the 2016 Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award for his work as the Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office since 1985, where he organized efforts that lead to the development of the renewable energy boom across Texas and the Texas Emission Reduction Program — both reduced air pollution in the Central Texas area and other parts of the state. This award is named in honor of CAPCOG’s former Air Quality Program Manager Bill Gill, who worked on air quality throughout his career and was instrumental in the establishment and success of the region’s air quality program. Former City of Austin and CAPCOG employee Fred Blood was also nominated for this award.

> Find more information about the 2016 Air Central Texas Awards and photos.
> Read about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program.

Voights leads Southwest Regional Executive Directors Association

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Southwest Region Executive Directors Association (SWREDA) in October elected CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights as the chair of the association’s board of directors. SWREDA spans Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas and works to advance regional issues, to develop professional improvement activities and training, and to advocate for a regional approach to economic and community development planning.

As the SWREDA chair, Voights will help spearhead a cooperative initiative with the National Association of Development Organizations, an association that advocates for regional planning and development organization related issues, to provide comprehensive and practical best-practices training for emerging leaders and staff of economic development districts and regional planning organizations between 2016 and 2019.

Voights, who has served as CAPCOG’s Executive Director since 1996, also chairs the economic development committee for the National Association of Regional Councils and serves as a Texas Manufacturing Assistance Centers board member. She was the Director of Business Development under Governor George Bush prior to joining CAPCOG staff.

> Learn more about NADO.

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