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Building 310, Suite 165
Austin, TX 78744

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In the News: News from January 2017

Air quality calculator estimates NOx contribution

Friday, January 27, 2017

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program launched a new emissions calculator on the Air Central Texas website to let residents calculate the impact of typical day-to-day activities on regional air pollution levels.

The calculator estimates nitrogen oxides (NOX), the key contributor to ground-level ozone air pollution and particulate matter air pollution in the region. These pollutants can make it difficult to breathe and high levels can put the region at risk for violating federal air quality standards. The calculator uses emissions data for vehicles, power plants, natural gas and propane combustion, electricity used to pump and treat water, and gasoline use in lawn care.

Using the calculator lets residents improve their understanding of how their activities can affect regional air pollution and how behavioral changes can reduce their impact.

Residents can use the Air Central Texas emissions calculator to estimate their air pollution contribution. The calculator can be used any time at aircentraltexas.org.

Residents can use the Air Central Texas emissions calculator to estimate their air pollution contribution. The calculator can be used any time at aircentraltexas.org.

> Use or promote the calculator.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Hamilton earns Phill Parmer award

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bill Hamilton, a former member of CAPCOG’s Executive Committee and mayor of Rollingwood, has long been dedicated to serving the region by participating on CAPCOG committees and was honored for his service beginning in 2002 with its Phill Parmer Volunteer Service Award in December.

Hamilton served on the Executive Committee for six years and worked on the ad hoc building committee the last time CAPCOG moved its offices. He was a founding member of the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CARTPO) and has continued to serve on the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) Committee; he currently serves as vice chair. Public service is a 24-hour a day job in which people want to solve problems and sometimes they can do that before problems occur, Hamilton said. Volunteering on CAPCOG’s committees has allowed him to accomplish that.

The Phill Parmer award is named after CAPCOG’s longest serving Aging Advisory Council member from Llano County who also volunteered in the region as an ombudsman and advocated for senior issues in the legislature.

Bill Hamilton accepts the Phill Parmer award from CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights.

Bill Hamilton accepts the Phill Parmer award from CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights.

> Learn more about CARTPO.
> Learn more about CAEDD.

CAPCOG honors Workman for regional efforts

Monday, January 23, 2017

Texas State Representative Paul Workman received CAPCOG’s 15th Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award honoring his commitment to working regionally on key issues.

Workman, whose district serves a portion of Travis County, was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2011, and he was among the first state representatives to join CAPCOG’s Executive Committee in 2012 as a nonvoting member. Workman has been an ally for the region during legislative sessions but he took the lead during the 2013 Legislative Session to introduce a bill that made CAPCOG the first COG to also be an emergency communications district.  The legislation, on which Senator Kirk Watson partnered with the companion bill that ultimately became law, released CAPCOG from state oversight of the region’s 9-1-1 program, ensuring all applicable 9-1-1 fees are available to fund emergency communications as directed by local officials.

Workman still serves on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee.

The regionalism award is named after former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chairman, and recognizes a person who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits and other organizations.

Texas State Representative Paul Workman accepts the  Jack Griesenbeck award from Williams County Commissioner and 2016 CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Long.

Texas State Representative Paul Workman accepts the  Jack Griesenbeck award from Williams County Commissioner and 2016 CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Long.

> Learn more about Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

Legislators discuss upcoming 85th Texas session

Friday, January 20, 2017

Four state legislators, who also served on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee for 2016, provided highlights of issues likely to get attention when the 85th Session starts; Representatives Paul Workman, Jason Isaac, Eddie Rodriguez, and John Cyrier commented on issues outlined by CAPCOG as well as other topics likely to see legislative action.

“The more you can educate us, the more we can educate other members,” Cyrier said answering a question about how local elected officials can help legislators understand the roles COGs play in supporting local governments. Representative Workman noted every legislator has a COG in their district, so it is important for them to know what issues COGs face.

Commissioner Cynthia Long, CAPCOG Chair, moderated the panel and directed questions to the legislators regarding several of CAPCOG’s programs funded by the state, acknowledging that it could be a tight budget year but it’s important to maintain funding levels for solid waste management, law enforcement training, and air quality monitoring work.

During the legislative session, CAPCOG makes an extra effort to keep local elected officials informed about legislative issues that could affect COGs’ programs and services that support local communities, so they can speak at public hearings or directly to legislators. CAPCOG also provides legislators with program related data about legislative issues when requested.

COGs and especially CAPCOG have a “great track record” of providing fact based data about their programs that benefit local governments, Cyrier said.  Such evidence goes a long way in educating legislators about an issue, Rodriguez added.

Long noted COGs can also be an existing mechanism to help the state with new programs. In 2003, Governor Perry made the decision to have the state’s 24 COGs manage homeland security planning. Long also opened the floor for questions.

Texas State Representatives Paul Workman, John Cyrier, Eddie Rodriguez and Jason Isaac discuss the 85th Texas legislative session during CAPCOG's December General Assembly Meeting.

Texas State Representatives Paul Workman, John Cyrier, Eddie Rodriguez and Jason Isaac discuss the 85th Texas legislative session during CAPCOG's December General Assembly Meeting.

In summarizing the discussion, each of the legislators joined in to list the key issues to be discussed during the 85th session:

  • The state budget
  • Ground water conservation and usage
  • The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan
  • Higher education and workforce training
  • Public education
  • Infrastructure
  • Food security
  • Child protective services

CAPCOG builds additional PSAP, office space

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CAPCOG’s current offices in southeast Austin will be expanded significantly in 2017 to allow the City of Austin’s back-up Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to double in size, add an adjoining PSAP to be used for back-up call taking by the other PSAPs throughout the ten-county region, and to expand the training center for emergency communications. The expansion adds 17,000 SF at the Bergstrom Tech Center on Burleson Road – projected completion of work is June 2017.

Adding the emergency communications space triggers changes for the rest of CAPCOG; the offices for the Area Agency on Aging/Aging and Disability Resource Center, Regional Services, Planning & Economic Development, and the Administrative Services Divisions will relocate to new space near the main entrance, an area formerly occupied by LCRA. The Aging Services offices will be at the front of this space allowing easier access by clients.

CAPCOG’s public safety divisions, Homeland Security, the Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA), and Emergency Communications, will stay in the current suite of office space but in new offices relocated within that space to make room for the PSAP expansions. RLEA will benefit by getting more training and storage space which will be across the hallway from its current location.

CAPCOG will be announcing some scheduling shifts in late February to accommodate the phased construction process – all the divisions moving to the new space in Suite 155 are expected to do so by March 5 which means all meetings for criminal justice, solid waste, air quality, economic development, transportation, aging, and GIS could be moved forward or back a week, according to Betty Voights, CAPCOG’s executive director, who added that all of the changes affecting our customers will be on our website by Feb. 1.

> Contact Betty Voights with any inquiries about the expansion work and relocation of offices.

New EPA program loans $1 billion for water projects

Monday, January 16, 2017
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made available about $1 billion in credit assistance for water infrastructure projects under the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

The program will provide long-term, low-cost credit assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to creditworthy water projects. WIFIA provides another option for financing large infrastructure projects – generally at least $20 million – in addition to the State Revolving Funds and the bond market. WIFIA is available to state, local, and tribal governments; private entities; partnerships; and State Revolving Fund programs. 
Some projects that WIFIA enables EPA to provide assistance for include:

  • drinking water treatment and distribution projects
  • wastewater conveyance and treatment projects
  • enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
  • desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling projects
  • drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects

EPA will evaluate projects using criteria such as the extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, helps maintain or protect public health or the environment, protects against extreme weather, and serves regions with significant water resource challenges. EPA will make selections on a competitive basis.

> Read more information about WIFA.

TWDB offers 2017 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2017 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants. Applications are due to the TWDB no later than noon Feb. 15, 2017.

The TWDB has up to $600,000 in grant funding available. Eligible grant categories this year include:

  • Agricultural water use monitoring equipment
  • Demonstration and technology transfer
  • Study of irrigation efficiency in Texas

> Review the request for applications.
> Read the application instructions.

For more information, contact Cameron Turner at 512-936-6090 or cameron.turner@twdb.texas.gov.

> Learn more about the Agricultural Water Conservation Grants Program.

CAPCOG hosts Criminal Justice grant workshops

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) is accepting applications from governmental and nonprofit organizations for four grant programs which anticipate distributing $8.5 million in the ten-county CAPCOG region during the 2018 fiscal year to improve victim services, reduce crime and increase public safety. Entities seeking 2018 funds must apply to the appropriate program by 5 p.m., Feb. 20, 2017.

They also must attend one of two grant writing workshops held by CAPCOG from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 12 and 13 at 6800 Burleson Road Building 310, Suite 165 in Austin. Each workshop will cover who is eligible to apply, eligible activities, application requirements, funding periods, regulations, certifications and other rules for the following CJD funding sources:

General Victim Assistance - Direct Services, about $7.2 million is available

Violent Crimes Against Women Criminal Justice and Training Projects, $385,851 is available

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, $430,979 is available

Justice Assistance Grant, $462,612 is available

> Register for the Jan. 12 workshop.
> Register for the Jan. 13 workshop.

Each year, CAPCOG works with regional stakeholders to develop or update a criminal justice strategic plan and funding priorities. Because of this planning, applications received, and CJD fund allocations developed in 2016, organizations in the region will receive about $3.4 million during FY 2017.

After the CJD deadline, CAPCOG’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee will conduct applicant scoring and prioritization meetings, scheduled for March 29 and 30.

> Check for grant updates.
> Contact Matt Holderread, criminal justice program specialist.

New Executive Committee to hold first 2017 meeting

Monday, January 09, 2017

CAPCOG’s new Executive Committee for 2017 will meet on Jan. 11 with five new committee members taking seats on the council of governments’ (COG) governing body after the December General Assembly elections. New to the committee are: Round Rock Council Member Frank Leffingwell, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales, San Marcos Council Member Jane Hughson, Smithville Council Member William Gordon, and Taylor Mayor Pro Tem Brandt Rydell.

The Executive Committee, which includes 25 city and county elected officials, conducts business for the COG regarding budgets, contracts, and general policies and procedures for operating the agency. The committee will also include three state legislators; returning from 2016 are Representatives Cyrier, Isaac, and Workman.

The Executive Committee convenes the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.

> Find a complete list of CAPCOG's Executive Committee members.

Texas Silver-Haired Legislatures seeks election candidates

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) released its Notice to File for Candidacy earlier this month seeking older adults to serve the organization. Interested parties must complete and submit four required forms to the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area by Feb. 28, 2017 to file for the election.

The vision of TSHL is that applied wisdom, energy, and experience of aging will improve the lives of all Texans through education, knowledge and involvement in legislation and governmental affairs. TSHL is comprised of representatives across Texas who are 60 years of age or older elected by their peers. These legislators become directly involved in the state legislative process, working closely with Texas legislators during each legislative session. Currently, the Capital Area THSL District, which is the ten-county CAPCOG region, has six legislative positions available. 

> Download the Notice to File for Candidacy.
> Contact CAPCOG Aging Services Director Patty Bordie with applicant inquires and to request candidate forms.
> Learn more about the TSHL.

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