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In the News: News from September 2017

$6 million available for alternative fuel, natural gas fueling stations

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) is accepting applications for grants to help defray the costs of building or modifying alternative fueling facilities. The state has made up to $6 million available to individuals, businesses, and governments that qualify.

The facilities will serve as the foundation of a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel in Texas. Developing this network of facilities will create jobs, ensure viable use of clean energy, and will help reduce air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels.

This grant under the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) offsets a portion of the cost of either the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels, or the expansion of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities. Eligible fuels for the AFFP include natural gas, biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, propane, and electricity. Eligible individuals, businesses, and governments must be within the state’s Clean Transportation Zone, which includes seven counties in the CAPCOG region — Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson.

The TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. It also has scheduled eight AFFP grant application workshops to review the grant requirements and the application process.

AUSTIN
9 a.m., TUESDAY, NOV. 21, 2017
TCEQ's Austin Office
Building E, 2nd Floor, Room 254S
12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, TX 78753

EL PASO
1 p.m., WEDNESDAY, NOV. 1, 2017
Rio Grande Council of Governments (Main Conference Room)
8037 Lockheed Drive, Suite 100
El Paso, Texas 79925

TYLER
9 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
TCEQ Region 5 Office, Large Conference Room
2916 Teague Dr.
Tyler, Texas 75701

ARLINGTON
9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

LAREDO
9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
Laredo Chamber of Commerce, Boardroom
2310 San Bernardo Ave.
Laredo, Texas 78040

CORPUS CHRISTI
9 a.m, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017
Coastal Bend COG, Large Conference Room
2910 Leopard Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78408 

SAN ANTONIO
9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 20, 2017
8700 Tesoro Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78217

HOUSTON
9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Conference Room A
3555 Timmons, Suite 120 
Houston, TX 77027

> RSVP for a workshop by emailing Camen Gupta, TCEQ Program Coordinator.
> Read more about the AFFP.
> Learn more about the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
> Find out about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Homeland security director completes advanced academy

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Eric Carter, CAPCOG homeland security director, recently graduated from FEMA’s National Emergency Management Advance Academy adding more specialized skills and training to help communities manage their dynamic and resilient emergency management needs throughout the CAPCOG ten-county region.

The week-long residency academy reinforced qualities needed to manage emergency management programs and provided relevant management theories and concepts. It also taught critical skills to perform emergency management responsibilities such as program management and oversight, effective communication at all levels, integrated collaboration, and strategic thinking.

Carter has completed incident command training and FEMA's professional development series, which teaches seven courses to include training on conducting exercises and emergency planning, being an influential leader and effective communicator, and developing and managing volunteers. Carter has a bachelor's degree in Emergency Administration and Planning from the University of North Texas, and a master’s in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

TDA seeks Small Town Environmental Program applications

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture will accept Small Town Environmental Program (STEP) applications Feb. 1, 2018 but any applications completed and submitted before the date will be considered received and date‐stamped Feb. 1, 2018.

Applicants are invited to apply for STEP. Before a community submits a STEP application, they must first submit a letter of interest and schedule a Town Hall meeting with TDA. Communities interested in submitting a Feb. 1, 2018 application can submit their letter of interest and contact TDA to schedule a town hall meeting now. A Community Assessment must also be completed after the town hall meeting, but before an application is submitted. Contact TDA for the Community Assessment form.

The amount available for the 2018 Program Year is $700,000. The STEP Fund is:

  • Available for water and sewer infrastructure improvements utilizing self-help methods
  • Must demonstrate a 40 percent cost saving off the retail construction price by using volunteer labor and material resources 
  • Must demonstrate strong local participation
  • Overall construction and implementation must be performed predominately by community volunteer workers

Applications will be accepted until all funds expended. Ties will be broken using criteria previously established for the TxCDBG‐Community Development Fund (per capita income, poverty rate, and unemployment rate).

> Get more information about STEP.
> Learn about the Regional Review Committee.

USDOT announces $500 Million Funding Opportunity

Monday, September 18, 2017
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

WASHINGTON – State and local stakeholders can apply to receive funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 appropriated $500 million, available through Sept. 30, 2020, for national infrastructure investments or TIGER grants. Funds for FY 2017 TIGER grants program are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will significantly impact the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. The FY 2017 Appropriations Act specifies TIGER Discretionary Grants may not be less than $5 million and not greater than $25 million. Except for projects located in rural areas, the minimum TIGER Discretionary Grant is $1 million.

The FY 2017 TIGER program will give special consideration to projects which emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas, such as projects that improve infrastructure conditions, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness.

To provide technical assistance to a broad array of stakeholders, USDOT is hosting a series of webinars during the FY 2017 TIGER grant application process. A webinar on competing for TIGER grants will be from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Sept. 19 and Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Additional webinars will be scheduled.

> Register for a TIGER Webinar Series.

FY 2017 TIGER grant program applications are due Monday, Oct. 16. Since the program’s start, $5.1 billion has been awarded for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. TIGER grants historically have achieved a co-investment of $3.60 per TIGER dollar invested.

> Learn more about the TIGER program.
> Find out about the Capital Area Regional Transportation Organization.

AAACAP strengthens seniors’ balance for Falls Prevention Day

Thursday, September 14, 2017

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is Sept. 22, 2017, and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) will strengthen the balance of older adults throughout Williamson County by conducting three A Matter of Balance (AMOB) programs in September.

> Organizations in other counties in the region are welcome to schedule future programs by contacting Kate Gibbons.

According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans who are 65 and older falls each year; every 11 seconds an older adult visits the emergency room for a fall; and falls annually result in more than 2.8 million injuries, 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths.

AMOB programs teach older adults how to reduce fall risks through exercises that increase strength and balance and viewing falls as controllable. The scheduled AMOB programs will be at the Allen R. Baca Center in Round Rock, The Wesleyan at Estrella in Georgetown; and Seton Williamson Round Rock Learning Center 1.

Prevent falling by:

  • Asking your healthcare provider to evaluate your falling risk and make recommendations to prevent falling
  • Asking your pharmacist to review your medicines to prevent dizziness or drowsiness 
  • Doing strength and balance exercises
  • Having your eyes checked
  • Making your home safer by removing tripping hazards, adding grab bars to bathrooms, and putting railings on both sides of stairs

> Learn more about AMOB programs.
> Read about AAACAP.

CAPCOG wants to triple Warn Central Texas registrations in September

Monday, September 11, 2017

A regional press conference in August kicked off CAPCOG’s effort to triple the number of residents who have registered their information at WarnCentralTexas.org to receive local warnings about emergencies happening in their neighborhood. The effort will continue regionally as local jurisdictions push outreach messaging through September as part of National Preparedness month.

“In the 2011 (Bastrop) fire, the line between emergency and full scale disaster vanished within a heartbeat,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, who spoke at the press conference. He was one of more than 50 elected, public safety and emergency management officials who attended the press conference. “We knew within a few minutes that this was not a fire we could fight. We just needed to get people out of harm’s way, and had Warn Central Texas been up and running and more active at that time we would have been more successful in evacuating tens of thousands of people more efficiently. … I speak on behalf of all the county judges in the CAPCOG region: ‘Citizens of central Texas, register today for Warn Central Texas and let’s be prepared for the next natural disaster.’”

Every landline in the ten-county region receives calls from the regional notification system CAPCOG uses; however, cellphone users must register their information to receive the same warning messages by cellphone, text message and email. Every jurisdiction in the ten-county region can use the system to share critical emergency information events, such as:

  • Evacuations from floods, wildfires or public health threats,
  • Shelter-in-place information during law enforcement or public health incidents,
  • Boil water notices or prolonged power outages, and
  • Options to receive general, non-emergency community messages.

As of August, about 60,000 people had registered to receive warning messages in the CAPCOG region, and nearly an additional 23,000 residents registered on Aug. 27 in preparation of hurricane Harvey.
“As Central Texas citizens abandon landlines, enrollment in the WarnCentralTexas.org program becomes even more important,” said Burnet County Commissioner Joe Don Dockery at the press conference. “This program is one of the most critical links available between public and local entities during an event.”

To further aid the registration drive, many local governments are conducting social media campaigns and distributing public education materials. CAPCOG has purchased banners and flyers to place inside local government offices, which are available for any jurisdiction to distribute. To join the campaign and receive digital or printed materials for WarnCentralTexas.org, contact Mason Canales or Carolyn Sudduth.

“Reaching 180,000 registrants is a lofty goal, but one this region can make,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “It is important that residents know this tool exists alongside the other many actions emergency personnel take to notify the public about what to do during disasters. If this tool can save one life, then the campaign has worked.”

CAPCOG has revamped WarnCentralTexas.org to not only promote RNS registration but serve as a resource for residents to discover how their communities distribute emergency information, so residents can stay informed whether they live in one county, work in another, and vacation in a third.

> Find more information about the regional notification system and WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Go to WarnCentralTexas.org to register for alerts.

CAPCOG seeks nominations for regional, air quality awards

Thursday, September 07, 2017

CAPCOG is soliciting nominations for its 2017 Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award and its Air Central Texas Awards; each award recognizes people or organizations that have played pivotal roles in strengthening the region through their actions.

Named after Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chair, the regionalism award honors someone who consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits, and other organizations. Nominees can include volunteers, community leaders or elected officials whose work has stretched beyond county lines to further regional efforts.

> Get the regionalism award nomination form. 
> Submitt the form to Mason Canales before 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 13.

The Air Central Texas Awards recognize activities by organizations and individuals that have made significant contributions to regional air quality and promote future action on the part of the community to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22.

The second annual Air Central Texas Award ceremony will introduce the new Air Central Texas Media Award to highlight the media’s role in communicating air quality issues to the public. The other awards include:

  • Air Central Texas Public Sector Award - recognizing public sector actions that help improve/protect regional air quality.
  • Air Central Texas Private/Nonprofit Sector Award - recognizing private or nonprofit sector actions that help improve/protect regional air quality during the past year.
  • Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award - recognizing an individual who’s made a significant and lasting impact on Central Texas air quality.

> Find out more about the Air Central Texas Awards and how to submit nominations.

The award ceremony is planned for November.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

September General Assembly features legislator panel

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Texas House of Representatives from CAPCOG’s region will discuss the outcome of the 85th Texas Legislative Session during a panel forum at the 2017 CAPCOG General Assembly meeting at 11:30 a.m., Sept. 13 at the Austin Marriott South, 4415 South IH-35. Participating State Representatives include  John Cyrier, Larry Gonzales, Jason Isaac, Donna Howard, Terry Wilson, and Paul Workman.

The CAPCOG General Assembly will conduct its September business meeting before the panel by electing the new Nominating Committee whose primary job is developing a slate of elected officials for the 2018 CAPCOG Executive Committee, and approving the 2018 Fiscal Year budget.

> General Assembly members RSVP to attend.

Following the meeting, CAPCOG will conduct the “Economic Development Toolbox workshop” for elected officials, planners and economic development stakeholders. The two- and a half-hour workshop will examine the legal aspects of tools cities and counties can use as part of their economic development strategy. It will cover topics such as special economic development districts and zones, incentives, and economic development corporations. Continuing education credits are available for attending.

> Register for the workshop.
> Contact Mason Canales about attending the meeting and workshop for free.

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