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In the News: News from January 2018

TCEQ offers clean school bus grants

Thursday, January 25, 2018
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) started taking applications for the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), Texas Clean School Bus (TCSB) program. The program grants money to school systems to replace pre-2007 diesel-fueled school buses with new ones or to cover costs of eligible retrofit projects.

TCEQ will accept applications on first-come, first-served basis until 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, 2019, or until all available funds have been awarded.

Texas school districts, charter schools and transportation systems provided by countywide school districts can help Texas reduce air emissions from diesel-powered school buses by applying for the TCSB program. School buses proposed for replacement or retrofit must be used on a regular daily route during the standard school year and have at least five years of useful life remaining.

Maximum grant amounts for school bus replacement projects are included in the TCSB Request for Grant Applications. TCSB grants may reimburse up to 100 percent of the cost to purchase and install a retrofit device and associated equipment.

> Read the TCSB Request for Grant Applications.
> Learn more or get updates about TERP.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Contact TERP at 800-919-TERP (8377). 

New facility brings enhanced training to 9-1-1 district

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Emergency telecommunicators enrolled in Solacom and teletypewriter (TTY) courses in December were the first to train in the new CAPCOG facility designed specifically for enhancing the education of answering 9-1-1 calls.

“The new training center is designed for the telecommunicator educational environment,” said Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division director. “It is much more flexible for mock training and can allow instructors to easily transition into lectures and demonstrations.”

CAPCOG’s previous training space allowed for 11 students and shared the outer edge of the Austin backup center while the new dedicated space allows for 16 workstations. Each workstation is equipped with a fully functional 9-1-1 console like they have at their municipal or county public safety answering points (PSAPs) which allows students to experience scenario driven training as if it was a live call. The room also is more conducive for telecommunicators to view instructors or demos while interacting with workstations. “This facility allows CAPCOG instructors to further immerse trainees in a call taking environment very similar to what they are used to, so the motions and responses learned during courses are more likely to become second nature,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG PSAP specialist.

The dedicated training room, which is adjacent to the new regional backup center, also will allow for additional emergency call taking space if a situation needs more telecommunicator space. Once fully equipped the regional backup center could house more than 100 emergency telecommunicators from around the region.

> Find 9-1-1 related training courses.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

National Air Quality Conference comes to Austin

Friday, January 19, 2018

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies is hosting the 2018 National Air Quality Conference from Wednesday to Friday, Jan. 24 to 26, 2018, at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol.

The conference will bring together air quality professionals from federal, state, local and tribal air pollution organizations; metropolitan and regional planning organizations; environmental and research organizations; and industry representatives. Attendees will learn the latest information on air quality forecasting and mapping, air quality and your health, and innovative outreach programs.

Conference programs will begin Wednesday morning with an optional "AQI & AirNow 101" session for those new to air quality programs, and it will officially kick off Wednesday afternoon with an opening plenary session, followed by focused breakout sessions, exhibits, and a poster session. Breakout sessions will include two tracks: air quality forecasting and mapping, and communicating air quality. Friday afternoon will feature a closing plenary session.

> Learn more about the conference.
> Read the conference agenda.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Texas Silver-Haired Legislature grants region extra seats

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

To help fill the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) with active and committed representatives who are 60 or older, the organization expanded the number of representatives for the counties in the CAPCOG region from five to eight.

“Having extra positions from across the region provides higher visibility to older adult issues that we are facing regionally and statewide,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) director. “These new positions aren’t just for our region; they are really at-large positions with the expectation that you represent seniors throughout the state.”

TSHL representatives volunteer to recommend legislative changes affecting older Texans before each state legislature. They work on broader community issues requiring members to share ideas, learn from example, and be persistent about promoting beneficial change. Before each State Legislative Session, the TSHL provides a platform to state legislators for consideration. Its members also testify on bills during the session.

AAACAP works with TSHL to find representatives willing to serve and has sought to fill these new positions with rural volunteers to help ensure issues are addressed by a diverse demographic.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Learn more about TSHL.

CAPCOG honors Stephens with Parmer Volunteer Award

Thursday, January 11, 2018

CAPCOG presented Cathy Stephens, a Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources senior planner, with its Phill Parmer Volunteer Service Award in December for her many years of service on the Clean Air Coalition Advisory Committee and her contributions to improving regional air quality.

Stephens first joined the advisory committee in 2001 while working with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations, but continued to contribute to the group after being hired by Travis County. As an advisory committee member, she helped draft several regional air quality plans including the current Ozone Action Plan. She has helped pass idling legislation and played a vital role for Travis and Williamson counties becoming the only counties in the country to voluntarily implement a mandatory vehicle inspection and maintenance program.

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

Travis County Senior Planner, Cathy Stephens, holds the CAPCOG Phill Parmer Volunteer Services Award. She was presented the award in December. Travis County Senior Planner, Cathy Stephens, holds the CAPCOG Phill Parmer Volunteer Services Award. She was presented the award in December.

Conley receives 16th Jack Griesenbeck Regionalism Award

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

CAPCOG awarded Hays County Commissioner Will Conley with the 16th Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award for his efforts and commitment to regionalism especially in the area of transportation.

Conley, is a former chair of the CAPCOG Executive Committee, the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization, and the Capital Area Initiatives Foundation. He has also chaired the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for several years and is a member of many other regional and local organizations. “I am very proud of the things we are able to accomplish on the local and regional level here in Central Texas,” Conley said. “I think what we do matters. I think it makes a difference in people’s lives.”

“This awards honors significant efforts in regional cooperation in the ten-county capital area,” said Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long, who presented Conley with the award. “During his tenure… Commissioner Conley has helped influence transportation in a whole new way. He has tirelessly worked with local, state and federal transportation leaders to further real transportation solutions in the region.”

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

Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long (Right) presents Hays County Commissioner Will Conley  with CAPCOG's Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award. Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long (Right) presents Hays County Commissioner Will Conley  with CAPCOG's Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award.

CAPCOG Executive Committee to conduct 1st 2018 meeting

Friday, January 05, 2018

The CAPCOG Executive Committee will meet Jan. 10, 2018 for its first meeting of the new year as it welcomes four new members to the board after their election at the December General Assembly Meeting. Joining the committee are Hays County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe, Pflugerville Council Member Mike Heath, Buda Council Member Wiley Hopkins and State Representative Celia Israel, who serves as a non-voting member.

Twenty-five county and municipal elected officials sit on the CAPCOG Executive Committee which has a dual role as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District’s (CAECD) Board of Managers. The governing body conducts business for the COG regarding budgets, contracts, and general policies and procedures for operating the agency.

The Executive Committee convenes at 10 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month. The January meeting will include election of officers for 2018. The CAECD Board meets at least quarterly immediately following the Executive Committee; its first 2018 meeting also will be in January.

> Learn more about the Executive Committee.
> Read about the CAECD.

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