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Austin, TX 78744

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In the News: News from May 2019

Austin to buy Warn Central Texas kiosks to sign up residents

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The city of Austin is purchasing and programing digital kiosks to give residents greater access in registering to receive emergency warnings about natural and man-made disasters through CAPCOG’s  Warn Central Texas program. By registering their cellphone number or email address at, residents can receive critical, possibly life-saving, notifications from county and city public safety personnel.

With an anticipated July or August rollout, the kiosks will be decaled with branding and information, and its digital screen will be locked to the registration page. Kiosks will then either be placed in high-traffic areas or taken to city events allowing people to register their information at the direct point of contact whether that is while they wait to receive city services or while they are attending a fair, such as Earth Day Austin. is a prime online location for people to register on their own accord, but these kiosks allow the city to play a more active role in signing up residents. Other communities throughout the CAPCOG 10-county region also have taken more active steps to increase Warn Central Texas registrations. For example, Hays County registered residents using smart-tablets during its Emergency Preparedness Fair in September and Horseshoe Bay city staff asks to create accounts for residents who enter city hall.

> Learn how to promote
> Read about the Regional Notifications System.
> Find out more about the Homeland Security Division.

RPS assists with state and federal grant opportunities

Thursday, May 23, 2019

From economic development and infrastructure to sidewalks and fire trucks, the CAPCOG Regional and Planning Services Division has assisted local communities around the region with establishing projects that seek state and federal funding opportunities. CAPCOG’s goal is to help its communities identify issues and a possible funding to resolve them.

In recent months, CAPCOG has assisted cities and counties in applying for Economic Development Administration (EDA), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) funds. It has worked on various aspects of the grant application process depending on a community’s needs to include identifying grant opportunities, assisting with grant writing, coordinated site visits, and researching and organizing data to support applications. It has been particularly skilled at assisting with community development and infrastructure project proposals. CAPCOG assisted in preparing six grant applications that requested $12 million for infrastructure projects from EDA disaster recovery funds for communities in Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Lee counties. While the disaster funding is limited to those four CAPCOG counties, the application process for the EDA’s public works infrastructure grant is very similar, and CAPCOG could assist other communities in seeking those monies.

CAPCOG also has helped two communities apply for TDA-Fast Grants, which helps procure fire trucks and ambulances for non-entitlement rural communities using Community Development Block Grant funds, and two TxDOT Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes to Schools grants.

The EDA anticipates announcing grant recipients in late May; the other applications are under review by their awarding agency.

> Learn about the Economic Development Program.

Aging services rekindles relationship with SALT groups

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area is joining several Senior and Law Enforcement Together (SALT) organizations, so it can be a more accessible resource for policing agencies and older adults facing public safety issues. SALTs are local groups of policing agencies and older adults who work to decrease crime, the fear of crime, and improve victim assistance and public safety awareness among older residents.

“First responders can often be the first people called when older adults have an issue,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG Aging Services director. “Working with these local organizations allows us to educate peace officers and older adults on services the Area Agency on Aging and the Aging and Disability Resource Center provide as well as direct them to other nonprofit older adult services and supports.” The relationship is two-fold though as CAPCOG is also learning about crime-related issues older adults are facing in their local communities, so it can assist with prevention and victim services.

CAPCOG has attended SALTs in Round Rock and the Caldwell County, which includes Lockhart and Lulling, and is hoping to attend the Bastrop County group in the coming weeks.

> Contact Rhonda Thompson, CAPCOG Aging Services program specialist, to connect your local SALT to the Area Agency on Aging.
> Read more about the Agency.

Prepare for wildfire season by being Firewise and registering for WarnCentralTexas

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Emergency management and fire officials and local advocates urged Central Texas residents to prepare for the 2019 wildfire season, which started in May, by staying aware of their wildfire risk, actively mitigating dangers, and being prepared to act. Residents can accomplish these tasks by becoming a Firewise USA Community and registering at to get emergency alerts from local public safety personnel by text message, cellphone call, or email.

“We like to say that wildfires are everyone’s fight in Central Texas,” said Justice Jones, Austin Fire Department wildfire mitigation officer. “Taking simple steps can ensure your home doesn’t ignite during a wildfire such as keeping debris from your gutters and trimming your trees to eliminate dead wood and leaf litter… and heeding the warnings you receive through WarnCentralTexas.”

WarnCentralTexas is a free public service provided by the Capital Area Council of Governments in conjunction with the region’s cities and counties for individuals living, working or visiting Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis, and Williamson counties. The system allows emergency responders to send hyper-local, targeted emergency messages to people in specific neighborhoods or streets, which can include evacuation or shelter-in-place instructions.

Kari Hines, with the Texas A&M Forest Service, speaks with Will Boettner, Travis County Fire Marshall Office’s fire education outreach coordinator, about the wildfire season. The wildfire forecast state wildfires have a higher probability of being worse later in the summer. (photo by Connie Odom/Williamson County)

The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise USA program encourages neighbors to work together to prevent losses that could be caused by wildfires. “We know wildfires are increasing in number and intensity,” said Randall Jamieson, a River Place neighborhood Firewise Community leader. Because of the Firewise USA Program, River Place residents have educated and motivated themselves to take their own risk-reduction actions and to know what parts of the neighborhood could serve as firebreaks or as a wildfire refuge to ensure their safety if an evacuation or shelter-in-place scenario is needed.

“Being a Firewise Community means being informed and taking action,” said Joyce Statz, Austin Firewise Alliance president. The alliance runs a quarterly in-depth training for community leaders to better understand how to make their neighborhoods more resilient against wildfires. Education and participation play big roles, she said, noting that a community event to clear brush can go a long way. Residents from all communities are welcome to learn from the alliance.

Kari Hines, with the Texas A&M Forest Service, said this year’s wildfire risk is going to increase later in summer because of the higher than average amount of rain the area has received: increased rains lead to more vegetation and provide more fuel for wildfires.

“You need to keep yourself as informed as possible,” said Will Boettner, Travis County Fire Marshall Office’s fire education outreach coordinator. “The best way to do that is to be tapped into the WarnCentralTexas system. Remember when green grass gets tall, it burns twice as tall.”

> Get Alerts at
> Learn about becoming a Firewise USA Community.
> Help promote
> Read about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

CAPCOG Homeland Security Director, Martin Ritchey, tell residents how signup for alerts at could save lives.CAPCOG Homeland Security Director, Martin Ritchey, tell residents how signup for alerts at could save lives.

Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program seeks bus projects

Monday, May 13, 2019
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program is accepting applications for the first round of funding with more than $58 million available for projects to replace or repower school buses, transit buses, and shuttle buses. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Any person or entity who operates school buses, transit buses, or shuttle buses, with at least 51 percent of the buses’ annual mileage in one of the priority areas may be eligible to apply for a grant. Areas include:

  • Austin Area: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties 
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur Area: Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange counties 
  • Bell County
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Area: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hood, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Wise counties 
  • El Paso County 
  • Houston-Galveston-Brazoria Area: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties 
  • San Antonio Area: Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, and Wilson counties 

An eligible bus must be powered by a diesel engine and may be replaced or repowered with a new all-electric, diesel, or alternative fuel vehicle or engine. In addition:

  • School buses include a bus with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 14,001 pounds or greater and which is intended to carry students to and from school and related events. 
  • Transit and shuttle buses include a bus with a GVWR of 14,001 pounds or greater and which carry passengers on routes within a city or defined regional area. 

Informational workshops will be held throughout the month of May.

> Get the workshop schedule.
> Contact TxVEMP staff at 833-215- 8989 or with questions.

CAPCOG increases location accuracy for wireless 9-1-1 callers

Thursday, May 09, 2019

The CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division has installed new RapidSOS software at nearly all the 10-county region’s public safety answering points (PSAPs) to enhance the ability for emergency telecommunicators to pinpoint a caller’s location. During testing, the mapping technology produced a significantly more accurate location than traditional 9-1-1 location services.

“This technology upgrade gives a better chance of dispatching emergency services directly to a caller’s location even if the caller doesn’t know where they are,” said Melissa Reynolds, CAPCOG 9-1-1 operations coordinator. “This can save responders time and ultimately lead to saving lives.”

RapidSOS’s region-wide implementation in April provides emergency telecommunicators an additional source of caller location information. Telecommunicators still receive carrier-based cell tower location information when a 9-1-1 call is received, but now they see an additional dot on the map when a RapidSOS enabled device places the call. RapidSOS uses a cellphone's GPS if the phone is running iOS12, Android 4 or a higher version of the operating systems on a compatible device to send its location. However, RapidSOS is a best-effort service and may not be available for every 9-1-1 call placed.

CAPCOG has integrated the software with its 9-1-1 call mapping system at every PSAP except those using their own mapping systems — Austin-Travis County Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center, Williamson County Emergency Communications and the Round Rock 9-1-1 Center. Those agencies use a web-based version of the tool. Despite having the more accurate location information, CAPCOG continues to train emergency telecommunicators that the most accurate location information often comes from multiple sources, with the best location usually coming directly from the caller.

> Learn more about the Emergency Communications Division.

Air Quality Program holds energy efficiency workshop

Monday, May 06, 2019

The CAPCOG Air Quality Program is hosting several energy efficiency specialists to conduct a workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 29 for local governments and facility managers about reducing buildings’ energy consumption. Lowering water and energy consumption at facilities leads to less electricity usage allowing power plants to produce less which lowers emissions.

The presenters will discuss simple projects that anyone can implement, such as changing lights to LED bulbs, as well as larger measures, such as implementing best-practices for designing or renovating more sustainable facilities. They also will provide Information about funding opportunities for efficiency projects to include Energy Saving Performance Contracts — project loans that recoup expenses through the efficiency savings.

Presenting organizations will include State Energy Conservation Office, Texas PACE Authority, and the South-Central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER). Each group focuses on public sector energy efficient measures but is not limited to city and county facility knowledge. CAPCOG also is encouraging school districts and anyone who manages or owns a facility to attend the workshop. The workshop will be held at the CAPCOG offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165 in Austin.

> Register for the workshop.
> Learn more about the Air Quality Program.

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