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In the News

CAPCOG recommends homeland security grants projects

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The CAPCOG Executive Committee and its Homeland Security Task Force prioritized 40 projects that requested funding from the Texas Office of the Governor State Homeland Security Program. The state program will award funding in August 2019 using CAPCOG’s prioritization as a recommendation. CAPCOG anticipates between 16 and 20 of them will receive some level of funding based on previous years’ awards.

“Projects that received a high prioritization were those that strengthened the region’s ability to provide a coordinated regional response to terroristic events to which a single jurisdiction could not respond,” said Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG homeland security director. “As every year, CAPCOG relied on the expertise of emergency managers and first responders to help prioritize these projects.” The projects ranged from planning and training projects to purchasing specialized equipment for professional response teams and additional resources for volunteer recovery teams.

The Homeland Security Task Force reviewed and ranked each project based on its nexus to terrorism; its core capability to fill gaps as identified in the regional State Preparedness Report; their ability to demonstrate a regional approach to preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation; and their ability to either sustain, build, or expand existing homeland security programs. In previous years, CAPCOG area projects have received between $1.3 million and $1.6 million in funding from the grant program. During the 2019 application process, applications for requested projects totaled more than $6 million.

> Read about the grant process.
> Learn more about the homeland security division.

National air quality campaign important to region

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Air Quality Awareness Week is a national campaign that recognizes the importance of clean air for our health and wellbeing while educating people about the air quality index (AQI) and how they can protect their local air quality. CAPCOG will join national partners, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Weather Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and encourage local jurisdictions to participate in the awareness campaign from April 29 to May 3.

While Central Texas’ air quality is improving, it is important to participate this campaign because the CAPCOG region is still at risk of violating federal health-based standards for pollution levels. In 2018, regional air pollution levels were considered “moderate” or worse for more than 35 percent of the year, and this poor air quality particularly affects children, older adults, and people with lung and heart disease, demographics that make up two out of five Central Texas residents.

The 2019 Air Quality Awareness Week theme is Check the AQI and Get Outside. Each day will focus on a different topic encouraging people to check the AQI for the best times to be active outdoors.

The CAPCOG Executive Committee is set to declare April 29 through May 3 Air Quality Awareness Week on April 10. Local jurisdictions and other agencies get the resolution at to draft proclamations.

> Participate by sharing Facebook post.
> Participate by sharing Twitter post.
> For more information, contact Anton Cox, CAPCOG air quality program specialist.
> Learn more about the Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG calls for Orthoimagery projects, geospatial savings

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

CAPCOG is coordinating the purchase of geospatial data through its 2020 Capital Area Orthoimagery Project in partnership with Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) Strategic Mapping Program (StratMap) as a regional cooperative effort to save local jurisdictions money. There is a May 31 deadline to submit projects.

Orthoimagery is scale-corrected so governments, utilities, planners, developers and others can use it as an accurate base map or reference to create vector data —points, lines, and polygons that represent those features in the imagery. This allows for accurate measurements and can be overlaid with other data in geographic information systems (GIS) to produce maps and conduct spatial analysis.

Local jurisdictions can experience savings on purchasing higher resolution orthoimagery, 6-inch or higher, based on the volume of participants and by not duplicating project procurement. Higher resolution imagery is most common for infrastructure planning and mapping projects. CAPCOG will purchase 12-inch resolution imagery across the region for areas where higher resolution imagery is not purchased. A conservative budget estimate to participate in the project is about $100 per square mile of 6-inch orthoimagery; however, the 2019 Capital Area Orthoimagery Project purchased 6-inch resolution for $75 per square mile.

Local jurisdictions also can procure other geospatial products, such as LiDAR which is valuable for flood modeling and other elevation-based analyses, directly through StratMap to further save during this program cycle.

> Join the Capital Area Orthoimagery Project.
> Order other StratMap geospatial products through StratMap.

CAPCOG upgrades 9-1-1 workstations throughout region

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

New workstations being installed by CAPCOG in all 31 public safety answering points (PSAPs) across the region will allow for NextGeneration 9-1-1 once it is instituted; NextGeneration 9-1-1 is a more resilient digital infrastructure system which allows voice, photos, videos, and real-time text messages to flow seamlessly from the public to 9-1-1 call takers. CAPCOG began installing the workstations for emergency telecommunicators in all ten counties in February with completion set for May. While the project is a routine upgrade, it will enhance telecommunicators’ ability to navigate their 9-1-1 system tools.

Each upgraded workstation includes a new computer and at least one 23-inch monitor. If the PSAP uses CAPCOG’s mapping, a second 23-inch monitor will be provided. The older workstations operated on 19-inch monitors, so the increased monitor size allows for an expanded layout of the 9-1-1 dashboard.

Before issuing the new workstations, CAPCOG installed and tested the systems in its training PSAP. Lago Vista’s PSAP was the first to receive the equipment.

> Learn more about CAPCOG’s role in emergency communications.

Standard Response Protocol training video instructs students on safety actions

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Students will be better prepared to respond to terroristic incidents with a new educational video developed through a partnership between Hays County Emergency Services, Texas State, the Office of the Governor, the I Love You Guys Foundation, and CAPCOG as the educational tool promotes the use of the Standard Response Protocol.

The roughly 37-minute video will show students ages eight to 18 how to respond to mass shootings as well as other incidents on their campus. “With the events that are happening around the nation today, we have wanted to invest in educational response tools such as this video for some time, so they can easily be distributed to every school in our region,” said Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. CAPCOG worked with the Office of the Governor’s Homeland Security Grant Division to ensure the video’s production was funded.

The video is multifaceted in teaching responses to incidents which require a lockdown, lockout, evacuation, or shelter; all actions that are part of the Standard Response Protocol. The video can be broken into segments so students can watch particular lessons at shortened lengths. It is the second video created to directly target educating students; a pre-k through second-grade video was released in mid-February. The Standard Response Protocol was developed initially by the I Love You Guys Foundation. The video will be posted at later this month.

> Read more about the Homeland Security Division.

CAPCOG to recognize emergency telecommunicators

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

More than 800 emergency telecommunicators serve the CAPCOG ten-county region as the first, first responders, and they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure their communities are safe. In recognition of their unending dedication to the public’s wellbeing, in March the CAPCOG Executive Committee recognized them in conjunction with National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, April 14 to 20.

“Telecommunicators are the invaluable connection between emergency responders and the public needing aid in times of crisis,” said Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG Emergency Communications director. “These individuals don’t just dispatch police, paramedics or firefighters, they save lives. Each and every telecommunicator is the backbone of our 9-1-1 operations.”

Local governments are welcome to use the resolution as a template to help recognize their telecommunicators. To further honor each telecommunicators’ dedication, CAPCOG will present them with a thank-you gift between April 14 and 20. CAPCOG also encourages local governments, public safety agencies and the general public throughout the region to recognize their 9-1-1 call takers by participating in or hosting numerous activities such as meals, team building events, and spirit days.

> Download the resolution.
> Get ideas about how to celebrate National Telecommunicator Week.

First responders train for shooter, explosion during exercise

Thursday, March 14, 2019

More than 40 emergency response agencies and 350 public safety personnel from across the region responded to an active shooter, improvised explosion device and radiological dispersion device incidents during the region’s full-scale exercise in February. The training is the region’s opportunity to practice a massive multijurisdictional response that needs large-scale coordination and communication to implement the dispatching and use of specialized teams.

“When you bring together teams that don’t always work together, specialized equipment and multi-agency personnel, you get a chance to use and evaluate these public safety tools,” said Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “It also builds trust and strengthens communication between agencies that would respond during real events.”

During the February exercise, local firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement officers and emergency management teams responded to the mock incidents at the Round Rock Public Safety Training Center, while other simulated incidents occurred in Burnet, Caldwell and Williamson counties. The local personnel worked alongside the military, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Division of Emergency Management and state resources. CAPCOG and the participating agencies have completed an after action report of the training, which informs all parties about their strengths and improvement areas. The report is helpful in determining future training and equipment purchases that can contribute saving more lives if such an incident occurs.

> Read more about the Homeland Security Division.

RETF, CAPCOG, Georgetown host environmental law course

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF) and CAPCOG are conducting this year’s first basic environmental law training course on March 28 at the Georgetown Municipal Complex, 200 Industrial Avenue in Georgetown. The course teaches peace officers, code enforcement officers, and sanitation workers best-practices for investigating, prosecuting, and abating environmental crimes such as illegal dumping and outdoor burning.

With more than 25 years of experience in combating environmental crimes, the Regional Environmental Task Force instructors will discuss trends in crime occurrences and laws relating to unauthorized discharges in streams and lakes, solid waste regulations and nuisance violations.

> Registration for the course.
> Learn more about the RETF.

Commute Solutions launches new look with logo, website

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The more than 1 million daily commuters who travel in the metropolitan statistical area have a new website to help them navigate their travel options as CAPCOG has relaunched as a one-stop resource for people seeking information about non-single occupancy vehicle travel.

The site features an enhanced user experience that lets visitors easily locate information about carpooling, vanpooling, public transit, cycling and other more sustainable commuting options instead of being one of the nearly 800,000 daily drivers who travel alone in their car. It also better highlights the benefits and steps employers can take to make their workers daily commutes a little less stressful and time consuming such as teleworking and flex-scheduling. For those wanting to better understand the impact of their daily commute and stay up-to-date on sustainable commuting options in the region, the site offers an easily accessible commute cost calculator, a ride matching and impact tracking platform — myCommuteSolutions, and news about commuting. 

CAPCOG also is in the process of enhancing the myCommuteSolutions tool to integrate more commuting options such as vanpools and park ‘n’ rides and improve the user interface. It anticipates the new tool launching in March 2019.

> Go to
> Learn more about the Commute Solutions Program.

Air Quality Plan urges more emission reductions

Thursday, February 21, 2019

CAPCOG and its Central Texas Clean Air Coalition recently completed a new Regional Air Quality Plan that guides entities in addressing air pollution issues that improve or at least maintain the regions’ air quality while also reducing the negative health, social, economic and environmental impacts caused by air pollution in the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The MSA includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. The plan also hopes to maximize the potential of complying with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Outlined in the plan are six strategies for accomplishing these objectives. They include implementing emission controls, monitoring air quality, collecting and analyzing data, and conducting public outreach to educate people about limiting their emissions and lessening their exposure to harmful air pollution, and advocating for clean air quality policies. These strategies highlight specific measures entities will implement such as replacing older fleet vehicles with newer, more efficient or alternatively fueled vehicles to better control emissions and conducting public awareness campaigns about what individuals can do to reduce air pollution such as Air Central Texas, the Today’s Texas Air Quality Forecast, and Commute Solutions.

> Read the full plan.
> Learn more about the Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG hosts fleet management workshop series

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The CAPCOG Air Quality Program is offering a two-part workshop series for fleet managers to learn how to reduce their fleets’ harmful emissions and possibly qualifying for state or federal funding to improve vehicles or purchase new ones. The workshops will be held on Feb. 26 and 27 at CAPCOG’s offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310 in Austin.

The first workshop session will discuss air quality friendly best-practices for fleet managers. It will cover topics such as the Regional Air Quality Plan, emission reduction measures, fleet management policies that prioritize lowering NOx emissions that cause harmful ground level ozone, and alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure. Fleet related grants and how to apply for them will be discussed during the second workshop. Grant opportunities that will be covered during the workshop are those in the Texas Emissions Reduction Program, EPA’s Clean Diesel Program and the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. A panel of previous grant recipients will be available to discuss how the grants benefited their fleet programs and their success in receiving the funding.

> Register to attend.
> Learn more about the Air Quality Program.

Homeland Security trains nonprofits on grant process

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Nonprofits and faith-based organizations throughout the ten-county region can learn more about the state’s 2019 Nonprofit Security Grant Program and its application process during a workshop at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21 2019 at CAPCOG, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, in Austin.

Hosted by CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division, the workshop will address using the Office of the Governor’s (OOG) online grants portal,, to apply for the grant by the March 14 deadline. It also will provide information about the grant’s qualifications and project eligibility. The grant supports security projects for nonprofit organizations that are at a high risk of terrorist attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Its funds can be used to equip facilities with security provisions, construct or renovate facilities to enhance security, or provide security personnel with training.

> Register for the workshop.
> Review the OGG’s request for applications.

Local jurisdictions may also submit nonprofits’ contact information to the Homeland Security Division by emailing to ensure they were notified about the funding opportunity.

Air Quality Program seeks partnerships for EPA grant

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Note added Feb. 26: The EPA extended this grant's deadline for applications. In light of that, CAPCOG has extended its deadline for project submissions 5 p.m. March 8, 2019.

The CAPCOG Air Quality Program is soliciting projects to include in a regional grant application for the EPA’s Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program FY 2019 to improve organizations’ chances of receiving federal grant monies.

The funding assistance program can replace older diesel-powered vehicles and equipment and fund a number of other projects that reduce emissions from diesel vehicles and equipment. By submitting multiple projects on a partnered application, the application will earn points in the scoring criteria for the community engagement and partnerships section, which could increase the likelihood of projects being funded. As a result, CAPCOG can demonstrate a greater regional impact on lowering harmful emissions and improving air quality. 

Organizations interested in partnering in the grant should review the EPA’s request for applications at They then should submit a project narrative, an applicant fleet description, and a letter indicating their willingness to participate in the regional application that also indicates their experience with similar grant projects to CAPCOG.

> Submissions should be sent to Christiane Alepuz, Regional Services Program Specialist, by 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22.

> Call 512-916-6005 or email Alepuz with questions.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

New violence against women courses available for law enforcement personnel

Thursday, February 07, 2019

The CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) is offering a number of new and free courses for peace officers and investigators as part of its Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) training curriculum. With the first enrollment opportunities being in February and March, these courses range in topics from preparing evidences in family violence and sexual assault cases to investigating cyberstalking, human trafficking and more.

“CAPCOG was fortunate to receive a grant that allows us to bring free training to help our peace officers do a better job in serving the public,” said Randy Holmes, the RLEA director. Despite region-wide crime rates per 100,000 residents decreasing in the last decade, crimes against women are still a significant issue for the region’s growing population. From 2011 to 2017, five of the ten counties saw an increased rate in the reported sexual assaults and six counties experienced an increase rate in the reported family violence incidents. The rate of reported rape cases increased in all but one county.

Upcoming courses include Investigation of Cyberstalking on Feb. 15, Human Trafficking on March 11, and Processing the Sexual Assault Crime Scene on March 18 through March 20. A Photographing Family Violence Injuries course was offered in early February. All these courses offer TCOLE credit. RLEA will schedule more VAWA training opportunities.

> Register or find more information about individual courses.
> Learn more about RLEA.

CAPCOG’s RLEA offers public courses to help prevent violence against women

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy will administer courses for the public on the awareness and prevention of cyberstalking and prevention of sexual harassment, assault and rape on Feb. 14 and March 19 and 21 respectively. The free course for residents will be at CAPCOG offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310 in Austin.

“We are very pleased to present these classes as a public service to our citizens,” said Randy Holmes, the academy’s director. “The courses can further help women be safer from crimes by raising their awareness, teaching prevention and avoidance methods, and practicing self-defense counterstrikes.”

The cyberstalking awareness and prevention course will provide information and techniques about protecting one’s self in the ever growing digital world. Anyone resident can enroll in the course, but the U.S. Office of Women’s Health and U.S. Office of Justice Programs state, one in six women experience stalking. One in four stalking victims report the crime as a form of cyberstalking to include receiving unwanted, frightening, or obscene messages or being harassed or threatened on social media.

CAPCOG is offering two Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape Prevention courses.  At eight hours, these women-only courses teach women the principles and strategies for effectively reducing their likelihood of assault by increasing their security awareness. Attendees learn about confrontation avoidance and counterattacks.

> Register for the courses.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.

CAPCOG serves as contact for Nonprofit Security Grant

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Governor’s Homeland Security Grant Division’s 2019 Nonprofit Security Grant Program now supports security projects for nonprofit organizations that are at a high risk of terrorist attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission.

Nonprofits and faith-based organizations with a nexus to terrorism can use this upcoming grant program to equip facilities with security provisions, to construct or renovate facilities to enhance security, or to provide training to their security personnel. “It is a great opportunity for those organizations that have received threats or feel threatened to harden their facilities and become more prepared,” said Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. CAPCOG anticipates the state releasing the program’s request of applications later this month.

Organizations wanting further details about the Nonprofit Security Grant Program should contact the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division at or the Office of the Governor’s Public Safety Division. Local jurisdictions may also submit contact information for nonprofits they believe would benefit from the program.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Eanes, Leander ISDs & Andrews get Air Central Texas Awards

Thursday, January 17, 2019

CAPCOG presented Eanes and Leander Independent School Districts (ISD) and Pharr Andrews, a former Austin Transportation Department employee, with Air Central Texas Awards for their significant contributions to improving the region’s air quality.

Andrews received the 2018 Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award for her work as Austin’s Air Quality program coordinator. Andrews helped develop each of the region’s air quality plans, served on the Clean Air Coalition Advisory Committee, and supported public outreach campaigns including CAPCOG's Air Central Texas and Commute Solutions programs and the CLEAN Air Force's local meteorologist outreach. The Bill Gill award is named after a long time Central Texas air quality advocate and former CAPCOG employee.

Pharr Andrews accepts the Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award.

Leander and Eanes ISDs received the Air Central Texas Outstanding Organization award for their leadership in purchasing and using propane-fueled school buses. Between the two districts more than 80 buses have been converted from diesel to propane engines. Each converted bus is estimated to reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions by 173 pounds.

Clean Air Coalition Vice Chair and Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant (on left) presents the Air Central Texas awards to members of Eanes and Leander Independent School Districts.Clean Air Coalition Vice Chair and Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant (on left) presents the Air Central Texas awards to members of Eanes and Leander Independent School Districts.

The Air Central Texas Awards promote community actions supporting the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts and celebrate the region's success as the largest region in the nation that is in attainment of all federal air quality standards.

RLEA hosts Remington shotgun, rifle armorer’s courses

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) will host Remington instructors to certify local law enforcement armorers on servicing shotguns and M700 rifles with courses scheduled for March 11 and 13, respectively. A second shotgun course, which is two days, may be offered March 14 if the first course reaches capacity. Each course is being offered to ensure local agencies have the ability to keep these duty weapons serviceable.

“Shotguns are valuable tools for policing agencies and can be utilized to fire many rounds besides buckshot or slugs such as bean bag rounds or breacher rounds; they have been standard issue for a long time,” said Randy Holmes, RLEA director. “These courses are very good and very hands on.”

During each course, an instructor will provide in-depth training on techniques for servicing, inspecting, troubleshooting, repairing, disassembling and re-assembling these duty weapons. They also will discuss factory authorized modifications and at the end of the course, agency armorers will be given a weapon to diagnose issues and recommend repairs. CAPCOG annually offers a similar course by GLOCK, but this is its first Remington course.

> Register for the courses.
> Find other RLEA training opportunities.
> Read more about RLEA.

CAPCOG gives Wilkerson Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award

Thursday, January 10, 2019

CAPCOG presented Ray Wilkerson, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority chair, with its 2018 Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award on Dec. 12 at its annual membership meeting at the Austin Wyndham Hotel. Wilkerson was recognized for the significant role he’s played over several years in strengthening the region’s transportation infrastructure and water supply.

Ray Wilkerson, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority chair, speaks about regionalism at CAPCOG's annual membership meeting as Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty listens.

Ray Wilkerson, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority chair, speaks about regionalism at CAPCOG's annual membership meeting as Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty listens.

“Ray has spent decades volunteering and making a difference in Central Texas through his work on critical regional issues; few people have given as much to Central Texas and beyond,” said CAPCOG Executive Committee member and Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long. Wilkerson has been instrumental in expanding the region’s transportation network by working on projects such as US Highway 183 and State Highway 45. He also was a founding member of the Colorado River Alliance, which champions the long-term vitality of the Texas Colorado River through education and engagement, and he is a former Lower Colorado River Authority chair.

The award is named after former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenback who served as CAPCOG’s first chair and the first president of the Texas Association of Regional Councils. It honors those who are pivotal in strengthening the Capital Area and consistently advocate a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments and other organizations. Recent recipients include former Hays County Commissioner Will Conley and Texas Representative Paul Workman. Others to receive the award include Texas Senator Kirk Watson; Dr. W. Neal Kocurek; and Robert J Huston, former Texas Commission on Environmental Quality chair.

Hays County EMC earns Phill Parmer Volunteer Award

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

CAPCOG gave Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator and Director Kharley Smith its Phill Parmer Volunteer Award for supporting the region through CAPCOG’s advisory committees, responding to regional disasters, and educating others on training and response best practices.

“Smith is much deserved of the volunteer award due to her exemplary work with school safety and working within many committees at CAPCOG,” said Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “She has a depth of knowledge and experience that is a great value to all her colleagues and peers.”

Hays County Emergency Management Director and Coordinator Kharley Smith (middle right) poses with Hays County Commissioners (from left to right) Walt Smith, Ray Whisenant and Debbie Ingalsbe.

Smith has served numerous years on CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Task Force and Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, both which prioritize grant funding and coordinate regional planning efforts. She also has been instrumental in promoting WarnCentralTexas — CAPCOG’s regional notification system — and helped conduct CAPCOG’s School Safety Symposium by sharing information about Hays County’s School Safety Protocol. During 2018, she also assisted with the response to the Hill County Floods in Burnet and Llano counties.

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

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

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