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In the News

MyPermitNow, MyGovernmentOnline tracks development process

Monday, January 04, 2016

MyPermitNow creates a clear path through the permitting and inspection process for governments and contractors. The web-based application has simplified several Central Texas cities’ permitting process while saving them time and money. It is now part of a larger suite of online tools, MyGovernmentOnline, meant to provide similar benefits.

“MyPermitNow has been great. It has helped Leander streamline and speed up our process, which desperately needed to be done because we have a high volume of permits,” said Kent Cagle, Leander city manager. Without MyPermitNow, Leander would need more staff to maintain its records and keep up with demand.

Leander issues about 1,500 permits per year and MyPermitNow lets inspectors, permit filers, contractors, and city planners be aware of every step in the process, said Linda Alger, Leander building official.

Specifically, MyPermitNow allows online permit submission, processing, and automated notifications for the entire permitting process, starting with the submission of building documents through the issuance of a permit to a building’s occupancy. The software is customizable to a government’s needs and can store plans, photos and other information as needed. The service also offers archiving of past documents and records to maintain continuity for government record keeping.

Putting the information in the web-based software allows governments to use a paperless system that provides better document management and limits human error. Its other benefits include increased transparency, an auditable process, an online approval process, empirical verifications, improved project management, and better process controls.

Going to paperless permitting increased the amount of information a building inspector can access on a job site, Alger said. Instead of carrying large plans and paperwork, MyPermitNow gives inspectors access to  the project’s documents at the project site via a computer tablet. Those documents can include building plans, previous permit results and other items an inspector may need. The inspector also can update the inspection status on site.

“It gives instant notifications about the inspections,” Alger said. “The permit applicant gets an email, text, or an automated phone call about the results of their inspections, sometimes before the inspector leaves.”

The South Central Planning and Development Commission (SCPDC) in Louisiana developed MyPermitNow as a tool in response to the higher levels of plan review and permit tracking that became mandatory in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The SCPDC has since expanded the application to MyGovernmentOnline, which provides additional online resources including tools for code enforcement and planning and zoning.

The code enforcement tools allow for reporting complaints, tracking the complaint and seeing the complaint resolution. For the planning and zoning module, it lets officials search projects, check and review variances, and review subdivision and zoning requests.

CAPCOG is the Texas administrator of MyPermitNow and has registered 18 governments to use the software, since it began demonstrating it to local governments in 2011.

“As a regional partner to its local jurisdictions, CAPCOG realized the benefits MyPermitNow could provide to governments by creating more efficient processes that lead to cost savings,” said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director. “MyGovernmentOnline is now offering a whole suite of applications to assist cities with several processes, and the value added permitting portion of the program is on a whole other level.”

“(Permit applicants) don’t have to come to the front counter for anything,” said David Harrell, director of development services for Lago Vista. “MyPermitNow is a true representation of E-government.”  For instance, a general contractor can sit in his Austin office and submit a permit for a single-family home construction project in Lago Vista. From the same office, he can see when inspections will occur and their results.

Because of MyPermitNow’s increased capabilities, reporting for planning purposes are more readily available and accurate.

Using a code enforcement module, Lago Vista, which has used MyPermitNow since 2011, can provide weekly and monthly updates on actions taken by the department, Harrell said. The Lago Vista City Council and residents can review what code complaints were filed and how code compliance offers responded to the complaint.

> Contact Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director, for more information about MyGovernmentOnline.

CAAR Map puts data at fingertips

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Accurate information is invaluable for  planning — the CAPCOG Geographic Information System Program’s latest product, the Capital Area Addressing and Referencing Map (CAAR Map), delivers accurate, regional and timely data to planners and others.

CAPCOG uses the monthly updated address points and street data in the CAAR Map dataset for 9-1-1 emergency response and planning purposes. But these datasets are also useful in determining transportation routes for buses, taxis and other transit. When overlaid with demographic data, it can help determine area development trends for demographic analysis and growth planning. CAAR Map data can also be used as an excellent reference for plotting an organization’s customer database or other address information onto the map. This can be useful for marketing and many other purposes.

Because CAAR Map is based on emergency response data, the information goes through a rigorous process for correcting errors and a geocode testing. The process has led to 99.6 percent accuracy rating of its data. The high accuracy rating plus monthly updating and archiving makes CAAR Map a unique and superior product. CAAR Map is offered as a seamless, region-wide dataset covering all jurisdictions in CAPCOG’s 10 counties — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis, and Williamson.

> Discover more about CAAR Map and how to order its data.
> Learn about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

Holmes heads Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Training and educating people is at the core of Randy Holmes. Since the age of 19, the now 61 year old has trained soldiers and peace officers around the world on protecting people and being admirable public servants. In late October, CAPCOG promoted him to Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) director.

“I enjoy people that want to learn,” said Holmes. “It is very satisfying to see someone perform a skill they couldn’t perform when they came to me.”

Holmes worked eight years as the CAPCOG RLEA chief instructor. He has provided oversight and instruction for 32 basic peace officer courses and many law enforcement in-service classes. Before coming to CAPCOG, Holmes, who always wanted to be a police officer, served San Marcos as a patrol officer, patrol corporal, detective, patrol sergeant, and commander. Three years into his 22 year stint at San Marcos Police Department, Holmes began instructing his fellow officers on topics such as fire arms and self-defense. Holmes also was recruited to participate in United Nations Mission of Kosovo to train law enforcement officers in the region.

Holmes began his instructor career as a U.S. Army sergeant in Germany. He trained his fellow soldiers in skill courses such as demolition and bridge construction.

> Discover the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Review upcoming RLEA courses.

TCEQ announces alternative fuel, natural gas fueling station grants

Monday, December 14, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced up to $11.8 million in grants is available to eligible individuals, businesses, and governmental entities to continue the development of a network of alternative fuel and/or natural gas fueling stations to serve as a foundation for a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel vehicles.

The Clean Transportation Triangle (CTT) and Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and are offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own, and operate alternative fuel or natural gas fueling stations in eligible Texas counties.

The CTT/AFFP joint request for grant applications (RFGA) closes at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Because of the similarities between these programs, the TCEQ is soliciting applications for the programs under this joint RFGA. It is providing joint application forms for applicants to apply to one or both programs, depending on the eligibility of the project.

CTT/AFFP grants offset a portion of the cost of either the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels, or the substantial reconstruction of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels. Eligible fuels for the CTT program include compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Eligible alternative fuels for the AFFP include biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, propane, and electricity. 

The TCEQ has scheduled three application workshops to review the grant requirements and the application process. Reservations are not required.

ARLINGTON: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 11, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

HOUSTON: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 13, 2016
Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons, Suite 120 
Houston, TX 77027

AUSTIN: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 14, 2016
TCEQ's Austin Office 
Building E, Room 254
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

> Learn more about the grants.
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.
> Find other air quality programs.

Homeland Security grant process opens

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The FY 2016 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant application period began in December. SHSP grant funding assists local governments with purchasing and maintaining tools and equipment, training and planning required to respond to natural disasters and terrorist incidents.

The Homeland Security Division will conduct mandatory pre-application workshops for entities seeking funding at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2015 at CAPCOG in Austin.

> Register to attend a required grant writing workshop.
> Download the grant application template.

Applications must be submitted to CAPCOG by Jan. 15, 2016 to be considered.

Last year CAPCOG facilitated the allocation of about $1.9 million to 29 regional projects supporting interoperable communications, citizen volunteer response programs, rescue and terroristic-threat-response equipment purchases, and other emergency services programs. Since 2003, $36.4 million in funds have been awarded regionally.

> Discover more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Workshop teaches importance of economic analysis

Monday, December 07, 2015

Three economic development experts will outline and explain the advantages of conducting a successful economic impact analysis for development projects during a 2-hour workshop at the San Marcos Conference Center on Dec. 9.

The workshop, coordinated by CAPCOG, will focus on measuring economic impacts, particularly within the context of economic development incentives. It will address the alignment of economic development incentives to strategic goals, how to accurately measure the benefits and costs of an economic development project, and ongoing monitoring of economic impacts.

Chris Schreck, CAPCOG’s economic development program manager, will lead the workshop. The other featured presenters are two leading economic development practitioners in the CAPCOG region: Amy Madison, interim executive director of the Pflugerville Community Development Corporation, and Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation. Madison and Fletcher will describe how economic development incentives are used and impacts are measured in their communities. They will be available to answer specific questions.

Elected officials who attend the workshop can qualify to earn credit hours towards their state mandated or voluntary continuing education.

> Register to attend the workshop.

The workshop is free for officials residing in CAPCOG’s 10-county region.

> To receive a registration code, contact Mason Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator. 

Taylor credits public participation for award winning master plan

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Creating a master plan is about more than just designing a look for an area in town. It is about creating a distinct feel and experience for both residents and visitors. It is about synergizing new growth while maintaining a sustainable atmosphere for current businesses and residents. And most importantly, it is about the people, the community and the vision to move forward.

In early October, the American Planning Association – Texas Chapter awarded the city of Taylor its Project Planning Award in recognition for exemplary planning for the creation of Taylor’s new Downtown Master Plan. And while the physical award goes to the city, the honor and the credit go to the residents.
“We are extremely proud of the community support that went into the creation of the Downtown Master Plan,” said Holli Nelson, the city’s public information officer. “People care about Taylor and where we are going and how we are going to get there.”

More than a hundred people contributed to the Downtown Master Plan during its creation, which consisted of visioning secessions, community forums, stakeholder workshops, open houses, city council meetings and more.

Taylor’s Downtown Master Plan is innovative, transferrable, comprehensive and implementable, said Cameron Walker, APA-Texas Chapter committee chair for the planning awards. It also included a good record of public participation.

“Any plan without community support is a plan that will sit on the shelf,” said Noel Bernal, Taylor assistant city manager. Master plans can take years to fulfill, but when residents and business owners back them, developments guided by master plans can move faster as those who are already invested in the area continue to grow and redevelop themselves.

Taylor’s Downtown Master Plan combined previous work from seven other plans to encompass about 30 of the city’s blocks and about 14 streets. According to the plan, its goals set out to stimulate economic development, protect the unique history of Taylor, provide entertainment, recreation, programming and events and serve the needs of visitors and residents alike over other goals — all of which were prioritized by community stakeholders. Taylor adopted the plan in April 2015.

> Riewed Taylor's Downtown Master Plan.
> Discover the American Planning Association - Texas Chapter.

CAPCOG assists in disaster recovery, resiliency planning

Monday, November 23, 2015

Using funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), CAPCOG is in the beginning stages of mitigation and resiliency planning for communities in the eight counties affected by the May 2015 storms — Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis, and Williamson.

The first stages of the project focus on data collection and damage assessment to help quantify the impact of the May storms. CAPCOG has already met with the federal team responsible for economic recovery support, which includes representatives from the EDA, FEMA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Army Corp of Engineers. The intent is to coordinate with those organizations along with local government agencies to build upon data they have already collected. CAPCOG has also begun conversations with emergency management coordinators in Blanco, Hays, and Caldwell counties to establish processes for collecting additional information and coordinating efforts going forward.

Once the data collection process is completed, the next stage of the program will be an impact evaluation before moving to the mitigation and resiliency planning. The final planning effort will identify geographic areas of mitigation interest, target areas without proper mitigation, and enhance short-term recovery and long-term resiliency. The plan will help identify future projects that mitigate disaster risk and also promote economic development, the projects’ possible funding opportunities from EDA and other sources, and work to prioritize those projects.

CAPCOG received an EDA grant of $150,000, to be distributed over two years, to conduct the disaster recovery project.

> Discover CAPCOG's Economic Development Program.
> Learn about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

Water Development Board offers jurisdictions assistance with water plan projects

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board announced it will accept applications for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (Swift) that helps finance water projects.

SWIFT provides affordable, ongoing state financial assistance for projects in the state water plan. The fund helps communities develop and optimize water supplies at cost-effective rates. The program provides low-interest loans, extended repayment terms, deferral of loan repayments, and incremental repurchase terms for projects with state ownership aspects.

Any political subdivision of the state with a project included in the adopted regional water plans and that will be included in the state water plan can apply for assistance through this program.

  • Political subdivisions include:
  • Non-profit water supply corporations
  • Municipalities
  • Counties
  • River authorities
  • Special law districts
  • Water improvement districts
  • Water control and improvement districts
  • Irrigation districts
  • Groundwater conservation districts

Eligible projects are recommended water management strategies in the adopted regional water plans and that will be included in the state water plan, and have an associated capital cost.

> Read more about SWIFT.
> Review the 2015 SWIFT savings.

TCEQ schedules Emissions Reductions Incentive Grant workshops

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold seven grant application workshops for its Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) program throughout December to include one Austin workshop on Dec. 10.

The ERIG program funds the upgrade or replacement of older heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, and stationary equipment. Each workshop will provide an overview of program requirements and the application process. Workshops are free of charge and registration is not required.

ERIG is eligible to any person who operates or plans to operate on-road heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, or stationary engines primarily in one or more of the eligible counties. For infrastructure projects, persons owning or operating the infrastructure in an eligible county may also be eligible for funding.

Applicants can include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity. Applicants must have the legal authority to dispose of the vehicle being replaced.

Eligible CAPCOG counties for the grant include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson.

Application submissions will have a 5 p.m., Feb. 2, 2016 deadline.

Austin: Dec. 10, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
TCEQ's Austin Office 
Building E, Room 254S
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

> Get the grant application.
> Learn more about TERP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Other workshops:

El Paso: Dec. 3, 2015
1:30-4:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop 
El Paso Public Library-Main Branch
501 North Oregon Street
El Paso, TX 79901

Arlington: Dec. 7, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

Longview: Dec. 8, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Longview Public Library
222 West Cotton Street
Longview, TX 75601

San Antonio: Dec. 14, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Alamo Area Council of Governments 
8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 700 
San Antonio, TX 78217

Corpus Christi: Dec. 15, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
TCEQ Region 14 Office 
NRC Bldg., Ste. 1200
6300 Ocean Dr., Unit 5839
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412

Houston: Dec. 15, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop 
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop 
6 p.m. Applicant Workshop (en Español)
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

Beaumont: Dec. 16, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, Texas 77703

AAACAP assists with Medicare

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Seniors can face difficult decisions when changing their Medicare plans during the federal program’s open enrollment period. The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area Medicare benefit counselors can aid beneficiaries in determining which plan options may best fulfill their needs.

Since Medicare Open Enrollment began on Oct. 15, AAACAP benefit counselors have assisted hundreds of adults who are 60 years old or older in CAPCOG’s 10-county region. The counselors specialize in decoding the enrollment process by educating beneficiaries on their Medicare options and assisting them through the process. Changes to Medicare plans can save seniors money and enhance their benefits.

Residents seeking help with the open enrollment process should be ready to provide their full name, address and contact number, red-white-and blue Medicare card information, and a list of prescription medications (name of medication, dosage and how often they take it).

The deadline for seniors to change their Medicare plan is Dec. 7, and residents shouldn’t hesitate to get assistance from a benefit counselor at 512-916-6062 or 888-622-9111 ext. 6062. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.

> Read more about Medicare Open Enrollment.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Learn more on the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area.

November honors Caregivers, brings Alzheimer’s awareness

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments proclaimed it is joining many communities around the nation who recognize November as National Caregiver and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

“It is important to acknowledge the significant role that family, friends and neighbors play in caring for sick, elderly and disabled relatives,” said Jennifer Scott, director of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area. 

An estimated 43.5 million caregivers nationwide provide unpaid care, valued at an estimated $450 billion per year, to an adult or child who can’t care for themselves, according to a 2015 AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving report. 

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious public health problem that particularly affects older adults, Scott said. About 1 in 9 older adults have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Fifteen percent of people ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s and the percentage increases to 43 for adults between the ages of 75 and 84.

Through services provided by the AAA and ADRC, the Capital Area Council of Governments supports both causes year around with a variety of programs, services, and events. Some of the programs include:

  • The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), which provides in-home respite care, voucher respite, mental health services and more services directly to caregivers
  • Stressbusting for Family Caregivers, which helps caregivers with reducing stress and coping with the emotional decisions they are faced with while caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a chronic disease
  • Caregiver education, which sends a gerontologist into the home for an assessment and family counseling
  • Caregiver educational presentations, which brings lecturers and caregiving experts to communities throughout the region

> Read the Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Proclamation.
> Read the National Caregiver Awareness Month Proclamation.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Discover the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area.

CARTPO to discuss Proposition 7 funding, project priorities

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CARTPO) will discuss the anticipated funding the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will receive from the passing of Proposition 7 as it relates to regional transportation infrastructure projects during its 9:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 20 meeting.

Proposition 7 will provide a permanent funding stream of about $2.5 billion through state fees to TxDOT for transportation projects starting in 2018. It is being enacted after a constitutional amendment was drafted during the 84th legislative session and authorized by the Senate Joint Resolution 5.

CARTPO members also will reevaluate their local priorities for transportation funding which CARTPO provided to TxDOT in 2014 for consideration in several of the agency’s programs. The programs included the Long-Range Transportation Plan, Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, Unified Transportation Program and other TxDOT initiatives requiring consultation with rural planning organizations.

The meeting will be in the CAPCOG Pecan Room.

> Discover the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

CAPCOG solid waste grant program seeks projects

Monday, November 09, 2015

Slightly more than $204,000 of pass-through funding is available to local communities during the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program 2016-17 cycle.

The grant program began taking applications Nov. 3 and has a Dec. 17 deadline. A Nov. 18 grant writing workshop will provide assistance to applicants. Grant funds are available to local governments, school districts, and general and special law districts. The funds may be used in seven project categories:

  • Local enforcement;
  • Litter and illegal dumping cleanup and collection events;
  • Source reduction and recycling;
  • Citizen collection stations;
  • Household hazardous waste management;
  • Education and training;
  • And other (projects in this category must be approved by the TCEQ on a project-by-project basis).

During 2014 and 2015, the solid waste grant funded 14 projects. The majority of the projects provided funding for communities to conduct household hazardous waste collection events and community cleanups. Funds helped Fayette County, Smithville, and Austin Community College purchase recycling program equipment. Bastrop County used funds to create and update outreach materials on proper waste disposal.

> Apply for a CAPCOG solid waste grant.
> Register for the upcoming grant writing workshop.
> Discover the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

TCEQ seeks applications for Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants

Thursday, November 05, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program announced it is now accepting applications for the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG). The grant funds the upgrade or replacement of older heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, and stationary equipment.

Application submissions will have a 5 p.m., Feb. 2, 2016 deadline.

The grant is eligible to any person who operates or plans to operate on-road heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, or stationary engines primarily in one or more of the eligible counties. For infrastructure projects, persons owning or operating the infrastructure in an eligible county may also be eligible for funding.

Applicants can include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity. Applicants must have the legal authority to dispose of the vehicle being replaced.

Eligible CAPCOG counties for the grant include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson.

Grant Application Workshops, Dealer Trainings, and Application Assistance Sessions will be scheduled to provide an overview of the ERIG application process. The ERIG program has several new changes this year. Plan to attend a workshop to learn more about new program requirements and new grant application forms.

> Watch for upcoming grant workshops and trainings.
> Get the grant application.
> Learn more about TERP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG launches criminal justice plan survey

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments opened an online survey for criminal justice planners and professionals and area residents to provide input into the Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan.

Two planning meetings were held on Oct.29, 2015, but CAPCOG wanted to solicit additional input from area criminal justice stakeholders and developed the survey for those who were unable to attend the planning meetings.

The survey is available until 5 p.m. Nov. 9, 2015. Please pass the survey's link to anyone who would be interested in providing input on the Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan in the CAPCOG region. People who attended either stakeholder meeting should not complete the survey, since they already provided input for the plan.

> Take the 2016 Criminal Justice Strategic Plan survey.

The Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan indentifies gaps in direct victim assistance, juvenile justice, mental health, and criminal justice issues so that services, existing programs, new initiatives, and funding opportunities may be reviewed and resources targeted accordingly.

> Read the current Regional Criminal Justice Strategic Plan.
> Discover more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.
> For more information about the survey, contact Matt Holderread.

Governor’s office opens body camera grants

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Source: Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division.

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, on Oct. 26 announced a new grant program to aid municipal police departments and county sheriff’s offices in establishing or enhancing body-worn camera (BWC) programs.

The Criminal Justice Division anticipates up to $10 million may be funded through the grant program to municipal police and county sheriff’s departments. Such departments must employ officers who are engaged in traffic or highway patrol, otherwise regularly detain or stop motor vehicles, or are primary responders to calls for assistance from the public. Funds may only be used for the one-time purchase of cameras and to procure digital video storage resources (not to exceed one year).

Grantees must provide matching funds equal to 25 percent of the awarded amount. Match requirements can be met through cash or in-kind contributions. Grant applications will be accepted until 5 p.m., Dec. 7, 2015.

> Review and learn how to apply for the grant.
> Learn about the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division.
> Discover the Capital Area Council of Governments Criminal Justice Division.

19 graduate from Capital Area peace officer academy

Monday, October 26, 2015

Walking across a stage in the Texas Capitol on Friday, 19 former Capital Area Regional Law Enforcement Academy cadets commenced their police officers careers.

“All 19 cadets worked hard to achieve the honor of graduating from the academy to pursue a career in law enforcement,” said Mike Jennings, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy director. “Their dedication for learning what it takes to become a peace officer has paid off. Every graduating cadet passed their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement certification exam, seven earned a 90 or higher on the exam.”

For seven months, the graduating cadets spent nights and weekends taking the academy’s Basic Peace Officer Certification Course, which started in March. CAPCOG offers a part-time, night academy at least once a year, so prospective peace officers can maintain jobs while enrolled in the course.

State Representative Marsha Farney gave the keynote commencement speech telling the graduates they are embarking on a noble profession that will inspire their neighbors, friends, families and even themselves.

This is the 76th graduation held by the academy, four of which were held this year. The class president of the graduating cadets was Margaret Acuna. Brett Engstrom was honored as the course’s salutatorian. Ryan Staha earned the honors of being Valedictorian.

> Learn when the next Basic Peace Officer Course will be conducted.
> Discover the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Find other courses offered by the academy.

The following cadets graduated from the course:

  • Margaret Acuna
  • Billy Brown
  • Bradley Brown
  • Richard Ciolfi
  • Ian Clark
  • Shawn Conway
  • Brett Engstrom
  • Eric Graham
  • Jesus Hernandez
  • Jarrod Jarmon
  • Bryce Johnson
  • Cameron Moore
  • David Oberg
  • Tyler Schafer
  • Carly Serna
  • Traci Smith
  • Ryan Staha
  • Kathryn Stewart
  • Raul Valdez

Nursing students educate capital area seniors about falls

Thursday, October 22, 2015

After several trips to thrift stores, a pair of Texas A&M nursing students unloaded 1/2 dozen pairs of sneakers and other shoe styles on a classroom table.

The two students were collecting tangible examples of shoes that help prevent seniors from falling. They wanted to make sure every student in their class had a pair to display while teaching “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls” in the communities served by the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), said Darla Gruben, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.

Texas A&M Health Science Center, College of Nursing in Round Rock, and AAACAP partnered to teach A Matter of Balance. The partnership benefits everyone the program touches. It increases the number of older adults who learn about fall prevention; allows for AAACAP, a Capital Area Council of Governments division, to reach more seniors with the program, and the students learn valuable skills and information.

“The Texas A&M and AAACAP partnership has greatly benefited older residents living in Williamson County,” said Liz Salinas, AAACAP Health and Wellness Coordinator. “It allows for a continual pool of passionate and devoted coaches who can educate older residents in several area communities at once.”

A Matter of Balance is an evidence based program created by the Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-Life Function at Boston University. The course teaches older adult participants to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risks at home, and exercises to increase strength and improve balance. The course is taught over eight, 2-hour sessions by two coaches.

AAACAP provides the course throughout the 10-county region, trains program coaches and oversees program fidelity. For the partnership with Texas A&M, it trains the nursing students to be certified program coaches.

> To volunteer as a Matter of Balance coach contact Liz Salinas.

Every year, there are 20 students at the Round Rock campus who take the course that teaches A Matter of Balance as part of its curriculum. They become certified A Matter of Balance coaches after 8 hours of training over two days conducted by Salinas, a master trainer for the program. The nursing students can then lead A Matter of Balance programs for about 48 seniors a year. Since the program began 6 years ago, about 300 older adults have received fall prevention classes.

The nursing student led A Matter of Balance classes started Sept. 28 and are being facilitated at senior living communities in Round Rock, Georgetown and Leander; and at a senior center in Round Rock.  
The dedication and enthusiasm of the nursing students tends to transfer to the older-adult participants in each A Matter of Balance program, Gruben said. Every session is full of energy from both the nursing students and the seniors.

While seniors benefit from learning about fall prevention, the students are learning from teaching the classes.

“At first they are fearful, because they have been in a hospital setting and not educating groups of people, but after that first class, they are so excited and realize the A Matter of Balance materials give them a lot in their tool kit, and it allows them to give back to their community,” Gruben said. “They realize they are really fulfilling a need in the community.”

A large part of nursing is patient education. This partnership teaches the students how to handle that education at a different level and bring it back to a one-on-one patient setting. It also shows the nursing students there is a variety for job opportunities in the community for nurses because these programs are held in a non-hospital setting.

Just learning about fall prevention is another great aspect of the partnership for the nursing students, Gruben said.

Injuries resulting from falls make up about 88 percent of emergency room visits nationwide.

“Everyone is given a fall risk assessment in the hospital,” she said. “The students can use what they have learned during their A Matter of Balance training to better assess a patient, prevent a patient from falling at the hospital, and educate the patient about fall prevention once they return home.”

A Matter of Balance is a very important program that educates everyone from the programs participants to the student coaches about the risk of falling, Gruben said. It is a wonderful cause for Texas A&M nursing students to be passionate about and doing the “selfless service that we promote as an Aggie Core Value here at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.” That passion drives some students to not only talk about what types of shoes help prevent falls, but also to voluntarily rush out and buy appropriate examples of shoes.

> Discover more about A Matter of Balance.
> Learn about the Area Agency on Aging. 

CAPCOG telecommunicator licensing training passes 100%

Monday, October 19, 2015

CAPCOG has always trained telecommunicators, and its year-old, 40-hour basic telecommunicator course demonstrates another outstanding addition to educational opportunities in which call-takers can partake.

The state began requiring telecommunicators to be licensed by Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in 2014. Since then, CAPCOG has offered four Basic Telecommunicator classes. Students of the classes achieved a 100 percent pass rate. Students are required to score an 85 percent or greater to pass the class. All students who took the licensing exam also excelled with a 100 percent pass rate, passing the exam on their first try.

CAPCOG has taught about 30 students with an average exam score of 82 percent. CAPCOG offers the Basic Telecommunicator course four times a year free of charge to telecommunicators working within the 10-county region. Outside agencies are welcome to send students to our class for a fee.

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division offers a variety of other training courses.

> For more information contact Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG PSAP specialist.

The next Basic Telecommunicator class is from Dec. 7 through 11. The exam will be Dec. 14.

> Discover more emergency communicaitons courses.

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