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In the News

CAPCOG develops workforce education center database

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CAPCOG and the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) is compiling a workforce education center database to help the region explore opportunities related to workforce development and answer questions about the relationships between training providers and other regional trends, statistics and demographics.

“Our affordability and economic development issues are closely tied to workforce education,” said Chris Schreck, CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development director. “Doing this project links workforce development with other factors. It focuses on getting good information pulled together and examining where opportunity might exist.”

A map shows apprenticeship programs in relation to job availability in the region.

The goal is to create a comprehensive catalogue of workforce training information that can be represented spatially, so it is easier to see how current training systems align with accessibility, concentrations of jobs, and target populations. The database could be used by policy makers to guide future planning and/or it could become public facing which also would allow residents to explore their own career opportunities based on their circumstances and interests.

“The CAEDD wants to engage stakeholders that are working on the same economic development and workforce development issues and make sure they have this data,” Schreck said. “With broad interest and engagement around expanding opportunities for skills development in the Capital Area, I’m excited about where this project may go.” CAPCOG will present the database to the CAEDD in August, which will help direct the project to its next stage.

Identification of the workforce database comes from the region’s five-year economic development plan, also known as the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), which identifies workforce development as one of four key elements in the action plan. CAPCOG is a designated Economic Development District by the Economic Development Administration, US Department of Commerce.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

August, September temps could bring air pollution risk

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Average temperatures in the Austin area are higher than they have been in the last 17 years according to data collected by the National Weather Service, and higher temperatures can also bring higher levels of ozone air pollution. Half-way through the 2017 ozone season, the CAPCOG ten-county region already had three days when ground-level ozone has reached levels considered unhealthy for children, seniors, adults with asthma, and people who work outdoors, compared to just one day in 2016. There also has been an additional 66 days when ozone has reached “moderate” levels that can affect especially sensitive people.

It’s important for the region’s residents to realize August and September tend to be the worst months for air pollution in the region. They can help “Be Air Aware” by driving less, conserving energy, and checking the air quality forecast each day. Residents can better understand how their day-to-day activities affect air quality, and how changes in those activities can improve air quality by visiting AirCentralTexas.org.

> Visit AirCentralTexas.org.

CAPCOG is challenging area residents to calculate their emissions and make a commitment to take action to help keep our air clean.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Striking a Balance lets caregivers take home experiences

Monday, August 14, 2017

CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and AGE of Central Texas bring together family caregivers from around the region to learn how to better care for themselves and loved ones during the Striking a Balance Conference. The 16th annual conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 at DoubleTree by Hilton Austin; with an anticipated attendance of 200 caregivers, the attendees will be their own greatest resources.Jane Meier Hamilton, CEO and founder of Partners on the Path

> Register for Striking a Balance 2017.

“The real strength of this event is the opportunity to communicate with other caregivers, and every year I see a table of caregivers that doesn’t want to leave because they are sharing their experiences,” said Patty Bordie, AAACAP director. “Sharing the caregiving experience validates feelings, emotions, thoughts, and lets people know they are not alone.”

Peer support is often more believable than what one learns from books or classes. Situations peers face may be similar so sharing experiences can lead to solving problems. Knowing the experience of caregiving is one of the many reasons Jane Meier Hamilton, CEO and founder of Partners on the Path, was selected to deliver the conference’s keynote address, “Why am I So Stressed?” and lead two breakout sessions. Hamilton, a 40-year nurse and 20-year family caregiver, runs Partners on the Path which helps professional and family caregivers preserve their health, well-being and capacity to care through research-based resources offered online, in-print and in-person. “There is no boundary in being a caregiver when it is your husband, your parents or your child, unlike when you are a nurse and can go home at the end of the day,” Hamilton said. “When it is your loved one, it is in your heart and in your mind all the time. The talks I do come out of my own struggle to stay healthy and stay resilient.”

Hamilton’s breakout sessions will discuss practical steps to self-care and establishing resiliency in oneself as a caregiver. Other breakout session topics include: addressing difficult behaviors associated with dementia, discussing driving with older family members, and financing long-term care. The conference includes opportunities to connect with community based organizations and service providers with expertise in caregiver support, education, training, in-home and long-term care services.

> Learn more about AGE of Central Texas.
> Read about AAACAP.

AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center will offer free off-site respite by reservation. Call 512-600-9275 to reserve.

CAPCOG seeks nominations for 2017 Air Central Texas Awards

Thursday, August 10, 2017

CAPCOG is soliciting nominations for the 2017 Air Central Texas Awards that recognize activities by organizations and individuals that have made significant contributions to regional air quality and promote future action on the part of the community to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22.

The 2017 awards will mark the second year CAPCOG has held the award ceremony, and it is excited to introduce a new category to highlight the role the media plays in communicating air quality issues to the public, the Air Central Texas Media Award. The awards are a great way to honor those who have made significant differences in Central Texas’ air quality. CAPCOG wants to ensure this effort is a success, so please consider submitting at least one nomination for each of the following categories:

  • Air Central Texas Public Sector Award - recognizes action in the public sector that has helped improve/protect regional air quality during the past year.
  • Air Central Texas Private/Non-Profit Sector Award - recognizes action in the private or nonprofit sectors that has helped improve/protect regional air quality during the past year.
  • Air Central Texas Media Award - recognizes outstanding media coverage — TV, print, radio, or digital — of air quality issues in the region.
  • Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award - recognizes an individual who has had a significant and lasting impact on Central Texas air quality.

> Review award guidelines and submit a nomination form.
> Contact Anton Cox, CAPCOG Air Quality Program specialist, with questions or concerns.

CAPCOG plans to hold an award ceremony in November to announce and celebrate the 2017 nominees and winners.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Advocacy Day to strengthen ADRC partnerships, network

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the Capital Area will host its first Advocacy Day and Resource Fair, an educational workshop for its steering committee members and community partners to explore using advocacy as a tool to increase the ADRC network’s capacity. The workshop will be from 8 a.m. to noon, Aug. 17 at the JJ Pickle Research Center’s Commons Learning Center.

“This workshop will provide increased awareness about the needs of individuals with disabilities and the importance of person-centered support,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area director who oversees the ADRC program. “In addition, steering committee partners will have the opportunity to highlight their services and make new connections to a broader group of professional stakeholders.”

ADRC agency partners contribute to a “No Wrong Door” system for consumers seeking long-term services and supports in the CAPCOG region. The ADRC coordinates these services across aging and disability networks to increase efficiencies and reduce duplication. This workshop is designed to further strengthen the bonds between those agencies and streamline an individual’s connection to services with a quality consumer experience.

> Parnters or potential partners RSVP for the workshop.
> Learn more about the ADRC.

Homeland Security Strategic Framework guides future planning

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A newly established Homeland Security Strategic Planning Framework defines the capacity and resiliency to support emergency preparedness, efficient disaster response, recovery, and long-term economic sustainability of the communities in CAPCOG’s ten-county region. Adopted by the CAPCOG Executive Committee in June, the framework guides future regional homeland security planning to address current and new challenges.

“Homeland security threats have changed significantly since CAPCOG drafted its first Homeland Security Strategic Plan in 2004,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG homeland security director. “While the threat of terrorism remains and the hazards we have always faced are still present, we are seeing more pronounced risks in the areas of cybersecurity, and area-wide complex, coordinated attacks.” The strategic framework identified eight significant hazards to the region’s population and economy to include traditional Central Texas threats such as flooding and wildfire, but it also calls attention to growing modern threats such as cyberattacks. It also identified several training and planning areas that could positively impact response and recovery if those hazards occurred. Among those areas included were greater public education, data sharing, and further expansion of automatic aid agreements.

To help implement planning efforts throughout the region, seven committees were proposed to work in different focus areas that will assist with the development of regional planning, training, and public outreach activities. They will work under the guidance of the Homeland Security Task Force, a CAPCOG advisory committee consisting of 27 emergency management coordinators and emergency response officials. “By maintaining some of the Homeland Security Task Force’s standing committees and establishing new ones like the technology and communications committee, the framework is helping shape how we interact as a region to better mitigate all incidents in our communities,” Carter said.

Identifying the hazards and the additional capacity needed in the region, the strategic framework also assists in prioritizing grant funding and provides direction to local jurisdictions about which projects and equipment proposals may meet criteria for recommendations for grant funding from the State Homeland Security Program. Each year, CAPCOG through the Homeland Security Task Force prioritizes projects for the Office of the Governor that address an identified threat or hazard, demonstrate a regional approach, and either sustains or expands existing homeland security programs.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Texas General Land Office releases 2015 flood funds

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Source: Texas General Land Office and Texas Association of Regional Councils

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is administering $25.6 million in recovery funds for home and infrastructure projects that were affected by the 2015 floods. The funds also will allow communities to implement mitigation efforts for future disasters. Eligible entities including cities, counties, and local housing authorities in the impact areas will have until Nov. 10, 2017 to apply for funding.

Flooding from the 2015 disaster affected 116 counties in Texas, which are home to nearly 21 million people, but the $25.6 million in funds from the GLO’s Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program are eligible to entities in 112 counties. The most impacted counties, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, and Travis, received dedicated portions of the total $59.6 million awarded to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Counties that can apply for the remaining CDBG-DR funds in the CAPCOG region include Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee, and Williamson.

Funds will be awarded based on scoring and ranking of submitted project applications. Entities may submit three applications; only two of the three may be for non-housing projects. GLO will work with impacted counties to maximize the number of long-term recovery projects that can be completed given the limited funding.

Applications for housing projects should be between $500,000 and $2 million. Housing activities allowed under CDBG-DR include but are not limited to:

  • Single family and multifamily repair, rehabilitation, or new construction
  • Repair and replacement of manufactured housing units
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Elevation
  • Buyouts
  • Planning activities related to housing
  • Other activities associated with the recovery of impacted housing stock

Applications for non-housing projects should be between $100,000 and $1 million. Non-housing activities allowed under CDBG-DR include but are not limited to:

  • Restoration of infrastructures such as water and sewer facilities, streets, and bridges
  • Provision of generators
  • Removal of debris
  • Drainage
  • Demolition, rehabilitation of publicly or privately owned commercial or industrial buildings, and code enforcement
  • Planning activities related to non-housing

> Apply for funding or get more information.
> Read the full release about the funding.
> Learn which counties received a Presidential Disaster Declaration from the 2015 floods.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

 

OOG appropriates $25 million for officer rifle-resistant vest program

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Source: Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD) made $25 million available to law enforcement agencies to equip peace officers with rifle-resistant body armor through a new grant program. The deadline to apply for funds is Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.

Funds from the grant program, Rifle-Resistant Body Armor, may be used by local jurisdictions to purchase bullet-resistant personal body armor compliant with the National Institute of Justice standard for rifle protection to include bulletproof vests, ballistic plates, and plate carriers. 

The grant is available to Texas Department of Public Safety, municipalities, counties, independent school districts, universities, public and private colleges and universities, federally recognized Native American tribes, community colleges and hospital districts if they operate a law enforcement agency. Any applications must be submitted by the entity operating the law enforcement agency, not the agency itself.

Applying jurisdictions will not have to provide a grant match and there is no minimum or maximum request under the Rifle-Resistant Body Armor Grant Program. However, CJD plans to provide resources to as many departments as possible. All projects that receive funding must begin between Jan. 1 and Mar. 1, 2018 and not exceed 12 months.

> For more information, contact the eGrants help desk at eGrant@gov.texas.gov or 512-463-1919.
> Read the full grant announcement and learn how to apply.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.

Care facilities now required to have emergency preparedness plans

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Long-term care facilities, hospices and home health agencies receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding must complete disaster planning by November 2017 including a risk assessment and an emergency plan. Emergency managers from Williamson County and its cities are assisting with this requirement, part of new federal rules which took effect at the end of 2016.

"This regional support is invaluable to the service providers," said Patty Bordie, Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area a division of CAPCOG. “Emergency manager expertise ensures patient-centered plans which include best practices in emergency preparedness.”

The rule also requires some of those organizations to complete a communications plan and emergency policies and procedures, but they all must update their plans and conduct exercises annually to participate in Medicaid and Medicare. These tasks are not as simple as stating you will contact your local emergency management office if a disaster occurs, said Dorothy Miller, Round Rock emergency management coordinator. These are complex tasks to prepare these organizations to respond to all types of emergencies.

Personnel from approximately 45 facilities participated in a forum with Williamson County area emergency managers as they explained the rule and described their roles and the four stages of a disaster. “The forum was really successful,” Miller said. “We had an open discussion about their concerns and what they needed from us. It was nice to work with them and guide them through the process. Now they have a better understanding of what the requirement does.”

Emergency managers distributed booklets with planning templates covering all types of hazards during the forum, while jurisdictional group sessions allowed emergency managers to answer questions and discuss realistic expectations of what local offices can do for the organizations pre and post disaster.

Networking was another great outcome of the forum, said Ron Weaver, Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council emergency preparedness and response coordinator, who attended the forum. “It is always better to know who you are working with, so you are not working with a stranger.” Because of the forum, these organizations have a starting point for building partnerships that support and learn from each other. They also can respond to incidents together instead of relying on themselves and their local emergency offices. “Emergency preparedness plans are extremely valuable to care facilities,” he said. “By instituting a plan and practicing it, these facilities are making their operations safer for their patients, their patients’ families, and their staff.” Other CAPCOG counties are considering hosting similar meetings to help local care facility providers.

> Learn about CATRAC.
> Find information about the new federal rule.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Workshop series curbs solid waste cost for communities

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A three-part workshop training series explores how local communities can reduce the cost of their solid waste programs by delving into three common issues. Conducted in June, the first workshop in the series, “Full Cost Accounting for Municipal Solid Waste Services,” addressed how collecting data and establishing rates could affect the bottom-line cost of providing solid waste services. The next two workshops, “Cost of Illegal Dumping” and “Commercial Food Waste Collection and Diversion”, will take place on July 26 and Aug. 24 respectively.

“Illegal dumping is a pervasive and costly solid waste problem for many departments within our counties and cities,” said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services regional program coordinator. “Besides being unsightly and unsafe, illegal dumpsites are expensive to mitigate. Food waste also is expensive for communities as it is one of the largest components appearing in waste streams in the United States. Less than five percent of food waste that can be diverted from landfills is.”

Each workshop examines the history of the issues before discussing best practices and local and regional collaborative approaches that can help reduce a community’s solid waste costs. These workshops are funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and facilitated by the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

> Register to attend the free workshops.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Crisis communications training enhances emergency response

Friday, July 07, 2017

Emergency Telecommunicators can receive incident specific crisis communications training through two courses CAPCOG is hosting by popular demand. “Suicide Intervention for 9-1-1 Professionals” and “High Risk!” work to improve communications and awareness skills during high stress incidents and to further ensure a caller’s and/or emergency responders’ safety. The courses will be held July 17 and July 18.

“National trends for the emergencies covered in these courses are curving upward, and training and practice is the best away to prepare to answer these forms of crisis communications,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG public safety answering point specialist. The “High Risk!" course shares vital lessons learned from when emergency personnel responds to incidents such as ambushes, felony traffic stops, domestic violence, and home robberies. The suicide course examines the eighth leading cause of death in the United States by exploring the myths and facts of suicide, developing suicide specific communications techniques, and performing suicide risk assessments. For every completed suicide, there are 50 other people who call 9-1-1 or prevention hotlines for help.

“These courses help recognize red flags and help deescalate the situation and eliminate surprises for first responders,” Dean said.

> Contact Dean to inquire about joining these training courses.
> Find other emergency telecommunicators training courses.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

TCEQ seeks municipal waste advisory council members

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is accepting applications for new and vacant positions on the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council, which addresses issues related to the management and recovery of resources from municipal solid waste programs.

Those who wish to submit applications to serve on the council must do so before July 31, 2017. Advisory council members are appointed to six-year staggering terms and meet about four times a year. The advisory council is charged with reviewing and evaluating the effect of state policies and programs on municipal solid waste management; making recommendations to the TCEQ Commissioners municipal solid waste management matters; recommending legislation to encourage the efficient management of municipal solid waste; recommending policies for the use, allocation, or distribution of the planning funds; and recommending special studies and projects to further the effectiveness of municipal solid waste management and resource recovery.

Advisory council terms expiring on Aug. 31, 2017 include:

  • Arden Vance Kemler, Denton - Advisory Council President,
    Manager of Solid Waste and Recycling Department, City of Denton
    An official from a city or county solid waste agency
  • Jeffrey Mayfield, P.E., Wylie
    North Texas Municipal Water District, Assistant Deputy Director, Solid Waste
    A representative from a public solid waste district or authority
  • Honorable Maurice Pitts, Jr., Giddings
    Lee County Commissioner of Precinct One
    An elected official from a county with any population size
  • Honorable City Administrator Leo Smith, Bangs
    A representative of the general public
  • Vacant
    An elected official from a municipality with a population fewer than 25,000
  • Vacant
    An elected official from a municipality with a population of 750,000 or more.

> Read more about the advisory council.
> Download the application.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Fayette County AgriLife Extension busts caregiver stress

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fayette County AgriLife Extension Service agents and Fayette County volunteers added another evidence based intervention (EBI) program to their repertoire to help older Americans continue to live as independently as possible. In May, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) led the group through a Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers group facilitator training course allowing them to coach proven stress management methods to those who care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia or chronic illness.

Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers is a nationally recognized program that instructs family caregivers about techniques and benefits of reducing stress to improve caregivers and patients’ quality of life. CAPCOG, working as AAACAP, delivers the program to communities throughout the ten-county region, but it also certifies volunteer coaches to lead the program, so they can offer the program in their own communities. “Teaching volunteer coaches for EBI programs enables these valuable programs to reach a larger audience at more convenient times for the older Americans or their caregivers,” said Kate Gibbons, CAPCOG health and wellness coordinator. “When an organization like the Fayette County AgriLife Extension Service requests to become coaches of EBI programs and find other volunteers to do the same, it gives us the opportunity to improve more lives.”

Fayette County’s population is steadily growing and about 23 percent of its population is 65 years old or older, so the Extension Service and a steering committee of seniors wanted to make providing programs such as Stress-Busting to the county’s residents a high priority, said Sally Garrett, a county extension agent. “There is a lot of stress for individuals who are caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients or those with chronic illnesses, and I know a lot of people here are family caregivers. Being able to teach Stress-Busting workshops lets us educate caregivers about caring for themselves, but I think those who take the course will also create valuable peer-support groups.”

Having led “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls” workshops for more than a year, the Extension Service and other organizations in the county have experienced the benefits of conducting EBI programs taught by AAACAP, Garrett said. “People have come up and told us (the programs) have made a difference in their lives, and that they are living healthier.” Stress-Busting will be another beneficial success for seniors in Fayette County, she said.

AAACAP also leads EBI programs on topics of fall prevention and chronic disease self-management.

> Learn more about EBI programs offered by AAACAP or schedule an EBI program.
> Read about AAACAP.

CAPCOG, Austin present on special event disaster planning

Monday, June 12, 2017

The CAPCOG Homeland Security Division Director Eric Carter and City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Juan Ortiz delivered a joint workshop during the 2017  Texas Emergency Management Conference about disaster planning for special events and how planning improves incident response.

“A standardized and inclusive planning process for special events can assist in mitigating incidents quickly and successfully,” Carter said. “Planning is the key to determining how to handle issues from lost children to unattended packages at specials events.” Emergency personnel responsible for developing, maintaining, and updating operation plans should involve representatives from as many agencies as possible in the disaster plan to include special event organizers, venue owners, operators and security personnel. The group should work together on the risk assessment, identifying hazards and vulnerabilities, and emergency operations.

Having the experience in disaster planning for anticipated special events such as an annual summer concert series, which may have well established protocols and procedures, also helps navigate no-notice special events, such as protests or a VIP visit, as it familiarizes event teams with the disaster planning process.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Discover the Austin Office Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
 

EPA extends 2015 Ozone NAAQS area designation deadline

Friday, June 09, 2017
Source: Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt notified states that the agency will extend the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) initial area designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS by one year.

“States have made tremendous progress and significant investment cleaning up the air. We will continue to work with states to ensure they are on a path to compliance,” said the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

NAAQS for ground-level ozone is an outdoor air regulation under the Clean Air Act. As part of the process to determine what areas of the country are able to meet the current air quality standards, states are currently submitting their proposals for area designations under the 70 parts per billion (ppb) standard, which was lowered from 75 ppb in 2015. Areas designated as being in “nonattainment” of the standard face consequences, including: increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses.

The EPA is giving states more time to develop air quality plans, and EPA is looking at providing greater flexibility to states as they develop their plans. And, pursuant to the language in the recently-enacted FY2017 Omnibus funding bill, Administrator Pruitt is establishing an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force to develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard.

> Read the full release. 
> Read Pruitt's letter to governors.
> Find your community’s ozone designation.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Workshop seeks to reduce cyber threats through information sharing

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

When it comes to preparing for cybersecurity threats, an organization’s best ally may be other entities attempting to do the same. Sharing cyber information in an effective manner across multiple organizations can prevent wide-spread impacts from an incident, prevent future incidents and even help catch perpetrators of cybercrimes.

To increase cybersecurity mitigation efforts, the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division will conduct a two-day workshop, June 15 through 16, designed to introduce private and public organizations to information sharing concepts, their value, and how they can help reduce the risk of cyberattacks. The workshop’s target audience is government and private sector stakeholders responsible for cyber security, critical infrastructure protection and information sharing policies. By the end of the workshop, participants will develop a framework to help establish an effective regional information sharing program.

> Organizations interested in sending representatives can register personnel on PreparingTexas.org.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

CAPCOG transitions GeoMap to state StratMap program

Monday, June 05, 2017

Since 2002, CAPCOG’s GeoMap program has worked to efficiently coordinate the acquisition of the region’s aerial imagery and other geographic information systems (GIS) data collection projects while saving taxpayer dollars for jurisdictions in the ten-county region. This year, CAPCOG hopes to create greater value for jurisdictions by participating in the Texas Natural Resources Information System’s Strategic Mapping Program (StratMap), which will reduce jurisdictions’ administrative work and offer a larger variety of products from 16 preselected vendors.

To ensure former GeoMap participants will receive the program’s most valuable data, CAPCOG is coordinating a region-wide orthoimagery project through StratMap. “We want to help our communities to transition,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager. “Orthoimagery is the same as a map; it is a picture that is scale corrected and can be used as a source for creating vector data, like planimetrics for planning and engineering purposes.” The CAPCOG project seeks to purchase 3-, 6- or 12-inch resolution images where the highest resolution allows for the most uses to include project level infrastructure mapping. Jurisdictions can purchase other geospatial products, such as LiDAR and contour lines, through StratMap directly.

StratMap uses the Texas Department of Information Resources contracting services to streamline the acquisition process and reduce administrative fees. Jurisdictions also can help the state program lower its cost by submitting projects by June 16; however, StratMap will accept projects until Sept. 30.

> Contact Eissler to participate in the CAPCOG orthoimagery project. 
> Learn more about the GeoMap StratMap transition.
> Learn more about StratMap.

CAPCOG, TxDOT conduct transportation needs open house series

Friday, June 02, 2017

CAPCOG is partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to solicit local feedback on transportation needs and priorities in Blanco, Lee, and Llano counties and to help identify possible funding mechanisms for future projects that improve the safety, maintenance and connectivity of the Central Texas transportation network.

To gather public input on local transportation needs and priorities, CAPCOG is hosting a series of open houses. The first open house took place in the City of Llano, where local stakeholders articulated their transportation priorities, identified mobility and congestion issues for the region, and provided feedback on how Llano County is likely to develop. Additional open houses will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on June 7, 13, 16, 22 at the Blanco Library, Kingsland Community Center, Lee County AgriLife Extension Service Office, and Johnson City Library, respectively. Residents attending the open houses will be able to review and provide feedback on recently completed, current, and planned TxDOT projects. They also are encouraged to share any unaddressed current transportation needs and foreseeable future transportation needs based on their knowledge of local growth and development.

Once the open houses are completed, CAPCOG will draft a planning document for each county that reflects the local priorities and explores possible funding sources, solicit feedback from local leaders, and finalize the documents for TxDOT.

> Get more information about each open house.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.
 

Retiring silver-haired legislator championed for older Texans

Friday, May 26, 2017

More than a decade and a half ago, Carlos Higgins, a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and attorney, volunteered to be a Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) Representative, and now at 82, the Round Rock resident feels proud to have participated in the Texas legislative process.

Higgins, who is serving his final TSHL term, said the role expanded his passion for influencing change to older Texans and all Texas residents. “We (TSHL representatives) do it for everybody who is a senior citizen,” he said. “At our age, 60 and older, we are parents and grandparents who have an interest in the future of the community.”

Higgins has embraced community engagement most of his life, which included being a Round Rock Independent School District Board President and serving on the Williamson County Literacy Council and the CAPCOG Aging Advisory Council. But as a TSHL representative, he is one of 106 senior citizens who volunteer to recommend legislative changes affecting older Texans before each state legislature. It is a job that works on broader community issues, and requires its members to share ideas, learn from example and be persistent about promoting beneficial change.

“There are many, many laws on the books that were proposed by the Silver-Haired Legislature,” Higgins said. “I gave it a go, and it was rewarding. We made a difference, I have no doubt about that.” In his role, Higgins’ personal triumphs included helping freeze property taxes for seniors on fixed incomes, making it easier for grandparents to serve as their grandchildren’s legal guardians, and supporting Meals on Wheels. These programs benefit a large cross-section of older Texans.

Higgins wants someone else to fill his TSHL seat, because he no longer has the endurance to regularly participate in the lengthy legislative committee process, but that doesn’t mean he will stop championing for older Texans. “There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue,” he said. “If I see something that needs to be changed, I will know who to talk to and where to go.”

> Read more about TSHL.
> Learm more about the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

CAPCOG adopts regional emergency communications strategic plan

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In the 2013 Texas Legislative Session, CAPCOG working with Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Paul Workman, passed legislation to designate the agency as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District (CAECD). As of April, the CAECD board approved the first strategic plan for the district that will provide guiding principles for its core functions: 9-1-1, voice and data interoperability, and training and education. Another category includes support systems or tools that enhance emergency communications for the region such as the regional notification system.

Getting the strategic plan approved was a final step in a process that began in 2014. The CAECD Strategic Advisory Committee, the group designated to provide technical guidance to the managing board, conducted three strategic planning sessions during which several key projects were identified and since completed. Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG’s director of emergency communications which manages the CAECD, noted that funding had not been available prior to 2013’s bill to support several significant projects such as construction of a region wide back-up network to ensure redundancy of the entire 9-1-1 system.

“The Capital Area Emergency Communications Strategic Plan lets the district better anticipate and prepare for larger projects that need to occur on a regional level,” said Peter Behnke, CAPCOG Emergency Communications assistant director. “The five-year plan allows the district to organize projects by category and by priority letting the district take a strategic look forward.”

By setting a framework for potential projects and allowing for a technical and representative vetting process, the plan further ensures projects are regionally focused and align with the district’s vision, mission and guiding principles. It establishes that subject matter experts will develop workgroups to recommend projects at various priority levels and in accordance with short- and long-term components that expand at least five years. Such recommended projects will then be reviewed by the CAPCOG Executive Committee before approval. The plan also provides a system for monitoring projects’ progress and their continued alignment to the district’s guiding principles.

> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

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