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In the News

Regional training puts spotlight on illegal dumping

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From junk cars to chemical-discharge violations, learn about the growing problem of illegal dumping and other environmental crimes with Basic Environmental Law, a training course scheduled 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, 2014, at the Dunbar Recreation Center, 801 W. Martin Luther King Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666.

> Register today for the regional training

Certified instructors from various agencies including the City of Austin and the Travis County Attorney's Office will address topics such as solid waste, nuisance violations, civil versus criminal prosecution, unauthorized discharges and more. 

> Learn more about the Regional Environmental Task Force

Whether a code compliance officer, business owner or concerned resident, sign up by April 10 for this session presented by the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force. The $30 registration includes lunch, materials and selected continuing-education credits.

> Discover CAPCOG Solid Waste Planning

CAMPO series invites input on transportation planning

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a CAPCOG partner, has set a series of opportunities in March and April for public input on long-range transportation plans and the Transportation Improvement Program.  

Residents and other stakeholders can weigh in on potential changes to the 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Plan; development of the 2015-2018 TIP; amendments proposed to the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan; and priorities for the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which eventually will replace the current 2035 version.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

The open houses, each running from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and featuring the same information, are scheduled across the region:

  • Tuesday, March 25, Burnet County Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St., Burnet, TX 78611
  • Thursday, March 27, Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., Lockhart, TX 78644
  • Monday, March 31, One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325, Austin, TX 78704
  • Tuesday, April 1, Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX 78602
  • Wednesday, April 2, San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos, TX 78666
  • Thursday, April 3, Williamson County Central Maintenance Facility, 3151 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown, TX 78626

Input opportunities also will include a public hearing during CAMPO's Transportation Policy Board meeting, 6 p.m. Monday, March 17, at LBJ Auditorium, 2300 Red River St., Austin, TX 78712. Attendees wishing to speak must sign up at arrival, before the hearing.

> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Explore progress on the developing 2040 Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

CAPCOG calls for diesel-reduction projects

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is calling for truck-replacement projects eligible for funding under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant.

The call for projects runs March 1 through April 18, 2014, for funding up to 25 percent of replacement costs for as many as 18 city or county trucks and three utility trucks. 

Diesel pollution, including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and air toxics, can affect health and cause financial impacts. With millions of diesel engines in operation nationwide, reducing the harmful emissions they produce can make a big difference in improving the region’s air quality, protecting human health and saving money.

Among the funding requirements, replacement trucks must be model years 2011 or newer. The retired vehicles must be model years 1993-2003; be operated primarily in Bastrop, Bexar, Caldwell, Hays, Travis or Williamson counties; and not have been slated for replacement before Sept. 30, 2015.

Acquisition of the new truck and destruction of the engine and chassis of the old truck must occur before Sept. 30, 2014.

> Visit the "Doing Business with CAPCOG" page for more details
> Learn about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

CAPCOG expands access to Medicare benefits counseling in Marble Falls, Taylor and Llano

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging, a division of the Capital Area Council of Governments, has expanded access to Medicare benefits counseling in three Central Texas communities. 

A state-certified benefits counselor will now be available with monthly office hours at the following new locations through September 2014:

  • First Wednesday of the month - 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. 
    Texas Housing Foundation, 1016 Broadway, Marble Falls, TX 78654
  • Second Thursday of the month - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Switzer Senior Center, 410 W. Seventh St., Taylor, TX 76574
  • Third Wednesday of the month, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Park Ridge Apartments, 100 Legend Hills Blvd., Llano, TX 78643

CAPCOG's Benefits Counseling Program offers free, unbiased information about health insurance to Medicare beneficiaries, their caregivers or anyone 60 or older. In addition to the monthly hours in community locations, benefits counselors are available to schedule other individual appointments by calling 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

Funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, AAACAP has served as a trusted source of information on services and supports for older individuals and their caregivers for more than 30 years.

> Get the Area Agency on Aging flier
> Explore the Benefits Counseling Program

Medicare vs. Health Insurance Marketplace

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its Q&A on the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace, explaining what it means for consumers with Medicare.

Learn whether the Marketplace affects your Medicare choices, whether Medicare coverage meets Affordable Care Act requirements and more with the four-page information sheet available at the CMS website. The Q&A also offers phone numbers and websites for help with Medicare enrollment and costs.

> Get the Q&A at the federal website
> Discover CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging services

Collaboration with BVCOG yields winning cadet class

Friday, February 21, 2014

Police cadets stand to perform the pledge of allegiance during their January 2014 graduation ceremony, a culmination of the successful CAPCOG- Brazos Valley Council of Governments collaboration. 

CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy has conducted basic peace officer courses (BPOC) for 19 years with a mission to produce the best-prepared peace officers for the capital area’s cities and counties.

The program’s success includes a feat few academies can claim: consistently achieving a 100 percent pass rate among cadets when they take the state’s licensing exam for the first time.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Two years ago, CAPCOG began getting requests to conduct satellite academies for neighboring regions; other COGs that didn’t operate academies were interested in CAPCOG conducting a BPOC and perhaps eventually helping them ramp up their own efforts.

The academy has just finished its first satellite BPOC in another region, with 16 cadets graduating from a course conducted in partnership with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments in Bryan, Texas.

Because RLEA staff take an intensely hands-on approach that ensures cadets get the best training possible — with a heavy focus on the academic portion — overseeing the eight-month evening course posed a challenge.

> Apply for the next Basic Peace Officer Certification Course

A lack of daily contact with the course’s 23 adjunct instructors teaching more than 30 topics made RLEA Director Mike Jennings a bit nervous, but his leadership helped yield a 100 percent pass rate on the cadets’ first crack at the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement licensing test.

CAPCOG will again carefully consider future collaborations — producing a lengthy course outside the region can add a significant work-load to an already robust schedule — but partnerships between councils of governments remain a hallmark of helping communities across the state succeed.

Regional Environmental Task Force releases new enforcement guide

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's a public nuisance? What parts of Texas state law address water pollution, illegal dumping or outdoor burning? Get the scoop on this and more in the newly published 2013-2104 Environmental Law Enforcement Guide. 

The easy-to-read, 90-page booklet, published by the Regional Environmental Task Force in partnership with the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, offers helpful facts and tips for law enforcement officers, sanitarians, code enforcement professionals and others interested in solid-waste issues. 

Get the booklet as a downloadable PDF file, or order the hard copy edition online.

> Discover the Regional Environmental Task Force
> Get the PDF version of the enforcement guide  
> Order the hard copy through Pocket Press

Ozone efforts garner EPA Clean Air Excellence Award

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC), a regional collaboration of city and county governments in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties in partnership with the CAPCOG, has won a national award for its ozone-reduction efforts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award honors innovate work that helps decrease emissions from targeted pollutants, serves as a model for others and proves sustainable.

CAC's successful implementation of its Regional 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan, a voluntary pollution-curbing initiative that has helped the Austin-Round Rock metroplitan area stay in compliance with federal air quality standards, won in the award competition's Community Action category that recognizes partnership-based efforts.

The EPA will host an awards ceremony honoring the various winners on April 2 in Arlington, Va. 

> Learn more about the Clean Air Coalition
> Explore the Ozone Flex Plan's successor, Ozone Advance 
> Get more details on the EPA 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award

CAPCOG’s 2013 State of the Region presentation now available

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s annual State of the Region presentation showed how Central Texas is scoring continued momentum out of the recession, staying ahead of the pack on key economic factors and experiencing renewed interest in rural communities’ traditional downtowns.

Explore the slide show online, and contact CAPCOG Community & Economic Development Director Michael Hennig for additional details on the featured trends and stats. 

> Contact Michael Hennig
> Download the 2013 State of the Region slides
> Discover CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

Mandatory workshops for criminal justice grant applicants rescheduled

Monday, January 27, 2014

CAPCOG has rescheduled its mandatory workshops for potential grant applicants interested in state funding opportunities regarding criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim services, expanding to three separate sessions.

Grant writers, coordinators and others involved in completing the applications or entering them at the CJD's eGrants website need attend only one of the workshops - 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30; 1:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31; or Wednesday, Feb. 5, at CAPCOG Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744 - to get details on applying for the following fiscal 2015 funding available from the Governor's Criminal Justice Division:

• General Victims Assistance
• Violent Crimes Against Women
• Criminal Justice Programs
• General Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs

Workshop attendance is mandatory for all applicants, new or returning. Applications submitted by organizations not attending one of the workshops will not be reviewed or prioritized by CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) or recommended for funding to the CJD.

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, will make potential grantees’ applications available to CAPCOG in March or April 2014 for review, prioritization and recommendations by CJAC in April 2014.

> Contact Cindy Hood for questions or to RSVP
> Learn about CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Program

Applications for federal economic development grant due March 14

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The U.S. Economic Development Administration is accepting grant applications from local governments and other selected entities until March 14, 2014, for the current funding cycle of its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs.

The programs seek both rural- and urban-area projects that maximize regional assets in implementing effective economic development strategies for distressed communities.   

> Get the grant details

Signed up with ENS? Update now for more options

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

With CAPCOG's Regional Notification System expanding the ways to reach people and the types of information shared, participants who previously registered their cellphone will get a second automated phone message this week inviting them to sign up for the newly upgraded system.

CAPCOG’s system, formerly called the “Emergency Notification System,” previously was limited to telephone calls to people that were included in the 9-1-1 database and to those who had registered their cellular telephones on CAPCOG ENS. The new RNS includes capacity to send messages by email or text and – eventually – Twitter and Facebook. Residents can register their cellphones, landlines, email addresses, pagers and other devices that receive text-based messages. The improved system also will allow local officials to send a wider range of notifications.

The previous system could only be used in situations in which life and property were directly threatened. Instead, the upgrades permit delivery of messages that may not comprise an emergency but nonetheless are important to public health, well-being and convenience. These could include restrictions on water usage, traffic disruptions due to major events and weather-related cancellations of public events. Some have already received a call, which alerts people who previously registered their cellphones that they must re-register if they wish to continue receiving alerts. Current users and new participants can register or update their information online today.

> Register with CAPCOG's newly updated Regional Notification System
> For questions, contact Aisha Henderson

CAPCOG’s 2014 Executive Committee officers named

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CAPCOG's 2014 Executive Committee has elected its officers for the year, affirming the Nominating Committee's recommendations.

Officers, who serve a one-year term and serve in the same capacity on the Capital Area Emergency Communications District Board of Managers, also compose the Budget, Audit and Strategic Planning Subcommittee, help guide the audit team, oversee the CAPCOG budgeting process with staff, annually evaluate the agency's executive director and make recommendations on administrative or programmatic strategies.

The five officers include Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom, Chair; City of Elgin Mayor Marc Holm, First Vice Chair; Caldwell County Judge Tom Bonn, Second Vice Chair; City of Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland, Secretary; and City of Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, Immediate Past Chair. 

CAPCOG, serving Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties, has helped its member governments and organizations maximize opportunities and eliminate duplication on key regional issues for more than 40 years. Formed in 1970, the agency is one of 24 councils of governments in Texas.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Executive Committee 
> Explore COGs statewide at the Texas Association of Regional Councils website

Area Agency on Aging: Seniors, it’s not too late for a flu shot!

Friday, January 10, 2014

With flu season in full swing, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging wants seniors - who are at greater risk from the dangerous virus - to help protect themselves.

One key toward prevention? Flu vaccine. The virus generally peaks around January or February in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but there's still time to get a flu shot. 

> Get answers on Medicare coverage for flu vaccine
> Learn more about flu and older adults at the CDC website

State grant targets pollution with natural gas replacements

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, 2015 - or until depletion of funds - for a grant to replace or repower medium- and heavy-duty motor vehicles with cleaner-running natural gas versions.

With about $24 million in funding available during the current two-year fiscal cycle, the TCEQ's Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program will fund eligible projects on a first come, first served basis.

Applicants - governments, companies, individuals and any other legal entity can participate - must meet selected equipment, usage and reporting requirements for eligibility. Learn more about the grant at TCEQ's website. > Go

A closer look: CAPCOG’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Monday, January 06, 2014

"Ombudsman" might mean "citizen representative," but some may consider it a longer word for "hero." Here's a closer look at CAPCOG's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which provides advocacy and friendly support for individuals living in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.

Ombudsmen investigate complaints made by residents, their families, or any other concerned party. They then work with complainants and facility staff to achieve resolutions. They can help one person resolve a problem, address issues that affect several residents or work to change a systemic problem. Their work takes many forms:

  • Handling complaints — Ombudsmen support residents and families to resolve any problems or differences with the facility staff by defining concerns, explaining rights and identifying possible courses of action. An ombudsman can help resolve the problem in most cases, but complaints involving serious abuse or neglect are referred to the appropriate agency. In all situations, confidentiality is maintained and no information is released without the resident or legal guardian’s permission. ?
  • Providing information — Ombudsmen are a good source of information about selecting a long-term care facility, including guiding callers to CAPCOG’s website for links to maps of both nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the region and to federal and state quality ratings. ?
  • Advocating system and legislative changes — State and regional ombudsman programs work cooperatively with other advocacy organizations to recommend legislation and regulatory changes that affect older Texans.

The sheer volume of facilities in the CAPCOG region, including 77 nursing homes with a total capacity of 8,400 beds and 122 licensed assisted living communities representing about 3,638 beds, demonstrates the high need for this advocacy service.

CAPCOG’s Ombudsman Program includes three staff members and approximately 40 trained and certified volunteers who routinely visit facilities throughout the region. With the program’s aim to advocate for resident rights, quality of life and good resident care, staff attend resident and family council meetings and care-plan meetings. They help ensure residents are not inappropriately discharged and help train facility employees on resident rights issues.

In addition, ombudsmen help ensure that Medicaid-funded residents who have expressed the desire to move back home or to a less restrictive environment are provided the opportunity for referral to the Money Follows the Person program, a federal initiative in which many states participate.

> Learn more about the Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Program
> Discover other AAA services

Regional coalition approves new air quality plan

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition has adopted a new plan to help keep the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area in compliance with federal ozone standards.

The Ozone Advance Program Action Plan, developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will replace the 8-O3 Flex Plan, which expires Dec. 31, 2013. It represents a voluntary initiative in which local governments and other organizations in the region will continue implementing measures to reduce ozone pollution.

Remaining in compliance with federal ozone standards continues to be a high priority for this region, both to protect public health and to avoid the costly impacts of a “nonattainment” designation.

Reducing ozone levels provides health benefits for children, seniors, and people with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

If an area is designated “nonattainment” for ozone, consequences also could prove serious for the regional economy, including new constraints on transportation planning, strict limits on industrial growth and a host of costly pollution regulations.

Nonattainment would result in the loss of local control of air quality planning and would impose new costs on the state in preparing implementation plans for the region. 

> Read the new plan
> Discover the Clean Air Coalition
> Learn more about Ozone Advance
> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Regional forum showcases analytics in action for community planning

Friday, December 20, 2013

CAPCOG’s Sustainable Places Project will present the free regional forum “Putting It All Together with Tomorrow’s Tools Today,” 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, at Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, 4140 Governors Row, Austin.

The free session, open to local governments, planning consultants, real estate developers and the public, includes breakfast and marks the seventh and final session in a series of SPP regional forums focused on mobility, housing, economic development and other factors of future prosperity. 

 Eventbrite - Sustainable Places Project Regional Forum | Putting It All Together

Funded by one of U.S. Housing and Urban Development's first-round Sustainable Communities Initiatives grants, the SPP set out to change the way communities plan in this region. Attendees will find out whether that happened and what the next steps are.

With the project's much-acclaimed Analytics Tool now completed, learn about its capacity to project impacts for transportation, environmental, fiscal and economic development initiatives. 

The forum will also include other updates:

  • The City of Austin has aggressively applied the Analytics Tool to decide what the development value of urban rail could be, depending on locations of the stations. The tool’s ability to predict impact will be demonstrated on selected sites in the city. Hear the latest from city representatives. 
  • CAPCOG's Sustainable Places Project will become the Prosperous Places Program, or "P3." Project successes in Elgin, Hutto, Lockhart and Dripping Springs demonstrated that place-making must be considered as an economic development strategy if small cities are to be competitive in today’s economy. Find out how P3 can help Central Texas communities large and small strategize and implement place-making.

Limited seating. Reserve your spot by Jan. 8 at the forum's registration site. > Go

CAPCOG looks ahead to expanded 9-1-1 capacity

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Moving forward from the recent 9-1-1 issue, the Capital Area Council of Governments and partners continue to evaluate new methods for enhancing and augmenting the 10-county region’s emergency communications capacity.   

At about 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, calls to the Austin-Travis County 9-1-1 center were rerouted to other local emergency communications facilities because of a temporary server failure and – due to maintenance at the time – unavailability of the backup center. The redirecting of calls to the backup agencies worked exactly as planned, and systems were repaired and returned to normal by approximately 7:46 p.m. that day. 

Such was the power of partnerships, with backup assistance from the City of Austin Police and Fire departments, Travis County EMS and Sheriff’s Office, Pflugerville Sheriff’s Office, Round Rock and Williamson County. The agencies worked closely with CAPCOG, which oversaw the repairs and coordinated the response. 

Looking ahead, CAPCOG is exploring options to further expand backup capabilities. Our vendors are already investigating enhancements to the system to improve resiliency and diversity options to prevent a similar situation in the future.

This includes moving closer to testing newer technology aligned with Next Generation 9-1-1, a national initiative to help emergency communication centers accept calls by text messages, photos, videos, alarm systems, vehicle devices such as OnStar and medical-alert systems for seniors — all in addition to voice-only calls. 

Most important, the 10-county region as of this year is its own 9-1-1 district, allowing for more flexibility in meeting the emergency communications challenges of today and tomorrow.

One of the early actions of the new Capital Area Emergency Communications District, the nation’s first COG-managed emergency communications district, was to establish a Strategic Advisory Committee. The committee, starting at its inaugural meeting in January, will consider several long-term 9-1-1 upgrades for the region.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division
> Sign up for Regional Notification System updates on your phone

CAPCOG General Assembly names the agency’s 2014 Executive Committee

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments' General Assembly has selected the organization's 2014 Executive Committee, approving the full slate recommended by the Nominating Committee. 

As CAPCOG's governing body, the 27-member Executive Committee comprises city and county elected officials nominated and selected annually to provide direction to CAPCOG staff regarding program implementation, budgets and contracts, and general policies and procedures for managing the agency.

The committee also includes nonvoting seats for state legislators from Texas Planning Region 12.

Executive Committee members are self-nominated from the pool of current General Assembly participants. Though eligibility requirements help ensure equal representation of cities, counties, small communities and large areas, selection also considers geographical representation and candidates' involvement with other CAPCOG programs and committees.

CAPCOG's 2014 Executive Committee - approved during the Dec. 14 General Assembly annual meeting - listed by membership category:

Counties (One per county, except two for Travis County)
Bastrop - Judge Paul Pape
Blanco - Judge Bill Guthrie
Burnet - Judge Donna Klaeger
Caldwell - Judge Tom Bonn
Fayette - Judge Ed Janecka
Hays - Judge Bert Cobb
Lee - Commissioner Maurice Pitts
Llano - Judge Wayne Brascom
Travis - Judge Sam Biscoe, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty
Williamson - Judge Dan A. Gattis

City of Austin (1 representative)
Council Member Kathy Tovo

Cities with more than 100,000 people (1 representative)
Round Rock - Mayor Alan McGraw

Cities with 25,000 to 100,000 people (4 representatives)
Eligible cities: Cedar Park, Georgetown, Kyle, Leander, Pflugerville, San Marcos
Cedar Park - Mayor Pro Tem Don Tracy
Kyle - Council Member Samantha LeMense
Pflugerville - Mayor Jeff Coleman
San Marcos - Council Member Shane Scott

Cities under 25,000 (5 representatives)
Bee Cave - Mayor Caroline Murphy
Buda - Council Member Eileen Altmiller
Elgin - Mayor Marc Holm
Lockhart - Mayor Lew White
Hutto - Mayor Debbie Holland

Hays County - Commissioner Will Conley
Williamson County - Commissioner Cynthia Long 
City of Marble Falls - Mayor George Russell

Legislators from State Planning Region 12 (nonvoting)  
Rep. Jason Isaac
Rep. Paul Workman

The new Executive Committee will serve from January through December 2014 and formally select its five officers next month.

> Learn more about CAPCOG's General Assembly and Executive Committee

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