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Austin, TX 78744

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In the News

9-1-1 updates reach new milestone

Monday, July 15, 2013

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division has cleared another round in the quest to further modernize the region’s 9-1-1 infrastructure.

The recent installation of new equipment in 20 area public safety answering points or emergency communication centers ends the first phase of key updates to expand 9-1-1 capabilities.

In addition, the PSAPs now have newer mapping software to better assist 9-1-1 call takers in pinpointing caller locations. Call takers translate the mapping data into location information for police, medical and fire personnel responding to emergencies.

As previously reported, ongoing digital updates will help the PSAPs eventually accept calls from text, video images and other sources beyond the traditional voice-only calls.

> Discover CAPCOG's emergency Communications Division

July 12 marks deadline for interest in statewide solid waste advisory group

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With applications from interested parties due by July 12, 2013, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is still seeking stakeholders to serve on its Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council.

The council, whose charge to help further the efficient and effective management of solid waste includes evaluating state policy impacts and recommending applicable legislation, projects, special studies and funding-related policies, meets four times a year. 

Members serve six-year staggered terms and represent interests such as public agencies, commercial landfill operators, composting and recycling companies, financial advisors, the general public and others.

TCEQ is accepting membership applications in the following eight categories:

  • A representative from a solid waste management organization comprised primarily of commercial operators.
  • A person experienced in the management and operation of a composting or recycling facility or an educator with knowledge of the design and management of solid waste facilities.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population between 100,000 and 750,00.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population between 25,000 and 100,000.
  • A representative of the financial community.
  • An elected official from a county with a population less than 150,000.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population less than 25,000.
  • A representative of the general public. 

For more information or to apply, visit TCEQ's website. > Go

Cadets’ achievement caps record year for Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cadets from CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Peace Officer Class No. 67.

With its most recent round of cadets having passed the state exam for new peace officers on the first try, CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy closes its 2012 series on a perfect record.

The success marks yet another notch in the academy's pass-rate record, with all but two of the agency’s more than 20 cadet classes in the last five years having scored this feat.

Class 67, which started CAPCOG's Basic Peace Officer Course last November and graduated in early June 2013, comprised 24 students representing the Texas State University Police, Round Rock Fire Department, Elgin Police and Fire departments and Georgetown Police Department.

Cadets must pass the state exam administered by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to become licensed peace officers.

> Discover the Regional Law Enforcement Academy
> Sign up for the next Basic Peace Officer Course

Ozone Advance survey extended through July

Friday, July 05, 2013

Want your say on measures the region should implement to stay in step with federal ozone standards? There’s still time!

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program and the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition have extended the Ozone Advance survey through July. Stakeholders can share their views to help develop a new regional air quality plan for Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

Local elected officials need your input on which strategies the region should pursue to keep the area in compliance with federal ozone standards as part of its Ozone Advance plan, including whether new measures should be adopted, whether existing measures should be modified or whether some measures should end.

Take the survey today at CAPCOG's Ozone Advance page. > Go

CAPCOG issues emissions reduction progress report

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

CAPCOG has filed its final annual progress report under the 8-O3 Flex Plan, an ozone reduction initiative to be replaced next year by regional participation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Ozone Advance program.

The annual report, compiled on behalf of the Clean Air Coalition and submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA, provides updates on the implementation of emission reduction measures that were included in the region’s 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan adopted in 2008.

The report discusses the status of state-implemented programs, regional emission reduction measures and measures implemented by local jurisdictions and other local participating organizations. Details include the number of vehicles subjected to emissions tests, efforts under the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan program, the number of users of the regional rideshare website, local commitments to reduce emissions within respective communities and more.

With the 8-O3 Flex Plan expiring Dec. 31, 2013, CAPCOG, the Clean Air Coalition and area partners are gathering stakeholder input on potential emission reduction measures for the upcoming Ozone Advance initiative.

> Read the final annual report 
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program
> Learn about Ozone Advance, and take the survey

July 4, 2013: Austin area gets second consecutive Ozone Action Day

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

With high ozone levels again forecasted for the Austin area by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, July 4, 2013, will mark the second consecutive Ozone Action Day on which residents and businesses can help curb pollution by carpooling, combining errands into one trip, fueling up after 6 p.m. and making other mitigating efforts.

Sensitive populations such as young children, the elderly and people with lung disease should avoid exposure by minimizing outdoor exertion.

Ozone pollution results when emissions from industrial facilities, electric utilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are baked in sunlight. Ground-level ozone, even at low levels, can cause adverse health effects, especially among more vulnerable groups.

> Learn more about ozone alerts and ways to reduce air pollution
> View a map of current ozone levels at TCEQ's website

July 3, 2013: Season’s first Ozone Action Day

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

With high ozone levels forecasted for the Austin area by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, July 3 will mark the first Ozone Action Day of the season.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to help curb pollution by carpooling, combining errands into one trip, telecommuting, fueling fleets after 6 p.m. and making other mitigating efforts. Sensitive populations such as young children, the elderly and people with lung disease should avoid exposure by minimizing outdoor exertion.

Ozone pollution results when emissions from industrial facilities, electric utilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are baked in sunlight. Ground-level ozone, even at low levels, can cause adverse health effects, especially among more vulnerable groups.

> Learn more about ozone alerts and ways to reduce air pollution
> View a map of current ozone levels at TCEQ's website

Seniors reminded to to take steps against heat stress

Friday, June 28, 2013

As capital area temperatures hover in the 100s this summer, CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging reminds seniors to protect themselves from dangerous heat-related illness.

"Older adults can be at greater risk of heat stroke and other problems," said Area Agency on Aging Director Jennifer Scott, "so prevention and protection during the high heat of the season are key."

Seniors have greater challenges in adjusting to heat and sudden temperature changes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

The CDC site, which also discusses the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, advises cool, nonalcoholic beverages; rest; lighter clothing; and other steps to help seniors prevent heat stress.

> Discover more ways to protect seniors from heat stress at the CDC website
> Explore the Area Agency on Aging's services for seniors in the capital area

USDA Rural Housing Preservation Grant closes Aug. 2

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service is accepting grant applications from eligible public agencies and private nonprofits to help low-income homeowners in rural areas repair and rehabilitate their homes.

Housing Preservation Grant funds, estimated at more than $3.8 million, also can be used to help repair and rehabilitate units made available to low-income residents in rental properties and cooperative housing complexes.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, at the applicant's Rural Development State Office. 

> Learn more at the federal website

Letters of interest for state grant on water, sewer work due June 30

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Texas Department of Agriculture is accepting letters of interest by June 30, 2013, for its Small Towns Environmental Program to help fund water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

Qualified projects by eligible cities and counties must include local community participation such as volunteer labor and equipment to show a 40 percent savings from the retail construction cost.

The initial letter marks the first step in the application process, followed by other requirements before final selection. The announcement of awards is expected in December.

> Get details and the application at the TDA website

New technology next step in 9-1-1 updates

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division is moving the region another step closer to Next Generation 9-1-1, a national initiative to expand emergency call-taking capabilities in today’s technologically mobile world.

The division has been training area public safety answering points, or emergency communication centers, on new equipment that eventually will help PSAPs handle calls from sources such as text, video, images and more — in addition to voice-only calls.

Training and equipment installation will continue at PSAPs across the region through summer.

> Explore CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Survey seeks input from I-35 commuters

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do you commute for work along Interstate Highway 35? The City of Austin and the Texas Department of Transportation want your input in a survey to gauge preferences for new travel services and IH-35 improvements.

Available in English and Spanish, the IH-35 Commute Alternatives Survey is part of an ongoing public outreach effort to explore potential mobility improvements along the interstate corridor through Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

Take the 10-minute survey today to help craft important travel solutions for tomorrow. > Go

Community grant applications scored; funding TBD

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Community grant applications scored; funding TBD CAPCOG and the Texas Department of Agriculture have scored the 2013-14 Community Development Block Grant applications for the region’s counties and cities with populations less than 50,000.

The grants aim to expand economic opportunities and improve living conditions with projects that meet U.S. Housing and Urban Development program priorities.

The local grant awards will help support water and sewer-related projects. Applicants will be notified of their award amount once federal allocations to Texas for the 2013 cycle and related regional funding amounts are determined.

> Get the final scoring sheet and learn more about the CDBG program

Air monitoring station comes to Caldwell County

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments has launched its first air quality monitoring station in Caldwell County.

The new addition, installed May 28 at the Lockhart police and EMS station, should help improve understanding of air quality upwind of Austin on high-ozone days when winds come out of the south and southeast and will provide a more complete picture of ozone exposure within the five-county Austin- Round Rock metropolitan statistical area.

CAPCOG’s network of ozone monitors throughout the region includes six permanent stations: two in Williamson County, two in Hays County, one in Bastrop County and another in Fayette County. Those stations supplement the two regulatory ozone monitors in Travis County operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and help characterize ozone transport throughout the region.

Data from CAPCOG’s six existing monitoring stations are reported to TCEQ’s website. Though data from the Lockhart station won't be reported to the state’s site, it will be available monthly upon request.

> See TCEQ's reporting page for ozone averages in selected metro areas
> Learn more about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

New program manager aboard for Area Agency on Aging care coordinators

Thursday, June 06, 2013

           Rene Oldstein

Rene Oldstein has joined CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging as the new program manager for care coordinators.

Oldstein, whose career has spanned banking, real estate and health care, brings diverse experience including service as executive director of a 103-bed assisted living and Alzheimer’s care facility. She also helped in the startup and operation of two 22-bed Alzheimer’s communities in Austin.

Oldstein holds an Assisted Living Manager certification in Texas and an Administrator license in Alabama.

Her passion for working with older adults has included volunteering with organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and participating in fundraisers to benefit seniors.

Footage highlights ugly truth about illegal dumping

Friday, May 31, 2013

From discarded paint and pesticides ditched in a field to old furniture, unwanted tires and piles of brush tossed in a creek, illegal dumping in Central Texas can take a toll on public health, the environment and wildlife. Get an up-close look as KEYE-TV goes on patrol with the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force.


> Watch the video and read the story at KEYE's website
> Learn about the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force
> Report illegal dumping online or with the 1-877-NO-DUMPS hotline

FEMA: Senior benefits unaffected by disaster aid

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Seniors can apply for federal disaster assistance without sacrificing Social Security benefits, paying more taxes or dropping their income-based benefit programs, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency news release.

The timely reminder comes amid recent disasters such as the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas, which also resulted in tremendous property loss.

“We want to reassure seniors not to be afraid to apply for assistance. FEMA assistance is available to all eligible survivors to include senior citizens,” FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes said in the release. “Receiving disaster funds will not impact non-FEMA assistance or assistance from other programs.”

> Learn more about FEMA assistance
> Explore CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's services

Austin-area mandatory 10-digit dialing starts June 1; 9-1-1 not affected

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remember to reprogram those phones! With the introductory six-month grace period ending, mandatory 10-digit dialing in Central Texas starts June 1, 2013.

The change, needed to accommodate an expanding population and demand for more phone numbers, also includes a new, additional area code coming this summer. 

First announced last year, the move echoes other communities across the country whose days of seven-digit dialing are a thing of the past. It affects Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Lampasas, Milam, Travis and Williamson counties.

Key components of the change, also called an "overlay":

  • Optional 10-digit dialing, or dialing the applicable area code and seven-digit phone number, ends its six-month introductory period on May 31, 2013.
  • Mandatory 10-digit dialing starts June 1, 2013; calls will not be completed without it.
  • Starting July 1, 2013, new phone lines may receive the new "737" area code, an addition to the area already served by "512."
  • Eventually all new telephone numbers within the 512 area will be assigned the 737 area code.
  • Customers can keep the 512 phone numbers they already have.
  • The three-digit 9-1-1 local emergency number will remain the same.

Customers can contact their local phone-service provider for more information, or visit the "Texas Area Codes" section of the state Public Utility Commission website. > Go

> Read a KUT news story on the region's new area code
> Learn how CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division supports 9-1-1

Area Agency on Aging: Eye on preventive services

Friday, May 10, 2013

From annual flu vaccinations and diabetes self-management training to obesity screening and tobacco counseling, preventive services can make a major difference in helping people protect their health. Learn how CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging’s Benefits Counseling Program helps connect eligible consumers with needed preventive services in the 10-county region.

Funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging has assisted older adults and their caregivers for more than 30 years. As a part of the AAA, the Benefits Counseling Program provides Medicare guidance to adults 60 and older and to Medicare beneficiaries of any age.

> Discover AAA's Benefits Counseling Program, including volunteer opportunities

Consumers can count on the agency’s state-certified benefits counselors to provide confidential, unbiased, one-on-one assistance in understanding Medicare eligibility requirements, navigating open enrollment periods, choosing applicable coverage options, helping prevent fraud, applying for help with drug prescription costs and more. All without having to pay a benefits counseling fee.

Benefits counselors, well-versed in the preventive services available under Medicare, also advise consumers on how to efficiently and cost-effectively access such resources. They don’t refer clients to specific doctors, social workers or other providers but do, for example, provide timely, relevant information about health insurance plans and insurance policies.

Preventive services covered by Medicare has expanded under the federal Affordable Care Act, making it even more important for eligible consumers to seek benefits counseling. Since Jan. 1, 2011, beneficiaries can receive a wide range of preventive services, with most at low to no cost.

> Learn more about Medicare at the official federal website

For example, depending on age, eligible Medicare participants may access free preventive services such as the following:

  • Blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests. ??
  • Cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies. ??
  • Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio or meningitis. ??
  • Counseling on health and wellness topics such as smoking cessation, weight management, nutrition and mental health. ??

How does the Benefits Counseling Program get the word out about Medicare-covered preventive services? A combination of today’s tools and time-honored outreach. The Area Agency on Aging coordinates outreach events with a range of providers and coalitions within the region. Benefits counselors also discuss the services during group presentations and individual sessions. And in addition to sharing program updates, volunteer opportunities, events and more on its website, AAA is planning to raise its social-media profile.

Scheduling free one-on-one confidential benefits counseling, including learning more about preventive services available with Medicare, is as easy as requesting a benefits counselor at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111. Call or refer someone who needs help today!

> Share your support for Older Americans Month, May 2013

CAPCOG honors 9-1-1 pros

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments recently honored area emergency communicators, naming the winners of its annual Telecommunicator Awards contest.

  • Cindy Ledesma, Austin Police Department; Michael Brimble, Cedar Park Police Department; and Tammie Reyna, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, each received a Dedicated Service Award, given for exceptional professionalism.
  • Kim Haba and Brenda Parkinson of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office won the 9-1-1 Team Award, which recognizes two or more telecommunicators for exemplary handling of a specific emergency call involving coordination of multiple public safety responses and other emergency resources.

The regional awards helped mark the April 14 to 20, 2013, National Telecommunicators Week, which was also recognized by a CAPCOG Executive Committee resolution.

> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

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