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In the News

Jack Griesenbeck Award solicits nominations

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck was a man of vision when he decided to be the first chairman of the now Capital Area Council of Governments in 1970 and subsequently the first president of the Texas Association of Regional Councils, the state association representing all 24 Texas councils of governments. These organizations by definition must focus on regional issues that mutually benefit multiple local governments when doing their work. It is not always easy to wear your “regionalism hat” when you represent a more narrow constituency, but Judge Griesenbeck did that consistently as have the recipients of the award named after him.

In 2001, CAPCOG created the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award to recognize those who have articulated the need for regionalism and supported the activities to achieve it. The first recipient was Senator Kirk Watson who brought together county and city officials to develop the state’s first voluntary air quality plan recognized by EPA in 2002. The Early Action Compact was a proactive approach to keep the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area from entering a nonattainment status and to avoid onerous federal mandates. The region and the organization Watson started, the Clean Air Coalition, continues to implement its third voluntary emission reduction plan.

Dr. W. Neal Kocureck, a local doctor and community leader, followed in 2002 after he launched Envision Central Texas, an effort to create a long-term vision of how the region should grow through a collaborative community by community approach. Bob Daigh, then district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation- Austin office, was the first in his position statewide to embrace the benefits of regional transportation planning among urban and rural county elected officials sharing ideas and prioritizing projects that would have the most impact on regional mobility.

Others recognized include former Caldwell County Judge H.T. Wright. Wright served many years on CAPCOG’s board until he died in 2010, but he also represented all Texas COGs and their 9-1-1 programs by serving on the Commission for State Emergency Communications. The most recent honoree was former Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, who always kept goals of the region at the forefront during his 20 years serving on CAPCOG’s board.

“Being regional isn’t always an easy thing to do when often leaders in our communities must prioritize their goals starting with the organization they represent,” explained CAPCOG’s executive director Betty Voights. “But when they can link those goals with what’s good for our region, they typically become more involved with CAPCOG, and we all benefit from their involvement.” 

After seeing so many work for the region for so long, Voights said it was important for CAPCOG to acknowledge those who consistently advocate a regional approach.

This September, CAPCOG is seeking its 14th honoree to receive the annual Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award. Nominations will be accepted from CAPCOG General Assembly Representatives until Oct. 7. The recipient of the award will be announced at the Dec. 9 CAPCOG General assembly meeting.

Previous Jack Griesenbeck Leadership Award in Regionalism Recipients
  • Mayor Kirk Watson, City of Austin
  • Dr. W. Neal Kocurek
  • Robert J. Huston, Chair of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
  • Mayor Ray Sanders, City of Lockhart
  • Bob Daigh, Texas Department of Transportation Austin District Engineer
  • Texas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos
  • Mike Simpson, City of Austin and Texas Radio Coalition
  • County Judge H.T. Wright, Caldwell County
  • Police Chief Mark Whitacre, City of Marble Falls
  • Texas Senator Troy Fraser
  • Mike Fisher, Emergency Management Coordinator of  Bastrop County
  • Seth S. Searcy, Attorney at Law
  • County Judge Sam Biscoe, Travis County

> Download a Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award nomination form.
> Submit the nomination form to Mason W. Canales, the CAPCOG member services coordinator, by Oct. 7.

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