In the News
Got questions about text-to-9-1-1? Get answers
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Source: Answers are compiled from the FCC and CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Director, Gregg Obuch.
If cellphone users in the Capital Area text their emergency to 9-1-1 today, they would receive a message telling them to call. But soon those messages will be answered by a live operator who can dispatch the proper emergency responders.
While a few areas in the United States already rolled out a text-to-9-1-1 service, the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Capital Area Emergency Communications District anticipate responding to text-to-9-1-1 reported emergencies in 2015.
But what is text-to-9-1-1, and why would someone want to use it?
Text-to-9-1-1 is the ability to send a "short message" (SMS) or other kind of text message to 9-1-1. Texting during an emergency could be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, or if a voice call might otherwise be dangerous or impossible. However, those who are able should always call 9-1-1.
Do area phone companies support text-to-9-1-1, and do regional Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) have the equipment and training to use it?
The "Big Four” wireless carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile – began providing text-to-9-1-1 capabilities in mid-May of this year. Under current FCC requirements, other service providers have until Dec. 31, 2014 to provide the service. The PSAPs in the CAPCOG region have the necessary equipment in place. Training for call takers will be provided before text-to-9-1-1 is activated in the region. Planning for the deployment of text-to-9-1-1 currently is underway.
Why is it important to plan the implementation of text-to-9-1-1?
Text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today, especially younger people and people with hearing and speech disabilities. Several studies estimate more than 6 billion SMS text messages are sent daily in the United States. To ensure emergency texts are routed to the proper 9-1-1 center; it requires proper coordination with each service provider.
What are issues CAPCOG and the emergency communications district want to avoid when implementing text-to-9-1-1?
A key challenge in activating text-to-9-1-1 in our regional call centers is selecting the text-to-9-1-1 platform that works best in the emergency call centers. CAPCOG is conducting extensive research and reviewing methods used by other 9-1-1 areas that participated in the testing phase of the deployment and were the first to activate text to 9-1-1 in their areas. This will help CAPCOG and the regional call centers select the best option that fits our needs.
If I am able to text-to-9-1-1, will the 9-1-1 center automatically know my location?
Texting 9-1-1 is different from making a voice call. During a voice call to 9-1-1, the call taker will typically receive a phone number and the phone’s approximate location automatically. This is called "Enhanced 911" or "E911." However, in most cases when texting 9-1-1 from a wireless phone, the call taker will not receive this automated information. For this reason, it is important to give the 9-1-1 call taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible when using text-to-9-1-1.
If text-to-911 is available to me, why should people use it only when calling 9-1-1 is not an option?
Voice calls to 9-1-1 are usually the most efficient way to reach emergency help. For example, voice calls allow the 9-1-1 operator to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from the caller, while two-way communication by text can take more time and is subject to limits on the length of text messages.
> Read more about CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division.
> Learn more about text-to-9-1-1.
CAPCOG seeks nominations for Jack Griesenbeck Award
Monday, October 13, 2014
The Capital Area Council of Governments will accept nominations for its annual Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award until Nov. 7.
Named after Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenback, who was CAPCOG’s first chairman, the award traditionally honors someone that consistently advocates a regional and multijurisdictional approach through their work with local governments, nonprofits, and other organization. Nominations can be either an elected official or a volunteer who has played a pivotal role in bringing the spirit of regionalism to the 10-county CAPCOG region.
CAPCOG has honored individuals with this award for more than 10 years. Previous recipients of the award include:
- Mayor Kirk Watson, City of Austin
- Dr. W. Neal Kocurek
- Robert J. Huston, Chair of Texas Commission of 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
To submit nominations to CAPCOG, download the form and submit it to Mason W. Canales, the CAPCOG member services coordinator, by email or fax, 512-916-6001, by Nov. 7. The recipient of the award will be announced at the Dec. 10 CAPCOG General Assembly meeting.
Schreck joins CAPCOG to aid economic development across the region
Friday, October 10, 2014
Chris Schreck has joined the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) staff as its economic development manager. In the position, he will assist with regional economic planning and provide analysis support for entities in CAPCOG’s 10 counties.
Schreck looks forward to helping area communities take advantage of economic opportunities as the region’s technological, demographic, and competitive landscapes continue to develop.
Prior to starting at CAPCOG, Schreck provided economic and technology policy consulting for SRI International, where he focused on technology-based economic development, higher education, and economic data analysis. He also worked for the US Treasury Department and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and provided wireless market forecasting for IMS Research.
Schreck earned a master of public policy from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.
AAACAP aids residents with Medicare enrollment
Friday, October 10, 2014
Benefit counselors with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) are prepped to assist those in the region with Medicare open enrollment that starts Oct. 15.
Medicare open enrollment is the one time of year people who use Medicare can switch their Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage plans. There are so many choices involved in selecting a Medicare program; it can be hard for people to determine what provides the best savings for them.
AAACAP counselors are available to help navigate those tough decisions. They also provide screening for qualification into the Medicare Savings Program and low-income subsidies for every person they counsel during the open enrollment period.
Residents can receive assistance from AAACAP benefit counselors at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.
Bastrop County and its students promote sustainability
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Several Bastrop County entities teamed up to improve proper household hazardous waste disposal and recycling awareness and reduce the amount of trash entering landfills.
In September, Bastrop County, the cities and school districts of Elgin and Smithville, and Keep Bastrop County Beautiful began creating an informational campaign that will educate the public about their local waste disposal options.
Students around the county will be the primary movers and shakers by creating the campaign, which is anticipated to be completed before the end of the school year.
Bob Haisler’s high school marketing class in Elgin ISD will develop print materials such as bookmarks, advertisements, and other traditional media to distribute to students, place in public buildings and hand out at events.
Smithville ISD students will create videos about how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and, when all else fails, keep hazardous waste off garbage trucks and out of landfills. The videos will be posted on several social media sites operated by entities throughout the county.
“I am so very proud to see Bastrop County students working together and using new media to educate the public about the importance of proper disposal of hazardous household waste,” said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape. “This program enables us to continue achieving the goals we established in our regional Solid Waste Management Plan (back in 2007) to reduce improper disposal of hazardous materials and stop illegal dumping in our beautiful county.”
The Capital Area Council of Governments administered about $7,500 in grant funds for the project through its Solid Waste program, which selects local projects to receive state funds acquired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“This grant supports our commitment to sustainability in Bastrop County, and we appreciate the confidence and support from the Capital Area Council of Governments,” Pape said.
The projects also will update Keep Bastrop County Beautiful’s interactive website and the companion “Talking Trash in Bastrop County” guidebook.
The program continues a long partnership between Bastrop County and its cities and school districts. The entities worked on the Recycling in the Schools project in 2010, which provided recycling resources for Smithville and Cedar Creek schools, and the Household Hazardous Waste Clean Up in 2013. Both were funded in part by the CAPCOG Solid Waste program.
> Visit Keep Bastrop County Beautiful’s website.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.
> Contact Jill Strube, Bastrop County grant administrator, or Jack Page, Smithville public works director.
General Assembly approves CAPCOG FY 2015 Budget
Saturday, October 04, 2014
Capital Area Council of Governments General Assembly representatives in September approved a $23.8 million budget for expenses during the 2015 fiscal year.
The FY 2015 budget will continue to support CAPCOG’s numerous programs such as nutrition assistance of older adults, air quality planning, and the regional law enforcement academy. But it also allows for the expansion of other programs to include the creation of an Aging and Disability Resource Center and a Homeland Security Emergency Management disaster debris management plan.
Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s portion of the budget included $7.9 million in expenditures and the Capital Area Emergency Communication District’s budget included $11.9 million in expenditures.
The General Assembly also appointed the nominating committee that will help select CAPCOG’s 2015 Executive Committee.
The next General Assembly meeting will be Dec. 10.
Regional Law Enforcement Academy graduates 23
Thursday, October 02, 2014
CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy cadets of the No. 72 Basic Peace Officer Course prepare to enter their graduation ceremony at the Texas Capitol on Sept. 26.
Eight of the 23 cadets from the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy No. 72 Basic Peace Officer Course filled positions in area policing agencies right after graduation on Sept. 26. The remaining cadets are expected to also obtain jobs in the region after completing testing for peace officer positions in area communities.
With the region’s growth, there are plenty of opportunities for cadets to serve the public as law enforcement officers. CAPCOG and the academy are honored to help fill that need by providing practical training and exercises to ensure cadets become TCOLE certified before serving their communities.
The cadets also learned about opportunities outside the region when police departments from Houston, College Station, Flower Mound, Pasadena and Lubbock pitched their agencies to the cadets during the five-month course.
Other departments coming to the academy is a testament to the training CAPCOG is offering, said Mike Jennings, RLEA director. “I would like to think that it says our academy is recognized as one of the best for producing a quality police officer.”
The eight cadets will become officers for San Marcos and Llano police departments, Caldwell and Williamson counties sheriff’s offices, and the Travis County Fire Marshall’s Office.
Another full-time, day class is accepting registration for a course beginning in January 2015.
Lee County Commissioner earns statewide leadership award
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts poses with Penny Redington, Texas Association of Regional Councils executive director, after receiving the TARC Regional Leadership Award given in honor of Wilbur R. Dunk.
The Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) in late September presented Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts with its 2014 regional leadership award.
Pitts earned the award, which is given in honor of former Kimble County Judge Wilbur Dunk, because he has shown extraordinary dedication to the purposes and possibilities of regional cooperation through his work with councils of governments, stated TARC.
Commissioner Pitts, having served on Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) boards and committees for more than two decades, is a true advocate and spokesman for regionalism, said Betty Voights, CAPCOG executive director. Pitts always has been a board member who is consistently active in CAPCOG's programs and committees.
Pitts, a current CAPCOG Executive Committee member, is the 19th person to earn the award since its inaugural year in 1995. Elected officials on the TARC Board of Directors and members of its Executive Directors' Council selected Pitts after soliciting nominations from all 24 regional councils in the state.
TARC is a statewide organization established in 1973 that provides training, outreach, legislative representation and other support to area councils of governments.
CARTPO selects U.S. 290 projects as top regional transportation priorities
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Elected officials from eight counties selected two U.S. Highway 290 projects to be the highest ranking priorities for the Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization, a rural planning organization.
The number one ranked project proposes to widen and reconstruct U.S. 290 in Lee County from the Bastrop County line to Navarro Street in Giddings as a four-lane, divided highway. The proposed project would span about 7.5 miles and has an estimated cost of $31.1 million.
A U.S. 290 project in Bastrop County earned the second highest ranking based on elected officials’ scoring. The Bastrop County project, with an estimated $12.6 million cost, would stretch about 3 miles from Ranch to Market 2104 to the Lee County line. The project also would make the highway a four-lane, divided roadway.
Both projects ranked the highest during CARTPO's previous prioritization in March 2013. They were selected this year among 23 submitted projects from eight counties.
By prioritizing the projects, CARPTO is providing Texas Department of Transportation with guidance on the region’s most pressing transportation needs, so the state agency can make informed decisions about funding highway construction.
County and city officials from Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Llano, and Williamson counties ranked the 23 projects. They scored the projects based on six criteria: safety enhancement, congestion relief, air quality improvement, system preservation, economic opportunity and local participation in the project.
CAPCOG promotes vehicle grant opportunities to improve air quality
Monday, September 22, 2014
Area grant opportunities for purchasing or retrofitting vehicles to help improve the region’s air quality now can be found in one location on the CAPCOG website.
The Drive Clean: Get help buying a cleaner vehicle webpage provides information on multiple grants residents, businesses and governments can use to purchase, lease or retrofit vehicles, so they can replace their old vehicles with newer, cleaner ones.
Purchasing newer, cleaner model vehicles is only one way to help improve air quality by reducing emissions that can produce ground-level ozone.
Justice Department launches website for crimes relating to elderly
Friday, September 19, 2014
The United States Department of Justice launched the Elder Justice website earlier this month. The site provides the elderly and people who support them with information about crimes affecting older Americans.
Justice.gov/elderjustice/ is a resource for victims, their families, practitioners, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and researches seeking to understand and address elder abuse and financial exploitation, stated the website.
The website hosts a number of databases for each group to include a searchable list of local resources for reporting crimes, thousands of articles and reviews with information about elder abuse and financial exploitation, and information and resources on how to prevent elder abuse and assist older crime victims.
CAPCOG uses homeland security grant for cyber-attack recovery
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
The Capital Area Council of Governments will use a recently awarded $135,000 State Homeland Security Program grant to assist in preparing the region to respond and recover from cyber-attacks.
Funds from the grant will be used to perform a cyber-attack vulnerability analysis for CAPCOG’s 10-county region. The analysis will help identify how such an incident could affect business processes, critical infrastructure, and the financial stability and viability of businesses. It will have an emphasis on small and medium-sized businesses.
Determining the impact of such an attack is the initial step in the planning process which will help the region and its businesses and governments develop a stronger, more responsive approach to handling cyber-security and cyber-attack recovery.
Ultimately, the work performed in the analysis could be used to facilitate the creation of economic recovery plans for individual businesses. After the analysis is concluded, CAPCOG plans to facilitate workshops with businesses and local governments during the 2015 year. The workshops will help businesses and governments identify their own risks and plans for economic recovery to include job restoration.
Cyber terrorism was identified as one of six possible threats to the region in the 2013 Regional Threat and Hazard Identification and Ricks Assessment.
A caregiver’s balanced life provides for better care
Friday, September 12, 2014
Everything seemed to be happening all at once for Cheri and Barry Krockover. In 2009, Cheri lost her job as a software analyst and tester, and Barry, her husband of 22 years, started to show behavioral changes related to memory loss.
By 2010, Barry, who is now 78, was diagnosed with dementia.
“In 2010, I officially felt like my life was over,” said Cheri, who is now 64. “Then I came to the realization, that ‘no, my life is not over. It is just going to be different.’ What I have learned during the last four years is that your love for your spouse continues, but it also is very different… but it is still a powerful force.”
In hindsight, Cheri sees losing her job as a blessing. It allowed Cheri to notice the signs of dementia early and Barry and her to spend the next few years being active together. But outlining a support system, learning about resources, and handling stress ensured Cheri stayed her positive, fun and happy self. More importantly, it helped her remain a great caregiver for her husband.
Early during her caregiving years, Cheri joined a job club where she discovered other unemployed caregivers. Rallying around their commonality, the caregivers created a second support group that let members share resources about caregiving. It also provided an outlet to discuss the common problems they faced and had to overcome.
“We shared ideas on how to cope, and other caregivers can find humor in some of the stresses and issues that arise while providing for a loved one,” Cheri said. Having a connection with people who are going through similar trials and tribulations is almost priceless, she said.
The support group led Cheri to programs such as the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s Stress Busting Program for Family Caregivers. The nine-week course helped explain the grief Cheri felt, she said. It also let her accept her role as a caregiver and taught her techniques to manage the pressures of providing for an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia patient.
To further mitigate stresses, Cheri created a resource wheel to organize her support system. Each person or group in the wheel is a different spoke that helps manage a different stress in life such as money, your spirit and caregiving.
Communication plays a key role in using a resource wheel, Cheri said. Telling your friends and associates about their role, lets them know exactly how they can help. It also lets them understand your situation. Some friends can help you relax during daily routine stresses such as shopping. Others, such as fellow caregivers, can make awkward caregiving moments funny, which helps you stay optimistic.
“That is a key to being a healthy caregiver, holding onto that optimism,” Cheri said. “The better my own mental outlook it is, the more able I am to care for him. I was always the fun person in our marriage, and he still needs me to be the fun person.”
Cheri is now a Stress-Busting course master trainer and will be speaking during the Striking a Balance 2014: the 13th annual conference for nonprofessional caregivers. Barry is doing well in a living and caregiving facility. The Krockovers see each other almost every day and still laugh with and love each other.
NCoA and AAACAP remind seniors about flu shots
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Flu season can begin in October, last until May and peak in January and February. With the start of the season nearing, the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) and the National Council on Aging (NCoA) wants to remind seniors to get their flu shots.
Seniors, 65 and older, are one of the demographics at risk of experiencing complications after contracting the contagious respiratory illness caused by the flu virus.
Annually between 5 to 20 percent of U.S. residents become infected with the virus, but people 65 years of age or older make up 9 of 10 flu-related deaths and 6 of 10 flu-related hospital stays, according to NCoA and flu.gov. Getting a flu shot is the best preventive against the virus.
It is recommended that older adults receive one flu shot, preferably the high dosage shot, before flu season begins. The shot is free for people with Medicare who uses a provider that accepts the assignment. Medicare Advantage members also cannot be charged for the flu shot if it is given by an in-network provider.
TCEQ seeks emission reduction grant projects
Monday, September 08, 2014
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Program is accepting applications for the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) Program.
The program provides grant funds to upgrade or replace older heavy-duty vehicles to include school buses; non-road equipment; locomotives; marine vessels; and stationary equipment.
Applications for the grant must be submitted by 5 p.m., Dec. 2, 2014.
Eligible CAPCOG counties include Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson.
Because of several changes to the ERIG program this year, the TCEQ has scheduled grant application workshops, dealer trainings, and application assistance sessions to provide an overview of the application process. All workshops are free and don’t require registration.
Contact the TERP program at 800-919-TERP (8377) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAACAP and WellMed Senior Center offer aging resource fair
Friday, September 05, 2014
A resource fair, for people 60 or older, will provide aging adults with a variety of resources to benefit their wellbeing. The fair is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 26 at the WellMed Senior Community Center, 706 W. Ben White Blvd. Suite 125A in Austin.
The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area and WellMed Senior Community Center are presenting the event. Attendees will have access to AAACAP staff that assists with benefit counseling, care coordination, health and wellness and medication screenings. Other local agencies also will be present to provide health and wellness information and resources.
To receive a medication screening one must be 60 years of age or older; take five or more prescription and/or over-the counter medications, supplements, or vitamins; and agree to participate in a short safety survey before and after the medication screening report is completed. Attendees wishing to have their medications screened also must bring their prescriptions or a list of their drugs to include any supplements.
Area Agency on Aging staff works with a pharmacist to review medications to identify potentially harmful interactions, reactions and related issues.
CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program coordinates clean air outreach campaign
Friday, August 29, 2014
Air quality in Central Texas is traditionally at its worst in August and September, which is why the Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality Program launched a new radio advertising campaign. The campaign encourages residents to help reduce emissions that lead to high ozone levels.
Ground-level ozone can cause breathing problems for children, seniors and people with asthma. Reducing ozone is also important in order to avoid expensive regulations required for areas that violate federal air quality standards.
The radio campaign targets drivers to tell them how they can reduce their impact on local air pollution by carpooling, reducing idling, and replacing older vehicles.
Using about $54,000 in regional air quality outreach funding provided by the City of Austin, CAPCOG purchased 450 radio spots on six radio stations during the next month. The advertisements will air during the busiest drive-time hours, 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
CAPCOG's radio spots are anticipated to reach a significant number of people, but local governments, school districts, businesses and nonprofits also can help increase that number by participating in the campaign. They can download or share the campaign's scripts and audio files to post on their own websites and social media platforms.
> Read the scripts.
> Listen to the Drive Clean radio spot.
> Listen to the Drive Clean radio spot in Spanish.
> Listen to the Back to School radio spot.
> Listen to the Back to School radio spot in Spanish.
Regional caregivers to gather during annual Striking a Balance Conference
Friday, August 22, 2014
The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area and AGE of Central Texas will host the Striking a Balance 2014: 13th Annual Caregiver Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20.
Held at the Norris Conference Center, 2525 W. Anderson Lane in Austin, the conference will bring together about 200 regional, nonprofessional caregivers of older residents for an educational and networking experience.
“Striking a Balance is a day for pampering caregivers and providing them with meaningful information to help care for their loved ones and themselves,” said Rene Oldstein, Area Agency on Aging care coordination program manager.
Attendees of the conference can learn about local resources available to them, hear from aging experts and network with other caregivers.
The conference will feature keynote speaker Wendy Lustbader, a nationally-renowned expert on caregiving and author of "Life Gets Better" and "Taking Care of Family Members".
Following Lustbader, there will be breakout sessions on caregiving topics from other experts, area volunteers and caregivers. Several vendors will be on site to provide information about resources available to caregivers.
“Caregivers are so enthralled with their day-to-day lives, they don’t get a lot of chances to find resources or learn how to cope with the stress they face,” Oldstein said. “This is a place where they can capture all that information. It gives them an opportunity to educate themselves.”
The conference also will offer a free lunch for caregivers and free off-site respite by reservation only at AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center, 3710 Cedar St., Austin, TX. Call 512-458-6305 by Sept. 17 to request respite care.
CAPCOG updates training website to improve registration
Monday, August 18, 2014
Capital Area Council of Governments will launch a new training course website this month.
The website will provide better navigation through CAPCOG’s available training courses by allowing users a clearer search of topics, targeted audiences and dates. Course registrants also will have access to a list of similar and related training opportunities while signing up for courses. Other added features include an improved map display to the course’s training location and more course details.
To accommodate the update, access to CAPCOG’s training website will be closed from Aug. 18 to Aug. 22. Registration for training opportunities will resume at capcog.org/training once the new website is available.
Emergency communication equipment available for purchase
Friday, August 15, 2014
The Capital Area Council of Governments is offering to sell equipment no longer in use by the 9-1-1 emergency communications program, the Capital Area Emergency Communications District.
About 1,000 items are listed in the sell to include computers, phones, servers and switches, and other communication equipment.
Quantity and descriptions are provided by CAPCOG in good faith, but it is recommended that interested buyers contact the Emergency Communications department for an appointment to view the items offered for sale. All property is sold “first come, first serve” on a "where is/as is" basis, without warranty.
To respond to the offer, prospective buyers must complete an Offer to Sell form, sign and return it to CAPCOG before 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5, 2014.
> Download the form, instructions on the bid process, and the complete list of equipment.
> Contact Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG emergency communications director.
> See other opportunities to do business with CAPCOG.