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In the News

Central Texas responds to EPA ozone standard proposal

Friday, April 24, 2015

Local air quality efforts in 2015 and 2016 could be the last chance for the region to reduce emissions and ozone levels before U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses new, lower standards as the basis of its nonattainment designation process.

CAPCOG staff has conducted an extensive outreach effort during the past few months to inform local officials about EPA’s proposal and what the region can do to respond. This has included more than a dozen presentations to city councils and commissioners courts in the region. CAPCOG also provided technical support to the Clean Air Coalition in developing comments to the EPA on the proposed rule.

The EPA has proposed tightening the national ground level ozone air quality standard from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level between 65-70 ppb . EPA is under a court order to finalize the standards by Oct. 1, 2015.

Central Texas’s ozone levels were at 69 ppb in 2014 and continue to decrease. If EPA were to set the standard at 70 ppb, the region would likely avoid a nonattainment designation, but if it is set at 65 ppb, the region’s ozone levels may not be reduced quickly enough to avoid a nonattainment designation, despite nationally-recognized local efforts that have won EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Award for community engagement in both 2014 and 2015.

By identifying ways EPA could exercise some flexibility under the Clean Air Act to implement the proposed standards and by continuing to voluntarily implement local emission reduction measures, Central Texas is trying to ensure it can enjoy clean air and a healthy economy, while avoiding the long-lasting regulatory consequences of a nonattainment designation.

At a March 11 meeting, the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition, a committee of local elected officials in the Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties, approved a formal comment letter to the EPA on its proposal, asking for flexibility in implementing the proposed standards.

The comment letter asked EPA to:

  • Calculate compliance differently, better accounting for year-to-year fluctuations in ozone levels; 
  • Designate areas as “unclassifiable” or defer designations by a year if their 2016 ozone levels are close to the level of the standard;
  • Fully implement requirements under the Clean Air Act that protect metropolitan areas from interstate and intrastate ozone transport; and
  • Fully account for any voluntarily implemented measures if EPA does designate the region as nonattainment.

The CAC and other regional partners will continue to implement the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan in order to:

  • Stay in attainment of the eight-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS);
  • Continue reducing the region’s 8-hour ozone design value to avoid being designated nonattainment; 
  • Bring the area into attainment of an ozone standard if it is designated nonattainment;
  • Reduce the exposure of vulnerable populations to high ozone levels, and
  • Minimize the costs to the region of any future nonattainment designation.

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program will continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure existing emission reduction measure commitments are fully implemented. It also will help secure additional emission reduction commitments to put the region in the best position to avoid a nonattainment designation for the proposed standards.

> Discover more about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program.

Round Rock PD hosts all sponsored BPOC

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Round Rock Police Department will host and run a Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s (RLEA) fully-sponsored cadet basic peace officer course (BPOC).

The Round Rock BPOC, which will start June 15 and end Nov. 20, 2015, only will enroll cadets who have been sponsored by area police agencies and sheriff offices. The course will provide cities and counties with the opportunity to accommodate new hires that occurred later in the fiscal year. It will provide the necessary training for those new hires to pass their TCOLE exams. The course also will be the final RLEA BPOC during the 2015 fiscal year. The registration deadline is May 18, 2015.

Having only sponsored cadets will allow the BPOC to also have more physical training requirements. The BPOC will be a full-day course.

> Police departments and sheriff offices can contact Mary Ramirez, RLEA administrative assistant, to sign up prospective cadets.
> Learn more about RLEA BPOC's.

TCEQ awards $7.7 million for cleaner Austin area vehicles

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s award of more than $7.7 million in grants to vehicle and non-road equipment owners in the Austin area is a great win for regional air quality. The funds are part of the TCEQ’s 2015 fiscal year Emission Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG).

The ERIG money will be spent on replacing or conducting engine retrofits on 143 older, on- and off-road vehicles and equipment, such as agricultural tractors, construction trucks and delivery vehicles, in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. Because of the projects and purchases provided by the grants, NOx emissions are estimated to decrease by more than 122 tons per year in the region. NOx emissions are a contributing factor to the generation of ground-level ozone.

Capital Metro was the largest grant recipient in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. It received $1.7 million to replace 47 buses with cleaner, alternative fuel based buses. Coors of Austin also will replace or conduct engine retrofits on 10 delivery trucks. It received $200,000 from the grant.

TCEQ announced the ERIG recipients on Tuesday. The grant is part of the Texas Emission Reduction Program grant system.

> Read the complete list of ERIG awardees.
> Discover other TCEQ grants seeking to reduce emissions.
> Learn about the Capital Area Council of Governments Air Quality Program.

TCOLE cycle ends in August

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Every two years peace officers need 40 hours of continuing education credits to maintain their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement certificates.

Between now and August, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) will offer numerous courses so area officers can earn continuing education hours and keep their certificates.

Area policing agencies and their officers should review their training hours now to ensure they remain certified. For officers who haven’t already met the continuing education requirements, they can find course schedules and descriptions of each upcoming class on the CAPCOG training website.

> Visit the CAPCOG Training website for law enforcement officers.

TCOLE recently mandated that peace officers be required to have four hours of human trafficking education and training. RLEA will offer several courses on the topic at least once a month until the end of the training cycle. There should be plenty of time and courses to ensure every Capital Area peace officer maintains their law enforcement certificate.

> Read more about the RLEA.
> Discover more about TCOLE training requirements.

EPA appoints Hoekzema to committee

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Central Texas local governments will be represented on an important U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy advisory committee.

The EPA appointed CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program Manager, Andrew Hoekzema, to a two-year term on the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. He will provide independent advice from a local government perspective on issues about implementing the Clean Air Act. Hoekzema is one of about 40 people nationwide selected to serve on the committee.

Established in 1990, the committee is a senior-level policy committee that provides advice to EPA on air pollution issues. According to the committee’s charter, its major objectives are to provide recommendations on:

  • Approaches for new and expanded programs, including those using innovative technologies and policy mechanisms to achieve environmental improvements.
  • The potential health, environmental, and economic effects of Clean Air Act programs on the public, the regulated community, state and local governments, and federal agencies.
  • The policy and technical contents of proposed major EPA rulemaking and guidance required by the act in order to help effectively incorporate appropriate outside advice and information.
  • The integration of existing policies, regulations, standards, guidelines, and procedures into programs for implementing requirements of the Act.

CAPCOG hired Hoekzema in 2010. He became CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program manager in 2013.

Hoekzema will attend his first committee meetings April 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG, CAECD honors Telecommunicators Week

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee and Emergency Communication District Board of Managers have recognized the dedication of the more than 600 public safety telecommunicators in the 10-county region.

National Telecommunications Week is April 12-18, and telecommunicators who work throughout the Capital Area are the “backbone of the 9-1-1 system” and provide an “unending service” to the region, stated the board and committee in a resolution. Telecommunicators are not only the link for residents facing emergencies to emergency response agencies, they save lives each and every day.

CAPCOG encouraged all local governments to honor their telecommunicators by also signing proclamations or resolutions and celebrate the week with appropriate activities and ceremonies.

The Capital Area Emergency Communications District will recognize the great job telecommunicators do by sponsoring a region-wide, bowling and social event on April 18.

> Learn more about the Capital Area Emergency Communication District.
> Read the CAPCOG Executive Committee's resolution for National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
> Read Texas Governor Greg Abbott's National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week proclamation.

Two new courses lead older adults to better lives

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) is excited to announce two new Stanford Model-Evidence Based Intervention Programs that strive to keep the 10-county region’s aging population living active lives by offering free instructional six-week workshops.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (Better Choices, Better Health Workshops) and Diabetes Self-Management Program workshops – both developed by Stanford University’s School of Medicine – expand AAACAP’s evidence-based programs into two new areas of wellness care.

AAACAP chose to offer these programs because they are designed to help people gain self-confidence in their ability to control their symptoms, better manage their health problems, and lead fuller lives.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is offered for people who have different chronic health problems to attend together for a shared learning experience. The program teaches the skills needed in the day-to-day management of treatment and to maintain and/or increase one’s activities.

It provides techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation. It instructs people about the appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance.  The program also discusses the appropriate use of medications. Course attendees will learn how to communicate effectively with family, friends, and health professionals; how to manage their nutrition; and how to make decisions and evaluate new treatments.

Each class in the workshop is highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives. To improve on the course’s mutual support and success, workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders, one or both of whom are non-health professionals with chronic diseases themselves.

Participants in the chronic disease workshop have access to a copy of the companion book, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, 4th Edition”, and an audio relaxation CD, “Relaxation for Mind and Body”.

The Diabetes Self-Management workshops are meant to benefit people with type 2 diabetes.

Two trained leaders, one or both who are peer leaders with diabetes themselves, will teach techniques on dealing with the symptoms of diabetes such as fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia, stress, and emotional problems to include depression, anger, fear and frustration. Course leaders will instruct individuals on the appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength and endurance while eating healthy. The appropriate use of medication and working more effectively with health care providers also are topics covered during the course.

Participants are guided through a process of making weekly action plans, sharing experiences, and helping each other solve problems they encounter in creating and carrying out their self-management program. Physicians, diabetes educators, dietitians, and other health professionals both at Stanford and in the community have reviewed all materials in the workshop.

Both programs are available at no cost to consumers who are 60 years old or older or who are caring for someone 60 years old or older. They will be conducted during a once-a-week, two-and-a-half-hour, six week course. AAACAP will provide the workshops in community settings, such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals, to bring the lessons to the general public.

Other evidence based programs provided through AAACAP include A Matter of Balance, falls prevention and Stressbusting for Family Caregivers.

> Learn more about the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area. 
Read about other Evidence Based Intervention Programs. 

Night course offers more cadets to area police departments

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy began a part-time, evening basic peace office course (BPOC) on March 23. Ending in October, it will be the second part-time course to conclude this year and supply Capital Area policing agencies with capable and knowledgeable cadets to serve their communities.

Held at CAPCOG offices, the course is training cadets to become certified Texas Peace Officers. Cadets are learning in a classroom setting but also are getting hands-on experience from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The alternative schedule allows a wider range of cadets to take the course, graduate and pass Texas Commission on Law Enforcement exams.

Twenty-four graduating cadets marked the success of this year’s first part-time BPOC ending March 20, 2015. Several cadets, from the Williamson County based BPOC, will serve as Williamson and Travis county sheriff deputies and become part of other area police departments upon graduation.

RLEA graduated 18 BPOC No. 74 cadets, a full-time course, on Feb. 13, 2015. Before graduation cadets from BPOC No. 74 were hired by Leander, Cedar Park, and Copperas Cove police departments; Austin Fire Department; and Austin Independent School District. Another full-time course will graduate in July.

> Learn more about your city, county or school district sponsoring or recruiting BPOC cadets.
> Find upcoming BPOCs and other courses offered by the Regional Law Enforcement Academy.

White House Conference on Aging issues advisory on pension advances

Monday, March 23, 2015
Source: 2015 White House Conference on Aging blog

The White House Conference on Aging website is warning older adults to avoid pension advance traps and offered three tips to protect one’s retirement pension.

Retirees who are facing financial challenges should be wary of pension payment advance programs that can seem like a quick fix to their financial problems, stated a blog post from the website. Such programs can reduce retirement incomes because their repayment includes the advance plus interest and fees.

Often pension advances are cash advances in exchange for a portion, or all, of one’s future pension payments, stated the website. Companies that offer pension advances typically charge high interest rates and fees and often target government retirees with pensions.

The White House Conference on Aging website offered the following ways to protect one’s retirement pension:

  • Avoid loans with high fees and interest. Pension advance companies may not always advertise their fees and interest rates, but you will certainly feel them in your bottom line. Before you sign anything, learn what you are getting and how much you are giving up.
  • Don’t sign over control of your benefits. Companies sometimes arrange for monthly payments to be automatically deposited in a newly created bank account so the company can withdraw payments, fees and interest charges from the account. This leaves you with little control.
  • Don’t buy life insurance that you don’t want or need. Pension advance companies sometimes require consumers to sign up for life insurance with the company as the consumer’s beneficiary. If you sign up for life insurance with the pension advance company as your beneficiary, you could end up footing the bill, whether you know it or not.

> Read more about the 2015 White House Conference on Aging consumer advisory.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.

New CAPCOG IT director brings additional IT insight

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments operates several technology based tools to enhance the capabilities of cities and counties in its 10-county region. The reverse notification system and the WebEOC are two such tools that counties and cities can use to help mitigate disasters.

To improve its use of such technology, CAPCOG hired a new Information Technology Director, Lee Cooper. Cooper's expertise will become instrumental in expanding CAPCOG’s technology capabilities and assisting with CAPCOG’s first regional public safety communication plan.

Cooper comes to CAPCOG after retiring from 11 years of working for the state. Working for Texas Health and Human Services, Cooper managed multiple enterprise level IT projects and served on its Technology and Architecture Review Board. With the Texas Department of Public Safety’s, Division of Emergency Management and Law Enforcement Division, he helped revive the amateur radio program at the state’s EOC and encouraged more interaction with Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES).

As an amateur radio operator, Cooper is active in the local ARES where he served as Travis County Emergency Coordinator for four years. In the position, he was instrumental in creating the Travis county hospital emergency communications group, which later became regional amateur radio network.

Cooper also has worked with Austin emergency management to integrate amateur radio and ARES into the combined transportation, emergency and communications center.

Central Texas Clean Air Coalition offers EPA ideas on proposed ozone standards

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC) last week submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed ozone standards. The comment letter addresses regional concerns by providing ideas on how to implement the standard.

EPA’s proposal would change the national ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb. The CAC has enacted many voluntary actions to reduce the region’s ground-level ozone. The CAC consists of city and county officials throughout the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area – Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.

Thanks in part to its efforts the Austin-Round Rock MSA has remained in attainment of the current standard and would be in attainment of a standard set as high as 70 ppb. However, if EPA sets the standard at 65 ppb, the MSA’s ozone levels may not be able to reach that level until after EPA has proposed to designate areas as “nonattainment.” New regulations on industrial expansion, road construction, and other activities could have significant economic consequences for the region if Central Texas is designated nonattainment.

The comment letter asked the EPA to consider the following:

  • Use a more stable measurement for determining if an area’s ozone levels comply with the standard than what is currently in use; 
  • Exercise the flexibility that exists in the Clean Air Act in the designation process, possibly designating areas as unclassifiable or extending the process by a year if a region’s ozone levels are close to the standard; 
  • Ensure adequate controls on interstate and intrastate ozone transport; and
  • For any new nonattainment areas, fully account for voluntarily adopted emission reductions that are already in place.

The comment period for the standard began in December and will end March 17. The EPA is under a court order to finalize the standard by Oct. 1, 2015.

> Review CAC’s EPA comment letter and its technical support document.
> Read more about the Clean Air Coalition.

CAPCOG ramps up Llano County Transportation and Economic Development Plan

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Llano County Transportation and Economic Development Plan is entering the public participation phase of the project where the county, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and the Capital Area Council of Governments will work with county stakeholders.

The public will have several opportunities to participate and provide feedback for the development of the plan. The upcoming planning process will include surveys, stakeholder work sessions, and public meetings to ensure the plan represents Llano County residents. Two committees, one providing insight to economic development and the other over transportation, should begin meeting this month.

The development of the Llano County Transportation and Economic Development Plan began in early 2015. It is a project funded by TxDOT.

As part of its role in the plan’s development, CAPCOG will combine traffic patterns and future trends, provided by TxDOT and TTI, and economic and demographic information to create a data-driven plan for the future transportation needs of Llano County.

The final plan will serve as a blueprint to accommodate growth and build the local economy.  Broad public involvement in developing the plan will give Llano County residents a greater voice in future road and economic development projects and state funding decisions.

Llano County will be the third transportation and economic development plan developed by CAPCOG.  TxDOT, TTI and CAPCOG previously completed plans for Blanco and Lee counties.

> For additional information or to find out how to get involved, contact Neil Frydrych, CAPCOG senior planner.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Regional Services Division.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy opens for comments

Monday, March 09, 2015

CAPCOG started accepting public comments on the 2015-2020 Capital Area Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) on March 2. The comment period will end March 31.

Every five years, the Capital Area Economic Development District (CAEDD) and its many regional partners develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Each CEDS intends to identify and illustrate the economic dynamics shaping the region, call attention to important issues, and provide a guide for working as a region to capitalize on the region’s economic opportunities.

> Review the 2015-2020 CEDS draft.
> Send comments to Chris Schreck, CAPCOG economic development manager.

After the comment period ends, the CAEDD will produce a final CEDS draft. The CAEDD will adopt the CEDS in June and submit it to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Community and Economic Development Program.

CJAC reviews Criminal Justice grants

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Area agencies that submitted grant applications for the Office of the Governor’s Division of Criminal Justice grants will need to attend an appointed time during one of two CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC) meetings on March 31 or April 1.

The 17-member CJAC, consisting of representatives from every county in CAPCOG’s 10-county region, will discuss scoring criteria for grant applications based on the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan on March 27. Applicants will then present information about their proposed grant projects on either March 31 or April 1. CJAC will review and score the projects based on applications and presentations, before it submits recommendations to the CAPCOG Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will make a final review and submit the region’s recommendations to the Office of the Governor.

CAPCOG will contact all agencies that submitted applications and schedule their appointments to present to the CJAC after the Office of the Governor has released a completed list of applicants.

The review will take place for the General Victim Assistance - Direct Services Programs, Violent Crimes Against Women Criminal Justice and Training Projects, Juvenile Service Projects – Local, Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Programs grants. The Office of the Governor stopped accepting applications Feb. 27, 2015.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Services Divison.
> Read more about the Criminal Justice Grant Process.

CAPCOG conducts free disaster debris workshops

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Three free workshops offered by the Capital Area Council of Governments Solid Waste Planning Program will instruct local area governments on methods of mitigating debris caused by disasters.

The courses will give emergency management personnel, county and city elected officials, and code enforcement and sanitation workers insight to recovery processes after a disaster strikes their jurisdiction. Course topics in the workshops will include information ranging from planning before the disaster to helping secure federal funding assistance for the debris’ removal. Topics also will cover protecting public health and safety after a debris generating event, conducting exercises before a disaster, best practices for documenting the debris management and more.

Each course will build upon on knowledge of the previous class allowing newer emergency managers to build a strong foundation of expertise on the topic and giving veteran managers a chance to grow their knowledge on the topic.

The courses are as follows:

> Discover CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Planning Program.
> Find out more about CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division.

ADRC of the Capital Area gets respite care grant

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) awarded a $15,500 grant to the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area to provide emergency and urgent respite services to family caregivers.

The grant will fund a project that is multifaceted and designed to provide caregivers with limited access to services, urgent or emergency respite in rural and urban areas. The project will serve Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson counties. It will target the isolated, multi-cultural, non-English speaking informal, unpaid caregivers caring for individuals of any age with any disability or condition requiring care.

The resource center is developing an outreach plan and working with DADS on program implementation.

Funds are through the 2015 Lifespan Respite Care Program Grant from the Administration for Community Living to support building sustainable community-based respite care services in Texas.

CAPCOG conducts additional criminal justice grant workshop

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Capital Area Council of Governments will hold a third and final mandatory criminal justice grant writing workshop from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 in the CAPCOG Pecan Room.

Workshop topics will focus on submitting applications for four Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division grants – General Victim Assistance, Violent Crimes Against Women, General Juvenile Justice, and Justice Assistance. Attendees will be instructed on how to write grant applications and how applications will be scored. Changes to the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan also will be discussed.

This is the final opportunity for entities to attend a writing workshop for the grants. If an organization plans to apply for any of the criminal justice grants, its attendance to one of the grant writing workshops is mandatory. If an organization did not attend a workshop and submits a grant application, the application will be deemed ineligible by the Office of Governor's Criminal Justice Division. If an organization already attended a previous workshop but still has questions or needs additional assistance, it can attend this last workshop.

Seating is limited to 50 people.

CAPCOG is located at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas 78744-2306.

> RSVP for the workshop or inquire about questions with Kate Barrett or Ken May.
> Read the Regional Strategic Criminal Justice Plan.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Criminal Justice Program.

Saving on Household Hazardous Waste Collections

Friday, February 13, 2015

Costs of conducting household hazardous waste collection (HHWC) events increase with greater participation and more materials collected for disposal. A rising price-tag can cause entities conducting the events to go over budget, but Blanco County used its already available resources, recycling and reuse techniques, and partnerships to keep its 2014 HHWC event under budget.

“It is just very hard to budget for these events, because you just never know what attendance to expect,” said Blanco County Commissioner Paul Granberg.

Blanco County HHWC event budgets are based on historical participation and cost data, but resident participation can double between events. A hundred vehicles one year could be 200 the next which results in more materials for disposal causing a greater cost, Granberg said. Often government entities don’t want to turn people away, because HHWC events offer a proper way of disposing of hazardous materials, which helps prevent illegal dumping.

The county’s Oct. 25, 2014 HHWC event experienced 125 vehicles dropping off 6 tons materials.

To curb costs, Blanco County road and bridge staff and volunteers sorted materials that could be redirected for either recycling or reusing purposes. Paint for instance was one of several materials placed in a reusable area before being disposed by the contractor.

People brought a lot of usable latex paint, Granberg said. Some gallon-paint containers weren’t even opened or only half of the paint was used.

After being set aside, attending residents could take any of the reusable materials they wanted. The remainder of the good paint and the non-usable paint was given to the contractor for recycling or disposal once the collection event finished.

With items like scrap metal, oil and batteries, the county used its already established recycling program to sell the items. Computer parts were also separated from the disposal pile and given to Goodwill, which recycles the electronics.

Blanco County received $500 for selling recyclable oil and batteries. While it may not seem like a lot of money, it was money earned as opposed to a cost.

“(Recycling and reusing) is one way you save,” Granberg said. “The contractor will take everything, but every pound the contractor takes, you pay for it.”

Blanco accepted donations in lieu of charging residents to drop off material. Some people were happy to contribute, because they knew paying for disposal would cost more. 
Donations raised about $2,000, Granberg said.

The county also partnered with other government entities and organizations – Johnson City, city of Blanco, city of Round Mountain, Blanco Pedernales Underground Water Conservation District and Keep Blanco Beautiful – to help fund the event and make it a county wide endeavor.

Granberg attributed a routine schedule for HHWC and other waste collection events to staying under budget, too. Every year a bulk item collection event takes place, allowing the county HHWC events to just collect harmful materials. Focusing just on household hazardous materials limits excess materials disposed by the contractor and saves time sorting materials. The county also strives to have an HHWC event every three years so storage times between collections aren’t too long. Shorter times between events allows for less accumulation of materials.

Blanco County is one of seven HHWC events funded through CAPCOG’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Solid Waste Grant cycle. It was allocated $10,000 in grant monies and budgeted $23,200 for the event. The cost of the event was almost $22,600.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Solid Waste Planning Program.

AAACAP speaks at Senior Wellness Expo

Monday, February 09, 2015

Program managers with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) will lead discussions about the benefits of evidence based programs during the Senior Wellness Expo on Feb. 24.

Evidence based programs teach people how to mentally, physically and emotionally address issues caused by becoming an older adult. For several years, AAACAP has offered Matter of Balance courses, which teach fall prevention methods to reduce the fear and risk of falling, and Stress Busting courses, which help Alzheimer’s caregivers mitigate stress.

AAACAP program coordinators will discuss benefits of two new programs – Chronic Disease Self-Management and Diabetes Self-Management. The programs strive to empower older adults to learn about nutrition, exercise choices and treatment options and effective ways to talk to doctors and family about their disease.

Information about other agency services such as Medicare benefits counseling and medication screening will be available at the expo.

The Senior Wellness Expo, sponsored by Austin Senior Resource Alliance, will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Feb. 24, at the Lakeway Activity Center, 105 Cross Creek, Lakeway, Texas.

> Find a list of AAACAP’s services.

AAACAP is partially funded by the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services.

> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Learn about Austin Senior Resource Alliance.

CAPCOG assists with EDA Public Works Program grants

Friday, February 06, 2015

Local governments seeking U.S. Economic Development Administration grant projects can contact the Capital Area Council of Governments for assistance in applying to the EDA’s Public Works Program.

The EDA designated CAPCOG as the economic development district for CAPCOG’s 10-county region. Serving as the district, CAPCOG provides its local entities with technical assistance to develop and submit applications for EDA funding grant projects that strive to increase regional economic opportunities.

EDA’s Public Works Program supplies funds to communities to revitalize, expand or upgrade their physical infrastructure to attract new industry; encourage business expansion; diversify local economies; and generate or retain long-term, private sector jobs. It also can be used for acquisition or development of land and infrastructure investments needed to establish or expand industrial or commercial enterprises.

Most program projects should offer a 50 percent local match. Application scores are affected by having greater local and private matching funds and more job creation benefits.

The next two funding cycle deadlines are March 12, 2015 and June 12, 2015.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG economic development manager.
> Find out more about the EDA Public Works Program.

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