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6800 Burleson Road
Building 310, Suite 165
Austin, TX 78744

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In the News

CAPCOG offers Downtown Development workshop

Friday, June 24, 2016

CAPCOG’s downtown development workshop will make the case for why communities that aren’t focusing some of their economic development resources on their downtown are missing an opportunity for new investment, small business development and jobs.

“It’s about return on investment for a city, because they must already maintain infrastructure and provide services in their downtown business district; this workshop will be about how to maximize that investment,” said Chris Schreck, Director of Planning & Economic Development at CAPCOG. 

The workshop will feature presentations by Georgetown Main Street Manager Shelly Hargrove and Debra Drescher who is State Coordinator of the Texas Main Street Program. Georgetown was one of the first cities designated as a Texas Main Street in 1982 and still has a successful downtown program, a testament to the Main Street concept and principles. 

Downtowns can become a live/work/play center of a city which means jobs and housing, so Elgin, also a Texas Main Street city, is developing housing choices in their downtown which will be discussed by Sean Garretson, local consultant and developer. Chris Schreck will lead a brief discussion over lunch about assessing the economic impact of a downtown program. 

CAPCOG in its role as the Capital Area Economic Development District provides this workshop to support strategies in its regional economic development plan. This workshop is tailored for county and city elected officials, city managers, city planners, and economic development directors and board members. The workshop will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, Texas.

A registration fee of $25 will be charged to reserve a seat and cover the lunch and refreshments; however, there is no charge for CAPCOG members. Attending elected officials can qualify for four CEUs toward their state or TML educational requirements.

> Register for the workshop.
> Review the agenda.
> Contact Mason W. Canales to receive a code to register for free.

TCEQ announces grant funds for natural gas vehicles

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Source: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is still accepting applications for funding consideration under the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program, part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.

Individuals, businesses, and governmental entities that own and operate a heavy-duty or medium-duty vehicle may qualify for the grant to replace a vehicle with a natural gas vehicle or repower the vehicle with a natural gas engine. Counties in the Capital Area Council of Governments that are eligible grant include Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Lee, Fayette, Travis, and Williamson counties.

The TCEQ will accept the grant program’s applications through May 26, 2017.

Interested parties should contact a Participating Dealer under contract with the TCEQ to determine eligibility. Program staff at the TCEQ are always available to answer questions.

> Learn information on the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program, its participating dealers, the application process and eligibility requirements.
> Read more about the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
> Discover more air quality related grants.
> Read about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

WarnCentralTexas boosts emergency warning registrations

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

WarnCentralTexas.org is a new web portal launched region wide in May to increase participation for a regional emergency communications tool that sends alerts via text, email or phone calls during a disaster.

The website allows residents in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties to register their emails and cellphone numbers to an address or addresses in those counties. Local government emergency personnel, who are responding to incidents and disasters in their communities, can then send location-based, direct warnings via email, text message and phone calls to WarnCentralTexas.org registered participants. Visitors are also encouraged to register if they often stay in the region.

CAPCOG has supported an emergency warning service for the region’s local governments for more than a decade. The emergency notification service was launched when most residents still had landline phones; its ability to reach residents continues to decline as more people move to cellphone only households. CAPCOG registers landlines into the system automatically using the 9-1-1 database, but cellphone numbers and email addresses have to be self-registered. About 45,000 cellphone users are currently self-registered. Using the same easy-to-remember branding region wide should provide greater recognition with more users as the outcome.

Warn Central Texas dot org logo and web address.

“Protect your family, property and self. Sign up for emergency warnings in your neighborhood by voice, text, or email.” — WarnCentralTexas tagline.

CAPCOG uses CodeRED as the software tool for emergency notifications. Residents who are signing up to participate in the program at WarnCentralTexas.org may find the following questions and answers helpful.

WarnCentralTexas FAQ

How do I know that my local community is using WarnCentralTexas.org?
CAPCOG purchased the use of the system for its member organizations in the 10-county region — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Cities and county officials have access to the CodeRED system for sending notifications to areas in their jurisdictional boundaries.

Who will be making the emergency calls and sending the text and emails to my devices?
Emergency management coordinators and other public safety officials have the authority to push emergency warnings to residents through CodeRED’s database. The tool allows those sending the alerts to choose geographic areas to receive warnings based on the type of emergency. 

Who will the call come from?
Emergency calls will come from the following phone numbers regardless of which city or county officials may be sending them. Residents may find it useful to save the numbers in their phones’ contacts.

  • Emergency Alert 866-419-5000
  • Community Alert 855-969-4363
  • Weather Warning 800-566-9780

What if I don’t know if I signed up at WarnCentralTexas.org already?
If you are a managed account holder, CodeRED will tell you if your phone number is already in its system while you are registering. You will then be prompted to login. If you are not a managed account holder, you can simply resubmit your information, and it will be updated in CodeRED’s self-registration database. There is no harm in re-registering to ensure the CodeRED database has your correct information.

How will my personal information be used?
CodeRed’s database of registered users is not shared or sold. CAPCOG can request information from the CodeRed database, but it doesn’t request personal information such as phone numbers and addresses so the information remains private.

Can I get emergency warnings based on my location instead of my address?
CodeRED offers a free mobile app for Android and iPhone devices. The app allows device owners to receive alerts based on the geo-location of their phone as long as they are within any jurisdiction that uses CodeRED. Download the CodeRED Mobile Alert app at Google Play or the Apple Store.

What other information can I receive by signing up at WarnCentralTexas.org?
The primary use of the emergency communications tool is to contact residents during disasters, but self-registrants can choose to receive general notifications, such as street closures, from local jurisdictions that use CodeRED. When registering for the system, residents also can request severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service about tornados, thunderstorms, flash floods or winter storms. More than one phone number and email address can be registered to a residential or business address.

> Register with WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Get educational outreach materials for WarnCentralTexas.org.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

NCOA, GreenPath provide personalized financial help for older Americans

Friday, June 10, 2016
Source: National Council on Aging

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and GreenPath Financial Wellness joined forces to provide older adults. people 60 years older or older, with unbiased reverse mortgage, debt and bankruptcy counseling as well as money management and financial education services.

“Our partnership with GreenPath is the evolution of NCOA’s holistic approach to helping seniors maintain their economic security and independence,” said Amy Ford, director of NCOA’s Home Equity Initiatives. “NCOA is an innovator in providing unbiased information for older Americans. GreenPath’s expertise will help us significantly increase the number of seniors we can assist.”

GreenPath is the hub for calls from older adults seeking reverse mortgage counseling from NCOA. Beyond reverse mortgage counseling, GreenPath provides consumers a full range of services to help them pay down debt, avoid bankruptcy, and manage their limited incomes wisely. NCOA will train GreenPath counselors to enhance their understanding of the specific needs of older adults, as well as the array of community-based supports available to help seniors stay independent in their community.

To schedule a reverse mortgage counseling session, call toll-free 855-899-3778, Monday-Saturday.

> Learn more about NCOA’s work in economic security.
> Find out about GreenPath Financial Wellness.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s Benefit Counselor program.

The Area Agency on Aging, a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, has Certified Benefits Counselors that assist seniors to identify and understand public benefit programs that they may be qualified for which provide financial assistance to lower Medicare Costs, such as Medicare Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Plans.

CAPCOG BPOCs add environmental law training

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Illegal trash dumping, air pollution, water pollution, hazmat incidents and incidents involving medical waste that affect the region’s water supply and threaten public health and safety are often criminal environmental activities. So starting this August, every cadet enrolled in CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC) will be better equipped to combat such environmental crimes when they are working as commissioned officers.

In April, the CAPCOG Law Enforcement Education Committee added a 4-hour segment of specialized environmental law training to the future BPOCs. Expert trainer Dennis Rudder, a sergeant investigator with the Travis County Attorney’s Office Environmental Crimes Unit, will lead the course segment. Rudder, the president of the Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF), serves as an instructor for Basic and Intermediate Environmental Law Training Courses requested throughout the state.

“It's not necessarily a single act, but the aggregation of numerous violations over time which is detrimental to the environment,” Rudder said. The addition of these course hours provides the foundation for new peace officers to prevent environmental crimes  from affecting the public’s health, safety and welfare.

The RETF is composed of code and law enforcement officers who work in  the CAPCOG 10-county region. The RETF creates awareness and addresses illegal dumping and the enforcement of Texas’ environmental laws. It is funded through CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program; operates an illegal dumping hotline, 1-877-NO-DUMPS; and provides environmental law training, investigation, and prosecution assistance to local governments statewide.

> Learn about the RETF.
> Find out about CAPCOG's Basic Peace Officer Course.
 

CAPCOG shares economic analysis expertise throughout the region

Monday, June 06, 2016

For every 10 jobs we create in the food production, processing, and distribution sectors, we create roughly another eight jobs elsewhere throughout the local economy. Moreover, 54 cents of every dollar in sales earned by food producers, processors, and distributors gets funneled back into the local economy. There are important opportunities in these sectors that exist for communities in our region, said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck.

Schreck explained how linking components of the supply chain locally can have significant economic benefits for individual communities and the entire region during the Local Food as an Economic Development Driver seminar on April 27 in Elgin.

The information delivered during the seminar is a sample of the economic development analysis CAPCOG can provide for its members on an ad hoc or as needed basis. Analysis can get more in-depth when CAPCOG partners with communities on economic development or planning projects, and or leverages its GIS capabilities. CAPCOG excels in evaluating the fluidity between local and regional trends and examining the relationship between the two and how those can create benefits for a local community.

“Housing for instance is a very local issue. It’s a neighborhood issue at its core,” Schreck said. “But housing has really substantial impacts on regional issues, like transportation, workforce, and affordability. CAPCOG is really well-suited to work with communities on these kinds of issues that span both local and regional interests.”

Other presentations Schreck gave in the recent months include:

  • Workforce analytics during an Austin Chamber Regional Partners Meeting;
  • The future development of the region at a Real Estate Council of Austin Meeting; and
  • CAPCOG economic development services for local communities to the City of Kyle Economic Development Board.

> Contact Chris Schreck, CAPCOG planning and economic development director.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Division.

CJD to seek grant applications for crime reporting systems

Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Source: The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD) announced a $16.2 million funding opportunity for Texas law enforcement agencies to implement a national incident-based reporting system (NIBRS) or upgrade infrastructure to support an agency’s current use of NIBRS.

NIBRSes collect data on 24 offense types comprised of 52 distinct offenses and agencies report based upon the specific incident that includes data related not only to offenses and arrests, but also to location, victim and offender data, and other measures. During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, the legislature enacted legislation to move the state away from previous summary reporting, which provided less reporting categories, to NIBRS. It appropriated $17.3 million for the purpose of establishing a goal that all local law enforcement agencies will use NIBRS by Sept. 1, 2019.
    
CJD will start accepting grant applications on July 1, 2016 to help convert agencies from summary reporting to NIBRS or to upgrade current NIBRS. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 1, 2016. The minimum award for the grant is $5,000 and there is no matching requirement.

Preference will be given to those agencies that are either not submitting any data to the Texas Department of Public Safety currently or are submitting summary reporting data only. DPS and CJD also will consider applications from current NIBRS contributors who wish to upgrade their reporting system but will evaluate these applications based on their overall response to the solicitation and availability of funding. 

> Read the full funding announcement.
> Apply for the grant at egrants.gov starting on July 1, 2016.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program. 

CAPCOG builds resiliency into 9-1-1 infrastructure

Monday, May 23, 2016

Construction should begin by the end of the year on the installation of a secondary, or backup, 9-1-1 fiber-optic network for 23 of CAPCOG’s 27 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) locations where 9-1-1 calls are received. The additional network will allow PSAPs to continue to answer 9-1-1 calls if a network outage occurs instead of the calls being rerouted to another PSAP or call center. The calls are never in jeopardy of not being answered, according to CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Director Gregg Obuch, but when a call is rerouted it doesn’t carry with it the address and map of the caller. “We really want the location information of that caller in case the call gets dropped before we get a responder to the site.”

In early April, the CAPCOG Executive Committee, in its capacity as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District board, approved the $7 million project to install fiber lines on different routes to the 23 PSAP locations.  While the district maintains 31 PSAPs, four are located at the Combined Transportation, Emergency & Communications Center and two at CAPCOG’s offices. The remaining four PSAPs — Lee, Fayette, and Blanco counties’ and Marble Falls’ — need an alternative solution to fiber lines to provide a secondary network, such as installing radio towers and using microwaves. CAPCOG continues to work on identifying a secondary network solution for the remaining sites.

The backup network has been a priority for the last two years; often outages occur due to construction sites cutting fiber or even network maintenance – the network is owned by AT&T and, while they try to be responsive to these events, it still means 9-1-1 calls may be disrupted, said Obuch. The first phase of the project addressing 23 PSAPs will be completed in three years.

> Read about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
> Learn about the Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

Text-to-9-1-1 coming to region

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CAPCOG expects cellphone users will be able to text 9-1-1 in case of an emergency by this October and perhaps earlier depending on when the wireless carriers enable this feature. Regional agencies in the ten-county region are partnering to roll out a text-to-9-1-1 educational outreach campaign as telecommunicators and cellphone network providers prepare to bring the emergency communications service to the region.

Because text-to-9-1-1 is rolled out by each cellphone network provider, the companies can activate the service at different times. To limit confusion, CAPCOG only will announce text-to-9-1-1’s availability in a community when the four major cellphone network providers have activated it. The COG has planned a phased approach to test text-to-9-1-1. Hays, Travis and Williamson counties will be in the first implementation group, which could have text-to-9-1-1 by August or September. Group 2 — Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Lee counties — and Group 3 — Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties — will follow. Text-to-9-1-1 should be available by either September or October and October or November respectively.

Emergency telecommunicators will begin training to respond to text messages in May. While the services will be new, telecommunicators are already familiar with communicating to people using text based systems. The interface for responding to emergency text is nearly identical to the telecommunications teletype writer interface used to communicate with the hearing impaired.

> Read more about text-to-9-1-1.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

CAPCOG and AACOG air quality committees discuss regional issues

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Travis County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt, and San Antonio Council Member, Ron Nirenberg, lead the first ever joint-meeting between the Capital Area Clean Air Coalition and the Alamo Area Air Improvement Resources Executive Committee. The group discussed strategies to keep the two major metro areas within the EPA’s NAAQS.

CAPCOG’s Clean Air Coalition (CAC) and Alamo Area Council of Governments’ (AACOG’s) Air Improvement Resources (AIR) Executive Committee, the committees representing the two largest U.S. cities not currently burdened with an EPA air quality nonattainment designation, held their first-ever joint meeting to discuss strategies for keeping the cities and their metro areas in compliance with EPA’s new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) on April 29. The committees consist of elected officials from city and county governments that participate in regional air quality planning efforts, and are chaired by Travis County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt, and San Antonio Council Member, Ron Nirenberg, respectively.

Eckhardt opened the meeting and recognized its significance noting, “a unified front on these issues is very powerful” and went on to lead the discussion joined by Nirenberg about the linkages between the two regions and the benefits of collaborating. San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero added that his city is “squarely in between” the two regions and impacted by what happens in each of them, so the effort to work together is “monumental and historic.” Each region has proactively implemented measures to control air pollution, to create awareness of the issue, and to conduct air quality research and planning to guide future strategies that will prevent the EPA designation and the transportation and economic development challenges that accompany it. The joint committees unanimously approved a resolution directed to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and EPA seeking flexibility with implementing the 2015 Ozone NAAQS with regard to geographic area, type of classification, consideration of ozone measurement uncertainty as well as interstate and intrastate impacts.

The CAC and AIR Executive Committee each represent years of leadership in innovative regional air quality planning efforts. The CAC started in 2002 and has implemented four voluntary regional air quality plans, including the 1-Hour Ozone Flex Program in 2002, a Clean Air Action Plan and Early Action Compact State Implementation Plan (SIP) in 2004, the 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan in 2008, and, most recently, an Ozone Advance Program Action Plan in 2013. The AIR Executive Committee was formed even earlier, in 1997, shortly after the state established the Near-Nonattainment Area grant program to support regional air quality planning efforts in areas that had ozone problems but had not yet been designated nonattainment. The AIR Executive Committee also adopted a Clean Air Action Plan and participated in an Early Action Compact SIP in 2004, and is also participating in EPA’s Ozone Advance Program. Both committees have had success in helping their respective metro areas narrowly avoid nonattainment designations for the 1997 and 2008 Ozone NAAQS, the 2015 Ozone NAAQS poses new challenges for the regions.

The committees agreed to start meeting twice a year in order to facilitate future collaboration and cooperation. The next meeting was set tentatively for November which will afford an opportunity to discuss legislative issues, including state funding for the Near Nonattainment planning work carried out by AACOG and CAPCOG.

> Find more information on CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Learn about the AACOG's Natural Resources Department.

Austin, Don’t Rush day encourages drivers to carpool, use a flex schedule or telecommute

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Source: City of Austin

Mayor Steve Adler has declared Wednesday, May 11, Austin, Don’t Rush, and is asking that, during rush hours Wednesday, Austinites choose any transportation option other than driving alone to participate in a one-day challenge to reduce traffic and air pollution. 

The long-term goal of Austin, Don’t Rush, day is to show people that it isn’t difficult to occasionally choose not to drive alone at peak hours so they might begin to make that choice one or two days a week.

The one-day challenge is an effort to reduce traffic in the Austin area and reduce exhaust in the air. It suggests that people carpool, bus, walk or bike to work in an effort to keep single-occupancy vehicles off the road.

> Learn more about Austin, Don’t Rush.
> Discover tips on how to participate in Austin, Don’t Rush.
> Read about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG celebrates Older Americans Month

Monday, May 09, 2016

Older individuals in the CAPCOG region are blazing the way for the future by advocating for themselves, their peers and communities; making our region a better place to live.

CAPCOG proclaimed participation in Older Americans Month by adopting May as a month to honor and celebrate the efforts of the more than 322,000 residents who are 60 or older and live in the region. CAPCOG recognizes the value of inclusion and support in assisting older adults to successfully contribute to our communities.

The national observance of Older Americans Month is led by the Administration for Community Living. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves by taking charge of their health, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail for positive impact on the lives of others.

CAPCOG encourages communities throughout the region to participate in Older Americans Month by:

  • Promoting and engaging in activities, wellness and social involvement,
  • Emphasizing in-home and community-based services that support independent living, and
  • Ensuring communities can benefit from the contribution and experience of older adults.

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) supports older individuals by assisting them in accessing in-home and community-based services. AAACAP will participate in area events including health fairs, caregiver events and the local May Fest. Contact AAACAP for more information, to volunteer, or to report on the ways older individuals are blazing trails and making a difference in your community at (888) 622-9111 ext. 6062.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Discover ways to participate in Older Americans Month.

Experts address caregiving at annual conference

Friday, May 06, 2016

Family caregivers engage in a wide-range of activities every day to support their family members who need assistance. According to Pew Research Center, 33 percent of adult caregivers are now turning to technology to help support their caregiving tasks.

A Caregivers Hope, a third annual conference taking place May 21, will connect family caregivers with area resources and four healthcare experts who will share the benefits of using technology to assist in providing care. The event also will focus on how to recognize, avoid and lessen caregiver stress.

Dr. Mark Carlson will give the conference’s keynote speech addressing effective communication with doctors to ensure a better understanding of medical issues. He will be followed by Dr. Norma Perez, Dr. Natasha Dewald, and Dr. Bruce Wayne Meleski, who will discuss caregiver stress, signs to look for and how to avoid it; in-home technology; technology for untreated hearing loss; and technology to aid in sleeping.

A Caregiver’s Hope is a special opportunity to learn about new tools to support family caregivers. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 21 at 1921 Lohmans Crossing, Suite 100 in Lakeway.

> Register for the conference.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

Elected officials can learn emergency management roles

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Newly elected county judges and mayors may be surprised to learn they are the leading authority for emergency management at the local level when a disaster occurs, according to Texas law. CAPCOG will conduct a Texas Division of Emergency Management workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26, so elected and appointed officials can be better prepared when a disaster strikes their cities and counties.

This workshop will provide an overview to the officials about their roles and how they can contribute to the process of planning, mitigation and recovery. “The first action during a disaster might be calling in aid from the State which the county judge would need to do if it’s not a delegated action to the emergency management coordinator,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG’s Homeland Security director.

The course also highlights: the local, state, and federal organization for emergency management; the local emergency management functions; and more.

Elected officials who attend the workshop at CAPCOG’s offices can qualify for continuing education credits to meet state education requirements or the Texas Municipal League’s Leadership Program.

> Register for the workshop.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

GIS data helps clear debris from Hays County rivers

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finding and clearing debris left by the Memorial Day and October floods from the Blanco, Little Blanco and San Marcos rivers that stretch throughout Hays County is a massive undertaking still underway. Efforts to locate debris alone could have taken months as the three riverbeds span about 58 miles throughout the county, but a visual survey of the riverbanks lasted only three days after the county deployed GIS techniques.

Using GIS data and aerial ortho- and oblique imagery, the Hays County GIS Department saved the county personnel time and lowered the cost of locating debris. The effort aided the county and FEMA’s Private Property Removal Program (PPRP) in spotting more than 7,000 points of debris on 600 parcels of river adjacent property. Debris found during the GIS survey included mostly fallen trees, but vehicles and several areas of exposed pipelines were also discovered.

“The best method of assessing the big picture is from aerial evaluations without having to get onto private properties, and it is much less treacherous for those doing the assessment,” said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb. “Aerial views of the affected areas are the safest and most cost-effective method currently available to preserve property rights and get the necessary information needed to comply with the demands of several agencies and authorities.”

Days after the October flood occurred the county attempted a boots-on-the-ground survey for debris in the riverbeds. But because of the large area, the number of private properties with in it, and the size of the floods events, the survey proved challenging. The Memorial Day flood, the worst of the two events, was so significant in size thousands of trees were ripped out, broken or bent along the Blanco River. It is estimated that the flood damaged or destroyed 12,000 trees county wide. October’s flood added more damage and moved debris further down the riverbeds.
About 40 county employees participated in the on the ground survey. The survey worked well in urban areas, where property was close to the street, said Steve Floyd, Hays County GIS and 911 Addressing program manager who participated in the survey. Employees could talk to people from the street and sometimes even see into riverbeds. In rural areas, gaining access to property was rare and notes were sometimes left on gates at the end of mile long driveways.

Ending the ground survey, the county pursued aerial imagery options that allowed for a detailed and procedural visual inspection of the disaster areas. To meet a FEMA deadline, the county quickly needed planes in the air to capture the events as they were. As a consistent participant in CAPCOG’s GeoMap program, Hays County already had aerial imagery from before the flood events. To consider new imagery options, Floyd contacted CAPCOG’s GIS Program Manager, Craig Eissler. Eissler helped coordinate a suitable solution that met the county’s timeframe and budget demands. Within two weeks, flights captured images along the Blanco River and portions of the Little Blanco and San Marcos rivers.

In January, the Hays County GIS staff began using new 6-inch resolution images to review and map debris piles within the rivers’ 10-year floodplain. The four-person staff used the orthoimagery catalog in the ArcMap data view on one monitor and the oblique viewer on a second monitor. The views were synchronized to pan at the same time. After three days of viewing, the staff identified debris piles on about 600 parcels and sent a list of properties to the debris removal contractor. In many instances, the GIS staff created a single point to represent clusters of debris.

One challenge faced by the GIS staff during the scanning process included identifying fallen trees at the base of steep bluffs obscured by shadows in the ortho views. Another challenge was sighting fallen trees not clearly visible through the densely overlapping limbs of still vertical trees, but the oblique images made both visible.

The staff also discovered areas of severe riverbank erosion exposing segments of pipelines. Some segments included active natural gas pipelines, up to 30-inches in diameter. In two other places, inactive or empty segments of 12.75-inch diameter pipelines were discovered. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality informed the county the two lines were purged and capped years ago.

Since the GIS staff’s review of the riverbanks, many landowners have granted access to the county’s debris removal contractor. As of Feb. 22, 2016 about 2,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris was hauled from private property and about 3,000 cubic yards of debris was removed from public rights-of-way. However, no estimates have been made for the amount burned by property owners.

TDA hosts workshop, webinar for small and microenterprise fund

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture will conduct a workshop and a webinar for communities interested in applying for grant funds to support small businesses and microenterprises in their jurisdictions.

A Small and Microenterprise Revolving Loan Fund (SMRF) grant workshop will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 3, at 1700 Congress Avenue in Austin. The webinar on the same topic will be at 2 p.m., Thursday, June 9.

> Register for the grant workshop.
> Get the link for the webinar.

SMRF provides funds for rural communities to invest in new or existing small businesses and microenterprises. In cooperation with a qualified, nonprofit development organization, SMRF monies are loaned to local small businesses and microenterprises to support job creation and retention activity for predominately low and moderate income persons. Once the contractual job creation or retention requirements are satisfied, the contract is monitored for compliance and closed by TDA.

Eligible applicants are non-entitlement local governments, incorporated cities and counties not participating or designated as eligible to participate in the entitlement portion of the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. Non-entitlement cities that are not participating in urban county programs through existing participation agreements are eligible applicants unless the city’s population counts toward the urban county CDBG allocation.

> Learn more about the SMFR grant.
> Go to TDA’s websites. 
> Read about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Local seniors need advocates

Monday, April 18, 2016

Passionate advocates can volunteer to help seniors in their local community by becoming a certified volunteer ombudsman with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP). Ombudsmen provide older persons who reside in nursing and assisted living facilities a voice about their quality of life and the care they receive when they can no longer do it for themselves or are too afraid to do so.

As a program of CAPCOG, AAACAP ombudsmen serve about 250 nursing and assisted living facilities in the 10-county region. Volunteer ombudsmen play a key role in ensuring the well-being of those living in facilities as many residents have no relatives or regular visitors, and no one to act on their behalf. Family members with a loved one who resides in a care facility also need ombudsmen to help navigate the process necessary to achieve change and improve the care of their loved ones.

Volunteer ombudsmen are certified and specially trained to advocate for residents’ rights and quality of care by visiting and observing  residents’ care at long-term care facilities. Volunteer ombudsmen, working with AAACAP staff ombudsmen, identify and help resolve complaints. They also educate residents, families, and care-facility staff on maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of residents. Ombudsman services are free and confidential.

No prior experience is required to be a volunteer ombudsman, but they must be at least 18. AAACAP provides the required training to become a volunteer ombudsman. Seniors in your area need you.

> Contact Pete Moreno, managing lead ombudsman.
> Learn more about the ombudsman program.

CAPCOG approves Text-to-9-1-1 with October deadline

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CAPCOG’s Capital Area Emergency Communications District board approved the deployment of Text-to-9-1-1 for the 10-county region in its meeting this week; the action triggers notice to the wireless carriers who then have six months to provide the service.

Often the service is made available sooner than six months, according to Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG Emergency Communications Director, but it must be working by October.

Watch for the launch of the Text-to-9-1-1 educational campaign in  late summer.

> Read more about Text-to-9-1-1
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
 

CAPCOG prioritizes homeland security grants

Monday, April 11, 2016

The CAPCOG Executive Committee approved the prioritized list of all 56 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) applications from throughout the region at its March meeting, but the funding being allocated to the 10-county area will only fund the first 13 projects. While $7 million of projects were submitted, the expected allocation at the time of the meeting was $1.77 million.

The process for reviewing applications is led by four subcommittees working under the Homeland Security Task Force that focus on preparedness, response, communications, and public health. Projects that received the highest prioritizations included purchases for rescue and response equipment, school safety kits, a remote automated weather station, bomb robots, and funding for community emergency response teams.

It was recommended that the $4.7 million of emergency communication projects focused on radio interoperability be sent to the Capital Area Emergency Communications District board and its strategic advisory committee for consideration. With decreasing HSGP regional funds, this source is no longer viable for many of these radio communication projects, CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights suggested. The CAECD will look at these once a regional plan is completed and recommended by the CAECD committee.

Subsequent to the Executive Committee’s approval of the grants prioritization, CAPCOG received notice the region would receive $300,000 less than the anticipated $1.77 million. According to new information from the Texas Office of the Governor to which all projects are finalized and contracted, CAPCOG anticipates  about $1.49 million in grant funds.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

Telecommunicators nationally recognized

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

CAPCOG, as the lead agency for regional emergency communications working through the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, urges all local governments to recognize the 700 9-1-1 telecommunicators for their unwavering service to the 10-county region. In March, CAPCOG’s Executive Committee proclaimed April 10-16 National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week to honor local telecommunicators throughout the 10-county region.

The nationally recognized week celebrates and honors 9-1-1 call takers and their important role as the first, first responder. By providing 24/7 service, telecommunicators help save lives, apprehend criminal suspects, and protect property and people. Other emergency service personnel and municipal and county officials will show their appreciation for their local 9-1-1 call takers throughout the week by hosting an array of activities and events just for the public safety telecommunicators.

Because 9-1-1 telecommunicators are a vital link between first responders and their communities, CAPCOG encourages all local governments to honor their telecommunicators by signing proclamations or resolutions and celebrating this week in April so citizens also understand the value of the telecommunicators’ role in public safety.

> Read the CAPCOG Executive Committee resolution for National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Read the State proclaimation for National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communication Division.

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