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In the News

USDA extends application deadline for grants to help repair housing in rural communities

Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is seeking applications for grants to make housing repairs for low- and very-low-income rural residents and has extended the deadline to March 15, 2016.

The grants are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Housing Preservation Grant Program. This program is intended to help rural homeowners and rental housing owners repair and improve their properties. Funds may be used to resolve health or safety issues, make accessibility modifications for people with disabilities, or make energy efficiency improvements to reduce utility costs.

Eligible applicants for Housing Preservation Grants include town or county governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. USDA does not provide funding directly to homeowners under this program.

Funding is limited, and applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis with scoring preference for applications that serve very-low-income households, demonstrate leveraged funding, show the applicant's capacity to successfully manage a housing repair program, and address other considerations as listed in the Federal Register notice.

> Read additional eligibility information.

Applications are accepted on an annual basis through a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register.

> Read more about the extended deadline.
> Discover more about the grant.
> Read the grant overview.
> Contact your Rural Development State Office with questions.

Newest Health and Wellness workshop teaches full course, more programs available

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s (AAACAP) first Diabetes Self-Management Program kicked off in January with a full class at the Bluffs Landing Senior Village in Round Rock. But like all of the agency’s Health and Wellness Programs, there is always room for more in communities around the region.

The Stanford Patient Education Research Center Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a six-week, small-group workshop led by 2 trained facilitators. It is highly interactive and focuses on building skills and sharing experiences that help the day-to-day management of diabetes while maintaining or increasing daily activity. Participants must be 60 or older.

Other AAACAP Health and Wellness programs include: A Matter of Balance, which helps older adults reduce their risk and fear of falling; Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers, which helps caregivers manage the difficulties of caring for older adults and those with disabilities; and Better Choices, Better Health – Chronic Disease Self-Management, which helps adults manage chronic disease symptoms.

In January, seven programs were started in three CAPCOG counties allowing nearly 100 residents the opportunity to improve their health and wellness.

> Bring a AAACAP Health and Wellness Program to your community.
> Learn more about AAACAP.
 

CAPCOG to request air quality grant applications

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments will start accepting applications for a new local emission reduction grant program in mid-February. The grant will target commuter emission reduction projects and capital investments that reduce emissions in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)— Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.

CAPCOG has allocated about $240,000 from its 2016-17 near-nonattainment area air quality planning grant for this new program. Entities in the Austin-Round Rock MSA can apply to the grant program. Organizations participating in the region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will have an opportunity to receive more funding per ton of emissions reduced.

CAPCOG will post additional details about the grant program in mid-February on capcog.org.

> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG Executive Committee elects officers

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee elected Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long as its board chair for 2016. Long, who has served on the Executive Committee since 2007, was the committee’s first vice-chair in 2015. The committee elected Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland as its first vice chair. Holland has been on the Executive Committee since 2013 and serves on the Capital Area Economic Development District and the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition.

Last year’s chair, Elgin Mayor Marc Holm, remains an officer moving to the immediate past chair slot.

Other officers elected were Hays County Judge Bert Cobb as second vice chair and San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero as secretary and parliamentarian.

> Discover CAPCOG's Executive Committee.

CAPCOG committees serve vital role

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Seven advisory committees are integral to the program work performed by CAPCOG; their roles vary but ultimately the goal is to make recommendations on regional issues to CAPCOG’s Executive Committee. The committees’ work may include strategic planning, planning specific to a program’s work plan and funding goals, or making recommendations specific to state and federal funding. Some perform technical analysis and planning to assist CAPCOG staff with program implementation.

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) assists with the development and implementation of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan. It also contributes to establishing procedures for reviewing solid waste projects and evaluates the projects, such as landfills, as they are proposed throughout the region. The committee also preliminarily scores projects for CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant funding every biennium.

> Read more about the SWAC.

The CAECD Strategic Advisory Committee’s primary role is to conduct short- and long-term planning for the delivery of emergency communications throughout the region. It also forms ad hoc technical committees to focus on specific issues including Text-to-911, regional radio communications interoperability solutions, and back-up network systems for 9-1-1 delivery.

> Read more about the CAECD Strategic Adivsory Committee.

The Homeland Security Task Force works to develop plans to address the use of tools and training needed to respond to man-made or natural disasters. It also makes recommendations for the State Homeland Security Program grants. The Task Force has subcommittees who develop plans on technical response, regional preparedness, communications, and public health and medical issues.

> Read more about the Homeland Security Task Force.

The Aging Advisory Council (AAC) serves as a forum for planning and providing feedback on aging related issues to drive some of the initiatives for the region. It also provides input on the use of funding for services and assists in the review of the Area Agency on Aging Area Plan.

> Read mroe about the AAC.

The Criminal Justice Advisory Committee contributes to developing the annual funding priorities and regional strategic planning documents for criminal justice grants. It also scores and ranks grant funding applications.

> Read more about the CJAC.

The GIS Planning Council (GISPC) helps coordinate the mutual development, implementation, sharing and maintenance of geospatial data and Geographic Information Systems applications among CAPCOG members. It has created ad hoc committees to address the uses of GIS by government practitioners and to deploy more useful mapping tools for emergency responders.

> Read more about the GISPC.

The Law Enforcement Education Committee (LEEC) identifies training issues and helps establish standards followed by the Regional Law Enforcement Academy for Basic Peace Officer Courses and other specialized and mandated in-service training for law enforcement officers.

> Read more about the LEEC.
> Discover more about these committees. 

CAPCOG recognizes Mallia for volunteer service

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

CAPCOG honored Melinda Mallia, Travis County Natural Resources Division Director, with its second annual volunteer service award.

“Mallia’s commitment to the proper planning, management, and disposal of solid waste and household hazardous waste in the CAPCOG region can’t be eclipsed,” said Ken May, CAPCOG regional services director.

Mallia served on the CAPCOG Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC), from 1996 to mid-2015 — the longest serving local government staff member of any CAPCOG committee. Mallia was instrumental in the development of the Regional Solid Waste Grant Program, the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan and its priorities, the landfill conformance review process, the closed landfill inventory process, and the private industry dispute and resolution process. During her service on SWAC, she contributed to selecting more than 300 projects, which received $11.3 million in regional solid waste funding.

> Read more about the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

Solid waste grants applications available for industry review

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Capital Area Council of Governments posted all 25 CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program applications, which local entities submitted to receive funding during the 2016-17 grant cycle, on capcog.org so private industry groups can review the applications.

Private industries that find issue with any of these applications have until 5 p.m. Jan. 19, 2-16to notify CAPCOG of their intent to dispute any application.

According to state law (Section 361.014 (b) of the Texas Health & Safety Code), a project or service funded under the Texas Regional Solid Waste Grants Program must promote cooperation between public and private entities, and the grant-funded project or service may not be otherwise readily available or create a competitive advantage over a private industry that provides recycling or solid waste services.

The request for applications ended Dec. 17 and the projects to receive funding should be selected in February.

> Review the applications.
> Discover more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program.
> Read Section 361.014 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
> Contact Matt Holderread, CAPCOG regional services grant coordinator, with concerns about an application, related to promoting cooperation between public and private entities.

Pitts earns Griesenbeck award

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts accepts the Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award from Elgin Mayor and CAPCOG Executive Committee Chair Marc Holm.

The Capital Area Council of Governments presented the 14th Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award to Lee County Commissioner Maurice Pitts at its annual December meeting.

Pitts, who has more than 20 years of service as a Lee County Commissioner, began serving CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee in 1994. He was elected to CAPCOG’s Executive Committee in 1999 and in 2007 was elected chair of the governing body. Pitts also has served for several years on the Capital Area Economic Development District and was a founding member of the Capital Area Transportation Planning Organization, the state’s first rural planning organization created by CAPCOG in 1999. He still serves on all the committees today.

But it’s also the work beyond CAPCOG’s boundaries that distinguishes Pitt’s service toward regionalism. He represented CAPCOG on the board of the Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) from 2003 to 2015. There he served on TARC’s legislative and transportation committees and was elected TARC President in 2014. Pitts also represents the interests of COGs statewide on solid waste issues; he is serving a six-year term on the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Committee that ends August 2017.

The award honors former Bastrop County Judge Jack Griesenbeck, CAPCOG’s first chair and TARC’s first president.

Senator Watson addresses regionalism at General Assembly

Friday, January 08, 2016

The General Assembly of the Capital Area Council of Governments held its annual meeting in December at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos, which featured Senator Kirk Watson as the keynote speaker.

Senator Watson, who was the first recipient of CAPCOG’s Leadership in Regionalism Award, discussed the need for local governments to work as a region when addressing issues such as transportation, economic development, affordable housing and air quality.

Watson, during his tenure as Austin Mayor in 2000, initiated the Clean Air Coalition at CAPCOG, which has become a model for city and county elected officials working to maintain EPA ozone standards and prevent a nonattainment designation that would decrease transportation funds and economic development opportunities.

He noted the region faces challenges concerning affordable housing, jobs and transportation. These issues are better addressed on a regional level, because they are intimately tied together and their impacts on one community affect communities region wide making the challenges hard to tackle independently. Efforts such as regional economic development initiatives can further improve access to affordable housing and jobs while limiting transportation strain by supporting balanced growth in communities increasing the possibility for more people to live near where they work.

Senator Watson’s comments opening the meeting were supported by the State of the Region report that closed it; CAPCOG’s Economic Development Manager Chris Schreck focused on the region’s population growth, economic growth, educational attainment, workforce availability, housing and regional transportation.

By many measures, 2015 was another banner year for the Capital Area, Schreck said. The region is attracting huge numbers of highly skilled workers. Firms are growing and jobs are being created. The unemployment rate is at 3.3 percent. However, the continued growth in the region has exacerbated long-standing issues and has created new challenges in the Capital Area. Inequity in educational outcomes limits the opportunity for everyone to benefit from the region’s growing economy. Rising housing costs are displacing many residents in Austin and parts of Hays and Williamson counties, forcing them to move to more suburban and rural locations. This has the effect of isolating them from employment opportunities and from the public services many low-income households depend upon.

> Read more about the 2015 State of the Region.

The General Assembly also elected a new Executive Committee for 2016, which will hold its first meeting of the year on Jan. 13, including Leander Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Navarrette and State Representative John Cyrier, the two newest members.

Twenty-five elected officials serving in CAPCOG’s 10-county region are elected to the Executive Committee each year after interest is solicited from member cities and counties. Texas COGs are also required to have at least one slot for a state legislator; however, CAPCOG solicits interest from the 17 who serve all or portions of its ten counties and typically selects 3-4 to serve.

Navarrette has served on Leander City Council since 2003. Cyrier, state representative for House District 17, was elected in 2015 to serve the residents of Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes and Lee counties. He is a former Caldwell County commissioner and served on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The Executive Committee meets monthly to oversee the management of the agency and focuses on the administrative policies and practices such as budgeting, auditing, procurement, and other operational policies necessary to carry out a wide menu of programs, many of which are dictated by contractual scopes of work from state and federal agencies. The Executive Committee is led by five officers who will be elected at the January meeting. It also serves as the managing board for the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, which governs the region’s 9-1-1 systems.

> See a full list of 2016 Executive Committee members. 

MyPermitNow, MyGovernmentOnline tracks development process

Monday, January 04, 2016

MyPermitNow creates a clear path through the permitting and inspection process for governments and contractors. The web-based application has simplified several Central Texas cities’ permitting process while saving them time and money. It is now part of a larger suite of online tools, MyGovernmentOnline, meant to provide similar benefits.

“MyPermitNow has been great. It has helped Leander streamline and speed up our process, which desperately needed to be done because we have a high volume of permits,” said Kent Cagle, Leander city manager. Without MyPermitNow, Leander would need more staff to maintain its records and keep up with demand.

Leander issues about 1,500 permits per year and MyPermitNow lets inspectors, permit filers, contractors, and city planners be aware of every step in the process, said Linda Alger, Leander building official.

Specifically, MyPermitNow allows online permit submission, processing, and automated notifications for the entire permitting process, starting with the submission of building documents through the issuance of a permit to a building’s occupancy. The software is customizable to a government’s needs and can store plans, photos and other information as needed. The service also offers archiving of past documents and records to maintain continuity for government record keeping.

Putting the information in the web-based software allows governments to use a paperless system that provides better document management and limits human error. Its other benefits include increased transparency, an auditable process, an online approval process, empirical verifications, improved project management, and better process controls.

Going to paperless permitting increased the amount of information a building inspector can access on a job site, Alger said. Instead of carrying large plans and paperwork, MyPermitNow gives inspectors access to  the project’s documents at the project site via a computer tablet. Those documents can include building plans, previous permit results and other items an inspector may need. The inspector also can update the inspection status on site.

“It gives instant notifications about the inspections,” Alger said. “The permit applicant gets an email, text, or an automated phone call about the results of their inspections, sometimes before the inspector leaves.”

The South Central Planning and Development Commission (SCPDC) in Louisiana developed MyPermitNow as a tool in response to the higher levels of plan review and permit tracking that became mandatory in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The SCPDC has since expanded the application to MyGovernmentOnline, which provides additional online resources including tools for code enforcement and planning and zoning.

The code enforcement tools allow for reporting complaints, tracking the complaint and seeing the complaint resolution. For the planning and zoning module, it lets officials search projects, check and review variances, and review subdivision and zoning requests.

CAPCOG is the Texas administrator of MyPermitNow and has registered 18 governments to use the software, since it began demonstrating it to local governments in 2011.

“As a regional partner to its local jurisdictions, CAPCOG realized the benefits MyPermitNow could provide to governments by creating more efficient processes that lead to cost savings,” said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director. “MyGovernmentOnline is now offering a whole suite of applications to assist cities with several processes, and the value added permitting portion of the program is on a whole other level.”

“(Permit applicants) don’t have to come to the front counter for anything,” said David Harrell, director of development services for Lago Vista. “MyPermitNow is a true representation of E-government.”  For instance, a general contractor can sit in his Austin office and submit a permit for a single-family home construction project in Lago Vista. From the same office, he can see when inspections will occur and their results.

Because of MyPermitNow’s increased capabilities, reporting for planning purposes are more readily available and accurate.

Using a code enforcement module, Lago Vista, which has used MyPermitNow since 2011, can provide weekly and monthly updates on actions taken by the department, Harrell said. The Lago Vista City Council and residents can review what code complaints were filed and how code compliance offers responded to the complaint.

> Contact Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Division director, for more information about MyGovernmentOnline.

CAAR Map puts data at fingertips

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Accurate information is invaluable for  planning — the CAPCOG Geographic Information System Program’s latest product, the Capital Area Addressing and Referencing Map (CAAR Map), delivers accurate, regional and timely data to planners and others.

CAPCOG uses the monthly updated address points and street data in the CAAR Map dataset for 9-1-1 emergency response and planning purposes. But these datasets are also useful in determining transportation routes for buses, taxis and other transit. When overlaid with demographic data, it can help determine area development trends for demographic analysis and growth planning. CAAR Map data can also be used as an excellent reference for plotting an organization’s customer database or other address information onto the map. This can be useful for marketing and many other purposes.

Because CAAR Map is based on emergency response data, the information goes through a rigorous process for correcting errors and a geocode testing. The process has led to 99.6 percent accuracy rating of its data. The high accuracy rating plus monthly updating and archiving makes CAAR Map a unique and superior product. CAAR Map is offered as a seamless, region-wide dataset covering all jurisdictions in CAPCOG’s 10 counties — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis, and Williamson.

> Discover more about CAAR Map and how to order its data.
> Learn about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

Holmes heads Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Training and educating people is at the core of Randy Holmes. Since the age of 19, the now 61 year old has trained soldiers and peace officers around the world on protecting people and being admirable public servants. In late October, CAPCOG promoted him to Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) director.

“I enjoy people that want to learn,” said Holmes. “It is very satisfying to see someone perform a skill they couldn’t perform when they came to me.”

Holmes worked eight years as the CAPCOG RLEA chief instructor. He has provided oversight and instruction for 32 basic peace officer courses and many law enforcement in-service classes. Before coming to CAPCOG, Holmes, who always wanted to be a police officer, served San Marcos as a patrol officer, patrol corporal, detective, patrol sergeant, and commander. Three years into his 22 year stint at San Marcos Police Department, Holmes began instructing his fellow officers on topics such as fire arms and self-defense. Holmes also was recruited to participate in United Nations Mission of Kosovo to train law enforcement officers in the region.

Holmes began his instructor career as a U.S. Army sergeant in Germany. He trained his fellow soldiers in skill courses such as demolition and bridge construction.

> Discover the CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
> Review upcoming RLEA courses.
 

TCEQ announces alternative fuel, natural gas fueling station grants

Monday, December 14, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced up to $11.8 million in grants is available to eligible individuals, businesses, and governmental entities to continue the development of a network of alternative fuel and/or natural gas fueling stations to serve as a foundation for a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel vehicles.

The Clean Transportation Triangle (CTT) and Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and are offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own, and operate alternative fuel or natural gas fueling stations in eligible Texas counties.

The CTT/AFFP joint request for grant applications (RFGA) closes at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Because of the similarities between these programs, the TCEQ is soliciting applications for the programs under this joint RFGA. It is providing joint application forms for applicants to apply to one or both programs, depending on the eligibility of the project.

CTT/AFFP grants offset a portion of the cost of either the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels, or the substantial reconstruction of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities dispensing natural gas or alternative fuels. Eligible fuels for the CTT program include compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Eligible alternative fuels for the AFFP include biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, propane, and electricity. 

The TCEQ has scheduled three application workshops to review the grant requirements and the application process. Reservations are not required.

ARLINGTON: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 11, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

HOUSTON: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 13, 2016
Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons, Suite 120 
Houston, TX 77027

AUSTIN: 1:30 p.m., Jan. 14, 2016
TCEQ's Austin Office 
Building E, Room 254
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

> Learn more about the grants.
> Discover the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.
> Find other air quality programs.

Homeland Security grant process opens

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The FY 2016 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant application period began in December. SHSP grant funding assists local governments with purchasing and maintaining tools and equipment, training and planning required to respond to natural disasters and terrorist incidents.

The Homeland Security Division will conduct mandatory pre-application workshops for entities seeking funding at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2015 at CAPCOG in Austin.

> Register to attend a required grant writing workshop.
> Download the grant application template.

Applications must be submitted to CAPCOG by Jan. 15, 2016 to be considered.

Last year CAPCOG facilitated the allocation of about $1.9 million to 29 regional projects supporting interoperable communications, citizen volunteer response programs, rescue and terroristic-threat-response equipment purchases, and other emergency services programs. Since 2003, $36.4 million in funds have been awarded regionally.

> Discover more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Workshop teaches importance of economic analysis

Monday, December 07, 2015

Three economic development experts will outline and explain the advantages of conducting a successful economic impact analysis for development projects during a 2-hour workshop at the San Marcos Conference Center on Dec. 9.

The workshop, coordinated by CAPCOG, will focus on measuring economic impacts, particularly within the context of economic development incentives. It will address the alignment of economic development incentives to strategic goals, how to accurately measure the benefits and costs of an economic development project, and ongoing monitoring of economic impacts.

Chris Schreck, CAPCOG’s economic development program manager, will lead the workshop. The other featured presenters are two leading economic development practitioners in the CAPCOG region: Amy Madison, interim executive director of the Pflugerville Community Development Corporation, and Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation. Madison and Fletcher will describe how economic development incentives are used and impacts are measured in their communities. They will be available to answer specific questions.

Elected officials who attend the workshop can qualify to earn credit hours towards their state mandated or voluntary continuing education.

> Register to attend the workshop.

The workshop is free for officials residing in CAPCOG’s 10-county region.

> To receive a registration code, contact Mason Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator. 

Taylor credits public participation for award winning master plan

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Creating a master plan is about more than just designing a look for an area in town. It is about creating a distinct feel and experience for both residents and visitors. It is about synergizing new growth while maintaining a sustainable atmosphere for current businesses and residents. And most importantly, it is about the people, the community and the vision to move forward.

In early October, the American Planning Association – Texas Chapter awarded the city of Taylor its Project Planning Award in recognition for exemplary planning for the creation of Taylor’s new Downtown Master Plan. And while the physical award goes to the city, the honor and the credit go to the residents.
“We are extremely proud of the community support that went into the creation of the Downtown Master Plan,” said Holli Nelson, the city’s public information officer. “People care about Taylor and where we are going and how we are going to get there.”

More than a hundred people contributed to the Downtown Master Plan during its creation, which consisted of visioning secessions, community forums, stakeholder workshops, open houses, city council meetings and more.

Taylor’s Downtown Master Plan is innovative, transferrable, comprehensive and implementable, said Cameron Walker, APA-Texas Chapter committee chair for the planning awards. It also included a good record of public participation.

“Any plan without community support is a plan that will sit on the shelf,” said Noel Bernal, Taylor assistant city manager. Master plans can take years to fulfill, but when residents and business owners back them, developments guided by master plans can move faster as those who are already invested in the area continue to grow and redevelop themselves.

Taylor’s Downtown Master Plan combined previous work from seven other plans to encompass about 30 of the city’s blocks and about 14 streets. According to the plan, its goals set out to stimulate economic development, protect the unique history of Taylor, provide entertainment, recreation, programming and events and serve the needs of visitors and residents alike over other goals — all of which were prioritized by community stakeholders. Taylor adopted the plan in April 2015.

> Riewed Taylor's Downtown Master Plan.
> Discover the American Planning Association - Texas Chapter.

CAPCOG assists in disaster recovery, resiliency planning

Monday, November 23, 2015

Using funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), CAPCOG is in the beginning stages of mitigation and resiliency planning for communities in the eight counties affected by the May 2015 storms — Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis, and Williamson.

The first stages of the project focus on data collection and damage assessment to help quantify the impact of the May storms. CAPCOG has already met with the federal team responsible for economic recovery support, which includes representatives from the EDA, FEMA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Army Corp of Engineers. The intent is to coordinate with those organizations along with local government agencies to build upon data they have already collected. CAPCOG has also begun conversations with emergency management coordinators in Blanco, Hays, and Caldwell counties to establish processes for collecting additional information and coordinating efforts going forward.

Once the data collection process is completed, the next stage of the program will be an impact evaluation before moving to the mitigation and resiliency planning. The final planning effort will identify geographic areas of mitigation interest, target areas without proper mitigation, and enhance short-term recovery and long-term resiliency. The plan will help identify future projects that mitigate disaster risk and also promote economic development, the projects’ possible funding opportunities from EDA and other sources, and work to prioritize those projects.

CAPCOG received an EDA grant of $150,000, to be distributed over two years, to conduct the disaster recovery project.

> Discover CAPCOG's Economic Development Program.
> Learn about CAPCOG's GIS Program.

Water Development Board offers jurisdictions assistance with water plan projects

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Source: Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board announced it will accept applications for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (Swift) that helps finance water projects.

SWIFT provides affordable, ongoing state financial assistance for projects in the state water plan. The fund helps communities develop and optimize water supplies at cost-effective rates. The program provides low-interest loans, extended repayment terms, deferral of loan repayments, and incremental repurchase terms for projects with state ownership aspects.

Any political subdivision of the state with a project included in the adopted regional water plans and that will be included in the state water plan can apply for assistance through this program.

  • Political subdivisions include:
  • Non-profit water supply corporations
  • Municipalities
  • Counties
  • River authorities
  • Special law districts
  • Water improvement districts
  • Water control and improvement districts
  • Irrigation districts
  • Groundwater conservation districts

Eligible projects are recommended water management strategies in the adopted regional water plans and that will be included in the state water plan, and have an associated capital cost.

> Read more about SWIFT.
> Review the 2015 SWIFT savings.

TCEQ schedules Emissions Reductions Incentive Grant workshops

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold seven grant application workshops for its Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) program throughout December to include one Austin workshop on Dec. 10.

The ERIG program funds the upgrade or replacement of older heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, and stationary equipment. Each workshop will provide an overview of program requirements and the application process. Workshops are free of charge and registration is not required.

ERIG is eligible to any person who operates or plans to operate on-road heavy-duty vehicles, non-road equipment, or stationary engines primarily in one or more of the eligible counties. For infrastructure projects, persons owning or operating the infrastructure in an eligible county may also be eligible for funding.

Applicants can include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, school districts, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or any other legal entity. Applicants must have the legal authority to dispose of the vehicle being replaced.

Eligible CAPCOG counties for the grant include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson.

Application submissions will have a 5 p.m., Feb. 2, 2016 deadline.

Austin: Dec. 10, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
TCEQ's Austin Office 
Building E, Room 254S
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753

> Get the grant application.
> Learn more about TERP.
> Discover CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

Other workshops:

El Paso: Dec. 3, 2015
1:30-4:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop 
El Paso Public Library-Main Branch
501 North Oregon Street
El Paso, TX 79901

Arlington: Dec. 7, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011

Longview: Dec. 8, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Longview Public Library
222 West Cotton Street
Longview, TX 75601

San Antonio: Dec. 14, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Alamo Area Council of Governments 
8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 700 
San Antonio, TX 78217

Corpus Christi: Dec. 15, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
TCEQ Region 14 Office 
NRC Bldg., Ste. 1200
6300 Ocean Dr., Unit 5839
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412

Houston: Dec. 15, 2015
9:30 a.m. Dealer Workshop 
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop 
6 p.m. Applicant Workshop (en Español)
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

Beaumont: Dec. 16, 2015
1:30 p.m. Applicant Workshop
Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, Texas 77703

AAACAP assists with Medicare

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Seniors can face difficult decisions when changing their Medicare plans during the federal program’s open enrollment period. The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area Medicare benefit counselors can aid beneficiaries in determining which plan options may best fulfill their needs.

Since Medicare Open Enrollment began on Oct. 15, AAACAP benefit counselors have assisted hundreds of adults who are 60 years old or older in CAPCOG’s 10-county region. The counselors specialize in decoding the enrollment process by educating beneficiaries on their Medicare options and assisting them through the process. Changes to Medicare plans can save seniors money and enhance their benefits.

Residents seeking help with the open enrollment process should be ready to provide their full name, address and contact number, red-white-and blue Medicare card information, and a list of prescription medications (name of medication, dosage and how often they take it).

The deadline for seniors to change their Medicare plan is Dec. 7, and residents shouldn’t hesitate to get assistance from a benefit counselor at 512-916-6062 or 888-622-9111 ext. 6062. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.

> Read more about Medicare Open Enrollment.
> Discover the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area.
> Learn more on the Aging and Disability Resource Center of the Capital Area.

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