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In the News

AAA of the Capital Area heads to Bastrop and Buda

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area will conduct outreach and informational sessions in Bastrop and Buda during August.

Benefit counselors will assist Medicare beneficiaries with Medicare inquiries and provide information or services about other programs available through CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging. They will explain and assist with applications for low income programs such as Medicare Savings Program and the Extra Help Program. They also will assist with Benefits Checkup and prepare a report to help individuals find resources and benefit programs that can help pay for medications, health care, food and more.

Benefits Checkup is a free service of the National Council on Aging.

Counselors will be at the following locations at the following times:

  • 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 11, 2014
    1100 Church St., Bastrop, TX 78602, the Bastrop Public Library
  • 10 a.m.-4.30 p.m., Monday, Aug 25, 2014
    303 Main St., Buda, TX 78610, the Buda Public Library

Benefit counselors are available to schedule other individual appointments by calling 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

> Find additional locations where benefit counselling will take place.
> Learn more about CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging.

CAPCOG allocates $1.2 million to 13 area homeland security projects

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thirteen area projects and equipment purchases received about $1.2 million to help local agencies respond to regional disasters and terroristic incidents.

The Capital Area Council of Governments Executive Committee recently approved the 13 projects to receive Federal Homeland Security Grant Program funds. The funds for the projects will be distributed to several public safety departments that include homeland security operations in Travis, Williamson, Burnet, and Hays counties.  They also allow the Capital Area to continue regional homeland security planning, grant management, and interoperable communications.

“The projects approved by the CAPCOG Executive Committee will continue regional support and coordination of homeland security and emergency management activities,” said Ed Schaefer, CAPCOG’s homeland security director. “CAPCOG member jurisdictions will use these funds to sustain their capabilities to identify and respond to a variety of hazardous events, especially those resulting from acts of terrorism.”

Projects selected for the funds ranged from radio communications infrastructure to rescue equipment to terroristic-threat-response equipment.

The Texas Homeland Security State Administrative Agency approved the funds for the 2014 fiscal year, which CAPCOG’s Executive Committee prioritized and submitted to the state agency based on local jurisdictions’ submissions and a regional homeland security strategic plan created by CAPCOG members. CAPCOG’s Executive Board gave final approval after the state agency accepted the projects.

> Discover more about CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

State offers online forum about housing and community development needs

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For the development of the Draft State of Texas 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, state staff is seeking input via an online forum about procedures for housing and community development needs and market analysis for the State of Texas.

The forum will be online until July 31, 2014.

The Consolidated Plan is a document required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It governs funds for the next five years received by the state from HUD for four programs.

  • The Emergency Solutions Grants Program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • The HOME Investment Partnerships Program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • The Community Development Block Grant Program operated by the Texas Department Agriculture
  • The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program operated by the Texas Department of State Health Services

To participate in the online forum, go to: https://tdhca.websitetoolbox.com/ and click on the "Register" tab in the top right-hand side of the page. After completing registration, you will receive a confirmation email inviting you to begin participating in the forum.

When questions are asked in the forum, the administering state agencies will attempt to provide additional information, clarification or other ideas for participants to review and consider. Participants should not expect responses to all posted questions.

Comments published on the online forum will not be considered official public comments. However, the comments will be taken under advisement when staff presents the State of Texas Draft 2014-2015 Consolidated Plan to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Governing Board on Sept.  4, 2014. Input from the forum may be considered as consultation as it relates to the State of Texas 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan.

> Read how to make official public comments on the Consolidated Plan.

RRC to discuss 2015-16 Community Development Fund application cycle

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Capital Area Regional Review Committee (RRC) meeting will be held on Friday, August 1, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Pecan Room of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) located at 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744.  Visit www.capcog.org for additional information and a map to the building.

The Capital Area RRC will hold a public meeting to discuss and adopt scoring criteria for the 2015-2016 Community Development Fund application cycle. The role of each RRC is to participate in the process for determining regional priorities for projects funded through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Community Development Fund. The purpose of these RRC Meetings/Public Hearings is to develop the objective scoring criteria used to prioritize applicants for the 2015-2016 funding cycle.

This meeting is open to the public and individuals who require auxiliary aids or services for this meeting should notify CAPCOG staff at 512-916-6012 at least two business days before the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

To learn more about the Texas Community Development Fund and the Texas Community Development Block Grant program, visit its website located here.

If you have any questions, please contact Chad Coburn, Manager of SPP.

CAPCOG economic development program earns national award

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Integrating economic development and planning to help Central Texas cities leverage future growth is the focus of the Sustainable Places Project, now being recognized for its innovative approach to community development.

The National Association of Development Organizations just announced that CAPCOG’s Sustainable Places Project, which was conducted in coordination with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, received a 2014 Innovation Award.

“We are proud to have demonstrated place making as a viable strategy for economic development in our small communities,” said Chad Coburn, CAPCOG’s Sustainable Places Project Director. “The award further validates our continued work with the project, now renamed the Prosperous Places Program (P3), and our effort to provide elected officials and staff with the analytics needed to prepare for and capitalize on the growth of Central Texas.”

The Sustainable Places Project integrated planning, analytic tool development and community visioning to help Central Texas cities create vibrant districts to attract new residents and businesses. The project addressed code revisions, infrastructure improvements, and economic strategies needed for development plan implementation.

Hutto, Elgin, Lockhart, Dripping Springs and Austin participated in the Sustainable Places Project between 2011 and 2014 to plan and evaluate a variety of development and redevelopment scenarios.

For instance, Elgin developed a vision of new, walkable residential and commercial uses; revived civic spaces along the railroad right-of-way; a network of roads and trails to connect the high school, downtown, and community college; and a farm-to-table approach toward food-related businesses. Recent upward trends in real estate have already provided opportunities for the plan’s implementation.

With the end of the Sustainable Places Project, CAPCOG instituted P3. P3 provides data and research tools to evaluate the long-term impacts of various growth scenarios on city budgets, the environment, the housing market and the economy.

“The notion of place making as economic development has great potential to spur quality growth and improve regional transportation outcomes,” Coburn said. “CAPCOG is excited to help our communities prepare and capitalize on the growth of the region.”

> Learn more about Prosperous Places Program.
> Read more about Sustainable Places Project.

Texas Clean Fleet Program offers $7.7 million to transition fleet vehicles

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering up to $7.7 million in grants for entities operating large fleets to replace diesel-powered vehicles with alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles. Applications to receive grant funds must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

TCEQ’s Texas Clean Fleet Program (TCFP) grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and are available to owners who operate fleets of 75 or more vehicles in the state. Applicants must commit to replacing at least 20 diesel-powered vehicles.

Projects eligible for funding must result in a reduction of nitrogen oxides emissions by at least 25 percent. Eligible projects may be limited to certain counties.

TCEQ is offering three grant application workshops to review TCFP requirements and application procedures for potential applicants at no cost.

  • 1:30 p.m., July 28, 2014 at TCEQ headquarters, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building F, Room 2210, Austin, Texas 78753
  • 1:30 p.m., July 29, 2014 at the Tracy Gee Community Center, AR-1, 3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston, Texas 77042
  • 1:30 p.m., Aug. 4, 2014, at North Central Texas Council of Governments, Transportation Council Room, 616 Six Flags Drive, Centerpoint II, Arlington, Texas 76011

> Read more about the Texas Clean Fleet Program grant and apply at TCEQ’s website.

CAEED prepares regional economic road map

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Capital Area Economic Development District started creating the 2015-2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) earlier this year. The efforts for developing the strategy will continue throughout the year and be completed by June 2015.

Such a strategy is a broad assessment of major trends affecting the regional economy and the identification of opportunities to support growth during the next five years.

As an U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration supported economic development district, CAEDD is required to produce a new strategy every five years and to update that plan annually.

But it is more than a federal requirement. The strategy serves as a valuable tool for planners, economic developers, and policy makers to identify key underlying changes that impact the region. It allows entities in the region to respond to changes and keep the Capital Area economically competitive for many years to come.

Once complete, the CEDS will be available at www.capcog.org.

> Contact Michael Hennig.
> Read the current CEDS.
> Learn about ways CAPCOG can support community and economic development.

Law enforcement academy course educates about crime scenes

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Besides being required to advance a police officer’s career, the intermediate crime scene in-service training course allows departments and officers in the region to ensure evidence is properly handled and criminal cases are solved.

“In order to do an investigation, you are going to need all the tools available to you, and this goes over the basics with more details,” said Randy Holmes, Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy chief instructor.

The course offers a chance for patrol officers to learn advanced techniques for preparing a crime scene investigation, finger printing, photographing a crime scene and more. It also can serve as a refresher for current investigators since it provides 32 hours towards required continuing education to maintain a Texas Commission of Law Enforcement peace officer’s license.

Intermediate Crime Scene training discusses the legal aspects of crime scene searches and the handling of evidence.

After taking the course, students are able to explain certain objectives and legal obligations that must be followed during a crime scene search. Objectives for a crime scene search include establishing a crime was committed, identifying the type of crime committed and placing a suspect at the scene. The latter can be determined from items such as shoe impressions that may match those of a known suspect in the community or a witness’s description of the criminal.

While police and public safety departments may have their own procedures and plans for handling crime scenes, this course helps ensure individual portions of those plans are correctly and legally handled, Holmes said. “All of that is critical, because if you don’t do it right, very guilty people can go free.”

Major investigations, such as the OJ Simpson murder case, can hinge on the evidence and how it was treated from start to finish. Handling evidence poorly may lead to a jury having doubts about the results of the investigation.

Since 2010, the Capital Area Council of Governments Regional Law Enforcement Academy has conducted the intermediate crime scene training course 12 times. More than 200 officers inside and outside the region have attended the course since 2005. A course, which was conducted from June 23 to June 27 in Williamson County, instructed nine officers.

Courses such as the intermediate crime scene training are often done at the request of law enforcement jurisdictions in the region. Police departments and sheriff offices look to ensure their officers are staying knowledgeable about new and best practices in the field and often want their officers to advance their careers.

Continued education and learning is important for any field but especially for law enforcement, Holmes said.

“The more you know the better job you do,” Holmes said. “Being an expert in something is all about mastering the basics.”

> Learn more about the Capital Area Council of Governments Law Enforcement Training Academy.
> Review courses available.

Solid waste funds awarded to 13 area projects

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) on June 26 awarded $215,726.05 to 13 county and municipal projects as part of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Regional Solid Waste Grants Program.

Funding for the 13 projects, which include household hazardous waste collection, tire collection, educational events and other programs, will support the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan’s goals and objectives in 2014 and 2015.

“These monies go a long way to help our membership agencies with a means to properly manage solid and household hazardous waste,” said Ken May, CAPCOG’s Solid Waste Program Manager. “Our cities and counties use these monies to help offset the cost of solid waste diversion.”

Solid waste diversion programs can be costly and funds from TCEQ help ensure diversion efforts receive state aid for responsible, local solid waste management planning, May said.

Funds from the Solid Waste Grants come from legislative-appropriated “tipping fees” at landfills. CAPCOG works with the TCEQ to solicit and select programs in the region that qualify for grant funding.

The Solid Waste Grants program is considered for appropriation each biennium by the residing legislative body. Should the program receive continued funding during the next legislative session, more grant funds should be available by fiscal year 2016. 

The 2014 and 2015 awarded programs are listed below.



Regional Environmental Task Force



Fayette County

Forklift for Recycling Center



Caldwell County

Tire Collection Events



City of San Marcos

HHW Event



Brushy Creek MUD

HHW Vouchers



City of Hutto

Adopt-A-Spot Litter Abatement



Bastrop County

Misc. Education



Blanco County

HHW Event



City of Granite Shoals

Community Collection Event



City of Lockhart

HHW Event



City of Cedar Park

HHW Event



Burnet County

HHW Event



Lee County

HHW Event


> Learn about the individual projects.
> Read more about solid waste planning.

Area Agency on Aging offers benefit counselors in several communities

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Benefit counselors with CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging will conduct informational and outreach sessions at several locations throughout July.

Counselors will be available to assist people with Medicaid and Medicare benefits at the following times and sites:

  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., July 2, 2014 at the Texas Housing Foundation, 1016 Broadway, Marble Falls, TX
  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., July 10, 2014 at the Switzer Senior Center, 410 W. 7th Street, Taylor, TX
  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., July 16, 2014 at the Park Ridge Apartments, 100 Legend Hills Blvd., Llano, TX

Counselors also will assist Medicare beneficiaries with general Medicare and Area Agency on Aging inquiries from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday, July 28, 2014 at the Buda Public Library, 303 Main St., Buda, TX.

While on site, the counselors will provide information and discuss services provided by CAPCOG’S Area Agency on Aging. They can explain and assist with applications for low income programs such as the Medicare Savings Program and the Extra Help Program if beneficiaries meet eligibility requirements.

Benefits counselors also are able to assist with Benefits Checkup and prepare a report to aid individuals in finding resources and programs that help pay for medications, health care, food and more.

Benefits Checkup is a free service of the National Council on Aging.

Call the Area Agency on Aging at 512-916-6062 or toll free at 1-888-622-9111.

> Find out more about Area Agency on Aging services.

COPS grant application submission deadline approaches

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Source: http://efficientgov.com/

The U.S. Department of Justice application submission process closes June 23, 2014 for three Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grant programs.

Open solicitation for the grants includes the following programs:

  • The COPS Hiring Program provides funding for hiring police officers to focus on certain community issues. Applicants may request funds for new officers, recently laid-off officers or retaining officers who are scheduled to be laid-off.
  • The COPS Community Police Development Program provides funding to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance.
  • The Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistant Program provides funding to technical institutions to work with law enforcement agencies in assessing issues that affect police and community relationships.

>Learn more about the grants.

Grant award helps airline reduce emissions

Friday, June 13, 2014

With funding from CAPCOG's Air Quality Program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant program, Southwest Airlines has electrified the first six of a dozen pieces of ground-support equipment to help reduce pollution.

Southwest was awarded $135,000 to electrify six diesel-powered baggage tugs and six belt loaders, representing more than 30 percent of the company’s equipment at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

During its tenure, the project is expected to reduce 10 tons of nitrogen oxides emissions, 2 tons of particulate matter emissions, 299 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 26,922 gallons of diesel usage.

These reductions also include annual health benefits of nearly $300,000.

> Learn more about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program

Area Agency on Aging screenings aim to curb bad medication interactions

Monday, June 09, 2014

Are you 60 or older, taking five or more medications and living in Central Texas? Call CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area to schedule a free medication screening.

AAACAP, with help from a St. David's Foundation grant, offers free screenings to residents and family caregivers across the region. Aimed to reduce the risk of medication problems, screenings include a pharmacist review of prescription medications and over-the-counter products for potentially harmful interactions, reactions and related issues.

Participants will receive a written report that includes information such as when and how to take their medications and any special precautions. They can additionally opt for a phone consultation with the pharmacist. Medications can include over-the-counter products or prescription products, creams and liquid medication.

Set up your medication screening today by calling 512-916-6062.

> Explore AAACAP, funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
> Learn more about the Medication Screening Program

CAPCOG seeking emissions-inventory project proposals by June 23

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals from qualified contractors by  5 p.m. Central Time Monday, June 23, 2014, to develop emissions inventories for the region and provide other technical assistance in air quality planning assessments.

> Learn more, and download the RFP today

Solid waste funding slated for 14 area projects

Thursday, June 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s Executive Committee has approved $140,000 in pass-through Solid Waste Program funding for 14 eligible local government projects in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Full funding is available for 11 of the projects.

With state funding, the grant program supports eligible projects that help implement the regional solid waste management plan.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will review the eligible projects for approval before CAPCOG initiates applicable contracts, which may be available starting July 2014.

> Get more details on the eligible projects

Coming soon to the CAPCOG region: Text to 9-1-1

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Texting to 9-1-1 in Central Texas? Voice calls
are still the best bet today, but more options lie ahead.

Can anyone send a text message to 9-1-1? Except in a few locations across the nation where testing has been conducted, the answer is “No.” However, new regulations and technology will make this possible in the near future.

Today, phone companies must transmit all 9-1-1 voice calls to 9-1-1 centers, also referred to as Public Safety Answering Points or PSAPs. Those calls include information about your telephone number and location, so the PSAP can get help to you more easily.

 > Get the list of capital area PSAPs

Federal Communications Commission rules govern services provided by wireless phone companies. The rules don’t require any companies to transmit text messages to 9-1-1 PSAPs. However, the FCC is seeking public comment on proposed rules that would require wireless phone companies and certain other text-message providers to begin transmitting text messages to 9-1-1 by year’s end.

As part of a voluntary agreement with the National Emergency Number Association and the Associated Public Safety Communications Officials International Inc., the four major wireless providers — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile — began providing text-to-9-1-1 service within their network areas, with the 9-1-1 center ready to receive text messages. This service has been in the testing stage at about a dozen locations throughout the nation.

> Learn about the National Emergency Number Association

CAPCOG has installed new equipment to support the delivery of text messages at all 31 PSAPs in the region and expects to request the service from the carriers around the end of the year.

Implementation will take about six months, getting the service in operation across all four carriers after the request is processed. This provides time for call-taker training and a public education campaign.

The text-to-9-1-1 service provided by the four wireless companies is the current short-message-service-based texting option and has limitations. Because SMS texting is a “best efforts” service not designed for emergency communications, it does not provide automatic location or caller information. There’s no guarantee that a series of messages will be delivered in the proper order or that the message will even be delivered to the PSAP.

> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Texting to 9-1-1 is a viable option, however, when it’s not safe for the caller to speak or if the caller is hearing- or speech-impaired and requires help.Voice calls to 9-1-1 remain the most efficient way to reach emergency help, allowing the call taker to quickly ask questions and obtain additional information from the caller. So even when text-to-9-1-1 is available, callers should continue to contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call if they can and use text only if voice is not a feasible or safe option.

CAPCOG releases housing report

Friday, May 23, 2014

Did you know? Since 1980, the Austin metropolitan area's population has grown five times faster than the U.S. overall.

The population and economic growth in Central Texas is without par, but with it has come rising housing costs in the urban core and changing economic realities.

The region faces a growing imbalance of location and opportunity. Many residents have been displaced from previously affordable neighborhoods to areas that lack community networks and services.

CAPCOG's newly published Housing Opportunity in Central Texas report, created as part of the HUD-funded Sustainable Places Project, summarizes key findings of data analysis, deliberation and application of the many planning tools - built by the project - that will impact future policy decisions. 

> Download the new report
> Discover CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

Available: Training tool against active-shooter threats

Monday, May 19, 2014

CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy's Use of Force Simulator, a state-of -the-art training tool that helps public safety personnel prepare for potential active-shooter situations and other threats, is available for local jurisdictions.

The mobile simulator, an integrated system using software, a video screen and hundreds of incident scenarios, provides realistic use-of-force training that helps participants develop the skills required of law enforcement personnel armed with both lethal and less-lethal weapons.

Contact RLEA Director Mike Jennings to schedule the tool, which any agency that employs peace officers can use for a nominal fee. > Go

> Learn more about the Use of Force Simulator and related training
> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

State offers financial incentive for cleaner-running light-duty vehicles

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Thursday, June 26, 2015 - or until depletion of funds - to buy or lease eligible new vehicles powered by cleaner-running compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas or electric drives. 

With about $7.8 million in funding now available through TCEQ's Light Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program - part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan - qualified applicants may receive up to $2,500 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants - governments, companies, individuals and any other legal entity can participate - must meet selected equipment and usage requirements for eligibility.

> Get the grant application and other details at TCEQ's website

At your service: CAPCOG’s new Prosperous Places Program

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Flexibility: Scenario planning is no longer tied to color-coded land-use maps. CAPCOG’s Prosperous Places Program offers a library of Central Texas building models that can portray various development scenarios.

On the heels of the successful three-year Sustainable Places Project comes CAPCOG’s Prosperous Places Program (P3), a host of new planning and economic development services to help local communities proactively seize the future.

P3 offers a suite of analytics tools built to identify opportunities for development and evaluate on a wide range of important planning and economic development issues.

> Bookmark the Prosperous Places Program Web page

The program is a natural transition from the grant-funded Sustainable Places Project, which built the suite of tools and provided revitalization strategies and policy guidance for Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto and Lockhart. These participating communities applied beta versions of the P3 tools to align housing, jobs and transportation options, complement existing community values and strengthen their economies.

For example, the planning team revised the design standards for several city-owned properties, making them more marketable to developers, adaptable to economic changes and attractive to the project’s team of stakeholders.

A key strength of the P3 toolkit? Its basis in financial aspects of planning. The tools incorporate research about what can be built in a community within a given time horizon, grounding public initiatives with market realities.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

Another strength? Flexibility. Once the data is in hand, the model for a community can be changed quickly, and most indicator outputs become automatic. Multiple scenarios can be created to analyze everything from public sector fiscal impacts (“Can we afford this type of growth?”) to proximity to essential services (“How many people could live within walking distance of the new school?”).

P3 also can deliver realistic, easily revised 3D renderings of potential buildings from the street level.

The project process works on a range of scales. Staff can study development potential of one parcel, examining how policy changes such as zoning and parking requirements could affect the likelihood of development or the efficiency of incentives. P3 also offers tools to look at a whole city district, like the plans created through the demonstration sites of the Sustainable Places Project.

> Get started with Community & Economic Development Director Michael Hennig

Current P3 projects include studying potential transportation mode shifts at the regional level that might come from continued activity-center growth. The City of Austin is using the tools to calculate personal savings and gross-domestic-product growth that could be generated by new transportation investments envisioned in its transit-system exploration, Project Connect.

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