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In the News

Don’t wait! Final call for GeoMap 2015 projects ends May 16

Monday, April 21, 2014

Still haven't submitted your list? Don’t miss out on CAPCOG’s last call for Geospatial Base Mapping (GeoMap) 2015 projects, as May 16, 2014, marks the final deadline.

The cooperative purchasing program, offering low-cost GIS data for local governments, appraisal districts and other organizations, includes products such as high-resolution orthoimagery, oblique imagery, Lidar data, contours, building footprints, vegetation, land cover and more.

These products are critical to many applications such as regional planning, conservation, ecology, growth assessment, 9-1-1 communications, homeland security, emergency management and disaster response. 

Historically, project participants have received several dollars of data for every dollar contributed. By coordinating regional cooperative purchasing of geospatial products with a contractor aready selected through a competitive process, CAPCOG  helps participants reduce costs and avoid having to conduct their own requests for proposals.

CAPCOG also handles the contract management with the vendor and coordinates quality assurance and quality control.

Send your request in today! 

> Read the final-call memo for additional details
> Learn more about CAPCOG's GeoMap program
> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Services Division

Honoring our seniors: May marks Older Americans Month

Friday, April 18, 2014

Did you know that May 2014 marks Older Americans Month? Join Central Texas, the state and the nation in honoring our seniors.

With the theme of "Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow," the national Older Americans Month celebration includes logos, posters, safety-tip sheets and other resources to help communities and organizations tailor their activities. CAPCOG's Executive Committee has approved a resolution recognizing the monthlong observance. The City of Austin and Gov. Perry also have issued proclamations.

The annual observance, launched in 1963, recognizes the contributions, sacrifices and achievements of older Americans from the past and present.

More than 304,841 adults aged 60 and older call the 10-county CAPCOG region home, according to the Executive Committee resolution, offering an opportunity to learn from area elders, help them remain healthy and active and benefit from their participation in every aspect of Central Texas living. 

CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging, for example, offers programs and services to support the health, safety, and well-being of older individuals. 

> Read the Texas proclamation
> See the City of Austin's proclamation
> Discover volunteer opportunities with CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging
> Explore Older Americans Month activity ideas and materials at the national website 

Criminal Justice Advisory Committee prioritizes grants

Friday, April 11, 2014

CAPCOG's Criminal Justice Advisory Committee has reviewed and prioritized more than 40 applications totaling $2,655,000 in fiscal 2015 funding requests to provide criminal justice programs, juvenile services programs and victim services programs throughout the 10-county region.

The annual CJAC application review and prioritization process is facilitated per CAPCOG’s contract with the Governor’s Office, Criminal Justice Division, and follows the state office's funding schedule. 

Once approved by the CAPCOG Executive Committee, which will consider the grant recommendations during its regular meeting on May 14, the prioritized lists will be submitted to the CJD for potential funding.

> See the prioritized funding list, pending final Executive Committee approval

National Telecommunicator Week: April 13-19, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

As the annual National Telecommunicator Week gets underway April 13-19, 2014, CAPCOG salutes public safety communications professionals!

The Capital Area Emergency Communications District (CAECD) Board of Managers has adopted a resolution recognizing the region's more than 600 telecommunicators, who serve as an important bridge between people needing emergency assistance and the response agencies reaady to help. 

In addition, the CAECD will host an event for all 9-1-1 telecommunicators in the region to attend a Texas Stars hockey game April 19 at Cedar Park Center.

Telecommunicators will have the opportunity to present the American flag on the ice during the National Anthem before the game.

> Read Gov. Perry's proclamation for Public Safety Telecommunicators Week 2014
> Get a behind-the-scenes look at 9-1-1 call takers at your service across the region
> Discover CAPCOG's Emergency Communications Division

Signed up with CAPCOG’s Regional Notification System yet? Just 15 minutes could save a life.

Monday, April 07, 2014

More than 10,000 people across Central Texas have signed up with the Capital Area Council of Governments’ newly updated Regional Notification System (RNS) – and friends, neighbors and relatives are encouraged to join in today.

No Internet access? No problem. To register for the Regional Notification System by phone, just call toll free 866-484-3264, and you’ll be prompted for your contact information.

“It takes just 15 minutes to register on the free Regional Notification System, but the benefits last forever,” said CAPCOG Homeland Security Task Force Chair Johnny Campbell of Marble Falls Area Emergency Medical Services. “People want to be in the loop if a large emergency or major incident were happening in their area or a loved one’s area, and the RNS helps make that happen.”

 > Spare 15 to prepare - sign up today for the RNS!

CAPCOG’s system, formerly called the “Emergency Notification System,” previously was limited to telephone calls to people that were included in the 9-1-1 database and to those who had registered their cellular telephones on CAPCOG ENS. The new RNS includes capacity to send messages by email or text and – eventually – Twitter and Facebook. Residents can register their cellphones, landlines, email addresses, pagers and other devices that receive text-based messages.

The improved system also will allow local officials to send a wider range of notifications. The previous system could only be used in situations in which life and property were directly threatened. Instead, the upgrades permit delivery of messages that may not comprise an emergency but nonetheless are important to public health, well-being and convenience. These could include restrictions on water usage, traffic disruptions due to major events and weather-related cancellations of public events.

> Get the RNS frequently asked questions sheet in English or Spanish

How has the CAPCOG Regional Notification System helped Central Texans? Some examples:

  • During the Labor Day wildfire outbreak of 2011, the CAPCOG RNS was used to make telephone calls to more than 9,000 residences and businesses in Bastrop, Travis, Fayette, Caldwell, Hays and Burnet counties to warn of the danger posed by rapidly moving wildfires.
  • The system has been used on numerous occasions to instruct residents to lock their doors and remain inside in the area of an ongoing law enforcement SWAT operation.
  • The system has been used to notify persons in the path of floodwaters to take immediate action to protect lives and property.

So, don't delay. Sign up today, and spread the word!

Don’t delay – sign up at http://wireless.capcog.org today. And to learn more about the Regional Notification System, download the frequently asked questions sheet in English or Spanish at www.capcog.org/divisions/homeland-security/rns.
About CAPCOG: The Capital Area Council of Governments, governed by elected officials from the 10-county region it serves, has worked for more than 40 years as an advocate, planner and coordinator on important regional issues. Programs and services related to public safety and emergency response, environmental planning, economic and community development and the elderly are delivered at a regional level to leverage funding, maximize cooperation and eliminate duplication. CAPCOG serves Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Learn more at www.capcog.org

Fayette County: 20 years of recycling with pride

Friday, March 28, 2014


Metal cans at the Fayette County Recycle Center, baled and ready for
market, an important part of
material recovery.

In rural Texas, solid waste services aren’t mandated by the state legislature. They also can be expensive and might not include recycling opportunities. Fayette County, however, shows how it can be done.

“I never met a recycler I did not like,” says Fayette County Commissioner Tom Muras, who administers the Fayette County Recycling Program.

Initiated by Fayette County Judge Ed Janecka in 1993 with solid waste grant funding provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality through the Capital Area Council of Governments, the program has received 14 solid waste grants totaling more than $330,000 to address the unique challenges of rural recycling.

Effective network

Adding its own matching funds, the county over 20 years has established an effective and convenient network of public collection stations and mobile drop-off opportunities.

Each Saturday, Fayette County Commissioner Gary Weishuhn facilitates mobile drop-off locations throughout the county, where residents can drop off recyclables, household garbage, motor and transmission oil and large goods such as refrigerators.

The county, which has no local landfill and few rural public solid waste service providers, currently operates three permanent facilities in La Grange, Schulenburg and Flatonia and temporary drop-off sites in Fayetteville, Round Top, Ledbetter, Carmine and Ellinger.

The county also must pay to transport and dispose of household garbage and some other items and thus established a “Buy the Bag” trash bag program, offering color-coded bags priced by capacity and offered at nominal price in county hardware stores and at the county public collection stations.

Service costs 

Each of the eight public collection stations takes all recyclables, and residents can drop off household hazardous waste and other materials — fridges, freezers, air conditioners, washing machines, water heaters and oil filters, for example — at the La Grange location. Applicable fees range from 50 cents to $25, depending on the type of item collected.

With the rising costs of green waste management and the increasing amount of green waste being brought to the La Grange location from fire mitigation management and planning initiatives, the county has initiated a fee schedule for limbs and brush, based on trailer size or pickup.

To help further close the recycling loop, the program offers some materials while supplies last — crushed polished glass is free to county residents, for example, and compost is just $5 a bucket load or $10 per pickup load. In addition, the county now accepts electronics for reuse at the Schulenburg and La Grange public collection stations.

Outcomes

In the last twelve months, Fayette County has recycled 308 tons of newsprint; 42 tons of scrap metal; 67 tons of plastics; 277 tons of cardboard and 4,089 gallons of used oil, earning more than $43,000. Still, it’s looking to grow the program, including boosting the percentage of participating residents, businesses and schools.

To Commissioner Muras, the program’s like a successful sports franchise: “We try to keep building a Super Bowl-caliber team, and with recycling we’re almost there. All we need are some citizen-type special team players to fill out our roster.”

> Discover recycling in Fayette County
> Get a copy of the regional Environmental Law Enforcement Guide
> Register by April 10 for the RETF's April 17 Basic Environmental Law Class 

New interoperable radio system now serving Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties

Monday, March 24, 2014

Emergency communications in CAPCOG’s westernmost counties — Blanco, Burnet and Llano — have entered a new era.

In early February, the first phase of the CAPCOG Western Counties Radio Interoperable Communications System began serving law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel in Burnet County and the cities of Burnet and Bertram.

> Discover CAPCOG's Homeland Security Division

Additional agencies are being switched over to the new system weekly as part of a phased approach to implementing the system. This approach ensures all equipment is programmed correctly and all users are trained on the new system when they begin using it.

To ensure that critical public safety communications are not interrupted during the transition, the existing radio system remains operational.

The new system, funded from local funds and CAPCOG-managed federal homeland security grant funds from nine grant years, gives emergency responders of all disciplines in the 10-county region the ability to communicate with each other. In addition, the system is linked to the Greater Austin-Travis County Regional Radio System (GATRRS) that covers Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell and Lee counties. GATRRS is linked to the public safety radio systems serving Hays and Fayette counties.

> Sign up today on the Regional Notification System

In a February briefing to the CAPCOG Homeland Security Task Force, Burnet County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Barho referred to the development of this project as “an excellent example of regionalism and cooperative partnership between jurisdictions with different governing bodies.” He emphasized the importance of “partnerships and trust” among the participating jurisdictions in the success of this long and complex project.

Ongoing management of the system is overseen by an Executive Committee comprising the county judges of the three participating counties — Bill Guthrie, Blanco County; Donna Klaeger, Burnet County; and Wayne Brascom, Llano County — and Marble Falls Mayor George Russell. Each also serves on CAPCOG’s Executive Committee.

Day-to-day operations of the system are supervised by an Operations Committee that includes personnel from each of the primary jurisdictions. Ongoing costs of maintaining the system are borne by participating jurisdictions in accordance with terms of an interlocal cooperation agreement. Grant funding for the project was provided by the federal Homeland Security Grant Program per recommendations from the task force.

> Learn about CAPCOG's Homeland Security Task Force 

Since the task force’s 2003 inception, its primary focus has been the development of interoperable radio communications — the ability of public safety personnel to talk with each other. The lack of interoperable communications was cited in the report of the federal commission that reviewed the response to the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, as a major factor contributing to the deaths of personnel who responded to assist.

Online resource: Free video series for in-home dementia caregivers

Friday, March 21, 2014

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health is offering a free video series for family caregivers assisting loved ones with dementia.

The 20-part online series, which follows a family navigating dementia-related challenges such as in-home care, home safety, legal issues, problem behaviors and more, also includes an introductory trailer. 

> Watch the series, and explore other VA caregiver resources
> Learn about CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's caregiver support

Regional training puts spotlight on illegal dumping

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From junk cars to chemical-discharge violations, learn about the growing problem of illegal dumping and other environmental crimes with Basic Environmental Law, a training course scheduled 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17, 2014, at the Dunbar Recreation Center, 801 W. Martin Luther King Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666.

> Register today for the regional training

Certified instructors from various agencies including the City of Austin and the Travis County Attorney's Office will address topics such as solid waste, nuisance violations, civil versus criminal prosecution, unauthorized discharges and more. 

> Learn more about the Regional Environmental Task Force

Whether a code compliance officer, business owner or concerned resident, sign up by April 10 for this session presented by the Capital Area Regional Environmental Task Force. The $30 registration includes lunch, materials and selected continuing-education credits.

> Discover CAPCOG Solid Waste Planning

CAMPO series invites input on transportation planning

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a CAPCOG partner, has set a series of opportunities in March and April for public input on long-range transportation plans and the Transportation Improvement Program.  

Residents and other stakeholders can weigh in on potential changes to the 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Plan; development of the 2015-2018 TIP; amendments proposed to the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan; and priorities for the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which eventually will replace the current 2035 version.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

The open houses, each running from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and featuring the same information, are scheduled across the region:

  • Tuesday, March 25, Burnet County Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St., Burnet, TX 78611
  • Thursday, March 27, Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., Lockhart, TX 78644
  • Monday, March 31, One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325, Austin, TX 78704
  • Tuesday, April 1, Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX 78602
  • Wednesday, April 2, San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos, TX 78666
  • Thursday, April 3, Williamson County Central Maintenance Facility, 3151 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown, TX 78626

Input opportunities also will include a public hearing during CAMPO's Transportation Policy Board meeting, 6 p.m. Monday, March 17, at LBJ Auditorium, 2300 Red River St., Austin, TX 78712. Attendees wishing to speak must sign up at arrival, before the hearing.

> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Explore progress on the developing 2040 Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

CAPCOG calls for diesel-reduction projects

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is calling for truck-replacement projects eligible for funding under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant.

The call for projects runs March 1 through April 18, 2014, for funding up to 25 percent of replacement costs for as many as 18 city or county trucks and three utility trucks. 

Diesel pollution, including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and air toxics, can affect health and cause financial impacts. With millions of diesel engines in operation nationwide, reducing the harmful emissions they produce can make a big difference in improving the region’s air quality, protecting human health and saving money.

Among the funding requirements, replacement trucks must be model years 2011 or newer. The retired vehicles must be model years 1993-2003; be operated primarily in Bastrop, Bexar, Caldwell, Hays, Travis or Williamson counties; and not have been slated for replacement before Sept. 30, 2015.

Acquisition of the new truck and destruction of the engine and chassis of the old truck must occur before Sept. 30, 2014.

> Visit the "Doing Business with CAPCOG" page for more details
> Learn about CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

CAPCOG expands access to Medicare benefits counseling in Marble Falls, Taylor and Llano

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Area Agency on Aging, a division of the Capital Area Council of Governments, has expanded access to Medicare benefits counseling in three Central Texas communities. 

A state-certified benefits counselor will now be available with monthly office hours at the following new locations through September 2014:

  • First Wednesday of the month - 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. 
    Texas Housing Foundation, 1016 Broadway, Marble Falls, TX 78654
  • Second Thursday of the month - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Switzer Senior Center, 410 W. Seventh St., Taylor, TX 76574
  • Third Wednesday of the month, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Park Ridge Apartments, 100 Legend Hills Blvd., Llano, TX 78643

CAPCOG's Benefits Counseling Program offers free, unbiased information about health insurance to Medicare beneficiaries, their caregivers or anyone 60 or older. In addition to the monthly hours in community locations, benefits counselors are available to schedule other individual appointments by calling 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062.

Funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, AAACAP has served as a trusted source of information on services and supports for older individuals and their caregivers for more than 30 years.

> Get the Area Agency on Aging flier
> Explore the Benefits Counseling Program

Annual Hill Country Alliance photo contest launches March 1

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Want to share the stories of the Texas Hill Country through photos of flora, fauna, habitat and more? Get your cameras out for a chance at a colorful calendar feature and cash prizes.

Amateur and professional entrants in the Hill Country Alliance's eighth annual photo contest, aimed to demonstrate the region's beauty, uniqueness and stewardship, are invited to capture images - native plants, riparian habitats, landscapes and vistas, for example - that reflect conservation efforts or challenges. 

With cash prizes and a chance to appear in HCA's 2015 calendar, don't miss out! Contest ends May 31, 2014.

> Get contest details at HCA's website

Medicare vs. Health Insurance Marketplace

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its Q&A on the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace, explaining what it means for consumers with Medicare.

Learn whether the Marketplace affects your Medicare choices, whether Medicare coverage meets Affordable Care Act requirements and more with the four-page information sheet available at the CMS website. The Q&A also offers phone numbers and websites for help with Medicare enrollment and costs.

> Get the Q&A at the federal website
> Discover CAPCOG's Area Agency on Aging services

Collaboration with BVCOG yields winning cadet class

Friday, February 21, 2014


Police cadets stand to perform the pledge of allegiance during their January 2014 graduation ceremony, a culmination of the successful CAPCOG- Brazos Valley Council of Governments collaboration. 

CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy has conducted basic peace officer courses (BPOC) for 19 years with a mission to produce the best-prepared peace officers for the capital area’s cities and counties.

The program’s success includes a feat few academies can claim: consistently achieving a 100 percent pass rate among cadets when they take the state’s licensing exam for the first time.

> Discover CAPCOG's Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Two years ago, CAPCOG began getting requests to conduct satellite academies for neighboring regions; other COGs that didn’t operate academies were interested in CAPCOG conducting a BPOC and perhaps eventually helping them ramp up their own efforts.

The academy has just finished its first satellite BPOC in another region, with 16 cadets graduating from a course conducted in partnership with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments in Bryan, Texas.

Because RLEA staff take an intensely hands-on approach that ensures cadets get the best training possible — with a heavy focus on the academic portion — overseeing the eight-month evening course posed a challenge.

> Apply for the next Basic Peace Officer Certification Course

A lack of daily contact with the course’s 23 adjunct instructors teaching more than 30 topics made RLEA Director Mike Jennings a bit nervous, but his leadership helped yield a 100 percent pass rate on the cadets’ first crack at the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement licensing test.

CAPCOG will again carefully consider future collaborations — producing a lengthy course outside the region can add a significant work-load to an already robust schedule — but partnerships between councils of governments remain a hallmark of helping communities across the state succeed.

CAPCOG accepting senior-services proposals ‘til April 21

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals by 3 p.m. Monday, April 21, to provide selected services and supports from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2016, to consumers ages 60 and older.

Proposals must be received at CAPCOG offices, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, Austin, TX 78744, by the closing deadline

> Get the details, and download RFP materials today

Regional Environmental Task Force releases new enforcement guide

Monday, February 10, 2014

What's a public nuisance? What parts of Texas state law address water pollution, illegal dumping or outdoor burning? Get the scoop on this and more in the newly published 2013-2104 Environmental Law Enforcement Guide. 

The easy-to-read, 90-page booklet, published by the Regional Environmental Task Force in partnership with the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, offers helpful facts and tips for law enforcement officers, sanitarians, code enforcement professionals and others interested in solid-waste issues. 

Get the booklet as a downloadable PDF file, or order the hard copy edition online.

> Discover the Regional Environmental Task Force
> Get the PDF version of the enforcement guide  
> Order the hard copy through Pocket Press

Ozone efforts garner EPA Clean Air Excellence Award

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC), a regional collaboration of city and county governments in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties in partnership with the CAPCOG, has won a national award for its ozone-reduction efforts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award honors innovate work that helps decrease emissions from targeted pollutants, serves as a model for others and proves sustainable.

CAC's successful implementation of its Regional 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan, a voluntary pollution-curbing initiative that has helped the Austin-Round Rock metroplitan area stay in compliance with federal air quality standards, won in the award competition's Community Action category that recognizes partnership-based efforts.

The EPA will host an awards ceremony honoring the various winners on April 2 in Arlington, Va. 

> Learn more about the Clean Air Coalition
> Explore the Ozone Flex Plan's successor, Ozone Advance 
> Get more details on the EPA 2014 Clean Air Excellence Award

CAPCOG’s 2013 State of the Region presentation now available

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

CAPCOG’s annual State of the Region presentation showed how Central Texas is scoring continued momentum out of the recession, staying ahead of the pack on key economic factors and experiencing renewed interest in rural communities’ traditional downtowns.

Explore the slide show online, and contact CAPCOG Community & Economic Development Director Michael Hennig for additional details on the featured trends and stats. 

> Contact Michael Hennig
> Download the 2013 State of the Region slides
> Discover CAPCOG's Community & Economic Development Division

CAPCOG seeks bank depository; proposals due March 14

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Capital Area Council of Governments is requesting proposals from eligible institutions by March 14, 2014, to be designated as depository for the agency and the Capital Area Emergency Communications District. 

> Get the details, and download RFP materials today

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