In the News
Data builds bridge to flood resiliency
Monday, October 24, 2016
Damage assessment data from the 2015 Memorial Day Flood was presented to city of San Marcos staff in September as part of CAPCOG’s project to analyze disaster impacts and plan for regional resiliency. CAPCOG staff plans to present information to the region’s governments affected by the disaster throughout the end of calendar year. The project, funded by the Economic Development Administration, focuses on the use of damage assessment data to inform local governments’ efforts to mitigate the impacts of future flooding and disaster events.
The data came from a variety of sources including damage estimates from the Small Business Administration, FEMA, other state and federal agencies, and HAZUS — software that models flood events and estimates damages. Having the multiple source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data can assist governments and residents in determining what homes and businesses may exist in future flood plains, what properties and their structures may suffer from significant repetitive losses, and when and where infrastructure improvements may be most economical for a resident, business owner or city.
Moving forward, CAPCOG will make the information available to planners as it works collaboratively with its member governments to research and create better flood resiliency plans.
Air quality outreach goes digital
Friday, October 21, 2016
CAPCOG launched a new online air quality campaign in September to help protect Central Texas residents from air pollution. While the region is in compliance with federal air quality standards, it can still have several days a year when air quality is still considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The campaign includes a new “Air Central Texas” website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and electronic advertising designed to encourage residents to “Be Air Aware,” including tips on reducing emissions and exposure.
More than 1,000 residents visited the website in the last month, and CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is routinely posting new air quality information on the social media accounts. CAPCOG expects to launch a Spanish-language version of the website in the next few weeks.
Bordie leads AAACAP with passion
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Taking the helm of the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a CAPCOG division, is completing a lifelong goal and dream for Patty Bordie. Her 30 year career of advocating for older adults on a local, regional and state level has been driven by her love for the age group, and now as the AAACAP director, she will continue her work at a higher capacity.
“I did my college internship at an (Area Agency on Aging), and right away I said that is where I want to be,” Bordie said. “AAACAP’s work really is a grassroots regional approach to meeting the needs of the community, and when I got into the field, there wasn’t a lot of people speaking up for older adults. I wanted to be someone who was.”
During her career, Bordie has provided advocacy, education and resources for older adults. From 1999 to 2008, she worked at AAACAP, and from 2008 to 2015, she worked for Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Bordie returned to CAPCOG in 2015 as AAACAP’s program manager for Care Coordination and Caregiver Support before her promotion in September.
Bordie wants to continue AAACAP’s great work but also looks forward to expanding the agency’s services by developing new programs and strengthening community partnerships to meet the needs of the growing population.
TCEQ grant available, CAPCOG funds application help
Monday, October 17, 2016
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications for the Emission Reduction Incentive Grant (ERIG) program, which funds the upgrade or replacement of trucks and non-road equipment in order to accelerate the emission reduction benefits from newer, cleaner engines. CAPCOG will assist Clean Air Coalition (CAC) members in applying to the grant program.
The deadline to submit applications is 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
This program is the largest source of NOX reductions within our region – even more than the vehicle inspection and maintenance programs in Travis and Williamson counties. It is also one of the most cost-effective air pollution control strategies available.
CAPCOG has contracted with Hazel Barbour, who is an expert in the program, to assist CAC members with applying for these grants. If would like to avail yourself of this assistance, contact her directly at 512-236-8498 or by email.
CAPCOG budgeted the contract to make about four hours of this assistance available to each CAC member for this grant opportunity. If your organization needs additional assistance, contact CAPCOG Regional Services Director, Andrew Hoekzema.
Austin-Round Rock area organizations have received significant funding from this program during the last two grant rounds. It is CAPCOG’s goal to help ensure the region gets as much funding assistance for these projects as possible.
Applications submitted from previous ERIG grant rounds will not be accepted.
Eligible CAPCOG counties include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.
Grant application workshops and dealer trainings have been scheduled to provide an overview of the ERIG application process.
The ERIG program has several new changes this year. Please plan to attend a workshop to learn more about new program requirements and new grant application forms.
All workshops are free and no registration is required.
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ, Building F, Conference Room 2210
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753
2-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
Longview Public Library, Moeschile Meeting Room
222 W. Cotton St.
Longview, TX 75601
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ Region 6, El Paso, Video-Teleconference Room
401 E. Franklin Ave, Ste. 560
El Paso, TX 79901-1212
2-5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016
TCEQ Region 14, Conference Room 1003
Carlos Truan Natural Resources Center
6300 Ocean Dr., #5839
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
Dealer workshop: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Applicant: 1:30- 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Alamo Area Council of Governments, Al Notzon Board Room
San Antonio, TX 78217
Dealer: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Applicant: 1:30-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
En Espanol: 5:30 -7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Tracy Gee Community Center, Room AR-1
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042
1:30-4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016
Southeast Regional Planning Commission, Transportation Conference Room
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX 77703
8:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Regional Forum Room
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011
State of the Region: use momentum to tackle challenges!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The 2016 State of the Region presentation compared popular conceptions against realities to convey the region’s strengths and discuss challenging issues in the areas of population growth, job growth, transportation, land use, development and more.
“We have a lot of positive momentum in our region,” said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck presenting the 2016 State of the Region. “The challenge for us is to identify how to best use that momentum to tackle some of the challenges that still remain.”
The region’s continual growth is a healthy economic statistic as it “zoomed past 2 million,” and shows no signs of slowing with about 50,000 people coming to the area per year, Schreck said. According to popular narrative, the majority of the new residents are young, millennial-hipsters, but more accurately those new residents could be “hipster-grandmothers”, he said. The largest growing demographic by percentage is people 60 to 74, whose population doubled in the last 10 years.
There are several positive trends for job and employment growth, such as advanced industries employment growing by about 40,000 jobs since 2005; however, of the 1.05 million jobs in the Capital Area, 58 percent are in occupations where people make less than $20 per hour on average. “In our region we don’t have an unemployment problem. Our problem is that many folks can work a fulltime job and still be incredibly financially stretched,” Schreck said.
Travis County is still the region’s employment epicenter, which caused about 315,000 workers to commute into the county from elsewhere as of 2014. The increasing traffic continues to congest the already stressed transportation infrastructure which is costly to expand. Developing more employment centers throughout the region, and encouraging telecommuting can help traffic and improve air quality.
The region’s environmental quality, affordability and equity, and disaster resiliency are other areas Schreck addressed in the presentation.
Training, partnership, communication are lessons from mass shootings
Friday, October 07, 2016
Public officials from Orlando, Aurora, Chattanooga, Austin and Dallas discussed the important roles training, establishing partnerships and communicating play when responding to mass shooter incidents during CAPCOG’s “Crisis Challenge, the Leadership Role,” a critical incident workshop held in September.
Training on a regional, organizational and an individual scale is a great investment for communities when it comes to responding to disasters, according to the speakers discussing how their police, emergency medical and other personnel responded to mass shooting incidents. When it comes to running mass training exercises, there may never be an incident exactly the same as a planned exercise, but routinely running them can identify response gaps, better establish command roles and create an instinct style of response. “My job is to make sure the first time we do something is not the first time we do something,” said Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga police chief. He and his officers responded to the July 2015 shooting that killed four Marines and one Navy sailor. The incident spanned about 7 miles.
Orlando routinely plans for hurricanes, said Byron Brooks, city of Orlando chief administrative officer, during the workshop. The Pulse Nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people in June 2016, was a different type of event, but city-run emergency exercises had built an organizational wide culture where non-emergency departments knew they would have to respond to meet the community’s needs. For example, Orlando’s parks department responded quickly to support the community’s response by turning a senior center into a family reunification center.
Training personnel regularly leads to a better understanding of when to act, when to follow protocol and develops trust. “Train people to make decisions,” said James Puscian, Aurora assistant police chief. During the July 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, which killed twelve and injured 70 others, several police officers realized there weren’t enough ambulances to transport the wounded who needed immediate care, so they used squad cars to take victims to nearby hospitals. Those officers’ actions saved lives, Puscian said. “Training makes it muscle memory,” said Tony Reavley, Director of Hamilton County Emergency Services in Tennessee who responded to the Chattanooga shooting. “It pays off.”
The partnerships developed during regional training and planning exercises made the Hamilton County departments’ role clear when responding to the Chattanooga shooting. “We were there to help them, and we wanted to make sure that they had the stuff they needed,” Reavley said. Hamilton County established the Emergency Operations Center, investigated other possible related incidents, helped manage the media, and assisted in organizing other agencies response to the incident, which included state police, the Navy, the Marines, the FBI and many other organizations. They also planned and coordinated security at several large related and un-related events happening in Chattanooga including two funerals, a vice-presidential visit, and a sold out U.S. Women’s soccer game. Those actions let the Chattanooga Police Department continue its investigation and management of the incident scenes. “If you don’t have a relationship with your peer agencies, it is going to affect your plan,” Fletcher said.
Sharing accurate and timely information with the public and the media is another important tool to aid in a community’s physical and emotional recovery from a mass shooting, said Sana Syed, city of Dallas public information officer; and April Michael, city of Orlando Communications Manager. Communicating what has happened, how and where people can grieve, and the incident’s effects on the community reminds residents that communities are resilient and stronger than any tragedy.
“At the end of the day, we are working together to protect the community,” said Frank Dixon, Austin Police Department Assistant Chief. That protection is born from constant learning, training, and sharing of information from people who have experienced disasters. Those who attended the “The Crisis Challenge” took a great step in preparing for a disaster. “The more you sweat here, the more you sweat during exercises, the less blood you have on your hands,” said John Jones, Assistant Director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as one of the openers of the conference.
Text to 9-1-1 enters testing: get familiar with texting 9-1-1
Friday, September 23, 2016
Text to 9-1-1 is one step closer to being implemented in the Capital Area as testing for the service’s delivery and receiving networks begins in October. After testing is completed and the system is switched on, residents will be able to send a text message for emergency assistance if they are unable to speak on the phone. CAPCOG anticipates the service will be available by January 2017.
It is recommended that residents only text 9-1-1 when making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. Residents should follow the guidance of the national slogan for Text to 9-1-1, and “Call if you can, text if you can’t” as the service has more limitations. For instance, cell phone carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint only offer texting services as a “best effort service” meaning they do not guarantee delivery of text messages. 9-1-1 call centers can’t receive text messages sent via a group message or that have an emoji, video, or picture. There also isn’t translation services for text messages, so text messages must be sent in English.
Below are some frequently asked questions to help residents be more aware of using Text to 9-1-1 when it is available in the 10-county region.
What is Text to 9-1-1?
Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send text messages from a U.S. phone number to local 9-1-1 call centers. Only use Text to 9-1-1 if making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. This service is especially beneficial to those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Some other examples of when Text to 9-1-1 would be beneficial:
- The caller cannot speak due to a threat, illness or medical condition.
- The caller has poor reception and can only send out a text message.
- Phone lines and cellphone towers are overwhelmed and only texts can get through.
Is Text to 9-1-1 available to me?
Text to 9-1-1 is planned for Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Remember to “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.”
Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be made available in three separate phases:
- Hays, Williamson and Travis counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
- Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell and Fayette counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
- Burnet, Blanco and Llano counties are projected to start testing the system in November 2016.
Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be fully operational in the 10-county region by January 2017. An online version of this FAQ will be updated as timelines change and the systems come online. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have agreed to offer Text to 9-1-1 in the region.
What are Text to 9-1-1 limits?
Text messaging is a “best effort service” provided by cellphone service providers; meaning cellphone service providers do not guarantee a message will be or ever was delivered. Since the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t required them to guarantee the service, there is a chance that a 9-1-1 call center will not receive a text from a person having an emergency.
Text messages also can take longer to receive, can be delivered out of order or may not be received. Additionally, Text to 9-1-1 does not work if the sender texts using a group message, emojis, sends pictures or videos. Apps that text other app users (such as WhatsApp) or texting via social media (such as Facebook Messenger) do not support Text to 9-1-1.
What languages can be used?
Text to 9-1-1 is only available in English. However, voice calls to 9-1-1 can be processed in multiple languages because all CAPCOG 9-1-1 call centers provide emergency interpretive services.
How do I know a 9-1-1 call center received my text?
Since texting is a “best effort service” for cellphone service providers, the only way to know a text reached a 9-1-1 call center is when the center texts back. If you believe a text was not received, call 9-1-1.
Why is it better to call 9-1-1?
Voice calls to 9-1-1 are the most efficient way to reach emergency help. That’s why the slogan for the service is “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.” Voice calls allow the 9-1-1 operator to quickly obtain information. Anyone can make a voice call to 9-1-1 using any wireless phone, regardless of the contract or plan.
Disadvantages of texting 9-1-1 include:
- Texting takes more time and is limited to the text messages.
- Texting is a best effort service. In some instances cellphone service providers may not relay the message from sender to the 9-1-1 center.
- A person cannot text to 9-1-1 without a service contract that includes texting.
- Texting to 9-1-1 does not automatically provide the location of the phone texting.
How do I Text to 9-1-1?
- Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.
- The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed.
- Push the send button.
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
- Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.
- Keep text messages brief and concise.
- Once you have initiated a Text to 9-1-1 conversation, do not turn off your phone until the dispatcher tells you it is ok to do so.
Upgrade enhances virtual EOC
Thursday, September 22, 2016
WebEOC is a virtual, real-time incident management software that allows for data flow and multijurisdictional communications. It helps jurisdictions organize and assign tasks to team members during disasters and alerts other jurisdictions of neighboring and regional incidents. CAPCOG’s new upgrades will ensure increased accessibility, better user interface, and a more resilient cloud-based infrastructure that will enhance the tool’s capabilities and strengthen local emergency management coordinators (EMCs) organizational control of disaster incidents as they occur and after they happen. It also will allow their municipalities and counties to record valuable information that can assist in submitting for disaster recovery funding.
It also can help allocate local, state, and federal resources. The tool documents every action taken through the system providing an exact record of response and recovery, which speeds up applying for state and federal disaster recovery aid.
Because of the new user interface, the system allows its users to see all their operational boards at a glance and prompts them with tasks and missions assigned to them. The upgrade includes sub-administrator accounts allowing local jurisdictions to setup user groups and grant response teams to get faster access to the tool during incidents. A move to the cloud hosting also means the system can remain online and in use by EMCs regardless if an incident occurs in the Austin area.
CAPCOG is rolling out the upgraded version across the region and will continue to work with EMCs to support and enhance the system. WebEOC training occurs monthly.
Availability of diabetes self-management course expands
Monday, September 19, 2016
A new partnership will aid the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) in providing the Stanford Diabetes Self-Management Program to more underserved populations. The new funding opportunity increases AAACAP’s, a division of CAPCOG, capacity to conduct these evidence-based classes throughout the region. To expand the program, AAACAP is seeking communities to host the peer-group program.
Nearly one-third of people who are 65 or older have diabetes, which is a common cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and stroke. To help prevent such medical issues from occurring to older Americans, TMF Health Quality Institute partnered with CAPCOG to provide the self-management program to Medicare beneficiaries who are 60 or older and are considered a special target population for diabetes education: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and rural residents.
This self-management program is proven to help diabetes patients better manage the disease by teaching techniques and exercises to manage pain, maintain and improve strength, eat heathier, work with health care providers and identify appropriate medication use. The program has improved the quality of life for many participants and reduced emergency room and hospital visits; a benefit to the individual and the health care system. According to TMF, people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on health care than people without the disease.
Workshops are held one day a week for 2-2 ½ hours during a six week period.
Nominations open for Executive Committee, Regionalism award
Monday, September 12, 2016
County and city elected officials interested in serving on the 2017 CAPCOG Executive Committee should submit their nominations before Sept. 30 by using the forms they will receive in the mail after Sept. 9. The 29-member committee serves as CAPCOG’s governing body providing direction to staff on program implementation, budgets, contracts and general policies and procedures. It also serves as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District’s board of managers.
Twenty-five Executive Committee positions are for county and city officials, the remaining four seats are for state legislators representing any portion of CAPCOG’s 10-county region. City and county officials must serve as their jurisdictions’ General Assembly representative to qualify for the Executive Committee. Their jurisdiction must also have paid their dues by Dec. 1 before being elected at the December General Assembly meeting.
Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award
CAPCOG also is soliciting nominations for this year’s Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award. Named for CAPCOG's first chairman in 1970 and the former Bastrop County Judge, the award recognizes a person who consistently advocates for regionalism and takes a multijurisdictional approach when working with local governments, nonprofits and other organizations.
CAPCOG’s Basic Peace Officer Course graduates 14
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Led by instructors from Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, 14 cadets trained nights and weekends to earn their peace officer certification and graduate from a seven-month, CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) course on Aug. 19. Several graduating officers were hired by the Travis County Constable’s Precinct 2 office; Williamson County and Llano County sheriff’s offices; and Lago Vista, Austin Community College, and Bertram police departments.
Two RLEA Basic Peace Officers Courses are underway. A full-time, day course at CAPCOG started Aug. 8, and a part-time, evening course will officially begin in Pflugerville Sept. 6. The enrolled cadets will graduate on Jan. 20 and April 14, 2017 respectively.
CAPCOG to present Annual State of the Region
Thursday, September 01, 2016
Perception versus reality will be this year’s theme for the State of the Region report to be presented by Chris Schreck, Planning & Economic Development Director, at the General Assembly meeting September 14, 2016. What we think is happening and what gets reported is not always the whole picture when it comes to issues related to traffic, population growth, and the economy. CAPCOG, a regional economic development district by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, focuses on planning and policy issues that impact the region’s economic competitiveness and provide data and GIS mapping support to its member governments and stakeholder organizations.
Discover how this woman relates to Capital Area trends at the General Assembly meeting.
GIS mapping service heightens cities, counties’ capabilities
Monday, August 15, 2016
CAPCOG’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program, part of the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division, wants to support cities and counties’ planning capabilities by offering mapping services throughout the region.
“Every community needs to know where their assets and resources are to make better informed and smarter planning decisions,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager. “Maps containing basic layers can set a foundation that allows planners and community leaders to best serve the community and plan effectively.”
CAPCOG’s mapping services can provide standard maps with information important to the daily management of a community’s services and development which include zoning, parcels, floodplains, utilities, and other basic layers of information. Add-on data if beneficial can include economic and demographic data, aerial imagery, ETJs, and current and future land-use zones as well as existing and planned infrastructure networks. GIS mapping allows multiple types of information to be viewed interactively to allow analyses of residential and commercial growth, response time for emergency calls, and support general planning functions. CAPCOG can assist cities and counties by creating a starting point or expanding their current map sets that can translate into printed, digital or interactive maps. The CAPCOG GIS program also can assist communities with map presentations for leadership, residents and developers to market the community or track development opportunities.
CAPCOG General Assembly set for Sept. 14
Friday, August 12, 2016
The September General Assembly meeting will mark the start of a new fiscal year as CAPCOG member representatives consider the proposed $32.7 million budget. The other primary duty of the membership is to select the new nominating committee that will recommend the 2017 Executive Committee for elections at the December General Assembly. The meeting and luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m., Sept. 14, at the Omni Hotel Southpark, 4140 Governors Row in Austin. CAPCOG Member Services Coordinator Mason Canales will begin receiving nominations for the Executive Committee in mid-September; eligible candidates are elected city and county officials who serve on the General Assembly.
Following the September meeting, the Texas Comptroller’s Office and the Texas Association of School Boards will lead a two-hour, Procurement and Cooperative Purchasing Workshop for local elected officials. The workshop will cover procurement best practices and explain how joining cooperative purchasing groups can benefit cities, counties, school districts and other local jurisdictions. Representatives from purchasing cooperatives such as BuyBoards, Purchasing Solution Alliance, and TxSmartBuy will discuss the advantages of joining their cooperatives and the types of purchasing in which they specialize.
General Assembly Representatives will receive a complimentary lunch during the meeting and representatives of CAPCOG members can attend the workshop for free.
Funds available for alternative fuel, natural gas fueling stations
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) made available about $17.7 million in grants to continue the development of a network of natural gas and other alternative fuel fueling stations to serve as a foundation for a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel vehicles in the state.
About $9.8 million is available for projects under the Clean Transportation Triangle (CTT) and $7.9 million is being offered under the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP). The grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), and are offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own and operate alternative fuel or natural gas fueling stations in eligible Texas counties, which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Travis and Williamson counties for the CTT program.
The grants offset a portion of the cost for 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.
TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m., Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
Three application workshops are scheduled to review the grants’ requirements and application process.
- AUSTIN: 1:30 p.m., Sept. 13, 2016
TCEQ's Austin Office Building F, 2nd Floor, Room 2210
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753
- HOUSTON: 1:30 p.m., Sept. 14, 2016
Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons, Suite 120
Houston, TX 77027
- ARLINGTON: 1:30 p.m., Sept. 15, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011
Leaders share response experiences to mass shootings
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Community leaders from Dallas; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Aurora, Colo. will share their firsthand experience in responding to and recovering from mass shooting incidents as part of a CAPCOG Homeland Security Division conference. “The Crisis Challenge: the Leadership Role in Terrorism and Mass Shooting Incidents” conference will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16 at the Omni Hotel Southpark, 4140 Governors Row in Austin.
“By bringing together leaders who have handled these tragic events, CAPCOG is providing a learning experience that can help our community leaders be more successful in building a public safety team and environment that is successful at preventing, planning for, and responding to similar incidents,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security Division director. “Hopefully, these types of incidents never happen in the Capital Area, but we all should be prepared if they do.”
Conference attendees will hear from practitioners including George K. “Skip” Noe, the Aurora Colo. city manager who responded to the July 2012, theater shooting that killed 12 and injured 70 residents. Chattanooga Police Chief, Fred Fletcher, and Hamilton County, Tenn. Emergency Services and Homeland Security Director, Earl “Tony” Reavley, will discuss the response to the July 2015 shooting that crossed Chattanooga and left five Marines dead. Dr. Jeremi Suri, a Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, will serve as a key note speaker addressing topics such as international security and protest and dissident movements. Also speaking at the conference will be John Jones, Texas Department of Public Safety’s assistant director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism.
Seating is limited and priority will be given to mayors, county judges, and city managers representing CAPCOG’s 10-county region.
Striking a Balance gives caregivers learning, sharing experience
Friday, August 05, 2016
One of the Austin area’s largest conferences for family and nonprofessional caregivers will return for its 15th year to provide Central Texas residents with valuable information about support resources that assist caregivers in caring for their loved ones and themselves. “Striking a Balance” will take place Aug. 20 at the Doubletree by Hilton, 6505 North Interstate Highway 35 in Austin. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with the keynote speaker beginning at 9:30 a.m. Other conference activities will continue until 2 p.m.
AGE of Central Texas and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, host “Striking a Balance” so attendees can learn about local, state and national resources to address the practical, emotional, legal, and financial supports family caregivers need. “Caregiving is a journey unique to each individual,” said Patricia Bordie, a CAPCOG AAACAP program manager. “It is a journey that doesn’t have clear ups and downs or beginnings, middles and ends.” “Striking a Balance” is a conference where family caregivers can come to get answers about all stages and aspects of caregiving but more importantly know they aren’t alone.
About 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care for adults who are 50 or older. Among those Americans is Cara Magrane, a longtime advocate for caregivers, who is delivering this year’s keynote address, “A Caregiver’s Journey: from Advocacy to Caregiving and Back.” Magrane is the chief operating officer for Respite Care of San Antonio and serves on many boards that advocate for caregiving, especially caregiving for children. But her caregiving experience became personal after her husband suffered a stroke. Magrane’s speech will detail her caregiving experience and highlight the importance of asking for help, using respite care, and sharing your story to raise public awareness.
“For decades, I was the navigator for families, then suddenly, I found myself the person in need of direction and assurance,” Magrane said. “It has been a humbling few years, moving from sympathy to empathy; knowing I had not practiced what I had been preaching. I hope all caregivers truly hear that they have permission to take a break; to take care of themselves first. I hope they understand by sharing their story — their journey — with others, they are increasing awareness and demystifying what respite is and how valuable it is to our communities.”
AAACAP and AGE of Central Texas hope Magrane’s story won’t be the only one shared during “Striking a Balance.” When the conference first started, it was thrilling to have 60 caregivers attend. In recent years, attendance has close to tripled indicating the growing need for caregiver education. This year the conference space is large enough to accommodate more than 200 caregivers and expand the pool of expert vendors and educational breakout sessions.
“The most important outcome of an event like this is the connections caregivers make with other caregivers,” Bordie said. In some cases, caregivers are experiencing similar physical and emotional pressures while providing care. Knowing other caregivers share some of the same challenges may empower them to learn new ways to handle stress and recharge themselves, so they can continue to provide care to their family members or friends. “We want everyone who attends the conference to leave knowing it is important to take care of yourself so you can return to care renewed, refreshed and ready to continue to support your loved one.” Bordie said.
The educational breakout sessions provide caregivers with a deeper understanding of specific topics. This year’s sessions will teach caregivers about legal issues, such as wills and powers of attorney; communication and support issues; dementia specific concerns; and access to in-home and caregiver support services for veterans. In addition to educational sessions, Central Texas care providers and caregiver support organizations will be present to meet with caregivers face-to-face and assist them with assessing their needs, planning for care and accessing service and programs.
“We urge all caregivers to come to this type of event, because this is where they learn about balancing care for their loved ones with care for themselves,” Bordie said.
Free off-site respite care available
AGE of Central Texas will provide free adult respite care at its Austin Adult Day Health Center, 3710 Cedar St. in Austin. Reservations are required.
Contact Gailyn Trammell at 512-600-9275 to request the respite care.
RETF tools help prevent illegal dumping in counties, cities
Monday, August 01, 2016
The Regional Environmental Task Force (RETF), in its 20 years of operation focused on protecting the environment through awareness and enforcement activities, offers a range of resources and tools that can assist communities in the 10-county CAPCOG region to curtail illegal dumping and catch violators who still do it.
One of the most used and effective tools are road signs purchased by the RETF, said Mike Bittner, Caldwell County code enforcement officer. Setting up the signs brings awareness to illegal dumping in trouble areas and provides an avenue for witnesses to report incidents. “The signs help in a number of ways,” according to Dennis Rudder, a sergeant investigator with the Travis County Attorney’s Office Environmental Crimes Unit and founding member of the RETF. “One way is just by educating people that they shouldn’t be dumping their trash.”
Caldwell County has placed 70 signs along county roadways and bridges; the area surrounding the signs have experienced about a 75 percent decline in illegal dumping, according to Bittner. Signs also were used by Travis County in a large, unfinished subdivision on South Imperial Drive after a massive volunteer cleanup effort removed a lot of illegally dumped trash. “Illegal dumping was a huge problem in that area,” Rudder said. “The paved roads gave people easy access to the site, so large piles of trash started to build up.” Eventually, the piles could have polluted the Colorado River waterway since the subdivision sits in the floodplain, but after the area was cleaned, the signs prevented further illegal dumping.
The use of one the RETF’s 10 HD-digital-video cameras requires a bit more time and effort, but they are extremely useful when collecting evidence of environmental crimes. Ken May, CAPCOG’s Director or Regional Services but formerly in charge of solid waste programs at TCEQ explains that cameras, which can be checked out by enforcement personnel whose jurisdiction is in the CAPCOG region, are constantly in use throughout the region, assisting in recording what happens at illegal dumpsites, and their video can be used as evidence leading to ticketing or prosecuting people who commit environmental crimes.
In one case, cameras were used to catch a man illegally dumping and burning materials after he would steal copper wiring from buildings. “We caught this guy acting like Tarzan, banging on his chest and swinging stuff around, as he was throwing this stuff into the fire,” Rudder said. That video helped convict the man for stealing the copper piping and his environmental crimes.
For Bittner, the best tool the RETF provides is an intangible one: the continuing education of code and law enforcement officers.
CAPCOG organizes four environmental law training courses for code and law enforcement officers every year — three beginner courses and one intermediate course. Local governments across the state send representatives to attend the RETF’s courses, which can be taught outside of CAPCOG upon request. In recent years, RETF instructors taught three courses in Beeville, Rockport and Eagle Pass. Each course instructed about 25 officers from the Costal Bend and Middle Rio Grande regions. Attendees learn the difference between civil and criminal environmental crimes as well as how to investigate, prepare case reports and what is needed to prosecute the crimes. Many officers who attended the training have recommended it to others and requested additional, more specific environmental law courses such as developing case reports for environmental violations. CAPCOG is investigating offering such courses.
“The instruction I got through the task force was immeasurable,” Bittner said. “Because I am a code enforcement officer, it gave me a law enforcement perspective, too. Knowing the proper law enforcement procedures allows me to work with peace officers and help put cases together.”
Having staff complete the intermediate course gives a jurisdiction an environmental law expert who becomes a powerful resource for protecting the public’s health, welfare and safety from environmental crimes and prevents the need for expensive clean-ups by local governments.
List of RETF tools:
Environmental Law Training — Annually, the RETF offers four courses on environmental law geared for sanitarians, code enforcement, and peace officers. CAPCOG also added an environmental law segment to its basic peace officers course.
Environmental Enforcement Guide — This small pocket sized guide contains information on Texas environmental laws. It is published by Pocket Press and can be ordered on its website.
10 SPYPOINT Tiny W-3 Cameras — RETF members can check out cameras for conducting surveillance and investigating illegal dump sites and other solid waste crimes.
No Dumping Road Signs — These signs can be put up on county and city roads or common dumping locations. They state the location is under surveillance and provide the 1-877-No-Dumps (663-8677) for witnesses to report illegal dumping.
The 1-877-No-Dumps Hotline — The hotline lets citizens report illegal dumping. All calls are reviewed by the RETF coordinator and directed to the appropriate jurisdiction’s investigator.
RETF Sampling Trailer — The RETF trailer contains all the supplies needed to conduct environmental sampling. It is housed in Travis County but available to any RETF member.
Outreach materials — From posters to magnets to reusable bags to pens, the RETF provides educational materials about the No-Dumps hotline and illegal dumping.
Air Quality funding available for New Technology Implementation projects
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has made available $3.5 million in grants to individuals and businesses to offset the incremental cost of emissions reductions of air pollutants from facilities and other stationary sources in Texas.
The New Technology Implementation Grant (NTIG) program is part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) and is offered to eligible entities that intend to build, own, and operate new technologies to reduce emissions from point sources or store electricity related to renewable energy.
There are three NTIG project categories:
- Advanced Clean Energy projects that involve the use of certain hydrocarbons (coal, natural gas, or petcoke), biomass, solid waste, or derived-hydrogen fuel cells, while meeting minimum emissions reductions requirements.
- New Technology projects that reduce emissions of regulated pollutants (such as criteria pollutants or hazardous air pollutants) from point sources.
- Electricity Storage projects that store electrical energy related to renewable energy sources.
The TCEQ will accept applications until 5 p.m., Oct. 18, 2016.
It has scheduled a grant application workshop to review the grant requirements and the application process from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Aug. 17 at the TCEQ headquarters, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building F, Conference Room 2210A, in Austin.
Homeland Security increases training opportunities
Monday, July 25, 2016
CAPCOG’s Homeland Security Division is ramping up its coordination of training events and workshops. Its goal is to offer training on specialized topics at least once a quarter, but three courses are already scheduled for August.
“We want to sponsor training workshops that provide an engaging experience for those who respond to hazards in our region,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security Division director. “These training classes are places for emergency personnel to learn, talk about, and share the skills needed to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.”
CAPCOG’s 10-county region consists of diverse communities with differing training needs. While some courses are beneficial to all local jurisdictions, it also strives to host specialized training for its urban and rural partners and for all levels of an organization’s personnel from first responders to elected public officials.
The three training courses scheduled for August are Mass Fatalities Planning & Response for Rural Communities, Continuity of Government Operations Planning for Rural Communities, and Crisis Management for School-Based Incidents.