Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    December 2020
November Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors approved HGACBuy contracts with 24 vendors specializing in shuttle, transit, trams, specialty buses, refuse and recycling containers, and lifters. It also approved an agreement with Aldine Independent School District to acquire eight new school buses fitted with clean, low-emissions engines.

The board appointed its representatives to serve for 2020-21 terms on the Texas Association of Regional Councils' (TARC) board of directors, the statewide association of the 24 regional councils of government.

TARC assists regional councils in strengthening their capabilities to serve local government members; provides a forum for the regular exchange of information and ideas; educates other governmental entities, public and private organizations, and the general public about the services and functions of regional councils; and represents the councils before both state and federal agencies and legislative bodies. Nancy Arnold, H-GAC board chair and Waller city councilmember, will represent H-GAC on the TARC board, and William King III, Dickinson city councilmember, will serve as alternate.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board recognized the service of retiring members Gary Nelson, Chambers County commissioner, Tom Reid, mayor of the city of Pearland, and Phil Roberts, Texas City commissioner.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, Dec. 15

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Dec. 15, 2020. If there are any scheduling or location updates to this meeting, we will notify the public immediately. For more information on H-GAC's Board of Directors, past meeting agendas or minutes, or to find dates for future meetings, visit H-GAC's website.
H-GAC Program Spotlight: Water Resources Program
To increase awareness of our agency and highlight some of the great work we do, H-GAC spotlights a program or initiative at every board of directors meeting. At its November meeting, the board recognized the Water Resources program, its water quality monitoring efforts, and the efforts of wastewater and drinking water service providers across the region.
The Houston-Galveston region has more than 800 wastewater treatment facilities and 1,500 drinking water production facilities. The operators of these facilities conduct rigorous monitoring to ensure compliance with water quality standards. H-GAC coordinates the monitoring of more than 400 sites in the region with seven local partners and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to determine the health of the region’s surface waters.
The water resources group will host a Clean Waters Initiative Workshop in 2021 to assist our member governments and all of our wastewater and drinking water service providers. The workshop will focus on best practices for wastewater and drinking water operators to ensure that our water systems are running at peak performance.
Visit the H-GAC website for more information about water quality programs, data mapping, and the Clean Waters Initiative.
Program Contact: Todd Running
Title: Manager, Community & Environmental Planning
Years at H-GAC: 28
Contact Email: todd.running@h-gac.com
Contact Phone: 713-933-4549
H-GAC Elects New Members to Serve on Next Year's Board of Directors at 2020 Caucuses
The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) concluded its annual caucus meetings on Nov. 19 and selected board members to represent general law cities, home rule cities, and independent school districts on the board of directors in 2021. View our news release online for more information.
Representing General Law Cities
Nancy Arnold
Councilmember, City of Waller
Joe Garcia
Mayor, City of Pattison
Susan Schwartz
Councilmember, City of Bunker Hill
Teresa Vazquez-Evans
Councilmember, City of Kemah
Representing Home Rule Cities
William H. King III
Councilmember, City of Dickinson
Natalie Picha
Councilmember, City of Seabrook
Cecil Willis
Councilmember, City of Stafford
Ashley Graves
Councilmember, City of Nassau Bay
Representing Independent School Districts
Rissie Owens
Trustee, Huntsville ISD
Jennifer Key
Trustee, Alief ISD
H-GAC Releases Final Report of 2019-20 Autonomous Vehicle Pilot at Texas Southern University
H-GAC has released the final report of an autonomous vehicle pilot study conducted on the Texas Southern University campus. The project was designed to assess the operational capabilities of an autonomous shuttle in different weather extremes, battery capabilities, and public perception of autonomous vehicles. The EasyMile Automated Vehicle operated along TSU's Tiger Walk promenade between June 5, 2019 and Feb. 25, 2020, providing nearly 7,500 trips to students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The pilot project was done in partnership with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), TSU, and H-GAC.

The full pilot study report can be viewed online at h-gac.com/autonomous-vehicles/default.aspx. Lessons learned from the pilot will help future autonomous vehicle operations in the region, including a possible second phase trial of the shuttle at the METRO Purple Line light rail station and the University of Houston campus at a future date.
Conroe "First Out the Gate" in New H-GAC Partnership with Google
The city of Conroe transit department is helping to usher in a new era of commuter travel with the launch of its general transit feed specifications (GTFS feeds) with Google and H-GAC. Conroe's is the first of several transit agencies in the region working with H-GAC to bring this information directly to consumers.
GTFS feeds provide real-time information through mapping services, such as Google Maps, about routes, stops, bus arrival and departure times. Travelers can use the information to map out their trip, find their nearest bus stop, and pinpoint when the next bus will arrive.

In addition to map apps, the GTFS feeds will allow Conroe's transit information to integrate with tools such as the Texas Department of Transportation’s Connect Smart app - set to launch in 2021 - and the regional trip planner being developed with area transit agencies through the work of the H-GAC Regional Transit Coordination Subcommittee. They will also support the development of a much anticipated regional transit fare system that allows travelers the ability to use a single app or fare medium to travel throughout the region no matter what bus or train they ride.

For more information about GTFS feeds and H-GAC's regional trip planner and regional fares projects, contact Donte Green at donte.green@h-gac.com or Christopher Whaley at christopher.whaley@h-gac.com
Sharpen Your Job Hunting and Career Skills at Your Convenience with Workforce Solutions' Free Online Learning Tools
Workforce Solutions offers free online learning tools to provide job seekers and employers in need of qualified staff with creative solutions for navigating today's job market. On-demand learning modules are available on the Workforce Solutions website for job candidates, youth, and employers.

Educational content is also available for topics such as financial literary, digital literacy, accessibility in distance education, and much more.

Help Bring Holiday Cheer to Our Region's Seniors by Participating in Silver Santa Gift Drive
The H-GAC annual Silver Santa holiday gift drive benefitting nursing home residents is under way.

Donors can purchase gifts online now through Dec. 15, 2020, at registries on Amazon, Target, and Walmart. The gifts will be pre-delivered to a secure storage and sorting site selected by the ombudsman group and then dropped off at nursing homes in time for the Christmas holiday.
H-GAC has also partnered with Firehouse Subs and set up collection boxes for anyone who would like to drop off a gift in person. The collection boxes are available at the following Firehouse Subs locations:

Conroe/The Woodlands/Huntsville:
  • 3021 IH-45 S, Conroe, TX 77304
  • 1640 Lake Woodlands Dr., The Woodlands, TX 77380
  • 235 I-45 S, Huntsville, TX 77340

  • 7036 FM1960 Rd. East, Unit A-2, Humble, TX 77346
  • 9473 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. W, Humble, TX 77338

  • 22556 Tomball Pkwy., Houston, TX 77070
  • 12149 FM 1960, Houston, TX 77065

  • 10916 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77042
  • 9359 Katy Fwy., Houston, TX 77024
  • 25551 Kingsland Blvd., Katy, TX 77494
  • 20900 Katy Fwy., Katy, TX 77449

  • 170 Meyerland Plaza Mall, Houston, TX 77096
  • 7505 Southwest Fwy., Houston, TX 77074

West University:
  • 3924 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77025

For more information about the Silver Santa holiday gift drive, contact Lisa Hayes, managing local ombudsman, at lisa.hayes@h-gac.com or 832-544-0741.
Mark Your Calendars for These Upcoming January Community and Environmental Events
Annual Storm Debris Workshop
H-GAC will host the annual Disaster Debris Workshop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. This online half-day workshop is being rescheduled from Dec. 3.
The workshop will discuss debris management preparedness in challenging times and will focus on activities that can assist jurisdictions in preparing to respond to and recover from a disaster debris-generating incident including:

  • The challenges of COVID-19 on solid waste staffing, collections, and disposal
  • Health and safety precautions in conducting debris management operations considering COVID-19 or other infectious disease outbreaks/pandemics
  • Recent changes in disaster debris and public assistance regulations and guidance
Participants will have the opportunity to discuss concerns and share their best practices and lessons learned from their past debris management response and recovery efforts.
Registration is required. For more information, contact Erin Livingston.
Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable
Bringing Back Main Street Logo
H-GAC's next Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. The meeting will be on Zoom and the topic will be announced soon.
H-GAC hosts quarterly roundtables to help local governments, chambers of commerce, and economic development councils promote the economic revitalization of downtown areas. For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo.
Register for the Texas Southern University Center for Transportation, Training and Research Transportation Workshop on Dec. 10
The Texas Southern University Center for Transportation, Training and Research invites metropolitan planning organizations, councils of government, public transit agencies, and social services agencies in Texas to a workshop from 1-3 p.m., Dec. 10, 2020.

The workshop will explore autonomous vehicles and other technologies to improve transportation for people with disabilities and ways to provide better connectivity for rural and vulnerable communities around the three major cities of the Texas Triangle megaregion (Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio).

Click HERE to register for the workshop.

This workshop is sponsored by Texas Southern University and the consortium of Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions (CM2).
H-GAC is Hiring
Home to more than 7 million people, the Houston-Galveston region is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse regions in the country. Making sure the region remains one of the nation’s leading places to live, work, and prosper doesn’t just happen—it takes planning and partnerships.

If you are looking for a career where you can help make a difference in urban, suburban, and rural communities, the Houston-Galveston Area Council has exciting opportunities for you. For more information or to apply for a job, visit the careers page on H-GAC's website.