Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    July 2021
June Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, June 15, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors approved resolutions that will expand or enhance several important regional programs.

In the area of transportation, the board renewed funding for the Gulf Coast Regional Tow and Go Program, which provides free towing service to stranded motorists on camera-monitored freeways in Harris County, Bellaire, Jersey Village, La Porte, and Humble; it also approved funding that will increase the number of bicycle and pedestrian counters outside of the Houston area to better understand trends and help guide future infrastructure investments. Additionally, the board approved an agreement to conduct a new Livable Centers study in Southwest Houston.

For Workforce Solutions, the board authorized agreements to expand funding and resources for vocational rehabilitation services and childcare/early education assistance. The board also approved a partnership that will help connect young people in area schools with jobs in the construction industry and skilled trades professions.

In community and environmental planning, the board authorized agreements with state and local agencies to further the resources of the Clean Rivers Program. The Clean Rivers Program is the region's water quality monitoring program. Through coordinated efforts with local partners and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, it assesses the health of the region's major river basins as well as overall factors impacting water quality. The agreements approved by the board will allow H-GAC to partner with entities such as the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Sam Houston State University, and Estex Environmental Laboratory to further water quality monitoring and analysis.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board approved several new appointments to the Aging and Disability Advisory Committee, the Area Emission Reduction Credit Organization, the Gulf Coast Economic Development District, the Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee, the Regional Flood Management Committee, the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Council, and the Solid Waste Management Committee. The full list of appointments is available here.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, July 20

The next board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 20. 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 the Board of Directors website.
H-GAC Program Spotlight: Regional Bacteria Reduction Planning
At its June meeting, the H-GAC Board of Directors learned about the latest efforts to protect our region's waterways by reducing pollution and harmful bacteria. According to current data reports, about half of our waterways' total stream miles are facing impairments that can significantly impact water quality standards. To address this, H-GAC takes two approaches to watershed-based planning: watershed protection plans and total maximum daily load (TMDL) plans. Watershed protection planning takes a voluntary, locally-led approach to address water quality impairments and other water-related concerns.

TMDL planning is an alternative approach to assessing water quality that is triggered by impairments in a specific stream or segment of a waterway. It calculates the maximum amount of pollutant a water body can handle and still meet water quality standards. From that calculation, area stakeholders develop a voluntary implementation plan that targets the specific bacteria or pollutant causing the water quality concerns with policy recommendations that will bring the affected stream or segment back into compliance.
Program Contact: Steven Johnston

Title: Senior Planner
Contact Email: Steven.Johnston@h-gac.com
Contact Phone: 832-681-2579
H-GAC currently has 21 planning projects at various stages of implementation to monitor water quality, reduce waterway pollution, and maintain compliance with state and federal environmental standards. The projects are located throughout the region, affecting such major water bodies as the San Bernard River, Lake Conroe, the upper Gulf Coast Oyster Waters, Caney Creek, Chocolate Bayou, and Cedar Bayou. Stakeholders can view an interactive story map with the full list of projects on the H-GAC watershed-based plans page.

For more information on H-GAC's bacteria reduction and water quality planning efforts, visit h-gac.com, and click the "Environment" and "Water" tabs.
Registration Opening Soon for the TML Region 14 Fall Meeting
The Texas Municipal League Region 14 Fall Meeting and Workshop will take place Aug. 13-14 at the Sugar Land Marriott. Please join us to network, learn, and discuss topics relevant to your community’s needs. Registration details will be made available real soon.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the workshop. If you're interested in becoming an event sponsor, click here to download the request form and view the different levels available. For questions about the workshop or about becoming a sponsor, contact Cynthia Jones at cynthia.jones@h-gac.com or 713-993-4591.
Help Improve Our Region's Transportation System at Virtual Public Meetings on July 22
The H-GAC Unified Planning Work Program and Title VI Environmental Justice Program are hosting two virtual public meetings on July 22 to discuss proposed program updates. We need your feedback on what we can do to reduce congestion, improve air quality, create safer bike and pedestrian paths, increase access to public transportation, and create a more connected, inclusive transportation system for everyone who lives and works in the region.

There will be two public meetings on July 22 in the afternoon and in the evening. The afternoon meeting will take place at 2:30 p.m., and the evening meeting will take place at 6 p.m. To register for the public meetings and view the meeting documents, visit h-gac.com/unified-planning-work-program or h-gac.com/title-vi-program. Both meetings will have a Spanish language translator and an American Sign Language interpreter for the hearing impaired.

The public comment period is currently open and closes on Aug. 11, 2021. Comments may be submitted by email at PublicComments@h-gac.com, by phone at 1-855-363-2516, or by mail to "Attention: Unified Work Program and Title VI Environmental Justice Program", P.O. Box 22777, Houston, TX, 77227-2777.
H-GAC Regional Conservation Framework Recognized by National Association of Regional Councils for Excellence in Leadership and Regional Cooperation
H-GAC's Regional Conservation Framework has been honored with a General Achievement and Leadership Award by the National Association of Regional Councils. The award was presented to H-GAC on June 16 at a virtual ceremony held at the association’s annual conference and exhibition. 

The Regional Conservation Framework has been hailed as a milestone toward a coordinated, comprehensive approach in protecting and preserving the Houston-Galveston region’s unique ecological landscape. It outlines three key strategies – leverage, support, and fund – to strengthen conservation efforts by local governments, community partners, and stakeholders. A resolution of support for the framework was unanimously adopted by the H-GAC Board of Directors in March 2021. 

Read our online news release for more information. Additionally, H-GAC has created a full suite of free online toolkits, resources, and funding guides local governments can use to bolster their conservation efforts. To view these tools and to read the Regional Conservation Framework in its entirety, visit h-gac.com/regional-conservation.
H-GAC Recognizes Telework Week Champions
From June 21-25, the H-GAC Commute Solutions program recognized Telework Week. As part of the festivities, people across the Greater Houston area were encouraged to nominate friends, family members, coworkers, managers, and executive leaders for the 2021 Telework Champion Award.

This award spotlights area professionals who have demonstrated creative ways to engage their colleagues while working remotely. They have fostered collaboration, positivity, and productivity while adhering to the core principles of teleworking. Commute Solutions received several nominations both externally and internally. The 2021 Telework Champion Award recipients are:

  • Cesar Caballero, Texas Virtual Schools
  • Eunice Davidiuk, Texas A&M Health
  • Charlene Hernandez, Empereon Marketing
  • Shelley Medina, Logix Fiber Networks
  • Scott Sheppard, Huntsville ISD
  • Monica Singleton, MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Terri Barber, Workforce Solutions
  • Neely Kim, H-GAC Transportation
  • Deborah Mayfield, H-GAC Commute Solutions
  • Lourdes McIntyre, H-GAC Public Services
  • Jamila Owens, H-GAC Transportation
  • Greg Seal, H-GAC Transportation
  • Andrea Tantillo, H-GAC Community & Environmental
  • Chuck Wemple, H-GAC Executive Director

Congratulations to all the award recipients!
Learn More about Teleworking Best Practices at Two Upcoming Webinars
The Commute Solutions team will host two free webinars about navigating security in the virtual work environment and best practices for managing hybrid work spaces.
Tuesday, July 20 | 11:30 a.m.
The H-GAC Commute Solutions and Data Services teams and featured partner Virtual Q will show how you can arm your teams with safe, secure collaboration in a virtual office setting.

Thursday, Aug. 12 | 11:30 a.m.
This webinar will provide an insight into the latest trends that impact the hybrid environment. It will also provide solutions to challenges experienced conducting telework during the pandemic and highlight best practices for workers and managers.

Hurricane Season is Here. Make Sure You're Prepared.
The 2021 hurricane season is under way. As of this month, there have been five named storms with one impacting the coastal United States. With forecasters predicting another active season, it is critical for residents to be prepared.

Visit TogetherAgainstTheWeather.com for tool kits and strategies on preparing your home and family for a hurricane or severe storm. The page also contains helpful materials for those caring for small children, special need individuals, and those with health conditions.

Residents who live in an evacuation zone are encouraged to visit the H-GAC hurricane evacuation planning page for 2021 evacuation maps and important tips to help develop their evacuation plan. Also, check out KHOU's helpful article about hurricane evacuation.
Nuro Discusses Bringing Autonomous Delivery Service to Houston at Latest Brown Bag Webinar
At its latest transportation Brown Bag webinar on June 21, H-GAC sat down with Dan Mitchell, city and community engagement spokesperson at Nuro. Nuro is an autonomous-vehicle (AV) food and grocery delivery service with partners such as Dominos, Kroger, and Walmart.

Mitchell provided insight into Nuro's AV technology, and he discussed the company's experiences and lessons learned from implementing AV delivery service within Houston's intricate metropolitan transportation network. He also talked about current initiatives and his experiences working with local and national partners. At the end of the presentation, Mitchell took questions from the audience.

Next Transportation Brown Bag Webinar: July 19 with Port Houston

H-GAC's next Brown Bag webinar will be at noon, July 19 with Port Houston. For more information and to register, visit the Brown Bag Lunch Series website.
Become a Subscriber to Continue Receiving Trash Free Texas Program News and Updates
Beginning this month, the Trash Free Texas News and Updates e-newsletter will only go out to subscribers. The newsletter will also move from a monthly to a quarterly publication. Trash Free Texas is an initiative by H-GAC and partners to foster a litter-free environment in Texas watersheds and to organize and enhance cleanup efforts. 

To continue receiving updates about Trash Free Texas and litter reduction efforts from across the region, become a subscriber today. Subscribing to Trash Free Texas News and Updates is free, and you will receive the latest news about volunteer cleanup activities happening in your community, regional success stories, research and data tool releases, and trainings and resources to organize your own neighborhood cleanup activities. 

Click here to subscribe for free to the Trash Free Texas newsletter. We also welcome partners and community members to share their own success stories on keeping our waterways litter free. Click here to submit your stories or upcoming activities. You may see your story in the next issue!  
Register for the Next Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable on July 27
Join us for H-GAC's next Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable from 9:30 a.m. to noon Tuesday, July 27. The topic - "How Local Food Fuels Your Economy" - will look at the economic impact of food trucks, farmers markets, and restaurants in rural and small towns. The event will be online, and registration is required
H-GAC hosts quarterly roundtables to help local governments, chambers of commerce, and economic development interests promote the economic revitalization of downtown areas. For more information, contact Sarah Torresen at 832-681-2505. 
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.