Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    May 2021
April Board of Directors Meeting
At its meeting on Tuesday, April 20, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors approved several items of regional significance.

The board authorized Workforce Solutions contracts that expand or continue educational and job placement resources. These resources include core adult educational services; online learning courses for professional development, upskilling, and reskilling workers; and a contract to connect individuals with summer jobs, recovery temporary jobs, and part-time experience jobs. The board also renewed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to continue the Clean Cities Program, which encourages the use of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies to reduce harmful transportation-related emissions.

After unanimously approving the Regional Conservation Framework at its March meeting, the board authorized H-GAC to enter an agreement with the Houston Endowment to support regional and local voluntary conservation efforts as outlined in the framework. Activities supported by the funding will include developing and maintaining a priority list of conservation projects for the region. They will also include working with local governments and partners to pursue grant funding; facilitating intergovernmental and public-private partnerships; providing technical assistance and information resources to local governments to advance conservation strategies; and developing public awareness materials.

The board approved its 2021 committee appointments. These include two new ad hoc committees on regional broadband and on the H-GAC board composition. The regional broadband committee will focus on the planning, studying, and deployment of regional high-speed internet service, and the board composition committee will review 2020 Census data and recommend amendments to the makeup of the H-GAC board regarding general assembly membership. A full list of the board committees and their members is available here.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board recognized the service of retiring member Natalie Picha, Seabrook City Councilmember. Picha joined the board of directors in November 2019 and has served on a variety of committees including the finance and budget committee, legislative committees, and the Transportation Policy Council.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, May 18

The next board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 18. 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: Young Adult Job and Career Services
At its April meeting, the H-GAC Board of Directors recognized Young Adult Services programs available for young people seeking jobs and career education.

Workforce Solutions provides several programs for area youths seeking summer jobs and apprenticeships or help mapping out their future careers. Young adults ages 16 and older can sign up to receive alerts about new postings, hiring events, and seminars by texting "#GetPaid2021" to 40691.

Additionally, Workforce Solutions partners with school districts and community outreach groups to provide educational events to help young people explore career pathways. Recently, they partnered with El Campo, Houston, Pasadena, Spring, and Wharton ISDs to connect their students with career education specialists.
Program Contact: Mike Temple

Title: Director of Human Services
Years Served at H-GAC: 40
Contact Phone: 713-993-4524
They have also partnered with TeamUP Houston, an initiative by the city of Houston to develop youth in underserved communities and equip them with the professional skills, experience, and motivation to pursue college or career paths in the sports industry.

For more information about services and resources available to youths, visit Workforce Solutions' Young Adult Services page. You can also follow @WFSCareerEd on Instagram to watch The Career Corner Show, hosted by Workforce Solutions' own career education specialists.
Public Comment Period for Transportation Community Input Series Studies Remains Open until May 14
H-GAC recently hosted three virtual public meetings seeking community input on three transportation studies in key areas of the Houston-Galveston metropolitan planning area experiencing rapid growth and development. The three studies are the Southeast Harris County Subregional Study, the Montgomery County Precinct 2 Mobility Study, and the Liberty County Mobility Study.

The public comment period for each of these studies remains open through May 14. Area residents and stakeholders can visit engage.h-gac.com for more information about each study, view recordings of the virtual public meetings, and complete surveys and submit comments about areas in their communities in need of transportation improvements.

Public comments may be submitted by phone at 1-855-363-2516, by mail to Attention: Transportation Community Input Series, P.O. Box 22777, Houston, TX, 77277-2777, or emailed to publiccomments@h-gac.com. Interactive comment maps where residents and stakeholders can pin specific roadways, intersections, and streets within the study areas are also available at engage.h-gac.com.
Newly Elected Officials Workshop Takes Place on June 23
Join us for the 2021 Newly Elected Officials Workshop on Wednesday, June 23 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. This highly informative and interactive workshop will provide an opportunity to learn from experts in their fields on how to effectively perform as a public servant in government or education. The workshop will be held via Zoom and the registration link is provided below:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The workshop will focus on the following topics:

  • Open meetings
  • Legal issues
  • Financial management and budgeting
  • Teamwork
  • Effective communications

For more information, contact Cynthia Jones at cynthia.jones@h-gac.com or 713-993-4591.
H-GAC Celebrates Bike Month
May is Bike Month. H-GAC is celebrating the month and all things bicycling with several events, activities, and contests with area partners across the region.

Bike Month is an excellent opportunity to explore biking to work, coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, schools, and with friends and family members. In the Houston-Galveston region, 25% of people live within five miles of their workplaces, an ideal distance for bicycling. Bicycling also provides health benefits. Adults who regularly bicycle have a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

Visit the H-GAC official Bike Month page for more information about bicycling and a full calendar of events, group rides, activities, and contests happening in the region. To learn more about other alternative commuting options in the Houston region, visit the Commute Solutions website.

May 17 Transportation Brown Bag Webinar: Bike Friendly Driver Class

In addition to Bike Month activities, H-GAC will host a Transportation Brown Bag webinar at noon on May 17 on bike friendly driving. The webinar will discuss tips, tricks, and strategies for sharing our roads with bicyclists using real world examples. Click here for more information and to register.
H-GAC to Launch Regional Broadband Planning Tool on May 13
H-GAC is launching a regional planning tool to aid local governments and organizations in pursuing funding and implementing strategies to expand high-speed internet access in their communities.

H-GAC will demonstrate how to use this tool and share success stories related to high-speed internet infrastructure at an online kick-off event from 8:30-10 a.m., Thursday, May 13.

Click here to register for the event, and for questions, contact Jillian Donatto at Jillian.Donatto@h-gac.com. To learn more about our Regional High-Speed Internet Strategy, visit the Gulf Coast Economic Development District's website.
H-GAC Area Agency on Aging to Host "Power in the Community" Virtual Webinar Series for Medicare Beneficiaries and Their Caregivers
The Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging will host a free, three-part webinar series May 5-7 for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. The series will provide participants with the knowledge they need to make the most of their healthcare benefits. Click on each webinar title below for registration information:

Featured Speaker: Jennifer Salazar, Senior Medicare Patrol
Wednesday, May 5 | 2-3 p.m.

Featured Speaker: Gaye Humphrey, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Thursday, May 6 | 2-3 p.m.

Featured Speakers: Certified Benefits Counselors, Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging
Friday, May 7 | 2-3 p.m.

The Area Agency on Aging provides free, unbiased assistance navigating Medicare coverage and benefits to anyone eligible for Medicare, regardless of age, and their caregivers. To find out more information and speak with a counselor, visit h-gac.com/area-agency-on-aging/medicare-benefits-counseling.
H-GAC's Livable Centers Call for Study Sponsors Notice of Intent to Apply Due Soon
H-GAC's call for planning study sponsors for the Livable Centers program is open, and the notice of intent to apply is due this month. Sponsors are limited to local governments or other eligible entities.

This is not a request for proposals from consulting firms.

All eligible sponsors must complete a notice of intent to apply by 5 p.m., Thursday, May 27. Final applications are due Thursday, July 29. 

H-GAC seeks to identify and fund Full Livable Centers studies and, for the first time, Focused Livable Centers studies. Full Livable Centers studies will be scaled at a community level, and Focused Livable Centers studies will focus on a smaller geographic area and/or specific issue (e.g., transit-oriented development, first/last mile connections). The proposed study must be in Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, or Waller counties.

More information about deadlines and specific application content is available on the H-GAC Livable Centers website. For questions, please email LivableCenters@h-gac.com.
HGACBuy Now Offers Job Order Contracting for Construction Services
HGACBuy now offers job order contracting for construction services in the areas of minor construction, rehabilitation, renovation, and facilities maintenance. Members can contract facilities maintenance to meet their specific needs including any architectural and engineering parameters. Visit the HGACBuy website to explore the contract (JC02-20) details.

Interested in learning more about HGACBuy? The co-op.is hosting several free virtual open houses in 2021. Vendors and members will be able to meet one-on-one via Zoom breakout rooms, establish or expand relationships with one another, and learn more about the program. Register for one or more of these sessions at hgacbuy.org/resources/hgacbuy-open-house
Upcoming Community and Environmental Events
Mark your calendars for these upcoming community and environmental events:
Chocolate Bay Stakeholder Meeting
water body meandering through trees and grass
H-GAC invites residents, local governments, businesses, and nonprofits within the watersheds that make up Chocolate Bay (Chocolate Bayou, Mustang Bayou, and Halls Bayou in Galveston and Brazoria counties) to attend a stakeholder meeting from 2-4 p.m., Tuesday, May 18. Attendees will hear from H-GAC staff concerning the state of water quality in each bayou and actions being taken to improve them. The event will be online, and registration is required. For more information, contact Steven Johnston.
Solid Waste Workshop - Recycling
Recycle bins on the curb
H-GAC's next Solid Waste Workshop will be from 9-11:30 a.m., Thursday, May 20. Join us as experts from around the region and the state discuss ways to manage the difficult aspects of recycling programs. Topics include:

  • Starting a new program
  • Keeping a facility going
  • Reducing contamination
The event will be online, and registration is required. For more information, contact Erin Livingston.
Annual Disaster Debris Workshop
pile of debris in front of a home following a flood event
H-GAC will host the 2021 Disaster Debris Workshop from 8:30-11:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 9. This free workshop will focus on debris management preparedness, including:

  • Emerging trends in disaster recovery
  • Public information strategies following a disaster
  • Technology in disaster recovery
  • Best practices in preparedness initiatives

The workshop will also provide participants with an opportunity to discuss concerns and share lessons learned from their past debris management response and recovery efforts. This meeting will be online, and registration is required. For more information, contact Erin Livingston.
H-GAC Joined National, State, and Local Agencies in Recognizing Work Zone Safety Awareness Week in April
The week of April 26-30, national, state, regional, and local agencies recognized National Work Zone Awareness Week. H-GAC reminds motorists to make driving safety a priority when passing through the state's more than 3,400 active work zones. In 2020, more than 22,000 traffic crashes occurred in work zones in Texas, resulting in 186 deaths. Another 680 people were seriously injured.

Please keep the following tips in mind when driving through work zones:

  • Slow down, follow the posted work zone speed limit, and drive to conditions. Traffic fines double in work zones when workers are present and can cost up to $2,000.
  • Pay attention. Avoid distractions, keep your mind on the road and put your phone away.
  • Don't tailgate. Give yourself room to stop in a hurry. Rear-end collisions are the most common kind of work zone crashes.
  • Watch out for road crews. The only protective gear they wear is a vest, a hard hat, and safety boots. Remember, they want to get home safely too.
  • Allow extra time. Road construction slows things down. Count on it and plan for it.

Travelers can check for road construction, closures, and other traffic-related incidents along their route ahead of time by visiting the Houston TranStar website at houstontranstar.org, or they can download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play.

If you find yourself stranded on the roadside due to a flat tire or mechanical failure, take advantage of the Gulf Coast Regional Tow and Go™ Program. Tow and Go provides motorists with no-cost towing service on camera-monitored freeways in Harris County, Bellaire, Jersey Village, La Porte, and Humble. Visit towandgo.com for more information, or call 713-881-3333 for assistance.
Economic Development Administration Investment Priorities and Upcoming Funding
US Economic Development Administration logo
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided the Economic Development Administration (EDA) with $3 billion for economic adjustment assistance grants, with $750 million set aside for communities and states that have suffered economic injury due to job losses in the travel, tourism, or outdoor recreation sectors. EDA investment priorities have been revised and remain the only recent ARPA related update. View the update and more information at www.eda.gov/about/investment-priorities/.  
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.