ETCOG Events – September 2023 – Gilmer Mirror

ETCOG Board Hears from USDA Administrator Lillian Salerno, Considers $83.4 Million Budget

ETCOG will hold its 104th Semi-Annual Board of Directors Meeting on Thursday, September 21 at The Texan – A Landmark Venue located in Athens from 11:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The meeting will host special guest, Lillian Salerno, USDA Texas State Director for Rural Development.

Lillian Salerno is a native Texan who lived and grew up in a rural community. She has seen first-hand the challenges that rural Texas residents face, and is committed to making sure rural Texas does not fall behind. She has a long history of working with community groups, government, and diverse stakeholders to improve the lives of rural Texans. She was a founding member of the White House Rural Council and served for six years as a sub-Cabinet official in the Obama administration. She has testified before Congress on a variety of issues related to rural development and was appointed to her current position in June 2022 by President Joe Biden.

Among other business items, the Board will consider the budget and planning guide for ETCOG’s operations for fiscal year 2024 (October 1, 2023 through September 30, 2024). The total proposed budget is $83,421,218, reflecting an overall increase of $2,066,427 over the previous year. Total program area revenues for this year’s budget are:

  • Area Agency on Aging – $6,615,968
  • Public Safety – $3,803,693
  • Transportation – $12,342,346
  • Workforce and Economic Development – $60,206,263
  • GIS and Regional Technology Solutions – $88,224
  • General Fund – $364,724

GoBus wins outstanding marketing awards from

Southwest Transportation Association

The East Texas Council of Governments’ rural transit system, GoBus, is pleased to receive the South West Transit Association’s (SWTA) annual Spotlight Awards, which recognize excellence in marketing and outreach efforts produced by transit providers across the eight-state SWTA region. .

The SWTA Annual Spotlight Awards aim to promote excellence and innovation in the transportation industry, highlight best practice and inspire continuous improvement. The selection process included a rigorous evaluation by a panel of industry experts, who evaluated each entry based on criteria such as creativity, impact, community engagement and overall effectiveness.

“This is a very exciting win, and the communications team is thrilled to be recognized in this way,” said ETCOG Communications Director Lindsay Vanderbilt. “Staff have taken significant measures to diversify communications delivery and increase the effectiveness of the campaign. It has been great to collaborate with so many individuals on the ETCOG team to get these messages out to the public.”

Fair Housing Survey: Equal Opportunities for All

What do you know about fair housing and housing discrimination? Most people assume that discrimination is based solely on the color of their skin, but it covers much more than that and is not always that simple.

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they rent or buy a home, get a mortgage, seek housing assistance, or engage in other housing-related activities.

The East Texas Council of Governments wants to make sure our region has good education on recognizing housing discrimination and how to avoid it and report it if you encounter it. Every person, regardless of color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability, has the right to fair and non-discriminatory housing. Take our test, and let’s see how “fair” you are!

East Texas Broadband Planning Initiative Update, Texas Legislation – 88th Session

A 3-year EDA Broadband Planning Grant totaling $375,000 is currently underway at ETCOG⁠—used to develop a strategic broadband plan for all of East Texas. A total of $161,000 in matching funds has been allocated by our member agencies, EDCs, and ETCOG to support the project.

ETCOG staff works with each county to classify and prioritize projects proposed by business leaders and broadband providers to meet identified needs. The final plan includes three to five highly rated projects in each district, with associated budgets required to implement each project.

County status report

ETCOG is proud to announce that broadband studies have been completed for all 14 counties, 62 locally identified projects have been planned to date and approved by 12 counties, and plans are underway and awaiting approvals for Henderson County and the City of Whitehouse in Smith County. The plans will be used to obtain funds for project implementation through grants, foundations, etc.

See the status of your county →

East Texas Joint Initiative National Conference

ETCOG was honored to join the National Fiber Connect Conference hosted by the Fiber Broadband Association and the National Association of Counties (NACo) last month. Our Director of Communications, Lindsay Vanderbilt, served on the “Community Impact: Broadband and Social Good” panel, where speakers discussed lessons learned when community leaders leveraged fiber broadband to make their community’s future brighter, more inclusive and connected.

Texas Broadband Legislation

Summary of Senate Bill (SB) 1238

SB 1238 (Senator Nichols) amends state law to build on the broadband development program created by HB 5 (87R). This legislation provides updated policy and guidance for BDO to administer the program more efficiently.

Summary of House of Representatives Joint Resolution No. 125

HJR 125 (Rep. Ashby) amends the Constitution to create the Broadband Infrastructure Fund (BIF), which, if approved by voters on the November 2023 ballot, would provide $1.5 billion in state dollars to fund emergency broadband and communications infrastructure projects in Texas. If approved by voters, the BIF would expire on September 1, 2035, and any unspent or unobligated funds would be transferred to the General Revenue Fund immediately prior to the expiration date.

The Area Agency on Aging hosts the 32nd Annual REACH Conference to educate individuals who work with older adults
More than two hundred nursing facility directors, practitioners, caregivers and others who work with older adults will receive training at the 32nd annual REACH (Regional Education on Aging, Caregiving, and Health Care) conference next week.
The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) hosts the annual conference to provide educational workshops, plenary sessions, and networking opportunities. This year’s conference will be held at the Maude Cobb in Longview October 4-5, and is ideal for professionals or caregivers who serve older adults and people with disabilities.

The 32nd REACH Congress presents a wide range of topics related to aging, including:

  • The physical and emotional challenges of aging
  • How to take care of yourself while caring for an older person
  • Legal and financial issues related to aging
  • Resources and support for professional and personal caregivers
  • Research on aging

Boost your digital defense with these

Safety techniques

In the rapidly evolving digital world landscape, the threat of cyber attacks has become a constant concern. Cybercriminals have different tools and techniques to hack systems, hack data, and disrupt the lives of individuals and organizations alike. One common thread running through many of these attacks is their ability to exploit human behavior and technological vulnerabilities.

Below are the most common methods used by malicious actors to spread

Infection and explore preventative measures to strengthen your digital defenses.

Attack methods

  • Phishing
  • USB drives and cables
  • Malicious mobile applications
  • Software vulnerabilities

See prevention techniques by reading the full article.

Join us for the third annual National Disability Employment Awareness (NDEAM) event.

Workforce Solutions East Texas (WSET) announces its partnership with Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS) to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign held each October. With the success of the past two celebrations, this year promises to be another great showcase of the amazing contributions of workers with disabilities and the importance of inclusive employment practices.

Building on the success of previous NDEAM events, the third annual celebration aims to further amplify the message of inclusivity. Through engaging activities, enlightening discussions, and inspiring stories, attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the positive impact that accessible, equitable employment practices can have on individuals and businesses alike. This event will serve as a platform for employers, community leaders and individuals with disabilities to come together, exchange ideas and make connections that pave the way for a more inclusive workforce.

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