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ETCOG Happenings

Second Year of “Rural, Set, Go!”
Workforce Strategy Forums Underway
Workforce Solutions East Texas (WSET), in partnership with the East Texas Council of Governments, and local elected officials, is proud to announce the second annual rural economic development forum series titled Rural, Set, Go: Boost! The forums will take place weekly, March through May, in East Texas rural counties. Events are open to local community and business leaders, employers, school districts, secondary schools, economic development corporations, and chambers.
Rural, Set, Go: Boost! is an intentional strategy to engage community leaders, business leaders, and community members in candid conversations about the factors that influence their local workforce and economic development needs. At the Texas Workforce Commission Conference held in November, WSET was awarded a $200,000 grant for future excellence in innovation to expand the event series. WSET will utilize input from the 2021 event series in the upcoming forums to connect participants with program information, including work-based learning, entrepreneurial training, and child care services, to improve the economic impact and develop incumbent workers in the community.
“The Rural, Set, Go initiative is a collaborative effort that will help identify workforce issues by individual counties in the East Texas region. We at Workforce Solutions East Texas are ‘rolling up our sleeves’ to address the issues and deliver solutions,” said Workforce Solutions East Texas Board Chairman Claude Figueroa.
“Workforce Solutions East Texas has been a secret far too long. We want and need all of our employers and educational institutions to know all of the available resources we have to offer. And then they need to take advantage of them. Together, we can help each community within East Texas to ‘grow their own workforce’,” said WSET Centers Director Angelia Snow.
Forums are held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 PM in their host counties. See event details and register to attend an event at
“One of the greatest resources East Texas employers offer employees is the chance to work in the towns and countryside of the Piney Woods, close enough to markets to conduct business, far enough to not spend hours commuting. Come tell us how to help you draw, support, and refine your talent base, taking your business to the next level,” said Doug Shryock, WSET Executive Director.
ETCOG Welcomes Colleen Halliburton to Oversee Area Agency on Aging Senior Programs and Services
ETCOG is pleased to announce the appointment of Colleen Halliburton to its management team as the Director of the Area Agency on Aging of East Texas (AAA). In this position, Halliburton will oversee developing and maintaining a comprehensive, coordinated human service delivery system for nutrition and support services for seniors in ETCOG’s fourteen-county region.
Halliburton brings over 20 years of experience serving seniors in various positions. Prior to accepting this position, Halliburton was Director of the Community Services Division at the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission, which included the Area Agency on Aging, 2-1-1 Area Information Center, the Community Services Block Grant, Lighthouse Weatherization Program, and the Coalition for the Homeless of Southeast Texas. She also currently serves as the President of the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
“I am excited and pleased to welcome Mrs. Halliburton to the ETCOG Team. She brings a wealth of knowledge and real-life experience to the Director position that will allow her to build on the East Texas AAA’s current successes! Her passion for serving seniors is both evident and contagious! I look forward to the opportunity to serve alongside her and the entire ETCOG AAA Team!” said ETCOG Executive Director David Cleveland.
“It is an honor to join the ETCOG team and the outstanding professionals at the East Texas Area Agency on Aging,” said Colleen Halliburton. “Caring for our elders can be a challenge, especially when we don’t know what to do. At the AAA, we want to help all generations of caregivers through their challenges so they may also experience the sweet gifts of serving their loved ones.”
The AAA of East Texas is part of a nationwide network coordinating supportive services for seniors as mandated by the Older Americans Act of 1965 and its subsequent amendments. Its programs are tailored to meet the social, nutritional, educational, and logistical needs of residents aged 60 years and older, caregivers, or individuals receiving Medicare, regardless of age.
Community Loan Center of East Texas Reaches $1M Lending Milestone
ETCOG’s Community Loan Center of East Texas (CLC) is celebrating a huge landmark of lending more than $1 million to East Texans (since inception) as a better alternative to expensive loans!
This program enables employers to offer low-interest payroll loans to employees when they find themselves in a financial bind. We established the CLC of East Texas in 2016 to offer low-interest, low-fee personal loans to employees of enrolled employers as an alternative to high-cost consumer and auto title loans.
The CLC of East Texas is a 501(c)3 nonprofit program with the mission to encourage and assist very low, low, and moderate-income persons through credit solutions, loans, and financial counseling, as an alternative to payday loans to promote, develop and improve the economic conditions of people in the East Texas region.
We are thrilled to reach this new lending benchmark!
National Fair Housing Month Kicks Off
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) kicked off Fair Housing Month 2022. This year’s Fair Housing Month theme, Fair Housing: More Than Just Words, underscores the Administration’s commitment and progress toward advancing equity in housing and securing equal access to housing opportunities for all.
“The Fair Housing Act recognized what generations have known – that where we live impacts nearly every part of our lives,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Fair Housing Month is a time to recommit to our mission to promote fairness, inclusion, and justice in housing. This month and every month, we are doing everything in our power to ensure every person has a fair shot at the American dream.”
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to
Recognizing East Texas Telecommunicators During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week
ETCOG, in its capacity as the primary planning and coordinating entity for Emergency 9-1-1 Communications in East Texas, will honor the region’s more than 140 emergency telecommunicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week — April 10 through 16 — and encourages local jurisdictions to participate in recognizing the services and dedication of those answering 9-1-1 calls.
In Texas, public safety telecommunicators act as our “unseen first responders,” serving our communities and helping save lives every day. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also proclaimed the week as Public Safety Telecommunicators Week to recognize their contributions as first responders.
“ETCOG would like to acknowledge all Public Safety Telecommunicators. You are the first line of defense at the beginning of an incident, serve to protect life and property, and help maintain calm during uncertainty. Thank you for your invaluable service,” said ETCOG’s Director of Public Safety Stephanie Heffner.
In the ETCOG region, emergency telecommunicators answer nearly 211,000 calls and 4,205 texts a year. To celebrate, ETCOG will distribute gift bags to our regional telecommunicators throughout the month.
Learn about the ETCOG 9-1-1 planning and emergency services at
ETCOG Awarded for Excellence in Financial
Reporting for 21st Consecutive Year
The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to ETCOG for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020. The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.
The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. It is awarded to the East Texas Council of Governments Operations Division, which includes: David Cleveland, Executive Director; Wendi Horst, Operations Director; and Operations team members Katelyn Andrews, Rhonda Barber, Gini Blackwell, Sloane Bodle, Christy Fowler, Christy Green, Noweka Harvey, Rita Hitt, Kelly Horn, Patricia Hudspeth, Elizabeth Jones, DeAnn Jordan, Glenda Lamothe, Michaela Marotta, Staci Reynolds, and Kim Zimmerman.
“Twenty-one consecutive years receiving this recognition from an independent source is an outstanding achievement,” said ETCOG Executive Director David Cleveland. “It is also reflective of ETCOG’s commitment to financial accountability. I am so proud of our entire Operations Team for their relentless pursuit of excellence!”
“We are very honored to receive this award,” said Director of Operations Wendi Horst. “It recognizes the standards our leaders expect from ETCOG on a national level and is a great tribute to the dedication and hard work of our team.”
ETCOG’s 2020 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report can be viewed at
East Texas Demographics & Business Properties Locator
ETX Demographics & Business Properties Locator
ETCOG, through its East Texas Economic Development District (ETEDD), has launched brand new online data tools to promote the region for business relocation and expansion and to support its Economic Development Corporation members.
The easy-to-use tools make information, research, and analysis instantly accessible to community stakeholders, site selectors, realtors, and businesses making location decisions. Existing businesses can access a specialized portal with additional market intelligence to help them grow their companies.
ETCOG has purchased licensing for each of the Economic Development Corporations in the region to have access to the tools and add properties to the site directly. Staff is in the process of rolling out the tools to all EDC members, and 115 properties have been added to date.
GoBus Offers Services to Veterans and Active Military
GoBus Military and Veteran Transportation Services
Have you ever wondered what it would really take to work in a new career field? Workforce Solutions East Texas has launched a new virtual event series for job seekers to take out the guesswork.
Participants can join a Career Boost event and speak directly with employers and service providers in leading hiring industries!
Each session provides labor market information and statistics and connects current and potential job seekers from that industry to educators and employers in the field. These sessions are to be held every other week.
Events are held on our virtual hiring event platform, Brazen. Our software is simple and easy to use! You can connect through 1-on-1 text-based chats from the comfort of your home, office, smartphone, or tablet. To participate, register to attend an event, and be sure to join the event when it’s time.
East Texas Council of Governments
(903) 218-6400
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East Texas Council of Governments | 3800 Stone RoadKilgore, TX 75662

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