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ETCOG Happenings – December 2022

ETCOG Recognizes Judge Robert Johnston for

11 Years of Service

As 2022 is drawing to a close, so is our time with one of our valued volunteers, Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston. We want to give our sincerest thanks and recognition to Judge Johnston for serving ETCOG in a multitude of capacities for eleven years.

During Judge Johnston’s service, many things have been evident through his leadership. He loves this region. He takes his role seriously and has sacrificed to serve the region. He always does what he believes is right. And both as an individual and leader of our organizational boards, he has supported our agency and made it better.

“Judge Johnston’s service to Anderson County and to the entire 14-County East Texas Region has been nothing short of stellar!” said East Texas Council of Governments Executive Director David Cleveland. “His passion for excellence and willingness to serve whenever and wherever needed is a model all of us aspire to attain!”

Judge Johnston joined the ETCOG Board and Executive Committee when he took office as Anderson County Judge in 2011 and became the Chairman in 2015. He also joined the ETCOG Chief Elected Officials / Rural Planning Organization Board in 2011 and has served as its Chairman since 2015.

In September 2022, Johnston was elected the first ETCOG delegate to serve as President of the Texas Association of Regional Councils Board. TARC is the statewide association of regional councils whose members focus on enhancing the quality of life through regional strategies, partnerships, and solutions. Johnston began service to the TARC board representing the ETCOG region in 2016 and served as its President-Elect in 2021.

We thank you for your leadership, guidance, dedicated service, and friendship, for which we are incredibly grateful!

$89,000 in Funding was Allocated to 16 East Texas Jurisdictions in Solid Waste Reduction Efforts

ETCOG announces $89,129.12 in grants from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) awarded to East Texas jurisdictions and special districts to support regional waste minimization efforts in ETCOG’s fourteen-county region. This funding assists jurisdictions in establishing or expanding projects that would directly provide a measurable effect on reducing the amount of waste going into area landfills by diverting various materials from the municipal solid waste stream for beneficial use or reducing waste generation at the source.

“ETCOG appreciates the efforts of many of our jurisdictions to apply for these funds, as well as the Solid Waste Advisory Committee’s commitment to making East Texas a cleaner place to live,” said ETCOG’s Community and Economic Development Manager, Chuck Vanderbilt. “These essential projects led to the cleanup of hundreds of sites, almost 10,000 tires, and the collection of over 4.2 million pounds of solid waste last year. We look forward to seeing the results this year’s projects will bring to the region.”

Grant Recipients

GoBus Announces Approval to Construct New

In-House Maintenance Facility

GoBus is proud to announce the ETCOG Executive Committee’s approval of an in-house maintenance facility that allows staff to provide thorough and consistent preventative measures on organizational vehicles across the 14-county region.

“After several years of research and planning, GoBus is excited to be in the preliminary stages of construction and design,” said Transportation Director Vince Huerta.


In 2021, the GoBus team conducted a feasibility study, which determined that an in-house facility would offer a more aggressive maintenance program, in-depth inspections, and cost-savings.

“Having in-house maintenance will reduce turnaround time for vehicle repairs allowing us to get them back on the road, assisting customers sooner and safer, said Huerta. “Ultimately, this opportunity allows us to continue our mission of providing safe, reliable, and friendly transportation services.”

The $2.5M projected budget will allow for staff relocation, two vehicle bays, training rooms, and additional parking for regional vehicles. Next steps include a detailed floor plan and schedule for final completion in FY23.

Palestine Seasonal Service Offered Through

December 27

We have great news for you if you attend holiday activities in Palestine. A flex route transit service operated by GoBus and funded partially by Visit Palestine is available to shuttle people around throughout the city on evenings and weekends through December 27.

Each shuttle is handicap accessible and driven by highly trained operators employed by ETCOG.

Scheduled Stops

Grant Workshops to be Held to Assist with Applying for Criminal Justice Project Funding

Local governments, independent school districts, public and private non-profit institutions of higher education, non-profit corporations, and state agencies can soon apply for FY 2024 grant funds from the Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office, Criminal Justice Division. New and continuing applicants in ETCOG’s fourteen (14) county region are invited to attend FREE grant application workshops hosted by the ETCOG Public Safety division. Four workshops will be held virtually from December through January.
“The goal is to improve public safety and support victims of crime by filling gaps in the region via funding that promotes innovative solutions to regional problems,” said ETCOG’s Public Safety Director, Stephanie Heffner. “We help applicants understand what needs to go into their grant applications and what they have to track once they receive funding from the state, so we can successfully bring public safety projects to East Texas.”
Workshop Dates

Is your agency cyber-safe? We can help!

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to our cyber and physical infrastructure. It offers four primary steps to keeping you cyber-safe: turn on multi-factor authentication, update your software, think before you click, and use strong passwords.

If you have any questions or would like a free consultation regarding your IT environment, please get in touch with our Regional Technology Solutions department at (903) 218-6400, or visit our website at

East Texas Council of Governments

(903) 218-6400

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