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ETCOG Happenings – September 2023

ETCOG Board to Hear from State USDA Director, Lillian Salerno, and Consider $83.4M 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 a special guest, Lillian Salerno, the Texas State Director for USDA Rural Development.

Lillian Salerno is a lifelong Texan who grew up in a rural community. She has seen firsthand the challenges faced by rural Texans, and she is committed to making sure that rural Texas is not left 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 Whitehouse Rural Council, and she served six years as a sub-cabinet official for the Obama Administration. She has testified before Congress on a variety of issues related to rural development and was appointed by President Joe Biden to her current position in June 2022.

Among other business items, the Board will consider the budget and planning guide for ETCOG operations for the fiscal year 2024 (October 1, 2023, through September 30, 2024). The proposed budget totals $83,421,218, reflecting an overall increase of $2,066,427 compared to the prior year. Program area revenue totals for the budget this year are:

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

GoBus Wins Marketing Spotlight Awards from

South West Transit Association

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

The SWTA Annual Spotlight Awards aim to foster excellence and innovation within the transit industry, highlighting best practices and inspiring continuous improvement. The selection process involved rigorous evaluation by a panel of industry experts, who assessed 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 delighted to be recognized in this way,” said ETCOG’s Communications Director, Lindsay Vanderbilt. “Staff has taken great measures to diversify communication delivery and heighten campaign effectiveness. It’s been great to collaborate with so many individuals on the ETCOG team to bring these messages to the public.”

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Fair Housing Survey: Equal Opportunity 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 so much more than that and isn’t always so straightforward.

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities.

The East Texas Council of Governments wants to ensure that our region is well-educated on recognizing housing discrimination and how to avoid and report it if encountered. Everyone, regardless of color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability, is entitled to fair and non-discriminatory housing. Take our test, and let’s see how you “fair”!

Complete the Survey

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

A 3-Year Broadband Planning Grant from EDA totaling $375K is underway at ETCOG ⁠—utilized for the development of a Broadband Strategic Plan for all of East Texas. A total of $161K in matching funds was committed by our member agencies, EDCs, and ETCOG to support the project.

ETCOG staff has been working with each county to rank and prioritize projects that business leaders and broadband providers have proposed to address the identified needs. The final plan includes three to five top-rated projects in each county, with associated budgets required to implement each project.

County Status Report

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

See your county’s status →

East Texas Initiative Shared at 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 Communications Director, Lindsay Vanderbilt, served on the panel “Community Impact: Broadband and the Social Good,” where speakers discussed lessons learned as community leaders leverage fiber broadband to make their community’s future brighter, more inclusive, and connected.

Texas Legislation on Broadband

Summary of Senate Bill (SB) 1238

SB 1238 (Sen. Nichols) amends the Government Code to build on the Broadband Development Program established by HB 5 (87R). This legislation provides updated policy and guidance for the BDO to administer the program more efficiently.

Summary of House Joint Resolution (HJR) 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, will provide $1.5 billion in state dollars to fund broadband and emergency telecommunications infrastructure projects in Texas. If approved by voters, the BIF will expire on Sept. 1, 2035, and any unexpended or unobligated funds will be transferred to the General Revenue Fund immediately before the expiration date.

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Area Agency on Aging to host 32nd Annual REACH Conference to Educate Individuals Who Work with Seniors
More than two hundred area nursing facility administrators, practitioners, caregivers, and others who work with seniors will receive training at the 32nd annual REACH Conference (Regional Education on Aging, Caregiving, and Healthcare) 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 Maude Cobb in Longview on October 4-5 and is ideal for professionals or caregivers serving older adults and persons with disabilities.

The 32nd REACH Conference offers a wide range of topics related to aging, including:

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

Strengthen Your Digital Defense with these

Safety Techniques

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the digital world, the threat of cyberattacks is an ever-present concern. Cybercriminals have various tools and techniques to infiltrate systems, compromise data, and disrupt the lives of individuals and organizations alike. One common thread that runs through many of these attacks is their ability to exploit human behavior and technological vulnerabilities.

Here are the most prevalent methods used by malicious actors to spread

infections and explore preventive measures to bolster your digital defenses.

Attack Methods

  • Phishing
  • USB Drives and Cables
  • Malicious Mobile Apps
  • Software Vulnerabilities

See prevention techniques by reading the full article.

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Join us for the Third Annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month (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 that takes place each October. With the success of the past two celebrations, this year promises to be another remarkable showcase of the incredible contributions of workers with disabilities and the importance of inclusive employment practices.

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

Register Here

East Texas Council of Governments

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East Texas Council of Governments | 3800 Stone RoadKilgore, TX 75662

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