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Pavilion’s Efforts to Expand Services

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 19 February 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2336

Members of Pavilion, with Executive Director Gordon Butler standing second to left in the back row, stand outside Pavilion Clubhouse in Cedar Park that serves all of Williamson County. Executive Director Gordon Butler dreams that Pavilion Clubhouse, serving people living  with mental illness and/or substance abuse throughout Williamson County, will one day be open seven days a week.

Pavilion peer counselors are positioned to be the support group for those being released from a jail or court who are suffering from mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

Helping people through recovery and reintegrating them into the community, either through paid employment or volunteer work, is Pavilion’s mission. These services significantly reduce recidivism and re-hospitalizations.

John Hopkins University projected that clubhouses in Texas save the community $10,000 per year per member in healthcare costs alone, and in reducing recidivism rates, typically 60 to 75 percent, to under 10 percent for those actively involved in a clubhouse.

Prior to courts going virtual, Pavilion peer counselors were present in some of our courtrooms.  When they recognized possible mental illness and/or substance use in someone standing before a judge, they would leave the courtroom to introduce themselves to the legal counsel and/or family and offer support. 

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Launches Texas Rent Relief Program

This is not a Wilco Program but rather a rent and utility assistance program administered by the state for qualifying households throughout Texas.

  • 11 February 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2294

This program was created to administer the more than $1 billion allocated to Texas through the latest federal COVID-19 stimulus bill.

For a brief description, please visit Landlords and Renters.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community affairs (TDHCA) will begin accepting applications for the program on Monday, February 15, but Texans can visit TexasRentRelief.com starting today to learn more about qualifications, required documents, and the application process.

Applicants can submit their application by calling 1-833-9TX-RENT (1-833-989-7368) or submitting it online at TexasRentRelief.com. The call center will be open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Williamson County Opens Call Center for COVID-19 Vaccine

Press release is from Williamson County's Public Information Office

  • 2 February 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2373

Williamson County has set up a call center to serve as a resource for residents interested in COVID-19 vaccine information.Red rotary phone - •	<a  data-cke-saved-href="https://www.freepik.com/vectors/phone" href="https://www.freepik.com/vectors/phone">Phone vector created by macrovector - www.freepik.com</a> The call center number is 512-943-1600. 

The call center is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Call center representatives can assist individuals with information such as how to sign up on the Family Hospital Systems vaccine waitlist by walking them through the process over the phone, confirm that someone is on the waitlist, give information about the County’s vaccine plan, and share details on the County’s Vaccine Registration Technical Assistance (VRTA) sites.  

The first VRTA site open is at the Sun City Social Center ballroom, located at 2 Texas Drive in Georgetown. The Sun City ballroom VRTA site is for people who received an email from FHS stating they are next in line to receive a vaccination appointment, but who need technical assistance filling out their registration paperwork.  

Commissioner Cook Shares Information For Those Facing Inability to Pay Property Taxes

Information from the County Tax Assessor Collector

  • 1 February 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2175

If you were unable to pay your property taxes in full by February 1, the Williamson County Tax Assessor Collector strongly recommends paying as much as you can before the end of each month to limit the amount of penalty and interest that accrues. ForImage of a blue house with yellow roof and chimney from Home Icon. property with a homestead exemption, there is a 12-month installment plan available that limits the penalty and prevents a suit for delinquent taxes from being filed on the property. You can find more information at  Homestead Installment. The Tax Collector may enter into an agreement with a person delinquent for the payment of tax, penalty, and interest on which their homestead is claimed, per Sec. 33.02 of the Texas Property Tax Code.

For more information, go to Homestead Installment Agreement or call the Wilco Tax office at 512-943-1601.

IT workers are pandemic heroes, too

Commissioner Cook's Column

  • 21 January 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2413

On Dec. 22, the Williamson County Commissioners Court recognized former Senior Director of Technology Services Jay Schade, at far left, on his 20-year retirement and the entire IT staff for their contributions to the county. (Shown standing inside the Wilco Historic Courthouse with members of the Commissioners Court standing behind them, including Commissioner Cook behind Jay Schade.

We’ve been praising medical personnel, first responders, grocery store clerks, restaurant workers and others for their dedication and resourcefulness as we’ve pressed forward all these months of the pandemic.

But what about the invisible and unheralded work of Information Technology organizations?

IT departments everywhere enabled office workers and students to get their jobs done in the safer environment of home. I’d like to shine a light on the amazing team of employees in the Williamson County’s IT department that enabled the diverse work of the county to proceed during these challenging times.

Richard Semple, our chief information officer, had difficulty singling out only one or a few of his staff of 50 to praise. “There were so many people that did so much great work during this pandemic. We truly pushed the staff to the limit and tasked them with so much, including many things they had little experience with before the pandemic,” he explained.

Many IT staffers had never worked an emergency response or used the new tools IT suddenly had to implement, while others were assigned to unfamiliar technology areas. It was truly remarkable to see an administrative person teaching Microsoft Teams, a GIS professional working on COVID-19 transmission projections or a computer technician assisting with technical issues at COVID-19 testing sites.

The county already owned Microsoft Office 365, with tools like Teams for collaboration and OneDrive for cloud access of files anywhere, but many departments had not yet embraced the technology.

The immediate impact the pandemic  brought forced every department to clamber for these tools, required new designs and configurations implemented quickly, and employees trained.


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