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In This Issue
Have new goals for the year? So does your Commissioner. 

While we continue to add more roads, parks, and trails, Precinct 4 also makes them safer. Mercer Botanic Gardens now features permanent security cameras, while our Road & Bridge crews continue to monitor Precinct 4's roads for hazards. 

I also endeavor to get more people visiting the Spring Creek Greenway, which now measures 13.7 contiguous miles. My staff and I have spotted plenty of wildlife and healthy vegetation along the trails, and I hope you will too!

Before we dive into the new year, let us take a moment to reflect on some of Precinct 4's biggest moments. Read more below to discover what we added in 2016.

As a reminder, you can access past issues of  Commissioner's E-Corner on the  Precinct 4 website.  Visit Precinct 4 online and learn more about the road projects taking place, as well as the upcoming events at Precinct 4's community centers and parks, and Senior Adult Program activities through Fun4Seniors.

Commissioner R. Jack Cagle
Harris County Precinct 4
HCFCD Building Named in Honor of Former Director

Commissioner Cagle attends a dedication ceremony with
former HCFCD Executive Director Mike Talbott
 and current Executive Director Russ Poppe.
Commissioners Court recently named the Harris County Flood Control District's (HCFCD) North Service Center at 7522 Prairie Oak Drive in honor of Michael Talbott, the district's former executive director.

After a 35-year career with the Harris County Flood Control District, Mike Talbott retired as executive director in August, where he managed 2,500 miles of waterways and helped mitigate some of Houston's worst flooding.

Under his leadership, the district embraced new flood prediction software and built green waterways and reservoirs that doubled as parks.

Over his career with the HCFCD, Talbott has served as a foodplain hydrologist, project manager, and director of operations. Since becoming director of operations in 1998, Talbott has managed area responses to two major tropical storms and a hurricane as well as the devastating flood in 2016.
Talbott's successor is Russ Poppe, who previously served as the district's director of operations. He has worked with Harris County since 2005 after graduating from Texas A&M University in 1999 with a civil engineering degree.
Poppe has held various leadership positions within both Harris County and Harris County Flood Control District, with project responsibilities spanning from roadway, park, and water quality projects, to multi-story buildings and complex flood risk reduction projects in highly urbanized areas.

Precinct 4 Looks Back at 2016 

From blazing trails along the Spring Creek Greenway to building new roads, Precinct 4 has been busy this year. Here are just a few of the ways we've worked to make Precinct 4 better for you:
  • Answered 483 repair requests and repaired 26.76 miles of roadway.
  • Increased funding for law enforcement for a total of 24 constable deputies who patrol the parks system.
  • Added more than four miles of trails along the Cypress and Spring Creek greenways.
  • Created Trails As Parks (TAP), which allows more residents to participate in canoeing, archery, nature tours, and more. Visit for more details.
  • Installed more than four miles along roadways including Aldine Westfield, Kuykendahl, and Fagan Lane. 

Homestead Heritage Day Comes to Jones Park 
Re-enactors entertain at Jones Park.
Explore a 19th century Texas settlement during the annual Homestead Heritage Day at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center Saturday, Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors of all ages can enjoy a variety of demonstrations, crafts, and games, sample old-fashioned foods, and experience other 19th century activities during this family-friendly event. Admission is free and parking is available at no charge.

Guests can enjoy watching Civil War unfold in 1861 Texas as the 13th U.S. Infantry arrives to engage Confederate troops and free slaves during a re-enacted Civil War skirmish at 2 p.m. in the homestead. The featured event will include cannons and black powder weaponry along with other re-enactment groups, including Texas Rifles and 11th Texas Cavalry.

In the nearby Akokisa Indian village, American Indian descendants will demonstrate tribal customs and the use of tools, weapons, musical instruments and peace pipes.

The fun continues with exhibits including basket weaving, blacksmithing, butter churning, cast iron cooking, corn grinding, dyeing, hide tanning, soap making, spinning, weaving, and woodworking. Old-fashioned food will also be available for sampling including cornbread from the bread oven, jerky from the smokehouse, and stick bread and hoecakes cooked over an open fire.
Children's activities include American Indian face painting, rope making and old-fashioned entertainment such as archery, a corn cob toss, stilts, hoops, and the spinning jenny, while adults can partake in a hawk throwing contest. Everyone can experience settler life through common daily tasks like candle making, carding wool, laundry, quilting, scraping hides, and skinning logs.

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center is a Harris County Precinct 4 facility located at 20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble. For more information about the park or any of the activities and programs offered, please call 281-446-8588 or visit

New Security Cameras Installed at Mercer
Commissioner Cagle increases 
security  at Mercer Botanic Gardens.
Harris County Precinct 4 has a message for anyone thinking about committing a crime at Mercer Botanic Gardens: Don't try it. 

Mercer now features security cameras monitoring its main parking lot in real time that will improve Mercer's ability to monitor criminal activity and provide high quality footage to deputies.  

Staff will be able to monitor the parking lot remotely in two locations as well as review footage. Constable deputies will continue to patrol the park regularly after Commissioner R. Jack Cagle hired additional deputies last year. 

"Visitors shouldn't have to worry about their cars getting broken into while enjoying Precinct 4 parks," said Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. "We're hoping this, along with the added security, eliminates any concerns residents have about visiting Mercer." 

The new cameras replaced unmonitored, motion-activated cameras Previously, staff could only access memory chips from inside the camera and had to reset the cameras weekly.
"This technology greatly enhances our ability to provide a safe environment for garden visitors," said Mercer Director Darrin Duling. "If a criminal does strike, we'll be aware of it instantly." 
Boy Scout Installs New Interpretaive Trail at Jones Park
Tyler Pohla of Troop 9 stops to admire his work on a new pollinator trail at Jones Park. 
Jones Park visitors have a new interpretive trail to explore thanks to aspiring Eagle Scout Tyler Pohla and Boy Scout Troop 9 of Humble. 

Starting Monday, Dec. 19  Pohla and members of his Boy Scout troop contributed 137.5 volunteer hours to  an interpretive pollinator trail at Jones Park.

Pohla and his team constructed the trail, installed native plants, and created signage with information on each plant. Each sign contains the plant's name, their native habitat, and the type of pollinators each plant attracts. 
Leading by example, Pohla hopes the trail will inspire others to create their own pollinator habitats to help restore the world's dwindling pollinator population. 

His project was sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in Humble. Thank you for your hard work , Tyler! We can't wait to see the new pollinator trail in full bloom!
Spring Creek Greenway Phase IV Opens
The Spring Creek Greenway is a popular birding location. 
One of the nation's longest urban greenways just got a little longer. 

In January, Precinct 4 officially opened Phase IV of the Spring Creek Greenway. The two-mile trail connects Jones Park with Highway 59 near the Bevil Jarrell Memorial Bridge in Humble.

A popular outdoor recreational area, the greenway is perfect for hiking, biking, birding, and photography. 

Anyone who would like to access the new trail can park in the parking lot under the Highway 59 bridge. The trail entrance is located near the southbound Eastex Freeway Service Road.

The addition brings the total length of the Spring Creek Greenway to 13.7 miles long.  

Since 1979, the Spring Creek Greenway project has grown to connect five Precinct 4 parks from Dennis Johnston Park in Spring to Jones Park in Humble. The proposed 40-mile-long linear trail system is an ongoing project intended to protect the pristine habitat along Spring Creek.  For more information, visit .

Winter Road Maintenance Ramps Up
Houston's known for its hot, humid summers and mild winters. But when temperatures drop below freezing, ice becomes a dangerous possibility for motorists.

To help prevent accidents, Precinct 4's Road & Bridge Department confirms all watch-for-ice signs are visible to motorists and prepares spreader trucks for surprise ice storms. 

Once a freeze warning is issued, crews use the spreader trucks to coat ice-prone bridges and roadways with sand preemptively and begin visually monitoring about 261 ice-prone areas around the precinct. For example, prior to the 2014 winter ice storm, Precinct 4 distributed about 55 tons of sand along Precinct 4 streets.  

As always, Precinct 4 counts on its residents to keep the streets safe. Stay vigilant and aware of locations where ice tends to accumulate.

Bridges are usually the first locations to ice, especially ones containing metal, which tends to lose heat faster than asphalt. While roadways only lose heat from its surface, bridges lose heat from above and below. Add in rainy weather and quickly dropping temperatures and you have the perfect conditions for ice.  

Drivers should also take precautions late on rainy days and at night when temperatures drop and moisture from the air condenses. Under the right conditions, black ice can form. Usually transparent, black ice is particularly dangerous to motorists as it can blend in with the asphalt. 

While ice rarely strikes, Precinct 4 prides itself on its dedication to safety. We hope you stay warm and safe this winter!

Upcoming January/February Activities
Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center:
Gardening Daze. Wed., Jan. 18 and 25 at 8:30 a.m. Join Horticultural Coordinator Matt Abernathy for native plant landscaping and habitat restoration in the park. Volunteers assist with gardening outside the Nature Center, tending plants in the greenhouse, removing invasives, and completing other duties as assigned. Volunteer Doug Ebeling also offers vegetable gardening at 10 a.m. in the heritage garden at the pioneer homestead. Closed-toed shoes, gloves, a hat, sunscreen, and water are recommended.
Tai Chi. Wed., Jan. 18 and 25  at 8:30 a.m. Kick off the new year with a healthy outdoor activity. Doug Ebeling, volunteer Tai Chi instructor, leads this class based on the 24-step yang form of T'ai Chi. The hour-long class includes low-impact stretching, breathing, and range of motion exercises held in the outdoor classroom near the Nature Center.
Arbor Day Celebration. Sat. and Sun., Jan. 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Join park staff and volunteers to celebrate Arbor Day and learn more about native trees. Exhibits highlighting local trees, free tree saplings, tree planting, and care tips are available to visitors. Staff naturalists will lead a Winter Tree ID Walk on Sat. from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Webelos Scouts can also fulfill the Into the Woods adventure badge with a self-guided activity.
White Bass Fishing. Sat., Jan. 28 from 8 a.m. to noon. Enjoy a morning of fishing along Spring Creek. Winter is a great time to fish along the creek and the seasonal white bass spawning can provide lots of excitement on the water. Participants will need their own tackle and bait and anyone 16 years and older is required to have a fishing license. Park staff will be on hand to provide fishing tips and tricks. Reservations are required starting Wed., Jan. 18.

Mercer Botanic Gardens:
Lunch Bunch: Microgreens. Wed., Feb. 8 from noon to 2 p.m. Microgreens are easy-to-grow, edible plants that can flourish indoors or outdoors. Join Mercer Botanic Gardens' Greenhouse Manager Jacob Martin as he shares how to grow and harvest intensely flavored microgreens for their culinary uses. To register or receive additional information, contact Mercer Botanic Gardens at 713-274-4160.

Gardening. Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Join Mercer Botanic Gardens staff and volunteers for plant grooming, pruning, and weeding in the Perennial Garden. Discover new blooms and participate in plant identification to assist visitors. Also, learn about Texas native plants and endangered species in the Conservation Garden. Dress for the weather with tennis shoes or boots, gloves, and a hat. Sunscreen and water are recommended.
Gardening. Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Visit the Prehistoric and Shade Gardens for plant grooming, pruning, weeding, and mulching with Mercer staff and volunteers. This area displays primitive and unusual plants like the maidenhair tree and voodoo lily. Dress for the weather with tennis shoes or boots, gloves, and a hat. Sunscreen and water are recommended. 

Big Stone Lodge at Dennis Johnston Park:
American Indians.  Wed., Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. Learn about the American Indians of Harris County with education coordinator Monte Parks at Big Stone Lodge in Dennis Johnston Park. In the lecture, Parks will discuss how the established traditions and customs of American Indians influence the county today. To register for this free seminar or to receive additional information, call Big Stone Lodge at 281-350-1029.
Cruising the Russian Waterways.  Thurs., Jan. 26 at 1 p.m.  Join avid photographers Pat and David Townzen at Big Stone Lodge in Dennis Johnston Park as they give a narrated pictorial presentation of a river cruise along the Russian Waterways. To register for this free event or to receive additional information, call Big Stone Lodge at 281-350-1029.
Diabetes Empowerment Workshop.  Thurs., Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. Learn how to take charge of your health by understanding how diabetes affects the body in this six-week workshop beginning at Big Stone Lodge in Dennis Johnston Park. People affected by diabetes will gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify their behavior and lifestyle to successfully manage the disease and its related conditions. To register for this free weekly workshop or to receive additional information, call Big Stone Lodge at 281-350-1029.
Painting 4 Fun.  Wed., Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. Artists of all skill levels are welcome to spend an afternoon creating their own masterpieces during Painting 4 Fun at Big Stone Lodge in Dennis Johnston Park. Accomplished artist Casey Marshall will lead a two-hour class with step-by-step instructions on creating a lively work of art from beginning to end. To register for this free course or to receive additional information, call Big Stone Lodge at 281-350-1029.
European Explorations of Texas Lecture.  Wed., Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. Learn about the first European footsteps on Texas soil with Education Coordinator Monte Parks at Big Stone Lodge in Dennis Johnston Park. In the lecture, Parks will discuss how the established traditions and customs of European explorers influenced the state of Texas today. To register for this free seminar or to receive additional information, call Big Stone Lodge at 281-350-1029.

Mangum-Howell Community Center:
Resolutions Can Become a Reality Seminar. Wed., Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.  Louise Hayes from the Brain Growth and Repair Center will share some great motivational tools to help make your New Year resolutions become a reality Call 281-591-7830 or come by the Center to register.
Decorative Soap Making Art. Thurs., Jan. 26 at 10 a.m.  Learn the art of decorative soap making with volunteer Quenzette Young. Quenzette has extensive experience teaching the basic techniques of making personalized homemade soaps. In this class, she provides step-by-step instructions on how to make beautiful heart-shaped soaps for personal use or as gifts for Valentine's Day. Call 281-591-7830 or come by the Center to sign up for this class. A $5 suggested donation covers the cost of all supplies.
AARP Tax-Aide. Tues., Feb. 7 through April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and every Wed., Feb. 1 through April 12 from noon to 4 p.m., except April 5.  AARP tax-aide volunteers will provide free income tax assistance for low- and middle-income individuals at Mangum-Howell Center. Each appointment lasts approximately 45 minutes. Call (281) 591-7830.
Origami Valentine Craft Class. Fri., Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon.  Learn how to transform simple pieces of paper into three-dimensional models using the Japanese art of origami at Mangum-Howell Center. Origami artist and staff member Theresa Tran will share step-by-step instructions on how to fold origami paper into beautiful heart designs for personal use or as Valentine's Day gifts. Call 281-591-7830 or come by the Center to sign up for this class. A $5 suggested donation is requested to help defray the cost of the supplies which are provided in the class.
Free Popcorn and a Movie: An American in Paris. Fri., Feb. 10 at 1 p.m.  Take an afternoon break and enjoy a free showing of An American in Paris along with popcorn and a drink Mangum-Howell Center provides a surround-sound system, big screen TV, and padded seating for a true theater experience.

Black History Awareness Luncheon. Tues., Feb. 14 at noon.  Celebrate Black History Month at the Center and enjoy the delightful, soulful program that the Mangum-Howell Black History committee has planned for this annual celebration. The luncheon entrée is fried and rotisserie chicken, along with samples of classic soul food and peach cobbler for dessert. Bring your favorite covered dish with enough to share, and invite a friend, neighbor, or relative. 

Senior Adult Program:
Hemi Hideout and Katy Veterans Memorial Museum. Tues., Jan. 17 at 8:30 a.m. Visit the 100-year-old Shudde Bros Hatters. A $5 prepaid, non-refundable fee covers the costs of this trip. Enjoy lunch with the group at Rainforest Cafe.  Register at 
Asia Society Texas Center. Thurs., Jan. 19 at 8 a.m. The featured 3D photographs are the result of a 2014 project by Beijing-based Slovenian photographer Matjaz Tančič (b. 1982) with support from Koryo Studio, which specializes in North Korean art. The exhibition will be on view in the Center's Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall and will require visitors to wear 3D glasses to view the photographs. Lunch will be available for purchase at Kim Son restaurant. Register at

Dunham Bible Museum and Museum of Southern History. Fri., Jan. 20 at 9 a.m. Join us on a tour of the Dunham Bible Museum. With its extensive collection of rare Bibles, the museum is dedicated to telling the story of this important book. A prepaid, non-refundable fee of $12 must be received within one week of making your reservation. Lunch will be available for purchase in the Houston Baptist University cafeteria. Register at

Chinese New Year Luncheon: Year of the Rooster. Mon., Jan. 23 at 11:30 a.m. Celebrate the Chinese New Year along with the observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented, and confident people born in the Year of the Rooster at  St.  Stephen's United Methodist Church . China Wok is catering sweet and sour chicken, chicken fried rice, egg rolls, dessert and iced tea. Location:   Register at

Downtown Aquarium Adventure Exhibit. Wed., Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. Journey through the Downtown Aquarium Adventure Exhibit with the assistance of an interpretive Naturalist. This undersea expert will guide your exploration, providing extensive information on the creatures and habitats you encounter along the way. A prepaid, non-refundable fee of $10 must be received within one week of making your reservation. Register at
Mystery Trip. Thurs., Jan. 26 at 9:30 a.m. Where will we go? What will we do? Only the bus driver and the coordinator know! Join us for a fun-filled day, but don't ask where we are going. You will have to wait to find out. A $16 prepaid, nonrefundable fee covers the cost of this trip. Lunch will be available for purchase at Lupe Tortilla, where some of the best Tex-Mex is served. Register at

Historic Nacogdoches: The Legacy of Diedrich Rulfs. Fri., Jan. 27 at 8 a.m. From Germany to Texas, the brilliant architecture Diedrich Rulfs settled in Nacogdoches in 1880, designing Victorian-style homes with fishscale shingles, round-arch windows, and an intricate system of spindles, arches and posts. Prior to the tour, enjoy lunch with the group at the Cotton Patch Cafe. Register at

The Pasadena Opry Featuring Lisa Layne. Fri., Jan. 27 at 4:45 p.m. When it comes to singing a Patsy Cline song, nobody can touch Lisa. If you close your eyes and listen, you can feel Patsy's presence as Lisa sings. In early '95, Lisa won the role of Patsy Cline in the first National Tour of a "Closer Walk With Patsy Cline". A $10 prepaid, nonrefundable fee covers the cost of this trip. Lunch will be available for purchase at Casa Ole'. Register at

18th Annual Invitational School Choral Festival. Sun., Jan. 29 at 1 p.m. Houston Chamber Choir presents the 18th Annual Invitational School Choral Festival: Hear the Future. Each year, outstanding elementary, middle school, and high school choirs are invited to perform, followed by a concert from the Houston Chamber Choir. Lunch will be available for purchase at Luby's Cafeteria. Register at

St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica. Tues., Jan. 31 at 8 a.m. On July 11, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the liturgical and historical significance of Saint Anthony Cathedral in Beaumont, Texas, by proclaiming it a Minor Basilica. During this docent guided tour of the facility, you will learn more about the history of the parish as well as enjoy the beautiful art and development of the Basilica. Lunch will be available for purchase at Rockin A Café, with a wide variety of American cuisine. Register at

Mummies of The World. Wed., Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. Come face to face with the largest exhibition of ancient mummies and artifacts ever assembled. Lunch will be available for purchase at Treebeards. Tickets are $17 per person. Register at

It's a Groundhog Breakfast for Lunch Day. Thurs., Feb. 2 at 11:30 a.m. Bring a friend or relative to enjoy breakfast for lunch at Lone Star College - University Park. Ben's Chuck Wagon is catering scrambled eggs, sausage links, biscuits and gravy, hash brown, chocolate chip pancakes, and juice. Register at

Lunar New Year Houston. Sat., Feb. 4 at 9:30 a.m. Celebrate a 2,000-year old tradition at the Viet Hoa Center when the  Chinese Lunar New Year arrives in Houston! Enjoy lunch on your own at any great venue around the festival. Participants are responsible for the cost of their meals. Register at .

Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site. Wed., Feb. 8 at 8 a.m. Journey through The Varner-Hogg Plantation, a historic site operated by the Texas Historical Commission. The site was the home of former Governor of Texas James S. Hogg and his family. The site is located outside of West Columbia, in Brazoria County and lunch will be at Luby's. Lunch not included in the ticket cost. Tickets are $4 per person. Register at

Volunteer Opportunity: Houston Food Bank. Wed., Feb. 8 at 10:15 a.m. Your time is a gift to hungry children, seniors and others who may not have enough to eat. Help feed Houston's hungry by volunteering at the Houston Food Bank's warehouse. Each volunteer is required to wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and no jewelry. Before volunteering, enjoy lunch with the group at the Dinner Bell Café and Bakery. Participants are responsible for the cost of their own meal. Register at

Houston Resale Shop Tour and Phoenicia Specialty Foods Store. Thurs., Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. Visit Houston's premier resale shops, which benefit local charities, while shopping the latest and greatest in designer and high-quality clothing. Register at

"Owl" Be Your Valentine Luncheon. Tues., Feb. 14 at 11:30 a.m. Enjoy live entertainment and lunch at Jersey Village Baptist Church. Ben's Chuck Wagon is catering chicken cordon bleu, scalloped potatoes, glazed carrots, rolls, dessert, and iced tea. Kevin Michael Weishaar will perform. Register at

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum. Wed., Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. The museum features three floors of models and interactive displays illustrating the story of offshore oil and gas from seismic technology to exploration and production. Explore scale models of production platforms, drill bits and remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) along with videos and exhibits that explain this marvelous science. Prior to the museum tour, enjoy lunch with the group at Shrimp n' Stuff. Lunch is not included in the cost of the ticket. Tickets are $6 per person. Register at

Painted Churches of Texas Tour. Wed., Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. The Painted Churches of Texas feature masterful paintings, shimmering stained glass, charming murals, and gold-encrusted altars. Lunch is at Oakridge Smokehouse, a well-known local eatery more than 80 years old that offers a variety of American and German/Czech entrees and desserts. Lunch is included in the ticket cost. Tickets are $23 per person. Register at