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In This Issue
What makes a park special to you? Some look for bustling, kid-friendly spots with plenty of playground equipment, dog parks, and sports fields. Others prefer secluded areas where they can admire the beauty of nature. Still, others love the tiny pocket park across the street simply for its convenience.

Fortunately, Precinct 4 offers them all. With more than 1.2 million residents to serve, my staff and I constantly work to provide more parks in more neighborhoods. In April, Precinct 4 opens its newest park, the Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve, in northwest Harris County. Eventually, we plan to expand access to this park by connecting it to the Cypress Creek Greenway trails. I also proudly announce plans to develop a micro park in honor of a historic oak tree that local community members helped us save. I hope you can visit Kissing Tree Park to see this ancient tree, which locals remember as a favorite photo spot among young couples! We welcome lovers of all ages, but please keep your osculatory displays to a tasteful level. 

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
Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve Opens to the Public

Wildflowers bloom at Precinct 4's
Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve. 
Nature enthusiasts of all ages are invited to explore Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve by boat or land during the preserve's grand opening celebration
Saturday,  April 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Views of the lake, Cypress Creek, and wildlife such as egrets make this 80-acre preserve one of Precinct 4's most scenic greenspaces!

Activities include nature presentations plus canoeing and pontoon boat rides touring the preserve's 40-acre Marshall Lake. Visitors may also hike or bike the 1.7 miles of paved nature trails.

The preserve's construction began last year ahead of schedule thanks to a partnership with Prestonwood Forest Utility District. Eventually, the park will connect to the Prestonwood Forest community and the Cypress Creek Greenway.

In addition to its recreational benefits, the park serves as a natural detention facility that can help slow floodwaters and absorb run-off.  

The preserve was donated to Precinct 4 in January 2009 after Kickerillo Companies and Mischer Investments acquired the property from Hewlett-Packard to create The Vintage, a community in northwest Harris County. Ultimately, the property will connect with the 100 Acre Wood Preserve on the opposite side of Highway 249 and become part of the Cypress Creek Greenway trail system, which encompasses hundreds of acres along Cypress Creek. The park is located at 20215 Chasewood Park Drive, Houston, Texas 77070.

Astrodome Designated a State Antiquities Landmark 

The Astrodome receives landmark status.
The Texas Historical Commission unanimously approved the  Astrodome as a State Antiquities Landmark, cementing the Dome's spot as an important piece of Texas history.

The designation means Harris County must receive permission from the historical commission before altering or destroying the Dome. Last year, Harris County announced a $105-million revitalization plan that includes installing two levels of underground parking and converting the building's 550,000 square feet into usable public space. 

"The unanimous decision just shows that, other than the Alamo, the Astrodome is one of the most historic places in Texas. We will certainly continue to work closely with the commission on our future plans for the Dome," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.  

The Dome was nominated for the honor by two Harris County residents, Ted Powell and Cynthia Neely, shortly after its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2014, a requirement of receiving the State Antiquities Landmark designation.

The Texas Historical Commission comprises 12 members, appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms. The agency employs about 175 people who work in various fields, including archeology, architecture, history, economic development, heritage tourism, public administration, and urban planning. The commission works to preserve Texas' architectural heritage by helping preserve, restore, and operate properties, museums, and archaeological sites around the state.

March Mart Comes to Mercer Botanic Gardens
March Mart features rare and exotic plants.
Make your St. Patrick's Day a little greener by heading to Mercer Botanic Garden's annual March Mart Plant Sale Friday, March 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, March 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Early entrance for The Mercer Society (TMS) members begins Friday, March 17 at 8 a.m. 

This premier two-day event offers tax-free shopping with no admission charge. Featured items include monarch butterfly host plants such as native and tropical milkweed; stunning tropical gingers; Louisiana iris selections from the Mercer collection; special selections of Mercer-grown plants; and Gulf Coast natives. Visitors can also learn about local prairies and wildlife, specialty plant care, and the importance of trees and rare plant species from experts stationed at education booths throughout the park.

Plan your shopping strategy in advance by attending the March Mart Preview on Wednesday, March 8 from noon to 2 p.m. or Saturday, March 11 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The 2017 March Mart Plant Guide and map are available for purchase at the Gift Shoppe. Plants will be organized throughout Mercer in the following groups: annuals and perennials, gingers, natives, shade plants, succulents, trees and shrubs, and tropicals. Vines will be found throughout the sale area according to their growing requirements. Vendors with carnivorous plants, ferns, and orchids will also be onsite.

March Mart began in 1974 as a fundraiser featuring plants donated by local garden club members in old coffee cans and milk cartons. Since then, it has grown into one of the largest plant sales in the Gulf Coast region, with more than 6,000 attendees each year. March Mart now offers nearly 1,200 species of plants on a site spanning several acres.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own wagons to transport purchases as only a limited number of wagons are available for use on a first-come, first-served basis. A large plant holding area will be available to allow multiple wagon loads.

Mercer Botanic Gardens is a Harris County Precinct 4 Parks facility located one mile north of FM 1960 at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble, 77338. For more information, contact Mercer at 713-274-4160 or visit

Kissing Tree Park Preserves History
Kissing Tree
Precinct 4 preserves a century-old oak.  
historic  oak tree that residents once rallied to save is getting its own Precinct 4 park.

Located near T.C. Jester and Louetta, the more-than-a-century-old tree has ties to Klein's original German settlers. Residents say celebrations and photos under the tree were common when the Strack family operated the Strack Farms Restaurant and reception hall on the property.

When the restaurant closed in 2014, a developer purchased the land to build a Circle K convenience store and gas station. The new owners planned to remove the tree because it stood in the way of the gas station entrance. The proposal sparked a letter-writing campaign by Klein Oaks High School students and eventually a pledge by Circle K to save the tree.

Once Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle heard about the tree, he directed staff to widen the median opening, so the gas station entrance could be relocated and the tree saved. To ensure the tree remains protected, Commissioner Cagle purchased the remaining portion of land, which he plans to convert into a small park with an office building.

In honor of the tree's history, Commissioner Cagle named the park Kissing Tree Park.  

"Many of our parks are known for their history," said Commissioner Cagle. "Spring Creek Park is the site of several historical markers honoring the areas's heritage while Jones Park in Humble was home to Akokisa tribes and early Texas settlers. Now, I'm proud I can preserve another important piece of this area's German heritage at Kissing Tree Park in Spring."

New Elected Officials Take Office

A variety of new elected officials representing Precinct 4 residents took office at the local, state, and national levels this January. 

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, District Attorney Kim Ogg, Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris Bennett, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis were sworn in to some of the top local positions.

Residents are encouraged to visit the website, Who Represents Me, at to look up their state and national leaders.
Registered voters can also research their local elected officials including MUDs, school districts, and city council members on the Tax Office's Voter Registration
Department website  at .     
Commissioners Approve Construction of Pet Transfer Center
County Commissioners begin 
construction on a new transfer center that could save 3,100 animals a year. 
Harris County Commissioners Court voted to begin construction on an animal transfer shelter that could save thousands of animal lives per year at Harris County Public Health (HCPH)

The Petco Foundation Transfer Center will serve as an additional holding facility for healthy adoptable animals. Transfer groups will be able to take the animals from the shelter after 10 to 14 days. 

The $600,000 shelter will be built with $420,000 in county funds and a $180,000 grant from the Petco Foundation. Construction is expected to begin in August and should last 12 to 18 months. 

In addition to the transfer center, HCPH is building a new county animal shelter financed by a $24 million bond issue approved by voters in November. 

"We are very excited that our Harris County officials will augment the Petco Foundation's generous gift to build a permanent facility that will increase capacity and allow our shelter to save more homeless pets," said Dr. Umair A. Shah, the executive director of Harris County Public Health, which oversees animal control in the county. 

Klein Collins Students Visit Precinct 4
Klein Collins students meet Commissioner R.
Jack Cagle at Big Stone Lodge. 
Spirits were high during Klein Collins' annual Job Shadowing Day at Precinct 4 facilities! 

Students attended presentations and toured Precinct 4's Road & Bridge Department, Parks Department, Central Office, and Big Stone Lodge community center. Many students were surprised to discover that Precinct 4 offers a variety of career opportunities  in creative, technical, and scientific fields.

Students also had a chance to meet Commissioner R. Jack Cagle to learn more about how the county operates. 

"The job shadow program is truly amazing. It allows students to experience something they normally wouldn't be a part of," said Klein Collins Principal, Randy Kirk. "It was interesting for kids to see the hard work of the Commissioner day in and day out that provides care for our facilities and community. We are thankful to Jack Cagle for giving our students this opportunity. Many students said the job shadow experience exposed them to unknown aspects of the Commissioner's office from roads and bridges to historical markers."  
NatureFest at Jones Park
A representative with the Houston Zoo
attends NatureFest at Jones Park.
Join Jones Park staff and volunteers at this fun, family-friendly event to learn about nature in the Houston area Saturday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Enjoy guided walks, educational booths, pontoon boat tours, live animal exhibits, a catch-and-release fishing booth, and other demonstrations. Organizations from across the Houston area will be on hand to answer questions about plants, animals, recreational and volunteer opportunities, and other ways to get outside and enjoy nature.

Guest speakers for the event include Stuart Coombs of the Texas A&M Forest Service, noted birder and author Gary Clark, and monarch butterfly enthusiast and Jones Park volunteer Christina McKinney. 

This is a free event open to all ages. Some walks and tours require reservations or have age restrictions. Visit the information table at the event for complete details. Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center is located at 20634 Kenswick Drive, Humble, Texas, 77338. To learn more, call 281-446-8588 or visit

Upcoming February/March Activities
Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center:
First Friday Friends. Fri., March 3 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Join staff naturalist Rodger Lee to learn about native bees in Texas. More than 100 species of native bees inhabit Texas. This program will delve into some of the more common native bees and how they benefit the environment. A brief walk will follow the presentation. Ages 55 and up. Comfortable, closed-toe shoes required and water is recommended.
First Saturday Birding. Sat., March 4 at 9 a.m. Join expert birder Gary Clark and Jones Park volunteer Al Barr to kick off NatureFest with a bird walk. This guided bird walk offers participants the chance to observe, identify, and document the different species seen throughout the year. Registration for this event will be at the NatureFest information booth.
Second Sat. Settlers: Hide Tanning. Sat., March 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This program for all ages will highlight a variety of uses that early settlers had for animal skins. Visitors can get a firsthand glimpse into early settler life as Jones Park staff and volunteers demonstrate the hide tanning processes used in the 1800s.
Stargazing. Sat., March 11 at 7 p.m. Bring the family out for an evening learning about the moon, planets, and stars. Members of the North Houston Astronomy Club will be on hand to teach about the visible celestial bodies. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own telescopes or binoculars. Reservations required beginning Wed., March 1.  

Mercer Botanic Gardens:
March Mart Volunteer Training. Wed., March 8 from 10:30 11:30 a.m. and Sat., March 11 from 9 10 a.m. New and experienced volunteers learn the March Mart process and what to expect at the event.
March Mart Preview. Wed., March 8 from noon to 2 p.m. and Sat., March 11 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. This annual presentation will whet your gardening appetite for the biggest and best plant sale in the Gulf Coast region.

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.

Big Stone Lodge at Dennis Johnston Park:

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.  Learn 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.

Let the Good Times Roll Luncheon.  Fri., Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m.  Let the good times roll at Big Stone Lodge with entertainment by Valerie Hill.  Ben's Chuck Wagon will cater roast beef, new potatoes, green beans, bread, dessert, and unlimited coffee and iced tea. An $8 per person suggested donation is requested and payable in advance during registration. Come by the Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to get tickets no later than Wed., Feb. 15.

Lecture on Austin's First Colony. Wed., March 22 at 1 p.m. Learn about the first legal settlement in southeast Texas with Education Coordinator Monte Parks at Big Stone Lodge in Dennis Johnston Park. Parks will discuss the frontier that Stephen F. Austin acquired from the Mexican government. To register for this free seminar or receive additional information, call Big Stone Lodge at 281-350-1029.

Happy Trails Breakfast.  Wed., March 29 at 9 a.m. Everyone is invited to enjoy a day of fishing, archery, pontoon boat tours, and cart rides along the Spring Creek Greenway.  Ben's Chuck Wagon will provide pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit kolaches, and unlimited coffee. $6 per person Tickets are available at Big Stone Lodge during business hours. The deadline to purchase tickets is Mon., March 27.

Mangum-Howell Community Center:
Spring Bouquet Crafts. Thurs., March 2 at 10 a.m.  Join volunteer Jimmie Ware as she teaches how to design and create the perfect floral bouquet using artificial flowers. Call 281-591-7830 or come by the Center to register and pick up the supply list for the class. A $2 suggested donation is requested to help defray the cost of additional supplies.
Origami Flowers and Cranes Bouquet. Fri., March 3 at 10 a.m. Learn how to transform simple pieces of paper into three-dimensional models using the Japanese art of origami from artist and staff member Theresa Tran.  Using these origami flowers and cranes, participants will then create a beautiful, unique floral arrangement. 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.

AARP Tax-Aide. Tues., March 7 through April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and every Wed., March 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 to register.
Mardi Gras Luncheon. Tues., March 14 at noon.  Everyone is invited to attend a Mardi Gras-themed luncheon with live entertainment at Mangum-Howell Center An $8 per person donation is requested and payable in advance when you register in the office. The deadline to purchase tickets is Fri., March 10.
Kids Movie Day. Fri., March 17 at 1 p.m.  Take an afternoon break and enjoy a free showing of Alvin and the Chipmunk: The Road Chip along with popcorn and a drink Unlimited popcorn and drinks, padded seating, big screen TV, and surround sound make this a true theatre experience! Call 281-591-7830 or come by the Center to reserve your ticket and seat! Rated G.

Senior Adult Program:
Jazz It Up Mardi Gras Dance. Mon., Feb. 20 from noon to 3 p.m. Everyone 50 years of age and better is invited to attend Precinct 4's Jazz It Up Mardi Gras dance featuring the River Road Boys at Humble Civic Center, 8233 Will Clayton Parkway in Humble. Register online at or call 281-893-3726. Tickets: $7 per person.

Spring Creek Park Crawfish Festival. Wed., March 8 at 11:30 a.m. Harris County Precinct 4 and Fun4Seniors invites everyone 50 years of age and better to Spring Creek Park for a fun-filled afternoon of crawfish, Zydeco music, and yard games. Crawdad's Catering will provide crawfish in a gourmet boil of mushrooms, onions, and creole seasoning along with potatoes, corn, sweet tea, and peach cobbler. Register online at or call 281-893- 3726. Tickets: $20 per person.

A Frog Croakin', Rain Soakin' Luncheon. Fri., March 3 at 11:30 a.m. A ll senior adults 50 years of age and better are invited to a Frog Croakin', Rain Soakin' Luncheon at Cypress Creek Christian Community Center. Tickets: $10 per person. Register online at or call 281-893-3726.