June 2021

We celebrate the long-awaited arrival of backyard barbecues, trips to the beach, and ice cream. Unfortunately, warmer weather also marks the beginning of hurricane season. In this issue, we highlight ways to prepare for the next big storm. Learn what your hurricane kit should include, what to do during an evacuation, and where to find trusted information. 

I also take a moment to recognize your Precinct 4 Trailblazers. For more than 14 years, this team has built trails throughout the precinct, connecting parks and communities to recreational amenities. They now plan to develop a paved path for wheelchair and stroller users at Oak Forest Park. I encourage you to visit this new space for children of all abilities to interact and play. Projects like these prove that parks and trails have the power to change lives and improve communities. 

As COVID-19 infection rates decrease and vaccinations increase, Harris County continues to provide free testing and vaccinations to those who seek to take advantage of these services. We are also excited that Judge Lina Hidalgo, under her emergency powers, has partially opened our libraries, which signals the beginning of our return to some normality. 

In Precinct 4, we continue to offer programs and activities for all ages. Don't miss Free Fishing Day on June 5. This event marks one of the only days adults may fish in Texas without a license. Take advantage of this excellent opportunity to try a new activity and visit your local parks. If you're 50 or older, sign up to take a trip to Kemah, tour Galveston, or head to a fair in Beaumont. We offer all this and more through Precinct 4 Encore. I hope you'll join us soon!

Mercer Botanic Gardens Reopens
Gardens Closed Since 2016
A playground for children of all abilities will soon have a new trail, thanks to Harris County Precinct 4's Trailblazers.

The in-house crew of experts, who repair, build, and maintain trails, will begin construction on the 1,080-foot asphalt trail at Oak Forest Park in late May and finish by early August. Once complete, the track will encircle the play area, making it more convenient for park visitors in wheelchairs and parents with strollers to access the park.

For years, Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle has supported plans for an inclusive playground at Oak Forest Park, which is the first of its kind in northwest Houston. So when a concerned parent approached him about building the trail in 2018 during the Festival of Abilities, he decided to help. Cagle worked with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston City Council to secure an interlocal agreement on the project in April, which will allow the Trailblazers to begin work in May.

The park is now open and includes paved pathways for parents and children in wheelchairs and equipment for children of all abilities, including swings, we-saws (wheelchair-accessible seesaws), a sway-fun glider, and ramped towers.

For updates on the trail's progress, visit https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofOakForestPark/.
Answers to your FAQs: What services does the Harris County Clerk offer? 
The Harris County Clerk is elected to maintain the records of Commissioners Court, the probate courts, and the county civil courts at law.

The clerk's office also records official documents, including property records, marriage licenses, assumed name certificates, birth and death certificates, and more. Historical records dating to the 1800s are also available at www.cclerk.hctx.net.
Although the county clerk formerly managed Harris County's elections, that changed last year with the establishment of an unelected Elections Administrator position.
Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth was elected Harris County Clerk in 2020 to complete former clerk Diane Trautman's term.
Help Mercer Botanic Gardens Expand
New classes, workshops, and activities could be on the way for Mercer Botanic Gardens visitors. 

As Mercer expands south, The Mercer Society (TMS), the nonprofit supporting Mercer, wants to fund a propagation center on 47 undeveloped acres alongside Mercer's new greenhouses.

The center will provide a location for staff, volunteers, and patrons to gather, propagate plants, and hold classes and workshops. Funding will come from donations by The Mercer Society. If you would like to learn more about becoming a donor, click here.
Need A Vaccine?
Harris County recently hit a milestone in the fight against COVID-19. Nearly half of adults in the United States and Harris County have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. 
As knowledge of the vaccine has evolved, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Harris County Public Health (HCPH) have updated their guidelines. We've compiled a list of the latest updates below:
  • Harris County Public Health (HCPH) resumed administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Sunday, May 2, after an 11-day hiatus for the Food and Drug Administration to investigate six instances of blood clots. The FDA determined the risk of blood clots is low and that the vaccine's benefits far outweigh the risks. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control announced that vaccinated individuals may resume most activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.
  • The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 12-15 on May 10.
  • Harris County Public Health has implemented a vaccination program for homebound residents to ensure the vaccine is available to everyone. Residents may call 281-350-1029 to register.

Vaccines are now available on demand throughout Harris County. Schedule yours here.

Those making vaccine appointments at NRG Park may choose either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson or two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Appointments are recommended, but not required. 
Hurricane Season Begins June 1
If you've noticed more hurricanes over the past few years, it's not your imagination. Last year's hurricane season was the most active on record and the fifth costliest, with 31 tropical cyclones, 14 hurricanes, and seven major hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) foresees another above-average hurricane season this year. New data also shows that the average hurricane season will see more storms.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) determines the average number of storms based on hurricane activity over a 30-year period. Beginning this year, it will base its predictions on data from 1991-2020. Previous predictions used averages from 1981-2010. Based on these numbers, the average hurricane season includes 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, up from 12 named storms and six hurricanes over the last 30 years. The average for major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5) remains unchanged at three. 

Before the next disaster strikes, Harris County Precinct 4 encourages residents to prepare by following the tips below. 

  • Make a hurricane preparedness kit. Purchasing essential household items before a storm forms will help prevent panic shopping and ensure that grocery stores do not run out of supplies.
  • Make an evacuation plan. Evacuations take place by zone. Although Precinct 4 is not in an evacuation zone, it's essential to avoid the roads if you are not evacuating to prevent massive traffic jams. Check out a map of evacuation zones here: www.gis.hctx.net/evacuationmap./
  • Follow trusted sources such as the National Weather Service Houston-Galveston, Harris County Flood Control District, and ReadyHarris to receive accurate, up-to-date information. You can sign up for Ready Harris alerts here to receive information from the Harris County Office of Emergency Management. 

The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. This season will mark the fourth since Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast region in 2017. 

Learn more here:

Enjoy Free Fishing Day at Precinct 4 Parks 
Grab your favorite fishing pole and head to a Precinct 4 park near you for a day of relaxation and fun. Dennis Johnston and Pundt parks were recently stocked with bass averaging 1.5 pounds each, 500 bluegill perch, and 50 pounds of fathead minnows.

Precinct 4 buys numerous fish species throughout the year from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Clearwater Consulting to keep its ponds and lakes healthy and provide recreational opportunities for anglers. Bass are added in the spring, catfish in the fall, and rainbow trout in January.

Although a license is usually required to fish outside a state park, Precinct 4 will allow fishing without one during Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Free Fishing Day on Saturday, June 5.

Bring your family to any Precinct 4 park with waterfront access to participate. In addition to Dennis Johnston and Pundt parks, popular fishing spots include Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center and Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve.

Anglers can fish for free at more than 70 state parks year-round, and all other fishing regulations remain in effect. A fishing license and endorsement are not required if fishing on state park property or in waters completely enclosed by a state park. You can purchase your freshwater fishing license at most sporting goods stores or online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or by calling the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at 1-800-TX LIC 4 U (1-800-895-4248).

To learn more about fishing in Precinct 4, please visit www.hcp4.net/community/parks/fishing.

Upcoming Events
Bingo at Burroughs Park
Join us for a night of old-fashioned family fun playing bingo in the park on Saturday, June 5, from 68 p.m. at Burroughs Park, 9738 Hufsmith Road in Tomball. Bingo supplies will be provided, but bring your own blankets and chairs. Reservations are not required, but space is limited. Attendees may arrive at 5 p.m. Please adhere to the designated seating areas and pathways.
Summer Movie Night: Aladdin
Grab your magic carpet and head to a Precinct 4 park near you to enjoy a family-friendly movie night featuring the classic animated Disney film Aladdin. Movies start at dusk June 15–18 and June 21 and 28. Arrive early and bring your blankets, chairs, and snacks. Registration is not required, but space is limited. For movie locations, visit www.hcp4.net/events/.
Encore: Kemah Fireworks Trip
Precinct 4 invites everyone 50 and older to join us for a trip to Kemah to see the fireworks in June and July. Kemah Boardwalk is home to restaurants, amusements, retail shops, and carnival games. Buses depart at 5:30 p.m., and fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Registration is required at www.hcp4.net/events/.