March 2020
Greetings!

As your commissioner, I am so proud of how your servants in Precinct 4 consistently provide superior programs, recreational opportunities, and services to improve our quality of life. As much as I enjoy service in the good times, we must also prepare for the tough times.

Flood, drought, and other unpredictable weather patterns now require us to look beyond the status quo and embrace innovative solutions. We take a look at one such project in our flood control feature below. The article provides details about a pilot project that paves the way for basin improvements across the county.  

That’s not the only way your Precinct 4 team leads innovation. We also work with nonprofits fighting against crime in the community and providing assistance to crime victims. My office hosted a community breakfast to allow these nonprofits to share resources and discover novel ways to assist each other. I hope to host more of these events each quarter. Stay tuned for details!

Preserving history also remains an important mission in Precinct 4, especially through Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project. Standing just off T.C. Jester near Louetta Road, the “Kissing Tree” remains an instantly recognizable staple of the community. In the article below, we speak with a descendant of the Strack family to discover new details about the history of the large oak tree and how it grew into one of the area’s most popular trees. 

This issue also contains information about upcoming events, projects, and activities. Learn more about Precinct 4’s Heritage Festival at Spring Creek Mark, Mercer’s March Mart Plant Sale, and Shakespeare in the Shade at Burroughs. Thank you all for reading, and I hope to see you in April during Precinct 4’s Shakespeare Festival. I plan to reprise my role as Spearholder No. 2 in Shakespeare in the Shade’s production of Twelfth Night!

As a reminder, you can access past issues of Commissioner's E-Corner  on the  Precinct 4 website.   Visit Precinct 4 online to learn more about our road projects and upcoming events available through our community centers, parks department, and Senior Adult Program.
 
Featured Articles
Pilot Project Doubles the Amount of Time Harris County Basin Holds Water

While large buyouts and billion-dollar bond projects dominate the public’s attention, Precinct 4 has quietly started testing a low-cost method to delay the release of stormwater into the county’s easily overwhelmed channel system. The technology is designed to work on nearly any dry-bottom stormwater detention basin.

The pilot project, known as the Drainage Reuse Initiative, is managed by the Harris County Engineering Department and funded by the Harris County Flood Control District with Hurricane Harvey bond funding. 

As part of the project, Steve Albert, the vice president of infrastructure with the Binkley & Barfield engineering firm, installed a redesigned outfall structure last year at the bottom of a 35-acre detention basin near Holderrieth Road and the Tomball Tollway in Tomball. The pipe modification doubles the amount of time the basin can hold water, giving creeks and bayous time to drain, which helps reduce flooding downstream.


Strack Family Member Shares History of Kissing Tree

One of Julie Haggard’s earliest memories involves playing in her aunt and uncle’s barn near a large oak tree. Although the barn disappeared long ago, the oak tree lives on in Precinct 4’s Kissing Tree Park. 

Dubbed the “Kissing Tree,” the ancient oak tree near Louetta Road and T.C. Jester rose to fame after residents rallied to save it from the ax after plans for a new convenience store nearby surfaced. Pledging to protect the tree, Commissioner R. Jack Cagle had the county purchase the property, and he opened Kissing Tree Park in 2017.

Since then, Laura Medick, who heads Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project, has been investigating the tree’s history. 

“We already knew the Kissing Tree was important to the community,” said Medick. “The large outcry made that clear. But we also wanted to find out if the tree could become important to other Texans as a ‘Famous Tree of Texas.’”
 
For more information, click here.

Community Members Unite Against Crime

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle put the old adage “there’s strength in numbers” to the test when he hosted Precinct 4’s first Community Breakfast on Feb. 4.

Representatives from more than 50 nonprofits and elected officials met at the Beckendorf Conference Center in Tomball to share resources and coordinate services for crime victims.

As a result, organizations tackling major issues like human trafficking, domestic abuse, and recidivism have a wider network on which to depend.

The event’s success inspired Commissioner Cagle to continue hosting the community meetings in a different location with a new topic each quarter. The meetings will focus on important community topics like homelessness, mental health, addiction, and more.

For more information, contact Precinct 4’s Community Assistance Department at 832-927-4444.

Champion Forest Park Now Open

Soccer fields, playgrounds, trails – what’s not to love about Champion Forest Park? 

The park at Cypresswood Drive and Cutten Road opened in December, with a .3-mile looped trail, three soccer fields, a restroom, picnic tables, a parking lot, and a playground. 

At 2 acres, the park may be small, but big plans are in the works. The park will eventually connect to other greenspaces in the area - including Cy-Champ Park and Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve - and become part of the Cypress Creek Greenway, a linear trail system that will one day extend more than 40 miles.

Test Your Skills During the Jones Park Photo Contest

Want to put your photography skills to the test? Submit your photo entry to the Jones Park annual photo contest.

Printed submissions must be postmarked by Thursday, April 23, or hand-delivered to Jones Park by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28. Digital submissions must be emailed to jjp@hcp4.net by Tuesday, April 28.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, May 2, at 1 p.m. Call for rules to enter or visit www.hcp4.net/jones/photocontest.

Read an article about how to improve your photography skills here.
Rare Nighttime Event
Showcases Landscape Lighting at Mercer

Join Mercer Botanic Gardens on Monday, March 30, from 6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a magical night of light displays, music, and wonder, showcasing three gardens transformed into glowing works of art.

Mercer will be illuminated like never before as three lighting showcases are revealed, with the first reveal at 7:30 p.m. in the Tropical Garden, followed by a second in the manicured lawns adjacent to the Tropical Garden, and the finale in the Formal Garden. Guests can enjoy refreshments provided by H-E-B and musical entertainment from the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts’ award-winning Mariachi Nuevo Jalisco band beginning at 6:45 p.m.

The event comes as landscaping students from around the world convene for five days of intensive, hands-on training from experts with the International Landscape Lighting Institute to test their skills in landscape lighting design.

Bring your friends and family out to this one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the beauty of Mercer at night. For more information and updates, click here

Get Ready for the March Mart Plant Sale

Mercer Botanic Gardens is preparing for its most anticipated event of the year – March Mart! This annual plant sale features a huge variety of plants, many of which are exclusive to Mercer.

For more than 40 years, this two-day plant sale and fundraiser has provided the Gulf Coast region with more than 1,000 species of plants to explore. Attendees can expect to see a vast selection of trees, shrubs, vegetables, perennials, and much more.

Most plants at this horticultural event have been grown and cared for by dedicated Mercer staff and volunteers over the past year. Sponsored by The Mercer Society, March Mart proceeds support educational programs and projects at Mercer.

The plant sale runs Friday, March 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of The Mercer Society qualify for early entry beginning March 20 at 8 a.m. For more information, click here or call 713-274-4160. Learn more about TMS membership opportunities and benefits by visiting www.themercersociety.org.

Happy shopping! 

Upcoming Events
Heritage Festival at Spring Creek Park
Take a trip back in time for an adventure in history! Visit Spring Creek Park in Tomball on Saturday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to explore recreated Confederate and Union camps, tour the Spring Creek Park Cemetery, watch battle reenactments, and more!
NatureFest at Jones Park
Nature lovers of all ages are invited to discover local environmental organizations, outdoor activities, native plants, and wildlife on Saturday, March 7, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This free family event includes pontoon boat tours, guided walks, live animals, and a catch-and-release fishing tank. 
Twelfth Night and Shakespeare Festival At Burroughs Park
Romance, a case of mistaken identity, and comedy combine in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Burroughs Park. Experience Renaissance-era entertainment, crafts, and activities during the Saturday-only Shakespeare Festival. Performances begin Friday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 25, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 26, at 2 p.m. The one-day festival is Saturday, April 24, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.