May 2021

When I visit Mercer Botanic Gardens, the beauty that flourishes there always amazes me. Seasonal blooms of larkspur and pentas beckon visitors down a sunny path in the Color Garden. Not far away, towering canopies of pine shade colorful gingers, caladiums, azaleas, and camellias. In the Renaissance Garden, bright pink and red roses contrast beautifully with mature Japanese yews and grand Italian Cypresses. 

Although I enjoy all these spaces, Storey Lake occupies a special place in my heart. As one of Mercer's most remote greenspaces, it boasts a wild beauty that draws many to its waters for relaxation and reflection. 

Unfortunately, residents have not had access to this area for five years. When the Tax Day Flood of 2016 damaged the area beyond recognition, I made the tough decision to close Storey Lake and the Creekside Ramble for renovations. Since then, your Precinct 4 park staff members have worked hard to restore it. 

Although Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic slowed our progress, we reopened both locations today, giving visitors access to 30 more acres of trails and garden space. I encourage everyone to visit Mercer this spring to view this long-awaited treasure and see our new spring color. 

As summer approaches, we have several events coming your way. Jones Park, Mercer Botanic Gardens, and Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve offer free day camps for children throughout the summer.

May 15 marks Peace Officers Memorial Day. I hope you'll join me virtually on May 17 to honor Texas law-enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Hear special messages from former U.S. Rep. Ted Poe and other speakers. Learn about these events and more in this edition of Commissioner's E-Corner.

Mercer Botanic Gardens Reopens
Gardens Closed Since 2016
Nature lovers now have 30 additional acres of trails and water features to explore, thanks to the long-awaited reopening of two beloved amenities at Mercer Botanic Gardens.
Storey Lake and the Creekside Ramble reopened today after closing more than five years ago, marking a critical step in Mercer's recovery from flooding and drought over the past decade.

The area sustained significant damage during Hurricane Ike and again during the Tax Day Flood in 2016. Cypress Creek severely flooded the entire area surrounding Storey Lake, uprooting plants, toppling structures, and covering all vegetation in layers of gray silt. Weeks before the planned reopening of the Creekside Ramble in August 2017, Mercer suffered yet another devastating flood. Hurricane Harvey washed away plant collections, smothered and uprooted trees, and damaged buildings and hardscapes.

During its renovation, Storey Lake received a few improvements. The area features a new irrigation and drainage system. The gravel paths also were upgraded with brick pavers, beautifying the site and making the trail more convenient for visitors using strollers or wheelchairs.

The serene landscape around the lake highlights various flowers and plants, such as Louisiana irises and a bamboo collection. Benches and a pergola resembling a Japanese teahouse provide a place of relaxation.

The area between Storey Lake and the Central Garden, known as the Creekside Ramble, was once a heavily wooded walkway to the lake, but a drought in 2011 killed many trees in the area. It now features a large lawn area, gravel trails, and landscaped beds featuring trees, native grasses, and flowering perennial plants.

Visitors can explore the reopened section in the back of Mercer's East Side Gardens.
COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Now Available 
Thanks to an abundant vaccine supply, Harris County Public Health now offers "on demand" COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Those who sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through Harris County Public Health can now schedule appointments immediately after registering online.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available at several county sites, including the FEMA Community Vaccination Center at NRG Park. Both require two doses for complete vaccine protection. Based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration, HCPH will not provide the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further notice.
Schedule an appointment at or by calling the HCPH vaccine hotline at 832-927-8787 for assistance.
Why You Should Talk to Your Plants
Did you know that flowers can "hear" vibrations? Researchers found that nectar-producing plants can detect vibrations from nearby pollinators. When pollinators are near, plants produce sweeter nectar to entice pollinators to stay and gather more pollen. The researchers theorized that the adaptation increased the plant's chance of fertilization.

Want to learn more nature? Kris Linberk, the director of Trails As Parks, shares tidbits about the natural world and upcoming Precinct 4 recreational events each month in the TAP newsletter. Sign up to receive the next issue online. Read more about how flowers "hear" in the April edition.
Precinct 4 Summer Camps
Kick Off in June, July, and August
Are you looking for fun and free activities for your child to try this summer? Precinct 4 offers a variety of summer day camps at three unique parks throughout June, July, and August. Depending on their age, children can learn the science behind natural phenomena in the park and participate in recreational activities like canoeing and hiking. Learn how to sign up below.
Mercer Morning Club
Wednesdays, June 23 and 30; July 14 and 21, 9 a.m.-noon
Are you ready for a summer of scientific exploration and nature? Children 6-11 can visit us to discover the natural environment, habitats, mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects through interactive activities, including hiking, scientific observations, crafts, and more. 
This is an on-site program at Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble. Space is limited, and registration is required at For more information, call 713-274-4160. 
Texas Bound at Jones Park
Wednesday, July 7, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 
Using props and hands-on activities, children 7-12 team up in "families" for a journey to Texas during this one-day camp. Find out what it takes to survive the hardships of earlier times and recreate a homestead. Registration begins Wednesday, June 23.
Amazing Arthropods at Jones Park
Children 5-12 are invited to Amazing Arthropods, a four-day educational summer program featuring ranger talks, nature hikes, outdoor games, crafts, and team competitions. Parents or legal guardians may register online with scanned identification and their children's birth certificate.
Online registration begins Monday, May 3, at Harris County residents receive priority until Tuesday, May 4. 
Camp takes place outdoors at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, 20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble, during the following dates and times:
Ages 5-6
June 8-11 and June 22-25, 9 a.m.-noon
Ages 7-9
June 15-18; July 13-16; and Aug. 3-6, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Ages 10-12
June 28-July 2; July 20-23; and July 27-30, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
For more information, please call 281-446-8588.
Day Camps at Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve
Spend the summer learning about nature during three action-packed day camps at Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve. All camp activities are outdoors. Campers should bring a refillable water bottle daily. Registration is required at starting on Monday, May 3, at 8 a.m. for all camps. Please only register if your child can attend all days of camp. Proof of each child's age (birth certificate, shot records, etc.) is required by the first day of camp.
Jr. Ranger Summer Camp | Ages 7-9
July 12-16 | 9 a.m.-noon 
Nature Exploration Summer Camp | Ages 10-12
July 26-30 | 9 a.m.-noon 
Adventures in Ecosystems | Ages 13 - 15
Aug. 9-13 | 9 a.m.-noon 
State Lawmakers Debate Bail Revision Bill
As the 87th Texas Legislature continues, bail revision has again become a contentious topic in Harris County. Since Harris County’s recent move to a cashless bail system for misdemeanor offenders, a rise in violent crime has persuaded some state and county officials that the practice has spread to felony cases. In response, state Sen. Joan Huffman authored a bill restricting how and when courts can grant cashless bail to those accused of felonies. 
Here are a few key takeaways to consider as the bill awaits action in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee:
  • Establishes new restrictions for repeat offenders. If a defendant is charged with committing an offense after posting bond, only the trial court with jurisdiction can grant bail. 

  • Limits the number of people who qualify for cashless bail. Those convicted of violent crimes and defendants charged with committing a violent offense while on bail are among those who would no longer qualify for personal bonds, which require no up-front cash. When setting bail, magistrates would be required to consider a defendant's criminal history, immigration status, and prior offenses. 

  • Bans charitable bail organizations from bailing out indigent defendants charged with a violent offense or convicted of a violent crime.

  • Establishes new educational standards for justices of the peace. 

  • Requires magistrates to issue oral or written findings supporting their bail decision.

  • Requires county clerks to collect and report all relevant bail bonding information to the Office of Court Administration, which will publish the data.
For more information, click here.

'It's Only a White Line' Campaign
Urges Pedestrians to Stay off the Road 
With a car crash happening nearly every minute in Texas, a busy highway is the last place a stranded motorist should stay. To help save lives, Houston TranStar's "It's Only a White Line" campaign urges stranded motorists and pedestrians to get off the freeway as quickly as possible.

"The Texas ‘Steer It, Clear It’ law requires that, following a crash, if no one is injured and your vehicle can be driven, you must clear it off the freeway," said Dinah Massie, executive director of Houston TranStar. "If it's not drivable, there's help for that." 
The Tow and Go quick clearance program provides free towing up to one mile for vehicles that break down from mechanical issues on the freeway. The program's coverage area now includes unincorporated Harris County, the City of Houston, Bellaire, Jersey Village, La Porte, and Humble. 

Some motorists mistakenly believe that moving their vehicle after a crash will cause them to lose insurance coverage. Houston TranStar hopes to clear up this error about freeway incidents and towing. 

"Your insurance carrier is first and foremost concerned with your safety," said David Wuthrich, the executive director of the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston and a member of the It's Only a White Line Leadership Council. "In the past, documenting a crash for insurance meant waiting for law enforcement at the scene, but getting out of danger is the first step. Taking pictures of the crash from within the safety of your vehicle, including photos of the other vehicle's license plate, is the next important step. But getting off the freeway is the name of the game." 

"A car can be replaced," added Massie. "A life cannot." 

Learn how to Travel Smart with TranStar, including information on It's Only a White Line at Download TranStar's mobile app at the Google Play or Apple App store for quick access to travel times, roadway conditions, and Tow and Go service.
Early Voting for May 1 Election Continues
Early voting for the May 1 election runs through Tuesday, April 27. Voters can choose from among 30 early voting locations, including seven drive-thru voting locations and 102 election day voting centers. To find a location near you, visit 
Early voting hours: 

Monday, April 19, to Saturday, April 24, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
Sunday, April 25, noon to 7 p.m. 
Monday, April 26, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (extended hours) 
Tuesday, April 27, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The election will be the first to use new InterCivic Verity Voting machines approved by the Texas Secretary of State. 

The machines include a digital touch screen and accessibility options for seniors and voters with disabilities. They also provide a paper ballot, which proponents say makes voting records more secure.

For more information, including sample ballots and polling locations, visit and follow @HarrisVotes on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Upcoming Events
Virtual Police Memorial
Join Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, former U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, and other speakers on Monday, May 17, at 9 a.m. for this virtual presentation honoring fallen Texas law-enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Visit us on Facebook to view the virtual event or call 713-274-4050 for more information.
Family Game Day at Burroughs Park
Enjoy a day of family fun in the park with games, food trucks, and a live DJ on Saturday, May 15, at noon. Families can play large-format games like Jenga, Kerplunk, Connect 4, and more for up to 30 minutes. To reserve longer games of Yardzee, croquet, and bocce for up to one hour, please visit
Mother's Day Drive-Thru Luncheon
Precinct 4 Encore invites everyone 50 and older to a drive-thru luncheon honoring mothers on Monday, May 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church of Houston. The menu includes a catered meal of chicken spaghetti, salad, green beans, garlic bread, and a lemon bar. Registration is required here or by calling 281-274-4050. $8 per plate. Checks are payable to Fun4Seniors and should be mailed to Fun4Seniors, P.O. Box 1433, Tomball, TX 77377 within one week of making a reservation.