News Categories: Featured

25 Jan
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Why Your Watershed Matters

When it comes to knowing your flood risk, your watershed may matter more than you think. All the rain that falls in your watershed heads to a common waterway through a system of bayous, tributaries, and streams.

Problems occur when any waterway, basin, or reservoir in the system becomes overwhelmed. During Harvey, record-breaking rain overwhelmed drainage systems throughout the region, causing widespread flooding. Following an evaluation of the county’s current flood control system, experts recommended billions in improvements.

In June, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a $2.5 billion bond election on Aug. 25 to fund additional flood control projects. In the months leading up to the election, Harris County Flood Control District has developed a list of more than 150 potential projects in the county’s 23 watersheds. Since Precinct 4 contains 11 of these watersheds, many projects will affect Precinct 4 residents directly.

Knowing the bodies of water that affect your area will help you make an informed decision during the election. To learn about potential projects in your watershed, click here. For a complete list of proposed projects, click here.

HCFCD is hosting a series of public meetings through Aug. 1 about the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program. Bring your questions and ideas. You can look up the meeting date for your watershed here.

Once the meetings conclude, county officials will finalize the bond package and present it to voters.

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22 Jan
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Want to Make a Difference? Become a Volunteer!

Start your year off right by becoming a Precinct 4 volunteer! Opportunities are available through Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, and Mercer Botanic Gardens.

Join Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program to care for heirloom fruit and nut trees along the trails or foster a historic tree at home. Volunteers are also needed to help restore and maintain our forests. With your help, Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program can create healthier forests and natural areas, which leads to stronger, more beautiful communities. For more information, email legacy@hcp4.net.

Love history and nature? Volunteer at Jones Park! Currently, Jones Park is seeking volunteers for Homestead Heritage Day Saturday, Feb. 9. Anyone interested in depicting the past or helping with other festival activities is invited to apply. Opportunities are also available to work at future festivals or along the trails in nature. To learn more about becoming a volunteer at Jones Park, click here. https://www.hcp4.net/Community/Parks/Jones/Volunteers

Mercer Botanic Gardens is seeking volunteers in preparation for the March Mart plant sale Thursday, March 14 through Saturday, March 16. Different shifts are available. Join the VIP Plant Preview Committee to assist with event planning, decorating, set-up and take-down, or help during the event.

Volunteers can also sign up for volunteer check-in, plant ticket writing, wagon check-out, hospitality and more during the event.

Mercer offers additional volunteer opportunities year-round every Tuesday and Thursday.
To learn more about volunteering at Mercer, click here.

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14 Nov
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Exploring Mercer’s West Side Arboretum

Taking the path less traveled at Mercer Botanic Gardens leads to amazing sites! Escape the crowds and head to Mercer’s West Side Arboretum for views of native plants, wildlife, and natural scenery. Continue reading to learn about what you’ll find on Mercer’s West Side.

Hickory Bog

Located just across the street from the East Side Gardens, Mercer’s Hickory Bog features a 280-foot bridge and learning platform overlooking a thriving wetland ecosystem.

Reptiles, small mammals, birds, and amphibians of all varieties populate the area, making this adventurous trail perfect for birders, nature enthusiasts, scientists, and anyone who wants close-up views of nature.

Contrary to its name, Mercer’s Hickory Bog is technically a swamp because of its ability to support woody vegetation and trees. The name Hickory Bog caught on early in Mercer’s history due to the area’s location within a water hickory forest (Carya aquatica).

Cypress Swamp

Home to dozens of varieties of aquatic wildlife and birds, Mercer’s Cypress Swamp is named after the distinctive bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) that inhabit the area.

These long-lived deciduous trees can grow up to 120 feet tall with a trunk measuring 4 to 6 feet in diameter and woody projections known as “knees” that grow up to 4 feet tall and project out of the water. In the fall, the tree’s needle-like leaves turn an attractive bronze color before dropping.

Botanists are still unable to determine which cypress trees will produce knees or why. Many believe the knees anchor trees in wet areas and provide oxygen to the tree’s roots for survival in swampy conditions.

Swamp Ecosystem

Far from drab and murky, these locations feature a variety of flowering plants attractive to moths and other pollinators. As understory plants, most produce white blooms to help them stand out in shady areas.

The shore milkweed (Asclepias perennis), a water-loving Monarch butterfly host plant with creamy pink-white flowers, blooms on the edges of the swamps. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a large shrub with sparkly-white balls of flowers, is a butterfly and pollinator magnet. In the wetter areas, lizard tail (Saururus cernuus) is a vigorous water plant with fragrant, drooping, white flower clusters.

Swamps also feature a variety of trees and shrubs, such as the bald cypress, sweet gum, red maple, wax myrtle, and buttonwood, which are frequently found in cypress swamps.

These plants and trees support wildlife such as white-tailed deer, raccoons, pileated woodpeckers, egrets, herons, alligators, frogs, turtles, and snakes. Be sure to look for their tracks!

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10 Sep
By: HCP4 Admin 0

New Community App

Northwest Harris County residents can now stay updated on community events, browse local businesses, and request county services all in one location with the Discover Northwest Houston app.

“The idea is to have a one-stop shop, where community members can download the app and receive information specific to their area,” says Barbara Thomason, president of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce.

The recently launched app, developed by Bar-Z Mobile Development, will serve the Spring, Klein, and Cypress Creek communities. App users will be able to access a database of restaurants, stores, nonprofits, and other local organizations and service providers. All area businesses are invited to add a listing to the app, not just chamber members.

A major portion of the app will be dedicated to Precinct 4. The Precinct 4 portal, which Thomason describes as an app within an app, will allow residents to sign up for county alerts and access county services.

“Houston Northwest Chamber continues to redefine how chambers serve
their communities,” says Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “We appreciate this opportunity to serve our constituents in new and innovative ways.”

Creating an Identity

The app is just one of many ways the chamber serves the community. For years, the chamber has worked to improve the area’s economic climate by improving the surrounding community.

One of the chamber’s long-term goals is to establish an identity for the Cypress Creek community through branding, community signage, events such as the Paddle N Pedal Fest, and now a community app. Although Thomason contemplated creating a community app for years, Hurricane Harvey inspired her to act.

“We are a unique community, so we were looking for something that would fit our needs,” Thomason says. “It became clear after Harvey that we needed a way to connect our community.”

As frantic phone calls came pouring in during the storm, Thomason’s resolve to create the app solidified.

“All the surrounding local agencies were putting out valuable information, but people weren’t going to all those places,” she says. “We were getting a lot of phone calls, and they were not from our members. A few were from businesses, but most of them were citizens looking for answers.”

Not long after the storm, the chamber arranged a meeting with Bar-Z Mobile Development. Thomason says she was particularly impressed by similar apps Bar-Z created for other Texas communities, such as Granville, Deer Park, Midland, and Odessa.

“Granville is a fairly small community, but they have lots of downloads,” Thomason says. “The reach for the app in that community is amazing.”

Eventually, Thomason says she hopes the Discover Northwest Houston app will have a similar impact. As the number of users grows, the chamber will partner with additional local agencies to offer even more services through the app, she says.

“As a chamber of commerce, our audience isn’t just businesses anymore; it’s the community,” she says. “We’re thinking differently now and seeing results.”

Anyone with an Apple or Android device who would like to download the free app can search ‘Discover Northwest Houston’ in the App Store or Google Play.

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10 Sep
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Improving Safety

Statistically, left turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make, but that may change with the introduction of a new, more intuitive traffic signal at select intersections within Precinct 4.

By the end of the year, Precinct 4 will begin replacing 43 traditional yield-on-green traffic signals with flashing yellow arrow left-turn signals. The new signals will improve traffic flow by giving drivers more opportunities to safely make left turns.

“This will be the first widespread flashing yellow arrow display conversion in Precinct 4,” says Pamela Rocchi, director of Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects division. “Harris County is introducing the flashing yellow arrow display at three-way intersections within Precinct 4 first, so motorists can begin to recognize and familiarize themselves with the display change. The concept would then broaden to include four-way intersections that meet the criteria for conversion.”

Once the initial signals are installed in Precinct 4, the Harris County Engineering Department plans to evaluate all qualifying signals throughout the county for conversion. Intersections will be evaluated based on their crash history, driver-sight distance, number of left-turn lanes, and traffic volume.

Benefits of the Signal

According to a seven-year study conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the flashing yellow arrow signal led to fewer crashes at intersections, shorter traffic delays, and provided more flexibility to handle a variety of traffic volumes. In driver-comprehension studies, the signal stood out as the most intuitive. The study concluded that subjects already familiar with flashing yellow lights instinctively interpreted the new signal to mean “turn with caution.”

The signal was eventually approved for general use in the Federal Highway Administration’s 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Since then, the signals have been adopted across the country, including Texas in 2011. Commissioner R. Jack Cagle recently adopted the signals in Harris County after learning about the benefits other locations experienced with the conversion.

“My staff and I are excited to bring this proven technology to Precinct 4,” he says. “Our top priority on county roads is safety.”

Flashing Yellow Arrow Conversion Locations

1 Aldine Westfield Road at Bellchase
2 Aldine Westfield Road at Lexington Woods
3 Aldine Westfield Road at N Spring
4 Aldine Westfield Road at Old Aldine Westfield Road
5 Aldine Westfield Road at Trailing Vine
6 Atascocita Road at Kings Parkway
7 Atascocita Road at Atascocita Way
8 Atascocita Road at Ygnacio
9 Bammel N Houston Road at Falling Creek Drive
10 Bammel N Houston Road at Green Pines
11 Bammel N Houston Road at Old Bammel N Houston
12 Bammel N Houston Road at W Greens
13 Barker Cypress Road at Dinner Creek
14 Cutten Road at Bourgeois
15 Fairbanks N Houston Road at Emmott
16 Fairbanks N Houston Road at Rodney Ray / Breen
17 Fairbanks N Houston Road at Silver Crescent
18 Fairbanks N Houston Road at West Road
19 Fallbrook Road at Willowood
20 Gears Road at Walters Road
21 Holzwarth Road at Meadow Edge
22 Kuykendahl Road at Country Pines
23 Kuykendahl Road at Willow Forest
24 Louetta Road at Gettysburg
25 Louetta Road at Haude
26 Louetta Road at Mirror Lake
27 Louetta Road at Spring Creek Forest
28 Louetta Road at Terranova West
29 Spears Road at Spears Road / Gears Road
30 Spring Cypress Road at Louetta Glen
31 Spring Stuebner Road at Rothwood
32 Stuebner Airline Road at Lyons & Wimbledon Estates
33 Stuebner Airline Road at Oakwood Glen
34 Veterans Memorial Drive at Blue Bell
35 Veterans Memorial Drive at Frick
36 Veterans Memorial Drive at S Camden
37 Veterans Memorial Drive at W Greens
38 W Little York Road at River Bottom
39 W Little York Road at Yorkshire Woods
40 West Road at Ella Falls
41 West Road at Pleasonton
42 Gears Road at Reliant Drive
43 Gears Road at Spears Gears Road

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