News Categories: News Release

19 Feb
By: Communications 0

Spotlight: Trail Guides at Jones Park

If you could only keep one personal belonging, what would it be? That’s the question Mary Jo and Gary Chapman regularly ask Jones Park visitors.

For the past few years, the couple has led groups of children and senior adults to the Redbud Hill Homestead to witness the lifestyles of early Texans. Their goal? To get children thinking like settlers.

“I set the scene,” said Mary Jo Chapman. “I tell them we’re traveling to the homestead in a covered wagon, and they can only choose one thing, and it can’t be electric. Girls usually pick a doll, but boys have a harder time. They usually want a video game or a car. It’s hard for them to conceptualize not having those things.”

That unique approach has proven popular with park visitors eager to explore the recreated pioneer village. During the busy season, a school can bring up to 80 children in one day for Homestead tours.

To make the experience special, homestead tour guides dress in authentic clothing and adopt the persona of an early Texan. Guides also develop their own tour materials so visitors get a new experience with every guide.

“I tell visitors to imagine traveling through time,” said Gary Chapman. “I want them to see life in a different way and consider what early Texans would have done. They depended on nature for their food, clothing, and shelter, so I point out materials they used along the trails.”

To keep participants interested, Mary Jo Chapman often encourages children to ask questions during tours and draws parallels between the past and present.

“Children always want to know how other children played,” she said. “I let them know there wasn’t usually a lot of time for play. Children had to collect the eggs and fetch water daily from Spring Creek, which could be more than one mile away. They also had to gather the ashes from the fire to make soap. Boys had to hunt, plow, and tend to the fields. Girls had to clean, garden, weave, and cook.”

Most importantly, the Chapmans try to make history fun by asking visitors to imagine a time before electricity, running water, and mass production, when materials were handmade and food home cooked.

“Children and most adults haven’t experienced a time without modern conveniences,” she said. “When you ask them to imagine life as an early Texan and let them experience it, they gain a new perspective on history.”

Want to Become a Homestead and Nature Tour Guide?

Have a passion for history and the outdoors? Jones Park is currently seeking homestead and nature tour guides. New tour guides usually shadow experienced volunteers and learn on the job. Training is provided as needed, and no previous experience is necessary.

To volunteer, contact the Jones Park volunteer coordinator by phone at 281-446-8588 or by email at

For more information, visit

Fun Facts about Mary Jo Chapman:
1. She is a retired physical therapist and Jones Park volunteer of nine years.
2. In addition to her position as a volunteer tour guide, she has volunteered as a reader for the Tadpoles Club, a historical re-enactor at festivals, and secretary of the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers (JJPV) board for the past seven years.

Fun Facts about Gary Chapman:
1. Gary Chapman is a retired chemical engineer and a Jones Park volunteer of eight years.
2. He has worked as a homestead volunteer, trail guide, and JJPV board member.
3. He served as the project lead on the pontoon boat barn project.

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19 Feb
By: Communications 0

NatureFest Nurtures Outdoor Awareness at Jones Park

If the only wildlife you’ve encountered lately is the squirrels in the park, then it’s time to visit Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center!

Meet a python named Lucky, and come face-to-face with hawks, owls, and other native wildlife during Jones Park’s NatureFest, Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

More than 25 nature organizations, exhibitors, and speakers will offer family-friendly activities, including guided nature walks, pontoon boat tours, live animal exhibits, a children’s catch-and-release fishing tank, crafts, and other interactive demonstrations.

Featured events include a performance by the Chikawa Conroe Aztec Dancers and a live animal presentation by the Downtown Aquarium. Visitors are also invited to a guided bird walk with local author Gary Clark and two photography walks with photographer Kathy Adams Clark.

Participants can learn more about the natural world by visiting educational booths from exhibitors such as Mercer Botanic Gardens, Houston Zoo, Baytown Nature Center, Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens, wildlife rehabilitators, Jesse Jones Park Volunteers, and more. The event will also feature discussions focusing on nature and conservation efforts along the Spring Creek Greenway throughout the day.

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19 Feb
By: Communications 0

Top Precinct 4 Spring Break Activities

Looking for activities to keep your child or grandchild entertained over spring break? Precinct 4 has you covered.

From March 11 through March 16, children can participate in a new activity every day, from vegetable gardening to canoeing and fishing. In the evening, families are invited to watch a movie under the stars. Click here for a sampling of some of the many activities available during spring break.

Children’s Spring Break Camp. Monday, March 11, through Thursday, March 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mercer Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble.

Make spring break fun and healthy for your child! Mercer’s Spring Break Camp offers a crash course in healthy cooking and eating. Activities include preparing healthy meals using Mercer’s mobile outdoor kitchen, planting vegetables, and tasting fresh produce. Ages 8 to 11. Cost is $40 per child. Space is limited. For more information, call 713-274-4160 or email

Spring Breakout. Monday, March 11, through Friday, March 15, at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, 20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble.

Break away from the daily routine of school and work! Spring Break is a great time to get out and enjoy nature’s wonder at Jones Park with a variety of programs throughout the week.

Reservations are required and available beginning Wednesday, February 27. Call 281-446-8588 or email

  • Monday: Snakes of Harris County. 10 a.m. All ages
  • Tuesday: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Jr. Angler. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ages 8 and up.
  • Wednesday: Texas Bound. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ages 7 to 12.
  • Thursday: Jr. Canoe Training. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ages 10 to 15.
  • Friday: Geocaching. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ages 7 and up.

Spring Break Movie Nights. Pack a picnic and lawn chairs to watch a movie under the stars. Popcorn is provided. Crafts begin at 7 p.m., and the movie begins at dusk.

  • Monday, March 11, at Lindsay Lyons Park, 2310 Atascocita Road in Humble. Featured movie: The Greatest Showman.
  • Wednesday, March 13, at Matzke Park, 13110 Jones Road in Houston. Featured movie: The Greatest Showman.
  • Saturday, March 16, at Burroughs Park, 9738 Huffsmith Road in Tomball. Classic Car show is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Featured movie: Cars.

For more spring break events and activities, visit

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19 Feb
By: Communications 0

Billboard Campaign Targets Missing Children

Next time you pass a billboard, pay attention. You may just change someone’s life.

The Texas Center for the Missing and Clear Channel Outdoor launched a new billboard campaign in February to generate leads in the cases of missing Texans. Every month, billboards across the state will feature the photo and information of a different missing person.

This month’s campaign will focus on Alexandria (Ali) Lowitzer, who disappeared in 2010 at the age of 16. Lowitzer’s photo will be broadcast on digital billboards throughout the state more than 1,200 times per day for a month.

This effort is part of a longtime partnership between the Texas Center for the Missing and the outdoor advertising industry. The Texas Department of Public Safety Missing Persons Clearinghouse received 55,346 missing person reports in 2017, 41,893 of which were juveniles.

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19 Feb
By: Communications 0

New Joint Processing Center Opens

Harris County and the City of Houston recently opened the Harris County/City of Houston Joint Processing Center (JPC), a facility that combines four different jail operations under one roof.

The new facility will expedite inmate booking and allow officers with the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to share resources.

Previously, Houston police booked suspects at two city jails and then transferred them within 48 hours to the Harris County Jail. The new facility frees up to 100 officers from jail duty and is projected to save more than $4 million in operating costs, according to a 2013 report on the JPC by Harris County and the City of Houston.

“This streamlined, expedited booking process is a true game-changer for Harris County law enforcement families,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “Every minute an officer spends escorting a prisoner through the intake process is another minute that they’re off the street keeping our neighborhood safe.”

During the facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that many people brought into the processing center need services such as mental health care, medical treatment, or detox, not jail. The new facility will provide the resources necessary to assess and divert these individuals to the appropriate service, he said.

The three-story facility spans 246,000 square feet and includes a digital booking system, county and municipal courtrooms, inmate holding cells, dormitories, and a clinic. Additionally, the facility will include diversion and re-entry programs that provide alternatives to incarceration.

The city and county both contributed to the facility’s construction. Bond funds for the $82 million facility were approved by county voters in 2013. The facility is located north of Buffalo Bayou downtown and near the county’s Baker Street Jail.

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