May 2017  


   

Harris County Warns of Jury Scams

A Houston man paid $7,000 after a caller told him he was being sought on an arrest warrant for failing to pay fines for missed jury service. A Clear Lake man who received a similar call paid $1,900 and then sent another $1,900 hours later when the caller told him the first payment had never arrived.

These two people who made payments were among dozens of area residents who have been victimized by con men who pose as police officers and demand immediate payment if a person wishes to avoid being arrested for phony fines stemming from purported missed jury service.

The District Clerk's Office, the office responsible for summoning prospective jurors, has launched public awareness efforts and public service announcements to combat this jury scam. The DCO's Jury Section has received an increasing number of complaints from people who have become victims of this scam.

 

DCO Attorney Charlie Walker has been working with Precinct 1 Constable Deputy Inspector Rick Moreno and Sgt. Ruben Castillo and with a robbery detective at the Harris County Sheriff's Office in an effort to catch the scammers. Unfortunately, stopping these thieves is difficult because several of these scams are being operated from out of the state or even out of the country.
Typically, the con men order people to pay the fines using a prepaid debit card. They keep victims on the phone until they provide the number on the card that allows the thieves to access the money.
Sometimes, the con men give the name of a real deputy who works in the Harris County Sheriff's Office. While most people are not fooled by the scam, for a small minority who are, the scam can be costly. Moreno has investigated seven incidents in which the victims paid $2,000 to $7,000 in 2015.
Police officers and court clerks will never ask a resident to pay fines over the phone. Residents should never provide pre-paid debit card numbers, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers to individuals calling about missed jury duty service.
Residents who have been contacted by the jury service scammers may call the DCO at 713-755-7300 or the Sheriff's Office at 713-274-9210.
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Precinct 4 Opens Major Anchor Park Along Cypress Creek

Twelve years ago, a grassroots group of residents sat down with a Houston developer to discuss the fate of a major greenbelt in suburban northwest Harris County.
When Vincent Kickerillo and Walt Mischer of V&W Partners purchased the land in mid-2005, residents feared the new owners would flatten a thriving wetland instrumental to the development of a connected park system along Cypress Creek.

Armed with little more bargaining power than facts and a vision, a group of concerned homeowners, MUDs, and environmentalists known as the HP Park Project Committee met with the buyers to explain the significance of the land to the Cypress Creek Greenway Project, a proposed 40-mile trail system connecting parks along Cypress Creek.
The group settled on an agreement that benefited everyone. V&W Partners would donate about 80 acres of parkland, worth an estimated $9 million, to Precinct 4 for a public park.
A New Park
On April 1, the park opened as the Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve, Precinct 4's fifth anchor park along Cypress Creek.
"I intend to keep this park as natural as possible," said Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. "It offers recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat preservation, quality of life improvements, as well as flood mitigation for the surrounding area. Eventually, this preserve will be an important destination along the greenway, which provides additional transportation options for residents and safer paths for bicyclists and hikers."
The park features a 1.7-mile paved nature trail around a 40-acre lake, restrooms, showers, parking lots, and water recreational activities through Precinct 4's Trails As Parks program. Fishing piers, a picnic pavilion, outdoor classroom and an amphitheater are also planned. Once a building near the property is renovated, Precinct 4 plans to add a director and onsite caretakers who will provide programming.
Greenway
For Cypress Creek Greenway Project Chair Jim Robertson, the most exciting aspect of the preserve is yet to come.
Since founding the Cypress Creek Greenway Project in 2004, Robertson has made a goal of working with communities and government entities such as Precinct 4 to connect parks along Cypress Creek from west of Highway 290 eastward to the Spring Creek Greenway at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center.
The Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve was one of his earliest victories.
"Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the opening is to see the results of many entities working together over many years to preserve a wonderful area along Cypress Creek as part of the Cypress Creek Greenway," said Robertson.
So far, Robertson said, about 24 parks including county, municipal utility district, and developer parks from west of U.S. 290 to Spring Creek have opened out of the 30 planned parks.
Of those, Precinct 4 has opened some of the five largest parks including Mercer Botanic Gardens, Collins Park, Meyer Park, and the 100-Acre Woods Preserve.
Once the greenway is complete, experts predict the region could see millions in economic and environmental benefits. A 2013 study commissioned by the Houston Parks Board found the Cypress Creek Greenway could provide $14-20 million in economic benefits such as vehicle cost savings, air quality improvement, carbon sequestration, ecosystem support, clean water and property value increases.
"I hope that the creation of these parks will serve as a catalyst for the development of trail connectivity, not only between them along Cypress Creek within the Cypress Creek Greenway, but also into the surrounding neighborhoods," said Robertson.
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Precinct 2 Breaks Ground for Juan Seguin Park

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman held a ceremonial groundbreaking event for Juan Seguin Park on Thursday, April 27. Local leaders, community advocates, and descendants of Nathaniel Lynch and Juan Seguin, including his fourth great grandson Albert Seguin, joined Commissioner Morman in celebrating the exciting event.
"What a beautiful day for preserving Texas history," said Albert Seguin. "The recognition of our ancestor Colonel Juan Seguin is greatly appreciated."
The $4 million project will transform the open green space, which is located at the south landing of the Lynchburg Ferry, into a park everyone can enjoy. Park amenities will include a Ship Channel overlook, nautical-themed playground, walking trail, historical features on Juan Seguin and the Lynchburg Ferry, and much more. Construction is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2018.
"This effort has been a long time coming and ties together a series of parks and historical sites that keep the history of Texas alive," said Morman. "Texas Parks and Wildlife has been a great partner in the development of this project, and we look forward to continuing this great relationship."
For more information and updates on Precinct 2, visit www.hcp2.com or like their Facebook page "Harris County Precinct 2."
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