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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year 2012! And a Look Back at 2011.

The time to say goodbye to 2011 has almost arrived, and what a year it has been!  

Like other years, there’s been good news and there’s been bad news, and since it’s better to finish on an up note, maybe it’s more appropriate to start with the bad news—which this year was dominated by the weather.

For the people of Roscoe, 2011 will likely go down as one of its most memorable years ever in terms of the weather—and not in a good way.  It was a year of extremes and broken records. 

It began at the end of January with the coldest weather in a generation.  Back to back storms hit the area hard, bringing temperatures all the way down to 6°F with sharp north winds and wind chills of well below zero.  The storms left in their wake a multitude of broken pipes and related disasters.

The intense cold was followed by what can only be described as the spring from hell.  The whole country, already dry from the lack of rain since the preceding October, went into full drought mode with high winds, dust storms, and wildfires.  A blaze just north of Colorado City in early March burned over 10,000 acres, and destroyed many homes.  It was just the first of many wildfires that would plague the area over the next few months.  

By mid-April, wildfires were burning all over the Big Country, and the City of Roscoe’s Spring Fling Festival was held with the smell of smoke in the air from a big fire out of control in Coke County near Robert Lee.

In April the temperature was more like that of a normal June with highs of 90°F or more for 14 of the 30 days.  The official temperature for Roscoe on April 8 was 98°, and some thermometers around town recorded readings of over 100°.   The pattern would continue throughout the summer.  May had several 100° days with the high coming on May 28 when the mercury rose to 108°.

The highest temperature of the year, 109°F, came on June 17.  June had a total of 22 days in which the temperature hit the century mark, July had 24, August 26, and September 2. 

All told, Kenny Landfried, Roscoe’s official weatherman, recorded a total of 81 triple-digit days for Roscoe this year, an all-time record.  In comparison, Abilene had 82, Austin 84, Dallas-Fort Worth 70, Wichita Falls 100, and San Angelo 96.  For all these cities, the numbers they recorded broke all the old records, usually by quite a bit.

While the heat was going through the roof, the winds continued to blow, and the lack of rainfall destroyed any chance of a decent cotton crop.  Farmers dry planted because they had to if they wanted to collect crop insurance money, but there was never any hope that anything would come up because it never rained.  Fields which in normal years are green with cotton were nothing but dry dirt.  

In early October, the big rain that everyone had been waiting for finally came, with almost everyone in the area getting from 3.5 to 5 inches, but by then it was too late for this year’s crop.

The total number of bales ginned at the Roscoe Co-op Gin was just over 10,000 bales, and that includes  all the cotton from Snyder and Roby, whose gins never opened for lack of business.  It goes without saying that all those bales came from irrigated fields since there was no dryland cotton this year.  Compare that 10,000 to the Gin’s production last year of over 70,000 bales from Roscoe area fields alone.

Official rainfall for the year was only 7.69 inches, breaking the previous record of 9.35 inches in 1998, the only other year with less than ten inches since records began being kept in 1936.  This month’s rains, totaling 1.39”, at least give us hope that next year will not be so bad, but there’s no denying that 2011 was a rough year as regards the weather.

But that’s the bad news.  The good news is that a number of improvements to the city were either completed or set in motion this year.

Work on the new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant, scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013, is proceeding as planned.  The city has received the $1,765,000 promised it from the Texas Water Development Board, and progress in the early stages of the project has come off without a hitch.

The city also received a grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs that offers  up to $80,000 each to five individuals to tear down an old substandard home in Roscoe and replace it with a new one.  Several people have applied for the assistance and five of them will be chosen in January.

The city saw several other improvements this year as well.  Howard Park on Fourth and Oak now has some new pavilions that were built in the spring, and the downtown park across from the bank has one as well, along with a new brick wall that helps its looks considerably.

Three new trees were set out downtown, and the Memorial Park across from the museum has just received a new fence.  Several streets were paved for the first time this summer, including portions of Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Streets, while others, such as Pecan Street, received a new topping.

This past year has also seen several big changes at the school.  The old high school building, after constant use for almost three quarters of a century, was torn down in February and March to make way for a brand new building.  Although dear to the hearts of countless exes who spent an important part of their lives in its halls, classrooms, and gymnasium, its time had finally come.

Now a new state-of-the-art building is going up in its place.  It will contain classrooms, a new gym, and a concession area that can be used both for indoor and outdoor activities. 

Other physical changes to the school include the Astroturfing of the football field, which has been going on for about a month now, along with a planned new surface for the track.  Both are projected to be finished in January, well before track season starts. 

Changes to the school’s east entrance are also underway.  Elm Street will be closed between Seventh and Eighth Streets, and the school’s front area will be changed so that children who walk home won’t have to cross the busy street, while parents who pick up their children will be able to drive right up to the school’s front on a lane that leads into Ash Street.  The practice field on Eighth and Ash will also be converted to a parking lot.

Roscoe Collegiate High School continued to lead the way in educational excellence with its programs.  Its early college program, which allows high school students to get community college credit for advanced work, resulted in 13 of this year’s 25 graduates receiving their Associate’s Degrees from Western Texas College at the same time they got their high school diplomas from Roscoe High.

The school is now also involved in a program with Western Texas College and Angelo State University that will ease the often difficult transition for high school grads to a university campus.  Counselors will come from Angelo State to advise students on college coursework and majors, and students will take trips to the ASU campus to familiarize themselves with the university setting and its offerings and opportunities.

Elections in the spring resulted in several contested seats and some new faces on both the City Council and School Board.  Pete Porter was re-elected as Mayor, and Virgil Pruitt beat Don Graham in a runoff for Place 3 on the City Council.  In September, Bobby Dyer had to resign his Council seat because of health issues, and Christi Pepper Beal was appointed to take his place until the next election. 

In the Roscoe ISD School Board election, Tim Tomlin edged Frankie Santiago for the two-year term, and Jason Freeman, Wes Williams, and David Pantoja were elected to four-year terms.

Three new businesses opened downtown in the late summer.  Bruce McGlothlin opened up the Feed Store and More across from the Lumberyard, and David Pantoja and Mark Diaz opened the VP Tire Service and Garage on East Broadway.  The Reel Deal Game Room also opened, but not for long.  Within a month it had closed its doors and was history.

The Roscoe Wind Farm, still the world’s largest, continued to be an item of interest in the national and international media.  Film crews for Channel One, a channel shown in schools all over the country, were at work here in August to interview Cliff Etheredge and get shots of the wind farms, and in November a crew from Los Angeles was here for over a week doing the same thing for a series that will air this spring on the Weather Channel. 

An article in the Texas Tribune and the New York Times discussed the effect that money from wind farms has on small town schools and used Blackwell's and Roscoe's schools as examples.  And Cowboys and Indians, a magazine that focuses on the western United States, ran an article with story and photos on the Roscoe Wind Farm.  There were also groups from France, Canada, and Japan that did the same for programs scheduled in their respective countries.

And the City of Roscoe’s three celebrations—the Spring Fling in April, the Independence Day Celebration in July, and the West Texas Wind Festival in October—were all resounding successes that brought in people from all over the Big Country to enjoy the festivities and to see the live bands that performed “on the bricks” on Cypress Street next to the bank. 

Each of the celebrations featured vendors, a children’s area with inflatables of various kinds, Plowboy Mudbogs, and fireworks shows, as well as the street dances and live bands.  In addition, the Wind Festival held the annual cookoff sponsored by the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department, and the prize money this year was bigger than ever.

The feature band at the Wind Festival was the Bellamy Brothers, who drew a massive crowd to Roscoe’s downtown to see them and the fireworks show.  An estimated crowd of 3500 was concentrated in the little park and in Cypress Street from the Roscoe State Bank all the way back to the Lumberyard. 

Several people have asked how the festival planners can top the successes they had this year, and it won’t be easy, but those involved say they’ll find a way. 

All things considered, things are looking up for Roscoe, and if we can just get some decent weather, 2012 should be another great year for the community.



Graveside services for Patsy Lou Williams, 68, were held at 3 p.m. on Friday at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Sweetwater.  She died on Thursday at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene. 

She was born March 11, 1943, in Coleman and married Leon C. Williams there on August 7, 1959.  A homemaker, she had lived in Sweetwater since 1965 and Roscoe since 2008. 

Survivors include her sons, Jerry Williams and wife Mary of Roscoe and Clifton Williams and wife Doris of Cisco; daughter, Sheila Chase of Arkansas; sister, Janice Merrill and husband Johnny of Coleman; and five grandchildren.  

She was preceded in death by her husband Leon and a daughter, Tracy Lynn Collins.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Here’s wishing the best of holiday cheer to each and every one of you!  

If you’ve already got your presents bought and your tree set up, then you’re way ahead of me.  However, I do plan to buy a tree later on today and look forward to decorating it. 

I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago, and we were remembering some of the Christmas tree decorations we made as kids—things like stringing popcorn on a thread or making paper chains from colored strips of paper looped into a circle and pasted together into links.       

I also remember beading together long strings of dyed chinaberry seeds and wonder if anybody does that any more.  If you know what chinaberry seeds look like, you know they’re perfect for beading.  They’re smaller than a marble and have five ridges that make a star shape if you look at them from the end.  They also have a hole in the middle that makes them perfect for stringing. 

The seeds are in the middle, and after we kids gathered up a bunch of chinaberries, my mother would boil them in a pot to separate the seeds from the berries.  Then she would dye the seeds with food coloring, using two or three different colors.  After they dried, we strung them on long strings, which we then draped around the Christmas tree to create a festive effect. 

I tried to find a picture on the Internet of Christmas decorations made from chinaberries, but couldn’t.  I did, however, find this picture of necklaces made from dyed chinaberry seeds, so if you’ve never seen them before, this should give you an idea of what they’re like and how strings of them are a colorful addition to a Christmas tree.     

I suspect that homemade tree decorations, such as the ones I just mentioned, are not very common any more, having been replaced by premade commercial ones, but I could be wrong about that.   

In any case, the idea is to have a pretty tree to put the presents under, and even I should be able to manage that.   Once again, Merry Christmas!



A good crowd was on hand Saturday at the School Barn to witness the 2011 Roscoe FFA Stock Show.  Both elementary and high school students showed off their animals to the judges and many came away winners with trophies, buckles, and ribbons donated by local benefactors.

The final results are as follows:


1.    Grand Champion – Stina Tomlin
2.    Reserve Champion – Chasity Diaz

       Showmanship Awards

1.    Junior (7th grade and under) – Lane Harrell
2.    Senior (8th – 12th grades) – Stina Tomlin


1.    Grand Champion – Alura Renteria
2.    Reserve Champion – Kamren Fisher

       Showmanship Awards

1.    Pee Wee – Dakota Freeman
2.    Junior – Kamren Fisher
3.    Senior – Stina Tomlin

Swine Breed Winners

      Duroc Champion – Lola Joiner
      Hampshire Champion – Kendall Moses
      White OPB Champion – Kamren Fisher
      Black OPB Champion – Keeston Ford
      Cross Champion – Alura Renteria    



Aiden Richburg exhibited the Grand Champion pig at the 20th annual West Texas Rehabilitation Center Jackpot Pig, Goat and Lamb Show on Saturday at the Abilene Wylie FFA barn. Pigs, goats and lambs were donated by breeders across the country and purchased in a sale in October that raised over $17,000 for the Rehab.

Aiden received a beautiful belt buckle as a prize and will also be getting a custom embroidered jacket.  For more information about the Rehab, click here.    



The Lady Buffaloes of Cross Plains were too much for the Plowgirls last Friday night, beating them by a score of 54-26.  The halftime score was 34-17.  

High scorers for the Plowgirls were Lynnsi Moses with 7 points and Sara Kingston with 5.  Faith Boren and Mirian Solis both had 4. 

The Plowgirls’ next action will be in the Sterling City Tournament on Tuesday, December 27. 



Funeral services for J. L. Campbell, 81, were held yesterday at the Champion Baptist Church, followed by interment in the Champion Cemetery.  He passed away on Sunday, December 18, at the Nolan Nursing and Rehab Center in Sweetwater.

J. L. Campbell was born in Roscoe on October 21, 1930, and lived in the area all his life.  He went to Highland School and married Roberta C. Bankhead on June 11, 1949, in Roscoe.  A member of the Champion Baptist Church, he worked as a cotton ginner and a farmer, also for USG and for Nolan County Precinct 1 for twenty years.

Survivors include his wife, Roberta, of Champion; son Bob and wife of Snyder; daughter Patsy Sanford of Roscoe; three grandchildren, Shae Sanford and wife of Abilene, Kyle Sanford and wife of Bronte, and Courtney Campbell of Abilene; and three great-grandchildren.



Funeral services were held yesterday for Marta Moreno Espinoza, 85, at the McCoy Chapel of Memories and followed by interment in the Roscoe Cemetery.  She died at home on Sunday.

Marta Moreno was born January 19, 1926, in Normanna and married Domingo Espinoza in 1965 in Loraine.  She attended Roscoe Worship Center and had lived in Loraine and Roscoe since 1955.  Survivors include a sister, Elida Calderon, of Loraine; four nephews, three nieces, and fifteen great-nieces and nephews. 



Early last Thursday morning there was a light rain, which didn’t amount to much but was enough to get everything wet.  Thursday and Friday were cool and cloudy, but on Saturday the sun came out and the weather was perfect for both the stock show and the Christmas parade.  

On Sunday, it was cool and cloudy again with more light rain, maybe a tenth of an inch, and then on Monday morning, it rained some more, about a quarter to three-tenths of an inch.  The sun came out in the afternoon and with it came strong winds.  Since then it has been sunny and breezy.   

The forecast is for continued cool weather with a chance of snow tomorrow night and Friday.  The sun should be back out for Christmas Eve and Christmas with highs in the forties and lows in the twenties.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kevin Allen Killed in Abilene Traffic Accident

Kevin Dale Allen, 38, of Godley, formerly of the Roscoe area and a graduate of Highland High, died at the scene of a one-vehicle crash in Abilene at 2:00am on Sunday morning.

The driver, Kelsey Lynn Clark, 21, of Throckmorton, was traveling north on the Winters Freeway when her 2004 Ford F-250 pickup hit a median concrete barrier, veered across the road, crashed over a guard rail on the overpass above North 10th Street, and landed on the street below. 

Two other riders, John Logan Scarlett, 24, and Dillon Davis Rankin, 24, both of Throckmorton, received life-threatening injuries and remain in intensive care at Hendrick Medical Center.  Three other riders, also from Throckmorton, were treated for minor injuries and released. 

Earlier in the day, the Throckmorton football team had won the state six-man championship game in Abilene, and the group was out celebrating the victory.  Allen reportedly had just gotten a ride with them to go back to his motel room.

Funeral services for Kevin Dale Allen will be held today at 2:00pm at the Roscoe Church of Christ, followed by interment in the Champion Cemetery. 

Born on August 11, 1973, in Sweetwater, he grew up near Champion and was a graduate of Highland High School.  He also attended Angelo State University and the University of Texas at Arlington.  He married Amanda Jayne Ringenberg on March 27, 2006, in Las Vegas, Nevada.  They had lived for two years in Godley, just south of Fort Worth, where he was the owner of the Christ First Transportation Company.

He is survived by his wife, Amanda, of Godley; parents, Johnny and Marna Allen of Roscoe; brother Brent Allen and wife Michelle of Roscoe; sister Angela Allen of Sweetwater; one nephew, Jason of Sweetwater, and four nieces, Sierra, Hannah, Karlie, and Taylor, of Roscoe.  He was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Gracen May Allen, in December 2008.



The City of Roscoe’s engineering firm, Enprotec / Hibbs & Todd of Abilene, held a required public hearing at the monthly City Council meeting last night at City Hall.  Engineer Mark McHan gave a report on the projected plan for constructing the new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant at Broadway and Cedar Street and fielded questions and concerns of the Council Members and other citizens present. 

McHan explained that once the plant is finished, the purified water will be mixed with regular well water both for consumption as well as for the sake of the water lines.  Completely pure water would eat away the minerals already lining the insides of the water lines and cause leaks.  

At the same time, some minerals are needed for human consumption, just not nearly as many as are in the water now, especially the nitrites.  The engineers also said the treated water will be much more appliance friendly than the current water is. 

Construction for the plant is now projected to run from July 2012 to completion in April 2013.  There should be no tax increase and no or only minimal increase in city water rates. 

The City Council also briefly discussed a proposed ordinance to regulate conditions of mobile homes and travel trailers moving into the city.  This would include anchoring and skirting requirements as well as other conditions.  No actions were taken, but the topic will be on the agenda for January’s Council Meeting. 



Both Roscoe Collegiate High School’s FFA Stock Show and the City of Roscoe's Christmas Parade will be this Saturday, December 17.

The Stock Show will be at the School Barn on the School Farm, beginning at 10:00am.  It will feature competition in cattle, pigs, goats, and lambs.  Lunch will be followed by a dessert auction in which cakes and pies go to the highest bidder, with proceeds benefiting the Roscoe FFA.  The RCHS agriculture teacher, J. J. Caswell, is in charge of the event.

The Christmas Parade will be in downtown Roscoe at 1:00pm.  Line-up for participants will be at 400 E. Broadway at 12:30pm.

Santa Claus will be available for children in the Roscoe Community Center immediately following the parade.  Parade marshal is Roscoe Chief of Police, Felix Pantoja.  For more information, call 325-514-8384.



Roscoe is one of 42 communities featured in the latest edition of the Texas Midwest Guide, with a page of its own in a booklet designed for visitors to the area.  

The guide showcases the life and points of interest in the various cities of the region.  It includes community information and an events calendar as well as lists of museums, motels, RV parks, and recreation facilities.  The Roscoe Historical Museum is included, and the Lumberyard is Roscoe’s lone advertiser. 

An online version of the guide is available by clicking here.



The Roscoe Plowgirls pulled off another last-minute victory last night in Albany, defeating the Lady Lions 33-32 in double overtime.  The Plowgirls led 12-8 at halftime, but Albany came back in the second half to tie the score 27-27 at the end of regulation. 

In the first overtime, each team got only a single basket, but in the second, the Plowgirls got three points while Albany got only two.  High scorers for the Plowgirls were Lynnsi Moses with 12 and Sara Kingston with 11.

This past weekend the Highland Lady Hornets won their own Highland Hilltop Classic Tournament by first defeating the Plowgirls 45-13 on Friday and then Garden City 36-25 on Saturday.  In the championship game, Highland was led by Kara Hughey with 11 points and Sierra Allen with 10.

The Plowgirls lost to Loraine 58-55 in the consolation game.  Lynnsi Moses had 21 points for Roscoe and Faith Boren 12. 

The Plowgirls have an away game with the Lady Buffaloes in Cross Plains on Friday.  It will be their last action before the holiday break.


In last night’s boys’ game, the Albany Lions beat the Plowboys 56-12. Jesus Leanos was Roscoe’s leading scorer with 6 while Keeston Ford had 4.  The halftime score was 36-6.

The Plowboys also lost to Highland 37-31 in the tournament at Highland last weekend.  Ethan Wilson had 15 points and Ron Covington 11 for the Hornets, while Keeston Ford led the Plowboys with 19 points and Jesus Leanos had 8.



My brother Joe, who lives on the Norwegian coast, would have felt right at home if he’d been in Roscoe this past week, because the weather was cold, cloudy, gloomy, and grey with a mixture of fog, mist, and drizzle for practically the entire time.  Lows up until Tuesday were generally in the mid-thirties with highs in the forties and low fifties. 

There was even some rain early Saturday morning, two to three-tenths of an inch, depending on location.  On Monday and Tuesday, temperatures rose considerably with lows only in the fifties and highs of around sixty.  The forecast calls for a chance of rain today before the skies clear up somewhat for the weekend. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roscoe Receives First Snowfall of the Year

View of my back yard on Monday morning.
On some weeks, the weather is merely an afterthought, while on others it is a main event.  This past weekend has been one of the latter for Roscoe.  After a stretch of warm, sunny weather, a cold front blew in, and the area first received a nice rain, followed a couple of days later with another front and its first significant snow of the year.

The weather went from sunny last Wednesday to cloudy and cool on Thursday and Friday with highs in the fifties and lows in the thirties.  Then on early Saturday morning, the area got the rain predicted by the forecasters.  Amounts ranged from four-tenths of an inch up to an inch, depending on location.  Roscoe got about half an inch, south of town three quarters, and west of town also three quarters.

Saturday afternoon was sunny and beautiful with highs in the sixties, but Sunday was cold and cloudy, and about a three-inch snow fell late Sunday night and Monday morning.  The high on Monday was 32°F followed by a low of 21°, and yesterday’s high was only 28° with a low of 21° and enough wind to put the wind chill down to 10° at times. 

The forecast is for clear, sunny weather with temperatures rising somewhat into days with highs in the forties or fifties.



The snow brought to mind similar storms experienced here in the past.  Sometimes when we were kids, there would be a big snow, and school would be called off because the buses couldn’t make it to all the kids on their routes.  

Such announcements were a cause for great celebration, and as soon as my brothers and I could bundle ourselves up with jackets, toboggans, and gloves or mittens, we’d head straight to the Roscoe Times Office, where several other boys would also gather for a morning of sled and inner-tube riding. 

In the back of the Times Office there was a big, wooden sled, constructed by some of the local carpenters and made just for such occasions.  It had two 2” x 4” runners beneath a piece of plywood about two feet wide and four feet long.  In front, there was a guard of some sort and a place to tie a rope.  The other end of the rope was tied to the back of George Parks’s “moose wagon” with about 25’ or so of play between the bumper and the sled when the rope was extended. 

There was also a big inner tube from a tractor tire that was stored in the Times Office.  A rope would also be tied around it and attached to the back of the moose wagon.  If I remember correctly, the inner tube would be at a greater distance behind the vehicle than the sled.

Once everything was ready, two or three boys would get on the sled, one behind the other, and one on the inner tube.  Other boys would go ahead and get in the moose wagon to watch the action out the back window while waiting their turns to get on the sled or inner tube. 

George would then head out with sled and tube in tow, going about ten to fifteen miles per hour.  The fun began when he started making turns since the centrifugal force caused the sled and inner tube to swing out in an arc at an increased rate of speed.  The trick was not to have a spill but to remain upright and intact for the next turn.  The ride was especially challenging for whoever was on the inner tube since its rope was longer, making the speeds in turns reach two or even three times the speed George was driving. 

The increased speed often resulted in the riders losing their grip and tumbling from the sled or inner tube and flying across a ditch and into someone’s front yard at a high rate of speed.  The most spectacular spills were the ones everyone watching enjoyed the most.

How in the world George Parks managed to conduct this activity as often as he did without somebody getting seriously injured is one of those mysteries of life, but, as far as I know, there were never any broken arms, legs, or cracked skulls—nothing worse than skins and bruises. 

After an hour or so, when every boy had had a turn or two on the sled or tube, George drove  back to the Times Office, and everyone warmed up with some hot chocolate while talking excitedly about their rides and spills. 

It was a sign of the times back then that George was never arrested or charged with reckless endangerment of children or anything like that.  Looking back on it, what amazes me even more from today’s perspective is that the mothers of the town were never up in arms about it, never marched en masse down to the Times Office in protest, and, as far as I know, never even forbade their boys from doing it again.  

Like snowmen, snow ice cream, and snowball fights, it was just part of the celebration of winter and the general happiness brought on by a good snow and a holiday from school.   



The Roscoe Plowgirls are on a roll.  After beating Hawley 39-29 here in Roscoe last week, they won three games in a row to win the Blackwell Tournament last weekend and then followed that with a thrilling overtime victory at Plowboy Gymnasium last night, beating Baird 48-47.

The Plowgirls first game in the Blackwell Tournament was a defeat of the Hermleigh Lady Cardinals 46-27.  Lynnsi Moses was the Plowgirls’ top scorer with 11, while Sara Kingston had 8.  They then followed that with a win over the Westbrook Lady Wildcats 29-25. Sara Kingston led the Plowgirls with 12, while Moses had 6. 

The championship game was also against Westbrook, and the Plowgirls had to come from behind at the last minute to win it 34-33.  In this one Moses had 14 and Kingston 11.

Last night’s game against Baird was an overtime thriller.  The lead went back and forth the entire game with the Plowgirls and the Lady Bears tied at the end of regulation 45-45.  In overtime, the Plowgirls jumped out to a quick 48-45 lead and then went into something of a stall, passing the ball around to one another until only about a minute was left, when they got an easy layup shot but missed.  

Baird went down and quickly scored, making it a one-point game.  After another Plowgirl missed shot, they got the ball back and called time out with nine seconds left.  When play resumed, they tried to run a play but had to settle for a long shot, which they missed, and the game was over. 

High scorers for the Plowgirls were Kingston and Moses with 14 apiece, while Mirian Solis had 8 and Faith Boren 6.  The Plowgirls’ next action is at the Highland Tournament, which starts on Thursday and runs through the weekend.



The Roscoe Plowboys started strong last night and at the end of the first quarter were tied with the Baird Bears 11-11.  But their lack of size and experience cost them in the second quarter and for the rest of the game as they wound up on the wrong end of a 66-37 score. 

The score was made even worse by the fact that the Plowboys played over half of the last quarter with only four players, while Baird had the usual five.  The Plowboys had only six players suited up for the game, and two of them fouled out, leaving only the other four to finish the game.  High scorer for the Plowboys was Jesus Leanos with 16, followed by Keeston Ford with 10. 

The Plowboys didn’t have any better luck at the Blackwell Tournament last weekend, losing to Hermleigh 54-27 and to Westbrook 46-37.  In the Hermleigh game, Leanos had 14 points and Dillon Freeman 7, and in the Westbrook game Leanos had 19 and Freeman 6.

The Plowboys’ next action is at the Highland Tournament this weekend.



Both the Roscoe Collegiate High School’s FFA Stock Show and the City of Roscoe's Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, December 17.

The Stock Show, which will be held at the School Barn on the School Farm, will begin at 10:00am and will feature competition in cattle, pigs, goats, and lambs.  There will be a lunch there followed by a dessert auction in which cakes and pies will go to the highest bidder, with proceeds benefitting the Roscoe FFA.  The RCHS agriculture teacher, J. J. Caswell, will be in charge of the event.

The Christmas Parade will be held in downtown Roscoe at 1:00pm.  Line-up for participants will be at 400 E. Broadway at 12:30pm.

Santa Claus will be available for children in the Roscoe Community Center immediately following the parade.  Parade marshal is Roscoe Chief of Police, Felix Pantoja.  For more information, call 325-514-8384.



Funeral services for Domitila Tovar, 92, are pending with McCoy Funeral Home. She died Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

County Leaders Appeal for Funding of New Jail and Courthouse Repairs

Missing granite panels characterize the south side of the Nolan County Courthouse.
At a public meeting in the Community Center on Monday evening, Roscoans heard Nolan County Sheriff David Warren make a case for a new County Jail, while County Commissioner Terry Willman spoke to the need for Courthouse repairs in the wake of a 2000-pound granite slab falling to the sidewalk at the Courthouse’s north entrance. 

Sheriff Warren presented a slideshow of photographs demonstrating the inadequacies of the current jail in the County Courthouse.  It has 54 beds, but four cells in the middle cannot be used because male and female inmates are allowed no visual or verbal contact.  

Moreover, when the Courthouse was first used in 1977, it housed an average of 20 inmates, whereas the current average is about 57, and the number is escalating every year.  There is also a security issue as jailers must often walk within reach of the prisoners through the cell bars. 

The overflow of prisoners is sent to the Garza County Jail in Post and the Taylor County Jail in Abilene.  In the past ten years, the cost to the county for doing so has come to about a million dollars when transportation costs, including the hiring of extra personnel, is figured in.

The jail’s laundry, which consists of a single washer and dryer, is running 24 hours a day, and the kitchen is similarly not big enough to handle the large number of inmates.

Sheriff Warren wants a new 96-bed facility good for 30 years, built at a still undetermined location somewhere on the outskirts of Sweetwater. Besides the jail space, the facility would also include several new offices since at the present time eight deputies share a single office.  

The price tag will be in the $11 million range, to be paid for by an increase in county property taxes.  The projected increase is about four cents per $100 valuation with an average family seeing around a $25 annual increase to their tax bill.  The sheriff reminded the audience that the county tax rate over the last ten years has decreased from 51¢ to 40¢ per $100 because of wind farm revenues, so an increase to 44¢ is not an undue burden.

County Commissioner Terry Willman spoke to the need for Courthouse repairs.  After a granite slab on the Courthouse wall came crashing down to the sidewalk, an inspection of the remaining ones was done, and it was discovered that another one was loose and in need of immediate repair—and all the others lining the Courthouse walls were similarly unstable because back when the Courthouse was built in 1977, no measures were taken to waterproof the bases of the slabs, and over the years deterioration has occurred to the point that all are in danger of falling sooner or later unless something is done.    

Repair costs will likely include the removal of all the slabs with repair and weatherproofing of their bases before replacing them to their original positions.  The total cost is projected to be in the $1.3 million range.  Willman said that the Commissioners have yet to decide whether to go with that plan or to replace the granite with something else.  But one thing is certain—repairs must be done.

The audience seemed to respond favorably to the presentations.  Although the Commissioners have the power to authorize both proposals, a bond election with each as a separate issue in November 2012 is also possible. 

There will be similar public meetings on these two issues at Maryneal, Blackwell, Nolan, and Sweetwater.  See last week’s Roscoe Hard Times for times and places.



RISD Superintendent Kim Alexander has signed an agreement with Angelo State University in San Angelo that will make life easier for Roscoe seniors who graduate from high school and community college at the same time.

Through a program with Western Texas College started a couple of years ago, many students have earned credits toward their Associate’s Degree with advanced classes taken at Roscoe High—and this past spring, 13 of the 25 graduating seniors who took part in the program got both their high school diploma and their Associate’s Degree at the same time.

Now Roscoe Collegiate will partner with Angelo State and Western Texas in a program designed to create a seamless transfer of community college coursework taken at Roscoe into whatever major the student chooses at ASU.  Almost anyone who has tried to transfer from a community college to a university has run into the problem of community college coursework that won’t count toward graduation at the university. 

Now students who choose to go to Angelo State won’t have that problem.  Measures will be taken so that the students know ahead of time just exactly which courses they need, so that time and effort are not wasted.  Counselors from Angelo State will periodically come to Roscoe to advise students and make sure they are on the right track, and Roscoe students on the Associate’s track will take trips to the Angelo State campus to learn of opportunities and procedures there.  

The process will also help students who choose to go to a different university since through counseling they will become familiar with university requirements and procedures.

Angelo State stands to gain students who go ahead and choose to do their university work there, and Roscoe grads will benefit by already being familiar with the university system once they enter Angelo State with their Associate’s Degree in hand. 

Angelo State also has other advantages for many Roscoe grads.  Tuition is cheaper than at other area universities and the campus is only seventy miles down the road.



The City of Roscoe has just received and deposited in its City construction account the $1,765,000 it was promised from the State of Texas Water Development Board for the construction of a reverse-osmosis water treatment plant and for water distribution line improvements.

The new water treatment plant will be located on the north side of Broadway and Cedar Streets, where the ground storage tank is located.



The Roscoe Plowgirls took care of business at the Plowboy Gymnasium last night, jumping out to a ten-point lead in the first half that they held for the rest of the game, defeating the Hawley Lady ‘Cats by a final score of 39-29.  Lynnsi Moses led the Plowgirls with 9 points.  Sara Kingston and Faith Boren scored 8 each, and Mirian Solis had seven. 

With the victory, the Plowgirls are now 2-2 on the year.  After beating Blackwell 57-21 on November 15, they fell to Cross Plains 52-22 on November 18 and Colorado City 39-28 last Tuesday.  Their next action will be in the Blackwell Tournament, which will start on Thursday and run through Saturday.



No, that is not a misprint in the headline.  The Hawley Bearcats overpowered the Plowboys in a way seldom, if ever, experienced by a Plowboy basketball team.  The Bearcats jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead and never looked back in dispatching the home team.  The halftime score was 47-4.

Keeston Ford had 7 points for the Plowboys, and Jesus Leanos and John Hermosillo had 4 apiece. 

The only other game the Plowboys have played this year was last Tuesday against Colorado City,  which they lost 60-26.  Some allowance should be made for the fact that both Hawley and Colorado City are 2A schools.  Even so, unless the Plowboys can turn things around, this is shaping up to being a long basketball season for them. 

They have a chance to redeem themselves starting on Thursday, when they take part in the Blackwell Tournament. 



Wanda Faye Dunn, 77, passed away last Tuesday, November 22, at Rolling Plains Hospital.  On Friday morning, there was a public visitation at McCoy Funeral home in Sweetwater followed by a private burial at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Abilene.  Pallbearers were her grandchildren.

Wanda Faye Martin was born on April 16, 1934, in Loraine.  A graduate of Roscoe High School, she married James (Buster) Dunn in 1953 and remained married to him for 58 years.  A homemaker for much of her life, in later years she also worked at Mott’s in Sweetwater. 

She is survived by her husband, James (Buster) Dunn; daughters Kay Hunter, Terri Griffin, and son Hank; brother Winford and sister-in-law Barbara Martin; six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.  She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Robert Martin, Jr.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The time of year is once again upon us when Americans of all races, religions, and political persuasions gather to give thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon them for the previous year.   And despite the drought and other troubles we’ve had this year, there is still plenty to be thankful for.  We only have to stop and consider all the good things in our lives to realize what they are.

Thanksgiving is also a holiday for getting together with loved ones to feast upon dishes we generally ignore for the rest of the year—roasted turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, pecan, or mincemeat pie.  Does anyone actually ever eat any of these dishes on a regular basis?  Yet on this one day they are somehow perfect for the occasion.

If we’re not careful, we may leave the table stuffed and groaning to collapse on the couch or recliner to watch the Dallas Cowboys do their annual Thanksgiving thing—that is, if we’re in Texas.  One interesting feature of American life I learned while living on the east coast is that the time of day Thanksgiving Dinner is served depends on the part of the country you live in.

Growing up in Roscoe, I always correctly understood dinner to mean the noontime meal and supper the evening meal, whereas in Baltimore, where I lived for seventeen years, lunch is the noontime meal and “dinner” is the evening meal.  So, eating Thanksgiving Dinner implies one time here and another time there. 

In my experience, some fudging occurs on time in both places but in opposite directions.  In Texas, Thanksgiving Dinner is often not during the noon hour but a little bit later, one to one-thirty or so, possibly because of the extra time it takes to prepare.  In Baltimore, on the other hand, it is generally a little earlier than the usual “dinner,” possibly so that guests can leave not too long after it gets dark. 

That’s my experience anyway.  Your mileage may vary.

Anyway, this year the Cowboys are playing the Miami Dolphins, who after a slow start have blown out their last three opponents—and with the Cowboys good one week and bad the next, anything can happen.  It should be interesting to watch. 

And if you’re a college football fan, you won’t want to miss the Texas A&M vs. Texas game, which starts at seven.  The Aggies and Longhorns have been playing one another on Thanksgiving Day for 118 years now, but the Aggies are leaving the Big 12 Conference, so this is the last scheduled game for this storied rivalry, at least for the foreseeable future.  It should also be a good one. 

But no matter how you spend the holiday, here’s wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!



City Manager Cody Thompson wants to remind everyone that trash trucks will not be operating on Thanksgiving Day but will instead pick up trash on Friday.  Please inform those who might not be aware of this change in the normal schedule.



The Nolan County Commissioners’ Court will hold public hearings on a proposed bond to finance needed courthouse repairs as well as a new jail facility.  

As most people already know, a 2000-pound granite slab on the outer wall of the courthouse recently fell to the ground.  Luckily, no one was harmed, but a subsequent inspection of the other slabs reveals a problem in the way they were secured—or more correctly, not secured—back when the courthouse was built, and now all of them need to be re-secured before they are safe again.  There has also been talk for some time of the need for a new jail. 

If you want to learn the details or express your views on either or both proposals, make sure to attend one of the public hearings, which will take place at the following dates and locations:

    Precinct 1 – Roscoe Community Center – Monday, November 28, 7:00pm
    Precinct 2 – Nolan County Coliseum Annex – Thursday, December 8, 7:00pm
    Precinct 3 – Nolan Community Center – Monday, December 5, 7:00pm
    Precinct 3 – Blackwell City Hall – Tuesday, December 6, 7:00pm
    Precinct 4 – Maryneal Community Center – Thursday, December 1, 7:00pm



The Plowbots, Roscoe Collegiate High School’s robotics team, ran into some hard luck when the wheel came off their robot, Mantis, during competition at the Texas-New Mexico Regional BEST Robotics Meet in Garland last weekend. 

They came home with no trophies this time, but the fact remains that they were the best in this area by winning the Big Country Hub Meet the week before. They deserve hearty congratulations for all their outstanding achievements this year and best wishes for better luck next year!



The first freeze of the year came last Thursday morning.  The temperature dropped to 30° at Avenger Field and to 29° at Lyndall Underwood’s on the western edge of town and stayed below freezing for two or three hours.  Either way, it was cold enough to kill my peppers, okra, and most of my tomatoes—although the three plants on the east end of my garden are still alive and producing. 

The weekend was warmer but overcast, followed by a cooler Monday and Tuesday with thick fog,  drizzle, and temperatures in the forties and low fifties.  There was enough precipitation to get the sidewalks wet, but that was it—maybe a tenth of an inch. 

Today is clear and sunny, and it should be a beautiful day for Thanksgiving and Friday with highs of around seventy.  There is a chance of showers Friday night as a front blows in, followed by a cool, breezy weekend with highs in only the fifties.  



The following members of the Plowboy Band have made All District: Jamie Benitez, Juan Solis Garcia, Jovanah Guzman, Shirley Sanchez, and Brandon Stevenson.  They will take part in a performance on January 20th in Sweetwater.



Leandra Saavedra, 68, died Saturday, November 19, at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene. Holy Mass of Christian Burial is being held at 11 a.m. today at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, and interment at Roscoe Cemetery will immediately follow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roscoe Wind Farm Featured in Weather Channel Series on Wind Energy

At the Lumberyard, a cameraman gets footage of Cliff Etheredge talking to TSTC students about wind energy.

 A film crew from Los Angeles has been in town for the past couple of weeks conducting interviews and making video footage for an upcoming four-part series scheduled to air on the Weather Channel sometime next March.  The series, entitled “Turbine Cowboys,” a word-play on "urban cowboys," features the men and women of the wind industry and will have as one of its focal points the Roscoe wind farms. 

During their stay here, the film crew, headed by David De Angelis, did research, conducted interviews with workers and others whose lives are affected by the wind industry, and filmed area wind farms, at one point even going to the top of the Plowboy grain elevator to get some shots from there. 

On Wednesday evening, they were outside at the Lumberyard, filming the conversations of a small gathering of wind energy workers and a group from TSTC, along with Cliff Etheredge and yours truly. 

That concluded their work in Nolan County, and the next day they left for Idaho, where they’ll be for a couple of weeks doing more of the same before going to Tehachapi, California, to cover the wind industry there.  They also plan to visit and include an offshore wind farm in the UK.   

They will remain in touch with Cliff Etheredge and let him know when the series will air as soon as they find out themselves.  Each of the four episodes will be a half-hour long. 



Plowbots proudly display trophies won at the Big Country Hub Robotics Meet.
After winning the Big Country Hub meet, the Plowbots, Roscoe Collegiate’s robotics team, will compete Friday and Saturday in Garland at the Regional BEST Robotics Meet.  BEST is an acronym for Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology, and this region includes all the hubs in Texas and New Mexico, of which the Big Country Hub is only one.

This year’s contest theme is “Bugs,” and each team must build a robot that collects different types of “bugs” and puts them in a collection area.  The Plowbots’ robot is named Mantis, after the bug-eating insect. 

The Plowbots are led by Coach Dan Boren. Club President is Hannah Weems.



Two Nolan County schools, Roscoe Collegiate and Blackwell, were featured in a New York Times article published on November 10 about the effect of wind money on small schools in west Texas.  The article, written by Morgan Smith, originally appeared in the Texas Tribune, a non-profit publication which the New York Times occasionally reproduces articles from for its online edition. 

The article focuses on the benefits that Roscoe School is implementing with its collegiate program.  Through the program, 13 of the 25 high school graduates this past spring  graduated with Associate Degrees from Western Texas College in Snyder because they were able to take community college courses while going to Roscoe High.  The article also discusses some of the goals that Roscoe is setting for its students in both grade school and high school.  

The original version of the Texas Tribune article includes this three-minute video:

To go to the New York Times article, click here.   To go to the original Texas Tribune article, click here.



Jacinda Morales finished 18th in a field of 103 runners with a time of 13:09 in the Class A Cross-Country State Finals in Round Rock on Saturday.  The winner, Macey Siegert of Seymour, had a time of 12:19.


The Plowgirls  defeated the Lady Hornets in Blackwell last night.  I don't yet have other details but will post them as soon as I get them.  The Plowgirls lost their first game of the season last Tuesday to the Winters Blizzards 52-37.

The Plowboys don’t officially begin their basketball season until next Tuesday, when they and the Plowgirls play games against the Wolves in Colorado City.  


Despite the lack of precipitation, Roscoe experienced another week of beautiful fall weather with highs generally in the seventies and lows in the fifties—although it was a bit cooler than that last Wednesday and Thursday, and a couple of days were pretty breezy.  Still, the weekend was beautiful, and on Sunday and Monday the skies were cloudy with temperatures climbing up to 80°F.

There has still not been a freeze, and my garden is going strong with tomatoes, peppers, and okra all still producing (See photos.).  Bruce McGlothlin’s confident prediction of a freeze on precisely November 12 was therefore obviously in error. 

To be fair to Bruce, though, this year has been an unusual one when it comes to the usually reliable methods of predicting the weather.  You may recall that back in March the buzzards returned and the old mesquite trees budded out—and, despite that, we still had a late freeze.  That’s not supposed to happen, and in normal years it wouldn’t.  But this year’s weather has obviously been anything but normal. 

The forecast for the coming week is almost a carbon copy of the weather we had this past week, cooler tonight and tomorrow, then warming up to a nice weekend, followed by a couple of days of cloudy weather on Sunday and Monday. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

City Council Approves Closure of Elm Street in Front of School

This artist's depiction of the renovated east entrance to the school does not show the new road that will loop around to 8th Street but is included here to give an idea of how the new entrance will look when finished. (Labels for 8th Street and the proposed new road are mine.)

At last night’s City Council meeting, RISD Superintendent Kim Alexander received unanimous approval to move forward with a plan to permanently close Elm Street between 7th and 8th Streets. 

Due to the recent construction at the school, the entrance to the High School now faces Elm Street just like the entrance to the Elementary School, and when school turns out in the afternoons, students of all ages must cross the street to catch a bus or walk home while parents in cars pick up their children and drive away.

Students will all be safer with the proposed restructuring of the area in front of the school, planned to take place over the next few months. 

A new semi-circular drive will allow parents access to the front of the school to drop off and pick up their kids.  It will run from Ash Street behind the current administration office up to the school entrance and then loop around back to Ash via 8th Street.  

The new arrangement will allow kids on foot to leave the school area without having to cross the street. 



Plowboy Field will look like this once it is surfaced with Astroturf.
Plowboy Field is no longer covered with grass.  On Monday, heavy equipment could be seen on the football field grading up and removing it to make way for Astroturf, which will be the surface used by the Plowboys from now on.  The change, a decision of the School Board, will be complete before next fall. 

As part of the renovation of the school’s east entrance, the current practice field on 8th and Ash will also be done away with and converted to a parking lot.  Since Astroturf isn’t damaged by practice like grass is, future football practice sessions will take place on Plowboy Field.

The Astroturf surface is supposed to last for ten years, the same amount of time the school will take to complete payments for its purchase.  One of its big advantages is the minimal amount of maintenance required.  A sweeping device is brought in once a year to clean the surface, and that’s it.

The track that circles the football field will also be resurfaced.  Originally built in 1987, it last received a new surface in 2001, which was projected to last for seven years.  However, it has now been used for ten, so another new surface is overdue. 

The changes to Plowboy Field along with the renovations to the school’s east entrance constitute the final phase of the school’s renovation, which was divided into four phases:
  • Renovation of the elementary school.  
  • Conversion of the old band hall and early childhood center into the E.On Center and the new math and science wing.
  • Demolition of the old high school building and construction of the new building containing the gymnasium, three classrooms, and a concession area that will face inward during basketball season and other indoor events and outward during football and track events.
  • Astroturfing of Plowboy Field and re-surfacing of track.  Construction of east entrance area with parking lots.
The first two phases are complete.  The final two are both projected to be finished sometime next summer, so when school starts in the fall, everything will ready to go. 



Jacinda Morales came in sixth with a time of 12:37 at the regional cross-country meet in Arlington on Saturday, good enough to qualify her for the state cross-country meet in Round Rock this Saturday. 

The Plowgirls' cross-country team came in eighth and did not qualify.


The Plowboys concluded the 2011 football season with a 12-2 loss to the Yellowhammers in Rotan last Friday night, bringing to an end a difficult season for fans and players alike.  Their final record was 0-10 overall and 0-5 in district.

They were actually ahead for the first time all season when Eric Padilla tackled a Rotan player in the end zone with 3:47 to go in the first quarter.  The Plowboys then held the 2-0 lead until Deandre Lee’s 9-yard run with 3:25 to go in the second quarter put the Yellowhammers ahead 6-2.

Then, right before the half, Lee scooped up a Plowboy fumble and returned it 45 yards for another touchdown with only three seconds left to go in the half.  There was no scoring in the second half.

Eric Padilla led the Plowboys on offense with 12 carries for 43 yards. 


The City Council approved a Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 17, down Broadway.  The Community Center will also be open for hot chocolate and visits with Santa Claus.  Parade marshal is Roscoe Chief of Police Felix Pantoja.  The parade, as always, will be dedicated to those serving in the military.



A cold front blew in last Wednesday sending temperatures down into the low thirties.  A predicted first freeze on Thursday night never materialized, and the weekend weather was just about as perfect as a person could ask for with sunny skies, highs in the seventies, and only light breezes.  

On Monday the temperature got up into the low eighties, but that night another front blew in, bringing a shower with it.  It rained off and on for about a half hour with a downfall of a quarter to four-tenths of an inch.  Yesterday was cooler with a high of only about 61°, a low of about 35°, and north winds of 15-20mph.

Today’s high will be only in the high fifties, but the forecast is for warmer temperatures and  another gorgeous weekend.

Roscoe still hasn’t had a freeze. The average date for the first one is November 11, and back in September Bruce McGlothlin confidently predicted that the first freeze would be on November 12 this year, which is Saturday.  It will be interesting to see if he's right.


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