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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

White Hat Fire Devastates Maryneal Area

The White Hat Fire in southern Nolan County (Fire photos courtesy of Jeff Althof)
The latest fire to plague the area, known as the White Hat Fire from its origin on White Hat Ranch south of Maryneal, has destroyed at least twelve homes and burned more than 32,000 acres in southern Nolan County.  A power substation and numerous power lines have also received heavy damage, and some wind turbines have lost transmission power. 

The fire was first reported on Sunday evening at about 7:30pm and has moved north and east since.  At one point both Maryneal and Blackwell were on standby to evacuate, but neither community had to do so, although several homes east of Maryneal did.  The fire has since crossed both highway 70, the San Angelo highway, and highway 153, the Winters highway. 

According to the Texas Forest Service, it is still not contained although fire crews are said to be making progress, and the wind is now blowing in a more favorable direction.  Three task forces of bulldozers and fire engines have joined local fire departments in fighting the blaze, while Texas Forest Service air tankers drop chemical fire retardant.

Nolan County Commissioners have declared the county a disaster area and Governor Perry has approved the declaration.  Other wildfires are also burning in the Big Country in areas around Haskell, Aspermont, and Throckmorton.     



The City of Roscoe has planted three new live oak trees downtown on Cypress Street, one in front of the Roscoe Historical Museum, one next to the Roscoe State Bank, and one across the street next to the downtown park and Brooklynn’s Heavenly Treasures.  

Along with the three other trees that the City planted last year, the downtown area is looking nicer—and greener than before.  Live oaks were chosen for their slow growth and because they’re green year round.  The roots are also unlikely to damage the sidewalks or street.  



Don’t look for anything new on this blog for the next two weeks.  It’s vacation time.  On Saturday, I will fly from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Norway to visit my brother Joe and his family in Lillesand for a few days before going off to Sweden to celebrate the wedding of my nephew Erik.  Those festivities will take place on an island near the city of Göteborg, and it will be a treat to go there because I worked there all summer in 1963 and haven’t been back since 1968. 

After Sweden, I will spend a week in Warsaw, Poland, visiting a former graduate student of mine as well as an old friend who is a professor at the University of Warsaw.  I’m not sure yet if he wants me to teach one of his classes, but I do know I’ll at least be visiting it.   I will return to Texas on July 11. 



Roscoe finally got a much needed break yesterday when the high temperature for the day was only 96°F.  It was the first time in almost two weeks that the high hadn’t been over 100°F.  Highs for the past week as recorded by Lyndall Underwood’s weather station are as follows:

June 14 – 105°
June 15 – 103°
June 16 – 104°
June 17 – 108°
June 18 – 107°
June 19 – 106°
June 20 – 103°
June 21 – 96°

Today’s forecast is for a high of 98°, but the rest of the week should once again see temperatures back above the century mark. 

The area continues to be bone dry.  Concerning the need for rain in these parts, the Sunday New York Times ran an article about the scarcity of water in the Colorado River which mentions that the current drought is “drier than any other October-through-May stretch in Texas history.”


Catarino Galvan, 82, died last Wednesday in Lubbock, and the funeral was on Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Roscoe with Billy Joe Jay officiating. 

Born February 13, 1929, in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, he married Maria Luisa Rodriguez on June 5, 1955 in San Diego, Texas.  A farmer, he lived in Roscoe for forty years and attended the Methodist Church. 

Survivors include his wife, Maria Luisa, daughters Juanita Garcia and husband Daniel of Roscoe, Gracie Garza and husband Luis of Edinburg, Mari Cornett and husband Benny of Roscoe, Patty Hamilton and husband Lance of Fort Worth, and son Jose Galvan and wife Maria of Roscoe; as well as 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Roscoe Wind Farm in International News

An aerial view of the wind farm northwest of Roscoe.
The Roscoe Wind Farm continues to be an international news item.  It was in the national news once again this past week with mention  in a June 7 New York Times article entitled, “The Gas is Greener,” written by Robert Bryce.  

Unfortunately, the article was apparently written with an agenda, namely, to promote gas production at the expense of renewable energy sources.  In it, the author falsely leads readers to assume that the placement of wind turbines on a farm automatically makes the farm permanently unusable for anything else, such as raising cotton or livestock.  He also wrongly claims that the noise from the turbines drives the people off the property.  

While most local folks have nothing against the tapping of the nation’s vast gas reserves, to promote the process by misstating the facts about wind energy is unfair, to say the least. (To read the article, click here.)

The Roscoe Wind Farm gets more positive treatment in a well-written and well-photographed article scheduled to appear in the September issue of Cowboys & Indians, a magazine which bills itself as “The Premier Magazine of the West.”  As other media have done, the article tells the story of Cliff Etheredge’s successful quest to bring wind energy to the Roscoe area.  In doing so, it quotes my mention of the positive effect that tax revenues from the wind farms have had on the local school, and, in passing, it also has some nice things to say about Roscoe’s downtown restaurant, the Lumberyard.  

In addition, the Roscoe Wind Farm is still attracting global interest.  On Thursday, Cliff Etheredge was visited by a team of four Japanese, two men and two women, who interviewed him for an upcoming  documentary for Japanese Public Television about the effects of deregulation on the wind industry in the United States.

And that’s not all.  Etheredge is also in touch with a Canadian group from Toronto making a show about the benefits of wind farms.   He is also working with a Dallas company on a video for the Texas Workforce Commission about employment opportunities in the wind industry. 


The Camp Boothe Oaks Fire as seen from the Maryneal Highway on Friday afternoon.

Several local volunteer fire departments, including those from Roscoe, Maryneal, Lake Sweetwater, and Nolan joined the Texas Forest Service and the Sweetwater Fire Department in battling a wildfire that burned southeast of Roscoe on Friday and Saturday.  

Dubbed the Camp Boothe Oaks Fire, it started early Friday afternoon when Ralph Lynch set fire to a deer carcass near a barn next to County Road 145 just south of Lake Trammell.  From there strong south winds carried the fire northward. 

Some 500 acres burned, and the Sweetwater Fire Department reportedly lost a truck during the operation.  Texas Forest Service helicopters drew water from Lake Trammell, and bulldozers joined fire trucks in battling the blaze. Lynch was ticketed for starting a fire during a burn ban.



If nothing else, temperatures around Roscoe have been consistent over the last couple of weeks.  Highs in the 99°-105°F range and lows in the low seventies have been accompanied by clear, sunny skies with south and southwest winds 15 to 25mph.  

Sunday’s high was 102°, Monday’s 104°, and yesterday’s 105°.  Today's is forecast at 103° and tomorrow's 105°. Precipitation of any kind has been noticeably and depressingly absent.  Unfortunately, the forecast for the coming week is for more of the same with sunny, windy days and afternoon highs of 101°-105°F.    

At last night’s meeting, the City Council unanimously approved the purchase of the Huffmeyer property, i.e., the lot now used as a downtown park across the street from the City Hall, where the Roscoe Times office used to stand. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plans Set for Independence Day Celebration

At its meeting last Thursday, the City Entertainment Committee approved the overall plan for Roscoe’s Independence Day celebration on Saturday, July 2.  This year’s event has something for everybody and promises to be a great way to commemorate the July 4th weekend.  Whether you’re planning to participate or just to attend, check out the categories below to learn more about details of the day’s events. 


Festivities begin at 10:00am with a parade in downtown Roscoe.  Those participating need to be present by 9:30 for the lineup and judging.  Prizes will be awarded for best entries in these categories: antique cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and semi-trucks, along with three prizes for floats—patriotic, western, and overall.  For more information, contact parade director Valerie Pruitt at 325-338-4666.


Food and craft vendors will be open for business in the downtown area starting at 10:00am, and the kids’ area with bounce houses and other inflatables should also be ready by then.  If you plan to be a vendor, contact Kelly Etheredge at 325-725-0756.


Starting at noon, there will be a karaoke-style open mike setup on the music stage in front of the Roscoe State Bank, so if you’ve been yearning to be discovered as a singer, consider this your chance to be a star and receive some well-deserved accolades from an adoring crowd. 


Once again, swimming will be free at the Roscoe Swimming Pool at City Park from 1:00-5:00pm.  For more information call Andy Wilson or Lus Pantoja at 325-766-2352.


Plowboy Mudbog competition will begin at 1:00pm at George Parks Field on Second and Sycamore Streets and go until finished at around 4:30 or 5:00.  The mud track, just beyond right field of the baseball park, will be 200 feet long and go from two-feet deep to four-feet deep in good ol’ squishy Roscoe blackland mud.  Winners are those who go the farthest before coming to a halt.  Competitors from as far away as Hobbs, New Mexico, are expected to participate.

Registration for participants begins at 11:00am.  Vehicles will be divided into the following categories: Street (under 33” tires), Super Street (33”-35”), Modified (36”-39”), and Open (40” and over).   Registration fee is $25 per entry, with winners of each class taking the fees as prize money.  

Admission for spectators will be $2 for ages 8-13 and $5 for ages 14 and over.  All proceeds go to benefit the Roscoe Little League baseball program. 

For more information, contact Felix Pantoja at 325-514-8384 or David Pantoja at 325-280-1917.


Live music will begin on the stage in the street next to the Roscoe State Bank at around 6:00 with Lawless Flatz, a popular country/rock band from Roby that has developed a large following in this area.   They will play until about 8:00.

They will be followed by the headline band of the evening, the Austin Allsup Band, a high energy group from Austin that plays a blend of country and rock.  For more information, click here.   They will play until 9:00 or so and then break for the fireworks show.  Afterwards, the band will return to the stage for a final set of about a half-hour.


Robert McBride will again put on one of his memorable fireworks extravaganzas.  This one should be especially welcome since the planned fireworks show for the Spring Fling had to be cancelled due to the fire hazard it presented at the time.  The fireworks will last for about a half hour starting as soon as it gets dark, around 9:15 or so.

For information about aspects of the celebration not covered above, contact City Hall at 325-766-3871.


West Texas went through yet another week of hot, sunny and dry weather with temperatures typically topping out around 100°F in the afternoons with lows at night in the seventies.  Winds were out of the south or southwest at 15 to 30 miles per hour, and forecasts for the coming week call for more of the same.  Farmers have been dry planting in the fields, and gardeners have been running up their water bills just to keep their plants alive.  The area needs rain in the worst kind of way, but none is in sight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Arrives in Roscoe

Kids enjoy opening day at the Roscoe Swimming Pool.
Never mind that the calendar says summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21.  For all practical purposes, it’s already here.  It’s June, school is out, this year’s senior class has graduated, we’ve had some sweltering summer heat, and on Saturday the Roscoe Swimming Pool opened to the delight of kids of all ages. 

The pool is in good hands this summer as it is being run by Luz Pantoja and Elementary School Principal Andy Wilson.  It will be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 1:00-5:00pm.  Price of admission is $1.50 with season passes available for $50. 

The pool can also be rented for private parties.  For information call 325-766-2352.



Temperatures climbed into the extreme range this past weekend as the Roscoe area, already battered by drought, wildfires, and sandstorms this spring, was subjected to some of the hottest weather ever recorded here for the month of May. 

On Friday the mercury rose to 104°F, but that proved to be just a warmup for Saturday, May 28, when Lyndall Underwood’s Davis Weather Station on the western edge of town recorded a high of 109°F.  Some areas in Sweetwater recorded 110°F.  In contrast, Sunday’s high of only 100°F seemed eminently bearable, which is not encouraging, given that all this has been happening in May.  

Temperatures in the last couple of days have cooled off somewhat, but area residents are not optimistic about what the recent weather portends for the rest of the summer.  



The Roscoe Tigers Freshman (Ages 10-12) Little League baseball team will conclude their season  tomorrow night (Thursday, June 2) at George Parks Field against the Colorado City Reds with a chance to win the league title outright with a victory.  The Roscoe Angels still have a shot at second place, and the top two teams in the league will go on to play in the District Tournament.

The Roscoe Tigers-Colorado City Reds game at 8:00pm will be preceded by a Midget League game pitting the Roscoe Brewers against the Colorado City Rangers.

Closing ceremonies for all Roscoe’s baseball teams will be this Saturday, June 4, from 10:00am to around 1:00pm, at George Parks Field.  The snack bar will be open with breakfast burritos and regular burritos available with proceeds going to the Little League.  

For information, call David Pantoja at 325-280-1917.

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