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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy New Year and a Look Back at 2012

Here’s hoping you all had a Merry Christmas yesterday!  I know I did.  But now that Christmas is over and we look forward to the New Year next Tuesday, perhaps it’s time to take one last look at 2012 and remember what a year it’s been for the city of Roscoe.

The three successful city festivals come immediately to mind.  The Spring Fling in April drew a large number of area folks to listen to the free concert, watch the fireworks show, and sample the chili entries featured in the Screw Terlingua Chili Cookoff, which raised over $600 for the Open Door Day Care Center.  The Independence Day celebration included a morning parade and a Plowboy Mudbog that attracted an audience of over a thousand as well as the area’s top mudbog vehicles.  Music was provided to a large audience by country legends Curtis Potter and Justin Trevino, and the free concert and street dance was followed by fireworks.  The West Texas Wind Festival in October was also one of the region’s major events with a morning 5k "Run with the Wind," the Fire Department's annual Barbecue Cookoff, a show-pig sale, and Gene Watson headlining the free concert that evening, followed by the ever popular fireworks show.  These three annual events, all successful and well attended, contributed to Roscoe’s growing reputation in the Big Country as a city on the move.

Roscoe is also becoming known as a mecca for country music.  In addition to the music groups featured at the city festivals, the Lumberyard drew huge crowds this year to see such nationally known country music stars as Ray Price, Mel Tillis, the Bellamy Brothers, Johnny Rodriguez, Asleep at the Wheel, and others. 

The city got three new restaurants this year, but only one of them remains.  In February, the Vaquero Grill opened on South Main only to close a month or so later, and in March, Smackers Café reopened for the first time in years.  Unfortunately, it also had to close down only a couple of weeks later when fire swept through the building.  Then, in August, the Blackland Smokehouse opened on Broadway downtown and is still going strong. 

The Roscoe Schools had another memorable year.  The multi-year construction and renovation project was finally completed, and the school now has a new parking lot and safer access at the east entrance, a newly paved Seventh Street, and a Special Events Center with a new gymnasium, three new classrooms and an indoor and outdoor concession stand.  In addition, Plowboy Field is now covered with Astroturf, and the track also has a new surface.  

The school also continued to excel academically.  For the second year in a row, over half of the high school graduates also received Associate’s Degrees from Western Texas College, and in September Roscoe was one of only 23 school districts in the entire state—and the only class A one—to be invited by the Texas Education Agency to join its new High Performance Schools Consortium.   Last spring the robotics team, the Plowbots, won two awards at the tri-state Alamo Regional Meet in San Antonio, and this fall was one of the three teams chosen to represent the Big Country at the Regional Robotics Meet in Dallas.

The school also saw an increase in enrollment this year with a net gain of over eighty students for all twelve grades, most of them transfers from other area schools.

The downtown area saw a number of improvements this year.  Old Town Park, across the street from City Hall, got a brick wall on three sides with nice lighting for the south wall, a “plaza” in the center with a huge Texas star, three semi-circular walkways, and a gazebo.  The firehouse got a makeover with a new awning and a show window for its vintage ’38 Ford fire engine along with a huge flag painted on its inner west wall, and the Community Center got a new brick front. 

Memorial Park, across from the Museum, got three new markers.  The Texas Historical Commission issued one dedicated to the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway, and a group of Bankhead Highway enthusiasts supplied another to commemorate the old highway that once ran through downtown Roscoe.  Originally known as Texas Highway 1, it later became the Bankhead Highway and still later US Highway 80.  The third marker is a memorial to George Parks, supplied through donations from a number of former members of the Roscoe Boys Club and the old Boy Scout Troop 37.  

The Roscoe Wind Farm, still one of the world’s largest, was once again in the national media, being featured in a PBS Earth Day TV special called “Powering the Planet,” as well as in a Weather Channel series entitled “Turbine Cowboys.”  It was also highlighted in “Switch,” a full-length award-winning environmental film. 

The local weather in 2012 was not a year of extremes like 2011, when both heat and rainfall records were set.  According to the official records kept by Roscoe’s weatherman, Kenny Landfried, the total rainfall this year was 17.51”.  That’s 4.39” below Roscoe’s 77-year average of 21.9” per year, but certainly a total that falls within the normal range for the area, unlike last year’s all-time low of 7.69”. 

Compared to 2011’s record 81 days in which the temperature rose to 100°F or more, this year’s 34 days seemed downright reasonable.  The hottest temperature of the year was 107°F on August 12, and the coldest was the 19°F recorded this morning.  The last freeze of last winter was on March 9, and the first one this fall was on October 27.  

There were also no records broken with this year’s cotton crop, but the yield has nevertheless been greater than estimates made back in September and even November.  By Friday, Roscoe’s Central Rolling Plains Coop Gin had ginned 48,383 bales with another 18,000 tagged and on the way.  Gin manager Larry Black now estimates that the total will be over 66,000 bales for the year.   

One of the most intriguing prospects for the area is the possibility that an oil boom may be in the offing.  The prices paid to local landowners for three-year oil leases this year climbed to $500-$600 per acre along with 20-23% royalties on producing wells.  This is a big jump compared to the $25-$50 per acre being offered just a couple of years ago and suggests that fracking and the new horizontal wells doing so well elsewhere may also be big producers here.  Already a couple have been successfully drilled in the near vicinity, leading to speculation that many more may soon be on the way. 

All in all, things are moving in the right direction for Roscoe, and with continued hard work, a little bit of luck—and rain—the coming year may well continue that trend.  In any case, Happy New Year, and here’s wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2013!


† Harold Althof

Services will be held at 11:00am tomorrow, December 27, at the First Baptist Church in Roscoe for Harold Althof, 70, who passed away on Saturday, December 22, in San Antonio. Interment will follow at the Roscoe Cemetery.

Harold Carl Althof was born on October 19, 1942, in Sweetwater. He married Rita Flowers on June 1, 1962, in Ralls and later married Patricia Nations on November 22, 2008, in San Antonio. He lived in Roscoe most of his life before moving to Ingram, Texas, in 2005 and San Antonio in 2008. He graduated from Roscoe High School in 1960 and attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. He was a farmer and rancher, a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Roscoe, a  member of the Roscoe Lions Club for 25 years and the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department for many years. He served on the chain crew for Roscoe Plowboy football games and was very active with the Nolan County Livestock Association. He recently was a member of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio.

He is survived by his wife, Pat Althof of San Antonio; sons Greg Althof and wife Crystal of Crane; Jeff Althof and wife Jessica of Abilene; mother, Lydia Althof of San Marcos; grandchildren, Kasi, Tyler, Jake, and Layla Althof; sisters Leona Julian and husband Terry of San Marcos and Carolyn Young and husband Richard of Abilene; stepdaughter Rene Hopper of San Antonio; as well as several nieces and nephews. 

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Rita, on February 26, 2008, and his father, Richard E. Althof, on April 1, 1994.


† Don Graham

Funeral services for Don L. Graham, 55, will be held at 2:00pm tomorrow, December 27, at the First United Methodist Church in Sweetwater, followed by interment in the Loraine Cemetery with full graveside honors by the Texas Department of Public Safety Honor Guard.   He passed away on December 22 at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene. 

He was born on December 23, 1956, in Sweetwater and married Sandra Kay Hale on August 15, 1981, in Panhandle, Texas. A member of the First United Methodist Church in Sweetwater and a 1975 graduate of Loraine High School, he lived in Nolan and Mitchell County practically all of his life. He also attended Texas Tech for three years.  He worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety for 28 years before retiring in December 2006.  He also served on the Roscoe City Council for a decade and received an Award of Appreciation from the City last year. 

Survivors include his wife, Sandra Graham of Roscoe; and son, Cody Graham of West Texas A&M in Canyon; parents, Doris and Donald Graham of Loraine; father-in-law, Shirley Hale of Pampa; uncle, Bobby Graham and wife Wanza of Loraine; aunts, Shirley Graham of Loraine,  Evelyn Landra of San Antonio, and Laveda Brooks of Burleson; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Visitation will be held from 6:00pm to 8:00pm today at McCoy Funeral Home in Sweetwater.

Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 309 Cedar St., Sweetwater, TX 79556 or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.


† Nolan Martin

Funeral services will be held at 2:00pm today at Coker Funeral Home in Jacksboro for Nolan Martin, 61, who passed away on Thursday, December 20, at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene.  Interment will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Jacksboro.

Nolan was born on September 29, 1951, in Fort Worth, to Houston and Oleta Belle Camspey Martin.  For the past two years he lived in Roscoe and worked as manager of the Lumberyard.  

He is survived by his spouse, Susan Compton Martin of Haltom City; sister, Derenda Paradise and husband Joe of Seneca, South Carolina; brother, Tony Martin and wife Barbara of North Richland Hills, Texas; half-brother Ronnie Martin of Quitman, Texas; and his friends for life, Cody Thompson and John Floyd.


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