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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!


As we move into the new year, this is a good time to take a look back at 2014 and review the year’s major happenings in and around the City of Roscoe.   

Texas Tech's Masked Rider at the July 4th Parade.
The first events that immediately spring to mind are the three City-sponsored festivals, which over the past few years have become a community tradition: the Spring Fling in April, the Independence Day Celebration on or around July 4, and the West Texas Wind Festival in October.  Another festival, the Cinco de Mayo Celebration in May, under different sponsorship, also contributed to the life of the community.  All of them were once again successful in bringing activity to downtown Roscoe and providing a venue for family fun and entertainment.

At the free concerts, noted country artists sang the songs that made them popular while people danced in the street or took in the show while relaxing in their lawn chairs and taking drinks from their own coolers.  Where else could you dance and see such stars without paying $50 or so for tickets?  One of the nicest features of the Roscoe festivals is that people don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time.

On the downtown streets, some vendors sold clothing, jewelry, and other merchandise, while others provided barbecue, baked potatoes, tacos, burritos and other snack foods.  Kids enjoyed the bounce houses, and children and adults alike had a good time at the Independence Day parade, which seemed bigger and better than ever this year.  Even Texas Tech’s Masked Rider was on hand to join in the fun.  At the baseball field, the Plowboy Mudbog entertained the crowd as contestants from as far away as New Mexico and Kansas tried to drive their mud vehicles through Roscoe’s squishy blackland mud.

The celebrations were also a good place for cooks to demonstrate their expertise.  At the Spring Fling, the Screw Terlingua Chili Cookoff raised money for the Open Door Day Care Center, and during the West Texas Wind Festival, cooks vied for the $1500 grand prize donated to the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department’s “BBQ in the Wind” Cookoff by Fuller Foods, along with other cash prizes.  All three festivals concluded with a Robert McBride’s firework show, each capping off another day of community participation and enjoyment.

In fact, when you combine the events and entertainers at the festivals with the number of noted country music performers that have appeared at the Lumberyard in the past couple of years—singers such as Mel Tillis, Ray Price, the Bellamy Brothers, Asleep at the Wheel, Gene Watson, Johnny Bush, Suzy Bogguss, Johnny Rodriguez, and many others—it’s not surprising that the website Buzzfeed included Roscoe in its list of “Tiny Texas Towns that are Totally Worth the Trip.”

Cotton modules await ginning at the Co-op Gin west of town.
Not all the news was good, though.  A case in point was this year's cotton crop, which was a disappointment in terms of both yield and price.  Much of the dryland cotton was so poor that more fields collected crop insurance than were stripped and ginned.  As of yesterday, the Rolling Plains Co-op Gin had ginned 26,344 bales, and there are fewer than 10,000 left to go.  This is well below last year’s 72,000 bales and the last seven years' average of 61,000 bales.

A big part of the problem was the weather.  Not only did the rains not fall when they were needed, the year’s rainfall as a whole was over four inches below the 79-year average of 21.79 inches (i.e., since official records began being kept in 1936) with a total of only 17.33 inches.  Other facts from the official records of Roscoe weatherman, Kenny Landfried, are these:  The first 100° day in 2014 was on May 6.  The hottest temperature recorded on was August 8 at 103°, and the coldest was on January 7 at 7°.  There were only 14 triple-digit days this year compared to 16 last year, 34 in 2012, and the record 81 days in 2011.  The last freeze in the spring this year was 30° on April 16, and the first freeze this fall was 29° on November 11.

The new R-O Water Treatment Plant.
One of the most exciting developments this year was the opening of the new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant, which provides the City with some of the best drinking water in the state of Texas.  The $1,765,000 project also came with a new computerized SCADA system that makes maintaining constant water pressure much easier and more efficient, as well as improvement in the City’s water and sewer lines, many of which are over a hundred years old and in dire need of improvement.

The City also expanded in size this year as it annexed property east of Roscoe that extends the city limits to two tracts of land on either side of I-20 just west of County Road 152.  It also annexed the I-20 right of way from the old eastern boundary all the way to County Road 152, west of Sweetwater Steel.

Significant progress has been made at Young Farm Estates, the housing development on the north side that will be a game changer for the City when complete.  Sewer, water, gas, and electric lines have all been laid, and it won’t be long before streets are put in and lots for new houses are being sold.  The new five-acre Stone Tower RV Park is also nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy within the next month or so.  A new laundromat has just opened there, and Roscoe folks who need it won’t have to go to Sweetwater to do their laundry any more.

In September the City bought the Guelker Building, and progress is being made in turning it into the new Roscoe Police Station.  Located next to Old Town Park across from City Hall, it is receiving an extensive makeover, and its Grand Opening should happen within the next month. 

Ribbon cutting at the Turquoise Toad.
Two new businesses opened in October, The Turquoise Toad and the Roscoe Thrift Store, and two others that opened last year had their ribbon cuttings in April: Smartt Move LLC at 1000 North US Hwy. 84, and Robinson Truck & Tractor Service on 409 E. Broadway.  Two others, Vickie’s Gifts and the Plowboy Center Lodge, are getting larger.  Vickie’s Gifts will open an antique store next to its store on 3rd and Main, and the Plowboy Center Lodge on Broadway is adding two new site-built units.  Other businesses that opened last year, such as McVey’s Nursery, Peppy’s Mexican Imports, the Rockin’ S Cantina, Burritos Zacatecas, the Purple Passion Salon, and the Southern Belle Salon are all still in business and contributing to the life of the community.

The future STEM Research Center west of town.
Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District (RCISD) has had another banner year.  Work is underway on the new STEM Research Center on the I-20 westbound service road next to the Ag barn.  When complete, it will house programs that allow students to earn credentials and experiences that they can use both professionally and in university majors.

The Roscoe Schools also grew in number of enrollments again this year.  The totals for pre-K through grade 12 for the past four years show the rate of increase.  In 2011, there were 363 students; in 2012, 447; in 2013, 526; and in 2014, 573.  The consistent growth indicates the school’s local popularity as most of the increase is due to transfers coming in from area communities.

And why wouldn’t they come?  RCISD offers several advantages.  Besides its remodeled and new facilities, cutting-edge technology, and innovative teaching methods, it offers students opportunities that they can’t get elsewhere.  Seventeen of the twenty-one 2014 RCHS graduates also received Associate’s Degrees from Western Texas College, another received a certificate from TSTC, and two others were early graduates.

RCISD is also one of the twenty-three Texas school districts in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium.  Most of these other school districts are much larger, and Roscoe is one of the few that are rural.  The Consortium schools are innovative and charged with developing high priority learning standards.  They also make recommendations to the governor, legislature, and commissioner of education.

On November 13 at the John R. Hoyle Memorial Administrative Leadership Institute at Texas A&M,  Roscoe Collegiate ISD won the first ever Texas School District Excellence Award.  The final decision was made by three A&M Education Department faculty members and a representative from the Texas Association of School Administrators. 

Everyone was smiling after the agreement was signed.  Left to right: RCISD Supt. Kim Alexander, Texas Tech Provost Lawrence Schovanec, and Texas Tech Dean of Education Scott Ridley. Tech President Duane Nellis signed the document later.
Then on November 21, Texas Tech officials were in Roscoe to sign a Memo of Understanding (MOU) with Roscoe Collegiate ISD.  The agreement can put Roscoe students on a fast track to an engineering degree at Tech through transferable classes offered via Western Texas College in Snyder.  Some of these classes will be taught via distance education by graduate engineering students from Tech.  Selected Roscoe students will also go to Lubbock for a three-day educational experience at Tech and benefit from other features of the MOU. 

Earlier in the year, Roscoe also reached agreements with WTC and Texas A&M and its AgriLife Extension to facilitate the transfer of coursework to the Biomedical Sciences Program in the A&M College of Veterinary Medicine.

It was a relatively good year in sports as well as academics at RCISD this year.  The Plowboys, under head coach Jake Freeman, were projected by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine to finish last in district.  However, they did much better than that, finishing as district runner-up to Winters and going to the playoffs.  Unfortunately, they lost to Wink 36-28 on a cold night in Big Spring.

Last spring, the Plowgirl and Plowboy relay teams also exceeded expectations.  The Plowgirls won silver medals in the 4 x 400 relay and bronze in the 4 x 200 relay, while the Plowboys won bronze in the 4 x 400 relay.   The Plowgirls also made it to the regional quarterfinals in basketball last spring before being eliminated by Garden City.

In short, Roscoe did just fine in 2014 in those things we could control.   And who can blame us for those we can’t?  Here’s hoping 2015 will bring ample and timely rainfall and as much progress in the city and schools as we achieved in 2014!



The Aggie football team was having a good time in Memphis this week—even before they beat West Virginia 45-37 in the Liberty Bowl on Monday.  Individual players from both teams entertained those present with a singing competition, and none was better than ex-Plowboy Caden Smith, now a tight end for the Aggies.  

The well known national football website Bleacher Report gave star billing to Trey Williams, another Aggie player.  However, an impartial judge (such as I) would have awarded the prize to Caden, whose rendition of Matchbox Twenty’s “3 AM" was clearly the high point of the show.

Caden’s performance was captured on this video clip, which he leads off:

Click arrow to play.



Acting on several anonymous tips received in recent weeks, the Roscoe Police Department began an investigation into a residence located on Hickory Street in Roscoe. Roscoe Police were advised that the residence was believed to be storing items stolen in burglaries in Nolan County. On Monday morning, Roscoe Police Chief Felix Pantoja and Investigator Steven Spencer made contact with the owner of the property. The owner, a Roscoe man, was extremely cooperative with the officers and agreed to a search of the property.

During a search of a storage area on the property, officers located items that were stolen from the Sweetwater Police and Fire Departments almost three weeks ago. The items were taken from vehicles while parked at the Sweetwater Service Center for repairs.

Officers also located a working methamphetamine lab on the site. The lab, chemicals, evidence, and stolen property were all removed for processing.

Investigator Spencer is asking for the community’s help in locating a few remaining items. "We are still looking for two sets of handcuffs, two Glock 9mm magazines, a portable breathalyzer, and a fireman's axe." Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these items is encouraged to contact the Roscoe or Sweetwater Police departments.

The owner of the property was not charged due to his cooperation and information gathered during the investigation. Police were given the identity of possible suspects and are continuing their investigation.


Roscoe's new laundromat.
Roscoe has got a new business.  Starting this Saturday, January 3, a laundromat, located next to the Young Farm Estates at 200 N. Cypress, Stone Tower RV Park, will open for business.  The owner is Alan Simpson of Merkel.

Wash loads cost $1.50 each; dryers are $1.  There is no bill changer on the premises, so customers will need to get quarters beforehand.  They also need to keep in mind that the laundry closes promptly at 9:00pm.  Since washing and drying clothes takes an hour and fifteen minutes, customers will need to plan accordingly.  

The laundry will be open to the public seven days a week from 7:00 am – 9:00 pm. 



It’s been a rough holiday season for the Plowgirls.  First they dropped a close one at Stamford, 35-31, on the 19th.  Then, this week they lost two more in the Eula Tournament, the first to Clyde, 52-26, and the second to Trent, 34-24.

Here is the scoring by quarters in the Stamford game:

Roscoe      11 16  24  31
Stamford    9  18  27 35

Scoring for the Plowgirls was as follows: Olivia Saddler 10, Mia Herrera 7, Samantha Ortega 6, Chavez 4, Danielle Dean 2, Selena Perez 2.

Scoring by quarters in the Clyde game:

Roscoe    2  13  21  26
Clyde    18  29  43  52

Plowgirl scoring: Ortega 13, Saddler 9, Herrera 4.

Scoring by quarters in the Trent game:

Roscoe  12  19  24  24
Trent      8  17  24  34

Plowgirl scoring: Trevino 6, Ortega 5, Casas 3, Saddler 3, Herrera 3, Chavez 2.

The Plowgirls’ next game will be their district opener against the Lady Blizzards in Winters this Friday, January 2, weather permitting.  The JV game starts at 4:00pm and the varsity game at 6:30.



It is 14°F in Roscoe this morning.
Christmas Day was sunny and warm with an afternoon high of 60°F, but it was also windy with sustained winds of 19mph and gusts up to 38°.  Friday was similar—warm (71°) and windy (16mph with gusts to 30).   On Saturday a norther blew through, dropping temperatures down to a high of 41° and a low of 29°.  Sunday was somewhat warmer at 52° for the high, and Monday was absolutely gorgeous with sunny skies and a high of 61°.  Unfortunately, that nice weather turned out to be too good to last.

Monday night a cold front moved in and by midnight the temperature was down to 33°, which happened also to be yesterday’s high since the temperature just kept dropping throughout the day.  The falling temperatures were accompanied by freezing drizzle, icing up roads, windshields, and anything else it touched.  By dark, roads were getting slick and treacherous and a light freezing drizzle kept on coming down.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued the weather warning below, which may be good to read since this cold, icy weather is expected to continue through New Year’s Day and Friday:

ABILENE – Winter weather is being reported across the Texas Department of Transportation’s Abilene District.  As temperatures fall and precipitation continues, drivers should be cautious of icy road conditions, including patches of black ice in some areas. TxDOT crews are treating roadways, intersections and overpasses and monitoring conditions throughout the district. Beginning today, crews will be working in 12 hour shifts to monitor and treat roadways as necessary until conditions improve.

The safety of the traveling public is TxDOT’s priority.  Motorists should avoid traveling in winter conditions, but if they must, they should observe these winter safety tips:

• Reduce speed. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions

• Maintain at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice

• Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas as they tend to freeze first

• If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you feel you have regained traction then straighten your vehicle.

For road conditions call the TxDOT road conditions hotline at 1-800-452-9292 or visit


On Saturday, the sun is forecast to come out and temperatures should rise up into the forties.  Sunday will be similar, and Monday should be even better with a high in the lower fifties and a low in the mid thirties.



Graveside services were held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 28, at Sweetwater Cemetery for Patricia Ann Massey, 72, who passed away on Thursday, December 25, at her residence in Sweetwater.

Ms. Massey was born on December 23, 1942, in Fort Worth. She was a long time resident of the Roscoe and Sweetwater area. She grew up in Roscoe until the eighth grade before moving to Sweetwater. She was a member of the West Side Baptist Church and worked as a Nurse’s Aide for 16 years at Holiday Retirement Center before retiring.

Survivors include a daughter, Rhonda Harris of Sweetwater; sister, Connie Taylor and husband, Ronnie, of San Angelo; three grandchildren: Stacy Balderas and husband, Lee, of Sweetwater; Marcia McCann and husband, Matthew, of Sweetwater; Dillon Harris and Jovan of Sweetwater; and ten great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Edd R. Simmons in 1974 and Ethel Mae (Holleman) Simmons in 1988; a sister, Bernice Dobson, in 1990; and two brothers, Billy Ray Simmons in 1975 and Eddie Simmons in 2007.



Funeral services will be held at 2:00pm today, December 31, 2014, at the Roscoe Church of Christ for Mrs. Rosalie Eckert Helm, 86, who died on Sunday, December 28, following a lengthy illness.  Interment will be at Roscoe Cemetery.

Rosalie Eckert was born in San Angelo to Allen and Minnie (Lauw) Eckert on September 8, 1928. They preceded her in death. She married Karlvin Helm in Roscoe on August 18, 1945.  Karlvin and Rosalie farmed near Inadale and Roscoe. He died in February of 2001. She was a member of the Roscoe Church of Christ.

Survivors include her daughter Kathryn Tate and husband, J.B., Jr., of Snyder; one son, Ronnie Helm and wife, Ramona, of Hermleigh; four grandchildren: Janna Peterson and husband, Clay, of Abilene; Kevin Tate and wife, Cheree, of Hermleigh; Joshelyn Lively and  husband, Britt, of Bryan; Linsey Currey and husband, Brady, of Abilene; nine great-grandchildren: Carlton Peterson and wife, Katelynn, of Lubbock; Caroline Peterson of College Station; Abby, Byron, and Collin Mac Tate; Breeley and Beau Lively; and Karlie and Lillie Kate Currey. She is also survived by three sisters: Wynona Bankhead and Peggy Lloyd of Roscoe; Norma Kranz and husband, Don, of Glen Rose; and one brother, John Eckert and wife Lydia of Irving, as well as many nieces and nephews. One twin sister, Dorothy Lee, died in infancy.

Pallbearers will be Clay Peterson, Britt Lively, Brady Currey, Wendell Bankhead, Randall Bankhead, Shane Summerlin, Grady Miles, Gordon Miles, David Kranz, Tony Kranz and Alan Eckert.


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