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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Brandon Abeita Killed in Sweetwater Shooting

Brandon Abeita                                        Tanner Engel   
Brandon Heath Abeita, 39, who grew up in Roscoe, was shot and killed at about 11:45am on Sunday in the 1100 block of Fowler Street in Sweetwater. The shooting reportedly occurred during an altercation in which the alleged shooter, Tanner Engel, 26, of Sweetwater, tried to get Abeita into his pickup. Abeita then tried to drive away in Engel’s pickup but wrecked it when it jumped the curb and ran into a utility pole on 12th Street just west of Fowler. Shortly thereafter, he was taken by ambulance to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Engel was arrested and initially charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, placed in Nolan County Jail, and held on $125,000 bond. However, the charges have since been upgraded to murder, and the bond could increase. If found guilty, he could receive anywhere from five years to life in prison.

Abeita grew up in Roscoe and was a member of the RHS class of 1995. Family and friends will gather today from 6:00pm to 7:30pm at Cate Spencer and Trent Funeral Home in Sweetwater. Graveside services will be held at Sweetwater Cemetery at 2:00pm tomorrow, April 7, and burial will follow.



Both Plowboys and Plowgirls had their last tests before district at the San Angelo Relays last weekend. It was a huge meet with schools from all over west Texas participating. The boys’ events were divided into only two divisions based on school size while the girls’ events were divided into four divisions. The results suggest that they will do well in several events at tomorrow’s district meet in Hamlin as they performed well in San Angelo against schools of larger size.

Kevin Lavalais ran the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.18, which was good enough for a fifth-place finish, but all those with better times were from larger schools. The same was true for all those who beat Max Nemir’s 42.92 time in the 300 meter hurdles.

In the girls’ competition, the Wilkinson sisters did well in several events. Bonnie had good times in the 100, 200, and 400 meter races, while Lyndi excelled in the triple jump with a distance of 33’3”.


Event                          Place           Athlete              Time/Distance
100 meter dash             5          Kevin Lavalais               11.18
                                       29          Diego Garza                   12.13
                                       37          Juan Huidobro             12.48
800 meter run            35          Juan Solis                   2:20.14
300 meter hurdles       7          Max Nemir                     42.92
4 x 100 meter relay     16         Plowboys                        47.73
  (Max Nemir, Kevin Lavalais, Francisco Garcia, Diego Garza)
4 x 400 meter relay     15         Plowboys                     3:44.76
   (Juan Solis, Max Nemir, Diego Garza, Kevin Lavalais)
Shot Put                          24        Vincent Pantoja         36’ 6¾”
Discus                             20        Anthony Ortegon        106’ 2”
                                          23        Vincent Pantoja          102’ 2”
Pole Vault                       14        Jayden Gonzales           10’ 6”


100 meter dash               7         Bonnie Wilkinson         13.40
                                         13         Lyndi Wilkinson            13.84
200 meter dash              4         Bonnie Wilkinson         27.26
                                         15          Lyndi Wilkinson           28.93
400 meter run                6          Bonnie Wilkinson      1:03.74
                                           9          Lyndi Wilkinson        1:06.87
Triple Jump                    4          Lyndi Wilkinson            33’ 3”
                                         17          Bonnie Wilkinson          30’ 1”

The District Track Meet is at Hamlin tomorrow afternoon.



RCHS students Crystal Alvarez, Kelsi Vrubel, Katelyn Collins, and Matthew Buckley stand next to their overwintering cage.
An experiment conducted by 4-H students at Roscoe Collegiate High School this school year has helped to track the northern limits of sugar cane aphids’ ability to survive west Texas winters. Conducting one of nine sugarcane aphid overwintering trials replicated from San Angelo to Amarillo, they reported that the aphids successfully overwintered in their overwintering cages. They have been working on the project since November because the northern movement is a serious problem that has caused a major amount of crop loss throughout the state.

This is the most northerly confirmation of the aphids being able to survive the winter in Texas, although results of the experiments in some of the other locations are still pending. In any case, their results have been published in the Texas Sugarcane Aphid News, a blog sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. You can access the article by clicking here.

Students involved in the experiment include Crystal Alvarez, Kelsi Vrubel, Katelyn Collins, and Matthew Buckley. Roxanna Reyna, 4-H Extension Program Specialist, worked with the students in conducting the trial.



Two Texas country music singers, William Clark Green and Curtis Grimes will return to the Lumberyard this weekend, Green on Friday evening and Grimes on Saturday.

William Clark Green
William Clark Green, 29, is from Flint, Texas, but currently lives in Eastland. He recorded his first album, Dangerous Man (2008), while studying at Texas Tech. Since then he has released three others: Misunderstood (2010), Rose Queen (2012), and Ringling Road (2015). Ringling Road was number 18 on the Top Country Albums chart, and its first single, “Sympathy,” topped the Texas Music Chart. A video of his 2011 single “Caroline” may be seen here.

Curtis Grimes

Curtis Grimes, 29, from Gilmer, Texas, first made national acclaim with his performances on NBC’s “The Voice.” A former scholarship baseball player for Centenary in Louisiana, he gave up his dreams of professional baseball to pursue a career in country music. Since then, he has played shows with LeAnn Rimes, Jack Ingram, and others.

He hasn’t forgotten his love of baseball, though. A Texas Ranger fan, he just released on Monday a new video for his single, “Bottom of the Fifth,” paying homage to the sport that gave him his start. You can see it by clicking here.

For reservations or more information contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



Sunset at Duncan-Hastings Road overpass. (Photo by Eden Baker)

All the people who were worrying about an April freeze can now officially focus their concerns elsewhere. That last cold spell came on Friday, and on Saturday morning the temperature fell to 33°F here in town and as low as 32° in a few places in the country, particularly around Champion where one even reported a reading of  31°. But it stayed that cold such a short time that none of the blooming plants were damaged. So, we may just have a peach and apricot crop this year, and if you haven’t put out tomatoes and peppers yet, it’s time to get started. Heck, it’s warm enough at night now that you could probably go ahead and plant some okra.

Friday was also the day we had a 70% chance of precipitation. Unfortunately, we were on the 30% side of that prediction. It did drizzle long enough to mess up the windows on my car, but not enough to get the sidewalks wet. Since then, the humidity’s been low, the winds high, and there have been, and still are, fire weather warnings for all the Big Country.

We also got our first taste of summer on Monday and yesterday when the temperatures rose to 85° and 86° respectively, and many air conditioners around town got their first workouts of the year. Today’s high should only get up to 78° with a stiff north breeze, but tomorrow the winds will shift back to the southwest and the afternoon temperature will climb to 87°.

Then a good chance of rain is predicted for this weekend. The Weather Channel says it will be 60% on Saturday dropping to 10% on Sunday. Weatherbug, however, says it’s only 10% on Saturday but 40% Sunday night. I guess if you’re an optimist, you can go with the Weather Channel for Saturday and Weatherbug for Sunday night, and if you’re a pessimist you’ll do the opposite. Predictions are just that, and I’m guessing they’ll change some as the weekend approaches.

But it’s a sorry state of affairs when Robert McBride can make better forecasts of the weather by dancing around a fire in his back yard at dawn than the NOAA’s meteorologists can with all their fancy, cutting-edge equipment and six-figure salaries.



Graveside services will be held at Sweetwater Cemetery at 2:00pm tomorrow, April 7, with Rev. Matt McGowen officiating. Burial will follow.

Brandon was born on January 10, 1977 in Sweetwater, Texas to Lowell Wray and Carol (Beck) Abeita. He worked for A-l Auto Parts, Ludlum Measurements and Loraine Cotton Gin.

He is survived by his mother, Carol Abeita of Roscoe; grandmother, Charlene Wrenn of Sweetwater; brother, Noah Abeita of Roscoe; sister, Tera Trotter and husband Michael of Roscoe; daughter, Thea Abeita; son, Iven Abeita; nephew, Alex Trotter; nieces, Krysten Staggs and husband Nick, and Kenzi Trotter; great nephews, Mason Staggs and Jace Staggs; great niece, Myla Staggs; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his father, Lowell Wray Snowden Abeita, grandparents, aunt, and great grandmother.

Donations may be sent to a page set up at the gofundme website to help defray funeral expenses. The page may be accessed by clicking here.


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