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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy New Year!


Here’s hoping you are still basking in the glow of a merry Christmas! I know I am. But now that Christmas is over, it’s almost time to welcome the new year and close the books forever on the old one.  Before we do, though, now is a good time for us to look back at 2016 and remember what kind of year it’s been for the city of Roscoe. 

Festivals and the Music Scene

Tanya Tucker at the Lumberyard.
A good place to start is with the city festivals—the Spring Fling in April, the Independence Day Celebration on or around July 4th, and the West Texas Wind Festival in October. These festivals have been around long enough now that people in surrounding communities associate them with Roscoe, and there are many of them who, along with the Roscoe folks, always make a point to attend them and enjoy the music, fireworks, and other events that accompany them.

This year’s Spring Fling featured noted Texas singer and songwriter Robert Earl Keen, who performed on the stage at the Lumberyard while shoppers enjoyed the open houses of Roscoe’s downtown businesses or visited the museum. As usual, the Independence Day Celebration in July was a day to remember. It began with the Roscoe Lions Club’s pancake breakfast followed by the July 4th parade down Broadway. At noon, the Plowboy Mudbog got underway at the baseball field while street vendors filled the downtown area. Texas Tech’s Masked Rider was on hand with his black horse, and live music at the free concert featured country singer Sunny Sweeney. As always, the event was capped off by an impressive fireworks show. At the tenth annual West Texas Wind Festival in October, the Cooder Graw band was the main act for the street dance, and the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department once again held its annual “BBQ in the Wind” cookoff with its $1500 first prize. The Plowboy Mudbog entertained the crowd at the baseball field, and the day was once again capped off by the fireworks show.

Roscoe’s reputation as a major music venue for the Big Country was once again confirmed by the live performances of nationally-known music artists and groups. Most prominent among these were Tanya Tucker and the Charlie Daniels Band, whose appearances filled the Lumberyard with crowds easily exceeding Roscoe’s population. Other performers also drew large audiences. These included such country greats as Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives, the Mavericks, LoneStar, Bobby Flores, and Terri Clark, as well as “Red Dirt” artists and others like Josh Abbott, Stoney LaRue, Cody Canada, Jamie Richards, Aaron Watson, Roger Creager, Charlie Robison, and Jason Boland. The online magazine RV Life wrote a very complimentary article about Roscoe’s music scene as well as some of its other positive aspects. You can access it by clicking here.

Roscoe School

The school is always the heart of small towns in west Texas, and Roscoe is no exception. What is exceptional about Roscoe’s school are its unique accomplishments in recent years and its contributions to rural education in the state of Texas. In May, 30 graduates received their diplomas. Six of these were early graduates who had finished after the fall semester, and 23 of the other 24 received their Associate’s Degrees from Western Texas College in Snyder along with their high school diplomas. Roscoe is unique among Texas high schools in the percentage of its graduating seniors who finish high school and community college at the same time.

It is also in the forefront of technology instruction and this fall it began a new program in drone instruction, repair, and certification in a joint venture with Strat-Aero International, Inc., which specializes in military and commercial drones. In this area it inspects wind turbine blades with camera-mounted drones. In exchange for providing instruction to RCHS students, the company has established its local office on the south side of the school grounds in the old ag science building.

Roscoe’s 4-H Club had one of its students, high school junior Francisco Garcia, chosen to represent Texas as its 4-H Ambassador to Washington, DC. He made his second trip to that city in October, where he taught drone skills to DC students and was featured in an article in the news magazine U.S. News & World Report.

The STEM Center saw its first full year of use, and in November, a large crowd of professionals—educators, legislators, attorneys, veterinarians, geneticists, and specialists from various other fields—were on hand to attend the first STEM advisory meeting and receive updates on RCISD’s P-20 System Model for Student Success.

In May, the bond proposal for a new $5 million Early Childhood Center was rejected by voters in a close election. Nevertheless, in August Supt. Kim Alexander and the RCISD School Board came up with a Plan B by purchasing the old Town & Country Grocery building on Main Street, which after remodeling will house the school’s Montessori Early Childhood Center. The purchase and conversion of the building will cost about $1 million, paid for with a 15-year note through the RCISD operating fund. The Montessori program, recognized everywhere as a superior and successful method of instruction, will give Roscoe’s pre-K and primary students a leg up in preparing them for subsequent grades.

Roscoe High School exes converged on the school and town in September for Homecoming and a weekend of renewing old friendships and seeing old classmates that in some cases they hadn’t seen since high school.

The Plowboys once again had a successful year in football, going all the way to the Regional Finals before being eliminated in the playoffs by Seagraves, a team they had defeated earlier in the year. Several of their players made the All-District and All-Big Country teams, and wide receiver and defensive back Jose Ortega was selected as a defensive back to the 2A All-State second team.

City Progress

The City of Roscoe also made progress this year with the addition of three new businesses. Sanders, Inc., had its official opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in March. An agricultural supply company specializing in seeds, feed, crop protection, chemicals, and fertilizer, it is located on 4620 County Road 111 in newly erected buildings just north of the Co-op gin northwest of town.

The other two new businesses are both located in south Roscoe along Interstate 20. Both opened on the same week in November. The 235 Travel Stop is in the newly remodeled building that formerly housed the Truck and Travel truck stop on the south side of I-20 across from the STEM Center. Owned by Zul Menin, it services trucks and has a restaurant and convenience store. The other new business is the Tex-Mex Restaurant on FM 608 nest to I-20 in the building that was most recently Retta Mae’s restaurant and originally the Dairy Queen. It specializes in Mexican and American cuisine and is owned by Marco Alba of Pecos.

Cotton and the Weather

For the second year in a row, this area got enough rain for a bumper cotton crop if we’d just got the rains at the right time, but, for the second year in a row, we didn’t. Even so, the yield has been larger than expected, so we’ll take what we got. The official rainfall total for this year was 28.97 inches. Although it's not as much as the 33.55 inches we got last year, it easily exceeds Roscoe’s annual average for the past 81 years (when official totals began in 1936), which is 21.87 inches.

Currently, Roscoe’s Central Rolling Plains Co-op gin has ginned 38,700 bales with 548 modules on the lot and 1295 still in the fields. Gin manager Larry Black is now estimating that the final tally for the season will be over 80,000 bales. This will be more than last year's 75,636 and double 2014's 32,274. It will also exceed 2013’s 71,849 and 2012’s 66,985. He is hoping to be done ginning by mid-February.

Other facts about 2016 from the official records of Roscoe weatherman Kenny Landfried, are these: The last freeze in the spring came on April 2, when the temperature fell to 30°F, and the first freeze this fall was on November 19, when it dropped to 30°. In general, the year was mild with fewer extremes than usual, at least until last Sunday, December 18, when the temperature fell to 9°, the coldest temperature since January 7, 2014, when it dropped to 7°. The hottest was the 103° recorded on July 8. There were 20 triple-digit days this summer, ten in July and ten in August. This compares to the 6 100°+ days of last year, the 14 of 2014, 16 of 2013, 34 of 2012, and 81 of 2011.

Despite some setbacks, things continue to move in the right direction for Roscoe, and with continued hard work, creative thinking, and a little bit of luck, the coming year may well continue the trend. In any case, have a Happy New Year, and here’s wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2017!



A farmer works in his fields near Roscoe, Texas. Roscoe is home to one of the largest wind farms in the world, and wind energy grew substantially during Gov. Rick Perry’s time in office. (Photo by Tom Pennington, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.)

Read more here:
Roscoe’s wind farms are still being featured in the national news. The most recent article, written by Alex Daugherty of the McClatchy news service and published on December 16, appeared in newspapers all across the United States. A copy was sent to me by former Roscoan Mike Mayes, who read it in his local paper, the Sherman Herald-Democrat.

This latest article puts an interesting twist on the development of the Roscoe wind farms and the revival of what Roscoe Mayor Pete Porter referred to as a once dying west Texas town. It attributes the city’s and state’s success to former Governor Rick Perry, now President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Energy. And how did Perry achieve this feat? By simply by staying out of the way and not interfering. By not establishing a bureaucracy or making developers jump through hoops to obtain up to 30% of their construction costs from the federal government, Perry paved the way for the state’s wind energy success.

The article includes quotes from Mayor Porter and from Rod Wetsel, long-time Sweetwater oil and gas lawyer. Wetsel thinks Perry can be a successful Secretary of Energy if he continues to stay out of the way and not rock any boats.

The article is available online and can be accessed by clicking here.



School may still be out for the holidays, but the Plowgirls have resumed their basketball season, and yesterday evening picked up a 60-49 victory over Eden in their first game in the Eden Tournament.

The Plowgirls play Bronte this morning at 9:00, and, if they win, will face Robert Lee in the championship game.

The scoring by quarters went like this:

Plowgirls 60 – Eden 49

Plowgirls          16        22        42        60
Eden                    6        16        31        49

Veronica Cuellar and Bonnie Wilkinson led the Plowgirls in scoring with 16 points apiece, while Kenzie Buchanan had 14, Jaleigh Morales 7, Jaci Alexander 5, and Karina Cisneros 2.

The Plowboys resume their season today with their first game of the Eula Tournament.



The Black Dirt Revival.
The Lumberyard will be rocking Saturday night as it brings in the New Year with the live music of the Black Dirt Revival. Members of the band include Jamie Tollison (rhythm/vocals), Robbie Nolan (bass/vocals), James Sturdivant (lead/vocals), and Shane Winslett (drums).

Cover charge is $10. For reservations or more information, contact the Lumberyard during business hours at 325-766-2457.


The sunset Friday night. (Photo by Lonnie Orman.)
Compared to the previous week with its extremes of 79°F for the high and 9° for the low in a two-day span along with some fierce wind, this past week was relatively mild and pleasant and uneventful. There were some strong south breezes on Christmas morning with sustained winds up to 37mph and gusts up to 47mph, but by 2pm they had diminished considerably and by 5pm were essentially calm.

Otherwise, there was nothing remarkable about the weather, considering it was the first official week of winter. Except for Thursday when the high was 50°, all the afternoon highs were in the sixties, the highest coming on Saturday and Sunday at 68°. The low temperatures were yesterday’s 35° and Thursday’s 37°. All the others were in the forties and fifties. Skies were overcast most of the time with the sun peeking out only now and then.

Today should be the warmest we’ve had in a while as morning clouds clear off and the afternoon sun warms the temperature to around 74°. It won’t last, though, as the clouds and cooler weather return on tomorrow and Friday with highs in the low fifties and lows around forty. The sun will come back out for the weekend and highs will once again warm into the sixties.

There is no precipitation in the forecast.


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