All the news that's fit to print.

In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Winter's Last Shot Defies All Signs of Spring

New buds on the old mesquite. 
Ever since the idea came to me a couple of days ago, I’ve been thinking about how I’d devote this week’s issue of the Hard Times to the coming of spring in West Texas and to the intelligence of the old mesquite trees that unerringly wait until the last freeze is over before putting on their buds.  

According to accepted wisdom, early warm spells might fool young mesquites into budding along with the peach and apricot trees—but not the old mesquites.  They’ve been around long enough to know better.  In fact, they’re so good at it that they’re celebrated for it in verse.  Here’s a poem by Faye Carr Adams:

Is strangely wise
To Winter's fickle way
Of sudden northers on a late
Spring day. 

withholds her growth,
Wary, while foolish trees
Flaunt new green buds to die in a
Late freeze.

And the most famous one, “The Old Mesquites Ain’t Out,” was written in 1928 by Frank Grimes, then the editor of the Abilene Reporter-News:

We see some signs of returning spring,
The redbird's back and the fie' larks sing.
The ground's plowed up and the creeks run clear.
The onions sprout and the rosebud's near;
And yet they's a point worth thinkin' about—
We note that the old mesquites ain't out!

 The fancier trees are in full bloom—
The grass is green and the willows bloom.
The colts kick up and the calves bend down.
And spring's apparently come to town;
And yet they's a point worth thinkin' about—
We note that the old mesquites ain't out!

 Well, it may be spring for all we know—
There ain't no ice and there ain't no snow.
It looks like spring and it smells so, too.
The calendar says it's plenty true—
And still they's a point worth thinkin' about—
We note that the old mesquites ain't out!

But the old mesquites have been out for several days now, and, besides that, the buzzards are back.  So what happens?  It freezes anyway!  According to Lyndell Underwood’s Davis weather station* on the western edge of Roscoe, the temperature dropped to a low of 29°F at 6:49 this morning.  

By 9:00 it was back up to 33° and slowly rising, so the peaches and apricots may be okay.  But even if this is winter’s last gasp and a warm weekend is forecast, another myth has just been shattered--and Mother Nature reminds us once again that there are no foolproof methods of predicting her fickle ways.  

*The readings of Lyndell Underwood’s weather station can be accessed by clicking here.



The Abilene Reporter-News’ area best in track and field list compiles the current best times and distances for high school athletes, lumping all classes together into one big list.  

Plowboy Caden Smith has the Big Country’s best for all classes in two categories, discus and shot put. His 159-7 in the discus is over two feet better than the second place toss of Nick Perez of Stephenville, and his 51-9 in the shot put is five inches better than the 51-4 of Garrison Railsback of Abilene Cooper.

Plowgirl Jacinda Morales’s 2:29:33 in the 800 meters is good enough to place her at seventh in the area for that event.



Jacinda Morales led the Plowgirls at the Lions Relays in Roby on Saturday, placing first in the 800-meter (2:29.49) and 1600-meter runs (6:02.36).  Amber Craig was first in the 3200 (13:50.75) and second in the 1600 (6:24.11).  Crystal Luna was fifth in the 1600.  The Plowgirls’ 1600m relay team came in third (4:39.65). 



Terri Stewart, 42, died in Sweetwater on Monday, March 28.  Funeral services are pending with McCoy Funeral Home.



Clayton Brown, 77, died at his home on Tuesday, March 29.  Funeral services are pending with McCoy Funeral Home.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

School Board Slate Set for May 14 Elections

The RS&P on a run to Snyder in the early 1970s, from Willard McFaul's collection. 
Filing for places on the Roscoe ISD School Board has ended with four candidates running for three 4-year terms, and two candidates running for a single 2-year term.

Running for three 4-year terms:

 Jason Freeman
 David Pantoja
 Cheyenne Smith
 Wes Williams

Running for one 2-year term:

 Frankie Santiago
 Tim Tomlin

The School Board elections will run simultaneously with the City of Roscoe elections on May 14 with early voting May 2 to May 10.  



The stretch of road where I-20 and US 84 merge about a mile east of Roscoe proved once again to be one of the most dangerous sections of highway in west Texas with a three-way wreck last Thursday afternoon.

 An 18-wheeler driven by Tem Tanh of Georgia was merging onto I-20 westbound from US 84 when he lost control, causing his truck to overturn.  In the process, he was hit by Ronald Jett of Lubbock, who was killed.  Mikle Lee Sadler of Loraine overturned his pickup in an attempt to avoid the other two vehicles and was taken to University Medical Center in Lubbock with a serious head injury. 

The truck driver, Tem Tanh, who caused the accident, walked away from the wreck without a scratch.     



Roscoe got its first appreciable precipitation of the entire year last Friday night with about .6 of an inch of rain in town.  Amounts varied in the area.  Areas west and south of town got about the same as Roscoe, but Gary Pieper got only about .2” on his farm in Wastella, and Avenger Field and Sweetwater got nothing. 



Both the Plowboys and Plowgirls participated in the Piper Relays in Hamlin on Saturday, March 19, along with other athletes from class 1A, 2A, and 3A representing twenty-five West Texas high schools.  Given the size of the meet, just to place in any event was remarkable.  Nevertheless, Roscoe had several athletes who did. 

For the Plowboys, Caden Smith was first in the discus with a toss of 159’ 7” and also first in the shot put with a heave of 51’9”.  He also placed fourth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.58.  Cody Graham was fourth in the 300 hurdles at 46.28.

For the Plowgirls, Jacinda Morales was second in the 800 (2:29) and fourth in the 1600 (6:00).  Lynnsi Moses was fourth in the 100 hurdles (18.27).  The Plowgirls’ 1600 relay team came in fifth (4:37) and their 800 relay team placed sixth (1:59). 

On Saturday, March 26, both Plowboys and Plowgirls will participate in the Lions Relays at Roby.     



Funeral services for Albert Gonzales, Sr., 35, were held at St. Albert’s Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 22, followed by burial in the Roscoe Cemetery.  Survivors include his wife, Enelida; five daughters: Anna Bell, Denali, Lupe, Victoria, and Mayra; and a stepson, Gabriel.  He had lived in Roscoe since 1982 and worked for Sweetwater Steel and as a farmer. He went to Roscoe High School and was a member of the Class of 1994.



Funeral services for Verna L. Akers, 91, were held at the Roscoe Church of Christ on Sunday, March 20, followed by interment in Snyder.  Survivors include a son, Eddie Joe Coston of Austin and a daughter, Penny Seats of Wiggins, Mississippi, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Born in Shelbyville as Verna Miller, she graduated from Roscoe High School in 1936.  She was an LVN and returned to Roscoe from Graham in 1993. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Candidates Announced for City Election

Filing is now complete for Roscoe’s upcoming City Election with one uncontested race and two contested ones.  

Candidates for Mayor include the incumbent Pete Porter and challenger Ken Brawley, while five candidates vie for City Council Place 3: incumbent Don Graham and challengers Christi Pepper Beal, Billy Guelker, Juanita Garcia, and Virgil Pruitt.  

Place 2, the only other seat on the City Council up for election this year, is uncontested with incumbent Helen Perry running unopposed. 

Voting takes place on May 14, with early voting May 2 to May 10.  The RISD School Board election will be held simultaneously with the City election.  I have a list of candidates’ names for the School Board, but since this is Spring Break week for the school, I was unable to get confirmation on the names, so I’ll wait until next week to post the official list.



Ivan Jay Krejci, 50, passed away at his home on Monday night.  Funeral services are pending with McCoy Funeral Home.



The big news around town this past week was not about Roscoe but the 53rd Annual Rattlesnake Round-Up at the Nolan County Coliseum in Sweetwater, which drew a weekend crowd of an estimated 30,000 visitors.  The event kicked off with a parade down Broadway on Thursday with horses, floats, and marching bands and then went non-stop through Saturday.

Prizes were awarded to snake hunters with an $800 prize this year for most pounds and a $400 prize for the longest diamondback.  There was also a brisket/chili cookoff on Saturday that included a prize for the tastiest rattlesnake meat, and the Girl Scouts sponsored a dessert cookoff and salsa challenge. The Sweetwater Rifle and Pistol Club hosted its 51st annual gun, knife, and coin show.  

In the Nolan County Coliseum were the usual rattlesnake events with Miss Snake Charmer in the pit with the rattlesnakes, rattlesnake lectures in one area, rattlesnake skinning in another, and rattlesnake venom milking in another.  All this snake handling was accompanied by vendors selling rattlesnake-related products of all kinds on the floor of the coliseum and other vendors selling everything under the sun in the barn next door with food vendors both inside and out.  And if all that wasn’t enough, there was also a carnival in town with plenty of rides for the kids.  

For the Texas take on the event, check the Eyes of Texas website here. For a national perspective, check out the CNN article here.  



Track season has begun and the Plowboys and Plowgirls have already attended meets at Rotan and Throckmorton with another scheduled for Saturday at Hamlin.

At Rotan the Plowboys finished fourth in a field of seven behind Munday, Haskell, and Rotan, while the Plowgirls finished fourth behind Munday, Hamlin and Albany.  Standouts for the boys included Cody Graham, 2nd in the high jump; Austin Carrasco, 3rd in the 300 hurdles; and the 1600 relay team, which finished 3rd.

For the Plowgirls, Jacinda Morales was 1st in the 1600 and second in the 800; Lynnsi Moses was 2nd in the 100 hurdles; Whitney Williams was 3rd in the 400; and Amber Craig was 3rd in the 1600.


At the recent Regional Meet in Powerlifting in Sundown, Corey Hatcher became a state alternate by placing 3rd in the 242-pound class with a total of 1300 pounds from a 285 lb. benchpress, a 500 lb. deadlift, and a 515 lb. squat. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Roscoe Area Plagued by High Winds and Wildfires

Looking across I-20 at the wind turbines southwest of Roscoe on Sunday.

While the city of Roscoe itself was free of any major incidents this past week, a big fire on Sunday north of I-20 near Colorado City, twenty miles west, destroyed around 10,000 acres in Mitchell County and burned down thirteen houses, ten of them inhabited.  In Roscoe and the surrounding area, the smell of smoke from the fire was in the air on Sunday night, and almost everyone I talked to around town on Monday had a story of some sort to tell about it.  Photos of the fire and resulting devastation are available at the Abilene Reporter-News photo galleries.
The fire was probably caused and quickly spread by the high winds of the first serious sandstorm of the year.   On Sunday a strong wind blew in from the southwest off the Mexican desert, and temperatures steadily rose throughout the afternoon along with the increasing velocity of the wind gusts.  By 3:30 a full-fledged sandstorm with strong, gusty winds was in progress, and the temperature steadily rose, getting up to 87° or 88°F at its peak. 

Since then, the breezes have been slight and the skies bright blue.  But the lack of any appreciable rainfall since before Christmas along with the likelihood of more high winds have authorities concerned about the possibility of more fires in the area, and on Monday, the Nolan County Commissioners’ Court indefinitely extended the burn ban for Nolan County.  

The Plowboy grain elevator from the Maryneal highway at Bandera.

Jerland Freeman in the 1950's
Roscoe lost one of its most prominent citizens last Friday evening with the passing of Jerland Fred Freeman, Jr., 82.  Funeral services were held on Monday at the Roscoe Church of Christ followed by burial in the Roscoe Cemetery.  Mr. Freeman was the owner and operator of Freeman Trucking and Freeman Farms and a leading member of the community for many decades.  Survivors include his wife, Elnor, daughters Pat and Jeannetta, sons Don and Steve, brother J. T., sisters Joyce, Maretha, Melba, and Billye, as well as 20 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.  He was preceded in death by his son Freddy and daughter Terri. 

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