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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Roscoe Celebrates July 4th This Saturday

Jason Boland & the Stragglers
Final preparations are underway for Roscoe’s annual July 4th celebration, and the event’s organizers are planning a day filled with fun for all to remember.

The day will begin at 10am with the annual July 4th parade down Broadway with the line-up for parade participants starting at 9:30am on West Broadway. Then at 12:00 noon the Plowboy Mudbog will get underway at George Parks Field with the special bonus of no admission charge this year, although food and drinks will be available for purchase.

During the afternoon, street vendors will be open downtown and selling food and other wares along Broadway, Cypress, and Old Town Park, and the Roscoe Historical Museum will be open for visitors.

The Roscoe Express will be available to shuttle people free of charge between downtown and the Plowboy Mudbog during the afternoon.  

Lyndall Underwood & the Dusty Creek Band
The free concert and street dance will begin “on the bricks” of Cypress at around 6:30pm with Lyndall Underwood and the Dusty Creek Band. Then, at around 8:00, this year’s feature act, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, will take the stage and play until 9:30, followed by the ever-popular fireworks show beginning at about 9:45. It will last about twenty minutes and conclude the day’s official events.

However, those who want to continue the celebration after the fireworks may do so at the Lumberyard, where there will be free live music by Lyndall Underwood and the Dusty Creek Band.

So, make plans now to attend, bring lawn chairs and coolers, and help us celebrate the country’s independence! Also, please be considerate of others by maintaining social distance and wearing masks. We don’t want the event to be a Covid-19 hotspot!

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ROSCOE SWIMMING POOL NOW OPEN

Summer is for swimming.
Kids are happy to know that the Roscoe Swimming Pool is now open and has been since last Tuesday.

Like last year, the pool is open Tuesday through Sunday, but the hours are slightly different. This year’s hours are 11am to 4pm. Price of admission is $2.00 per day.

The pool may be rented for private parties beginning and ending between 5:00 and 9:00pm all week except Monday. The fee is $60 for two hours, $70 for three, and $80 for four, all with a $15 deposit. The price includes an approved licensed lifeguard.

The pool will be closed Saturday for July 4.
 
For reservations or additional details, contact Pool Manager Rindy Rains at 325-236-1510.

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POOL LIFEGUARD SAVES LIFE ON FIRST DAY

Ryker Bromley & Aaron Aguilar
Roscoe Swimming Pool lifeguard Aaron Aguilar got a big test on his first day of work last Tuesday when a five-year-old boy, Ryker Bromley, drifted just into the deep end, lost his noodle, and sank down the slope to the bottom.

Aguilar pulled him out and applied CPR to get him breathing again. When the paramedics arrived, Ryker had been revived, but he was taken to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital as a precaution. There he was checked out by a doctor and later released.

Ryker is the son of Alex and Daniel Bromley, and Aguilar, who just graduated from Sweetwater High, made an A on his first big test as a lifeguard. Congratulations, Aaron. Keep up the good work!

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RCISD SUSPENDS STRENGTH & CONDITIONING PROGRAM

The strength and conditioning program initiated by the athletics program at Roscoe Collegiate has been suspended as of Monday, June 29, as a precautionary measure. Although there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 among student athletes or staff, the move was taken because of the recent spike in cases here in Nolan County.

The suspension of all boys’ and girls’ sport-specific workouts lasts until July 13, when it is hoped that they can be resumed. Other Big Country schools, including Hawley, Jim Ned, Colorado City, Haskell, and Stamford, have also suspended their strength and conditioning workouts.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, you may contact Athletic Director Jake Freeman at jfreeman@roscoe.esc14.net.

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LOCAL HOSPITAL MAKES NATIONAL NEWS AGAIN



Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital has just had its second video in the national media, this one in this past Sunday’s New York Times along with an opinion article by Texas journalist Mimi Swartz. Its title is “In Texas, 6 Critically Ill Covid-19 Patients Would Overwhelm This Hospital,” and it is 8 minutes and 20 seconds long. It covers much of the same ground that the CBS one did in the video that ran in early May, interviewing local people and speaking of the perils of barring elective procedures in rural hospitals, which puts them in danger of going bankrupt and closing.

The hospital survived the first prohibition of elective procedures this spring when the state reopened them in May. Just recently, however, as hospitalizations have rapidly increased, Governor Abbott has reimposed the ban. This time, however, it applies only to hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties, so the rural hospitals of Texas are unaffected.

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CITY COUNCIL APPROVES JULY 4TH CELEBRATION

At a Called Meeting at City Hall at noon yesterday, the Roscoe City Council approved going ahead with Saturday’s July 4th celebration. The vote was all in favor except for one abstention.

Here’s hoping everyone has a wonderful time and acts sensibly regarding the county’s recent uptick in positive coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

--o--

Nick Pantoja's car after finishing second in Abilene derby.
Roscoe’s number one auto mechanic, Nick Pantoja of VP Tire & Service, finished second in the demolition derby at Abilene Speedway Saturday night.  Caleb Dean, also of Roscoe, finished fourth.

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COVID-19 COMES TO NOLAN COUNTY

It had to happen sooner or later. It just seems to be a fact of life that things happen in the city before they happen in the country. It’s true of technology, of fashion, of the spread of certain drugs, and of other facets of modern life. And it has also been true of the coronavirus, which in the spring ravaged places like New York City, New Jersey, Seattle, and San Francisco while less settled parts of the country were largely spared.

But in the past few weeks it seems that the disease has begun making its way into places that up to now remained mostly untouched. These include Texas as a whole and west Texas in particular. The Roscoe Hard Times misses a week, and when it comes back, I see that the numbers of new cases in the Big Country are spiking just like they are in the cities.

Statewide, Texas has become a hot spot for the spread of the disease and is now averaging over 5,000 new cases a day with the number of hospitalizations steadily rising. In Abilene starting today, HEB is requiring masks for shopping. Here in Nolan County, changes are also happening. Last week, Sweetwater closed its city offices after exposure to the virus, and yesterday the Sweetwater Health Department announced it is also closing for the same reason. Nolan County’s number of new confirmed positives is also climbing. On Saturday, over nine new cases were identified with three of those being hospitalized, and by yesterday the number of active cases had risen to thirty, affecting people from the ages of 14 to 60.

Even so, life still appears to be going on relatively normally, but it will behoove us all to keep an eye on the numbers and take proper precautions if they continue to rise locally as they have recently.

Here are the numbers for this week as of yesterday:

Abilene now has 400 total positive cases for the year (compared to 259 two weeks ago) with 110 active cases (compared to 9 two weeks ago) and 9 hospitalizations (compared to 1 two weeks ago).

These are the area’s county figures as of yesterday (with two weeks ago in parentheses if different): Jones, 611 (630); Brown, 72 (61); Howard, 40 (23); Nolan 33 (5); Scurry, 32 (28); Comanche, 17 (14); Callahan, 16 (13); Eastland, 10 (7); Stephens, 8 (5); Runnels, 7 (2); Coke, 5 (4); Fisher, 5 (2); Mitchell 5 (2); Haskell, 5 (4); Coleman, 3; Knox, 3 (1); Shackelford, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with two weeks ago in parentheses): Lubbock, 2,095 (894); Midland, 651 (222); Ector (Odessa), 558 (260); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 318 (117);.Tom Green (San Angelo), 299 (121);

Texas now has 159,986 cases (93,206 two weeks ago), 72,744 of them active (
30,496 two weeks ago), and 2,029 deaths (1,830 two weeks ago).

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WEATHER REPORT: STILL PAINFULLY DRY

A thundercloud from yesterday's false alarm.
The month of June is now history, and, just like May, it has been way below average in terms of precipitation. May and June along with September are historically the three wettest months of the year, but not this year. I don’t know how many times in the past month we’ve seen big clouds build up and move across west Texas and on almost every occasion miss Roscoe and the immediate area.

Yesterday was a case in point. I got an alert that lightning and possible thundershowers were in the area, so I watched the radar off and on for a big part of the afternoon. It was a shame to see how big clouds with red, orange, yellow and dark green patches on the radar map moved toward Roscoe from south of Colorado City and then just played out somewhere between Loraine and Champion.

We’ve had no shortage of thunder and lightning the past two weeks, but once the clouds start failing to produce, it seems that they get caught up in a pattern that results in everything but rain. I keep hoping we’ll finally get one that soaks the ground around here and breaks the current pattern.

Temperatures the past two weeks have been typical for June, maybe a little on the hot side, especially the last few days. Monday’s 103°F was the high for the past week, but yesterday before the big clouds moved in hit 100°, and today’s forecast is for a high of 101° with a low tonight of 75°.

The rest of the week looks similarly hot with highs of 96° and 98° tomorrow and Friday, and 100° on Saturday and Sunday. There is no rain in the forecast, but maybe one of those stray afternoon showers will finally hit and change the pattern.

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† VIRGINIA RUTH (GINGER) WELCH

Graveside services for Virginia Ruth (Ginger) Welch, 90, formerly of Roscoe, were held at 10:30am Wednesday, June 24, at Fairview Cemetery near Millsap, Texas, with Joe Howard Williamson officiating and McCoy Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. She passed away on Sunday, June 21, at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater.

Ginger was born March 29, 1930, in Brownwood to the late Hubert Bates and Zula Estella (Williams) Keith.

When she lived in Roscoe, she was an active member of the First Baptist Church, taught Sunday School, and helped direct Vacation Bible School. She was a homemaker and always involved with all of her children’s endeavors and was always there for them. She loved cooking for cattle crews and was also a big fan of the National Cutting Horse Association and loved cooking and feeding family and friends at those events.

She is survived by her children; Ruth Ann Williams and husband Ronnie of Roscoe, Ken Welch and wife Dixie of Cross Plains, and Georgia Welch of Stanton; daughter-in-law, Pax Welch of Weatherford; grandchildren, Amy and Josh King, Katy and Kelly Welch, Lance Welch, Jenny and Matt LaSeur, Abby and B.J. Barnett, Dawson and Rebecca Burns, Kirby and Ward Meadows; and eleven great-grandchildren.

Ginger was preceded in death by her son, Greg Welch; granddaughter, Whitney Welch; grandson, Sterling Wilson; two brothers and two sisters.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Kylie Frey to Sing at July 4th Celebration

Kylie Frey
Kylie Frey
Country singer Kylie Frey will be one of the performers at this year’s free concert and street dance in downtown Roscoe on July 4th.

She’ll be opening for Red Dirt singer Jason Boland. The all-star lineup now consists of her, Jason Boland, and Lyndall Underwood, who will also be at the Lumberyard following the fireworks.

A former rodeo queen with multiple championships, Kylie Frey is a native of Opelousas, Louisiana, now living in Nashville. Her debut album included two Top Tens and her first number 1, “Rodeo Man,” on Texas Regional Radio Report Charts. She’s also been a contestant on the USA channel’s Real Country.

Notable singles by her include “Rodeo Man,” “One Night,” “Me and These Boots,” “The Chase,” and “Too Bad,” with Randy Rogers.


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TEXAS HITS NEW HIGHS WITH COVID-19 DEATHS, HOSPITALIZATIONS

Texas now has had 2,029 deaths from Covid-19 and yesterday reached a total of 2,518 hospitalizations. Both are new records, as the number of overall positives for the virus also continues to rise. However, Governor Greg Abbott is staying the course with his reopenings, saying that there are still plenty of hospital beds available. Even so, the number of people hospitalized has been rising rapidly and is up 43% for the state since the first of the month.

Locally, the numbers aren’t so drastic as the number of active cases remains low. Abilene got its first hospitalization since June 7 this week but still has only 9 active cases, which is very low for a city of its size. Scurry County still has 26 active cases, and Big Spring also saw a jump with Howard County’s 14 new cases over the previous week.

In Nolan County, the good news is that the Nolan County Health Department reported that of the 6 positive tests reported week before last, 5 were negative on retesting, leaving only 1, a prison employee. The bad news is that Nolan County is reporting 2 new cases this week, making for 3 active cases. Still, compared to what’s happening in places like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, we can feel good that this area is still relatively free of the virus.

Here are the numbers for this week as of yesterday:

Abilene has 259 positive results for the year with only 9 active cases and 1 hospitalization.

These are the area’s county figures as of yesterday (with last week’s in parentheses if different): Jones, 630 (637); Brown, 61 (59); Scurry, 28 (26); Howard, 23 (9); Comanche, 14 (12); Callahan, 13 (10); Eastland, 7; Stephens, 5 (4); Nolan 5 (7); Coke, 4 (1); Haskell, 4 (3); Coleman, 3;Runnels, 2 (3); Fisher, 2; Mitchell 2 (1); Knox, 1; Shackelford, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with last Tuesday’s count in parentheses): Lubbock, 894 (741); Ector (Odessa), 260 (187); Midland, 222 (155); Tom Green (San Angelo), 121 (78); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 117 (87).

Texas now has 93,206 (74,978 cases last Tuesday), 30,496 of them active, and 2,029 deaths (1,830 last Tuesday).


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WEATHER REPORT: AN UNEVENTFUL WEATHER WEEK

Yesterday's Clouds
Yesterday's clouds.
We have just lived through one of the most uneventful weeks imaginable regarding June weather for west Texas. Every day of the past week was sunny or mostly sunny with a high somewhere between 91° and 94°, a low between 64° and 71°, and winds from the south or southeast between 5-15mph with gusts up to 25—and no precipitation or even a chance for any.

But of course that’s the problem. We do need some weather events, particularly the kind involving precipitation. It’s June, which historically has always been one of the top three months regarding precipitation along with May and September. This year, May turned out to be a total loss, and so far, June is shaping up to be the same.

Today and tomorrow are forecast to continue the string of uneventful days with today’s high reaching 93° with a low of 71° and tomorrow’s high 94° and low 70° with winds from the south both days of around 20mph.

Friday, however, has one significant difference. It will be cloudier and have a 40% chance of precipitation, so there is at least a chance something different may happen. All the other days for the coming week have a maximum chance of only 20%. You’d think that five days in a row of 20% chances would mean you’d get at least one rain (5 x 20% = 100%), but apparently that’s not the way it works, not in west Texas anyway.

Starting on Sunday, the highs will climb to between 95° and 100° with precipitation chances dropping to 10% or 20%. And that pattern will hold for the first half of next week.


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ROSCOE IN YEARS GONE BY: HIGHWAY BYPASSES AND THE DECLINE OF THE BUSINESS DISTRICT

Broadway before the bypasses
Downtown Roscoe before the bypasses, 1949
Editor’s note: This article began as a review and comment on two or three articles published in the Dallas Morning News in 1987 that used Roscoe as an example of the rural farming communities in west Texas that were declining and in danger of dying. And I may do a follow-up to this one that makes it that. But this is as far as I got this week, so the following article focuses on what happened when the bypasses were built. In most towns this happened only once, but in Roscoe it happened twice, each time making a deep impact on the community and its residents.

Two major events over a twenty-year span were the principle reasons for the decline of Roscoe’s business district. The first was the building of Interstate 20 in the late 1950s that re-routed all through traffic of the old US Highway 80 around Roscoe. The second was the construction of the US 84 Roscoe bypass in the late 1970s that did the same for the through traffic on US 84.

Since the beginnings of the town in the 1890s, Roscoe had always been on the main southern route across the country from east to west. Before it existed and before the Texas & Pacific railroad was built in 1881, an old unnamed Indian trail went from one water source to the next. In the 1870s, when the Texas & Pacific planned its railroad from east Texas to El Paso, it surveyed three possible routes from Dallas to El Paso and decided on the one that followed the old Indian trail. It called it the Center Line Trail because it was the middle of the three surveyed routes. The same trail was used by buffalo hunters after the Civil War, and when Captain E. B. McBurnett came west in 1880 from Eastland to deliver feed for the surveyors’ mules near what is now Westbrook, he also followed the Center Line Trail, mentioning that it had been used by men from the south headed west to the California gold rush 30 years earlier.

After the railroad was built on the Center Line Trail in 1881, a wagon road developed that ran roughly alongside the railroad tracks, and after the turn of the twentieth century when motorized vehicles began making their appearance, it was officially named Texas Highway 1 and ran from Texarkana to El Paso. In Roscoe, it was originally called First Street and was where the downtown business section developed. The main businesses moved east about a half-mile after a flood in 1894 but always ran along First Street, serving both the local population as well as the people who were just passing through.

As motor vehicles replaced wagons, the highway was frequently improved and upgraded, traffic increased, and local businesses that catered to it sprang up along the highway. These included filling stations, garages, hotels, tourist courts, cafés, groceries, and drug stores. As time went by, Texas Highway 1 became a part of the Bankhead Highway that went from coast to coast and was the first year-round transcontinental highway in the country, and the Bankhead in turn later became US Highway 80.

Roscoe was a thriving community and a transportation hub, connecting two railroads, the T&P and the RS&P, and two highways, Highway 80 and US Highway 84, originally Texas Highway 7, running from Roscoe through Snyder into the Texas panhandle. Although Roscoe was always a farming and ranching community, much of its economy was based on its businesses that also served the traveling public.


In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower was the chief proponent for a network of superhighways that could be used both for public transportation and, in times of crisis or invasion, by the military for quick, unimpeded travel. These new multilane highways were modeled on the German autobahns developed in the 1930s to move troops and military equipment quickly from one part of Germany to another. Known in the US as the Interstate Highway System, they were designed to bypass towns where stop-and-go local traffic impeded quick movement across long distances.

Highway 80 was converted to Interstate 20 and completed locally in 1958 when two new lanes were added from the T&P overpass just this side of the Midway Drive-In to the four-lane bypass just south of Roscoe that connected to the four lanes that already ran between Roscoe and Loraine. The cost for this 5.3 mile stretch was approximately $1,400,000. Its effects were immediately felt by the local businesses along the old Highway 80. The motels lost business along with most of the filling stations and eating establishments on Broadway.

The new four-lane highway also made travel to Sweetwater and Abilene easier, and as time went on, more local residents went to Sweetwater and Abilene to do their shopping, and local businesses suffered. In just a few years, for example, the number of grocery stores in Roscoe went from over a half dozen scattered around town to three, then two, and then only one, the Town & Country on Main Street. Hardware and furniture stores also saw dwindling sales and eventually closed.

However, traffic on US 84 to and from the panhandle and cities east of Roscoe continued to come through Roscoe. It was good for places like the Dairy Fluff, Haney’s Drugs, and Smitty’s Steak House, along with the filling stations and garages on Broadway. But as traffic increased, the downtown area became noisier and more congested, and the 90 degree turn at the traffic light at Broadway and Cypress created a constant bottleneck. Traffic was also often held up by passing and switching trains on the railroad tracks, and the number of accidents there increased.

In October 1969, the Texas Highway Commission held a public hearing in Roscoe about a proposed bypass of the town, but the local citizens opposed it, and nothing was done. However, as the traffic situation downtown only got worse, the desire for a solution increased.

Three and a half years later in March 1973, Roscoe mayor Clyde Jay appealed to the Texas Highway Commission for another public hearing, saying that sentiment in Roscoe had changed, and a different result could now be expected. Correspondence with the Commission in the following months indicated support in Roscoe for the project, and in September a delegation from Roscoe and Abilene went to Austin and appeared before the Commission to request the relocation of US 84 at Roscoe.

The group from Abilene favored the bypass because businesses there wanted a “Port-to-Plains” highway that would be a four-lane expressway running from Houston through Abilene and the Texas plains to the panhandle. The Roscoe delegation included Mayor Clyde Jay, also representing the City Council; Glen Pitts of the RS&P; Glen Madison of the Roscoe Civic Improvement Association; and Harold Haynes, president of the School Board.

In its approval of the bypass, the Texas Highway Commission received supporting letters from the Nolan County Judge, the Mayor of Roscoe, the Roscoe Civic Improvement Association, and the West Central Texas Council of Governments.

The Commission’s environmental impact statement listed as positive the “relieving of noise, congestion, and danger of highway traffic through town, and the increased capacity and safety of a four-lane connector around Roscoe to Interstate 20.” The adverse effects would be “the loss of revenue to local businesses from cross-country traffic, and the conversion of 150 acres of fertile farm land from agricultural production.”

Bypassed businesses affected were listed as the Mobil, Standard, Shamrock, and Texaco service stations, McFaul’s and Jesse’s Garages, the Drive-In Grocery Store, the Dairy Fluff Drive-In, and the Criswell Motel. The total estimated cost of the project was $4,864,500.

Downtown Roscoe after the bypasses, mid-1980s.
Ultimately, there was no good solution. If nothing was done, traffic on US 84 would continue to increase, and the downtown bottleneck could only get worse. There were already over 3,000 vehicles per day in downtown Roscoe, and the previous year had seen over a dozen accidents. So, something had to be done, but it came with a cost. The solution eventually resulted in the gutting of the downtown Roscoe business district, and by the mid-1980s, the once thriving downtown was a collection of empty and collapsing buildings.

The traffic light at Cypress and Broadway became a flashing stoplight, and even it was eventually replaced by a stop sign. The Texas Highway Commission’s impact statement assumed that several of the businesses on Broadway would relocate along the bypass and others would survive by serving the local population, but neither occurred. Some of the businesses did hang on for a while, Kirby Smith’s, Chubby & Mac’s, and Pat Vines’s stations, McFaul’s and Jesse Faust’s garages, and the Dairy Fluff all continued to operate for varying periods of time, but eventually all of them (except McFaul’s Garage) closed never to return. The same was true of the downtown drug stores, Haney’s and Glen Madison’s, and downtown restaurants, such as the Coffee Bar and Smitty’s Steak House.

The business district that had once been the town’s most active area was reduced to the point that the town was used as an example of the dying rural communities of west Texas in a feature series in the Dallas Morning News in 1987.

_____________________

References

“$3.5 Million U.S. 80 Jobs Slated for Bids Tuesday,” Abilene Reporter-News, January 19, 1957.

“Roscoe Asks for Bypass,” Abilene Reporter-News, March 9, 1973.

“Area Group Will Press for Bypass,” Abilene Reporter-News, September 2, 1973.

US-84 Interchange and Improvements, Roscoe: Environmental Impact Statement. Federal Highway Administration and Texas Highway Department. August 15, 1974.


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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

City Council Hears Reports, Conducts Business

City Manager Cody Thompson reports to the City Council.
At its monthly meeting in City Hall yesterday evening, the Roscoe City Council heard reports from the City Manager and Chief of Police and conducted routine business in a relatively uneventful session.

City Manager Cody Thompson updated the Council on recent public works and current plans. He said that due to resident complaints, the new rate structure for City water and sewer are currently under review by Raftelis Consultants, the company advising the city on the rate changes.

Plans for the July 4th Celebration on Saturday, July 4, are underway with live street music to begin at 6:30pm followed by Lyndall Underwood and the Dusty Creek Band, who are opening for this year’s featured group, Jason Boland and the Stragglers. The Plowboy Mudbog will be held at the baseball field with attendance at this year’s competition free of charge. A fireworks show is planned by the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department, and the Council approved a fireworks permit for this year as one of its action items.

City workers demolished two abandoned homes, one at 6th and Elm and the other at 5th and Ash. Workers have been busy recently with water leaks and with patching of city streets.

The annual summer sealcoat program with the County is planned to begin in mid-July.

Roscoe’s projects with TWDB (Texas Water Development Board and TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) are still on hold as their offices are still closed because of the coronavirus.

The City has also had to rebuild a pump for the West Booster R-O Water Facility due to the impellers wearing out because of sand.

The City plans to have the City Swimming Pool ready to open by mid-June but still has not selected a summer operator.  

Carl Childers is still actively cultivating development at Young Farm Estates for a hotel and travel center.

Police Chief Felix Pantoja also gave the Police Report for May, and although it happened on June 1, he also reported on the head-on collision which happened on US 84. There were two fatalities at the scene of the accident, and now the 6-year-old girl who was injured and taken to a Lubbock hospital has also passed away. The crash is under investigation by the Roscoe Police because it occurred inside the Roscoe City Limits with the Texas Highway Patrol assisting. They are awaiting toxicology results, but there was no evidence of alcohol at the scene.

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PLOWBOYS, PLOWGIRLS JOIN SCHOOL WORKOUTS

Head football coach Jake Freeman reports that almost 90 athletes turned out Monday to participate in strength and conditioning and sport specific instruction.
The workouts are in the mornings weekly from Monday through Thursday.

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ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES FALL IN AREA, RISE IN TEXAS

It’s been a generally good week in the Big Country for the coronavirus, but not necessarily in Texas as a whole, especially in the cities, where active cases and hospitalizations are increasing. Abilene has had zero hospitalizations for Covid-19 for several days now and the number of active cases has dropped all the way to eight. The Big Country still is relatively free of the disease, but there have been increases in both Snyder and Sweetwater.

After the Governor’s mandated testing of all Texas rest homes, Sweetwater Health Center reported six positive cases, two of them workers and the other four patients. However, the official count of total positives for Nolan County is now seven, so I’m not sure where that other new positive came from. Last week Snyder reported 30 positives in the community and 39 in a rest home, but those in the rest home turned out to be from a bad batch of tests as did the 19 Eastland County tests from rest homes in Eastland and Cisco. I have not read anywhere, however, that the tests at Sweetwater Health Center were faulty or questioned, unless I missed something, which is also possible. Snyder now has more active Covid-19 cases than Abilene with 24. That makes 26 for the year in Scurry County but the first two confirmed in April have both recovered and are no longer active.

In Texas the number of new cases per week is rising with 1,081 for the week of May 24 and 1,527 last week. The number of hospitalizations and fatalities is also rising since Memorial Day, but hospitals are still not pressed for space.  

Here are the numbers for this week as of yesterday:

Abilene has 248 positive results for the year with only 8 active cases and no hospitalizations.

Here are the area’s county figures as of yesterday (with last week’s in parentheses if different): Jones, 637 (606); Brown, 59; Scurry, 26 (32); Comanche, 12; Callahan, 10 (9); Howard, 9; Nolan 9 (2); Eastland, 7 (24); Stephens, 4; Coleman, 3; Haskell, 3; Runnels, 3 (2); Fisher, 2; Coke, 1;  Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Shackelford, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with last Tuesday’s count in parentheses): Lubbock, 741 (704); Ector (Odessa), 187 (161); Midland, 155 (132); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 87 (85); Tom Green (San Angelo), 78 (70).

Texas now has 74,978 cases (66,568 last Tuesday) and 1,830 deaths (1,698 last Tuesday).

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WEATHER REPORT: ANOTHER WEEK WITHOUT RAIN

Strawberry Moon on Friday. (Photo by Pete Porter)
The Roscoe area and the Big Country have gone through another week without a significant rain, and the drouth is beginning to be serious. Yesterday, a wildfire broke out near Albany that destroyed at least two homes, and if some rain doesn’t relieve the area soon, it will be just the first of more such fires, which are bound to follow.

Besides being dry, it’s also been hot with sunny skies and daily highs from Thursday through Monday between 96° and 102°. The weather cooled off a bit yesterday as a windy norther blew in Monday night. The high yesterday was only 89°, but the wind kicked up a lot of dust, and the skies yesterday morning were a dusty red, not the color you want to see at cotton planting time in June.

The projected high for today is only 91° with a light northeast breeze, but tomorrow the wind will be back from the south and the heat will return. If the forecast is correct, starting tomorrow, each successive day for the next week or so will be like the one before it with south winds of 10-15mph, sunny skies, highs between 95° and 100°, lows in the mid to upper sixties, and 0% chance of rain.

That’s not the forecast we wanted to see, but that’s what it is.

--o--

COVID-19 AND THE LONDON PLAGUE OF 1666

Editor’s note: I usually present some aspect of Roscoe history when news is short, but this week I thought I’d do something different, which although not Roscoe related, does have some bearing on the lives we are all living these days, i.e., a comparison of our current situation with a related one from the past.

Like many others in the past months, I’ve spent less time out with friends and more time at home alone. As a result, I’ve been doing more reading than usual, and since we’re dealing with an event never dealt with in any of our lives, i.e., the coronavirus pandemic, I thought it might be time to re-read A Journal of the Plague Year, an account of the year 1665, when another epidemic, the bubonic plague, struck London and wiped out thousands and infected even more. The book, first published in 1722, was written by Daniel Defoe, also the author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders.

Unlike those fictional novels, though, this work is a documentary account of life in London in that fateful year, how the epidemic began, how Londoners reacted, what they did as it raged through the city, how it ended, and how they dealt with its devastation. I read it years ago but thought it might be interesting to re-read, now that I had something to compare it to, namely, our current situation. I’m glad I did, because what I found is that even though the differences are obvious, there are also some interesting similarities between the two.

The plague has stricken mankind several times, e.g., in ancient Greece, in second-century Rome, in medieval Europe, and again in England in 1665. Each time it did, it had disastrous effects, wiping out a third or more of the population. A bacterial disease, it is no longer a major threat because it can be cured by antibiotics developed in the twentieth century, but before that, there was no cure and people just had to deal with it as best they could.

This is the problem we have right now with Covid-19. We know it’s viral, not bacterial, but we don’t have a cure for it and also just deal with it as best we can. The strongest deterrents we have for invasive viruses, like the flu, are vaccines, but until we develop one that defends specifically against Covid-19, we have to just hope the body can successfully fight the virus off when it hits. We also hope that, like the plague, anyone who recovers from it doesn’t get it again, but we’re not yet entirely certain about that. It seems to be mostly true, but not absolutely, as there have been a handful of cases of people who apparently had relapses.

Like Covid-19, the 1665 plague began slowly. People knew about it, but as it was only a couple of cases in the west end of London, most paid it no mind and went on about their daily business. The early cases were in the winter, and the plague didn’t really pick up steam until the spring. Londoners knew what it was, and when it became apparent that more people were catching it and it was spreading across the city, those with the money and ability to leave town began a mass exodus. Commerce came to a halt as businesses of all kinds shut down, causing mass unemployment and cutting off workers from their livelihoods.

To help those without incomes and to stave off riots, the City of London spent massive amounts of money on food as we have seen governments spend for unemployment relief in the present pandemic. Ways were also found to hire the unemployed. When someone in a home caught the plague, the whole household was quarantined, and watchmen were hired to see that no one broke the quarantine, one for each affected home. Watchmen also ran errands for the quarantined, such as procuring food, medicine, and other necessaries. Women needing income were hired as nurses and caretakers for the stricken. And as the plague progressed, men were hired to pick up the dead bodies, cart them off, and bury them in mass graves. The work was dangerous, but they otherwise had no income, so they took the chances. Also, since the poor were always at more risk than others, their deaths were also much higher, which also alleviated unemployment.

Another similarity was the way the disease spread. The plague was often spread by those known to be infected, especially within the household, but the real public danger was the people who had no symptoms and thought they were healthy until it was too late. Speaking of the latter, Defoe says,

They had it [the contagion} upon them, and in their blood, yet did not show the consequences of it in their countenances: nay, even were not sensible of it themselves, as many were not for several days. These breathed death in every place, and upon everybody who came near them; nay, their very clothes retained the infection, their hands would infect the things they touched, especially if they were warm and sweaty.

He concludes by saying, “And this is the reason why it is impossible in a visitation to prevent the spreading of the plague by the utmost human vigilance: viz., that it is impossible to know the infected people from the sound, or that the infected people should perfectly know themselves.” And, as we have learned, the same is true of the spreading of Covid-19.

Unlike today, during the plague there were no restrictions on the healthy, who were free to go about as they always had (unless there was sickness in the home). However, many who stayed in London shut themselves up in their homes and never went out, instead sending servants or others to obtain food and other necessities. Some stayed inside for months. One who did described how he did:

I went and bought two sacks of meal, and for several weeks, having an oven, we baked all our own bread; also I bought malt, and brewed as much beer as all the casks I had would hold; also I laid in a quantity of salt butter and Cheshire cheese; but I had no flesh-meat, and the plague raged so violently among the butchers and slaughter-houses…that it was not advisable so much as to go over the street among them.

And how did the plague end? It raged the entire spring and summer and thousands died every week as it spread through the city, but finally in the fall it began to diminish, not in the number of infections, but in the number of deaths. As the author of the work puts it, the disease lost its “malignity,” i.e., its strength or virulence. As the weeks passed, the plague continued to spread with an abundance of new cases, but the number of recoveries increased, and the number of fatalities fell with each passing week. This trend continued into the fall, a development that the author could only attribute to God’s grace, as the physicians still had no cure for the disease.

It will be nice if the same happens with Covid-19 with its number of deaths and hospitalizations decreasing as time goes on. Some scientists believe that the longer we live with the virus, the milder its effects will become. As an article in the New York Times points out, “in the movies, viruses become more deadly. In reality they usually become less so, because asymptomatic strains reach more hosts.”

This is what happened to the Spanish Flu of 1918. Over time its strength lessened, and there were fewer deaths as it mutated. It never died out but eventually became what is now referred to as H1N1 flu. But even if this happens, we don’t know how long it will take before it does.

Some fear that Covid-19 may follow the course of the Spanish flu, that is, with a lessening in the summer months and a return to increased strength in the fall. As time goes on, however, the “malignity” of the virus may indeed fade, just as it did with the plague 350 years ago and the Spanish Flu 100 years ago.

If so, listing the number of new positives may not be as useful as noting the rate of hospitalizations and deaths. If the latter two are decreasing, then the former is not as significant. Of course, it’s just a theory, but since this is how things turned out before, it’s at least a possibility.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Jason Boland to Headline Music July 4th

Jason Boland & the Stragglers
Preparations are underway for this year’s July 4 celebration, which will take place on Saturday, July 4.  As in years past, the day will begin with a parade down Broadway beginning at 10:00am.  The Plowboy Mudbog, which will be free this year, will be at the baseball field starting at noon, and street vendors will be on Cypress, Broadway, and in Old Town Park.

At the free concert and street dance, Lyndall Underwood and the Dusty Creek Band will open for this year’s featured band, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, who are returning for an encore performance. In addition, another singer or group may be added to kick off the live music before the two featured bands.

Lyndall Underwood & the Dusty Creek Band
Lyndall Underwood and the Dusty Creek Band are well known in the Big Country, frequently playing in area venues in Abilene, San Angelo, Sweetwater, Snyder, Roscoe, and elsewhere. They have been around for several years now and have a large following for their traditional country dance music. Lyndall is a graduate of Roscoe High and a local cotton farmer.

As all “Red Dirt/Texas Country” fans know, Jason Boland and his band have been and still are one of more popular groups dominating the Texas music scene.

The group got its start in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1998 and released its first album, Pearl Snaps, in 1999.  Since then, they have gone on to produce seven more studio albums: Truckstop Diaries (2001), Somewhere in the Middle (2004), The Bourbon Legend (2006), Comal County Blue (2008), Rancho Alto (2011), Dark & Dirty Mile (2013), Squelch (2015), and Hard Times are Relative (2018), along with two live albums: Live and Lit at Billy Bob’s Texas (2002) and High in the Rockies (2010).


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RCISD STUDENT ACADEMIC AWARDS ANNOUNCED

Although there was no Academic Banquet at RCHS this year because of the coronavirus, the annual awards were still made and have now been announced. Students from 6th through 12rh grades were awarded, and each grade had two awards with a top girl and boy for each, Best All-Around Student and Outstanding Work Ethic. Here are the students who received those awards.

Best All-Around Student         Outstanding Work Ethic
High School
12th Grade
     Boy: Tristan Baker                      Boy: Ryan Highsmith
     Girl: Sadie McCambridge          Girl: Melissa Montealvo

11th Grade
     Boy: Conner Martin                   Boy: Kolten Hope
     Girl: Hannah Ward                    Girl: Elizabeth Rubio

10th Grade
     Boy: Jake Gonzales                   Boy: Gunner Helm
     Girl: Arwen Elmore                   Girl: Isabel Ortega

9th Grade
     Boy: Jake Madden                     Boy: Ismael Islas
     Girl: Carson Greenwood           Girl: Alicia Pantoja

Junior High
8th Grade
     Boy: Jax Watts                           Boy: Morgan Turnbow
     Girl: Kaidy Ornelas                   Girl: Linnea Elmore

7th Grade
     Boy: Lee Barnhill                      Boy: Ivan McCann
     Girl: Ana Islas                            Girl: Phoenix Walker

6th Grade
     Boy: Jace Arnwine                    Boy: Braxton Bartee
     Girl: Gabi Solis                           Girl: Sophie Gleaton

Awards for the top students in each of the high school and junior high classes were also made, but they were too numerous to list here.

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TWO KILLED, TWO INJURED IN US 84 HEAD-ON COLLISION

At approximately 12:56am early Monday morning, June 1, Roscoe Police were dispatched to a major vehicle crash on US 84 just inside the Roscoe city limits. A black Chevrolet pickup with two occupants was traveling the wrong way in the northbound lanes when it struck head-on a red GMC pickup with three occupants.

The two adult occupants in the GMC pickup were killed. The third occupant, a 6-year-old child, was taken to a Lubbock hospital in critical condition. The driver of the black Chevrolet pickup was taken to an Abilene hospital for his injuries. The passenger was not injured.

The crash is currently under investigation by the Roscoe Police Department and the Texas Highway Patrol.

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PLOWBOYS BEGIN SUMMER WORKOUTS ON MONDAY

Following the latest UIL guidelines, Plowboy athletes will finally return to action again on Monday with voluntary summer strength and conditioning workouts. There will be two morning sessions daily from Monday through Thursday. The first will be football practice on Plowboy Field from 7:00-8:00am, and the second will be strength and conditioning from 8:15-9:30am.

These workouts will include several required safety measures due to the coronavirus. Athletes will have their temperatures taken daily. Social distancing is required in the weight room, which is causing some area coaches to move their weight training outside. Hand sanitizers and washing stations must be available, and equipment will be disinfected daily. Athletes with any Covid-19 symptoms will be strongly encouraged to stay home.

Head Coach Jake Freeman and his assistants are just glad to get workouts underway as athletes prepare for the upcoming school year, and summer workouts mark the beginning of a return to something approaching normalcy. However, there is no guarantee that there will be a regular football season this fall since what happens then depends on what happens during the summer months.

Parents with questions regarding the summer program may contact Coach Freeman at jfreeman@roscoe.esc14.net (325-721-0892).

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CORONAVIRUS NO LONGER CENTERED IN TAYLOR COUNTY

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck the area in March, the focus of activity in the Big Country has centered on Abilene and Taylor County, which is to be expected since it has a larger and denser population than any of the other cities or counties in the area. But in the last few weeks, it has been relatively quiet, and its number of active cases has fallen to only 25 with just 1 hospitalization, and no one has died from the virus there for about a month now.

On the other hand, Snyder and Scurry County, which had only 2 confirmed cases since early April with both of them recovered, had an outbreak last week as their number of active cases rose to 18, with at least 8 of them caused by “community spread.” This week, after extensive testing, that number rose to 30 active cases. There were also 39 new cases reported at a Snyder rest home, but since most of those testing positive there had no symptoms, there is a possibility that something was wrong with the tests, so they are retesting there and awaiting the results.

In response to Governor Abbott’s directive that all rest homes in Texas be tested, Eastland County has also found 19 new positives, 10 in a rest home in Eastland and 9 at one in Cisco. And Jones County with its prison units now has by far the most positives of any other county in the area with 606, but almost all of these are convicts and not in the general population.

Meanwhile, Nolan, Fisher, and Mitchell Counties are reporting no new cases, which is just the way we want it.

Here are the numbers for this week as of yesterday:

Abilene has 241 positive results with 25 active cases and 1 hospitalization.

Here are the area’s county figures as of yesterday (with last week’s in parentheses if different): Jones, 606 (101); Brown, 59 (57); Scurry, 32 (20); Eastland, 24 (5); Comanche, 12 (9); Callahan, 9 (9); Howard, 9 (6); Stephens, 4 (1); Coleman, 3 (2); Haskell, 3 (2); Nolan, 2; Fisher, 2; Runnels, 2; Coke, 1;  Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Shackelford, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with last Tuesday’s count in parentheses): Lubbock, 704 (667); Ector (Odessa), 161 (151); Midland, 132 (124); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 85 (82); Tom Green (San Angelo), 70 (64).

Texas now has 66,568 cases (56.560 last Tuesday) and 1,698 deaths (1,536 last Tuesday).

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WEATHER REPORT: THE DRY SPELL CONTINUES

Yesterday's clouds.
This has been another frustrating week for anyone hoping for some rain to put some moisture into this parched earth. We had several days in a row in which conditions were good for rain. Forecasters predicted 30% or 40% chances for thunderstorms, and in the afternoons, clouds would build up, with thunder in the distance, wind blowing off the clouds, but little to no rainfall. Monday looked especially promising, and I heard that some folks west of town got up to an inch of rain, but weatherman Kenny Landfried reported only .24” in his part of town, and where I live, there wasn’t enough even to measure.

Time is growing short for the rains to start. It’s hard to believe that around this time last year the ground was so wet that farmers were hoping things would dry out enough that they could get their cotton planted before the insurance deadline. Maybe we can get enough rain to plant before then, but the forecast for the next week or so doesn’t look promising.

Temperatures were mild this past week, but that appears to be coming to an end as this afternoon will heat up to about 93°, tomorrow 97°, Friday 98°, and Sunday 97° with lows in the low seventies for all those days. Sunny skies are predicted for the next two weeks with moderate south winds, and there is no rain in the forecast.

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† REBECCA FAYE DUNCAN

Funeral services for Rebecca Faye Duncan, 70, will be at 3:00pm, Friday, June 5, at First Baptist Church in Roscoe with Rev. David Draper officiating. Interment will follow at Roscoe Cemetery under the direction of McCoy Funeral Home. She passed away Monday morning, June 1, at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater.

Rebecca Faye Hutchison was born on May 5, 1950, in Spearman, Texas, to Dwight and Georgianne Hutchison. She lived on the family farm for 18 years and graduated as the valedictorian of her class at Spearman High School in 1968. Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Home Economics/Nutrition from Texas Tech University, magna cum laude, in 1972. She worked as research assistant on cottonseed research in Food and Nutrition Lab to find new food sources for countries with famines and was a member of the Mortar Board, Phi Upsilon Omicron President, Baptist Student Union, and selected as Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

She returned to school and received a Master of Education degree in School Administration from Sul Ross State University in 2010. She taught 43 years for Snyder, Loraine, and Sweetwater school districts, in kindergarten, family and consumer science, and as dean of students. During this time, she sponsored many students in Family Career and Community Leaders of America competitions on the state level, National Honor Society, and the newly created Future Sweetwater high school leadership team.  She also served 18 years as Sweetwater High School Career and Technical Education Director and 5 years as AVID (college readiness leadership) Director.  During her career she received honors including Nolan County Outstanding Adult 4-H Leader Award, Region 14 Secondary Teacher of the Year in 1997, and Sweetwater Secondary Teacher of the Year.

She and David Duncan were married December 22, 1973, in Lubbock. They lived in the Roscoe community for 45 years on the family cotton farm. They had 2 children: Karsten Duncan, PharmD of Sacramento, CA, and Dr. Katherine Duncan and her husband Tim Spishock of Macon, GA. She was an active member of First Baptist Church of Roscoe. She met many other young people when she was a member of the local Altrusa Club for many years, many of whom remained her friends throughout her married life. She enjoyed sewing and quilting all her life, making many friends through quilting classes in recent years.  Her most joy came from spending time with her husband and children as they grew up and visiting them in recent years. She was so proud of her children!

She was preceded in death by her parents, Dwight and Georgianne Hutchison, and her husband, David, September 28, 2019.

She is also survived by 2 sisters; Cynthia Sullivan of Hewitt, TX, and Gina Rodgers and husband Jim of Bonney Lake, WA.

Pallbearers will be Larry Black, Steve Anthony, Daylon Althof, Vernon Duncan and Lonnie Orman.

Donations may be sent to First Baptist Church, 401 S. Main Street, Roscoe, TX 79545.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Thirty RCHS Seniors Receive Their Diplomas

2020 Grads file into Plowboy Field Friday evening. (from EduDrone video)
The Roscoe Collegiate High School Class of 2020 reached one of life’s milestones Friday evening in a completely novel and unexpected way when they were awarded their high school diplomas while social distancing to an audience limited to close family members at Plowboy Field. They are certainly the first RCHS graduating class ever to do so, and let’s hope they’re also the last. They were also the first to have the ceremony livestreamed on social media, thanks to the crew at EduDrone, who broadcast it on their Facebook page.

In addition to their high school diplomas, most of the graduates had just received their Associate Degrees from Western Texas College in Snyder and/or earned professional certifications through their work at one of the RCHS P-Tech programs, EduDrone, EduWeld, EduVet, or EduMake It,

Valedictorian of the Class of 2020 is Martín Luna with an overall grade average of 100.25. Salutatorian is Rebecca Shaw with an average of 97.7567.

Here is a list of the Class of 2020 along with their academic attainments:

Damian Aguayo §                      Jessie Lynn Mallion *
Hunter Aaron Anglin §             Jesus Martinez, Jr. *
Michael Jacob Arce §                Sadie Gayle McCambridge * Φ
Tristan James Baker * § Φ β   Brayan Medina Solis
Garrett Chastain Bowers          Melissa Montealvo
Jaythan Taylor Coale *             Anahi Ortega Solis
Cera Rae Cuellar § *                  Kaylee Palacios-Herrera * Φ
Leandra Marie DeLeon            Alexander Melchisedek Pantoja * Φ
Gerardo Garcia Solis                 Hagen Riley Payne *
Roman Javier Garza * § β         Jacob Teague Rainey * Φ
Mayra Alejandra Gonzalez        Lyndsey Simone Ruiz
Giselle Herrera                            Esperanza Marie Sanchez * Φ
Karen Edith Herrera § Φ           Rebecca Lynne Shaw * Φ §
Ryan Scott Highsmith §            Shayden Lynn Tinkler * Φ §
Martín Manuel Luna § Φ          Landry Lee Turnbow * Φ §

* = WTC Associate Degree
§ = Industry-Based Certificate
Φ = Phi Theta Kappa (WTC Honor Society)
β = Boys State

Here are the top ten graduates gradewise:
1. Martín Luna                           6. Jacob Rainey
2. Rebecca Shaw                       7. Shayden Tinkler
3. Landry Turnbow                  8. Kaylee Palacios-Herrera
4. Tristan Baker                        9. Jesus Martinez, Jr.
5. Sadie McCambridge           10. Alexander Pantoja


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CLASS OF 2020 GRADUATION VIDEO

Made for those who were unable to attend the event but serving as a lasting memento for all was this video made for the Class of 2020 by EduDrone’s Cade Garrett, who not only filmed the graduating seniors, but also got their families involved. The 17-minute video was made available on the EduDrone Facebook page yesterday and is or will be placed on the Roscoe Collegiate website.

 


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PLOWBOYS, PLOWGIRLS RECEIVE ATHLETIC HONORS


Junior Martinez is Football Plowboy of the Year.
Although there was no Athletic Banquet this year, several Plowboys were awarded honors for their athletic endeavors in football, basketball, track, and powerlifting, while Plowgirls were recognized for their attainments in basketball and cross country.

Football Plowboy of the Year: Junior Martinez
Football Fighting Heart: Ryan Highsmith

Basketball Plowboy of the Year: Ryan Highsmith, Hunter Anglin
Basketball Mr. Defense: Brayan Medina, Tristan Baker

Track Plowboys of the Year: Seniors Ryan Highsmith, Jaythan Coale, Brayan Medina, Tristan Baker, Junior Martinez

Powerlifting Plowboy of the Year: Jathan Sheridan

Clyde Jay Memorial Scholarship Recipients: Sadie McCambridge, Tristan Baker, Roman Garza

Britt Paty Memorial Award: Jaythan Coale


Shauna McCambridge is Basketball Plowgirl of the Year.
Cross Country Plowgirl of the Year: Itzel Ortega-Solis

Basketball Plowgirl of the Year: Shauna McCambridge
Basketball Miss Defense: Carson Greenwood


Plowgirl Fighting Heart: Sadie McCambridge


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AMERICAN LEGION HONORS VETS ON MEMORIAL DAY
Post Commander J. H. Tollison with Larry Clements and Jodie Kingston.
On Monday, Roscoe’s American Legion Post 227 members honored veterans on Memorial Day as they do every year. In the morning was the flag-raising ceremony and the placement of flags on the graves of former servicemen at the Roscoe Cemetery. This year, 293 flags were placed. 

At noon, the flag was changed from half-mast to full, and in the late afternoon the flags were picked up, and the flag at the Legion Hall lowered.

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CORONAVIRUS SITUATION LOOKING BETTER IN ABILENE, WORSE IN SNYDER

The Covid-19 situation in Abilene seems to be improving with 33 active cases of the virus and only two in the hospital, which may also include patients from other counties. The easing of the shutdown rules so far hasn’t seemed to create any significant health problems there, although admittedly we are still in the early stages of the business re-openings, so it’s still too early to know for sure.

On the other hand, Snyder, which had only two active cases since early April and both of them recovered, has had an outbreak of positive cases in the past week, and as of yesterday had a total of 20 confirmed.

The news stories from Snyder don’t specify where those cases are, although a Lubbock news source said two were law enforcement employees, and the extensive testing they did on Monday with law enforcement and inmates suggest at least some of them are in jail or prison. An Abilene Reporter-News article yesterday on the Snyder outbreak also mentioned that some of Monday’s testing was in a nursing home. There are 192 of the Scurry County tests now pending, the results of which won’t be known until later this week.

However, Scurry County officials did say that eight of the new cases were caused by “community spread,” which indicates that the coronavirus is also active in the general population. Those interested in daily results from Snyder can check on the Scurry County Emergency Facebook page.

Abilene now has 230 positive results with 33 active cases and 2 hospitalizations.

Here are this week’s Big Country county figures as of yesterday (with last week’s in parentheses if different): Jones, 101 (115); Brown, 57 (51); Scurry, 20 (2); Comanche, 9 (3); Callahan, 9 (8); Howard, 6; Eastland, 5; Stephens, 4 (1); Coleman, 2; Nolan, 2; Fisher, 2 (1); Haskell 2, Runnels, 2; Coke, 1;  Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Shackelford, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with last Tuesday’s count in parentheses): Lubbock, 667 (624); Midland, 124 (122); Ector (Odessa), 151 (115); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 82 (80); Tom Green (San Angelo), 64(62).

Texas now has 56,560 cases (49,912 last Tuesday) and 1,536 deaths (1,369 last Tuesday).


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WEATHER: MANY CHANCES FOR RAIN, FEW RESULTS

Cloud on Thursday evening. (Photo by Eden Baker)
This was a frustrating week for the weather, as several prime opportunities for rain never materialized, or when they did, produced disappointing results. Although there were afternoon buildups of clouds along with strong winds, lightning, and thunder for three or four days in a row, I received a little less than two-tenths of an inch in my rain gauge, a little on Sunday night and a little more Monday evening. As they do sometimes, the clouds looked promising on radar as they approached from the southwest but seemed to break up or go north or south—or both—shortly before they got to the Roscoe area.

Temperatures were in the 90s every afternoon through Sunday, and there were strong south winds on Saturday and Sunday with high winds of 20 and 25mph with gusts up to 35. Early Monday morning when a norther blew in, it came with gusts in the 40s and up to 50mph. It also cooled everything down. Monday’s high was only 75°F and yesterday's 81°.

The forecast for today is for warmer temperatures with a high of 90°, mostly sunny skies, and almost no chance for rain. The upcoming several days will also be mild with highs in the upper 80s or around 90° through Monday with lows in the 60s. Skies will be sunny on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and rain is unlikely, which is not good, as May is traditionally the wettest month of the year—but apparently not this year. Here’s hoping that lack turns around in June.


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† RODRIGO SANCHEZ DE LOERA


 A graveside service for Rodrigo Sanchez De Loera, Sr., “Gigo,” and “Rod,” 88, of Roscoe is being held this morning at 10:00am at Roscoe Cemetery with Father Nilo Nalugon officiating. He passed away on Saturday, May 23, at his home with his wife at his side.

Rod married the love his life, Ofelia Esquivel, on December 27, 1960, in Mexico. Together they had three girls and four boys. He was a hardworking man who began his career as a farmer, then worked for the railroad company and at the City of Roscoe. He enjoyed telling jokes, working outside on the yard, staying busy in his shop, and cruising the streets in Roscoe. But, most of all he enjoyed his grandkids and great grandkids.

Rod is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ofelia De Loera; son, Rod De Loera, Jr., of Arlington; daughter, Norma Lara and husband Richard of Sweetwater; daughter, Sally De Loera Gonzalez of Sweetwater; son, Frank De Loera and wife Lupe of Sweetwater; son, Jerry De Loera and fiancée Tania Brown of Sweetwater; daughter, Diana De Loera and husband Jaime Valdez of Sweetwater; son, John Joe De Loera and wife Ruby of Sweetwater;  9 grandkids and numerous great-grandkids.

Pallbearers are Richard Lara II, Andrew De Loera, Frankie Gonzalez, and Austin De Loera.

Honorary Pallbearers: Jo Christian “Guero” De Loera, Jacyn Lara, Jayden De Loera, Julian De Loera, Jesse De Loera, Landry Brown.

We will miss his fun personality, jokes, and hugs but will take comfort in all the memories he left us with.


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