All the news that's fit to print.

In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Roscoe Sophomore to Attend Texas Academy of Math and Science

Arwen Elmore.
Congratulations to RCISD sophomore Arwen Elmore, who will be heading off to the University of North Texas in the fall. Arwen has been accepted into the Texas Academy of Math and Science (TAMS), a residential early college program for gifted high school students.

TAMS students are full-time college students, taking UNT courses, but they live in a dorm and participate in many activities with other early college students. TAMS offers five tracks of study: Traditional Science, Computer Science and Computer Engineering, Music, Visual Arts and Design, and Media Arts. Arwen will be in the Traditional Science track.



Antonio Aguayo shoots a layup in last night's game with Stamford.
The Plowboys won their district opener with Albany, leading all the way and defeating the Lions 47-42 in a home game on Friday, January 17. Ryan Highsmith led the Plowboys with a season-high 21 points. Unfortunately, that was the Plowboys only victory in four district games. They lost a close one to Haskell 36-32 in Haskell, another close one to Cross Plains at home 51-48, and a loss to Stamford at home yesterday evening 83-34.

The coming week they play Hawley here on Friday evening and Albany in Albany next Tuesday.

Here are the stats for each of the last four games:

Plowboys 49 – Albany 42

Scores by quarters:
Plowboys          15        25        31        49
Albany                2        13        22        42

Individual Plowboy scoring: Ryan Highsmith 21, Tristan Baker 10, Hunter Anglin 9, Brayan Medina 5, Zachary Parrott 2.

Haskell 36 – Plowboys 32

Scores by quarters:
Haskell             8          13        24        36
Plowboys          7          17        23        32

Individual Plowboy scoring: Baker 13, Anglin 8, Highsmith 4, Antonio Aguayo 3, Parrott 2, Medina 2.

Cross Plains 51 – Plowboys 48

Scores by quarters:
Cross Plains        5        22        33        51
Plowboys           12        16        36        48

Individual Plowboy scoring: Anglin 14, Medina 13, Highsmith 8, Martinez 7, Baker 6.

Stamford 83 – Plowboys 34
Scores by quarters:
Stamford          20        47        69        83
Plowboys            8        19        28        34

Individual Plowboy scoring: Martinez 8, Highsmith 8, Baker 6, Medina 6, Anglin 5, Aguayo 1.



Carson Greenwood shoots a free throw against Stamford.
The Plowgirls played four district games in the last two weeks, losing all four, to Albany at home 51-28, to Haskell in Haskell 72-29, to Cross Plains at home 51-41, and last night to Stamford at home 67-25.

Their next games are with Hawley at home Friday evening and with Albany in Albany next Tuesday.

Here are the stats for each of the last four games:

Albany 51 – Plowgirls 28

The Plowgirls lost to Albany at home Friday, January 18, 51-28

Scores by quarters:
Albany             12        30        41        51
Plowgirls         11        14         21        28

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Carson Greenwood 11, Shauna McCambridge 7, Mia Lavalais 6, Cameron Greenwood 2, Riley Sheridan 2.

Haskell 72 – Plowgirls 29
Scores by quarters:
Haskell              19        37        51         79
Plowgirls            0          6        20        29

Cr. Greenwood 16, McCambridge 5, Cm. Greenwood 4, Lavalais 3, Kaylea Perez 1.

Cross Plains 51 – Plowgirls 41

Scores by quarters:
Cross Plains      14        28        39        51
Plowgirls           10        16        28        41

Individual Plowgirl scoring: McCambridge 19, Cm. Greenwood 8, Cr. Greenwood 6, Perez 6, Anahi Ortega-Solis 2.

Stamford 67 – Plowgirls 25

Scores by quarters:
Stamford          15        35        56        67
Plowgirls            5        11         19        25

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Cr. Greenwood 11, McCambridge 6, Perez 4, Cm. Greenwood 4.



Editor’s note: If there was ever a time that might be called Roscoe’s heyday, it would be the years from around 1904 to 1916. In those twelve years, the town went from a hamlet with a railroad depot, a few businesses, and about 300 inhabitants to an incorporated town with a burgeoning population, a good school, several churches, a new railroad, and a bustling business district. Its citizens were confident that the good times were at hand and would continue into the future. This optimism was a part of the community’s character that went unchecked until the severe drouth of 1917 and 1918.  

Part 1 - 1904-1909

The coming of the twentieth century was a time of great optimism in America. Scientific discoveries and innovations such as electric lights, telephones, trains, and horseless carriages pointed to a better and more prosperous way of life. And the nation was rapidly becoming an established power in the modern world, no longer just a post-colonial outpost far away across the sea.

In west Texas, the wild west had been tamed, the buffaloes and Comanches were gone, and, more recently, so were the open range, cattle drives, and frontier lawlessness. In their place were incoming settlers hoping to live new and better lives in and around the new towns springing up along the railroads with their churches, schools, virgin farmland, and business opportunities—and Roscoe was one of these.

The slow and sporadic growth that marked west Texas in the 1890s continued into the first couple of years of the new century. The 1900 US Census population of 296 recorded for Nolan County Precinct 5, which included Roscoe, was about the same as it had been in 1892 and 1895, as the population increased in good years and fell during drouths. Newspapers of the time reported little about Roscoe, but that soon began to change. As the open prairie was sold to settlers breaking it up into farms, Roscoe began to grow and develop as its population boomed. By the 1910 US Census, Nolan County Precinct 5 would have a population of 2,896, almost ten times the 296 it had in 1900, and the newly incorporated city of Roscoe would have 941.* 

* Sweetwater experienced a similar upsurge with a recorded population of 670 in 1900 and 4,176 in 1910.

Roscoe High School on a colorized postcard in 1904.
Significant town development must have begun in 1903 or 1904, and the area’s attraction was the quality of the blackland soil and the abundance of good underground water. People were moving in primarily from the east and southeast, mostly from east and central Texas, along with some from southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. West of Roscoe, a German community was growing, made up of more first and second-generation German-Americans than of fresh immigrants just off the boat.

A new two-story school building was built in 1904, and a high school established around this time. A Roscoe Times editorial of May 18, 1906, states, “As we now have 11 grades and the divisions of Primary, Grammar, and High School thoroughly established, we can with accuracy compare our school with others and are certain our standing is second to none.”*

* In those days, children didn’t typically start to school until they were seven years old, and 11 grades for public schools was standard.

More businesses with brick buildings also went up downtown starting around 1905. The author of the article “Roscoe, the Magic City of West Texas,” published in the Sweetwater Telegram in 1908, describes it this way: “Three years ago Roscoe was a small station on the Texas & Pacific, just like any other of the little hamlets that lie between cities along the line of the great trans-state railway. Early in the year 1905 the town began to build up and take on signs of a determination to become a city. Several prominent property-holders erected substantial residences and business houses, and the building fever spread rapidly.”

In early 1906, the town got a weekly newspaper, The Roscoe Times, edited by Joe Pickle, which he and his successors would publish regularly for the rest of the century. In February, it reported a downtown boom: “There are now three stone business houses under construction. With exception of one, they are all nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy in a short time. These improvements mark a beginning of a permanent and substantial growth, the like of which this town has never seen before.”

In June of that year, the Times declared, “A long pull, a strong pull all together, and Roscoe will have 1000 inhabitants by January 1.” If this estimate is anywhere close to accurate, it means that the town’s population had tripled since the 1900 census. And even if it was an exaggeration, it was clear that the boom was on in Roscoe.

Also in June 1906, the town’s prospects for prosperity received a big boost when a group of businessmen from Abilene led by General F. W. James came to Roscoe with a plan to build a railroad to Snyder and, once that was completed, to extend it all the way through Post and Lubbock to the New Mexico line. In those days before good roads, railroads were key to development, and northwest Texas without a rail line south of Amarillo was a huge area in great need of one. James presented his proposal to city leaders in Roscoe and Snyder, and a deal was struck. The two cities promised free land and a $50,000 bonus if James’s group could complete a line from Roscoe to Snyder in two years. Surveying began in September, and on October 1 a charter was signed establishing the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway with its business office and roundhouse to be located in Roscoe.

Inaugural run of the RS&P on June 6, 1908.
Over the next several months, surveying was undertaken, groundwork laid, materials obtained, men hired, and grading done. Then on June 6, 1907, the laying of the track began, sometimes with as many as 300 workers for ten hours a day at 15ȼ an hour. A used locomotive was purchased from the Texas & Pacific Railway in November and was immediately put to use hauling materials as the track was laid. By May 1908 the track was completed all the way to Snyder by way of the new communities of Wastella and Hermleigh, and a regular schedule was established for both passengers and freight. After an inaugural run and a great celebration in Snyder, the train made daily runs to and from Snyder, while track laying resumed and continued on to the new town of Fluvanna, twenty miles northwest of Snyder and fifty from Roscoe. That’s as far as it ever got, however, because the Santa Fe railroad had meanwhile begun building a line from Lubbock to Coleman. Even so, the RS&P would go on to become one of the most prosperous short lines in the country and bolster the economies of Roscoe and Snyder for the next seventy-five years.

In fall of 1906, a group of Roscoe citizens established the Roscoe State Bank, and in December it opened its doors for business. It was located on the north side of Broadway downtown, east of where the Wildflower Boutique is today, but in 1911 it moved to a new building where the Roscoe Historical Museum is now. Its first officers were W. F. Jones, president; G. F. Light, vice president; E. L. Hopkins, cashier; and T. M. Dobbins, assistant cashier.

By 1907, the town had developed to the point that its citizens moved to incorporate. A vote was held on June 8, 1907, which passed 65 to 18. The town’s first mayor was Joe Pickle, the aldermen were W. C. Cress, J. J. Parker, and J. V. White, the marshal was Jack Yarbrough, and the city secretary was R. R. Haley. The town established a volunteer fire department at around the same time, and the city limits, or boundaries, were set.

1st Methodist Church, built in 1905, on a colorized post card.
It was also in these years that the various protestant denominations went from services in the small wooden schoolhouse they had all shared to separate church buildings of their own as congregations grew. There were two groups of Baptists, and in 1902 the more fundamental one built a church at 3rd and Bois d’Arc Streets, while the “domino-playing” Baptists (as my brother called them) erected a new wooden building around 1906 on the northeast corner of 4th and Main, on the same block as the present church. In 1905, the Methodists built a new church at the southeast corner of Cypress and 3rd Streets, where the Methodist Church still is today. The Church of Christ built a church in 1908 at 4th and Oak Streets on land donated by P. A. Smith. Two country churches were also established west of town—the Champion Baptist Church, organized in 1907, which met at the Champion school, and the Salem Lutheran Church, organized in 1909, which met at the Brownlee school.

Roscoe High School after the extension was added, 1909.
By 1908, there were enough students going to school in Roscoe that an election was held for the issuance of $6000 in bonds to enlarge the school building built only four years earlier. The proposition passed by a vote of 93 to 28, and the building’s two floors were extended back, as can be seen in the photos.* 

* Some later histories say that the second floor was built in 1908, but the photographs show that the second floor was already there in the original building.

And in 1909, Roscoe hosted the largest teachers’ meeting that had ever been held in west Texas when the Texas and Pacific Teachers’ Association chose Roscoe as the site for its two-day conference. Over 250 teachers from Cisco to Odessa on the T&P Railway attended, coming from Baird, Abilene, Merkel, Trent, Sweetwater, Loraine, Colorado City, Big Springs, and Stanton, as well as area schools on other rail lines that connected to the T&P, such as Snyder, Hermleigh, Anson, Hamlin, Haskell, and Roby. The meeting was reported on in the local newspapers as well as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News. Taylor County Superintendent of Schools E. V. White told the Abilene Reporter-News that “the institute was a success, both in attendance and results accomplished,” and the Dallas Morning News reported that “Roscoe furnished free entertainment to the association and in such a manner as seemed to delight all present.” Part of the entertainment was a track meet with athletes from some of the participating schools. Also, the area railroads, i.e., the Texas & Pacific, Orient, and Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific, all offered reduced fares for teachers attending the meeting.

Downtown, the business section showed steady growth and improvement with new buildings going up and older wooden and tin structures being replaced by brick ones. In fact, most of the downtown buildings still standing today—and many that are now gone—were erected during this time.

The author of “Roscoe, the Magic City of West Texas” provides a revealing description of the downtown life and activity as it was in July 1908. He begins a walking tour on the north side of Cypress and First Street (now Broadway) and walks east from one business to the next until he reaches the end at the St. George Hotel on Laurel, then crosses the street and walks back, describing each of the businesses on the south side.

Harris Bros. & Johnson was on the south side of 1st Street downtown in 1908.
In the downtown area he covers, he finds three general stores, two grocery stores, three real estate offices, one doctor’s office, two hardware stores, a tailor shop, two restaurants, two barber shops (one with baths in the back), a second-hand store, the telephone office, a drug store, a harness shop, and two banks.

He then mentions that outside the downtown area just described that there is also a newspaper office, two hotels, three lumber yards, blacksmith shops, three cotton gins, one livery stable, four churches, and one of the best school buildings in west Texas. He doesn’t mention them, but also along Main Street there were the calaboose (a small jail primarily for overnight use), a wagon yard, and a public windmill and water trough.

In short, to all appearances and in all aspects, Roscoe was a thriving young city whose star was on the rise. As the author says as he closes his article, “Keep your eye on Roscoe.”



Monday sunrise.
Since there was no Hard Times last week because I was busy in Dallas, this week’s weather report will cover the two weeks since January 15 rather than just the usual one. Those two weeks have been mild for January—not as mild as the first two weeks of the month when almost every day had highs in the 60s or 70s, but higher than normal nevertheless. The historical average daily maximum for January in Roscoe is 56°F and the average daily minimum is 29°.

Without averaging up the days for this month, it is clear that we are well over that. The lowest maximum so far this month was 48° on January 16, which was also the only daily maximum in the forties, although tomorrow is predicted to be the second. The lowest minimum so far this month has been 29° three times, including the morning with the snow, January 11. Twelve days had lows in the 30s (including this morning), 12 in the 40s, and one in the 50s, with two days left to go. The average rainfall for January is .98”, and on that this month was right on the button, with the official amount for January 17 at .96” plus however much moisture was in the light snow we got on January 11. In short, it’s been a warm January with the average amount of rainfall.

If you’ve been doing anything outside the past few days, you may have noticed the sounds coming from the sky as hundreds of sand cranes have been flying east in V’s, squawking as they go.

The forecast is for continued cool weather today and tomorrow with a high today of 54° and tomorrow only 44° with light north winds both days and lows of 34° and 33°. There is also a slight (20%) chance of rain tomorrow. Friday’s high will be 56°, and Saturday will be warm and sunny with a high of 66°, increasing on Sunday to 68° and Monday to 73°. Winds will shift from the north on Friday to the west on Saturday and the southwest on Sunday. Winds will be light to average until Monday when the southwest winds will be around 20mph.



Graveside services for Tennie Jeanette “Jean” (Wood) Tally, 93, were at 2:00pm yesterday, January 28, at Resthaven Cemetery in Brady with Tracy Pitcox officiating. She entered into eternal rest on Saturday, January 25, surrounded by her family in Sweetwater.

She was born July 19, 1926, in Brownwood to the late Tennie Kansas (Stanley) Wood and Louis Powers Wood. She married Melvin Lee Tally on January 13, 1946, in Brady and was a homemaker. In 1965 they moved and made their home in Maryneal, where they raised three children: Brenda Susan (Tally) Sissom, Kenneth Wayne Tally and Donna Jeanette (Tally) Porter. In 1983 they moved to Brady. They celebrated forty-three years together until Melvin passed on March 24, 1989.

Those left to celebrate her life and carry on her legacy are her children, Brenda Sissom of Snyder, Kenneth Tally of Eden, and Donna Porter and husband Pete of Roscoe; her sister, Sharron Ruth Morris and husband Charles of Post; seven grandchildren, Donald and Donna Pepp of Camden, Tennessee, Cheryl Tharp and Jason Sissom of Lubbock, Carolyn Ann and Joel Church of Fort Worth, Brandon Wayne Tally of Michigan, Jared Frank and wife Jessalyn Porter of Sweetwater, and Makayla Jeanette Porter of San Angelo; two bonus grandchildren, Kim and Daniel Aames of Amarillo, and Brett and Monica Brady of Fort Worth; eleven great-grandchildren, three bonus great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews, and special friends Amanda Carson, James Yager, and Eduardo “Chino” Gallegos.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Tennie Kansas Wood and Louis Powers Wood; her husband, Melvin Lee Tally; her baby daughter, Cheryl Lynn Tally; brothers, Louis P Wood, Jr., and Jerry Lee Wood; and sister, Mary Helen Bird.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone that helped take care of our mother/mawmaw including the Cogdell Home Health Hospice staff, Dr David Kerr, McWilliams Pharmacy, and our own Summer and Lee Walker for taking such loving care of her and making her final days at home as comfortable as possible before going into the Sweetwater Healthcare Center. The love and care of the staff of Hendrick Hospice and Sweetwater Healthcare for her as well as our family will always be remembered.

Tribute at Heritage Home Funeral, Brady.



Funeral services for Maraiha `Kaylyn Ruth Shearer, 5, will be held on Saturday, February 1, at 10:00am at First United Methodist Church in Sweetwater. A graveside service will follow at the Roscoe Cemetery. Reverend Jackie Passmore will be officiating. She passed away on Sunday, January 26.

Family visitation will be held on Friday, January 31, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at McCoy Funeral Home in Sweetwater.

The Big Country Homepage article may be accessed by clicking here.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Nolan County Stock Show This Week

The Nolan County 2019 Junior Livestock begins today at the Nolan County Coliseum in Sweetwater.

Here is the schedule for this year's show:

Nolan County Coliseum, Sweetwater


Wednesday, January 15
4:00pm            Broilers, Rabbits
                           Sheep and Goats

Thursday, January 16
9:00am-noon   Steers, Heifers & Swine
3:00pm             Rabbit Show followed by
                            Broiler Show
5:00pm             Goat Show followed by
                            Lamb Show

Friday, January 17
10:00am           Livestock Judging Contest
2:00pm             Heifer Show followed by
                            Steer Show
4:00pm              Swine Show

Saturday, January 18
10:00am           Honorary Show
11:00am            Lunch
12:30pm            Awards followed by
                            Premium Sale

Premium Sale & Show coordinated by the Nolan County Livestock Association in cooperation with Blackland FFA, Highland FFA, Roscoe FFA, Sweetwater FFA and Nolan County 4-H Clubs, Youth Exhibitors & their Sponsors.



Yesterday's meeting of the City Council in City Hall.
At its monthly meeting in City Hall yesterday evening, the Roscoe City Council heard updates on public works from the City Manager and the monthly police report from the Chief of Police. It also ordered a May 2 date for two City Council seats and approved the quarterly investment report.

City Manager Cody Thompson reported that although all mechanical aspects of the City Reverse-Osmosis Water Treatment Plant are operational, they need to be modified to make them more cost effective. The replacement and cleaning of the membranes are more expensive than initially anticipated, and the City will implement suggestions of e/HT engineers Scott Hay and Dave Baker in an attempt to decrease the number of necessary filter cleanings and changes.

The TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) supplemental environmental plan involves official closure of the old sanitary sewer plant and minor repair and recertification of items at the new sewer plant, including a liner and correction of previously cited erosion problems. These latter are partially due to the length of time required to fill all the lagoons. In the future, one lagoon will be drained dry to simplify current maintenance issues. The City must also continue to keep current all its water and sewer certifications and licenses.

The water line replacement program is still under review by the Texas Water Development Board and TCEQ, and due to board reviews and environmental assessments, bids dates for the project are not expected before fall.

The 4th of July celebration in downtown Roscoe this year will be on Saturday, July 4. The West Texas Wind Festival will be on October 17.

Police Chief Felix Pantoja reported that in December, the Police Department dealt with 111 total calls, had two arrests, handled four vehicle crashes, and issued 8 citations and 17 warnings. The State Comptroller’s Office and the TCEQ were notified of a salvage business on 5th Street operating without proper permits. The owner has begun to erect a metal fence around the property. A shooting on New Year’s Eve in which a young female was hit in the leg was determined to be accidental. The State Comptroller’s Office was also notified of a business at 411 North Cypress Street operating without a proper permit.

The Council then ordered an election on Saturday, May 2, 2020, for two City Council seats, as those of Council Members Billy Joe Jay and K C Hope are expiring. Those interested in running for one of the seats have until February 14 to submit their application to City Hall.

The Council also reviewed and approved the City Investment Report for the fourth quarter of 2019.

City Hall will be closed Monday in observance of MLK Day.



Just after my mention last week of no recent news concerning the Roscoe Wind Farm, a new video on the topic came online on YouTube this past weekend and was discovered on Monday by alert City Councilman Robert McBride.

I have no other information on the video yet other than this accompanying descriptive paragraph on YouTube: 

Roscoe Wind Farm Overview. An overview of the RWE Renewables (formerly E.ON) Roscoe Wind Farm Complex in Texas. This project came on line in February 2008 with 209 Mitsubishi 1 megawatt turbines. Straddling Nolan, Mitchell and Scurry Counties, in Texas, this project with an installed capacity of 209 MW is the cornerstone of the Roscoe complex of projects which make up the one of the largest land-based wind farms in the US with 781.5 MW of turbines installed.

The video lasts 9 minutes and 45 seconds.



Pop-Up Pantry at the Community Center in November.
The Pop-Up Pantry of the Food Bank of West Central Texas will be at the Roscoe Community Center tomorrow giving away free food to those who need or want it. Distribution will start at 2:00pm and finish when the food is all gone.

If you know people who need or could use this food, please let them know. There are no qualifying requirements.

Roscoe Community Center
TOMORROW, January 16


Assorted meat, produce, dry goods, canned goods.
Food Bank of West Central Texas



There will be no posting of the Roscoe Hard Times next week since I will be at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Dallas having a procedure done that requires a Tuesday appointment, the procedure on Wednesday, and at least one overnight stay in the hospital before being released.

Assuming everything goes okay, the posting of the Hard Times will resume the following Wednesday.



The Plowboys won two games this week as their final warmups before district. 

The first came Friday evening when they beat Throckmorton 42-38 in a close come-from-behind victory in Throckmorton. 

The second was last night in an another come-from-behind win over Forsan 48-35 in Forsan.

Plowboys 42 – Throckmorton 38

Scores by quarters:
Plowboys            14        21        30        42
Throckmorton    8        23        33        38

Individual Plowboy scoring: Brayan Medina 12, Tristan Baker 9, Ryan Highsmith 9, Hunter Anglin 5, Antonio Aguayo 4, Junior Martinez 3.

Plowboys 48 – Forsan 35

Scores by quarters:
Plowboys          2            9        20        48
Forsan               5          19        30        35

Individual Plowboy scoring: Highsmith 14, Medina 10, Baker 6, Anglin 6, Martinez 4, A. Aguayo 3, Zachary Parrott 2.

Their next game will be their district opener with Albany here in Roscoe Friday evening. Tipoff is at 8:00pm,



The Plowgirls played their first two district games this past week and lost them both. The Lady Bulldogs were too much for the Plowgirls Friday evening in Stamford, winning by a score of 72-23 in the district opener for both teams. 

Then last night, they were defeated by Hawley in Hawley, 50-34. Carson Greenwood led the Plowgirls in scoring both games. She had 11 against Stamford and 19 at Hawley.

Stamford 72 – Plowgirls 23

Scores by quarters:
Stamford          19        38        57        72
Plowgirls            5          6        15         23

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Carson Greenwood 11, Shauna McCambridge 10, Layla Herrera 2.

Hawley 50 – Plowgirls 34

Scores by quarters:
Hawley              11        21        40        50
Plowgirls            8        19        21        34

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Cr. Greenwood 19, Kaylea Perez 6, McCambridge 4, Mia Lavalais 2, Cameron Greenwood 2, Anahi Ortega-Solis 1.

Their next game is another district match-up, this one with Albany Friday evening in Roscoe. Tipoff is at 6:30pm.



Snow covered the ground (barely) on Saturday morning.
It’s been another week of unseasonably mild weather—except for a few short hours on Saturday morning when we woke up to see snow outside! As far as I know, no one had predicted it, but there it was, maybe as much as a half-inch—enough to cover yards and cars. However, by midday it was all gone except for a few shady spots here and there, and by mid-afternoon they were all gone, too. As brief as it was, it was the only real taste of winter we’ve had this year except for that early fall freeze back in October, when it dropped to 20°F with a sharp, north breeze and was much colder than anything we’ve had since.

In fact, this past week was the third in a row when the weather was warm enough to be remarkable. Since last Wednesday, the high temperature reached the 70s three days, 60s three others and only one in the 50s. The high for the week was Thursday’s 74° and the low 29° on Saturday morning when the snow came. And here we are with half of January gone and still not a day when the temperature has been lower than that 29°! I can’t remember seeing such a mild January, at least not like it’s been so far. And that particular aspect of the weather will continue this week as the forecasters are not predicting any below-freezing temperatures.

There is a cold front coming, however, with winds shifting to the north today bringing a 60% chance of showers late tonight increasing to 70% tomorrow and 90% on Friday. Skies will be overcast for most of the coming week, although the chances for rain fall to 10% Friday night and continue that way through the weekend.



Funeral services for Sandra Jean (Renfro) McFaul, 69, of Roscoe will be at 10:00am tomorrow, January 16, at McCoy Chapel of Memories in Sweetwater with Rev. Bruce Parsons officiating. Interment will follow at Roscoe Cemetery. She passed away Monday, January 13, at her residence.

A family and friend’s visitation will be this evening from 7:00-8:00pm at McCoy funeral home.

Sandy was born April 7, 1950, in Sweetwater and was a graduate of Roscoe High School. She married Don Larry Wallace in 1971 at Roscoe. He passed away January 20, 1998. Sandy then married James McFaul on November 1, 2002, in Mexia, Texas. She was a homemaker, member of the First Baptist Church of Roscoe, past member of the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, and had lived in Nolan County all her life.

Sandy is survived by her husband, James McFaul of Roscoe; mother, Beatrice Bee Renfro of Sweetwater; children, Nancy (Wallace) Martinez and husband James of Aubrey, Texas; Michael Wallace of Roscoe; Ronda (McFaul) Dorman and husband Wayne of Sweetwater; Dale McFaul of Sweetwater; two grandchildren, Jace and Emily Martinez of Aubrey, Texas; and her uncle, Sam Renfro of Oklahoma.

She is preceded in death by her father, Billy Weldon Renfro, February 5, 1995, and brother, Billy Wayne Renfro, December 15, 2019.

Pallbearers will be Edward Acevedo, Steve Withrow, Lonnie Heffernan, Terry Hall, Wayne Dorman and Chris Hall.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Look Back at the Year 2019 in Roscoe

Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis at the July 4th free concert and street dance.
Reviewing highlights of the previous year from the town’s perspective has become a year-end feature of the Roscoe Hard Times, so I will continue it here, even if it is a week later than usual this time around.

As we all know, Roscoe’s footprint is always greater than one might expect for a community its size, and like Garrison Keillor’s fictitious Lake Woebegone, we all tend to see it as a place “where all the women are strong, all the men good-looking, and all the children above average.” That being the case, let’s take a look at some of the happenings that characterized Roscoe in 2019.

Festivals and the Music Scene

In the past few years, Roscoe has become regionally known for its city celebrations and live country music performances, often by some of the best-known singers in the business. This year the City sponsored two major festivals, the Independence Day Celebration on July 6, and the West Texas Wind Festival in October. Both events drew large crowds with live music, street dances, street vendors, and fireworks shows.

Johnny Rodriguez at the West Texas Wind Festival (7:29)

The July 4th celebration this year began with the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast followed by the July 4th Parade down Broadway. Street vendors set up shop in Old Town Park and on Broadway and Cypress Street, and the Museum entertained many visitors. At the baseball field, mud vehicles from various cities tried their luck at getting through the local blackland mud, and in the evening the husband and wife team of Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis entertained the crowd at the free concert and street dance. The fireworks show put on by the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department concluded the city-sponsored festivities, although many continued the celebration at the free live music and dance at the Lumberyard.

The West Texas Wind Festival was held on an almost perfect day for the weather. The sun shone bright, skies were clear, the breeze was light, and the afternoon temperature in the mid-seventies. The Plowboy Mudbog was in progress at George Parks field, while street vendors sold their wares downtown. In the evening, the feature performer was country great Johnny Rodriguez, who followed the opening Jarrod Morris band. Once again, the Fireworks Show officially closed the evening.

Tracy Lawrence used the Lumberyard as a backdrop for his American tour video.

In addition to the City festivals, Roscoe’s reputation as a major regional venue was once again highlighted by the live performances of several nationally known country and western artists and groups at the Lumberyard. Notable performers this year included Jamey Johnson, Joe Nichols, Neal McCoy, The Kentucky Headhunters, Tracy Lawrence, Wade Bowen, Stoney LaRue, Little Texas, and Gretchen Wilson.

This is just a part of the crowd that came to pledge allegiance with Neal McCoy.
In August, Neal McCoy led a large group of Roscoe residents and kids in pledging allegiance to the flag at Memorial Park while broadcasting the event live over his Facebook page.

The scene at Vickie's Gifts during  Christmas Open House.
City businesses also prospered this year, especially on the annual Christmas Open House Sunday in November, which kicks off the Christmas shopping season. This year’s turnout may have been the largest ever as downtown businesses were full of shoppers.

Roscoe School

Robotics instructor Dan Boren explains 3-D printers to West Virginia bigwigs.
Roscoe Collegiate’s prominence on a national scale continued for its innovations in education and the impact they are having, especially on rural schools. In January, all the top educators in West Virginia flew in to see Roscoe’s program up close. These included West Virginia University’s President, Provost, Dean of Agriculture, selected profs and others, two community college presidents, the State Superintendent, State Treasurer, a State Delegate and other prominent officials and administrators, as well as the National 4-H Council President and CEO, who flew in from Washington. 

They were shown as much of Roscoe’s program as possible in one day and went away impressed with the school’s initiatives and the abilities and enthusiasm of its students. They have since adopted Roscoe’s P-20 program and adapted it for use in rural schools in two West Virginia counties with more soon to follow. 

In February, Roscoe Collegiate was one of only four schools mentioned in the Texas Education Agency’s annual report. It was featured for its P-Tech programs (such as Edu-Drone, Edu-Weld, and Edu-Make It) which provide professional certifications and for its partnerships with Western Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M that connect high school to career and college. In April, the school’s P-20 program was featured in a national report on significant innovations in public education along with three other schools from New Orleans, Atlanta, and Silicon Valley. At the Spring STEM Advisory Meeting, Hamlin and Throckmorton representatives attended with plans to adopt Roscoe’s program, and Van Horn has also adopted Roscoe’s P-20 approach.

In May, as in recent years, most of the RCHS seniors, 26 this time around, received their Associate Degrees from Western Texas College along with their high school diplomas. Also, a former student, Jose Rangel, became the first to complete the P-20 program as designed when he received his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Angelo State University. Dr. Rangel, a 2013 graduate of RCHS and Western Texas College and a 2016 graduate of Angelo State, was a first-generation college student, who now becomes a standard bearer for Roscoe’s P-20 program.

Texas Tech and West Texas A&M initiated new programs allowing students to earn their bachelor’s degrees in Roscoe. While the Texas Tech program, ITeachTech, is geared for students with associate degrees wanting to earn bachelor’s degrees and teacher’s certificates in Roscoe, the WTAMU program, Innovation U., is for any adults wanting to pursue bachelor’s degrees in various majors while receiving local mentoring and advising support.

Also, beginning this month, the school is adding a competency-based option through Brandman University, a fully accredited online university based in California. This addition provides a flexible and affordable option for adults with some college but no degree. For more information, contact Morgan Martin, Dean of Continuing Education for Collegiate Edu-Nation at or 806-549-5842. 

Just recently the school purchased the Main St. Antiques building to house these new programs. These developments combined with those of recent years keep RCISD at the heart of educational progress in the state and country.
Homecoming royalty: Football Sweetheart Sadie McCambridge & Football Beau Junior Martinez.
In October, RHS and RCHS exes gathered to celebrate Homecoming for the first time since 2016. A large group attended and enjoyed the festivities, get-togethers, and football game—not the bonfire, though, which was rained out.

Other annual city festivities such as the Easter Egg Hunt in Old Town Park, the Christmas Parade, and visits with Santa at the Community Center, as well as the Trades Days Sales, free Thanksgiving Dinner, and other Community center events provided entertainment for Roscoe residents and others.

The Cotton Crop and the Weather

This year's dryland cotton.
This was an interesting year for the weather. Perhaps the first sign came at the onset of spring, when Injun Robert performed the traditional “Sunrise Wind” ceremony by lighting a fire shortly before dawn and then at sunrise observing the direction of the rising smoke. According to the Plains Indians who once lived in this area, the wind’s direction at the appointed time foretold the success of the coming year’s crops. Each direction predicted a certain outcome, but nothing in the legend as handed down foretold what would happen if there was no wind at all—which is exactly what Injun Robert saw at the moment of sunrise. In the morning calm, the smoke went straight up! With no guidance from the past, there was nothing to do but wait until this year’s crop was in to find out what that meant.

And now we know: smoke rising straight up foretells an average crop. And here’s why we can call it average. On Monday morning, the Central Rolling Plains Coop gin produced its final bale of the 2019 season, making a grand total of 62,284 bales. This year was the thirteenth for the gin, which opened in 2007, and in those thirteen years it has produced a grand total of 818,971 bales. Divide that total by 13, and you get the yearly average, which is 62,998. The two figures are very close when you consider that the number of total bales has varied from 9,966 in 2011 to 111,598 in 2017.

However, there was nothing average about the weather as the year progressed. The record rains from the previous October had produced an abundance of underground moisture for the coming crops, so there was plenty of optimism as the year began. In a wet April, about four inches fell (officially 3.91”), and then in May the area got nine more inches (officially 8.94”), making it the second wettest May in Roscoe since official records began in 1936. Only May of 1982 with 10.92” had more.

All the normally dry playa lakes in farmers’ fields were full, and the county’s permanent lakes—Trammell, Sweetwater, and Oak Creek—all had water rushing over the spillway. In fact, with a couple of scattered showers in early June, the fields were so wet that many farmers despaired of getting all their cotton planted before the crop insurance deadline of June 21.

As it turned out, though, once the rain stopped, it really stopped. June was unusually dry with an official total of less than an inch (officially .78”), and so were July (.43”) and August (.11”). In fact, after a light shower on July 8, most area farms got no more measurable rainfall between then and September. Normally, such a dry spell would cause major damage to dryland cotton, but the underground moisture turned out to be enough to avert disaster, and many were surprised to see the crop turn out as well as it did. However, it could have been better if not for this year’s early freeze in October. So, although the weather was unusual in the way it progressed—an overabundance of rain in the spring followed by an unusually dry summer—the yield turned out to be average.

Other features of the weather for 2019 gleaned from Kenny Landfried’s official records include the following facts: the hottest day of the year was August 27 at 108°F, the coldest March 5 at 13°. The last spring freeze was April 1, when it fell to 31°, and the first fall freeze was October 30 at 31°, followed by a low of 16° the next day. However, some farms experienced a freeze two weeks earlier that damaged the cotton. The spring was unusually mild. April had only two 90°+ days (April 10-91°, April 22-90°), May only one (May 29-91°), and June only one before June 15 (June 9-93°). However, there were 22 days after that when the temperature reached or surpassed 100°—1 in June, 4 in July, and 17 in August.  


Buster Welch checks out his new statue. (Photos by Ruth Ann Welch Williams)

In December, local rancher and cowboy Buster Welch was honored in Fort Worth with a statue in the Will Rogers Coliseum of him riding his famous horse “Peppy.” The event recognized his lifelong impact on the world of cutting-horse breeding, training, and competition. He will also be featured in an upcoming documentary on cutting horses and their development in the American west. This video is a trailer for it:



The Roscoe Wind Farm

Unlike in previous years, the Roscoe Wind Farm was not a major news topic on the national level, but an article carried by the USA Today newspapers in January did mention that it is still the world’s third-largest wind farm and still the largest one in Texas, beating out the Horse Hollow Wind Farm in Taylor and Nolan Counties, the Capricorn Wind Farm in Sterling and Coke Counties, the Sweetwater Wind Farm in Nolan County, and the Buffalo Gap Wind Farm in Nolan and Taylor Counties.

The article is available online here.

In short, there is plenty going on in Roscoe, and the town enters the new year in good shape. With continued forward thinking, hard work, community spirit, and a little bit of luck, it should continue to prosper as we move into the coming year and decade.



The Plowgirls have been busy since Christmas, playing five games. They finished third in the Anson Tournament on December 27-28, defeating Borden County 37-33, a team they had lost to earlier, losing to Roby 38-31 and Anson 39-19, and then defeating Roby 37-31. 

Then on Friday night, they lost to Coahoma in a game played at Howard College in Big Spring.

Plowgirls 37 – Borden County 33

Scores by quarters:
Plowgirls             9          15        27        37
Borden County  8          16        24        33

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Carson Greenwood 9, Cameron Greenwood 8, Shauna McCambridge 7, Layla Herrera 7, Riley Sheridan 4, Mia Lavalais 3.

Roby 38 – Plowgirls 31

Scores by quarters:
Roby                  12        21        28        38
Plowgirls            2          9        25        31

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Cr. Greenwood 12, Lavalais 11, Herrera 4, Kaylea Perez 2. Cm. Greenwood 2.

Anson 39 – Plowgirls 19

Scores by quarters:
Anson                7         24        37        39
Plowgirls          3            5        16        19

Individual Plowgirl scoring: McCambridge 6, Cr. Greenwood 5, Herrera 5, Cm. Greenwood 3.

Plowgirls 37 – Roby 31 

Scores by quarters:
Plowgirls          12        21        30        37
Roby                  12        21        24        31

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Herrera 9, Cr. Greenwood 8, Cm. Greenwood 8, Lavalais 8, McCambridge 2, Sheridan 2.

Coahoma 65 – Plowgirls 33

Scores by quarters:
Coahoma          23        29        49        65
Plowgirls             6        17        22        33

Individual Plowgirl scoring: Cr. Greenwood 11, McCambridge 9, Cm. Greenwood 7, Herrera 4, Lavalais 2.



Zack Jordan takes a shot against Hermleigh last night.
At the Anson basketball tournament on December 27-28, the Plowboys went 1-3, defeating the Big Spring JV 45-26 and losing to Anson 41-26, Wellington 70-23, and Wylie JV 53-26. Then on Friday they lost to Coahoma in an away game 49-42 and last night fell to Hermleigh at home 53-49.

Here are the scores by quarters for each game followed by individual Plowboy scoring:

Anson 41 – Plowboys 26

Scores by quarters:
Anson               8          25        35        41
Plowboys          3            9        14        26

Individual Plowboy scoring: Antonio Aguayo 8, Junior Martinez 6, Jake Gonzales 6, Zachary Parrott 4, Juan Pablo Leaños 2.

Plowboys 45 – Big Spring JV 26

Scores by quarters:
Plowboys          10        27        35        45
Big Spring JV     3          5        13        26

Individual Plowboy scoring: Brayan Medina 18, Parrott 13, Aguayo 6, Leaños 5, Martinez 2, Gunner Helm 1.

Wellington 70 – Plowboys 23

Scores by quarters:
Wellington        23        41        53        70
Plowboys             5          9        14        23

Individual Plowboy scoring: Medina 9, Aguayo 7, Leaños 4, Helm 3.

Wylie JV 53 – Plowboys 26

Scores by quarters:
Wylie JV           10        16        37        53    
Plowboys            2        11        13        26

Individual Plowboy scoring: Medina 8, Leaños 7, Aguayo 6, Parrott 5.

On Friday, January 3, the Plowboys lost to Coahoma at Howard College in Big Spring.

Coahoma 49 – Plowboys 42

Scores by quarters:
Coahoma          12        24        34        49
Plowboys          14        21        28        42

Individual Plowboy scoring: Ryan Highsmith 14, Medina 11, Tristan Baker 6, Martinez 5, Hunter Anglin 5, Parrott 1.

Hermleigh 53 – Plowboys 49

Scores by quarters:
Hermleigh         17        28        37        53
Plowboys             8        16        28        49

Individual Plowboy scoring: Baker 12, Medina 11, Highsmith 11, Zack Jordan 9, Martinez 3, Aguayo 3.



The Central Rolling Plains Coop Gin completed its 2019 season on Monday, and the final bale was number 62,284. To show how this number compares with those of previous years, here are the totals from every year since the gin had its first season in 2007:

                                             2007           109,991
                                             2008             57,184
                                             2009             39,626
                                             2010             70,379
                                             2011                9,966
                                             2012             66,985
                                             2013              71,849
                                             2014             32,274
                                             2015              75,636
                                             2016              87,827
                                             2017             111,598
                                             2018              23,372
                                             2019              62,284



The north wind had the flags flapping on Monday.
For the second week in a row, the area has experienced mild weather, especially for January. Highs have been in the fifties and sixties with lows in the forties down to the mid-thirties, but so far no ice, sleet, freezing rain, blue blizzards, or any of the other treacherous weather for which January is noted. The coldest weather 2020 has seen thus far is 34°F, which was the low on Saturday morning. Yesterday and Monday did have some strong wind. On Monday it was from the north and yesterday from the south-southwest, but those were the only blips in what has otherwise been some reasonably nice weather.

And the forecast is for more of the same as far as temperatures go. Today’s high is forecast to be 63°. However, it won’t be exactly nice outside as a strong south wind of 20-30mph will be blowing and will continue into the evening. Tomorrow, the winds will shift to the southwest and diminish a little but will still be noticeable. And the high will be around 72°. Friday will also have southwest winds and a high of 65° before a norther blows in Friday night and cools things off. Saturday will have northwest winds and a high of 53°, while Sunday will be back up to 64° as the winds shift back to the southwest.

In a nutshell, temperatures will remain warmer than usual and the area will experience the high winds for which it is noted. Any chance of rain is practically nil.



Funeral services for Carol Jane Utley Cornoyer, 73, of Abilene, were held at 3:00pm Friday at Piersall-Benton Funeral Home in Abilene. She passed away on Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

Affectionately known as CJ, Carol was born on March 28, 1946, in Merkel to Virgil and Mildred Nixon Utley.  She was a graduate of Abilene High and worked in Commercial Insurance.  Carol had a love for life and enjoyed a good celebration, no matter the occasion.  She always remembered others and had a way about her that made others feel special.  She liked things to always be their very best, whether it was the interior of her house, her finely manicured lawn and garden, or just herself. She always dressed well, kept everything well maintained, and was the queen of her domain.  She courageously battled cancer, losing at last to complications from pneumonia.

Carol was preceded in death by her parents and her daughter Kelli Downing.  She is survived by her husband Larry Cornoyer III; daughter, Marci Downing and David Hall of Abilene; step-sons, Cody Cornoyer and Audra of Farmington, New Mexico, and Larry Cornoyer IV of Fort Worth; brother, Dennis Utley and Terry of College Station; grandchildren, Aerin Jones, David Darling and Sara Darling, plus the Conner family, Jamie and Pat, Patrick, Benjamin and Jennifer; as well as her precious great-grandchildren and her three beloved puppies.

Condolences may be offered to the family online at


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