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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Several Roscoe Businesses to Re-Open Friday

The Blackland Smokehouse and Wildflower Boutique in downtown Roscoe.
Governor Greg Abbott’s new executive order goes into effect on Friday, and because of its eased restrictions, several Roscoe businesses are set to re-open. 

Under the new guidelines, retail stores and restaurants may open with conditions. In counties with over five confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as Taylor, they can allow only 25% capacity at any given time, but in counties with five or fewer cases, such as Nolan, they can operate at up to 50% capacity.

As a result, businesses that have been closed, such as Cotton Belles, Vickie’s Gifts, and Wildflower Boutique, may now re-open provided they follow the new guidelines. And restaurants, which have been limited to take-out or delivery, may now serve food on the premises so long as they adhere to crowd size and other restrictions, such as disposable menus, condiments in single-serve packets only, and access to hand sanitizers at the entrance.

A survey of local businesses yesterday found that most are more than ready to get back to work on Friday. including the Wildflower Boutique and Cotton Belles. At posting time, Vickie’s Gifts was uncertain as to whether they would re-open that soon. Of the restaurants, the Blackland Smokehouse, the Lumberyard, and the 235 Travel Stop plan to be open, while Burritos Zacatecas remained uncertain.

However, other local businesses must remain closed at this time, including hairdressers and barber shops, such as the Southern Belle Salon, and tattoo parlors, such as the Legacy Tattoo Parlour. However, depending on how the new rules affect the spread of the coronavirus, there is a possibility that they, too, along with manicure and pedicure shops, may be allowed to re-open in mid-May.



On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott released a new executive order for Texas. He will let certain businesses re-open with conditions beginning on Friday. These include retail stores, restaurants, theaters, and malls, as well as museums and libraries, but only at 25% capacity—unless the counties they are in have no more than five cases of COVID-19, in which case they can open to 50% capacity.

On the other hand, barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, bars, and gyms must remain closed, but the governor hopes he can allow them to open in mid-May. Church services should be remote when possible but can re-open as long as appropriate social distances are maintained, and at-risk congregants should have separate seating areas or separate services. Nursing homes remain closed to visitors.

Masks are strongly encouraged for people in public, but fines will not be imposed on those who aren’t wearing one. Licensed health care professionals can return to work, but hospitals must reserve 15% of their capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Failure to follow the executive orders can result in fines of up to $1000 or 180 days in jail, and businesses that do not comply could lose their license.

In other news, the CDC (Center for Disease Control has updated its symptoms for COVID-19 to these six: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a loss of taste or smell.

Sweetwater got Nolan County’s first official positive case of COVID-19 on Thursday from a 37-year-old woman, who was not hospitalized and is self-quarantining. The other case from last week didn’t officially count since the patient was not from the county but just passing through.

Despite the lighter restrictions on businesses, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to climb in the state as well as in the Big Country. As of yesterday, Abilene is up to 277 confirmed cases, an increase of 113 over last Tuesday, and some Big Country counties are also increasing: Brown, 34; Jones, 13; Eastland, 4; Howard, 4; Comanche 3; Scurry, 2; Callahan, 2; Coleman, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Nolan, 1; Runnels, 1; Stephens, 1.

Select West Texas counties: Lubbock, 504; Ector (Odessa), 76; Midland, 74; Wichita (Wichita Falls), 63; Tom Green (San Angelo), 44.

Texas was up to 26,171 cases (20,196 last Tuesday) with 690 deaths (517 last Tuesday).


by Andy Wilson

School Provost Andy Wilson provides the following updates on the current situation at RCISD.

Monday evening, the board of trustees appointed Cheyenne Smith and Jerad Alford to replace Wes Williams and Frankie Santiago upon their resignations as board members.

We are working on how to best recognize academic and athletic awards.

We are planning to have a live RCISD graduation as soon as we have permission to gather. It will likely be done with social distancing. The date and time are still to be determined.

WTC commencement ceremonies were canceled according to a March 18th announcement on the WTC website.

Students will be taking their year-end MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments from home over the next couple of weeks. The MAP assessment is a nationally normed assessment designed to measure student growth. We administered the assessment at the beginning and middle of the school year as well. Since NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) has made it possible to administer the assessment in a distance environment, we feel as though the collection of this data will better inform us on the academic growth (or lack thereof) of our students during this pandemic. The school conducted pilot testing to see how to best administer the MAP assessments early this week, and teachers will be contacting parents and students in the coming days with procedural instructions.


by Dan Boren

EduMake-it is close to fulfilling its goal of providing area hospitals with the N-95 masks they may need during this pandemic.  By the end of this week, the crew from EduMake-it will have delivered 301 3D printed masks and over 500 3D printed filter cartridges to Abilene Regional Medical Center, a group in Hendrick’s ER, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital and Mitchell County Hospital.

The masks were printed by EduMake-it, which is an Edu-Business at Roscoe Collegiate and EduNation.  The cartridges were a collaborative effort between EduMake-it, A.T.E.M.S in Abilene and Westbrook ISD.  All of the masks were provided free of charge to those facilities, and graciously a number of generous donations have been received to cover some of the costs of the materials used to make the masks including the United Way of Abilene.


Roscoe in Years Gone By: Tabernacle Revivals in the 1930s
by Herschel Whittington

Roscoe’s tabernacle looked sort of like this: open on all four sides except directly behind the pulpit. Wooden benches with back rests provided seating for the congregation.

Editor's note: This is another excerpt from Herschel Whittington's Smiles and Tears of Boyhood Years, an unpublished memoir of his growing up in Roscoe during the depression and pre-war years.

The major “entertainments” in Roscoe during the summers prior to World War II were the “protracted” church “revivals.” The First Baptist Church sponsored a two-week revival every summer, as did the First Methodist Church. The Church of Christ usually only held forth for one week. The other two local denominations (Lutheran and Presbyterian) simply did not have enough members to afford or support a revival.

These events took place under the city tabernacle on the block bound by Main, Pecan, 2nd and 3rd Streets. Revival services, usually left in the good hands of a visiting "evangelist" and a visiting song leader, supported by the local minister and local song leader, normally lasted a couple of hours. Morning services, from 10:00 until noon, were informal, and heavily skewed toward the mostly female audience. Evening services, as Dad put it, "...took in after just about everybody."

A typical evening service began with two or three hymns by the choir, a "King James" invocation (lots of thees, thous and thines) by the local minister, two or three hymns by the congregation and choir, an introduction of the visiting song leader who sang a solo. Another prayer by the local minister, an introduction of the visiting evangelist, another hymn by the congregation, a prayer by the evangelist, passing of the collection plate through the congregation for a "free-will" offering, Scripture reading and a prayer by the local minister. At last, as the ladies in the congregation fanned themselves vigorously with their hand-fans provided by Adams Funeral Home, the evangelist launched into a long, cajoling "hell-fire and brimstone" sermon (if it was a Baptist revival) or a "humorous but forceful" homily (if it was a Methodist revival), or a "well-structured argument" for narrow Testament interpretation (if it was a Church of Christ revival). The preaching always concluded with a heart-rending plea for penitence, followed by a dozen or so verses of an "invitational hymn," frequently interrupted by the evangelist as he tearfully pleaded for sinners to come forward and "accept Jesus as a personal savior." Finally, when the evangelist, usually ringing wet with sweat (as we all were), became satisfied that a reasonable quota of converts, backsliders, and repentant sinners were kneeling at the altar, or standing there with heads bowed, he'd stop the music, pray for them, then "pronounce" a benedictive prayer.

According to the Reverend George Washington Parks, Sr., "Any evangelist worth his salt could make a billy goat seek salvation," which was about as tough as getting through to a 12-year-old boy who'd rather have been somewhere else doing almost anything else. In 1938, however, the visiting evangelist did get through to me: I saw the light!

I and several others underwent baptism the following Sunday: the Reverend Easterwood pinched my nostrils together and shoved me under the soul-cleansing baptismal waters in the "dipping vat" before a full house at the First Baptist Church. I've never regretted it; on the other hand, God may have struggled with some serious second thoughts.

For a few weeks it looked as if that evangelist's influence over me might have taken me beyond mere redemption. After church, for three Sundays in a row, I'd go home, pig out on Mama's fried chicken in a manner befitting any fine Baptist preacher, then stand in the open doors of our hayloft and vigorously repeat Brother Easterwood's morning sermon to my docile but unrepentant congregation (made up of our horses, cows, and pigs).



Clouds in the southeast sky yesterday.
In the last week of March, I posted the NOAA’s official national weather forecast, which said we could look forward to a hotter and drier spring than normal this year. And, as wrong as those meteorologists can sometimes be in their forecasts, it looks like they were right on target, at least for this past week and the one coming up.

There was only one day that the high wasn’t at least in the eighties, and that was Saturday, which topped out at 73°. Otherwise it was warm and dry. Monday’s high was 91° with a strong southwest wind, and yesterday was even hotter with a high of 97°, which is this year’s hottest day so far. Unfortunately, it may hold that distinction less than three days since we’re predicted to get our first 100° days of the year this weekend. Despite the showers we’ve had here and there this spring, farmers and ranchers are already looking to the sky for some nice rain clouds as things heat up (and dry out) here below.

Today, thanks to a stiff north breeze that arrived last night, the temperature will be as cool as we’ll be seeing it for a while with a high of only about 80°. But tomorrow, the wind will shift to the southwest and the temperature will rise to 90°, then on Friday it should hit the century mark, and on Saturday reach 102°. A cool front moves through on Sunday, lowering the maximum to only 94°, but on Monday it will be back up to 98°. And this is only May we’re moving into.

The chances of rain for the coming week are 0% for every single day.



Graveside services for Ada Lou (Wallace) Mogford, 86, of Spring Branch, formerly of Roscoe, were held at 1:00pm on Sunday, April 26, at Roscoe Cemetery. McCoy Funeral Home directed arrangements. She passed away on Wednesday, April 22, in San Antonio.

Ada was born May 1, 1933, in Roscoe to the late Claudy P. and Ruby Odell (Miller) Wallace.

Survivors include her sons, John David Boyd and wife Cheryl of Boerne, and Jimmy Ray Boyd and wife Robin of Austin; daughters, Ellen Elaine Hitchcliff and husband Doug of Lubbock, Rebecca Diane Shindler and husband Charlie of Corpus Christi, and Diane Gutierrez and husband Arnold of San Marcos; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.



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