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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

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, caf├ęs, 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.

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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.

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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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