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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Amanda Sanchez Earns Bachelor's at Roscoe

Amanda Sanchez receives diploma from WTAMU President Walter Wendler.

Amanda Sanchez of Roscoe is a highly unusual college graduate. Still only 19 years old and less than two years away from receiving her high school diploma, she has graduated from West Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree and is now enrolled in a master’s degree program.

She is Roscoe Collegiate’s first P-TECH Program student to complete her studies and graduate while never leaving Roscoe, and she has done it all without accumulating any debt. She is also a first-generation college student, who for financial reasons would have been unable to attend traditional classes on campus.

And she has fulfilled all her requirements with a flourish, making the Dean’s List twice both long semesters last year and graduating in 15 months with Cum Laude honors.

Last Wednesday, she had the honor of being presented her diploma by West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler, who was in town, along with other WTAMU administrators and the media, to present her the diploma and to celebrate the event.

She was able to do it all debt-free through grants Roscoe Collegiate has been awarded, and because she did it while remaining under the RCISD support structure through the P-TECH designation, the district could draw state funding that paid her tuition and fees. Like most other RCHS students, she earned her associate’s degree from Western Texas College in Snyder tuition-free while still in high school. So, when she began at P-TECH, she needed only 35 hours of college credit to complete her major in general studies with an emphasis in sociology. She got them all in 15 months by going to summer school and taking five courses each in both long semesters.

In the RCISD P-TECH program, Amanda is just the first to succeed as there will soon be others. Eleven 2019 and 2020 RCHS grads are currently enrolled, along with two other adult students. The partnership with West Texas A&M gives locals the opportunity to earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees at little expense while never leaving town.

For more information, contact Morgan Martin, RCISD Director of Continuing Education at 806-549-5842 or

Two excellent articles on this event are available online. The Big Country Homepage video and article by Kevin Clack is available here, and the official WTAMU article, written by Jon Mark Beilue, provides additional information about WTAMU’s involvement providing higher education to Roscoe and other west Texas communities. It is available here.



Antonio Aguayo (5) carries for a 6-yard gain in the 2nd quarter.
For the second week in a row, the Plowboys were overpowered by a good team with bigger players. Last week, it was Hawley, this week the Stamford Bulldogs, both 2A-I schools. The Plowboys played hard before the home crowd, but simply made too many mistakes, racking up 116 yards in penalties, committing three turnovers, and giving up too many big plays—the way the Bulldogs scored all five of their touchdowns.

One of the Plowboys’ best plays of the first half was on the opening kickoff. Antonio Aguayo received the kick on about the Plowboy 15-yard line and slipped past several Bulldog defenders for a nifty 38-yard return to the Bulldog 47-yard line. Unfortunately, the Plowboys were then held on downs and had to punt. The Bulldogs took over and made one first down before quarterback Zhawn Holden went around right end on a 48-yard scamper down the sideline to score the only TD Stamford needed for the evening as the Bulldogs went up 7-0.

The Plowboy defense held the rest of the first quarter and into the second until Holden hit receiver Ryheem Smith with a long bomb that resulted in a 70-yard touchdown, putting Stamford up 13-0. Once again, the defense held until the half, but they got little help from the offense, whose only first down of the half came on a roughing-the-kicker penalty right before halftime. Stamford’s big defensive line shut down Roscoe’s running game, and QB Aguayo was running for his life on most pass plays.

The Bulldogs scored twice more in the third quarter, both on long pass plays, the first on a 25-yard pass from Holden to Dylan Faulks, the second on a 43-yard Holden pass, also to Faulks.

The Plowboys finally found some offense at the beginning of the fourth quarter when they had their best offensive drive of the game. After stopping a Stamford drive on downs on their own 3-yard line, the Plowboys began a six-play 92-yard march to the Stamford 5. Kolten Hope first carried for 40 yards to the Plowboy 43, then 20 to the Bulldog 37, then 6 to the 32. Aguayo went 11 more to the 21. Two plays later, Stamford was called for pass interference, making it first and goal at the 5. Aguayo then threw a swing pass to Hope who caught it at the 6-yard line and ran it in for what appeared to be a Plowboy touchdown. However, the referees ruled that he’d lost control of the ball on the 1-yard line and fumbled into the end zone, where Stamford recovered it.

The Bulldogs then controlled the ball for the rest of the quarter and were knocking on the door inside the Plowboy ten-yard line when the game ended.

Scoring by quarters:
                           1          2          3         4            T
Stamford          7          6        14         0          27
Plowboys         0          0          0         0           0

Roscoe vs. Miles at Plowboy Field Friday

This week’s game with Miles pits two teams with matching results so far this season. Like the Plowboys, the Bulldogs are 0-2 after being beaten by larger schools. They lost to their first game to Coleman, a 2A-I team, 32-0, and their second to Coahoma, a 3A-II team, 49-0.

So, like the Plowboys, they have twice tasted the agony of defeat and will be itching to turn their season around against a team their own size. Miles is a 2A-II school in the district with Christoval, Eldorado, Junction, Rocksprings, and Menard, where Texas Football magazine predicts them to finish fourth. Last year, they were 7-4 overall and 2-2 in district. They are led by QB Hayden Johnson and RB Brayden Dunlap on offense and DL Christian Gutierrez on defense.

This week is RCHS Mum Night, and at halftime this year’s high school royalty will be crowned. The last time the Plowboys played Miles was on Mum Night in 2018. The Plowboys won that game 41-29.

Kickoff is at 7:30pm.



The Plowgirls were second overall out of 19 teams yesterday at the Cross-Country Meet in Eula. Jissel Rodriguez finished 1st, Kaidy Ornelas 2nd,  and Itzel Ortega 6th.

The Junior High Plowgirls finished 1st overall out of 18 teams. Zoey Welch was 1st, Amri Deloera 4th, Celeste Rangel 6th, Kaylee Martin 10th.

Ellie Aguayo finished 9th for the Junior High Plowboys.



Conditions concerning Covid-19 in Texas continue to improve as the state’s July peak recedes into the past. The changes, while not dramatic, are in the right direction as the death rate, hospitalizations, and numbers of active cases keep falling. Last week, Texas had 956 Covid-19 deaths (1,105 a week ago), 3537 hospitalizations (4,144 a week ago) and over the past week an average of 3,699 cases per day, a decrease of 33% from the average two weeks earlier. On the state level, everyone is watching to see if the return to in-person classes in the big city schools or the cooler weather will cause any outbreaks.

For now, the numbers in the Big Country remain relatively low, overall, not much different from last week, although some counties have more, others less.

Taylor County has 385 active cases (362 last week), and Abilene currently has 20 Covid-19 hospitalizations (25 last week), 15 from in the county and 5 from outside the county. There have been 42 total Covid-19 deaths.

Nolan County reports 31 active cases, an increase of 20 over last week. The Sweetwater Mustangs had to postpone their football game with Jim Ned last Friday because of Covid-19 but are scheduled to resume play this Friday against San Angelo Lake View.

Mitchell County has 12 active cases, the same as last week. Fisher County has 4 active cases (12 last week), and Scurry County has 24 active cases (40 last week).

Here are the Big Country’s county totals for the year as of yesterday (with a week ago in parentheses): Erath, 722 (693); Jones, 588 (598); Scurry, 563 (546); Brown, 500 (480); Howard, 350 (281); Comanche, 221 (216); Runnels, 210 (200); Nolan, 180 (153); Eastland, 126 (114); Stephens, 126 (113); Mitchell, 75 (73); Callahan 73 (70); Knox, 67 (67); Fisher, 60 (59); Haskell, 56 (54); Coleman, 56 (53); Coke, 49 (49); Shackelford, 23 (24); Stonewall, 9 (10); Kent, 7 (7); Throckmorton, 5 (5).
Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with a week ago in parentheses): Lubbock, 8,983 (7,485); Midland, 3,362 (3,272); Ector (Odessa), 2,895 (2,818); Tom Green (San Angelo), 2,089 (2,041); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 1.392 (1,324).

Texas now has had a total of 641,791 cases (617,333 a week ago), 74,829 of them active (89,791 a week ago), and 13,553 total deaths (12,681 a week ago).



Last night an early season Canadian cold front moved in, shifting the winds to the north at 15 to 30mph and bringing rain and thunderstorms. Temperatures dropped into the fifties and with the strong winds felt even colder than that.

The rain started falling intermittently a little after four yesterday afternoon. Here in town we had around a quarter of an inch. And then last night it started up again around ten and kept it up off and on all night long. This morning I checked my rain gauge and found 1.6" in it. My daughter, who is staying in my brother's house three miles west of town, got 3.37". Kenny Landfried recorded an official 2.03" in town and 3.4" on his farm on Cottonwood Creek northwest of town. Of course, with the prediction saying we should expect more today and probably again tomorrow, we are likely to be getting more. It's interesting that yesterday, September 8, 2020, was exactly 40 years from September 8, 1980, when Roscoe's big flood began.

The high temperature today is predicted to be only 53°, and if the forecast is correct, it will be the first time we’ve had a high that cool since April 4. Needless to say, it’s quite a change from the past two months when 100° highs have been commonplace.

And along with the clouds and cold wind, more rain is in the forecast, especially for today and tomorrow. The chance for precipitation today is set at 85% and tomorrow at 70%. It drops to 20% under mostly cloudy skies Friday and Saturday but will be back up to 40% on Sunday. Along with the clouds and cool weather will be breezes from the north, except for Saturday when it will shift to the south to warm things up before changing back to the north on Sunday.

Tomorrow's high is forecast to be 58°, and Friday’s 74°, so if you’re planning to go to the football game Friday evening, you may want to wear something warmer than a t-shirt as temperatures will fall into the sixties. Saturday’s high will be warmer at 86°, and Sunday’s will be around 84°.

So, the next few days should be quite a contrast from the past week, which was still hot and dry. High temperatures were around 90°, but compared to what we’d been experiencing in the previous weeks, the evenings seemed quite pleasant. The high for the past seven days was yesterday afternoon’s 94°, which may turn out to be the hottest day we see for quite a while.

But for now, let’s hope we get enough moisture out of this rain to fill all the cracks in the ground and make the area wet for a change.



Published on the occasion of the flood’s 40th Anniversary.

Editor’s Note: Forty years ago, on September 8, 1980, the rains began that created the worst flood in Roscoe’s history and its wettest September ever. For readers living here then, the following article should bring back memories. Everyone was affected in one way or another, and many participated as volunteers who pitched in to keep the flood water from destroying the city’s sewer system. The following is an account of how the town battled and eventually overcame the crisis.

The intersection at Broadway and Cypress.
Since its founding some 130 years ago, the city of Roscoe has endured several floods. Heavy rains in 1894 flooded what was then the downtown area and caused the community’s business section to move to higher ground a few blocks east, where it remains to this day. Another flood in 1906 was extensive and captured in photographs of the time, and so was one in 1913, filling the lake west of town all the way to 3rd and Oak Streets. In 1932, the area got over 60 inches of rain, creating what Herschel Whittington said was standing water in area “dry lakes” for over a year. Each time, dikes and ditches were built to divert the water so that it would stay out of town. These diversions alleviated damage to the west side of Roscoe, but in 1957 almost a foot of rain fell in May, filling the lake on the east side of town and the baseball field all the way to the backstop.

But none of these earlier floods were as extensive or destructive as the great flood of 1980, which filled the cotton field on the east side of Roscoe, creating a lake that at its height held over 600 million gallons of water, damaged at least 160 homes, caused extensive damage to streets, and threatened to destroy the city sewer system.

None of this was foreseen or even suspected the first week of September 1980. It had been a dry year, particularly the summer months, not unlike the summer we’ve been having this year. Both were hot. On June 28 that year, the temperature peaked at 110°F for the first time since 1953. What rain there had been had not come at opportune times, and the area cotton and feed crops were considered a loss.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, on September 8 Roscoe Mayor B. P. “Beep” Cain and other city officials spoke with a consultant about additional sources of water to supplement the city’s water wells. The consultant replied that they had little chance of tying to a reservoir because west Texas lakes were so dry that 64 inches of rain would be needed just to raise them to normal levels.

But that night it finally started to rain. At first everyone rejoiced. However, it continued all the next day, and by the time it stopped on the next, September 10, a total of 9.45 inches had fallen, the lake east of town was full, and the town was flooded.

Tropical storm Danielle, which had made landfall in south Texas days earlier, had drifted all the way up to west Texas and stalled right over Roscoe. Its heavy downpour drove some 250 residents from their homes to stay with friends or relatives or go to motels in Sweetwater.

The lake east of Roscoe. (Photo by Betty Sasin)
Sewer lines were damaged, and many collapsed. So much rainwater seeped into water and sewer pipes that residents found water coming out of the faucets when they weren’t turned on. The extra water in the pipes also caused the sewer’s lift station pumps to run constantly, and residents were urged not to use the sewage system. They also were told not to shower or take baths, forcing them to take “splash baths” or shower at the homes of friends who lived in the country or nearby towns. On September 25, Cain said many people were going into their second week without a real bath.

The City had around forty portable chemical toilets set up around town for residents to use. It also hired eight vacuum trucks to remove the waste from the portable toilets and dump it. The effort took some load off the sewer system, but the trucks were running on a 24-hour basis at a cost of $35 per hour per truck. Expenses piled up and the city’s need for financial aid grew. Mayor Cain said, “Roscoe has an annual budget of $62,000, and by the fourth day of this, we were into the 1982 budget.” He said that the City was spending $6,000 a day to haul sewage to Sweetwater and another $1000 daily for gasoline for the eight pumps.

Over 160 houses had flood damage, not only ruining carpets, inner walls, furniture, and appliances, but also the houses’ exteriors as well as structural damage to slabs and foundations.

For the next 13 days there was no rain, and the town worked hard at getting the situation under control. Pipes were laid and pumps set up to drain off the water in the “dry lake,” now a wet lake, just east of town and also in the east part of town.

The sewer farm as an island. View from Plowboy Elevator.

The Roscoe city sewer farm was in this lake with seven-foot dikes around several small pools, known as lagoons. As long as the lake water didn’t breach the outer dike, the sewer system was okay, but if it broke, it could quickly become a disaster, as Cain explained to a reporter:

Number one, if the dikes should break, as they could very well do, it would shut down our entire pumping operation completely. Number two, we would have to wait until the lake dried up to repair the dike and that could take two or three months. And three, if that happened, there would be some definite contamination. We would have to exercise extreme caution in consumption of our local water supplies. How are you going to chlorinate an entire lake? You don’t. The water would have to be allowed to dissipate naturally while Roscoe would be without a sewer system. The sun would have to do the work of killing off bacteria left over, and there is a lot more to this. What would happen to an approximate 37% of the people already suffering financially and mentally due to the conditions? This already has affected all of the people in our area, one way or another, and it could get even worse.   

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers was brought in to look into finding a long-term solution to Roscoe’s flooding problem, which had been a problem off and on for years, but the proposed solutions were in the $13 million dollar range, too much for a town Roscoe’s size to consider.

Residents with standing water in their yards were requested to put oil on the water to keep down mosquito infestation, and the city tap water was also given extra chlorination to keep it safe. But in some ways life proceeded as normal. The Plowboys continued to play their football schedule. Some people even put their boats in “Lake Roscoe” and went water skiing there.

In its attempt to drain the lake, the City had two pumps pulling out an average of over 3 million gallons a day. They ran 24 hours a day for almost two weeks with four or more people working them, which was a lot of effort and hard work. A second pipe system was constructed mainly by Texas Highway Department employees and supervisors. In the two weeks of recovery, Cain said, “Through pumping, absorption, and evaporation, the level of the flooded area had lowered the level about 13 inches.” This drop turned out to be critical with what happened next.

Cottonwood Creek.
On September 23, the rain began again. The first day 2.77 inches fell, and it fell again every day until September 29, seven days running, with a total of 8.17 more inches.

After the first day, volunteers laid over a half-mile of pipeline that night, a job that took “about two hours and eight cases of beer,” according to Don Aiken, who lent his bulldozer to the effort. Even so, more water was coming into the lake than going out as runoff flowed in from all directions.

What had been a serious inconvenience now became a crisis. As the rain continued to fall, all able-bodied residents were called on to help pack sandbags around the sewer system. The danger was that the dikes around the sewer lagoons would break or that the continued rain might make the water go over the sandbags, in which case they would lose the ability to pump the sewage out, and the City would be without sanitary facilities for a long time.

The downtown area flooded, and the all the Roscoe Nursing Home residents, about fifty old people, were evacuated and taken to the Leisure Lodge in Snyder, where they stayed for the next three weeks.

Outsiders came in to help the Roscoe volunteers. One was a team from Dyess Air Force Base 96th Civil Engineering Squadron known as Prime Beef. They came along with two busloads of Dyess volunteers, both men and women, who helped with sand-bagging operations. Roscoe’s school turned out and women and children pitched in. Elementary boys and girls reportedly filled the bags as well as the grown-ups.

On September 26, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) moved in when President Jimmy Carter signed a disaster declaration for the area. Among other things, they supplied several flooded-out residents with trailer houses while they were cleaning out their permanent homes. The trailer houses were supplied with chemical toilets.

The Roscoe Community Center became the headquarters for service organizations that came to help, as well as for the more than 200 people who needed and applied for disaster assistance.

Efforts to drain the lake continued non-stop, night and day. Five pipelines of four-inch and five-inch diameter pumped water from the lake into the Clear Fork of the Brazos drainage area for a week. But all the efforts really succeeded when a huge 18” pipe was brought in from Oklahoma and a pipeline 7,500 feet long was laid. FEMA bought the pipe, and Western Gulf personnel laid it. It was finished on September 28 and went into operation on Friday, October 1.

Water began dropping from the 550-acre lake. By this time nine pipelines were being used to drain the water.

Pipes drain the lake. (Photo by Betty Sasin)
The efforts were successful. The pumps and pipes did their jobs and engineers estimated that the pumps were dispersing about 14 million gallons a day. The crisis was averted, and the lake water never overran the sewer farm.

In summing up the operation, Mayor Beep Cain said, “There has been an extremely strong community effort. This is a perfect example of the type of West Texas attitudes that helped to rebuild burned-down barns and homes in earlier years. It’s something we are greatly blessed with. Adults, teens, non-residents, everyone has lent a hand in helping with some phase of this problem.”

“We are blessed with a lot of good people. Without the total effort that we’ve had, the situation could have been many times more serious than it already is. There’s something to be said about the quality of West Texans, and I think it’s been said here.”


Information in this article was gleaned from articles in the Roscoe Times, Sweetwater Reporter, Abilene Reporter-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and even one from the New York Times. Many were cut out and didn’t include the dates, so the time sequence of the events they describe was sometimes uncertain or difficult to determine.

Rainfall recorded by Roscoe weatherman Harold Haynes for September 1980:

Sept.   8  -   .92”        
Sept.   9  - 8.28”      
Sept. 10  -   .25”        
Sept. 23 - 2.77”         
Sept. 24 -   .20”         
Sept. 25 -   .13”          
Sept. 26 - 1.68”         
Sept. 27 -   .92”         
Sept. 28 - 1.78”         
Sept. 29 -   .69”         

Total – 17.62”



  1. Great write-up about the 1980 flood in September. We have pictures of our boys Hans and Erik wading in water in front of Hugo Zetzman's station. They are up to their waists.
    I remember especially that the Bandera area was completely flooded with water up to 2 feet deep in many of the houses.
    Driving a school bus through some of the lakes was a pretty spooky affair as well.

  2. I will always remember that flood. Dad, Mom, and I were standing at our front door watching the heavy downpour (like Sept. 9th by the record above) and I said "I hope it rains so much they cancel school". Upon waking the next morning Mom's first words to me were "You got your wish." I then went out with friends to explore the flooded town.

  3. I remember to well. My Daddy was very sick, and we finally had to get him out of their home, and into the the hospital.


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