EDNA — Cowboys from across the country rode up to the shores of Lake Texana Sunday morning for the chance to qualify for the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association’s annual Roping Fiesta.
Forty-one cowboys competed in a steer roping competition to qualify for a spot in the San Angelo competition. San Angelo extends invitations to the top 20 ranked ropers in the nation, but the winners of smaller, regional competitions also qualify, said competitor Ty Herd, 43, of Irene.
“This is a big deal to qualify some guys for San Angelo, which is a big, prestigious roping competition,” Herd said.
Steer roping is a rodeo sport where competitors chase down a steer, lasso it around the horns and then bring it to the ground, according to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rule book. Once grounded, the rider must leap down from his horse and tie three of the steer’s legs with a half hitch knot.
The qualifiers competed in three heats. The fastest individual ropers in each heat would qualify for the Roping Fiesta, and the ropers with the top three combined times across all heats would also qualify.
Six different riders qualified. According to the official event results, Ty Williams, Brian Garr and Tanner Green won rounds one, two and three respectively. Martin Poindexter, Ryan Willberg and Brady Garten had the top three times across all rounds.
Speed versus efficiency can be a hard balance to strike as a roper, Herd said. While some ropers might finish a round in a speedy 8 seconds, they may not be able to even take down a steer in the round.
“If you tied every steer all year long in 14 seconds, you’ll make the finals every year. You’ll be good,” he said.
Herd said he began roping at age 7, and because it can be a difficult to improve there are plenty of older competitors that utilize experience to beat younger, more athletic ropers.
“It takes a long time before you know what you’re doing and everything’s under control,” he said. “You don’t really practice by yourself like you can in other events. You’ve got to have a buddy or someone there in case you get in a bind.”
New, young blood is entering into the world of steer roping, Herd said, and for good reason.
In 2020, steer roping world champion Trevor Brazile earned $117,459.33, according to the official PRCA rankings.
Even though water blanketed a street just down the road from his Vine Street home, retired county commissioner John Hammack said he wasn’t worried about his home flooding due to the Guadalupe River’s rising water levels. Hammack had never lived anywhere that had been affected by flood waters, he said.
“Being county commissioner, I knew of all the places that flooding did affect,” Hammack said.
Though he felt safe from the rising water Sunday afternoon and was staying home, Hammack said that if there were heavier rains in the 16-17 inch range he would have cause for concern.
The Guadalupe River reached levels Sunday afternoon not seen in Victoria since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
In Victoria County, the river reached a level of 29.26 feet at 3:15 p.m. Sunday and is expected to rise to 30.1 feet by Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
In DeWitt County, the river crested at 35.32 feet and has receded to 35.06 feet as of 3:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Road closures in Victoria County due to high water levels are mainly in the Old Town and Greens Addition neighborhoods in Victoria, said Rick McBrayer, Victoria County Emergency Management Coordinator.
In DeWitt County, most roads closed due to flash flooding have reopened, said DeWitt County Sheriff Carl Bowen. SH 72 is still flooded and will remain closed for the next day or so.
Officials in Victoria are not anticipating home damage, McBrayer said. Most homes in the impacted areas were raised following the 1998 flood.
A prominent threat to residents or their homes comes not from water damaging their homes, but cutting off access, McBrayer said.
“There is going to be water in the ditches and roadways and people won’t be able to get to their homes without walking through 6 to 8 inches of water, maybe more,” he said.
There has been no reported damages due to flood waters in Victoria County, but McBrayer is anticipating road and riverbank damage when the waters recede.
“Obviously, if it sits underwater for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours if not longer, we’ll have some kind of damage,” he said.
If there are barricades on a road, it is important to heed their warning and avoid going around the barricades, McBrayer said. Even if the water appears shallow enough to pass, the road itself could be damaged or eroded underneath, which could cause an accident.
Driving through flood waters could cause damage to other’s property, McBrayer said. Though water levels are not expected to rise high enough to damage homes, waves created by driving through flooded roads can push water to higher levels where it can damage homes.
Neither Victoria nor DeWitt counties reported any accidents caused by water levels.
For his part, Hammack is optimistic that this flood will pass without incident.
“I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it this time,” he said.
Victoria County Animal Control is requesting Commissioners allow them to hire a new animal control officer before the new year.
The additional position was approved for the 2022 budget, but the department is asking for funding for the position to begin as soon as possible rather than waiting until Jan. 1.
“It’s an HR issue,” said Jose Flores, the county’s chief animal control officer. “Two of our (animal control) officers are actually out. For medical reasons, they’re unable to perform in the field.”
Without those two officers, the department only has one other officer and a field supervisor that can respond to calls and perform out in the field, he said. And this past week one of those officers was out for previously approved time off.
“It’s been extremely difficult, but we’ve managed to continue servicing the community to the best of our abilities,” said Flores. “Hopefully, we can get someone in more sooner than later to start relieving some of that stress on the officers that are working in the field.”
While they’ve been able to respond to every call so far, it has taken longer to get to calls and they’ve had to cut the amount of time they’re able to dedicate to each call.
Where previously officers would dedicate 30 to 40 minutes to each call, a long call would now be 15 minutes, he said. That means if there are animals that run or are hard to catch, they’re having to let them go for the time being.
“You can’t chase after them, you can’t pursue them, just because there’s not enough time for it,” said Flores.
The rain provided some relief last week, as animals tend to find shelter and hide when it rains, which means the department receives fewer calls, he said.
The fiscal year 2021 budget would have to be amended to begin the position earlier, but by how much will depend on how quickly they can get someone hired.
“Until then (our officers) will keep right on doing what they have to do,” said Flores. “I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll continue to give me the effort that they’ve been giving me.”
The city of Victoria plans to terminate the Small Business Recovery Program created in May 2020 in response to the pandemic, during Tuesday’s meeting.
The city of Victoria contributed $500,000 toward the partner program with PeopleFund. Almost $350,000 went directly into the capital loan fund, which will all be refunded to the city after the program is terminated.
The program provided interest-free loans to qualifying small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The council was divided on whether to approve the program in 2020, but it ultimately passed in a 5-2 vote with former Mayor Rawley McCoy and councilmembers Mark Loffgren, Jan Scott, Josephine Soliz and Rafael De La Garza voting in favor of it, and council member Andrew Scott and Jeff Bauknight voting against.
Ultimately, only one business benefited from the program — Best Choice Mobility & Medical Equipment — although at least 40 other businesses applied for loans. Many either were denied because they did not qualify or received funding from elsewhere and withdrew their applications, according to past reporting by the Victoria Advocate.
The meeting agenda recommends terminating the program as “it is clear that demand for our local program is not there.”
The council will hold another public hearing and a second reading of the updated animal and fowl related city code.
During the first reading of the new codes on Oct. 5, Victoria County Animal Control employees raised concerns about the proposal to extend the number of days an impounded animal must be held to at least five business days. They said the change could result in a large backlog and force the department to switch from an open intake model to a managed intake, where they would not be able to respond to calls regarding nonviolent strays or take in new owner surrenders.
Currently, animal control only has to hold an animal for three working days. In surveys the city conducted in September, however, 51% of respondents said they’d like to see the minimum number of days extended to five business days.
The proposed city code to be considered Tuesday keeps the new five day requirement. However, the ordinance will require a third reading before it goes into affect.