February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017

CHAMPION—February 20, 2017—President’s Day


Wild Turkeys on President’s Day

Until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, George Washington’s birthday was always celebrated on February 22nd.  Then it became known as President’s Day and is popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.  The President’s office number is (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414 but there is currently no one answering there, so if you want to communicate with your President write to him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500.  Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President from 1901 to 1909, leader of the Republican party, said, “…To announce that there must be not criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public…” The positive aspects of the current situation are significant, i. e:  We have unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.  Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.  The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.  Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.  Many people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments and cognitive dissonance.  Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.  Write to Roy Blunt at 260 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D. C. 20510, to Claire McCaskill at 730 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510, or at her District Office 324 Park Central W, Ste. 101, Springfield 65806, and to Jason Smith at 118 HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515 or at his District Offices 35 Ct Square, Ste. 300, West Plains, 65775.  A member of Jason Smith’s staff will be at the Chamber of Commerce Office in Ava from 1 to 2 pm on March 2nd.   That is just off of 5 Highway by the Cox Health Clinic. This person is coming to hear your voice.  We can complain or celebrate what is happening.  It is wonderful to have a voice.

Meanwhile local birthdays include those of a lovely Champion lady now in Tennessee–the Mom of Drayson and Carson who are Champion grandchildren.  She was born in 1983 on February 23rd.  On that day in 1945 a special Tar Button black bear siting grandmother of twins and others was born.  The big green thumbed Swedish Indian of Highway C celebrates on the 24th.  Jack Masters down in Austin has a birthday on the 27th and Frankie Proctor would have his birthday on the 29th if there were to be such a date this year.  He might have to wait.  Probably he has had to wait before.  He must be very young.

News from Skyline gleaned off the wonderful internet includes the information that Vanessa Shannon brought sheep to school to help the preschoolers remember the letter S.  Mrs. Coonts and Mrs. Barker took a group of middle school students, who had made positive choices all week, to a nursing home in Mtn. Grove to visit and deliver homemade cards to residents.  It was a part of the Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Terri Ryan wrote, “I wish more people would attend board meetings to better understand where we are.  Seven board members sat there desperately trying to find a way to get us buses (used) to replace those we have.  Unfortunately, with the amount we have and transportation funds being cut, even the cheapest option seems out of reach.  We’ve already spent $15,000 repairing our old buses and we have one bus that they no longer make the parts.  I live in our district, hate paying more property taxes, but our family voted to increase ours, because I have ridden the buses.  Please, folks, get involved.  Come to the meetings and help us.”  She received a response from a friend who said, “I understand people not wanting to pay more taxes, but this is our children’s safety we are talking about when it comes to the buses.  We need good safe transportation that isn’t going to break down with our kids.  Everyone around here has a hard time with money, but the extra taxes would benefit our kids and that should be what is most important.”  Another says, “I have relatives that are older and on fixed incomes that make a point to show up to vote no on every school tax increase.  Because it’s not uncommon, they assume that it will be for something like a larger gym, but for small schools like ours, it’s for necessities.  We voted yes because we knew how badly we needed to replace the buses.”  Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222 is the guy to talk to relating to public school transportation funding.  More news is that there is still time to get in on the drawing for the great Hoyt Ignite bow that is being offered by the Norwood Archery Club to help them raise money to go the state championship tournament.  The drawing will be on February 25th.  Tickets are available from Mrs. Sartor at the Skyline School.

There must have been 10 guitars, 4 mandolins, two fiddles, 1 banjo, 2 harmonicas, 1 ukulele, and 1 bass fiddle at the Vanzant bluegrass jam on Thursday night.  Additionally, there were several folks who just love to sing and they were given the opportunity to do just that with some good back up that they probably do not get routinely.  Amateur musicians and singers will generally agree that when they are by themselves, in the car or in the shower, they are just great.  In the presence of ‘real’ musicians and an audience of music appreciators their confidence may flag a little, but music is healing and sustaining and the Vanzantians do not judge harshly.  They “Keep on the Sunnyside of Life.”

Down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek folks gather any day of the week to swap yarns and enjoy their neighbors.  There was a big gathering on Wednesday.  Young Chase led the Veranda Band for a few tunes while the hob knobbing was going on inside.  Kaitlyn McConnell stopped in on Saturday.  She had been over to Gentryville to get acquainted with that neighborhood and to enjoy the artwork.  At Champion she learned about the Blue Man, a reported sheep thief, and about the time a mushroom fell over and blocked the road just east of the store.  She met Cowboy Jack and heard about when he borrowed a log chain from a neighbor lady to handle his mushroom harvest.  She also submitted a written request to interview a famous local flintknapper, which the Prominent Citizen agreed to deliver that very afternoon.  It is a bustling place, an exciting place, beautiful place—where country roads meet the pavement and where, “though we meet with the darkness and strife, the sunny side we also may view” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017

CHAMPION—February 13, 2017



        Champions are pleased to live in a part of the world where there are still wild bears and the sighting of a majestic bald eagle is not a rare event.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has a GPS Tracking Study going on to keep track of the black bears in the area.  They say that they have collars on about a third of the local bears and that a person can go the MDC website to see where they have been and where they are going.  Things are getting warm so they may be waking up.  Be careful out in the woods.  The buzzards are back in force and eagles are soaring yet, so look up and be glad to be in one of the world’s wonderful wild places.

        “Old Indiana” was the first song of the night at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday.  Jerry Wagner kicked things off and then David Richardson sang, “Country Roads.”  The music went around and around the circle–the songs accompanied by eight guitars, two banjos, two fiddles, two mandolins, one harmonica, one bass fiddle and one ukulele.  As it does every Thursday, the evening started at 6:00 with a great pot-luck supper and, then music and visiting.  The crowd joined in to sing, “Stay All Night, Stay a Little Longer,” but at 9:00 the good byes began, the instruments were boxed up, and the parking lot emptied.  Friends and family still miss Russell and Sue Upshaw who had a big part in keeping the music going after the previous venue closed.  They still have some stalwart representatives there every Thursday.

        Someone from Jason Smith’s office is going to be in Ava on March 2nd from 1 to 2 p.m. to give area residents a chance to get their concerns directly to the Congressman.  This will happen at the Chamber of Commerce Office, which is at 810 SW 13th Avenue.  For those unfamiliar with Ava’s streets, it is out on the east side of Highway 5 by the Cox Health Center, south of the intersection with Y Highway and north of the 4 way stop at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 76.  The 2010 census reported that there were 749,444 people in the 30 counties of the 8th Congressional District of Missouri.  There may be more than that now and there are more than a few concerns for Congress to look at.  Some are:  Protecting and expanding our access to affordable healthcare;  Strengthening our public school systems;  Expanding and safeguarding Social Security and Medicare;  Saving our environment from corporate polluters;  Preserving our retirement savings from Wall Street bankers, and you probably have more.  Mr. Smith and his 434 fellow congressmen have a lot to consider.  His constituents are grateful to have the chance to speak with a person in person to address their worries.  By the very nature of democracy, all our elected representatives are obligated to act in our best interests.  Contact your President at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, or by phone at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222, Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536.  Paul Ryan does not answer his phone so write to him at 700 St. Laurence Ave., Janesville, WI 53545.  If you cannot get out to see Jason Smith’s staff member at the Ava Chamber of Commerce at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 2nd, call his office at (202) 225-4404.  Hooray for a participatory democracy!  Some ladies participating are calling themselves “The PerSisters.”

        Mary Beth’s lovely daughter Claire had a birthday on the 13th.  Trish Davis and Linda Clark have the same birthday—February 17th.  Pete Proctor will be having birthday cake on the 18th.  His dear Mother, the late Ruby Proctor, had the 19th as her special day.  She went to school in Champion, raised her children here and made friends who miss her still.  Bells ring to celebrate charming Joanna on the 21st.  Your Champion friends and families remember you and wish you all happiness as you start another trip around the sun.

        Just a few miles north east of where Suzie and Wes Freeman live in McKinney, Texas is a little community called Blue Ridge.  The community may have been named by some pioneer lonesome for Kentucky.  It is currently a mess because on January 30th the Seaway Pipeline spewed out 14,000 barrels of oil, about 600,000 gallons, when a subcontractor hit the pipeline with a tractor during a road widening project.  This is the second spill from this pipeline in the last year.  Studies from Auburn University indicate that the oil is not the only hazard of pipeline spills.  “When tar sand is exposed to the air, the harmful chemicals that are added as diluents evaporate into the air forming heavy toxic clouds close to ground level.”  Crude oil contains more than 1,000 chemicals hazardous to humans, such as the carcinogen benzene.  It is the reason that the Standing Rock Sioux have fought against the DAPL since last spring.  The Blue Ridge pipeline trails along a major highway in Texas, the DAPL is set to go under Lake Oahe, which provides water to Standing Rock and to millions of people down the Missouri River.  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration states that since 1997, more than 11,000 pipeline oil spills have occurred with 324 human deaths, more than 1,300 injuries for a cost of more than $7 billion dollars.  After the recent Executive Order accelerating the construction of this pipeline and the Keystone, many Veterans of the Vietnam War and the current wars in the Middle East are joining in again with the water protectors at Standing Rock.  They say they will form a protecting barrier around the peaceful protesters threatened on their own land by the privatized and militarized police. These are exciting times for Suzie and Wes, hillbillies in Texas, and for the whole country.

        “There comes a day in February when a dog will look for the shade.”  That was one of Lonnie Krider’s sayings and Saturday was one of those days.  Daffodils are starting to emerge on south slopes and gardeners in low elevations are struggling not to get ahead of themselves.  As lovely as it is to see things swelling and getting ready to bud out, there will likely be another hard freeze before, and perhaps after, March 20th, which the Prominent Champion Girlfriend heralds as, “Spring! Spring! Spring!”  She and other Sweethearts were probably busy early in the week, making those special valentines, cooking breakfast and working toward getting a long list of honey-dos done.  Candy, flowers and jewelry are nice, but smiles across the dinner table say all those sweet things and more that generally go without saying.  It is nice to have a sweetheart.  “Keep the love light glowing…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017

CHAMPION—February 6, 2017


        Groundhog Day came and went in Champion under a gray and gloomy sky where no shadow was cast by anything, animate or inanimate, ground hog or hound dog.  The Pennsylvania woodchuck saw his shadow.  The Champion whistle pig did not.  The upshot of it all is that our northern friends and family will have to endure six more weeks of winter, while we will be enjoying an early spring.  Groundhog Day was also the 62nd wedding anniversary of a special couple transplanted here from Louisiana twenty years ago.  They are fractious pair but still together, i.e., “I’d have divorced him years ago, but I didn’t want to make him that happy.”

J.R. Johnston–a Bluegrass Pioneer

        A beautiful plaque lettered in gold says, “The Missouri Bluegrass Preservation Association would like to recognize J.R. Johnston on this day, January 28, 2017 as a Pioneer of Missouri Bluegrass Music.  With passion, dedication, hard work, and perseverance; your musical contributions have left a priceless mark on the Missouri Bluegrass world, helping forge a music relatively unique to The Show Me State.  Without this elite First Generation of Bluegrass Pioneers, the State of Missouri would not have our treasured music.  We humbly present this Pioneer Award as a token of our gratitude, whereas, you are a vital part of Missouri History.  A Tree cannot stand without its roots, and Missouri Bluegrass Music has impeccably strong roots because of J.R. Johnston.”  The Vanzant Bluegrass jam had a chance to examine the trophy and to enjoy, as always having J.R. in the circle.  A pleasanter fellow you will never meet.

        Accolades were planned for The General at a local Superbowl Soirée but he did not show up and neither did he bring his poetry book, which is thought to contain his original works, probably in free verse, since it is not likely he would have spent money on it.  Some special birthdays coming up are those of Cowboy Jack on the 7th (keep your hat out of the creek), and the lovely Sarah Rucker on the 8th, the day shared with Skyline kindergarten student Aidan Acree.  Joshua Garner is a 4th grader who has his birthday on the 13th.  Shelby Ward’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day.  Acclaimed American author, John Trudell was born February 15, 1946.  Skyline 3rd grader, Madison Bradshaw, celebrates on the 16th.  Champions wish all their friends, family and neighbors a happy day whether or not they are celebrating.

        Terri Ryan says that many Skyline archers go on to join the Norwood Archery Team.  The Norwood team is raising money to go to the state championship tournament.  They will have a drawing for a Hoyt Ignite bow including a pin sight, 4 arrow quiver, whisker biscuit, stabilizer and 4 arrows.  The drawing will be on February 25th.  Anyone interested in this exciting bow and the chance to help local archers can contact Mrs. Sartor at the Skyline School or any of the Norwood or Skyline archers.

        John Prine wrote a song about his grandpa.  He said, “Grandpa was a carpenter.  He built houses, stores, and banks.  He chain smoked Camel cigarettes and hammered nails in planks.  He would level on the level, shave even every door and he voted for Eisenhower because Lincoln won the war.”  Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  King Richard III said, “We like to think of our enemies as worse than they are.”  He also said, “…death, desolation, ruin and decay!”  He was kind of a negative guy.  Political philosophies are a dime a dozen.  If you have a dime to spare, you can contact your democratically elected government representatives and explain your point of view:  The White House (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222, Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536, Jason Smith (202) 225-4404 and Paul Ryan, by mail, 700 St. Laurence Ave., Janesville, WI 53545.

        A friend of a friend, who lives up in Springfield, made a trip back around Christmas to North Dakota.  He missed his weekly bridge game to take food supplies to some of the people cooking for the 2,600 or so people who are engaged in defending their property and resources against corporate interests.  He and his companions were caught in a terrible blizzard on the way and were finally able to take refuge in a primitive fishing camp for the worst of it.  They had adequate clothing for the temperatures but still found it to be a strenuous and difficult trip.  They delivered the food and were able to make it home safely, but this fellow says the next time he goes to Standing Rock it will be in August.  The Black Snake and the aggressive force behind it may still be a threat to the people there in August.  John Trudell said, “No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth.  We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense.”

Future Champion Snowdrops

       Some old Champions look out their windows to see dandelion flowers amid the green stuff close to the ground and some emerging bulbs that look like they will be Snowdrops.  With the prospect of an early spring, or at least a mild end to winter, some are thinking to go ahead and plant some spinach and lettuce.  They might have a little make-shift row cover or protection ready in case of a hard freeze.  Champions over west of Ava had good luck doing that last year and were able to enjoy greens not-from-the-grocery-store much earlier than the rest of us.  What a pleasure it is to have home grown food.  It is more than a pleasure to have dear friends willing to share their expertise and bounty.  For planting times, some people go absolutely and without fail by the signs according to the almanac, while others go by when they have their soil ready and seed on hand and the time and energy to get it done.  For a look at ten years of ‘getting it done’ go to www.championnews.us.  Send your examples of how you got it done or plan to get it done, when you get around to it, to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to champion@championnews.us.  Plant your feet out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square to view an example of one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

CHAMPION—January 30, 2017


A Champion landscape

        In Champion winter turns out to be an enchanted kind of time.  A solitary sycamore tree shining white with slender arms yearning and reaching upward amid a gray wood along the far side of Auld Fox Creek, blue sky above, makes an admirable photograph.  Add the wide rich golden tinted field undulating down to the creek as foreground and the picture takes on the quality of a painting by an old master, fit to be hung in a gallery anywhere.  Champion takes its place as a bona fide Beauty Spot (BS) in the Worldwide Scenic Sites Association (WSSA).

        Whoever invented the calendar?  There was a Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar that took effect on January 1, 45 BC.  The Gregorian calendar is the one we use now…it goes back to February 24, 1582.  There are other calendars:  the Jewish one where we are currently in the year 5777, the Chinese one–4715, or the Aztec one, which is said to have been much more accurate concerning celestial observations.  However we choose to keep track of time, birthdays of our important people bear some special weight.  Young Salem Travis Bluegrass was 20 on the 7th of January, and Sally Goodin Prock had a birthday on the 23rd.  Thomas’s Dad, up in Washington, had the 24th and Neda B. Hutsell is a first time grandmother with a birthday on the 30th.  Young Zack Alexander celebrated on the first of February.  The second is the special day of Punxsutawney Phil of Groundhog fame, Sweet Judy Sharon, Charlene Dupre–Olivia’s grandmother, and Grand grandmother, Connie.  Joyce’s favorite Cowboy, Jack, celebrates on the 7th.  Skyline students will have their days—kindergartener, Aidan Acree, on the 8th, fourth grader, Joshua Garner, on the 13th, and third grader, Madison Bradshaw, on the 16th.  Time seems like an arbitrary way to keep track of things, but it is worth the trouble and even the confusion to be able to acknowledge our lovely people.

        “I tried so hard to show, my dear, that you’re my every dream, but you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme,” so sang Mr. Ed Kimbrel at the Thursday Bluegrass Jam.  “Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?”  Mr. Kimbrel is on one side or the other of 90 years old.  He has seen a lot in his lifetime.  How often have you heard friends, family or neighbors hearken back to the distant past?  Certainly, many of those students of the Champion School look back on those days in the 1930’s and 1940’s as some of their most wonderful times.  It may be their youth, as opposed to the circumstances of the time that holds the nostalgia.  People, uncomfortable in today’s world, are often fond of saying, “I should have been born 100 years ago.”  Well, 100 years was 1917 and at that time the country was getting ready for World War One and for the influenza pandemic of 1918 which claimed the lives of 20 to 40 million people worldwide.  A children’s’ song of the day was, “Inza, Inza! I opened the window and in flew Inza!”  Today we have television, radio, the internet and the print media as our windows on the world and it is truly amazing what all is flying in.  As a people with a great eagerness for truth, it is a struggle to sort things out.  The Mayflower, for example, arrived in 1620 with our Pilgrim mothers and fathers who were referred to as the Brownists Emigration for the next 200 years.  They were religious refugees, English dissenters, early separatists from the Church of England named after Robert Brown.  The male passengers drafted the Mayflower Compact establishing a democratic government.  It took until 1776 for Thomas Jefferson, his committee and the Second Continental Congress to write the United States Declaration of Independence.  It was a disappointment to some that it was not a more overtly Christian document.  There is no reference to Jesus Christ, no quotations from the New Testament, nothing more than four vague references to God which reflected the theistic world view of the British-American colonies in the 18th century.  Politics and religion are interesting studies, but perhaps not suitable for polite conversation.  Remember the contact information for your government representatives if you have something you wish to discuss with them:  The White House (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222, Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536, Jason Smith (202) 225-4404 and Paul Ryan, 700 St. Laurence Ave., Janesville, WI 53545.

        Polite conversation in the Meeting Room at the Historic Emporium has to do with local history, the weather, the difficulties of winter time farm chores, the antics of grandchildren and health issues.  A young Champion fellow (3 years old) named Chase has become the official greeter at the store.  He likes to open the door for customers and is a good hand shaker.  He has been disappointed for several Wednesdays in a row not to get to see the General.  The General is called back to work from time to time and, most recently, was spending his Wednesday in West Plains with his sweet mother-in-law, Lucille.  She was ready to get back home and Chase is ready to see his buddy again.  Perhaps Chase will bring his guitar if the General will bring his.  Maybe Ethel of Omo will get her Bob to bring his mandolin banjo for its regular tuning and perhaps some old Gene Autry song will come out of it.

        Very good news comes about the Prominent Champion Girlfriend.  Her serious heart problems are going to be controllable and she said, “Still have a few little issues but all in all I’m going to be around for a long time.  Thank you all very much for keeping me in your prayers & thoughts.”  Smiles are the order of the day.  Nanette Hirsh from the Douglas County Health Department has a great smile.  She will be at the Skyline School on Tuesday morning the 6th of February to do blood pressure checks and other health screenings.  More smiles come from Linda Keys and Marjorie Carter over at the Downtown Pawn Shop on the east side of the square in Mountain Grove.  They have always been most generous in their support of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department.  Now they are pleased to be offering genuine Champion Post Cards for a mere four bits—the very same price as those at Henson’s Downtown G & G on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Linda and Marjorie have family history at Champion and a great appreciation for the beautiful place.  Gary Hutchison has history here as well.  He has again shared his copy of Darrell Hayden’s song, “All the Late News from the Court House,” and Eric Stevenson of Edinburgh, Scotland has shared his song “From Galloway to Graceland.”  Look for the lyrics of both songs in a special post at www.championnews.us.  Look there too for ten years of past Champion news and for future proclamations of the Champion Ethics Committee (CEC) which will have its first meeting Wednesday.  Enjoy the stunning winter scenery on the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek because it is soon to change in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Changes

January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017

CHAMPION—January 23, 2017


Dense fog in Champion on Thursday

        After a couple of days of much enjoyed sunshine, Champions were blessed with a gentle all day rain, the kind that soaks in and trickles right down through the limestone into the aquifer.  It is the kind of rain that combines with a brisk wind at 47 degrees that smacks of winter but is just followed by the promise of a few moderately seasonable days.  What Champion complains?

        Reminiscence comes to The Champion News from Hovey Henson.  He writes, “When reading about Hannah Kelly being sworn as a Mo. State Rep., I was reminded of the time her grandfather, Garnett Kelly, Douglas County tax assessor, would come by and ask the farmers how many cows they owned, without making a count himself.  I guess the farmers were somewhat honest.  Working in the North Sea my favorite food was fish and chips.  You had to pay extra to have a seat in the restaurant.  I would go outside to eat.  It was called curbside dining.  Love, Hovey.”  Fried fish and fried potatoes, with enough salt, wrapped in paper and enjoyed on the street makes a tasty memory.  It is also nice to think that people we actually know are in the public service of government.  All our elected people are here to serve us.  Yea! Democracy!  They want to hear from us on every important issue.  Governor Eric Greitens, (573) 751-3222, might want to hear that cuts to the school bus fund and to teacher support would be hard on rural communities.  Whatever your issue, you can contact Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536, and Jason Smith (202)225-4404.  In case you want to contact Speaker Paul Ryan about anything, you can send a postcard to Speaker Paul Ryan, 700 St. Laurence Ave., Janesville, WI 53545.  If you want to address the White House, call 202-456-1111 to leave comments or get to the switchboard 202-456-1414.  It is advisable to look at your phone plan to decide how often you want to make these long distance calls.  Also, a Champion friend suggests keeping a note of the names of the people with whom you speak, the dates and times and the subject of the conversation.  For example, “Spoke with Heather in Jason Smith’s office on 01-20-17 about single payer health insurance” or whatever.  It is also to be noted that local representatives have local offices and welcome visitors.  It will take a little effort to be an involved citizen, but what a privilege!  Only in America!  (Well, not really.  There are a number of well-functioning democracies in the world.)

        Neighbor Brenda Coffman Massey spent the part of Sunday the 22nd in thanking friends and family for good birthday wishes.  She has a great smile and is routinely busy in her own neighborhood and neighboring ones doing good works.  The last Tuesday of the month on the 31st will find Nannette Hirsch at Champion again taking blood pressure readings and giving good health advice to people with questions.  The 31st is also the day Skyline will have a basketball game at Plainview.

        The Thursday night bluegrass jam at Vanzant was well attended in spite of a heavy fog.  After a great pot luck supper, forty or so folks sat back to hear music produced by singers and players of 8 guitars, 3 mandolins, 1 banjo, 1 fiddle, and 1 bass fiddle.  The lead went around and around the circle for a couple of hours until 32 songs had been sung and played.  Sherry Bennett coaxed a gentleman from the audience, Mr. Ed Kimbrell, to sing “I Saw the Light” and the crowd joined in with enthusiasm.  He said that it had been a long time since he had sung into a microphone.  He lives over near the old Richville Store on W Highway and hopes are that he will be a regular at the jam in the future.  Music is a gift.

        Some of the good news that reaches Champion comes from Nickelville, Missouri.  Enbridge Energy says that 365 barrels of crude oil that spilled out onto farm land when electronic monitors failed to detect the leak, well, they did not say it was cleaned up but they did say that oil was flowing again and that the company is monitoring local wells and ground water in the area.  Highway M, which was closed south of Highway Z in rural northeast Lawrence County on Tuesday, reopened to traffic Thursday.  These things happen.  That is the concern of the Standing Rock Reservation folks, still occupying land they own as they attempt to protect their water and the water of millions downstream.  Other indigenous peoples around the Nation and around the world are having similar struggles as they try to protect their land and water.

        “The Bill of Rights Still Matters!”  “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”  “Protect the ACA”  “Make America Tolerant Again!”  These were some of the signs at the women’s march in Willow Springs on Saturday.  The thirty or so participants did not so much march as stand out on the sidewalk by the Star Theatre and entreat passersby to honk for health care or to signify that they love women.  Nationwide they say that one out of every hundred people were engaged in the women’s march.  There were no reports of violence anywhere.  In 673 such marches around the world they say there were 4,814,000 global participants.  This has been a well-reported event and is certainly one of the largest gatherings of our times.  Back in 2003, between January and April of that year, thirty six million (36,000,000) people worldwide protested the bombing of Baghdad.  News coverage was not nearly so attentive to that and local television reporting consisted of, “Oh, and there were some protests.”  The internet was not such a big part of the lives of average citizens then as it is today.  The chances of getting accurate information are better if it is gathered from a variety of sources.  “Trust, but verify” was a popular saying back in the Reagan administration.  From every side it is advisable to step outside your particular comfort zone of preconceptions to see what friends, neighbors, and kin-folks consider to be the truth.  It might be eye-opening—Champion.

        Look back over the past decade of The Champion News at www.championnews.us and look out over the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for a view of one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  “Wait till the darkness is over.  Wait till the tempest is done.  Hope for the sunshine tomorrow after the darkness is gone.  Whispering hope, Oh! How welcome Thy voice–making my heart in its sorrow rejoice” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Women’s March in Willow Springs