January 19, 2022

CHAMPION—January 17, 2022


Champion Snow

The fancy Global Positioning System (GPS) sent a newcomer to the area on a wild goose chase, losing him several times before he made it to Champion on Wednesday. (He decided to take the pavement home when he left.)  He was welcomed though, having brought his dobro.  He has a good singing voice and likes the old songs.  He practiced one that he wants to sing for his older brother who is experiencing declining health.  It is the story of a father talking to a son, saying that he’s going to a better place where he will have “A Heart That Will Never Break Again.”  Tim Tamburrino, of the Midwest Bluegrass Directory, suggests that some of the song links appearing in the weekly post at www.championnews.us might come from some of his recordings of local jams all around the area.  “Angelina in the Bakery,” and probably other tunes, will find their place there.  (A local mandoliner calls that tune “Angelina in the Basement.”) Tim does a lot to promote local music and musicians.  Music does a lot to soothe our troubles and lift our spirits.

Champion Snow Garden

The 11:00 a.m. singers will have that birthday song to sing on Wednesday the 19th.  They will be singing to the Most Essential Woman in Champion, as well as to Dolly Parton, and J.C. Owsley, who is dedicating his birthday to the Family Farm Action Alliance, a nonprofit organization with the mission to protect rural communities and family farms from decline and marginalization.  Mary Beth Shannon has a birthday about that time as well, and the 20th is the day Rowdy’s Grandmother up on Cold Springs Road is celebrated.  It is also the big day for Champion Alvin Barnhart.  He and his Sweetheart, Beverly, will have their 60th wedding anniversary the following week.  Amazing!  Congratulations!  Should any look for an example of how to have a good time and spread it around, while being part of every good work in her own and all surrounding communities, they should cast their gaze on Brenda Coffman Massey.  Her birthday is January 22nd.  It will be a Saturday celebration, so watch out.  All the stops will be out.  Her infectious, unabashed willingness to be seriously silly makes her an honorary Champion.

Just before the first full moon of the year, the Wolf Moon, reached its complete fullness, it shined/shone down on a clean, fresh snow and dazzled Old Champions, who were up for a stroll through the house to put wood in the stove, get a drink of water and what not.  It looked like early dawn at 1:30 a.m.  A younger, better equipped Champion might well have gone for a frolic.  This one settled for taking photos through the windows, then nestling back under the quilts, remembering bright moonlight on other deep snows going back through the years—sweet memories and good sleep.  Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Wolf Moon



Skyline School

A dozen Skyline R-2 Students have birthdays in January: Christopher Yager, 4th grade on the 4th; Jaydan Jackson, 6th grade on the 5th; Renee Wagner, 5th grade on the 7th; Joshua Eaves, 1st grade on the 14th; Aaliyah Irby, 8th grade on the 16th; Jacob Brixey, 6th grade on the 18th; Railynn Dixon, 3rd grade on the 18th; Hunter McChesney, 1st grade on the20th; Elizabeth Hinote, 7th grade on the 22nd; Paxton Elgie, 2nd grade on the 22nd; Blake McIntosh, 4th grade on the 24th; Lexi Webster, 2nd grade on the 24th. They are a lucky bunch of kids, celebrated by their families and their friends and each other. Fourth grade teacher, Jess Harley had his birthday on the 2nd. Maintenance Director and Bus Driver, Bud Watkins, enjoyed the 6th. Shane Gray teaches PE and has his birthday on the 13th, and Bus Driver, Robert Hall, has his on the 19th. Students, teachers and staff, the school board, the taxpayer and the state, and all of us have a vested interest in good education. These lucky kids are going to be tomorrow’s leaders, tomorrow’s farmers, grocers, scientists, mechanics, bankers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and many other things not yet dreamed of, and teachers. They are going to be running things soon. The New Year is off to a good start and so are our Skyline Tigers. Any little chance to support our school is one not to miss even if it just clipping those UPC codes from all the Best Choice products you use. You can drop them by the school or drop them in the mail: Skyline R-2 School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717-9439.


January 10, 2022

CHAMPION—January 10, 2022


Skyline Archery

The archery tournament in Norwood went off without a hitch on Saturday in spite of the threat of freezing rain and seriously low temperatures.  Skyline coach, Debora Barker, reported:  “Another awesome job at this tournament, archers!  Eight in our group scored their personal season best today!”  There are fifteen Skyline students participating in the archery program overseen by Mrs. Barker and Mrs. Jana Brixey.  Archery, like music, demonstrates that attention to detail and diligent practice produce success that can carry on well beyond school years.  Champions are happy to have a big doe headed to their freezer as the result of a well-directed arrow.

Champion niece, Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence, celebrates her birthday on January 9th.  Long time Champion friend, Tom VanDyke, from down in Needville, Texas has his birthday on the 10th.  Local herbalist, Bob Liebert, of Teeter Creek Herbs, (www.teetercreekherbs.com), has his big day on the 11th.  That was also the birthday of the late Wilburn Hutchison, who along with Fleming Geer, saw a dirigible flying over the place now occupied by the Skyline School sometime back when dirigibles were the new ships in the sky.  Edie Richardson, another knowledgeable herbalist, moved to the Norwood area back in 2019, and established, along with her handsome husband, an organic farm where they are steadily harvesting good food out of their high tunnel and getting ready for another banner year in the garden.  Her birthday comes just before that of Diane Wilbanks, Robert Graham, Melanie Blankenship Upshaw and the late Norris Woods, banjo picker extraordinaire and genuinely all round pleasant person.  They are all recognized on the 13th.  Champion grandchildren, Miley Schober and Reese Kutz celebrate on the 16th and the 17th.  So happy birthday to all you folks young and old.  Enjoy yourselves and the fond attention of your friends and families.

Jimmy Driftwood set words to an old fiddle tune:  “In 1814, we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans and we fought the bloody British near the town of New Orleans.”  The tune was The Eight of January.  This year on that date, the KC Chiefs whipped the Denver Broncos for the 13th time.  They are now 12 and 5, ready for the playoffs.  Somebody just learning football talk now knows that because Tennessee beat Houston on Sunday, the Chiefs will not get the buy which would have given a couple of valuable players more time to rest and heal.  We applaud the vigor of the Chiefs and the willingness of old people to learn new things.

The intersection of myth and reality is where Brooks Blevins new book, “History of the Ozarks, Volume 3:  The Ozarkers” is destined to take us.  That sounds like where the pavement ends and country roads begin, maybe at the bottom of several hills on the wide, wooly banks of a wet weather creek.  Newcomers to the Ozarks, and there are many, can find much interesting and useful information about their new home in Mr. Blevins’ trilogy.  The author has visited Champion on numerous occasions in years past and may be back again one day.  He is always welcome in Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Snow

January 6, 2022

CHAMPION—January 3, 2022


Happy New Year!

Approximately 12:45 a.m. on Monday the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched for a flue fire.  Upon arrival the structure was found completely involved.  Sadly it was a total loss despite the efforts of the fire department.  Not only do we need to be careful with our wood heat, we need to support our vital volunteer fire department.  Those volunteers train rigorously in the skills that are necessary to protect our lives and our property.  The annual dues are minimal and the protection is priceless.

Those black eyed peas on New Year’s Day ensure that we will eat at least that well all year.  Whether it is humble fare or a feast depends upon circumstances, and we do not have to look far to find someone whose situation is less favorable than our own.  So, we start a new year with compassion and the willingness to help where we can.

Threatening weather back home caused Champions Harley and Barbara Krider to beat a hasty retreat to Elmwood, shortening their Champion stay.  They missed The General’s birthday party which featured chocolate cake and a jazz jam of three generations–two guitars, a makeshift drum and a fine clarinet.  Music persists through the ages.  He was rung in with cowbells at the Vanzant jam on Thursday with a rousing rendition of that birthday song sung by friends, family, gypsies, neighbors, casual acquaintances, and rank strangers.

January birthdays start out with Arne Coon on the first along with Teeter Creek’s rock and roll grandmother, Jan Liebert.  Kabella Clark and guitar maven, Leland Isley, share the 2nd for their big day.  Jacob Coon celebrates on the 3rd together with Greta Thunberg and Butch Kara.  That was also the birthday of the late Esther Howard, whose hats were always as cheerful as her smile.  Sami McCleary Hutchison shares her birthday with ornery Lee Ray on the 4th.  Felix (The Farmer) Parsons, who was born in 2018, has the same birthday as David Upshaw on the 6th, though the year of David’s birth was some while back.  Travis Hathaway was twenty years old in 2017.  He sings “Jimmy Brown, the Newsboy.”

Journalist, Kaitlyn McConnell, paid a visit to Champion between the holidays.  It is always a treat to see her.  She has left her long-time position at Cox Health Care and is now dividing her time between The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and her blog, Ozarks Alive!  She is the eighth generation of her family here in the Ozarks and is very interested in preserving the culture and history of this part of the country.  Contact her at www.ozarksalive.com to share your history or lore.  She plans a visit to our Skyline R-2 School sometime this year to get acquainted with one of the last two rural schools in Douglas County.  She is in for a real treat.  School is back in session this week with well-rested, bright-eyed, enthusiastic students, teachers and staff.

The big crystal ball dropped down on Friday night.  The thermometer’s reading dropped down on Saturday and continued to do so on Sunday with swirling snow in the morning.  Then there was a little sunshine.  That seems to be the way it is as the year starts.  The KC Chiefs were down by three lousy points on Sunday reminding us that we do not always get what we want, that there is no glory in defeating a weak opponent, and that it is not over.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


January 1, 2022

CHAMPION—December 27, 2021


Ken and Jim

The little Christmas gathering at the Historic Emporium swelled to about thirty last Wednesday. The Henson Century Farm provided the barbeque. The tables were filled with all manner of sumptuous delights, and around them friends and neighbors assembled to catch up, to reminisce and to express their hopes for a better year ahead. Much anticipated family gatherings were in the offing for many, while others planned a quiet holiday. Ken and Jim, those handsome cowboys from Mountain Grove, left out on their adventure before the party started and returned after the whole thing was over. They remarked that it was a glorious day for a ride through the beautiful countryside and that they felt plenty festive. They said that Jonnie, the Champion yard dog, had not molested them in any way, that she had watched them go by with only minimal interest.

Two days later, the new has not worn off the Christmas toys. Batteries are still charged, and they are every bit as exciting as when the wrapping was being ripped off them. Hopes are that enthusiasm, gratitude, and optimism will be the by-words as we enter the new year. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 21, 2021

CHAMPION—December 20, 2021


Christmas greetings from Royce and Jody Henson--champion Champions!
Clever Creek at 76

From Vera Cruz to Vanzant various rain reports from the Thursday-Friday deluge topped four and five inches.  Frank Martin shared a video of the Warren Bridge on Bryant Creek near Dora where the road disappeared into the torrent.  Mike O’Brien said that his car almost got washed off that crossing back in his misspent youth.  A heroine–a farm woman pulled him back on to solid ground with a chain on her tractor.  There were numerous pictures posted of a great pile of debris on Highway 181 near Hodgson’s Mill.  “Turn around.  Don’t drown.”  You want to be home for Christmas.  Closer to Champion, Fox Creek came well up and Clever Creek as well, perhaps not so dramatically, though the exciting weather episode lessens some of the anxiety over fire danger locally.  Monday morning found those handsome gentlemen from the Drury Shed out on their road graders tidying up.  Many other places have not fared so well, and Champions reflect with concern on their distress and their long road to recovery, even as we count our blessings.

Clever Creek in Champion

All accounts of the Skyline Christmas program glowed.  Music director, Cheyenne McIntosh, wrangled the whole student body into a lovely performance to warm the hearts and tickle the holiday fancies of all the friends and families attending.  The General and The Gypsy had nothing but praise for the presentation when they arrived later at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  There, along with the regular fare of classic bluegrass tunes, the pickers and grinners shared a sweet stream of Christmas songs—Christmas Time’s a Coming, Silent Night, Silver Bells, Feliz Navidad, and the like.  The crowd neglected to sing that birthday song to Mary Goolsby, Herbie Johnston, and Jerry Wagner, but they will make up for it next time.  We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday!

A keen Champion observer reports that while shadows are generally considered to be dark, many on Sunday’s frosty, frosty morning appeared brilliantly white.  Big broad fields appeared to have been snowed upon until the sunshine raced across the valley greening them green again, if a little paler shade.  He also remarked that on the longest night of the year it was nice to have a full moon, even if it seemed very far away.  Starting today, Monday, we can expect a brighter future all the way until June 21st.  Every day will be having a little more daylight in it until summer starts.  Keep up with celestial happenings, photographs, and music at www.championnews.us.  We are reminded of the swift passage of time and that down here on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek we are full of gratitude for home and family and full of sweet Christmas Spirit.  Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

County Road Crew
County road crew maintaining our beautiful roads.

December 14, 2021

CHAMPION—December 13, 2021



December 20th will mark the day when the days begin to be longer again. The daylight will last longer, little by little. As it is now, by five or earlier, the sinking sun guilds the treetops for a few fleeting moments before darkness envelops our hills and hollows. But then, on a clear night, we are blessed to live in a dark part of the Nation where light pollution does not interfere with our stellar star gazing. It all balances out.

That important list is being checked for the second time. Naughty or nice is the question. It is not subjective. The season is upon us. Wes and Suzie Freeman write that they are still hillbillies, even though they have lived in North Texas for a while now. They have been married 56 years and are, as are many, balancing health issues with doing things they enjoy. For Suzie that is quilting. She is currently working on the last five blocks of the Fool’s Puzzle, which has 32 pieces per block, all hand pieced. Wes builds wooden truck models that are amazingly accurate depictions of rigs you see on the road. Suzie hand-makes her Christmas cards bringing the spirit of the holiday to everyone on her list.

Christmas Spirit Week at our Skyline R-2 School will be a lot of fun for the students as they dress the part through the week. The Christmas Goodie Box sponsored by the Skyline R-2 PTO will be given to the winning ticket holder at the Christmas music program on Thursday evening. It is full of cookies, cocoa, candy canes, chocolate, and other seasonal taste treats. The real treat will be the music program. Children singing Christmas music can melt the humbug out of any grouchy grinch, warming hearts with nostalgia, love, and hopes for world peace and goodwill to everyone. Friday will be the last day of school for a while. When students return to the classroom in the New Year, they will have endured the frenzy and excitement of the holiday and will be ready to knuckle down and buckle down for their studies. Skyline Tigers become solid citizens as they grow up. Champions!

Having a birthday so close to Christmas is an aggravation less troublesome as age accumulates and gratitude for waking up and for making it through another year kicks in. Mary Goolsby and fiddling Herbie Johnston will be happy on the 20th and Chris Dailey and another fine fiddler, Jerry Wagner, celebrate on the 21st. That is also the big day for Skyline fourth grade student, Paige Jonas. Chase Cauthron is a second grader who shares his birthday with his dear old Dad, David, and with Rowdy’s grandmother, Sharon Sikes, up on Cold Springs Road, and with flintknapping archer Butch Stone. Christmas day gives us many reasons to celebrate and among them is the birthday of Joann Anderson, a sweeter smile you will never see. Happy everything to all of you.

Phone calls and emails have come to Champion from many places inquiring about damage and about our safety during Friday’s wave of terrible weather. As we count our own many blessings, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the many who have suffered loss and who will be in the recovery process for years to come. Our hopes are that they will find comfort and solace and relief. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!