March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015

CHAMPION—March 2, 2015

        Those nature lovers who are excited about the sight of a full moon on a clean white snow will have this week to revel.  After that Ron Hurst has said Thursday will be the last day of hard winter.  Esther Wrinkles said, “Thunder in February, frost in May!”  That may be misremembered and might really be “for every time it thunders in February it will frost in May.”  A check in with Irene Dooms verifies that memory served correctly this time.  She did not remember the ‘every time’ part either.  She is looking forward to the weather breaking and being able to get out and about more.  Her Champion friends are looking forward to seeing her in the neighborhood again soon.  Terry Ryan’s husband saw a flock of geese flying south on Sunday.  Terry says she does not think that is a good sign.  Whatever the signs and whatever happens, stalwart Champions are up for it.  Spring is on its way.

        Brenda Coffman Massey wrote a thank you on facebook for all those who were able to come out to the Vanzant Community Building in the bad weather last Saturday night to the benefit pie supper for Beverly Emory.  Bev kept Esther’s elaborate hair-do looking perfect for years and kept the place sunny with her own sweet smile.  Steve Moody furnished smoked meat for the dinner and JD Shannon, Dennis Lynch, Debbi and Joe Shannon, Debbie Stone, and others were thanked for doing all the hard work of organizing the evening.  Whetstone provided the entertainment.  It is great to know that the neighborhood will step up to help a friend and neighbor.  Steve Moody is a good neighbor.  He will be doing the Master of Ceremonies work at the Skyline VFD Auxiliary Chili Supper this Saturday.  Whetstone will be playing there too, along with Backyard Bluegrass and Lead Hill Players.  The roads ought to be good enough and whether or not there is snow on the ground or mud, the yearning for a good get together will have the community ready to venture out for some real fun and the chance to see old friends, meet new ones and support the great volunteer fire department that serves the area so well.  All the proceeds from the chili supper go to buy fire-fighting equipment and training for those wonderful volunteers.  Local kitchens will be warming up on the last really cold days of the winter as pies of all kinds are being baked to help the cause–pumpkin, peach, apple, strawberry/blueberry and lemon meringue—just to name a few.  Maybe someone will use Esther’s coconut cream pie recipe this year and have us all remembering her dedication to the fire department from its very beginning.  Then, of course, the blackberry cobblers will be the favorite temptation for dieters abandoning their resolve for one glorious evening.

        Regular Wednesday visitors to Champion start showing up in the late morning and the Meeting Room at the Historic Emporium fills up with history, tall tales, jokes, speculations, conjectures and observations.  Ethel Leach has been watching bald eagles.  There is a mated pair that lives up her way and she gets to see them often.  She and Bob had lost a calf not long ago and found a golden eagle at the carcass.  They are enormous birds.  Ethel said the golden eagle chased a bald eagle away from carrion.  People with livestock have no choice but to be out in the elements tending their flocks and herds.  Farmers have chosen a hard way to make a living.  Gardeners who just sit inside watching their plot through the window as the snow ‘fixes’ nitrogen for them understand hard work, but the relentlessness of exertion required of a dairy farmer is something milk drinkers everywhere should appreciate.  When you wipe that white mustache off your upper lip you can thank a Champion dairy farmer.  Irene reminds us that your newspaper is in your mail box because a mail carrier put it there—another occupation known for its unremitting ceaselessness.  Champions all!  A friend over on Hunter Creek says, “Now get up and go enjoy the beautiful outdoors!”  Some will linger by the fire for a while first, but will get out by and by, if just to go get the mail.

        “A life is like a garden.  Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”  That was a reflection of Leonard Nimoy before he passed away recently.  Back before he was Mr. Spock he was frequently on Bonanza, Gun Smoke, Wagon Train, The Virginian, and Rawhide, as well as in a number of ‘cowboy’ movies.  He shared the screens with many legends and in the process of make-believe they propagated what is considered to be a wholesome set of standards for living–among them honor, compassion, and justice.  Many who have grown up watching television may have these stories confused in their minds with history.  There is currently a movement in Oklahoma and Texas and probably other places, to cease teaching ‘advanced placement’ history in the public schools because it may paint an unflattering picture of our past.  A friend said, “Just because you like what you hear does not mean it is the truth.”  We honor our forbearers by teaching all of U.S. history, even the parts that might be uncomfortable, unflattering, shameful and unpatriotic.  The knowledge will help us be better people and better citizens of the world.  America has been at war for 222 out of the 239 years since 1776.  It looks like there is plenty yet to learn.

        Among good citizens count Barbara Deegan.  She founded the Ozark String Project back in 2007 and now has over 40 students.  They are being trained to read music and to play by ear in the local tradition of fiddling.  Learn more about the Ozark String Project at their concert on Sunday the 8th at the Performing Arts Center in Ava at 3 in the afternoon.  It will be a short program presented by teachers and a number of students who have auditioned for the opportunity to perform.  Barbara’s contact information is bdeegan@avabears.net or 417-683-5450 extension 136.  The Arkansas Traveler, Soldiers’ Joy, Red Haired Boy, Down Yonder, Cherokee Shuffle, and Esther’s favorite, Orange Blossom Special, will be some of the hundreds of fiddle tunes that these young folks will likely be saving for posterity.  History via music is a Champion notion.

        Neighbors to the West of Ava have a granddaughter by the name of Bailey who lives way out in Portland, Oregon.  Bailey is having her birthday on the 9th of March.  So will broom-maker Kay Dennis, though she has probably started partying already.  Have fun.  The tenth belongs to Skyline first grade teacher, Mrs. Vivod.  First grade students are the definition of fun.  Mrs. Casper is Skyline’s music and art teacher.  She is responsible for all the great music programs where students dazzle the community while filling parents’ and grandparents’ hearts with overflowing joy and pride.  A good friend and neighbor, Geoff Metroplos, would be celebrating his birthday on the 12th.  His quick smile and good humor come to mind when his neighbors remember what a hard worker he was and how willing he always was to help when you needed it.  He would like this story told by an old Cherokee to his grandson.  “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.  One is Evil.  It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.  The other is Good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”  The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which one wins?”  The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

        Come down to the wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and sit in on the conversation around the stove on Wednesday or any day.  Feed your hunger for knowledge, ice cream or candy bars, and while you are at it pick up some feed for your dog, your cat, or your calf.  If you need fencing staples, a new flush valve for your toilet, pie pans (for your chili supper contribution), or pizza you will have come to the right place.  If you have or need an optimistic world view and a happy heart, you will be welcome in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015

CHAMPION—February 23, 2015

        The Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square has been enjoying brisk business as is evidenced by the condition of the parking lot.  Frozen ruts of mud and ice give it a rollercoaster kind of feeling, but the pavement is dry and Champions do not seem to have been overly inconvenienced by the weather.

The Road Ahead

        Some ‘back’ roads are just now becoming navigable and then just between freezes as the muddy slush hardens up again and becomes first crunchy then slick.  What a luxury to be well stocked and secure with no need to go wandering about.  When the grand children come bounding through the doors with their racket and snowy boots leaving puddles everywhere, some old grandparents are just pleased that they come at all.  There will be plenty of time to clean up after they have gone and meanwhile the commotion and laughter is a great pause in the tranquility.  Endless cups of hot chocolate and “because we like this kind!” as an excuse for not having the marshmallow variety, plus wet gloves and mittens scorching on the wood stove keep the old folks hopping.  Exhausted parents sip their coffee in silence, glad to have a break, looking forward to school starting up again.  The uncluttered front yard, once a placid undisturbed sheet of white, now transformed in to a chaotic plot of snow dogs, snow horses/unicorns, snow dragons, snow men and ladies and snow chickens will be a reminder of the day’s romp.  A thoughtful son-in-law makes sure the wood box is full and hauls out the ashes, fills the bird feeders and takes out the compost.  Soon enough they are all gone again, leaving not too much of a mess behind and some contented old folks happy to resume their quiet routine and happy to have been included in the lives of their busy children.  “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

        A sweet story gleaned from the internet was written by Carolyn Nunn Harvey.  She said, “Sometime last fall, around Thanksgiving, I lost my wedding ring which, unnoticed, slipped off my finger while I was doing my outside chores without gloves on.  I searched for it in vain, and even bought a metal detector to help locate it.  No luck.  Then today, a ray of sunlight shining through the window of a chicken shed into a nest box at exactly the right time and angle, glittered on a mostly-buried fragment of metal and caught my attention.  There it was!  Didn’t take but a second to get it back on my finger, where hopefully it will remain another 33 years!  What a lucky day!”  More good news came on-line as The General expressed his gratitude to Deborah Barker for having made a Valentine’s huckleberry pie.  He said, “That this is the first huckleberry pie I’ve ever had and it is delicious!”  He is a lucky man.  The Thursday night Vanzant pot-luck and bluegrass jam was cancelled for February 19th.  The General did not want his many musical friends to jeopardize their safety in the hard winter weather.  Chances are good that the 26th will be fine for the regular musical Thursday.  Saturday, the 28th, is set aside for a community benefit pie supper and auction for Beverly Emery.  Dinner will be served at 5:30 and the auction will start at 7:00.  The Vanzant Community Building gets a lot of good use and hopes are that the weather will cooperate to allow for this lovely community gesture.

        “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember:  you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.  Happy Birthday,” said A.A. Milne.  He was born in 1882 and lived until 1956.  A prekindergarten student at Skyline School has her birthday on February 27th.  Her name is Mattalynn Hutsell.  Frankie Proctor will miss his birthday.  It is on the 29th of February and we are not having one of those this year.  Beatrice’s Dad, Leopold, up in Stroudsburg, PA will celebrate on the second of March.  Sixth grader Shaelyn Sarginson and resource teacher, Mrs. Barker (huckleberry pie), share the third for their birthday.  Linda up at The Plant Place in Norwood and Krenna Long of Norwood North, both celebrate on the fifth.  The sixth is the special day for kindergarten student Rylee Sartor.  Happy birthday to all you brave, strong, smart people.

        If Cletus Upshaw were still with us he could probably fill Diane Wilbanks in on some history of her place.  He knew stories about every nook and cranny, every hill and holler, and he is sorely missed.  The Wilbanks’ driveway was once called the Veracruz Road.  Diane says they have a new metal detector and have found a Civil War fox hole.  She is looking forward to spending some time in the Douglas County Museum and to some research time in the Court House to fill in the blanks.  It will be her good luck to meet Cinita Brown who knows the country well.  It is the good luck of the community to have new neighbors like Diane and Jerry.  They will be the couple in the wagon behind the pretty white mules when the next wagon train rolls through Champion.  She says that the first organized ride of the West Plains Wagon Club will be in June.  Meanwhile, there will be lots of good opportunities to get together.  The Skyline VFD Chili Supper will be an ideal time to meet up with old and new friends.  It is coming up in just a couple of weeks.  All the enforced isolation brought on by the weather will give way to the “Good bye Cabin Fever” party that this event provides.  A bowl of good chili and some blackberry cobbler or peach pie will be just the thing.  The music by Backyard Bluegrass, Lead Hill Players and Whetstone will be a relief from winter’s dreariness.  Toes will tap.  Word has it that the silent auction will be better than ever this year.  Ms. McCleary is a magician with it and is accumulating some great items!  In lieu of a quilt this time, the big drawing will be for a fancy cast garden bench.  It looks like a park bench, like it would accommodate an old couple holding hands or a young couple pitching woo.  There is a 42 inch fire pit that goes along with it.  It has a screen and tools to work the fire.  Someone will have an enhanced outdoor living space when the climate allows for such as that.  Check it out at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.  This week members of the Skyline Volunteer Fire District will be adding pie making ingredients to their shopping lists and the desert table will reflect the appreciation the community has for the Fire Department that helps to keep us safe.

Inside and Out

        Every square foot of ground has its history going all the way back.  “Back to what?” inquires one.  “Back to when?”  An interesting point of view attributed to an anonyms Native American says, “Treat the earth well.  It was not given to you by your parents.  It was loaned to you by your children.  We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors.  We borrow it from our Children.”  Young farmers and stewards of the land are doing a good job of preserving a wholesome way of life for their young ones, but it is hard work and they have chores to do even when the snow is flying in Champion….Looking on the Bright Side!

 

February 16, 2015

February 16, 2015

CHAMPION—February 16, 2015

        Infrequent visitors to Champion are in for a surprise.  It will shock and sadden some to see that the ancient tree that served as home plate for ball players now in their nineties is suddenly a stump.  Granted, it is a 35 foot tall stump and the bees seem safe inside.  Chances are that it will have sprouted out by summertime to be a curious looking tree—a shrub on an enormous tall trunk.  Time will tell.  Its lean toward the old school building seemed more precarious in light of the flood of early August, 2013, and recent high winds.  September’s school reunion attendees might need to bring parasols if they want shade.  “The only constant is change,” says one.  Getting used to it might take some time.

A Champion Stump

        Wesley’s Mom, Trish, will have her birthday on the 17th.  Pete Proctor will celebrate on the 18th.  His Mother, dear Champion Ruby Hicks Proctor, was born February 19, 1925.  She had stories to tell about playing ball under that old tree.  At her last school reunion she named the girl who let go of the bat that hit her in the face one time.  She got over it and had a beautiful sweet smile.  Joanna Bell will be smiling on her birthday on the 21st.  Drayson and Carson Cline may help their Mom celebrate on the 24th.  That is the special day for Morell enthusiast, Judi Pennington, as well, and the next day is given over to celebrating Texas Ella Mae and Arne, the big Swedish Indian gardener of Farmer’s Market fame.  Happy days, all!

        The nurse did not get much business on her last trip to Champion.  There were colds and flu keeping people home around the fire.  She will be here on Tuesday the 24th, the last Tuesday of the month, helping to keep Champions healthy.  Her name is Angela Souder and she works for the Douglas County Health Department.  She sets up her station in the meeting room of Henson’s Grocery and Gas from 9:00 to 11:00 A.M. with her blood pressure checking equipment, her body mass index machine and the lung age test apparatus.  Now she is also doing blood sugar testing.  Angela, with her good humor and pleasant demeanor is providing a real gift to the community.

Elmer’s new truck.

        Valentine’s Day found one of Champion’s sweethearts out for a ride in his new bright orange Kubota RTV.  It is diesel powered all-wheel drive and has a dump bed.  It is about the cutest thing you ever saw.  It has a steel cab with doors, windshields, heat and air.  Elmer Banks and his son, Craig, brought it out on its maiden voyage to Champion to pick up some feed and to have a celebratory ice cream sandwich.  There will soon be a new set of ruts in the road and his friends will always be glad to see him coming.

        The Skyline Auxiliary had its pre-chili supper meeting at the store on Wednesday evening.  They are busy finalizing and refining plans for the big event.  It is everyone’s hope that snow will be history by then and that cabin fever will have the whole community ready for good food, good music and good fellowship all in support of the wonderful rural volunteer fire department.  The Skyline VFD is the reason homeowners are able to have insurance, and the reason that a serious health issue or an accident at home or on the road will get the speedy attention of trained first responders.  It is a little fire department, but a big part of the community.  Ticket sales have been brisk for the drawing for the garden bench and fire pit.  Pie pans are being readied and the excitement is building.  Set aside March 7th for a good time.  Backyard Bluegrass, The Lead Hill Players and Whetstone will be providing the music and Steve Moody will keep the fun moving along with his genial, good humor.

        Not everyone watches television.  Those who do are likely to have seen a message put out by the American Petroleum Institute wherein an attractive actress in a conservative business suit walks across a polished floor, pausing in front of charts and graphs that illustrate the point that “safe hydraulic fracturing techniques” are helping us to become energy independent.  The API does not talk about benzene in the Yellowstone River or the total loss of property value in Mayflower, Arkansas.  A local engineer says, “Pipelines are mechanical things.  Mechanical things break.  It is a given.”  So far the brave Native Americans and property owners of Nebraska have prevailed in a State Supreme Court ruling that says land seizures under eminent domain are unconstitutional if for the purpose of private gain.  It is a widely accepted fact that the Keystone Pipeline will provide fewer than 50 permanent jobs and the nasty Canadian tar-sands oil is to be sold to China after passing over the pristine Ogallala Aquafer that provides drinking water to millions of people, plants and animals in a broad area of the Midwestern United states.  The person you love is 72.8% water.

        Skyline School’s Lannie Hinote posed congratulations to individual placements in the Rogersville Cupid Shoot Archery Tournament on Valentine’s Day.  Gavin Sartor took fifth place, Shaelyn Sarginson took 4th place and Dylan Ford, eighth place in Middle School.  Levi Hicks took second place and Wyatt Hicks fifth place in the Elementary Division.  They are Champion competitors with a Champion coach.

        A good thing happened for our Veterans this last week with the signing of the Clay Hunt Act into law.  It requires collaboration on suicide prevention efforts between the Veteran’s Administration and non-profit mental health organizations.  Clay Hunt was a decorated Texas Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress after he came home.  He committed suicide in 2011 at the age of 28.  Deaths by suicide appear to be increasing across Missouri.  It costs more lives that homicides and DWI accidents combined.  The Southeast Missourian reports that Missouri had a suicide rate of 15.9 persons per 100,000 in 2012.  The national average is 13 suicides per 100,000 people.  They did not say how many of those were Veterans.  It is hard to know what is going on with another person just by looking at him.  Despair can masquerade in a variety of ways.  Exclusion, particularly, is a lonesome, hard, sad feeling.  Be the friend you would like to have toward all your friends and especially those who have sacrificed at the behest of the Nation.

        Look for some pictures at www.championnews.us to see the tallest stump in Champion and Elmer’s tiny pick up.  Come on down to the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the wide, wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek if you’ve got your snow shoes on–it looks 10 inches deep on Monday morning.  “I bless that happy day when Nelly lost her way and I found her little foot-prints in the snow” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

February 9, 2015

February 9, 2015

CHAMPION–February 9, 2015

Roads in and out of Champion…

        “There’ll come a day in February when a dog is looking for the shade.”  Oscar Krider’s saying proved true as Saturday was just that kind of day.  Sunday was wonderful too.  He and Ed Henson were good friends and neighbors and shared some legendary hunting adventures that are still talked about in Champion.  Oscar’s great granddaughters, Teagan and Luxe, live on the family farm where their father and grandfather grew up, in a new house sitting on the spot where Oscar and Goldie Krider lived all those years ago.  Their granddad, Lonnie Krider, said that when they would go to town on Saturday when he was a boy, his Dad would often have a hymn book in his back overall’s pocket, particularly if it was a new one.  He would meet up with friends on the street and they would sing the latest Brumley or work out a new harmony on an old song right on the street corner in Ava.  It might have been embarrassing to a kid back then, but if it was, he got over it.  Music has come down through the family just like farming.  Grandchildren Foster and Kalyssa are great singers, and their cousin Dillon Watts just teamed up with his Tennessee cousins for a nice performance of “Country Roads” on the internet.  The roads in and out of Champion are full of ties between the past and the future.

        Olga’s Ms. Sharon Shannon has been taking care of her chickens and taking advantage of the cold weather to do an independent study of Civil War history.  Her studies have taken her beyond the state approved text books and the conventional assessments of the causes of the conflict and the results of it and into some surprising territory.  The world over, people are finding out more about history than established purveyors necessarily make available.  It is reported that while history books in China and India do include a study of World War II, they hardly mention the Holocaust, if at all, considering it a minor event.  Over here, we have always had a pretty good opinion of Winston Churchill.  It turns out that he held some fairly harsh and racist views that would not be tolerable today.  When the First World War was over and veterans were returning home in Great Britain, the people of Glasgow were striking to establish a 40 hour work week that would make it possible for those returning veterans to find work.  Churchill turned military tanks onto the streets and routed the protesters.  Many lives were lost in addition to the damage done to collective bargaining.  Later Margaret Thatcher‘s approach to the trade unions supported by labor was not dissimilar to the current ‘right to work’ issue here which eliminates collective bargaining altogether and insures that the wealth stays in corporate hands as opposed to the hands of the people actually doing the work.  About the time Churchill was behaving badly in Scotland, President Herbert Hoover turned General Patton and mounted Calvary loose on 17,000 veterans and their families and supporters (46,000 people in all) who were camped outside of Washington D.C. looking for the sign up bonuses they were promised when they enlisted.  Someone says that a young person should work in a Veterans home or hospital for some time as a prerequisite to joining the service just to get an idea of what to expect.  Staying informed is an arduous task, but worth the trouble.  It is difficult to see all sides of any situation and hard to change your mind when facts support it.  “Consider the source” is a good adage and the more sources available, the better chance a person has of figuring it all out for himself.  It is a privilege to live in a society where disparate opinions can be discussed in a civil context.  Champion!

        The Cowboy had his birthday on Saturday the 7th and it was surely a doozy.  He knows how lucky he was not to have burned his house down recently, and not to have drowned when his horse dumped him in the creek a while back.  He is a walking example of good luck and his Champion friends hope his birthday was just right.  Champion grandchildren, Zoey Louise and Alexandra Jean, had the pleasure of celebrating their Mother’s birthday on Sunday.  Champion Skyline Archer Cheyenne Baker celebrates her birthday on February 11th.  The 13th is the day for second grader Joshua Garner to have his party.  Sandra Powell, Champion daughter, has that day as her own also.  Shelby Ward always has her birthday on Valentine’s Day.  Her sister Madelyn will help her celebrate as will her Champion grandparents who have moved off but come home frequently.  Madison Bradshaw is a first grade student at Skyline celebrating a birthday on the 16th.  That will be a Monday, which is always a good day for a party.

        Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood is up on the www.championnews.us website and on the bulletin board by the back door at Henson’s Grocery and Gas.  A few warm days have some excited about the garden again and seed orders are arriving in the mail, manure is being shoveled by the truck load and one old Champion gardener is looking for a stout young fellow to help her with some heavy work in her garden.  She will not pay in turnips, but in cold hard cash.  Soon enough, people will be getting their potatoes in the ground.  Ed Henson said to be sure and wrap them in newspaper “so the dirt won’t get in their eyes.”

Clever Creek

        Tina Base has been looking at The Champion News facebook page and asked if the Clever Creek is dry.  TCN responded that it is dry at its southern extremes but it does not take much of a rain to get it going and sometimes in a big way.  There are always a few pools and puddles up toward Cold Springs.  Ms. Base says she is thinking about moving to the area and was wondering what it is like living there.  “Being in a very rural area, what do you do for fun and entertainment?  Where do you go for medical, jobs, home supplies, church etc?”  Perhaps the lady can make a visit to see if it suits her here.  Meanwhile, TCN will do its best to answer her questions.  Perhaps she can attend the Skyline VFD Auxiliary meeting down at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion on Wednesday the 11th.  She will meet some fine folks and see the workings of a great community.  Everyone is welcome.

        Valentine’s Day is full of sweet stuff to eat and to hear.  “Roses are red and violets are purple, sugar is sweet and so is maple surple,” says Roger Miller.  Romance is in the air and it can take many forms.  Arguing turns out to be one.  Arguing with an engineer can be a losing proposition.  They say that it is like mud wrestling with a pig.  After a while, a person discovers that the pig is having fun.  He will know more about the subject of the disagreement than a jack rabbit knows about running.  A good argument can be stimulating and winning and losing can be considered subjective in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

February 2, 2015

February 2, 2015

CHAMPION—February 2, 2015

A Champion Horizon

        Cardinals, finches, blue jays, woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees cavorted in the short lived, wispy Monday morning snow and local observers were pleased to see a beautiful mountain bluebird here and there.  Little patches of blue sky over on the horizon, just behind the hill took over to make a glorious day, if a little chilly.  Champion!

        The General says, “Ground Hog Day has been cancelled this year because of the nor’easter, and especially because of the Super “Deflatgate” Bowl.  The winter weather forecasting pig has moved and has his hide well hidden.  He has heard footballs are going to be made out of groundhog skin because once inflated it is impossible to remove the air from them.”  Ground Hog Day is the day when a fix can be made on the arrival of Spring and so we like it.  People who especially like the day are celebrating birthdays, Judy Parsons, Charlene Dupre, Angie Heffern, Connie Grand and Catherine Mallernee.  Zack Alexander had his birthday on the 1st as did a Champion regular with a nice little dog and a birthday in 1940!  Angle Parkes is an eighth grader at Skyline School and celebrates her birthday on February 6th.

        Lannie Hinote wrote, “Such a great turnout for the Skyline Archery State Qualifier . . . great sportsmanship by all and great shooting . . . I want to thank my entire archery team for all their hard work preparing for the tournament as well as helping run the tournament today.  Thank you to Missouri Department of Conservation Outdoor Specialist Larry Lindeman for helping us on the range, as well as Terry Prock, Rachel Brown, and Debra Helmick Shearer.  You all made it look so easy.  Thank you to Crystal Potter Emery, Crystal Sartor and Bridget Seabert Hicks for keeping up with all the scoring, to Ms. Curtis for helping with registration, and to all the PTO members that help keeping the kids and adults well fed.  Oh, yes, I do not want to forget one specific 8th grader for doing the sunshine dance every day for us so the snow and ice would not interfere….that was epic.”  Passersby were amazed at the crowd.  Local papers should be full of pictures this week.  Congratulations to Skyline on a job well done!

A Champion Reflection

        Justin Britt plays offensive tackle for the Seahawks.  He is a local boy from Lebanon, six foot six inches tall, 325 pounds and 23 years old.  That is a good enough reason to favor one team over another.  In an unusual move, guests at the North Champion Super Bowl Soirée (once again The General demurred) asked that the sound be turned on for the replay of that spectacular spiraling fumbling bumbling catch that seemed to be the turning point for the boys in blue.  Alas!  Their hopes were thwarted when a clever young man among their opponents found himself at exactly that right place, with only seconds on the clock, to intercept, on the very goal line, what was going to have been the winning pass.  Fortunes are won and lost in a heartbeat.  Ms. Ayn Thrope vocalized her steady stream of criticism without shouting, which was a relief to hosts and other guests alike.  “The twenty new NFL stadiums since 1997 cost taxpayers $4.7 billion.  Stadium construction is financed with tax-free bonds intended for school and roads, saving the NFL team another $4 billion.  Teams sell luxury seating to corporate clients worth $2 billion a year—all tax-deductible.  Super bowl commercials cost $4.5million for a 30 second spot—all tax-deductible.  The NFL makes $10 billion in revenue annually but has paid ZERO federal income taxes in 50 years.”  She goes on to say, “Then there is the gambling—millions of dollars change hands in legal above board gambling and estimates are $4.3 billion in illegal betting.”  She cited several sources for her information one being Zack’s Mom.  She did like the pepper jelly on the baked brie, the bacon candy and persimmon cookies.

        Sharon Shannon from over at Olga always has excellent reports to make about the wildlife in her area, the squirrels and foxes and all the things that nose around the chicken coop at night.  She is raising chickens and doing what she loves which she says is “no work at all.”  Roger Wall is presumably doing what he likes these days which includes writing the Notes from Hunter Creek.  He too has some interesting wild life observations.  Champion Deward Henson’s daughter, living up in Springfield  these days, is a great fan of the eagle and will enjoy this exciting reading about how it is possible for a salmon to drown an eagle.  She is politically astute and will appreciate the way Wall explains how “Abe Lincoln became the first elected Republican President in the nation, but without a majority of the vote.”

        Bob and Ethel Leach have had the flu and Lee Ray has too, so Wednesday’s gathering at the Famed Emporium was a little subdued.  Lee Ray might say that if you pat your foot just right you could make that sound like a poem.  He has been in the business of issuing “Poetic Licenses” lately.  He does not charge a fee.  The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering was going on over the last few days up in Elko, Nevada. It is the Super Bowl of Cowboy Poetry.  Next year, just about the time cabin fever sets in, Champions might sponsor a trip for Lee Ray up to Elko for a week.  It would give him a chance to immerse himself in poetry and still be manly.  It is a subject up for discussion.  It might be interesting to find out what the Cowboy and Indian Poets are writing about the pipeline over and through their water and their sacred lands.  There is probably someone chanting, “No eminent domain for private gain!”  Will Rogers, cowboy and Indian, poet and humorist addressed the economy thusly:  “The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.  Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up.  Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow.  But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”  He said that in November, 1932.  A week in Elko and Almartha’s Best might sound like that.  Hopefully everyone will be on the mend and back around the stove soon to talk it all over.  The Native American Council is offering amnesty to two hundred forty million undocumented whites.

        Myron Jackson of KZ88 writes in to ask if the date has been set for the Fire Department fundraiser this year.  “As always we’d love to give it some publicity and I may have an item or two for the silent auction.”  The date is set for March 7th and there will be some great music there.  Whetstone, Lead Hill Players, and Back Yard Bluegrass will all be there.  Dennis and D.J. Shumate were on hand in Vanzant on Saturday morning providing music for the funeral of a much loved good neighbor and genuinely nice man, Bill Emory.  He passed away on Wednesday and was buried there in Vanzant where he had lived most of his life.  Beverly and all those left behind are in the warmest thoughts of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!