CHAMPION—July 25, 2016

The Behemoth Bee Tree—solid as a rock.  The bees are fine.

        The Village, as Deward called it, resting alongside Auld Fox Creek, at the bottom of several hills, at the junction of country roads, right where the pavement begins is much recovered from the frightful storms of the previous weeks.  The brush has been hauled; the limbs cut and stacked, much of the damage to property repaired.  A prominent citizen spoke up to say that he had been entirely misquoted in The Champion News regarding the Behemoth Bee Tree.  It was reported thusly:  “A prominent citizen pointed out that the Behemoth Bee Tree stood like 35 foot tall pop-sickle stick, hardly ruffled in the breeze and the bees are fine.”  What he actually said was, “The Behemoth Bee Tree stood solid as a rock!”  The popsicle part was an embellishment meant to emphasize the relative lack of substance in the form of limbs, meaning no real wind resistance.  There is one small limb broken with wilted foliage, but for the most part it is nicely leafed out and gives every indication that it will continue to live for a while.  Champions hope the same for themselves.

        Champions abroad on the Isle of Bute off the west coast of Scotland describe their recent storm:  “Not really night time with such a bright full moon and such warm air, alongside a suspicious lack of midges.  Then black clouds closed over, pressing down on us, all the stars went out, and the night became too dark to be right.  The air was still warm, but now it was moving.  There was a noise like a rock fall, a landslide coming for us, then the low black heavens opened and the thunder exploded like the ground was splitting apart.  Lightning bolts far too close, right over and around us, relentless, blinding, strobing cage bars.  And warm torrential rain!  Bliss.  It lasted for an age, then moved off as one low slow alien ship entity, leaving the sky, the moon and the stars, leaving hairs bristling, and a smell of singed something.  Last night was my favorite storm EVER.”  Weather related excitement happens all around the world.

        Birthday excitement is happening for Seamus Heffern.  He lives in Springfield and is a Champion Grandson.  He will be 15 on the second of August (election day).  His Grandmother says that his first priority is to learn to drive.  “He will get his permit and then watch out.”  Readers of The Champion News on line at can go to the May 16, 2016 posting to see a good photograph of him as a finalist in the Physics Fair in Springfield.  Pokey Man Go has his interest currently.  He will be a man of his times.

        The first of August was the birthday of Elitta January who passed away in 2011.  She was a long time resident of the area who raised her family here and who, over the years, touched many lives as a Hospice nurse.  She loved bird watching, cooking, camping and gardening, and she loved to play Bridge.  She will always be much missed and her friends speak of her often and smile remembering her own beaming grin.

        There will be an open house at Skyline School on August 15th from 5:30 to 7:00 in the evening.  It will be a great chance to look around at the wonderful little facility and to become acquainted with the staff, a nice bunch of people.  School starts on the17th.  Open enrollment is August 8th and 9th from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  New students are asked to bring proof of residence, shot records, birth certificate and Social Security number if possible.  The Douglas County Health Department nurse, Nannette Hirsch, will be at the school on the 2nd from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. doing blood pressure checks and other health screenings for the community.  It is an important service that has proven to be lifesaving.  The 2nd will also be a chance for the community to do a great service for the school, perhaps lifesaving, as the levy increase comes up on the ballot in the primary election.  Property in the school district is assessed at 19% of the value for a residence, 12% for a farm and personal property at 33.3%.  The increase of $.48 per $100.00 in assessed value will bring the total levy up to $3.43.  This means that a homeowner with a $50,000 house and 2 cars worth a total of $15,000 would have taxes increased approximately $70.00 per year.  What the levy increase will bring to Skyline School is an additional $44,000 from local revenue and an additional $20,600 from the State.  These funds will go a long way toward updating the security of the school, the technology, the equipment—fixtures and furniture, as well as the transportation.  It may be a surprise to some to know that the State requires Skyline to pay tuition for each of the students in our district when they enter the 9th grade in one of the three local high schools.  Often the tuition is more than the State provides for each student.  Skyline paid $205,000 this last year in tuition.

        The absence of something bad has again proven to be the same as something good.  So it was in the Historic Emporium on Wednesday as a harmonious gathering of neighbors in the meeting room discussed history, family history, weather, farming, haying and a great many other things, including the foibles of some of those absent from the group.  A local well respected luthier had brought back the banjolin he had taken for repair a couple of weeks earlier.  It had its neck straightened, its head tightened and a new bridge and strings.  He says when the stretch is out of the strings in a few days it should be quite tunable and playable—strung and tuned like a mandolin with the head of a banjo—a  unique instrument.   A little music is starting to happen there in the early Wednesday afternoons.  Musicians with their instruments are welcome.  The owner of the banjolin is hoping someone will learn Gene Autry’s ‘Texas Plains’.  “I want to drink my java from an old tin can/ while the moon goes climbing high/ I want to hear the call of a whippoorwill/ I want to hear a coyote cry…”

        Vanzant will be the high point of a multi-generational vacationing party of Idaho based Upshaws and Upshaw descendants during the coming week.  They are sure to be at the Thursday Bluegrass Jam there and will swell the crowd by 17 or so.  They have been touring the country, seeing the sites, including Mt. Rushmore.  Perhaps they will circumambulate the Square in downtown Champion to examine the Behemoth Bee Tree and then lounge with refreshments on the spacious veranda to look out on another one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!