December 21, 2023

CHAMPION—December 18, 2023


Luthier Lee Richardson unafraid of the Grinch.

The Grinch, unmasked as Superintendent Donnie Luna.

The Grinch tried his best to steal Christmas from the Skyline School, but it did not work. Thursday found the green Grinch and Cindy Lou Who roaming the halls. The fiend burst into classrooms and made off with trees and presents. He had a whole roomful of loot. In the middle of this tumultuous scene came Lee Richardson, dedicated luthier to the school. He has rehabilitated, strung, and donated several good instruments to Skyline’s guitar program. He was happy to meet music director Cheyenne McIntosh in the middle of her rehearsal for the Christmas Program scheduled for that night. She wrangles the whole student body into a performance that sweetens and tickles the hearts of parents, grandparents, family, friends, and neighbors, kinfolks, and others too numerous to mention, as well as the dedicated professional school staff and the important PTO. Before it was over, the Grinch was unmasked and revealed to be Superintendent Donnie Luna. He happily relinquished his booty and posed for a picture with the new friend of the school. We are delighted to have so much support for our little rural school, busy educating and encouraging the young citizens who will be running things ‘eer long. It will be an exciting spring session at Skyline as construction of the new Skyline VFD firehouse just next door. Watching the building go up may cause some students to consider going into the building trades. Whatever fields they choose for their life’s work, they will have had a great start in Skyline R2 School.

Champions are looking forward to the annual potluck lunch at the Historic Emporium. Residents and people with a history in the neighborhood or just a liking for it get to mingle, reminisce, renew old acquaintances, and make new ones. Histories, genealogies, tall tales mix with optimism. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


December 20, 2023




The groundbreaking ceremony for the new fire station for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department happened on December 12th. It has been a complicated process, but thanks to the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) and the South Central Ozark Council of Governments (SCOCG), our dedicated first responders and fire fighters will have a place to hold board meetings and training events. The new facility will have running water and bathrooms and other amenities the volunteers have done without for many years. Gentry Construction will follow the blueprints of architect, Joe Haberline. Jessica Moran of SCOCG will administer the grant. She attended the ceremony along with Fire Chief Veldencamp and Chaplin Merridith from the Squires Fire Department, and Fire Chief David Roberts of the Good Hope Fire Department. District One Commissioner Travis Chaney and Sheriff Chris Degase came out to show their support. The Skyline VFD was represented by Fire Chief Doug Hutchison, officers and fire fighters, D.J. Mastrangelo, Charlie Johnson, Robert Hamilton, Donald Powell, and Bud Watkins. Other Skyline volunteers planned to attend, but missed the ceremony because they were busy responding to a semitruck wreck on Highway C. They were taking care of business. Applications are being accepted for volunteers for fire rescue and first responder. (417-349-9150) No experience is needed. Training will be provided. The Skyline area covers Brushy Knob, Skyline, Evans, Champion, Denlow, Sweden and Black Oak. Residents in the Skyline VFD district are grateful for the service and dedication of volunteers and to neighboring fire departments who provide mutual assistance. This new fire station will make it easier for hard working volunters to do their important work and perhaps it will entice some young folks and newcomers to join this vital organization. Recently the Wright County Crisis Center made a significant donation to the Skyline VFD. Community support makes it all happen.


CHAMPION—December 11, 2023



Two weeks ahead of Christmas the excitement is building. School programs fill parent hearts with sweet satisfaction. Fantastic yard decorations in town and out on highways and, even on long dirt roads, light us up to the joy of the season. Big family gatherings with family traditions and solitary individuals, remembering old times and perhaps feeling blue about it, pass the same day. Telephone calls can ease that longing. Lonely hearts are urged not to wait for the call, but to make it. Meanwhile, much of humanity is suffering and the urge to help mixes with gratitude for our own wellbeing, making for a sweet and sad season. We say, “Happy New Year,” hoping for the best.

Spike Jones (December 14, 1911—May 1, 1965) was an American actor, comedian, and musician who was able to combine music and laughter to lift spirits. Judy Gale Ing (December 14, 1941—May 22, 2010) photographer, photographer at an important cancer research lab, artist, pilot, writer of historic fiction, was active in the Audubon Society, completing the bird count every year. She received a National Audubon newsletter award. She was a great friend and visited Champion with her children many times. Once she floated her Subaru down Clever Creek during a big spring rain. She is a much missed, dear friend, a Champion in many ways. Another great photographer, Shannon Alexander, lives up in Springfield where he does some beautiful work making people feel beautiful. He enjoys his birthday on December 14th. He is a Champion son-in-law, husband of a Skyline alumnus. He is probably friends with Amanda Masten, who has her birthday on the 16th. That is Judy’s son Jesse Ing’s birthday too. He is a big time movie maker out in L.A. The 20th is for the lovely Mary Goolsby. She enjoys a ride to the Vanzant Jam in a Studebaker. Mary is retired from an important role in the critical air evac system.

She shares her big day with the fine fiddler, Herbie Johnston, son of the much loved and missed J.R. Johnston. Herby plays all around the area, even Grandpa’s fiddle over at the Laura Ingall Wilder place in Mansfield. The next day, the 21st, the shortest day of the year, is for Jonas Paige, a sixth grade student at Skyline. He shares his big day with another fine fiddler, Jerry Wagner, who yodels while he is Waiting for a Train. Prekindergartner Braxton Loveless celebrates on the 22nd. Fourth grader Chase Cauthron and his dad have the same birthday on the 23rd. Their neighbor, Sharon Skies, celebrates that day too. She just lives a little way down the road from her great granddaughter, cowpoke Blaine Denlow. Talented flint knapper and bow maker, Butch Stone shares the day with Sharon, Chase, and David. Christmas Day is the birthday of the lovely Joanne Anderson. She is known as Grannie Grunt to her grandchildren. Happy Birthday to all of you and Merry Christmas two wonderful weeks from now.

Champions are excited about the groundbreaking for the new Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department fire house. It has been a long time coming, and, hopefully, the enhanced facility will encourage participation by a bunch of young folks and newcomers. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


December 14, 2023

CHAMPION—December 4, 2023



Long afternoon shadows tell us the year is winding down. In a couple of weeks, we can start observing the days getting longer by miniscule increments and before we know it, it will be June 21st after which the days will begin shortening up again. Meanwhile, every day has some unexpected beauty about it. Cloudy gray days give some housekeepers a break when the dirty windows, the dust and cobwebs hardly show up at all the way they do in a brilliant streak of sunshine. That brilliant sunshine lifts our winter spirits and lets us see deeper into the woods. New structures and old ones that we had forgotten about are revealed now that summer’s heavy foliage fills the forest floor.

Thursday’s all day drizzle with an occasional shower was welcomed by Champions who had been worried about fire and the dry summer foliage on the forest floor. The rain, what little of it there was, seemed to reduce the turnout at the Thursday Vanzant Jam, but those who were there had a good time. From a newcomer’s clear voice came a couple of murder ballads, one in first person, and from another newcomer with a beautiful voice, a melodic song that says change happens unexpectedly all the time everywhere whether you like it or not. Lyrics in a foreign language are always interesting. They could mean anything. But music speaks to all of us. We are connected deeply to our music friends. To name all those who have passed on might cause one to be left out, so we just hold on to the many songs and tunes they taught us and the memory of their voices. We still have some venerable musical treasures among us. You know who you are, and you know who they are. Music is good medicine. Good news comes from Jean’s Healthway that Jeff Barry is on his way to a great rehabilitation center in Colorado where he will get the best of care in his recovery. Ava has stepped up in a big way to help this family. It will be a long process. In a world so in need of help, knowing we cannot help everyone, we can still help someone.

Who does not relish the opportunity to straighten up, whether from stoop labor, accumulated years, or bad behavior, intentional or not? A recent straightening to The Champion News had to do with the reporting of birthdays, citing confusion in determining whether the person being celebrated on a given day is living yet or is being remembered posthumously. Living in Louisiana, Professor Zack Godshall celebrates on the 6th of December, as does Ed Bell, living in Wright County. The 7th is for the lovely Ethel Leach, with a Norwood mailing address from which she frequently sends thoughtful greeting cards, including the first Christmas card of the year. Noam Chomsky was born December 7, 1928, and is known for his work in cognitive science, among other things. Artist Chris Tharp lives in Veracruz and has his birthday on the 8th. Richard Johnston was born December 9th, 1955. He lives over around Salem these days. Skyline prekindergarten student Elizabeth Johnson has that day for her party too. Two third grade students at Skyline have their birthdays on December 10th. They are Levi Hall and Westin Nava. Felix’s aunt Kai, up in Portland, Oregon and Loretta Upshaw, The General’s fair daughter both enjoy the 11th. Sixth grader Kennedy Hinote celebrates on December 13th. We hope your birthdays are all happy and that you are blessed with friends who will help you straighten up and straighten out. Straighten up and fly right, Champions!

December 7, 1941, ushered the United States into World War II. World conditions these days seem almost as tumultuous. We live in an era with a mindset that divides–predator or prey, a grifter or mark. How about friends and neighbors who can amicably disagree? In football we see it all the time. Fierce competitors help each other up off the field and after the game, no matter who won, there is camaraderie and respect for the opposing team. There is no glory in defeating a weak opponent. Yes, it is just a game, but civility is still Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—November 27, 2013


Between Wednesdays in Champion, the days have gone from sunny, bright and warm all the way to chilly, dank and drear—from dry to a little less dry. Yard dogs are worn out from barking at the trucks and side-by-sides wearing out the country lanes in pursuit of deer. The harvest seems to have gone well. A great deal of generosity shows up during deer season, as hunters share their harvest with neighbors and with the community at large through area processors. The deer that decimated various gardens had a healthy diet that makes them tasty on gardener’s tables. Most Wednesdays find a little music, some interesting reminiscing, some outright fabrications, some genealogy and laughter around the old wood stove. Some of that kind of thing happens on other days as well.

Cheerful givers have been contributing to the “Jeff Jar” at Jean’s Healthway, in support of the Barry family, declining to take the change from their purchases. The Peace Valley Poultry folks from West Plains shared a bunch of their wonderful free range chickens and others are finding creative ways to help the family through the difficulties arising from the accident that occurred on November 8th. It feels good to be part of a community that comes together to meet the needs of a valued member.

Champion granddaughter Luxe Krider was born December 2, 2014. She is Teagan’s little sister. Captain Whetstone, David Richardson, was also born on December 2nd, but quite a few years previous. Miss Lorelai Day celebrates her big day on the 3rd. Wade will likely sing to her. We remember Lonnie Krider and his wonderful music on his birthday December 4th. The Hub’s lovely Ms. Spivey shares her birthday on the 5th with Skyline seventh grader Michael Hall and with Levi Crownover, a kindergarten student at Skyline. Dawn Henson, Champion by marriage, down in Houston, Texas, parties big on the 5th. Happy birthday to all of you.

A computer virus slowed things down for some Old Champions. That, combined with an excruciatingly slow internet, gave them time to catch up on some of the neglected projects that have been lingering for a while. If nothing else, it rekindled the notion of balance. It helps to remember the time when no one had a computer. It was also a great help to get connected with Josh Abernathy at PC Express. Some folks of a certain age now consider themselves ‘analog people in a digital world.’ We are grateful to have Josh help us navigate it. We will be delighted when the White River Connect folks connect us, maybe after the first of the year.

Neighbors living just down the road from one another may not have their paths cross very often. It is a rare and enjoyable occasion when they meet at the Historic Emporium at the end of the pavement on Fox Creek or sometimes in town at the grocery store. Such a happy meeting on Monday added to the joy of the Thanksgiving holiday as they caught up with each other’s news and shared their plans for feasting with family and friends. They agreed that they all have much to be thankful for. Twenty wild turkeys spent Thanksgiving morning browsing big open fields along Cold Springs Road, taking their time on a beautiful day. Phone calls took the place of warm hugs for some and some chose to say their blessings over leftovers with a thought toward the unknown numbers of people here and elsewhere in dire straits, hungry and displaced in these turbulent times. We mix gratitude for our own good fortune with hope for an easing of the world’s suffering. We remember Rosalynn Carter and all the good work she did just because she thought helping each other is what people are supposed to do. She was a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!