February 27, 2024

CHAMPION—February 26, 2024



Does it seem early for daffodils? They are breaking out all over in Champion. They look smaller this year, but thankfully the deer are not eating them. They go by several names—daffodils, jonquils, and some folks around these parts even call them Easter lilies. They are a real harbinger of spring. Gardeners are raising fences, hauling manure, and thinking about starting some seeds. Felix the Farmer and his bunch already have some pepper plants started. Their fall planted spinach is growing and the garlic is looking good. Champions look forward to hearing what Edie Richardson has going on at her organic farm and how much honey her honey expects to harvest this year. Some rain will really help every growing thing. Creek beds are dusty and fire danger is ominous.

March is about to arrive and with it Skyline R2 School student birthdays. Fourth grader Lotus Winter, prekindergarten Kaison Lancaster, fourth grader Ryanne Harvey, and seventh graders Abigail Grace Rystad and Gabriel Castillo celebrate on March 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. March 3rd is a big day for Dennis Shumate, who frets a lot, and for The General’s lovely daughter Deborah Barker to celebrate their birthdays. Butch and Joyce Linder have a wedding anniversary that day. Linda Heatherington and Krenna Long have birthdays on the 5th of the month and so the first five days are full of celebrations.

There is so much to celebrate. On the 14th a couple from Wires and Wood, the Springfield bluegrass band, came to the midday Wednesday jam at Champion with a big doghouse bass and a well-played guitar—Mr. and Mrs. Wright. They left a couple of CDs that will circulate through the neighborhood, and they will be welcome back any time. Charlie Lambert made it for a visit on the 21st. He has a lot of good memories of Champion and would like to be living out in this part of the country again. His friends would like that too. That Wednesday was also the day a couple of regular visitors to the Historic Emporium discovered to their amazement that they are cousins, sharing the same great grandma. Neither of them would ever have guessed. Fortunately, The General was there to corroborate.

Various forms of sniffles, bad colds, flu, and whatnot whittled down the audience at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday, but everyone who attended had a good time. Father and son Shumate and a Medlock can play faster than some people can pat their feet—lively, to say the least! Ruth Collins had the birthday song sung to her and she treated the group to a song of her own, which we hope she will sing again. Those folks recovering from their maladies have something lovely to hear when they can come again.

A nice man calling himself David Brooks interrupted a call an Old Champion was having the other day to say that she had won $8,000,000.00 and a new Chevy Tajo truck from Publishers Clearing House. He said once you enter the contest your entry is always eligible. All was going well until he told her the balloons and flowers could not arrive at her door until she had purchased a $500.00 card from Walmart or a CVS pharmacy that would authorize the bank to receive the $8M. He said he was in Springfield and his accent was almost convincing, but the phone identification said he was calling from Jamaica. The Old Champion was grateful not to have been taken in. She is also grateful for a cozy home in a beautiful part of the world with good neighbors and none of the struggles and headaches associated with a sudden significant windfall. The caller-id has been a good tool.

Champions heard a good report of the Fish Fry Benefit for the Barry Family on Friday. The folks at St. Leo’s did a wonderful job and served twice as many people as they expected. Maybe there will be a report this week about who won the quilt and the Raku vase at the raffle. It is most heartening to see the community come together to support this young family. The Jean’s Healthway family of employees and friends has been taking care of the store for Rachel while she has been taking care of her family. Jeff shared a video on the internet that tells us he is making good progress and has a good plan going forward. It smacks valiantly of courage, good humor, and optimism—what a Champion!

While there seems to be no end to the conflict, anxiousness, and suffering in the world, in a moment when a little joy, hope or encouragement appears, it is incumbent upon us to grab on to it for dear life. Spread it all around if you can. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—February 19, 2024



President’s Day starts the week. Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th and Washington’s on the 22nd both get celebrated on the 19th together with the idea of the office itself. Forty six people have held that spot starting with George. Some were better than others. It is all subjective. Everyone has a favorite. Celebrate that one and hope for more of the same.

February birthdays are special. Linda Cooley’s daughter Joanna was born February 21, 1969. Karen Faye Krider’s daughter Staci was born February 23, 1983. The 24th of the month is for master gardener Arne Ahlstedt who is happy to share unusual garden seeds and for Ruth Fish Collins who shares her beautiful, velvet voice at the jam at Roy’s Store in Dora on Tuesdays and at Vanzant on Thursdays. She sometimes sings, “It was colder than a well diggers ankles in Cutbank, Montana.” Zachary Harvey is a kindergarten student at our Skyline R2 School and celebrates his birthday luckily on Feb 28th. He is lucky because if he had been born on the 29th he would only have a birthday every four years like Frankie Proctor. Some say that Frankie is only about 18 or that he has only had 18 birthdays. His Champion friends hope he really celebrates on those occasions and wish a happy birthday to all of you.


The Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association (HOBA) made a visit to Cheyenne McIntosh’s music classes at our Skyline R2 School on Thursday. Alan Strickland, Gene Collins, Kelly Hines, and Tyler Chatham joined Sharry Lovan playing songs for the kids and putting instruments in their hands to give them the feel of being in a great band. Kelly Hines said the purpose of the visit was to imprint them with the joy of music. He thinks it is a path to keeping young people out of trouble. Music education has proven to be beneficial on many levels. It turned out to be an exciting, fun-filled morning for the students and for the HOBA band.

Skyline’s Valentine Family Formal met all expectations on Saturday night. The music, games, dancing, food, and fun was organized by Nurse Caitlyn. She and her volunteer helpers created an evening that will last sweetly in the memories of Skyline families. Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!


February 19, 2024

CHAMPION—February 12, 2024


There is no glory in defeating a weak opponent. There were no weak opponents Sunday night. Congratulations to our Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Champions! Yet, the faces of the 49ers registered sadness and disappointment that somehow evokes sympathy. They played a strong game. It could have gone the other way. “There but for fortune, go you and I,” as the song says.

The time between birthdays passes more swiftly for some than others. Skyline seventh grader Aiden Acree and third grader Makenzie Jonas have the 8th and 9th of February for their birthdays. The 13th is for Claire Shannon who has grown up and gotten married. Valentine’s Day is the big one for Shelby Ward, Champion granddaughter. Donna Mullens Gainer has the 16th for her day and the 17th is the day we remember dear Trish Davis, who left us too soon. It is a sweet day for Linda Clark, grandmother of triplets. Skyline third grader Rayleigh Harvey shares the 18th with Pete Proctor and another Champion of another generation Madelyn Boehs. If Pete were in the neighborhood still, they would be neighbors. The next day would have been Pete’s mother’s birthday. Ruby will always be remembered as a founding Champion. We miss her. We do not miss Jim Ivy. He is still around also celebrating on the 19th. Third grader Jaylee Sudderth will party on the 20th. The swift passage of time may not be evident to the youngsters, but several in that bunch know all about it.

There comes a day in February when the dog hunts for (or looks for) the shade. That was according to Champion Lonnie Krider. Dave Medlock said that his Dad said it was two days in February. Anyway, a day later the loveable critter looks to lay around by the wood stove, then back out to sun on the porch. In and out—doorman to the dog. “Is it spring yet?” asks a neighbor up on C Highway whose dog likes to watch the small herd of deer that roam his grounds. He is ready to plant. Swiftly shift the seasons! He says that on Monday, Feb 19th there will be a ‘seed swap’ from noon to 5:00 pm at the Living Lands Studio on the Square in Ava. He is doing a lot of planting and has boxes and boxes of heirloom and interesting seeds to share. Master Gardner Edie Richardson at the L. and E. Organic Farm over north of Macomb has been enjoying some of the recent mild days to get some serious planting done. She and Lee are active with the University of Missouri Extension Agency, keeping bees and teaching good gardening practices.

Great area news is that Sue’s Greenhouse up north of Norwood will start being open with regular hours this Saturday, February 17th. Her son-in-law who was seriously injured last year, is now walking again and everyone there is very thankful for all the prayers and good thoughts for him. Sue and Joe have put up three new Greenhouses with a large retail center, easier access to the building with new shopping carts, and much more. She will be open for a sneak peek this Saturday and her hours will be 9-5 Monday-Friday and 9-4 on Saturdays. She already has onion sets and seed potatoes and some starter plants. By the first week in March, she should be in full swing with lots of plants ready to go. Sue contributes significantly to the beauty of Champion.

It was on Ash Wednesday thirty one years ago when an old couple calculated that on the median date between their two birthdays they would be 100 years old. They called it their duo-birthday and took the day off from work to have a picnic. This year they celebrate their 162nd birthday on Valentine’s Day which is Ash Wednesday. Valentine’s‘ Day gives us an opportunity to say lovely things to each other right out loud. It is not all romance, but affection, fun, and appreciation. Our Skyline School extends the occasion until Saturday the 17th with and invitation to the entire school family to a Valentine’s Day Family Formal. Music and dancing from 6-8 p.m. with games, food, and prizes. They say “Bring your friends, and even your neighbors! Wear your best and put your dance moves to the test.” Sweet Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 9, 2024

CHAMPION—February 5, 2024



“Go Chiefs!” Your Champion friends and fans hope that you gentlemen have been able to rest up and heal up in advance of Sunday’s big game. Thanks for all the fun and excitement.

Winter colors have their charm, adorning our rolling hills with every soft shade of gold, gray and brown. With spring just around the corner and seeds on store shelves already, Champions look forward to the garden and look out their windows enjoying today’s beauty as well. Soon enough those new and old houses and homesteads along our country lanes will disappear behind the foliage as things green up again. The more seasons we have seen, the quicker they seem to arrive.

The week got off to a great start with a call from Brock. He is the customer service guy from the White River Connect outfit, part of the White River Valley Electric Cooperative. The good news is that sometime within the next two to four months people out in the very middle of very rural Douglas County will be able to hook up to the real high speed internet–broadband, if you will. The Bright Speed BS seems to have needed a kerosene pilot light, so it will be a quality of life enhancement to switch.


More good news comes with the groundwork, dirt work for the construction of the new Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department firehouse. What a change it will be. The new facility will take up much of what used to be the picnic grounds. The pandemic put the kibosh on those wonderful picnics anyway. But, anyway, as our Prominent Champion is want to say, it is good to know that our great Skyline VFD will be here, as ever, to protect our lives and property. Perhaps the fancy new facility will entice some healthy young folks to become volunteers and the new configuration of the grounds might allow for some new kinds of community support. Meanwhile, schoolkids on the Skyline R2 School playground can watch the construction and be inspired to be architects, heavy equipment operators, carpenters, plumbers, sheet metal workers, roofers, electricians, or engineers. There is plenty of excitement and inspiration to go around in Champion.

There is hard news too. Jonnie, the friendly dog, got into a fracas with a FedEx truck or some other big, fast moving rig out on the straight stretch of Cold Springs Road and did not survive. She hated the trucks but loved the people. Steve, the driver from Mountain Country Propane would tell you that she acted like she would eat the truck, but when he got out she was all waggy and ready to be petted. She loved people. It’s a sad loss for the Old Champions. She showed up in February 2017 and became part of the family, great company for two old people. Now they have a note in the mailbox asking Brittany to honk, because Jonnie is not there to alert them. Yes, the world is full of suffering, and this may not seem like much to many. Things happen. Life changes. Change is hard.

But back to the good things, the Douglas County Herald’s reprint from the Ozark County Times of “A World Turned Upside Down” gave a good account of the epic journey of the Barry Family, from the catastrophic accident back in November all the way to the realization that life goals will just have to be accomplished another way. Rachel and Jeff purchased Jean’s Healthway back in 2020. The store has been a gift to Ava and the whole community for over 40 years. Rachel and Jeff have taken the helm for the last four years and have made it their own. It has been a good enterprise for them and continued to be a gift to the community. Their dedicated family of employees and volunteers are carrying the weight until they can do it again. Change is hard, but they are up to the task. We cannot fix everything. The Lord knows the world is in a mess, but here is a chance to be of help. If you can, do. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 3, 2024

CHAMPION—January 29, 2024



Robert Burns
Robert Burns

January’s full moon is called the Wolf Moon. It was full on Thursday, the 25th. The 25th, known as ‘Burns Night’ celebrates the famous Scotsman Robert Burns. It must have been lovely up there on the other side of the clouds as it lit them up giving us a soft glow through the fog and mist. The Old Champion who, worried about drought, had asked Santa for mud got her wish. We stand by our preference for mud over ice though the mud has been prodigious. Champions rejoiced at 10:24 a.m. Sunday morning when the sun came out after a week of dismal dreariness. Terri Ryan encourages us with the news that we have survived the ten darkest weeks of the year from November 16th to January 22nd. In a few weeks the days and nights will be the same length, then we will move on to longer days and shorter nights. Terri retired from teaching at Skyline in 2022, but she continues to be an inspiration always advocating for patience, love and understanding. Skyline’s bookkeeper, Mrs. Karen Tamblyn, had some good advice to share recently when an Old Champion was fretting over the dust and cobwebs she was trying to get rid of in advance of a visit from beloved family members. She said, “Don’t worry about it. They are coming to see you, not to inspect your house, besides cobwebs need to be somewhere too.” It turns out she is right and when the sun shines through the cobwebs, they are kind of pretty.

February starts off with the birthday of Champion grandson Zack Alexander on the 1st. He shares the day with Glenn Cooley and Sarah Cloud. Groundhog Day is February 2nd, and the birthday of Zack’s Aunt Angie Heffern up in Springfield and Charlene Dupre, who divides her time between Jacksonville, Florida, and Norwood. That is also the day many remember a dear friend, Judy Sharon, who left us a few years ago. We miss her. Skyline School’s Angela McKay celebrates on February 5th. This is Ms. McKay’s third year at Skyline where she does double duty as a bus driver and middle school teacher. While the idea of riding loose heard on a bunch of seventh and eighth graders seems scary to some, Ms. McKay says she loves it. Our students flourish in a positive environment. February 5th is also a big day for a good neighbor over on Fox Creek Road. He has lots of cows and some good farm hands who know how to operate a bucket loader when neighbors come looking for garden amendments. Champion’s Cowboy will have his birthday on the 7th, but he may have already had his party.

Champion Mud

There is jubilation in Kansas City and in San Francisco as their football teams won their separate conference championships. Both teams sport red and gold as their colors, so it will be interesting to see how they decide on their uniforms when they meet in the Super Bowl. The players are big, tough guys who hit each other and the ground hard. Fans of a certain age struggle to stay in their chairs as they try to duck and dodge along with their favorite players, hoping not to hit the floor with a grunt. Members of opposing teams help each other up after stupendous crashes and, when the game is over, embrace, comfort, and commiserate as winners and losers. They are professionals sharing mutual respect. It is satisfying to see our local school athletes learning good sportsmanship. It will make them good citizens. Our great Skyline School has cross country track, basketball, archery and all the fun P.E. teacher, Mr. Gray, can orchestrate.

Athletic events give fans a chance to shift their attention briefly from the strife of divisive politics and the sympathy they feel for so much of the world in disarray. We are grateful for an afternoon of excitement and for the relative serenity of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Chiefs Win!