Clever Creek is now passable.

Champions look out across their green and growing landscape and feel awfully blessed and good about the choices they have made that got them here.  Some were born and raised here and chose to stay.  More than one married someone who came from this part of the world and returned with him or her.  Others strayed here with the back to the land movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and every decade since.  People from all over retire here, and why not?  It is Champion.

Connie Brown and Joy Ann Coonts Firrell both had a birthday on May 12th.  Connie lives in Mountain Grove and can often be seen in the company of her Dad, a Champion School Alumni.  Joy Ann lives in Bluegrass, Iowa and has deep connections to Champion.  She said that her grandparents, William Thomas and Zada Lee Rhoades Coonts, lived in front of the store and behind the school with a field between them.  She said her dad skipped school so much that when he would go, he cut across the field to get there.  In 1844, her great, great grandpa, James L. Coonts, owned Coonts Holler in Champion.  He divided it between his kids.  Willard Coonts was one of her grandfather’s brothers.  He owned the Coonts Store in what is now called Evans.  All this means, more than likely, that she is kin to the Cowboy!  That has to be fun.  Joy Ann has been working on her family tree for 30 years now.  She said that if you look on ‘Find a Grave’ on Google, it gives you all the kids’ names [and perhaps their birthdays.]  The day after Skyline third grade student, Gracie Nava, had her birthday on the 7th of May, Mrs. Dixie had her birthday.  Mrs. Dixie retires this year from her years of good work at the school.  She will be having a long-lasting summer vacation. Enjoy!  Second grader, Meikel Klein, will celebrate on the 17th and fifth grader, Heidi Strong, will have her special day on the 22nd.  Champion granddaughters, Zoey and Alex, will help their dad have a great day on the 16th.  Rachel Cohen up in Chicago, is Waylon’s mother.  Her birthday is on the 18th, which also was the birthday of an old Champion’s mother, Exer Lynnie Hector Masters.  She was born in 1913, and passed away in 1975.  She is missed every day.  Birthdays and Mother’s Day give us the chance to celebrate and remember in an open, public way what we feel every day–love and gratitude for our family and friends—for those gone on and those we can call on the phone and/or hug in person.  Happy Days, you Champions!

Brenda Coffman Massey is one of the people to contact about the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department garage sale at the Vanzant Community Building on Saturday.  It sounds like a person can get a space there for a fee and then get rid of (oops, ‘share’) some of the great abundance of one’s accumulation of interesting and possibly useful things.  For enthusiasts of great bargain shopping it will be a field day.  Brenda is a stalwart supporter of her VFD and has her hand in every good cause in the area.  Many are the burgers she has flipped at the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Picnics.  It is nice to see communities supporting each other.  The Denlow School Reunion is coming up soon, so Pete and the General and the boys will be in high gear getting things organized.  We have survived the floods and spring is full on us.  It is easy to be grateful in spring.  Everything is growing.  People are smiling.  Spring cleaning is going on and you never know what wonderful thing you might find in a garage sale.  A ride through the country to get there is a dazzling experience this time of the year.  Cabins have disappeared into the woods again.  Forgotten wild flowers are reappearing in profusion.  That feeling of optimism and renewal is all over the place.  That is the way it is at the Thursday night jam in Vanzant where people come to hobnob and forget their troubles while accomplished musicians and neophytes keep it lively.  The Monday night acoustic jam at the Cabool Senior Citizens Center is getting very good reviews.  Light hearted and fun, they say, and great music.  There are jams being held all around and anybody interested can find them.  Just ask around.  Indeed, we are lucky to live in this part of the world.  “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world,” sang Louis Armstrong.

Neighbors over in Nebraska are still at it in their opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.  Natives in North Dakota can already report oil spills.  They say a small spill in April (84 gallons of crude oil) was completely remediated and posed no threat to the water table.  The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to fight Energy Transfer Partners in court in an effort to halt the project’s expected opening next month.  The political scene has become more bazar with serious ethical issues in the governor’s office and absurd shenanigans on a national level also having severe ethical ramifications.  A guy named Kierkegaard said, “There are two ways to be fooled.  One is to believe what isn’t true.  The other is to refuse to accept what is true.”  Heaven help us all.

In the award winning book, “The Education of Little Tree” published in 1976 by Forrest Carter who also wrote “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Gramma said when you come on something good, first thing to do is share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go.  Which is right.”  It has played out in a lovely way in our area as a friend who has been suffering with the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease has discovered an exercise regime that seems to be helping to tie brain function in with muscle control which is the neurological problem with the disease.  The easy exercises also seem applicable to all of us who are having issues with stamina and balance.  She shared with a mutual friend who shared with The Champion News.  As particulars become available TCN will be pleased to share.  It is called Chi Kung.

In Edinburgh, Champion Morag Edward writes, “The bowl of oats on my windowsill is filled with sparrows.  Sparrow porridge is very, very loud.  The mother is shoveling the oat flakes into the chicks, yet they manage to squawk FEED ME and eat at the same time.  Now she’s glaring at me like she thinks I should be helping.”  They have been suffering drought over in Scotland for the first time in a long time, even having fires in outlying areas.  A nice rain on the 12th was well celebrated, while here many are yet dealing with significant flood damage.  The phone lines and internet were full of wonderful loving messages for mothers everywhere.  There was even a report of Lem and Ned back in the neighborhood.  If you see or hear tell of them, please inform on them at or drop a note about anything to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.  If you are looking for a little respite from the hubbub of the busy world, take a trip down WW off of C Highway and hum a few bars of “The Maple Leaf Rag.”  Soon you will run out of pavement just on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Cold Springs Road to Champion