So much of gardening is just observation.  One day the tomato plants look great.  The next morning the tops of some are just sticks up there flapping in the breeze and, after a long while in the sun, the culprit is discovered.  Green tomato hornworms not only suck, they devour.  Vigilance is the gardener’s watch word.  The other words are, “You sorry outfit…” and the like and worse.  The Prominent Champion Girlfriend posts on the internet:  “Your mind is a garden.  Your thoughts are the seeds.  You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.”  Yeah, yeah, it is always good to be around positive Champions.

Mistakes get made sometimes and sometimes it is not a real bad thing.  For example, Jacob Shannon, Isabel Creed, Wyatt Hicks and Zachary Coon are all Skyline School Students who have birthdays in June.  They were celebrated back in June and again, by mistake, in July and their names are now in the paper for the third time.  Meanwhile, second grade student, Jasmine Hutson, shares her birthday on the 2nd with bus driver Paul Kennedy.  Eight grader Patrick Vincent celebrates on the 3rd.  July 6th was the birthday of the late Walter Darrell Hayden who wrote “All the Late News from the Court House” and “The Headless Cobbler of Smallette Cave.”  He was an Ava native, an English professor at the University of Tennessee and a great supporter and encourager of The Champion News.  The 6th is also the special day For Connie Brown’s father, Robert Brown, who was seen whooping it up over at the Vanzant Picnic on both Friday and Saturday.  The 6th was also the 82nd birthday of the Dalai Lama who is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan people.  He has been in exile from Tibet since 1959 after a failed uprising against the oppressive Chinese occupation of more than 50 years now.  He is the highest-profile global advocate for Tibet and a highly respected religious and moral leader.  Tibet is still struggling for its freedom from its enormous aggressive occupying neighbor.  The 10th is the birthday of KZ88.1’s Myron Jackson.  He invites everyone to the community radio station’s summer concert & barbecue on Saturday, July15.  It will be at the Yellow House Community Arts Center in West Plains from 3 to 7 pm.  In addition to barbeque and all the fixings, there will be music by Van Colbert on the banjo and Gordon and Mark Johnson of the Ozark Hellbenders.  The Renee Woods Jazz Trio will also perform, so it sounds like it will be a good time.

Good times are the order of the day all around the area.  The Vanzant Picnic was a sterling success even though Steve Moody had a toothache on Saturday.  (Hopefully, by Monday he will have found a dentist to intercede with his pain.)  Meanwhile he cooked a lot of wonderful pulled pork and kept his composure as he emceed the music and festivities with good humor.  Hanna Kelly, Republican representative of Missouri’s 141 District, had a good time at the picnic Saturday.  She visited with the guys at the American Legion booth and with many of her constituents through the course of the evening.  She is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture Education and has a number of other interests and responsibilities as she is working for the folks in her district.  She reported that her granddad, Garnet Kelly, who is now 92 years old, is in a rehabilitation hospital in Springfield.  She says that when her grandmother is not able to see him in person, they Facetime on the computer every day.  The weather cooperated for the picnic, missing Friday’s thunderstorms, which loomed perilously close.  The brilliant sun shine stoked significant heat both days until the clouds rolled in on Friday and the sun finally set on Saturday.  The big moon added to the beauty of the evening.  This was the first big event of the summer social season in this area.  The Up and At ‘Em, 4-H Holt Picnic will be on July 28th and 29th.  That is always a great time for a great cause.  “SAVE THE DATE,” in all capital letters for emphasis, refers to The Skyline picnic which will be August 11th & 12th this year and locals are getting excited about it.  There is a lot of work associated with these annual events and community minded people go out of their way to make it good for everyone.  “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places” ready to have fun and to support our great community and the fine little volunteer fire department that protects our lives and property.

Residents in Skyline Community and surrounding areas are being asked to mark your calendars and help spread the word about the electronics recycling pick up on August 1 (Tuesday) about 10 a.m.  Items can be brought to the school on Monday, July 31st if necessary.  Anything that plugs in is free, except televisions and you have to pay a $10 for fee those.  This is a great recycling opportunity.  It is also one of those civic activities that is good for the environment and good for that concept of clutter control.

Snail mail from Eva Lois Henson Phillips:  “I enjoyed the News of Champion.  I hardly know any names there [now].  I remember ‘Old Dads’, as the Henson kids called I.P. Henson, and his rock garden.  It is just outside the kitchen door.  That was his favorite place to sit and tell tales.  [A] black snake was always in our hen house where the eggs were to be harvested at night–my job…We plan to come to Champion School in September.”  That will be the Saturday before Labor Day, September 2nd for the Champion School Reunion.  Eva goes on to say, “July 2nd will be our 57th wedding anniversary.  We have two sons, Barry and Bill….So glad the old school building is getting new windows.”  Eva and Harold and the family will be glad to see that the old school has had a good pressure washing and has every appearance of being well maintained.  All you old folks who are missing familiar names in the paper can do what Eva did and send a note to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or an email to  Come down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in person and spin your yarns or make your inquiries.

Appreciating something being well maintained, 39th President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn celebrated 71 years of marriage on July 7th.  He is not viewed particularly well in these parts in spite of having served a term in the presidency without a hint of personal scandal and he continues into his 90s working on the behalf of the least fortunate people in the country.  In recent days dishonest, arrogant, cruel, delusional, greedy, vulgar, obnoxious and bullying behavior is being exemplified for our children.  Walter Shaub has just resigned as head of the government ethics office.  He said he did not think there was anything further that he could do.  He was charged with “protecting the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”  On Friday night Sherry Lovin sang the National Anthem in such a clear, melodious voice and in just the right key.  “Oh! Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave?”  Yes it does—in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions enjoy the annual Vanzant Picnic.