April 8, 2020

CHAMPION—April 6, 2020


Plenty of space to isolate.

Those of us lucky enough to have plenty of space in which to isolate ourselves think about our city-dwelling friends and family and hope they can find a comfortable way to stay apart from one another.  We can still have lunch together, but in different places.  Telephones and the internet are real blessings.  Imagine what it was like 100 years ago when a similar thing happened to the whole world.  Of course there are many more people now.  During the 20th century world population grew from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.  In 1970, there were roughly half as many people in the world as there are now.  Look at https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ for an eyeful of up to the minute information that will surprise and amaze you.  Up until this current pandemic it was estimated the 150 people die worldwide every minute.  Who knows how this virus will affect the numbers?  Champions just focus on the here and now, being grateful for the ones we love in the world with us now.  Call them up and say, “Hidy! High’s ya mamanem?” (i.e. Howdy, How is your mama and them?)  Jerry Wagner sings, “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home.”

Champion Hummer

We called Bob and Ethel Leach the other day.  They are doing fine.  Ethel misses restaurants.  Perhaps she is acquainted with Alice’s Restaurant.  A phone visit with Kenneth and Barbara Anderson lets us know that they are safe and doing well.  So is Corrine Rodgers, who is happy about spring, but like Kenneth and Barbara, she misses the Vanzant Jam. Bertie misses the jam too.  She is still making pies down in Dora and thinking that these might be some good days for learning new songs.  Wyoming snowbird, Marge Carter, hopes they will get back home at the end of April, but says she does not know what will happen.  None of us do, but there are baby bluebirds that have hatched in one of her boxes and her kitchen is full of good smells as Doug has to have his cookies.  She says Tammy is okay out there on the west coast and looks forward to getting back this way someday.  Marge will have to get her hummingbird feeder out soon.  A look back at The Champion News from a year ago reveals that the first hummingbird appeared on April 6th so those hummingbird feeders are coming out of the pantry and sugar stores are being assessed.  Those little birds lift spirits.

The 7th is auspicious because of the full moon.  It is called the Pink Moon and it is the closest super moon of the year.  How often has it happened that a big super full moon occurred on your birthday?  That is what has happened for Beverly Coffman Emery!  It is such a special occurrence that she had people calling her the day before to sing that song just to get her excited and happy about accumulating another candle on her cake.  Butch Linder had a birthday the other day, April 3rd.  A number of years ago, at a Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Chili Supper, he said, “I’m surprised ain’t nobody shot you yet.”  He was responding to what he perceived as a liberal leaning of The Champion News at that time.  He turns out to be a descent sort of a fellow, does a lot of good work for the Veterans and has children and even in-laws who like him.  These days he will till your garden.  Give him a call at 948-2744 or 543-9154. His motto:  Butch Linder–Garden Tiller.

We miss Bud Hutchison on his birthday, the 8th.  He was as nice a fellow as you would ever want to meet.  His trail riding buddies still tell stories about him.  Bud probably enjoyed hearing The Strawberry Roan.

Meanwhile, The General sent a thank-you note to Darcy Upshaw Cecil, a cousin, thanking her for the “Brief” case that she gave him last summer.  He had put it to good use, dumping the contents and using it as a face mask.  He said people at the grocery store had given him some disgusting looks, but the social distancing rule of six feet increased to 25 plus feet.  It is to be noted that this “Brief” case was made from a pair of sparkling white jockey shorts. Cute.  He declined to be photographed in his mask, lest he lose the patent rights or get arrested by the Facebook police.  He did report that last week’s earthquake up in Idaho had shaken Wesley Hancock, another cousin, slightly in his recliner.  Nothing fell from shelves so there is another piece of good luck.

Champion Tulips

One of the interesting things that has been repeated on Facebook lately has been a note, “Today the devil whispered in my ear, ‘You aren’t strong enough to withstand the storm.’  I whispered, ‘Get back six feet, you idiot!'”  Another answer was, “Well, at least I wasn’t whipped in a fiddle contest by some hillbilly from Georgia!”  That, of course, is a reference to the recently departed Charlie Daniels.  Some say that Johnny fiddled faster while the devil was more melodic.  Listen to it for yourself.  See where it leads you and get back with us at champion@championnews.us with your assessment.

What a joy is a hand written letter!  One recently came to The Champion News from Micah Foulke up in Portland, Oregon.  The letter was written in a small neat hand, saying some kind and lovely things including how much Micah and family enjoy reading about Champion online and how happy they are to see their names pop up.  Spread some joy around with letters to people who will appreciate them and in the process thank our intrepid letter carriers who keep us in the loop.

Butch Stone has three hens that provide him and Dawn with all the eggs they need.  He said that at one time he was aware that his chickens were suddenly laying significantly more than usual.  About that time he found his lost hatchet in the hen house.  The Skyline R2 School’s food service is offering a grab-and-go meal program on Tuesdays free to any child eighteen years or younger.  The drive-up service is open from 10:00-12:00.  For more information call Skyline at 417-683-4874.  On Tuesday, the 7th of April, they served 86 people, giving out 10 meals each.  That is 860 meals supporting the community in a substantial way.  Hopes are the community will respond in kind at the polls on June 2, 2020.  Perhaps these times will help the students, their parents, the school staff and the community at large to Accentuate the Positive.  That is what we try to do here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side.

Connie Lansdown says, “God left a Light on at the Farmhouse.”

April 2, 2020

CHAMPION–April 1, 2020


Champion Flowering Quince

Some of the April Fools jokes played on the internet included announcements of unlikely persons expecting babies. Sarah may have been 90 when Isaac was born, but those were the different old days. These are the different new days and it is incumbent upon us to keep our sense of humor. It is funny to hear what people are willing to believe. A woman stepped up on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium on April 1st, and allowed as how she did not know what to believe any more. She had seen pictures on the internet of empty hospitals and it made her think that the whole pandemic thing is a lie. It turns out that it is very difficult for people to believe anything that does not already fit into their preconceived notions about things. Johnny Cash sang, “The lonely voice of youth cries, ‘What is truth?‘” Matthew Henry said, “If truth is once deserted, unity and peace will not last long.” He was a Welshman. He passed away in 1714.

Spring mullein

The current requirement for limited personal community contact has sent people to the telephone and the internet for socialization. We may be more connected in our isolation than we were before, which is another oddity of these new days. Some are driving the back roads for nostalgia or adventure or curiosity or diversion. A local road trip is a good way to be out and isolated at the same time. It just requires a reliable vehicle and a willingness to run a risk.

Wilburn and morels

Wilburn Hutchison has been fishing and mushroom hunting with success on both scores. Over there at the farm they are getting their garden ready. Louise always liked the Parks Whopper tomato. She won the First Ripe Tomato in Champion contest one year. We miss Louise. Maybe they will be able to find some Parks Whopper plants again this year, though reports are from a fellow who went to town recently that gardening supplies are much in demand. The television weather folks are acting like our chances of a freeze are pretty much over for the spring. While we remember the old adage about thunder in February-frost in May, some may jump the gun. It is easy to do with time on our hands, sunshine and supply-chain uncertainty. As to that uncertainty, let us give some appreciation for the truck driving men and women out there. Thanks!

One of the Tres Hermanos (Three Brothers) reported having taken a four mile walk through town to help lower his blood sugar. We feel an obligation to stay informed in order to be responsible and, going on about our daily pursuits, we may look at the blessings of our lives with new appreciation. Singer and song writer, John Prine, is reported to be making a good recovery from the Covid-19 virus. He wrote that song, “Paradise,” which says, “Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay.” Most bluegrassers are familiar with that one, but he has written many great songs and you can find them here–on the internet! We are glad to hear he is doing well. Chances are, before this is over, we will all be effected in some way. If we have been remiss in acknowledging those we love and appreciate, we repent.

“Do you have a match?” someone asked Keegan Shannon as he left the Historic Emporium one day last week. He had two fifty pound sacks of something stacked on his left shoulder and two gallons of milk and a plastic shopping bag full of stuff in his right hand. He just laughed. Laughter is one of the best things we have going for us during this period of time when we all have to be so conscious, observant and prudent. We are reminded that there is no glory in defeating a weak opponent, an admonition to inspire courage. “A person just does what he has to do,” says a hard working individual providing a valuable service. We thank all those folks who are on the front lines keeping things going, like truck drivers and grocers, farmers, health care providers, fire fighters and musicians. Keep a happy heart. We are on the sunny side of the street in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion roadside attraction

March 24, 2020

CHAMPION—March 23, 2020


Looking out at a Champion Spring

A friend, much admired and respected for insight, once said, “If I had twenty thousand years to catch a bus, I would need twenty thousand years and five minutes.” An habitual procrastinator is thrown further behind by continuous interruptions. However, one of the few positive aspects of the confounding chaos of the corona virus is that people are reaching out to friends and family in almost unprecedented ways. We say closeness has not all that much to do with geography. It is true and in these unsettling times it is precious to hear a seldom heard voice or read a note from a far-away friend who has been out of touch for far too long. So we are counting blessings and not complaining if our routines are interrupted by too much love and caring. We are all staying home, looking out our windows at Spring. Relax.

Looking out at a Champion Spring

Just because things are different, nobody has put the kibosh on birthdays. They may just be celebrated a little differently. Skyline RII Schoolers with birthdays soon are Mrs. Downs on the 27th and first grader, Brailynn Cumby, on the 28th. Another first grader, Tucker Johnson, shares his birthday with Mrs. Willhite on the 30th. However you go about it, your Champion friends hope your birthdays are sweet ones. School is closed, but good things are still going on there. The school’s food service is offering a grab-and-go meal program on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday at the south door of the cafeteria. On each of those days they will have two breakfasts and two lunches available for pick up free to any child eighteen years or younger. The drive-up service will be open from 10:00-12:00 on these days. Our great school is supporting the community in a substantial way. Hopes are the community will respond in kind at the polls on June 2, 2020.

Looking out at a Champion Spring

March 23rd is the birthday of numerous fine Champions. Among them, newcomer Susan Perry, Seattle Seahawks fan and driver of many long country miles volunteering for Meals on Wheels. She has not been here long, but she makes a positive impact. Don Bishop celebrates that day too. He has a scary stack of firewood that makes people speed when they drive by his house. He fights the groundhogs for sweet potatoes and brings Reba to Champion whenever he can. Judie Pennington up on Tar Button road is a Morrell mushroom aficionado who knows when and where to find them. She has had bears in her yard and she has a smile like a sunny day. Skyline Volunteer fire-fighter and appliance maven, Don Powell, will put out your brush fire and put a new pump in your Maytag. Those volunteers put their own lives on hold while they protect ours. The General’s lovely daughter, Elva Upshaw, also celebrates that day. Elva is a much appreciated health care professional at the Ozarks Medical Center. She is grateful that the El Charro restaurant is offering carry out in West Plains. These days we are finding many good reasons to be grateful. Enjoy your birthdays, you Champions. We remember Troy Powell on his birthday, March 26th. He was born in 1926 and passed away on his birthday in 2001. He is remembered for his great love of music and for his smile. Jack Masters down in Austin Texas is a linebacker and a Champion great-nephew. Bobby Nicholson is a Scotsman who sings in English, but you can hardly tell! He sings, “It Wisnae Me.” His birthday is on the 29th, just two days before that of the charming Morag Edward–sailor, author, painter, musician, chocolatier, and a producer of exquisite puddings and good ideas. Have a jolly day all of you!

In other good news, the arrogant, ignorant antics of a local rapscallion, flaunting common sense, ignoring his own safety and the safety of others, is somewhat ameliorated by the generosity of women at their sewing machines. All over the country they are producing face masks to donate to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and doctor’s offices. Find links to a number of patterns and tutorials on line and contact your local hospitals or health care provider to see how to donate them. It is a great way to use up that stash of quilt scraps and to be part of the recovery.

Prudence was the reason an Old Champion chose not to try to cross Clever Creek again on Wednesday. The last few feet before reaching the far bank had her thinking she may have made a terrible mistake. Turn around. Don’t drown! It was a mile and a half to get there and seventeen miles to get home. The unofficial rain gauge (a peach can) at the Historic Emporium showed three and a half more inches the next day. By Friday the creeks were well out of their banks, though Auld Fox did not rise up all the way into the square this time. She had to laugh on Friday when the power went out for a few hours. To be isolated because of the virus, then because of the high water and then to have no contact with the outside struck her as funny and as a kind of a relief to have no news for a little while and no internet stream of fear and blame. The White River Valley folks came down the road and power was back up in time for Jeopardy. Things were back to their new normal again and optimism restored. There will be hiccups but we will get through this side by side like Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Looking out at a Champion Spring

March 18, 2020

CHAMPION—March 16, 2020


A Champion Road Trip

In a nice turn-out Saturday for the Skyline VFD Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast, members had a chance to vote for additional board members and to express appreciation to the volunteer fire-fighters who leave their jobs and supper tables to come to our aid when we need it. This breakfast may be the last function of this kind for some while. This Saturday, the 21st, friends were to again congregate at the School for a catfish dinner and music by Duke McIntosh’s New Grass Attack in a get-together to support our great little rural school. Superintendent Donnie Luna was to give a presentation concerning the future of the school including information concerning our local tax levy. Our current rate is $2.77, well below the state average operating levy of $3.67. There will be an initiative on the April 7th ballot to raise our levy up to $3.43, the magic number that will make the school eligible for a substantial amount of additional funding from the state and federal government. Many local people remember when Skyline was built back in the 1950s. There have been additions and upgrades over the years, but at this time, the infrastructure could use some serious help, i.e. the gym roof, the HVAC system, etc. Moreover, the 2018 vote to raise the minimum wage has a significant impact on the annual operating budget. Residents, who have no interest in the school, still have interest in their taxes. If we lose the school and are thrown into neighboring districts, the tax levy will jump up to $3.66, at least, without a vote on the matter. Education is about the best investment to be made. After all, these bright young folks will be running the world soon. For a while they will be studying at home and being prudent like the rest of us during this unusual time. They will be learning how adults behave in an amazingly distressing situation, so we are committed to setting a good example. We need to be conscious, cool and kind—Champions.

Simone Biles is an American artistic gymnast. She has a total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals and is the most decorated American gymnast and the world’s third most decorated gymnast. Her birthday is March 14, 1997. She is 23 years old. She is an amazing young lady who has a powerful voice as a result of her phenomenal skill and she has used it to help make some significant change. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, also an amazing individual, celebrates her birthday on the 15th, the Ides of March. She was born in 1933, and was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. She has had a substantial voice in promoting justice. In modern times, the Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC. Caesar was stabbed to death at a meeting of the Senate, as described by the Bard. As many as 60 conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius, were involved. Perhaps politics have evolved, but things seem pretty brutal these days. A friend reminds us (as if we had ever known) that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear. As we are sheltering in place, self-quarantining, and doing the prudent things to keep ourselves and our communities safe, we may write epics about the family dynamics of loyalty and selfishness; we may practice on our musical instruments or perhaps sort out our photographs, paperwork and possessions; we may focus our attention on our families, near and far, and on our friends and neighbors. Closeness has not all that much to do with geography in these modern times with our excellent technologies.

Champions up on Cold Springs Road thought to take a Sunday drive just for the purpose of ‘dirt road therapy’ to enjoy nature and a respite from the stressful news. They headed south and soon found their way impeded by the high waters of Clever Creek. So they turned left on 76-24, known as Fox Creek Road. It had been years since they had traveled this path and they were again impressed with the fine work of those gentlemen from the Douglas County road department. There were a few rough spots due to recent heavy rains, but it was overall quite passable and certainly a lovely drive with high rock cliffs on the left side and deep drop-offs on the right. Recent logging left some significant mud along the road side and opened up some lovely views of the valley beyond with Fox Creek roaring through. They turned east on 95-240 thinking to sneak up on the General from behind, but they were again thwarted by a raging torrent, perhaps just a feeder creek to Greasy or Fox, but impassable nonetheless. Sources may refer to this as the Denlow Branch. The driver backed up the several hundred yards rather than risk sinking in the wet fields on either side with a three point turn. Then it was on to Denlow. What a lovely trip. The adventure continued until bellies grumbled for lunch. They pulled into their own drive having registered 12 miles on the trip meter and reaffirmed that we live in one of the world’s truly lovely spots, surely as lovely as the Emerald Isle itself. St. Patrick was kidnapped and spent 6 years herding sheep in Ireland before he made his escape. Later he went back and made a name for himself. Champions will be wearing the green Tuesday and parading around their kitchen tables singing, “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral!” On Thursday they will not be going to the Vanzant Jam because it too has been cancelled until things get back to some form of normal.

To the people who have bought 27 bottles of soap leaving none on the store shelves for others, you do realize that to avoid getting coronavirus, you need other people to wash their hands too. Viruses are contagious, so is panic, fear, hysteria, calm, love, enthusiasm, kindness, joy and yawning. Think of that old song, A Beautiful Life, and lend a helping hand. An Old Champion laughed remembering a song written back in 1963, during another period of National anxiety: “Time passed and now it seems everybody’s having them dreams. Everybody sees themselves walkin around with nobody else. Half of the people can be part right all of the time and some of the people can be all right part of the time, but all of the people can’t be all right all of the time. I think Abraham Lincoln said that. ‘I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,’ I said that.” Bob Dylan had learned his talking blues style from Woody Guthrie who wrote, “This land is your land–this land is my land.” We are pretty sure he was a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Clever Creek Runneth Over

March 10, 2020

CHAMPION–March 9, 2020


Kenneth and Dawn Henson — Frances and Wayne Sutherland

In addition to all the deliciousness of approaching Spring with longer days—thanks to daylight savings time (not really), and the buttery profusion of daffodils—thanks to homemakers who planted them generations ago, there are many momentous occasions to celebrate. Dawn and Kenneth (Hovie) Henson, down in Houston, Texas celebrated 53 years of marriage on March the 3rd. Their Champion friends will look forward to seeing them this summer when they tour the Bright Side. We will sing, “Grow Old With Me” and say, “Happy anniversary!” to you two and to Frances and Wayne Sutherland who marched forth on the 4th of March seventy years ago and got married. She was 17 and he was 19. They married over the state line in Mountain Home, Arkansas. It was the fad at the time, but they had to take their mothers along to sign for them. They live up in Wright County behind a mailbox that looks like a tractor and next door to about the sweetest neighbor they could have. Mandolinist, Sue Murphy, had a birthday on March 8th, which happens to be International Woman’s Day. We can thank Sue and all of today’s stand-up women, and our Mothers and all the brilliant women who have come before us and those to come for making the world better. Miss Bailey Foulke is one of those exciting young women. She is also a cousin of young Felix Osage Maverick and friend of the one legged chicken, Violet. Bailey shares her birthday on the 9th with local broom maker and Chatty Cathy, Kay Dennis. Skyline third grader, Brice King, shares his big day with teacher, Mrs. Vivod. Mrs. Casper, Skyline impresario, has the 12th for her special day. That day was also special for a couple of nice men who have passed away. Geoff Metroplos, passed away several years ago, but is well remembered for how meticulous he was in his many varied skills. Champion musician, J.R. Johnston, passed away last summer. He was recently joined again by his wife of 68 years. Janet passed away February 25th. They were the kind of folks a person would choose for kinfolks if they had a choice.

The 14th of March (3/14) is Pi day. The Greek letter is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant—the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter—approximately 3.14159. It has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. Exciting! On Saturday morning of Pi day, March 14 (7 a.m. to 10 a.m.) come over to the Skyline School for biscuits and gravy (and sausage and eggs, but no pie) at a get-together for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department. Board members are being elected and it will be a chance to have your voice heard as you support this vital little organization that protects our lives and property.

The Ides of March, beware! Skyline alumnus, Six-foot-Sam, currently of Auld Reekie, celebrates that auspicious day with distant cousin, Jacob Masters, 30 years his junior, and Irish Ursula, mother of Demetri. Elizabeth Brown, nee Mastrangelo, was 23 in on March 16, 2013. The forever-young and lovely, Ms. Helen Batten, also enjoys the 16th as her birthday. Skyline Champion 8th grade archer, Myla Sarginson, has the 18th to enjoy her party.

One of the farmer’s and planter’s almanacs informs us that this year the spring equinox will occur on March 19th in all the U.S. time zones, making it the earliest spring we will have seen in our lives so far. The last time spring arrived this early was in 1896. The 19th is Thursday, so the Vanzant jammers will be whooping it up in time to the music. Starting at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 21st, Duke McIntosh and his band, New Grass Attack Bluegrass, will give a free performance at the Skyline School to usher in the season. Alumni going back to Skyline’s beginning are invited to attend, as well as you newcomers to the area who would like to check out the school and get to know your neighbors. Doug Hutchison, a good neighbor if ever there was one, will be cooking fish and French fries and there will be Cole slaw and baked beans…all for $10.00 a plate! The proceeds will go to the school, which the school can surely use. Superintendent Donnie Luna will have information concerning the upcoming tax levy vote on April 7th. Our current rate is $2.77, well below the state average operating levy of $3.67. The initiative on the ballot proposes to raise our levy up to $3.43, the magic number that will make the school eligible for a substantial amount of additional funding from the state and federal government. Many local people remember when Skyline was built back in the 1950s. There have been additions and upgrades over the years, but at this time, the infrastructure could use some serious help, i.e. the gym roof, the HVAC system, etc. Moreover, the 2018 vote to raise the minimum wage has a significant impact on the annual operating budget. Residents, who have no interest in the school, still have interest in their taxes. If we lose the school and are thrown into neighboring districts, the tax levy will jump up to $3.66, at least, without a vote on the matter. Education is about the best investment to be made. After all, these bright young folks will be running the world soon.

Beautiful days have old gardeners weary at day’s end. Seedlings are full of promise. We pause in our labors to think of Tennessee neighbors suffering great loss from last week’s raging storm and of our friends and families across the country and the world who may be in danger of the virus. Hobert Moffis, now 100 years old, grew up over around Dora and has spent most of his interesting and productive life in the West Plains area. He plays fiddle and mandolin and says, “Mind your own business. Don’t over eat.” And he says, “Be as happy as you can.” Try to keep a happy heart in troubled times as we endeavor to do in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion Circle Garden

March 4, 2020

CHAMPION—March 2, 2020


Local archers shooting in the 12:00 o’clock flight at the Skyline Archery Tournament on Saturday
were Haylee Surface, Rylee Sartor, Rowdy Woods, and Myla Sarginson.

Leap day was a lovely one in Champion. Skies were blue. The ferocious winds of the previous days finally abated and gardeners were out getting ready to get things done. Some over-did it and paid the price they know so well. There was a great turn-out for the Skyline Archery tournament. There were 166 students from all over the area participating. It is a quiet and orderly sport with very specific rules and protocols. Like musicians, these archers see that concentration, adherence to technique, and practice all add up to success.

Champions are expecting to have daffodils blooming by Monday afternoon. Sunday night’s exciting electrical storm, Thunder Rolling Lightning Flashing, and deluge has encouraged those first early ones and by the end of a sunshine filled week there will be great swaths of yellow along roadsides. The public group on Facebook called Missouri Morel Mushroom Hunting has many great photographs and good information. An answer to a newcomer’s question about when the ‘season’ is in Missouri was the suggestion that the last week in March is a good time to start looking seriously. Another tidbit of information: ”When the buds on an elm tree gets as big as a squirrel’s ear you will have shrooms.” A local person says when night time temperatures are 52 degrees two nights in a row, they will be popping up. Dandelions have been appearing occasionally all through our mild winter. Champion, Rich Heffern, shares information that dandelions are not weeds, but are from the same family as sunflowers. They are very rich in vitamins K and A. A dandelion seed can travel up to 5 miles before it lands. Every part of the dandelion is edible. Up until 1800s, dandelions were seen as extremely beneficial. People would remove grass to plant dandelions. Times change and now a person can find dandelion seeds in seed catalogues and online.

Skyline students enjoying birthdays this week are kindergarteners, Lotus Winter and RyAnne Harvey, celebrating on the 1st and 3rd. Fifth grader and archer, Rylee Sartor, will have her party on the 6th. Skyline teacher, Mrs. Barker, shares her birthday on the 3rd with a prominent musician of the Backyard Bluegrass persuasion. Mrs. Barker’s big family will throw her a party and find all kinds of ways to express love and appreciation for her. As for the musician, the song goes: “One night he was out with a bunch of young people, making music, as he does now and then, but he was surprised when one of them young fellers said, ‘Boy, that Old Man plays a mean mandolin!’ Where, where is he tonight?” Linda, whose birthday is on the 5th, taught us much about gardening with her many years at the Plant Place. She will be celebrated by her bridge friends at their big game on Saturday. Your friends and families are wishing you happy days, so enjoy them!

Brad Lovelace made an appearance at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday. He had to put up with a lot of good natured teasing from David Richardson and others, but he handled it well. He made a good presentation on behalf of the Skyline R2 School, pointing out that it is always a touchy and awkward situation to talk about raising taxes. Our current rate is $2.77, well below the state average operating levy of $3.67. There will be an initiative on the April 7th ballot to raise our levy up to $3.43, the magic number that will make the school eligible for a substantial amount of additional funding from the state and federal government. Many local people remember when Skyline was built back in the 1950s. There have been additions and upgrades over the years, but at this time, the infrastructure could use some serious help, i.e. the gym roof, the HVAC system, etc. Moreover, the 2018 vote to raise the minimum wage has a significant impact on the annual operating budget. Residents, who have no interest in the school, still have interest in their taxes. If we lose the school and are thrown into neighboring districts, the tax levy will jump up to $3.66, at least, without a vote on the matter. Education is about the best investment to be made. After all, these bright young folks will be running the world soon.

Champion friend, Kaitlyn McConnell of Ozarks Alive, is currently in Puerto Rico. She has been helping with the hurricane recovery program there and enjoying the beautiful beaches. She walked 30 minutes down a dirt road to find a remote beach. She said, ”As I walked the road, I heard the many creatures hiding in the vegetation. I was yet just another in the grand scheme of things. After I reached the beach, I sat and simply looked at the turquoise waves. I was reminded of what truly a miracle it is that each of us are here and how blessed by God we are to experience life.” Come down to the wide, wild banks of Auld Fox Creek to ponder important matters including the imminent arrival of Spring–Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 27, 2020

CHAMPION—February 24, 2020


Found on the internet:  “The Skyline VFD will be having biscuit and gravy breakfast Saturday, March 14th at the Skyline School from 7am to 10am.  We are also giving the community the opportunity to elect new fire department board members.  A list of candidates will be available the morning of the breakfast.  This will be a great opportunity to fellowship with your neighbors, have a great meal and let your voice be heard in your community.  $7.00 a plate.  All the funds go to the fire department.  Come cast your vote!”

This will be another interesting week in Champion.  On Wednesday, Shelby will be at the Historic Emporium in the morning doing blood pressure screenings.  It is an important amenity provided by the Douglas County Health Department, one that has saved lives.  Over in Far-East Champion, a.k.a. Vanzant, on Thursday at the Bluegrass Jam, Kansas City Star Sandra Scott, nee Plumber, will hopefully join in with her guitar and voice.  After five years or so in KC, she has relocated to Willow Springs, though she was heard to say last Thursday that Vanzant will always be home.  She was well received and it is always lovely to see old friends reuniting.  Saturday will be Leap-Day, Frankie Proctor’s once in four years birthday, and will also be the Archery Tournament hosted by Skyline R2 School.  Archers from all over the area will be competing:  Norwood, Mtn. Grove, Gainesville, Manes, Cabool, and maybe others.  It will be going on all day.  They always have a good concession stand and it is a nice way to spend time enjoying a quiet sport and supporting our great little rural school.  Did Frankie go to Skyline?  If we run into him we will ask.  All of us who had the chance to go to a little country school know how precious the experience was.  Perhaps we can find a way to keep this little one going for generations to come.  Think about it.  Terri Ryan said, “Coming home and seeing bald eagles flying around the house is a treat that I don’t take for granted.  I’m thankful that laws were put into place to protect them.”  We are thankful to have Ms. Ryan on staff at Skyline.

More interesting mail has come to champion@championnews.us.  The first is a letter from a pastor over in Crossville, Tennessee, Tim Lewis.  He says they are looking to retire in about five years and is hoping to do it in these parts.  They have made several trips and, so far, they like eastern Douglas County the best.  He said, “Being able to read The Champion News seems to bring us closer to the place we want to someday call home.”  Maybe when they visit again in March they will come to Champion on a Wednesday morning/mid-day to get acquainted with some Champions or to the Vanzant Community Building on a Thursday evening for the pot-luck and music.  In recent years we have enjoyed an influx of retirees–immigrants from the world of working for a living.  Welcome!

The next letter came from Jenifer Miller who lives in New Zealand.  She is the Editor of an interesting blog,  Jen Reviews:  “The Authority on Everything Food, Fitness and Home.”  She ran across The Champion News post of October 29, 2019, as she was researching the Beatles.  One of our music links had been to the Beatles’ song, “Help.”  Her outfit just published an updated, comprehensive guide on how to play guitar like the Beatles on their sister site, Beginner Guitar HQ.  It is completely free and here it is:  https://beginnerguitarhq.com/play-guitar-like-the-beatles/  It is exciting to make these great connections around the world.  There are Champions everywhere.

After not hearing from her in a long time, it was a pleasant surprise to get a note from Eulalia Jasmin.  She writes from some undisclosed location outside the country with concerns about our wellbeing.  She admonishes us to remember that we never win anyone over with insults and that learning how to disagree better would serve us well.  She wants us to listen to each other respectfully, really trying to understand the other person’s point of view.  Tone of voice, body language and facial expressions communicate a great deal, so she says to pay attention to yourself and engage by asking questions that show the other person that you are paying attention to what they are saying.  “Cuidado!” she says.  That translates to “Watch out!” or “Be careful!”  “When a deeply held belief is suddenly and irreparably proven wrong, the experience can be painful and disorienting, so be kind to each other, por favor.”  Thanks for the good advice, Eulalia, wherever you are.  She would probably appreciate a statement by Rosa Parks:  “Stand for something or you will fall for anything.  Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”

We are ahead of the game with rain for the year already and grateful for a good recharge of our wonderful aquifer.  On a nice day gardeners are piling up leaves, chicken manure, coffee grounds and wood ashes to make compost.  Some are starting seeds already.  We know that Spring will be here soon.  Lem and Ned have been back in the neighborhood checking in on the turnips planted last fall.  They are not much to look at yet, just a nice patch of little greens.  Lem and Ned are not much to look at either, what Uncle Al might have called ‘rusty-ankled’ old boys, but they are good-hearted, hard-working, and entertaining Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!