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Champion is the kind of place that makes a nice home.  The scenery is beautiful, the people are friendly and helpful, and the amenities rival any for convenience and comprehensive amplitude. Why wander afield?  Travel broadens perspective and helps maintain a compassionate worldview.  Also, travel brings newcomers to Champion and that is a plus.  Jerry and Diane Wilbanks came ambling through the place with the West Plains Wagon Club and decided to make it their home.  Their neighbors, the Pricharts, had moved off to Hawaii for a while, but found the lure of their Champion home too much to resist.  They made the transition just in time to be dazzled by the ice and snow.  Welcome home! They will be pleased to know that the Vanzant Weather Lab over in Far East Champion predicts that February will not be as severe as January due to having a shortage of days.  “The cold weather is expected to break around the last week of June here in Booger County with near normal temperatures predicted through most of July.”

Diane Wilbanks called on Thursday to say that on Wednesday, in advance of the expected snow, Jerry had gone out to cut some wood.  The chainsaw had not been run in a while and the carburetor spit out a spark that quickly ignited a fire that headed directly for the house.  Jerry came to the door and said, “Call the fire department!”  She did.  They came.   Diane was most complimentary of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department.  They surrounded the fire and used those leaf blowers to contain and control the blaze.  With the wind so fierce, Diane said that it was just amazing to see how efficiently the men worked.  Their training really showed.  Diane had been to Champion on January 13th for ice cream.  That is her birthday and her favorite outing.  She thinks she will come to the Skyline Auxiliary meeting at 6:30 on February 12th to get acquainted with some of the help behind the fire department.  Those leaf blowers and lots of other equipment including a ‘Jaws of Life’ apparatus are the results of Auxiliary activities.  Star Peters thinks she will come to this meeting too.  She has some nice items to donate to the silent auction at the Auxiliary Chili Supper in March.  A couple of days of moist misty rain and now snow again have reduced some of the fire danger, but Champions are very glad to know that those Volunteers are at the ready.  Kristie Towe of Pea Ridge, Arkansas has sent $20.00 for tickets for the Auxiliary Jigsaw Puzzle Quilt.  She saw pictures on-line and now has 24 chances to win a family heirloom while supporting a great cause.  She has some genuine Champion connections.

Skyline seventh grader Angel Parkes will celebrate her birthday on February 6th.  If school is back in session by then, the kids will have a ball.  Birthday gifts include some saddle soap and a new horse blanket for the Cowboy who will have a special day on Friday.  It is a dead sack cinch that his friends will have some fun with him over the big number.  Sarah Rucker, mother of Champion granddaughters Zoey and Alex, will have her birthday on the 8th of February.  Austin will be a rocking place for that party.  Aubrey Johnston is in the first grade at Skyline and will celebrate next Monday the 10th.  Then Cheyenne Baker, 4th grader, will enjoy her day on the 11th.  Joshua Garner, a first grade student will be hoping to be in school for his party.  He will share his birthday with Sondra Powell, daughter of Champion Mrs. Eva Powell.  Champion granddaughter, Shelby Ward, will have her party on Valentine’s Day.  She is a real sweetheart according to older sister Madelyn and the rest of her lovely family.

Treacherous road conditions are the reason many even adventurous folks have been sticking close to home.  Sherri Bennett did a do-si-do Saturday night.  Snagged off the internet: “Left the Dance tonight at Diggens.  It was slick as glass.  I got down the road and my car started to fishtail.  When I got stopped I was in the ditch and almost met myself coming back. LOL.  I calmed myself down and put that little white Versa in low gear and said, ‘Lord help me get this car back on the road.’   We made it.  Drove about 10 to 15 mph the rest of the way home.”  That was Saturday night and Sherri went to sleep at home hoping that everyone else had made it home safely.  Some did not.  Three of the foursome that make up the Fortnight Bridge Club wound up the overnight guests of the hostess.  Linda made everyone comfortable and the game resumed after a lovely breakfast until enough snow had fallen to provide traction to get home from Norwood. The MoDot guys were out in force on Sunday.  In Douglas County, C Highway was sanded on the steeper hills and the sharper curves and prudent cautious driving got everyone home by the middle of the afternoon.  It was a real adventure in very good company.

Good company indeed!  It was a glittering and elegant evening at the Robbie Burns-Groundhog Gala in Champion North.  The entertainment was lavish with homage to both Burns and the rodent.  To Burns:  “Oh! My Luve’s like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June. O my Luve’s like the melodie.  That’s sweetly play’d in tune.” To the other via Buffy St. Marie:  “Ground hog, ground hog, what makes you smell so bad?  I’ve been living in the ground so darned long, I’m mortified in my head!”  Then, having been reminded by Laine Sutherland what George Orwell said in ‘1984’ in 1949:  “Football, beer, and above all gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds.  To keep them in control was not difficult.”  It is a sure bet that The General was in on that and probably some of Steve Moody’s famous pulled pork, as he had RSVP’d in the negative to the Gala.  Back to the party:  By that time it was figured that it was about half time at the game, so some of the ladies wanted to tune in to see Bruno Mars.  One was saying that he is the new James Brown—very musical, athletic and sexy without being vulgar.  When the rappers joined in the ensemble, the girls switched it off, preferring Bruno alone.  With Vince Guaraldi, Jusef Latif and Jonny Hodges in the background, they enjoyed sparkling repartee, good gruyere and a nice Chablis.  All in all it was a fanciful evening, a chance for the ladies to wear their finery and for the gents to shine.  Tom Cooley still cuts a dashing figure in the woolen overcoat that his mother gave him for his high school graduation.  It still fits and he has had many opportunities to show it off this winter.

Those householders who so easily resist the appeal of socializing, leaving the place, or doing much of anything apart from grumbling about the weather, are apt to discover a mate who is perfectly willing to have extra fun in order to make up the shortfall in the family quotient.  Musical excitement, adventure stories, estimates of gambling losses, examples of extra fun are all welcome at or at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Put some wax on your skis and climb to the heights of Mt. Champion and ski down Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive to the Historic Emporium where you can warm around the stove and soak up a good dose of optimism.  Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!

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