The East Champion Fox Creek Bridge is a fait accompli.  Well done, gentlemen.  It looks good and will doubtlessly serve well until the single tin horn gets blocked with brush and the rushing tide over tops the concrete. That is not to say that three tin horns could not be blocked with brush and debris, but the FEMA is not there to make improvements, but to restore things, as much as possible, to the way they were before the emergency.  Chances are good that this bridge will last as long as the last one did. Go to to see pictures of the whole interesting process.

The range map in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology publication, “All About Birds,” indicates that there are no Spotted Owls in Missouri.  The map shows the nearest habitat is west of Oklahoma.  That information did not play into the conversation interrupted down on the Wild Wide Banks of Auld Fox Creek.  The comparison was being drawn:  Spotted Owl– more or less tasty than Bald Eagle, Buzzard or Peacock.  The great number of deer in area fields and dead along the roadsides figured in the talk.  Some of the talk was meant to be inflammatory and provocative for the sake of comedy, as the newcomer was perceived to be an ecologist or at least to have leanings in that “green” direction.  The Spotted Owl was a player in the logging debates in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1990s.  Federal Protection for this bird came to represent all environmental regulations.  Some of those regulations may have caused the great buildup of brush and underbrush throughout the California forests that made them tinderboxes during the extended drought there.   Fires took the trees holding the soil, and the soil and ash took a trip downhill in the unprecedented rain event.  One thing leads to another.  Often even honest effort to make things better is twisted, thwarted and mishandled.  Despite protection, the owl is still on the decline owing to habitat loss and competition with Barred Owls.  We have Barred Owls here.   Perhaps a Prominent Champion can speak to their taste in comparison to Bald Eagle, Buzzard, or Peacock.  The conversation continued:  “Republican or Democrat, none of them would pull you out of a mud hole.”  “But, sir, practically everyone here is one or the other.  I’d pull you out of a mud hole.”  “Yes,” he said, “folks around here would, but not those Washington uppity-ups.”  He has a point and a sense of humor.

Skyline fourth grade student, Aaliya Irby has a birthday on January 16th on the same day as Coach Davault and Champion granddaughter Miley Schober.  Miley’s cousin, Reez Kutz, has the 17th as his birthday as does an intrepid Vanzatiana.  The 18th is for Jacob Brixey and Mary Beth Shannon of Far-East Champion.  The 19th is shared by the Preeminent Champion who will be celebrated as the hub around which the growing circles of Champions whirl.   J.C. Owsley of Jordan, Missouri is a staunch supporter of The Champion News and is often seen on a big white mule.  His birthday is also the 19th. The 20th is the special day for Sharon Woods.  Sharon featured briefly in a video that appeared again recently on the internet.  It was posted originally by Lori Woods Lewis on the occasion of her Dad’s 76th birthday, January 13, 2015.  It was a beautiful family circle of herself, her niece, her dad, brother and sister–all singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”  She remarked that her little family circle had been singing this song together for 45 years.  They say that music is science.  Music is mathematical.  Music is a foreign language.  Music is history.  Music is physical.  Music develops insight and demands research.  Music is art.  Music has healing properties and makes work lighter.

The McClurg Jam was canceled on the 15th due to the snow and very cold temperatures.  That is a rare occurrence since those musicians are a stalwart devoted bunch.   Tuesday is often a favorite day for some Champions since Laine Sutherland is kind enough to post recordings of this wonderful  Monday jam on to Facebook.  If you are engaged in this social media, look up “McClurg Jam” and sit back to enjoy dozens of great videos featuring our talented neighbors.

School is out and gallons of hot chocolate are being consumed by children coming in frosty after gallivanting in the winter wonderland.  Pictures are being taken and memories stored.  Snow covers clutter and makes things look clean.  It exposes topography with color contrast.  Hills and hollows we love and think we know show themselves differently under coverlets of snow.  With roughly a twelve to one ratio, it takes a foot of snow to amount to an inch of rain.  Meanwhile we are in the tinderbox status where California found itself before the fire, before the deluge, before the mudslide.   There is an unsecure feeling living out here on the surface of the planet.  Old Champions observe that many things, even the weather, change with the natural progression of time. These days change seems intensified by exploding population and pollution from the industrial activities of man.  Whatever the cause, the world finds itself in a tumultuous state with weather anomalies and an accumulating subversion of norms.   Things seem to be acceptable now that were unheard of even just a decade ago-even a couple of years ago.  It takes more effort to disagree amicably than it once did.  With humor, humility, compassion, empathy, understanding  and the whole idea of “love thy neighbor,”  we can move on and sing together along with Louis Armstrong, “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!” in Champion-Looking on the Bright Side!