Josh Conaway | KBIA

Josh Conaway

Josh Conaway is a second year student at Missouri State University studying political science and Spanish. He works as news reporter and announcer for KSMU. His favorite part of working for KSMU is meeting a wide variety of interesting people for stories. He has a passion for history and running.

Park Central Square is officially in holiday mode now that the City of Springfield has the official Christmas tree on display there.

At the square November 17, men in hardhats pulled ropes to steady the three story tall spruce tree dangling from a crane, while a worker trimmed off part of the trunk with a chainsaw. The tree was donated by Patrick and Christina Wilkins. 

Kirk Juranas, assistant director of public works says the placing of the Christmas tree in the square has been happening for decades.

 

The Salvation Army in Springfield will soon distribute toys and food to families in December and encourages households to sign up now.

 

 

The City of West Plains passed a 90-day mask ordinance on November 4. While some residents supported the mandate, most voiced disapproval, and some called for the removal of councilmembers who supported the ordinance.

The Republican Party won key races in Greene County and Missouri as turnout broke records.

Republican candidate Bill Owen has been elected to Missouri’s 131st state House district. KSMU’s Josh Conaway reports. 

Owen ran to replace the term-limited Sonya Anderson and faced Democratic rival Allison Schoolcraft. On November 3 he won the district by more than 30 points. At the GOP Watch Party at the White River Conference Center in Springfield, he told KSMU he saw more turnout in Greene County than he’s seen in any previous election.

Greene County officials are predicting record shattering turnout ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election as voters choose between incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller says he expects mail-in and early absentee voting to combine with Election Day voting to create some impressive numbers. 

Citing a “high number of COVID-19 infections” and an impending flu season, Mercy Hospital Springfield has opened a mobile care unit dedicated to respiratory care.

The hospital said in a news release Wednesday it hopes to either directly treat patients in the facility and release them—or admit them to the hospital. The mobile unit is located outside the main hospital's emergency department and is equipped for 15 patient care areas.

 

Turnout for absentee and mail-in voting is already shattering Greene County records this election year. KSMU asked county clerk Shane Schoeller how his office will keep the voting process safe on Election Day. 

 

As we approach Election Day, voters who have not yet sent in their mail-in ballots may now be worried their ballots won’t make it back in time to be counted. This is what they can do to esnure their vote is counted.

First, a reminder:  this year, there are three ways Missouri voters can cast their ballots:   absentee, mail-in, or voting in person on Election Day.   Mail-in and absentee ballots are not the same thing.

 

Lin Waterhouse, an author living in West Plains, knew it wasn't a good sign that her husband's nursing home was calling her.

“In their e-mail, they would tell us that anyone with a [COVID-19] positive loved one would be contacted by phone,” Waterhouse said.

Her husband, Dave, was asymptomatic. But since nursing homes are doing more universal testing, a nasal swab had caught traces of the coronavirus in his nasal passageways. He was eventually moved into a COVID corridor.

Early in the pandemic, Missouri’s rural counties were largely spared from COVID-19. 

But now, many of state’s highest rates of infection are in rural areas. In this first segment of our four-part series, COVID in the Rural Ozarks, we look at one county’s tension between rugged individualism and regulating public health.

A history of tension over government regulation 

 

The History Museum on the Square is holding history lessons every Friday for elementary school students.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up at least two routine activities for kids: school and visits to the doctor. But soon, kids in Newton County will be able to do both at once.

Newton County commissioners are putting CARES Act federal funding toward an initiative by Freeman Neosho Hospital to use telemedicine in all five of the county’s school districts. 

 

Correction: an earlier version of this story failed to list candidate Vicke Kepling in the Missouri House District 135 race.  Kepling, a Green Party candidate, will participate in Thursday's virtual forum. We regret the error, and the story has been edited to reflect the correction.

 

People are still discussing the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden Tuesday. KSMU asked a government professor to weigh in on how the first debate went.

 

 

Starting Thursday, October 1, a series of conversations called “Tough Talks” will roll out online for Springfield community members.

 

 

The Foster Recreation Center is Missouri State University’s largest gym and has been open to students for eight years. It’s also open now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. KSMU asked what the rec center is doing to prevent users from contracting the coronavirus.

 

As Springfield hospitals get closer to full capacity for COVID patients, at least one hospital administrator told Springfield City Council Tuesday his facility may soon need to start turning away transfers from rural hospitals. KSMU asked several rural hospitals about the impact this could have on care. 

On Tuesday, election officials gathered in front of the Greene County Election Center to encourage Missouri citizens to vote ahead of the general election and to make sure they know their options.

The conference took place next to a brown and gold-striped UPS truck, full of mail-in ballots for Greene County voters. The mail-in ballots started going out to voters September 22.

The CDC says anyone using public transportation during the pandemic should use caution. The Bear Line, a shuttle designed for Missouri State University students to get across campus quickly, has changed its operations.

The braking chimes beep as the white-and maroon painted bus rolls to a stop. A few masked students get off and head to class. The bus driver, also wearing a mask, closes the door and the Bear Line continues on.

According to the US Census Bureau, only 55.7% of eligible voters voted in the 2016 presidential election. For young adults age 18 to 24, that number dropped below 40%. At Missouri State University, a student-run organization hopes to push young people to the polls.

The History Museum on the Square is exhibiting Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suff

Bass Pro Shops will host an outdoor hiring event September 9 from 9:00 until 1:00.

The Springfield-based sporting and outdoor goods store wants to hire over 100 employees to work at the company’s Distribution Center. The hiring event takes place at the Bass Pro Base Camp, and applicants are asked to stay in their vehicles until being called for an interview. The company says it will conduct on-site health screenings, and masks are required. 

As the coronavirus spreads through rural Missouri, KSMU asked school districts how they’re responding to rising case numbers.

The director of the Howell County Health Department, Chris Gilliam, said the county had 86 active cases as of Monday and 14 of them are students or staff of schools.

Missouri State University has reported 383 new COVID-19 cases during the second week of classes.  That’s a jump of about 2.7 times the number of new cases reported the previous week, according to the university’s coronavirus dashboard.

A total of 752 tests were administered on campus in the past seven days. According to MSU’s website, confirmed cases include positive tests from Magers Health and Wellness Center, a clinic on campus, as well as cases that have been self-reported.

Missouri State University has recorded 13 cases of COVID-19 in Greek Life housing since classes began last week.

Missouri State University officials say they are expanding quarantine and isolation housing for students living on campus. This comes after the university reported 141 new cases of COVID-19 during the first full week of classes.

In an online update, MSU president Clif Smart said starting September 1, the university will have the entire Q Hotel and Suites on East St. Louis Street available for residential students who test positive for COVID-19.

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