The Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center reopens Friday, May 22 after closing for several weeks due to the coronavirus.

The center’s atrium, front desk, gift shop and restrooms will be open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 and Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 6.  No rentals, meetings or classes will be offered for now.

This week’s “Coronavirus Edition” of “Arts News” features a talk with Christopher Koch, Music Director and conductor of Springfield Regional Opera.  I asked him what SRO was working on when the stay-at-home order hit in March.                                                                

The City of Springfield wants your input on a plan to spend nearly $1 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development CARES Act funding.  

A new plan in Missouri is aimed at rapidly increasing COVID-19 testing volume to 7500 tests per day in the state.  Governor Mike Parson announced the plan Thursday.

"I cannot stress enough how important this is for us to move forward," he said.  "Testing and the economic recovery will go hand in hand.  You cannot have one without the other."

The public is being warned of a possible exposure from a COVID-19 positive person in Greene County.

According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, a person who was recently diagnosed visited the Dollar General in Willard on Friday, May 15, around 10 a.m. for about an hour.  The person also visited the Apple Market in Willard on the same day around 11 a.m. for about an hour.  They were wearing a face covering and was not showing symptoms at the time.  But they were within the timeframe of being potentially infectious, according to local health officials.

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — In a year when many states are prohibiting in-person graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is not only allowing them, but will speak at one.

The Republican governor has a special bond with the indoor ceremony Thursday night at Sparta High School in southwestern Missouri: His granddaughter is among the 42 seniors receiving diplomas.

The Branson AquaPlex will open for the season on June 2, according to the Branson Parks and Recreation Department.  

The facility, at 1500 Branson Hills Parkway, is a 12,250 square-foot aquatic park with water slides, play structures, a climbing wall, lap lanes and a diving well.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

There will be a limit of 150 guests, and chairs, pool equipment and locker rooms will be cleaned between each session.  There will also be contactless options for payment. 

Pandemic Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or P-SNAP benefits will continue through the month of June in Missouri.

The United States Department of Agriculture has approved a request for the extension, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

P-SNAP allows recipients to receive the maximum Food Stamp/SNAP benefit amount for their household size during a state of emergency.  The USDA also approved Missouri’s request to extend the suspension of Food Stamp interviews through the month of June, according to MO DSS. 

The National Weather Service says severe weather will be possible during the day Friday, May 22, and into the evening, mainly across western Missouri and southeast Kansas.

Storms could bring damaging winds up to 60 mph, hail up to golf ball-size, and tornadoes will be possible.

Springfield is in an area the weather service is considering at marginal risk for severe storms.

The area at highest risk for tornadoes is in far western Missouri—from Joplin to the north.     

Learn more here.  

Dickerson Park Zoo has shared more information about its reopening plan.  The zoo will open to Friends of the Zoo members only May 26 through 28.  It will open to the general public on May 29.

The giraffe deck, petting zoo, café, gift shop and train will be open with modified occupancy.  The Diversity of Life, siamang, colobus monkey and giraffe buildings will remain closed.

The playground will be open, but it will not be disinfected regularly.  Guests are encouraged to wash hands before and after playing. 

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board will reopen the indoor pools at Chesterfield and Doling Family Centers Saturday.  They’ve been closed for nine weeks because of the coronavirus.

Hours will be 8 a.m. to noon Saturday for adult swim only and open swim will be from noon to 3:30.  Sunday hours will be noon to 2:30 for open swim.  Monday through Friday an adult only swim will be held from 7:15 to 11 a.m., and open swim will be from 1 to 5.  The Park Board says hours will expand as more lifeguards are certified and hired.

The City of Springfield has released the details of Phase 2 in its Road to Recovery plan in reopening the economy.   A new order, effective May 23-June 22, will be reviewed prior to June 14 to see if changes are needed.

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said the city urges caution and responsibility as it moves away from its 25-person limit on gatherings.

You can read the city’s new order by clicking here.

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will reopen this Saturday, May 23, after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus.

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis-area kids and families bored at home during the coronavirus shutdown will start to see new options open up next month, when the St. Louis Zoo, summer camps and swimming pools all are expected to reopen.

Missouri Southern State Names New President

May 20, 2020

JOPLIN, Mo. (The Joplin (Mo.) Globe) — Missouri Southern State University in Joplin has chosen its new president.

Blue Alerts provide law enforcement with an early warning of threats against police officers, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. They also help to apprehend suspects who have killed or seriously injured an officer. And they are now included in the AMBER Alert System in Missouri.

If you’ll need to vote absentee in the June 2 Greene County Election, you’ll need to request an absentee ballot Wednesday, May 20. 

The General Municipal Election was postponed from April 7 to June 2 due to the coronavirus.

Homebound of out-of-town voters may request an absentee ballot by mail, either handwritten or from a fillable form at greenecountymo.gov.  The requests must be signed by voters and received at the Greene County Clerk’s Office no later than 5 p.m. on May 20.

Springfield City Utilities is warning the public of a utility service disconnection scam.  According to CU, the scam involves a caller asking for immediate payment or the customer’s utility service will be disconnected.

If you receive a call demanding immediate payment, CU officials say you shouldn’t give out any personal information.  Let CU know about the call by phoning (417) 863-9000.

CU has suspended disconnections for non-payment of utility bills through at least July 6 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stormwater improvements to Fassnight Creek near the Springfield Art Museum will begin this summer.  And the public got the chance to comment on plans during a virtual meeting Tuesday night.

The project, between National and Kings Avenues along Brookside Drive, will involve restoring the creek to a naturalized channel.  It’s expected to help with flood mitigation, improve water quality and create an urban wildlife habitat.

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic put a pause on U.S. executions, but that is likely to change as Missouri prepares to execute an inmate for the slaying of an elderly woman nearly three decades ago.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A 34-year-old man who was captured entering the U.S. from Mexico more than a year after he escaped from a Missouri halfway house pleaded guilty in federal court to escape.

Six of the eight latest cases of COVID-19 in Greene County are travel-related, according to the director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.  During a press briefing Tuesday, Clay Goddard said they traveled domestically by driving.  

The cases are still being investigated.  The health department is still working to find an epidemiological link to one of the cases, he said, and another case is a close contact of a known case from another local county.

A black bear season could begin as early as the fall of 2021 in Missouri, and the Missouri Department of Conservation is seeking public comment.  Michele Skalicky talked with MDC bear biologist, Laura Conlee.

How many bears do you estimate we have in Missouri?

"We estimate that we have between 540 and 840 black bears in the state."

Where are they at in Missouri?

This week, Missouri State Parks began its “phased reopenin

Update:  Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Clay Goddard, said Tuesday there have been eight new cases in the county since Friday.

There are now 111 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greene County, and 16 of those are active.  That’s according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s assistant director Katie Towns.  She told Springfield City Council Monday night that there had been six new cases in the county since Friday.

Springfield's History Museum on the Square will reopen to the public with limited hours and days starting Thursday, May 28.

The museum will be open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The museum says it will limit capacity to 25 guests at a time.

It’s also planning to deep clean each morning and throughout the day.

Four new outdoor warning sirens will be installed in Branson this week.  They’ll replace units that are more than 30 years old and no longer serviceable, according to the City of Branson.

Work will begin Monday, May 18, and is expected to be finished by Wednesday, May 20.  The sirens will be installed south of Branson Junior High, at the employee entrance of White Water, at the Meadows Water Treatment Plant and on the property of the new Fire Station #4 on Champaign Blvd.

After public feedback, the Missouri Department of Transportation has decided on a plan for a new interchange at U.S. 60 and Highway 125 near Rogersville.

According to MODOT, the interchange will be built approximately a third of a mile east of the existing intersection.

The interchange is needed to improve safety along Route 60, MODOT said in a news release.  The project will remove the traffic signal, which has been the scene of many crashes—one fatal.  And MODOT officials expect congestion along Route 60 during higher traffic volume times to be reduced.

The Springfield Police Department has sent 30 sexual assault kits to BODE, the private lab contracted through the SAKI grant administered by the Missouri Attorney General’s office to address the backlog of untested kits, according to the department. A representative from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s SAFE Kit Initiative was at SPD headquarters Friday to oversee the packaging and delivery of the SAKs to the lab.