Tuesday night, May 19, the public will get the chance to view detailed plans for the Fassnight Creek Stormwater Improvement Project near the Springfield Art Museum.

A virtual information session will be held Tuesday night from 5:30 to 6:30 via Facebook Live or via livestream on the City of Springfield’s website.  Those who join in will be able to learn more about the project and ask questions. 

Springfield City Council is expected to vote soon on a document that outlines what the next few weeks will look like as restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remain in place and start to ease up.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed lots of plans.  Symphony orchestra concert seasons, for one.

“Everybody in society is navigating uncharted waters. But it's been especially strange and difficult for us in the live performing arts, because everything we do involves gathering together. So we've definitely had to change and reschedule and cancel and rethink things on a pretty broad scale here.”                                             

Three people have been charged with murder for a Springfield homicide in which a body has not been found.

According to the Springfield Police Department, last August, they received information that 34-year-old Elijah McReynolds may have been the victim of a homicide that had not been reported.  Investigators learned that the homicide occurred in Springfield in July of 2019 and the victim’s body was moved to another location.  McReynolds is currently listed as a missing person.

In this segment of our monthly program, Engaging the Community, Missouri State University president Clif Smart talks with KSMU's Jennifer Moore about the state budget approved by lawmakers last week, the university's gradual transition back to campus, and how higher education impacts the regional economy.  

You can hear the episode below.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s office said he has begun the process of obtaining federal disaster assistance for the state.  That’s in response to severe storms and tornadoes on May 3 and 4 that resulted in damage in parts of the Ozarks.

The governor is requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency review damage reports and documentation from 19 Missouri counties.  Those include Dallas, Douglas, Hickory, Howell, Laclede, Polk and Wright.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is working on plans to eventually widen U.S. Route 60, otherwise know as James River Freeway, to six lanes between Kansas Expressway and National Avenue in Springfield.  And the organization is seeking public comment.

According to MODOT, there’s no time frame currently for construction, but engineers are planning projects to widen the highway by one lane in each direction in the median of Highway 60.  The Route 60 bridges over Campbell Avenue will be widened to accommodate the new lanes.

Anyone who receives aid from the Missouri Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP can now purchase food online—but only from certain retailers.

According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services has currently approved two retailers, Amazon and Walmart, for online purchasing.  But DSS says more grocery retailers could be added.

In a news release, DSS says this is a permanent option for SNAP recipients.  The benefits don’t cover delivery fees or other charges. 

A Greene County resident who was diagnosed with COVID-19 this week may have exposed other people to the illness.

An emergency grant of $1.3 million is going to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.  The Missouri Governor’s Office says the funding is coming from the U.S. Department of Labor for COVID-19 disaster recovery.

The latest numbers show 104 cases of COVID-19 in Greene County.  Numbers had stayed fairly steady until a handful of new cases was announced Friday, and one more was confirmed Wednesday morning.

The head of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department told Springfield City Council this week he’s hopeful numbers will stay low.  But Clay Goddard reminds county residents that COVID-19 isn’t gone from the community, and he said it’s not going away anytime soon.

Playgrounds in Springfield-Greene County Park Board parks will reopen Thursday, May 14.  They’ve been closed since March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Physical distancing will be required, and there will be a limit of 25 adults and kids in one play area.  The park board says in a news release that playground equipment is not disinfected regularly, but “the virus causing COVID-19 may be susceptible to UV light and humidity.”

Most branches of the Springfield-Greene County Library District will reopen on Tuesday, May 26.  They’ve been closed since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The only branches that will stay closed are Park Central and Fair Grove, which will offer curbside service.

Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday through August 31.  Drive-up service will be open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and book return boxes will be open 24 hours a day.

KSMU has won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from RTDNA in the category of News Series for its 2019 Sense of Community Series, “The Intersection of Poverty and Education.”

Founded in 1946, RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization devoted to broadcast and digital journalism. According to the organization’s website, the prestigious Murrow Awards honor the trust and excellence that their namesake, Edward R. Murrow, made standard for the broadcast news profession.

There’s a critical need for blood for patients at more than 40 area hospitals in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.  The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks issued a critical appeal for blood late last week.

CBCO spokesman, Chris Pilgrim, said Tuesday that reserves are at less than a one-day level for most blood types, and all blood types are needed.

A staff member at the Ozark Correctional Center in Fordland has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, anyone who has had close contact with a staff member who has tested positive is notified first and then all staff are notified.  Staff members who have the illness are sent home for 14 days of quarantine.

Area food pantries will soon have fresh food boxes to hand out to those who need them.

SGC Foodservice won a bid to supply USDA boxes of food to Missouri’s six regional food banks, including Ozarks Food Harvest.

The pre-packaged boxes contain fresh produce, dairy and pre-cooked meats.  They’ll be delivered at no cost to nonprofit locations, according to Ozarks Food Harvest.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said there were 46 new cases of chronic wasting disease found in deer during the 2019-2020 surveillance year.

That brings the total number of CWD cases in the state to 162.  More than 137,000 deer have been tested since the first cases of the illness were found in Missouri in 2012, according to MDC.

One of the latest cases was in Polk County, two were in Stone County, and three were in Taney County.

The Ozarks Regional YMCA is open again with some restrictions.  Doors opened back up Monday morning.

There are fewer times when the Y is open than before the coronavirus pandemic, with all locations closed on Sundays.  That’s to allow staff to clean and sanitize the facilities.  And not all locations are reopening.

There’s a single entry and exit, and you’ll notice staff wearing personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

Members will be required to sign a waiver when they check in, and they’ll be asked to scan their own cards.

Some driver examination stations in Missouri will resume all written and skills testing on Monday, May 11.  Stations to reopen that day include Springfield and Nixa.  But the Missouri State Highway Patrol asks that the public allow essential drivers with the most pressing need for service to test first.  They’re asking applicants who are able to wait until after Memorial Day to seek testing services to do so. 

The highway patrol canceled testing in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Friday, May 8, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of  VE Day – the day marking the formal end of WWII in Europe with the Allies’ acceptance of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender. 

One man living in West Plains, Missouri remembers that day :  Joe Spears was a young, homesick B-17 waist gunner in the Army Air Corps.

On this week's "Arts News" our guest is Nick Nelson, Director of the Springfield Art Museum.  The Art Museum. like all other businesses or organizations deemed "non-essential," had to close its doors to the public some six weeks ago to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  It remains closed, even though the local stay-at-home order has been lifted, said Nelson.          

Springfield has seen a host of micro-breweries pop up in the past decade—but those businesses are among the hardest hit by stay-at-home orders, since their taprooms rely on bringing people together.

On Thursday, Mayor Ken McClure, mayor of the City of Springfield, amended Springfield’s “Road to Recovery” order to allow microbreweries to open their taprooms, as long as they take strict physical distancing measures and don’t have more than 25 people in their facilities at a time.

Update 7:00 A.M. Friday, May 8:    The Greene County Commission updated its "Road to Recovery" order late Thursday. It is similar to the City of Springfield's amendment, but one difference is that the county's order now allows for places of worship to hold in-person services--as long as they follow strict distancing and cleaning rules.  You can read the Greene County order here.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield will reopen Thurday, May 8.  The Tour Road, battlefield and trails will open at 7 a.m., and entrance fees will be waived for now.  Hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

The temporary visitor center and bookstore will remain closed, and public programs this month are canceled.

Ozarks Food Harvest will receive more than $277,000 from the CARES Act to help meet the increased need for food assistance due to the coronavirus.

It’s part of $1.5 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund being distributed to six regional food banks by the Missouri Department of Social Services.

The money will help food banks serve more than 1,000 food pantries, domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other meal sites, according to a news release from DSS.

Global temperatures have increased 1.9 degrees Farenheit since 1880, and 19 of the 20 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, according to data provided by NASA's Vital Signs of the Planet. 

And those changes are affecting Missouri’s top industry:  agriculture.    

City Utilities will get a $7.6 million federal grant to help cover transit service operating costs related to the coronavirus pandemic.  U.S. Senator Roy Blunt announced the funding Tuesday. 

According to the Federal Transit Administration, the funding will go toward the purchase of personal protective equipment, operator salaries, fuel and other needs.  The grant is 100 federally-funded with no local match, according to Blunt’s office.  It’s part of the CARES Act, which included $25 billion in Transit Infrastructure grants.

The Buffalo National River in Arkansas will begin a phased opening soon.  The park has been closed since early April to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Starting May 15, the park will resume some day use only activities, including private and commercial floating on the river.  Trails within park boundaries except for the Lost Valley Trail will reopen and there will be limited restroom facilities open.

Park employees will staff trailheads and river access points to make sure areas aren’t too crowded and that people are following social distancing guidelines.

Springfield City Council unanimously passed a bill Monday night making it mandatory for short term loan establishments, like payday lenders, to acquire an annual permit in order to operate legally.

Those are defined by the city as establishments that engage in the business of providing money to customers on a temporary basis through loans that are secured by post-dated check, paycheck or car title. 

The permit for the short-term loan businesses will cost $5,000, but that fee has to be approved by voters in August.