Afton Harper

News Intern

Afton Harper is a journalism student at Missouri State University. She works as a staff reporter for her college newspaper, The Standard, and is an intern reporter at KSMU. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog guide Payton and snapping macro photos

Public domain photo / Used with permission

Medical marijuana in Missouri was legalized in 2018 and medical marijuana cards have been approved for thousands of Missourians.  

Now, some Missourians wonder whether that could help patients with dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, particularly people who experience agitation and anxiety as the disease progresses.  

Dementia is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions involving memory loss. The stress from these changes can make a dementia patient feel agitated, anxious, and in some cases angry.

Mark Applegate / Used with permission

Editor's note:   for families or caregivers who need support related to Alzheimer's disease, the free Alzheimer's Association helpline is available 24 hours a day. That number is 800-272-3900.  Also, the Alzheimer's Association has resources to help here:

Afton Harper / KSMU

Many people are out of work right now as schools and businesses are shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that means many service animals are unable to work, too.

Around three weeks ago, my dog guide, Payton, and I traveled home to Kansas City for spring break. Since the pandemic, we haven’t left the house other than for walks around the block because of a shelter-in-place order.

Pixabay, used with permission

Some cities in the Ozarks are facing sewage backups because residents are flushing non-toilet paper products down the toilet. This comes as more people are staying home—and many are also cleaning with sanitizing wipes and paper towels. 

The cities of West Plains and Mountain Grove are reporting more non-toilet paper products in their sewer systems.


Pixabay / Used with permission

Update 1:00 p.m. Thursday, March 26:   a fifth resident at the assisted living facility has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in the hospital, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

After four people tested positive for COVID-19 at a Springfield assisted living facility—three of whom have since died—state and local officials are investigating the cases in an effort to prevent the spread within that facility. 


The National Park Service is looking for public feedback related to increased foot traffic along part of the Buffalo River.

Officials are asking for feedback on the Boxley Valley Area Plan, a project designed to protect wildlife from increased tourism.

Open house meetings about the plan will be held on Tuesday, March 3, at Boxley Valley Community Center and Jasper High School.

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

  The MSU Chorale will perform a 16-movement composition Sunday that's never been performed in public before. 

It tells the story of the 1906 lynching of three black men on Springfield's Park Central Square. 

The piece, titled Easter, 1906, was written by guest composer William Averitt, a professor emeritus of composition at Shenandoah University in Virginia.

Greene County Courthouse
Scott Harvey / KSMU

Greene County candidates running for public office in the August 2020 primary can begin filing their paperwork next Tuesday.

Some of the positions that are up for re-election include Greene County treasurer, public administrator and commissioners for districts one and two.

Shane Schoeller, the Greene County Clerk, said candidates should go to the historic courthouse next Tuesday with the required paperwork to get their name on the ballot. 

A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to help married couples pay off their student loans. 

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s bill would provide financial relief to married couples paying off their student loans by allowing them to apply for the loan interest deduction individually.

According to Hartzler’s office, current law says married couples are only allowed to take the deduction as a couple, even if both partners are qualified.

Fort Leonard Wood
Scott Harvey / KSMU

A Congresswoman from the Ozarks is working on a bill that would encourage the federal government to buy military medications from American drug manufacturers.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler sees it as a matter of national security.

Hartzler, who's sponsoring a bill along with Representative John Garamendi, says the U.S. military is too dependent on China for sustainable and quality medicine.

Garamendi said most general medications American service members take are supplied by Chinese companies, which makes the U.S. vulnerable. 

KSMU Archives

Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would waive the fees for domestic violence survivors to get a copy of their birth certificates.  

Advocates say the bill would save shelters money and help survivors get back on their feet.

In Missouri, it costs $15 for a copy of a birth certificate from a local health department.

Lisa Farmer is executive director of the largest domestic violence shelter in Springfield, Harmony House.

Farmer said Harmony House spends between $4,000 to $6,000 every year on birth certificate fees.  

Salvation Army of Springfield / Used with permission

The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, and Fisk Transportation all say thieves stole the catalytic converters from their vehicles this week. 

The vehicle parts are valuable because they often contain high-dollar metals like rhodium or platinum.

Steve Roberson with the Salvation Army in Springfield said their truck’s catalytic converter was stolen Wednesday night in front of the nonprofit’s thrift store on South Campbell. The Salvation Army uses its truck to make up to 250 stops a day to deliver food and clothing to families in need, he said.

Springfield Police Department
Ryan Welch / KSMU

The Springfield Police Department has released its annual report showing the past year's crime data.

The number of violent crimes and property crimes both went up in 2019. 

According to the 2019 FBI Uniform Crime Report, aggravated assaults in Springfield increased by almost 20 percent in 2019, and the police department said in a press release that gun violence played a major role in that increase. 

Police Chief Paul Williams said most people don’t need to worry about being victims of random acts of violence, as most violence is between people who know each other.


China has identified a new strain of coronavirus that has led to at least 17 deaths and hundreds of others falling ill. The first cases appeared in the industrial and transporation hub of Wuhan, in central China.  

An official at Missouri State University, which has hundreds of Chinese students, says there haven’t been any reported cases at MSU yet.

Carrington Hall
Scott Harvey / KSMU

The Missouri State University Board of Governors voted to continue work on the outdoor Tent Theatre pavilion that will be located outside of Craig Hall. 

The project is in the pre-design phase and is expected to be done by the summer 2022, according to Matt Morris, a university administrator.

According to MSU President Clif Smart, actor John Goodman is funding the lead gift for this project. Smart expects construction for the pavilion to cost around $4 to $5 million.