Josh Conaway

News Reporter, Announcer

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.

File Photo / KSMU

Two people have died in Springfield among a dramatic spike in opioid drug overdoses over the past two days, according to city officials. On Thursday, Springfield Fire Chief David Pennington called an emergency meeting of health and safety leaders to discuss the rash of overdoses in a 24-hour span, which officials initially described as being in the "double digit numbers."

Friday morning, mayor Ken McClure updated reporters.

Joshua Conaway

Just over two percent of Springfield’s population is comprised of African Americans—even though African Americans make up nearly 13 percent of the national population.  And local business leaders say the gap between minority-owned businesses on the local and national levels is even greater. Springfield leaders are trying to make the city’s workforce more diverse, and they face some specific challenges.

Joshua Conaway / KSMU

Every other year, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks releases a Community Focus Report identifying things Springfield and Greene County are doing well or that they need to work on.    The report uses blue ribbons to note positive developments and red flags to point out challenges.  This year's Community Focus Report was shared with the public Thursday morning at a press conference at the Springfield Art Museum.

Used with permission / Goats and Yoga

“Agritourism” is a buzzword used to describe bringing tourists to farms and ranches. Think winery tours, petting zoos, or a romantic bed-and-breakfast surrounded by rows of corn. At Willard High School, some students are getting experience with farm work and culinary skills—and they’re encouraged to consider agritourism as a career field.

Inside a barn behind Willard High School, a calf, some goats, and a few chickens hang out in their pens while Irish Dexter cattle graze in the field outside.

Caleb Conaway

To cap off our 10-part Sense of Community series, Take It Outside, we’re hitting the trails at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, just 20 minutes from Springfield. 

Wilson’s Creek is a mix of natural beauty and history, where these lush hills met with the human horror of war. 

According to the National Park Service, the battlefield has five trails off the tour road, and they range from a quarter of a mile to three-quarters of a mile long.   Many of those trails meet up for longer hikes.

Rebecca Dula / Submitted

It’s mid-morning at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park in west Springfield, which connects to the Ozark Greenways trail.  It’s a beautiful area, with rolling hills, fields of crops, a chicken coop and a large pond. However, one thing that makes this park unique is that it has some extra options for people with disabilities in the form of three very special bicycles. They’re available for anyone to use.

MU Extension

It’s been called the Ozarks Banana, and it’s known for its yellow-green color and tropical taste.  And on September 20, locals will have a chance to learn more about the pawpaw fruit.

The fleshy inside of the oval-shaped pawpaw has anywhere from 10 to 14 seeds and it ripens in September and October here in the Ozarks.

Several varieties of pawpaws will be on display in Mount Vernon during the MU Extension’s “Pawpaw Field Day” on September 20 from 1:00 to 4:00, at the MU Research Building, located at 14548 State Rd H in Mount Vernon.

Vickie Driskell / Missouri State University-West Plains

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and state officials are trying to get the word out about a new grant to help adults without a college degree go back to school. 

State officials have been hitting the road to talk about the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant.

That’s a statewide scholarship designed to fill a “skills gap” by educating adults who don't yet have a college degree.

Central High School
Springfield Public Schools

Back to school checklists typically include pencils, calculators, and lunch boxes. But according to the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield, there’s another list parents need to help protect their children. It focuses on communicating and awareness to prevent sexual abuse of children.

As children start a new school year, they come into contact with new adults and new routines.

Linda Saturno is executive director of the CAC. She says parents should be familiar with the school’s Code of Conduct policy.

City Utilities
Chloe O'Neill / KSMU

 

Springfield’s City Utilities announced Tuesday its plan to expand the city’s fiber optic network by more than 1,000 miles over the next five years. CU says this will increase citizens’ access to high speed broadband services.

 

Kevin and Branson Cedar owners at our studio in Springfield
Joshua Conaway / KSMU

When a prison inmate is released after serving time, it can be hard to find a job. The Missouri Job Center’s APPLIE Program gives former inmates an opportunity to transition back into the workforce seamlessly. 

After nearly 11 years in prison, Kevin Plumlee had a chance to start over. After serving time for first degree assault in a bar fight at age 22, he found life on the outside a lot different than life behind bars.

Ozarks Technical Community College will open its doors on all of its campuses Saturday, August 10 to help students prepare for the fall semester. Staff members will be available from 9 AM to noon to help with enrollment, advising, and payment details. The OTC book store will also be open from 10 to 2 Saturday.

Classes for the fall semester start Monday, August 19. Register at otc.edu/starthere.

Lyn Lomasi / Flickr

With the start of school less than two weeks away, for many parents it’s time for school supply shopping. But some parents can’t get the supplies their kids need because they can’t afford them. That’s why Springfield Public Schools hosts an annual school supply drive. 

Ready, Set Supply! Is designed to equip students and teachers with school supplies. SPS says research shows that many families can’t afford to buy school supplies or they buy the wrong items. Teachers often have to use their own money to buy classroom supplies, and on average spend $600 a year on them.

Carlene Sisbarro / Bēhance

A local domestic violence shelter, Harmony House, is training hair and nail salon owners how to spot signs of abuse and how to respond.

The familiar smell of nail polish, the sound of hair being swept up, and chatter between stylists and clients might provide abuse victims with a sense of security for maybe a half hour, every few weeks. The trust between clients and stylists is exactly what the local nonprofit Harmony House is using to help spot signs of domestic abuse in a program called Cut It Out.

Joshua Conaway / KSMU

The 50th anniversary of the first manned moon mission is Saturday, July 20th. We went down to the South Side Senior Center during lunchtime to interview people who remember that historic moment in American history. 

Patricia Click was in her 20s in 1969: “I remember being very, very proud, and at the same time very nervous and worried, and I remember praying because I was so scared that something would happen, that maybe he wouldn’t be able to get back.”

Bud Carrol was 48 at the time: “I’m glad it wasn’t me!”

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