Springfield-style cashew chicken can be ordered in Joplin.
None of the places are as good as what can be found in Springfield, of course, but my family and I found our favorites. We learned where the best stuff was, and where to never go.
Joplin has been my home for the last 17 years. I can tell you all about Langston Hughes, Thomas Hart Benton and Never Shout Never. I can advise you that before you enjoy a night at Downstream Casino, you should drive past all the Range Line chain restaurants and get something incredible at Blackstone Gastropub, Red Onion Café or Hackett Hot Wings. And I will always trumpet about how my previous employer, the Joplin Globe, played a key role exposing Bonnie and Clyde to the world.
This move to Springfield won’t be too much of an adjustment for me, however. I grew up in the Queen City of the Ozarks. I remember watching Sammy B. Good on TV after school, walking home from Disney Elementary. I graduated from Kickapoo High School in ’91, about 10 years after Brad Pitt and 10 years before those really cool “Fear the ‘Poo” T-shirts (might try to get one of those now). I had a great apartment on Elm Street while attending Missouri State University.
I was the newsstand manager at Barnes and Noble when we moved into its current standalone location. If I recall correctly, that was Springfield’s first Starbucks. And I occasionally worked Sunday nights on air at a Top 40 radio station nicknamed “Hot 106.7,” back when Smashmouth’s “All Star” was a new song. That job and that radio station are responsible for where I am now.
The company that owned the station also owned a magazine named 417. I received one of the greatest educations in journalism from founders Ron Davis and Mike Wingo. That launched a career that took me to Nixa, where I became the editor of the Nixa News-Enterprise, a sister to the Christian County Headliner News. That prepared me for an incredible career with the Globe. Starting in 2006, I worked as a page designer, education reporter, general reporter, features editor and finished as digital editor. I worked with some of the best in the business over there, learning a lot about what it means to be a reporter in a city where I was absolutely assured of bumping into people at social events whom I quoted for work.
I’m thrilled to return to Springfield, working for a rising news agency that puts a high value on quality reporting. Some of the names I read from afar — Steve Pokin, Jackie Rehwald, Rance Burger, Jeff Kessinger — are co-workers now. We are part of a team committed to offering deep dives into the events and actions that define and affect us.
I always found Joplin to be a lot like Springfield was 20 years ago, so I can’t wait to catch up and see what’s going on now around town. Rance Burger, my editor, has asked me to cover business stories from a consumer perspective, and that is such a brilliant summation of how to cover business that I wish I would have thought of it.
“Economic development” sounds nebulous, almost philosophical. But it is the fire that keeps our community warm, and we all have a part in it. I don’t care how much you make a year, whether you are an average Joe or the next John Q. I know you are a key player in Springfield’s economy because of one simple fact: You buy stuff.
As Springfield continues its growth, it will affect everyone around us in different ways. The bustling industrial developers at our extremities, the remote workers coming from all over the nation bringing big-city salaries to a low cost-of-living area, the long-time landowners either developing or holding, the immigrants who start their chase for the American dream in the Ozarks, the first-time entrepreneurs pursuing their first ventures — all of these people and more are here.
Every one of us buys cashew chicken. We all invest, we all benefit. It is now my privilege to bring you stories about exactly how that happens.