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Opinion: COVID-19, media changes and developments top SBJ.net stories

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Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate news headlines in 2021.

While readers of SBJ.net were interested in learning the latest on the coronavirus, they appeared to hunger for the norm of developments and career changes, as evidenced by the Top 10 most-read stories on Springfield Business Journal’s website this year.

A quick note, I removed Today in Business summary articles, SBJ event stories and reports from previous years. With those out of the way, let’s get into it.

Here’s the Top 10 most-read SBJ.net stories of 2021.

  1. Springfield business owner dies at 63

Craig Kauffman, the co-founder of Associated Video Producers Inc., died Nov. 25. He was 63. His obituary at GreenlawnFuneralHome.com cited “a short illness.” After co-founding the company in 1982 with Jim Lewis, Kauffman and his wife, Michelle, took over full ownership in 1994. Kauffman’s son, Bryan, is now operating the business after working with his father at AVP since 2008.

  1. Longtime KOLR anchor exits suddenly

Career changes in media were of particular interest to readers this year. David Oliver, a KOLR anchor for nearly two decades, announced his sudden exit from the CBS television affiliate in February. His LinkedIn profile indicates he started as a national anchor and correspondent for Denver-based Real America’s Voice in September.

  1. Greene County issues emergency declaration

The Greene County Commission in July voted to approve a declaration of local emergency in an effort to expedite local health officials’ request for funding from the state. The health officials had sought state funds for an alternative care site for COVID-19 patients amid rising cases.

  1. $22M Springfield Sports Complex receives new name

Businessperson and philanthropist Bobby Allison in August pledged up to $3.5 million for fields and signage with naming rights for a soccer-centered sports complex in northwest Springfield. Signage recently was installed for the Betty & Bobby Allison Sports Town development, with officials targeting a 2022 launch date.

  1. 6-story office building planned in south Springfield

BiBi Investments and Development LLC is behind a planned 41,000-square-foot building at 4103 S. National Ave., located at the southwest corner of James River Freeway and National Avenue. The six-story office complex is slated to wrap by early 2023.

  1. Branson removes mask mandate

The Branson Board of Aldermen in March voted to lift its coronavirus face-mask mandate in May. Face masks proved to be one of the most controversial health care orders of 2021, even spawning litigation at the state level.

  1. KY3 makes additional anchor changes

As veteran KY3 anchors Sara and Ethan Forhetz prepared to exit KY3 for Convoy of Hope, the station in January announced a series of changes. Maria Neider transitioned to the anchor position for KY3 News at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Veteran anchor Lisa Rose was appointed to co-anchor the 6 p.m. news with Steve Grant and additionally became co-anchor of the news at noon, and KY3 hired longtime journalist Jackie Garrity as morning anchor.

  1. Amazon follows up Republic project with Springfield plans

While not as significant in scope, Amazon’s plans in Springfield made reverberations among readers after the company announced a large-scale development in Republic. In Springfield, Amazon took on a former Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co. building for a delivery station.

  1. Springfield developer, real estate agent dies at 70

Real estate developer Teresa Hall died Sept. 20. She was 70. Her obituary at GreenLawnFuneralHome.com indicates she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June. As a developer, Hall built and later sold Autumn Corners in Springfield and Autumn Corners at Copper Leaf in Nixa, as well as Fassnight Meadows and Villas at Lombard. She additionally was a real estate agent with Century 21 Integrity Group since 1999.

  1. KY3 reporter exits over vaccine mandate

This one crossed two of the boxes for SBJ.net readers, with COVID-19 and anchor career changes all in one. Linda Simmons, a KY3 reporter for 14 years, announced her exit from the station in October due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate imposed by station owner Gray Television Inc. Simmons would go on to land a position at Christian radio station operator Bott Radio Network.

With the omicron and delta variants of COVID-19 continuing to flourish, headlines next year likely will have a bit of the coronavirus flowing through them. Personally, I’m hopeful for some kind of return to normal in business news, whatever that looks like. Happy New Year, readers!

Springfield Business Journal Digital Editor Geoff Pickle can be reached at gpickle@sbj.net.

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