Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Federal funds, fuel and food take center stage

Eyes & Ears

Posted online

It’s a strange world we’re living in these days.

Gas at the pump is below $1 a gallon since who knows when. A local romance author has published a cookbook. And state government officials are fighting over how to spend federal money.

OK, so the last one’s not so strange. But here are some details on each.

Loose change
It’s possible you haven’t filled your car’s gas tank in a few weeks or longer. Even still, you’ve probably heard: You could buy a cheap cup of coffee, a razor, an iTunes song or a gallon of gas for under a buck.

I saw cars lining up to get 94-cent gas the other day at my neighborhood fueling station. That matched the lowest price in the state on April 27, according to fuel tracking firm GasBuddy LLC.

The story’s a bit different statewide. The average price at the pump that day was $1.38 a gallon, according to GasBuddy. That still beats the national average of $1.74 a gallon on April 27. When would you guess the last time gas in Missouri was this cheap?

Scrolling through GasBuddy’s records, I found the answer. It was 2016. In February that year the statewide average also rang in at $1.38 per gallon.

It wasn’t all that long ago Missourians were paying nearly $4 a gallon. That was back in 2008.

With gas as low as it is now, my 14-year-old son even took notice as we drove by the station. In his youthful wisdom, he suggested I stock up. You know, “Get some extra gas cans, dad.” Until we did the math on those unnecessary expenses for the fuel storage plan. Still, I like the way he thinks.

The next day, gas prices in Springfield did rise a bit. But I’ll take $1.17 a gallon any day.

Just one thing: Where am I going to go?

Quarantine cooking
If your office staff is like ours at Springfield Business Journal, you’ve exchanged some cooking recipes and ideas while we’ve all been working from home. I’ve noticed working on our craft in the kitchen has become an outlet for some lately.

Right on cue, Springfield-based novelist Beth Carter put together “The Quarantine Cookbook.”

Carter is known for writing romance novels. So, it’s a bit of a break from her norm but not that far off, right? Among the nearly 200 recipes, the cookbook has a section for five-ingredient dishes, vegetarian meals and comfort food. Who couldn’t use a little comfort food right now?

Check Amazon for e-book ($4) and paperback ($9) copies. Carter says she’s donating proceeds to Tunnel2Towers, which provides housing for fallen COVID-19 health care workers and first responders with young children. Her real motivation for the fundraiser cookbook: Her brother is a flight nurse for Mercy.

Metropolitan Grill might have done one better.

While Springfield restaurants can’t have dine-in guests, chef Pat Duran and his team created a way for its fine dining to be prepared in their customers’ kitchens. It’s a contest called the Quarantine Cook-off Challenge. Participants buy a Date Night Dream Box complete with the ingredients to prepare a special meal at home, and once complete, they post pictures and videos of their creations. Winners are announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Congrats to the first-round winners Jonathan and Audrey Garard of Grooms Office Environments. By the way, they received a dinner for 10 at Metro Grill, where Duran will recreate the dish. Another congrats to Duran for the creative way to drum up restaurant business in challenging times.

Funding fight
The state auditor’s office and the governor’s office appear to be butting heads over the federal stimulus funds awarded to Missouri.

Here’s the deal: Auditor Nicole Galloway is attempting to track the state’s spending of COVID-19 relief funding, but she says Gov. Mike Parson is not cooperating to the fullest extent. Galloway in early April requested seven items of “basic information” from state departments on how those offices planned to spend the money, and she claims the only response was a letter on April 22 from Parson’s office that didn’t answer her questions.

The letters are posted to

The reply from Parson’s office says Galloway’s requests extend beyond her constitutional powers.

“We are unable to divert substantial resources during this time of state emergency to respond to your office’s extra-constitutional investigation,” the letter from the governor’s office reads.

It goes on to point Galloway to the Office of Administration’s creation of 15 funds to track the receipt and expenditure of the federal funds. And it refers the auditor to ongoing memoranda issued to state agencies that may answer her financial questions.

“Given your access to the SAM II Financial system, your office is likely quite aware of the creation of these funds,” the letter says. “This system gives your office the opportunity to review state expenditures, from these funds or any other fund, at any time.”

This fight’s not over. Maybe it’s just a prelude to their run for governor later this year.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at


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