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As demand grows for developers, new degree and local partnership provide pipeline

From Pittsburg State University

If things go her way, a college internship with LimeLight Marketing will become a full-time job for Faith Hawk, a junior at Pittsburg State majoring in computer information systems.

The odds are in her favor.

It’s how one of Hawk’s mentors, Sara Dressler, landed her job with LimeLight, as did colleagues Aaron Troglia, Lydia Winters, and Jared Hight.

They’re developers, and as such focus on coding, creating websites and email marketing platforms, and software development for the local, regional, and national clients the boutique agency serves. They love the challenge and the combination of creative and analytical skills.

“We all began as college interns,” Dressler said in a recent interview inside the agency’s audio-visual room, where a photo shoot for a client was being staged.

‘The goal is to stay here’

Just down the hall from the A/V room, Dressler’s colleagues work in a collaborative space in a renovated historic building in downtown Pittsburg, part of a development called Block22.

Most are in their 20s and 30s, and all say that LimeLight and the recent revitalization of Pittsburg is what kept them from moving away to a larger city; they can work anywhere as long as they have a strong internet connection — and in Pittsburg, it happens to be very, very good.

Hawk pointed out other amenities attractive to those her age: a welcoming and supportive culture, an easy commute with not much traffic, and unique restaurants, boutique shops, and coffeeshops within walking distance.

“The goal is to stay here,” she said.

They could go anywhere.

Locally and nationally, demand is huge for developers like them, prompting Pittsburg State to begin offering a new degree option that will start with the Fall 2022 semester: Computer Science. It will enable graduates to excel in three main career areas:

• computer programmers write and test code. Median pay: $89,100 per year

• software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers, design computer applications or programs and identify problems within them. Median pay: $110,100 per year

• Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find solutions that are more efficient and effective. Median pay: $93,700 per year

Huge demand

“We are seeing a huge demand for developers, and so are our peers in the industry,” said Brandee Johnson, founder and CEO of LimeLight and a 2001 graduate of Pittsburg State. The agency has grown from a few employees six years ago, to 25 today, and shows no signs of stopping.

Other agencies have even subcontracted with LimeLight for access to their developers in order to fulfil jobs for clients, Johnson said.

College interns are one solution.

Troglia, a web development specialist, was one before graduating from Pittsburg State in 2017 with a degree in graphic communications with an emphasis in web/interactive media.

Dressler was one before graduating in December 2020 with a degree in graphic communications with an emphasis in digital media and web/interactive media.

Hight, a backend developer, was one, too, before graduating in December 2021 with a degree in computer information systems.

Winters, a frontend developer/designer, also was one before graduating in 2021 with a degree in graphic communications with an emphasis in web/interactive media and graphic design.

New degree

The new computer science degree at Pittsburg State should funnel more interns and graduates to LimeLight, said Dressler, who felt so strongly about staying in Pittsburg that she recently bought a home — at age 22.

“It will keep recent graduates from moving away from Pittsburg, allow us to retain talent, and will make the local community that much stronger,” Johnson said.

To that end, John Kuefler, who wears hats as both a developer for LimeLight and an instructional assistant professor in Kelce College of Business, along with Bobby Winters, assistant dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, have started a monthly meeting of students and professionals in the field. The first attracted more than 20 participants.

“It’s fantastic to be able to pull likeminded people together for collaboration and networking,” Johnson said.

Called SEK Dev Connect, it meets in the Community Room at Block22.

“The more we can bring technology professionals and students together in the community, the better,” said Kuefler. “Having professional meet-ups like this is also a very important thing to be doing as we try to draw people who are interested in remote work to Pittsburg.”

Johnson, Kuefler, and Winters say they consider LimeLight’s relationship with Pittsburg State to be long-term and beneficial to all.

“We consider this a long-term partnership and we are committed to bringing our students into contact with potential employers,” Winters said. “We believe this endeavor has far-ranging ramifications for everyone involved.”

And the new degree?

“It’s vital,” Kuefler said.

Sen. Bill White honored with the 2021 Legislative Advocate of the Year Award from St. Louis Children’s Hospital

From the Missouri Senate

State Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, is one of two honored recipients of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s (SLCH) 2021 Legislative Advocate of the Year award for his unwavering commitment to serve, protect and uplift Missouri’s children. The award was presented during a virtual broadcast on March 9.

“As a lifelong advocate for children, adoptive parent and former guardian ad litem, I am humbled and grateful to receive this prestigious award from the guardians of childhood at SLCH,” said Sen. White. “It is an honor to usher policies through the legislative process to protect children, improve their lives and help them reach their full potential.”

Each year, SLCH honors two individuals who have devoted their personal and professional lives to improve outcomes for children through community involvement, education and legislation.

For more information about Sen. White and his legislation, please visit his Senate website at senate.mo.gov/White.

Southeast Kansas Sheep & Goat Workshop

From K-State Research and Extension

Join us Tuesday, March 29th at the Neosho County Fairgrounds in Erie, KS for the Southeast Kansas Sheep & Goat Workshop hosted by Southwind and Wildcat Extension Districts. Registration and snacks will start at 6 p.m. with the program to follow.

Guest speakers Dr. Alison Crane, small ruminant extension specialist, and Dr. Drew Rickets, wildlife control and management extension specialist, will be joining us to discuss parasite control, sheep and goat nutrition, and predator management. The workshop will conclude with a question and answer session. This meeting is free to attend, but we do ask that you RSVP by calling 620-244-3826.

For more information, please contact Adaven Scronce, Diversified Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent, [email protected] or (620)331-2690.

WaterSense Program encourages homeowners to join Fix a Leak Week and save water

From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program and its partners are encouraging Americans to participate in the 14th annual Fix a Leak Week, by finding and fixing plumbing and irrigation leaks around homes and businesses. The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, but many of these leaks can be easily avoided with regular maintenance or fixed when they are identified.

“Checking our home and workplace for leaks is an easy step we can all take to do our part in water conservation, helping both the environment and our wallet,” said Director of the Office of Wastewater Management Andrew Sawyers. “By reducing the amount of water we use, we reduce the amount of energy needed to treat it and strengthen our water supplies, both of which can reduce impacts of climate change.”

Taking place March 14 through March 20, 2022, Fix a Leak Week is an annual opportunity for EPA and its program partners, including water utilities and local governments, to engage with consumers on the important role they play in controlling water waste. From running toilets to dripping faucets and showerheads to outdoor irrigation systems, leaks waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water a year. For more information about finding and fixing leaks, visit Fix a Leak Week.

If any fixtures require replacement, look for models that have earned EPA’s WaterSense label. From toilets and faucets to showerheads and sprinklers, WaterSense labeled products are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than standard models.

Girl Scouts can earn free week of summer camp through the Girl Scout Cookie Program

From the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland

One of the most important skills girls can learn through selling Girl Scout Cookies is how to set their own goals—and reach them. It’s one of the five key skills built during the Girl Scout Cookie Program, along with decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.

This year, a popular goal is back again! Girls that sell 1,000 boxes of cookies or more have the choice to earn a free week of Summer Camp. Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland is hosting a wide variety of outdoor adventures this summer for those girls to choose from! From day camps to week-long outdoor adventures, there’s something for every girl. Getting Girl Scouts outside is important—as forces of nature, they were meant for outdoor adventures. Whether they’re swimming in a lake for the first time at summer camp, discovering the wildlife in their own backyards, or being a citizen scientist and observing bees in their local park, every outdoor adventure grows a Girl Scout’s “I’ve got this” attitude. And once they unlock that confidence, they’ll aim as high as the stars they see outside their cabin window.

Enjoy your favorite cookies, even more, knowing you helped a local Girl Scout send themself to Summer Camp! Here at Girl Scouts, girls write their own stories. We just provide them with the first page to start on. Girl Scout camps give an all-girl safe space where they are free to explore, learn and have fun being themselves. Summer camp offers girls the ability to sharpen important skills like leadership, confidence, and self-reliance, all while highlighting their authenticity.

Ready to support a Girl Scout’s dream of attending Summer Camp while enjoying delicious cookies? Find Cookies near you—or order online from a local troop and get them shipped directly to you—by inputting your zip code into the Cookie Finder on our website! You can also text COOKIES to 59618 or use the official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app for free on iOS or Android devices to find cookie booths or purchase online from local troops.

Being in a Girl Scout troop isn’t required to attend Girl Scout Camp; plenty of girls come with no previous Girl Scout experience. They leave with new friendships, leadership skills, and tons of fun memories. Explore our Summer Camp opportunities by visiting our website.

Expect traffic delays during resurfacing project on I-44 & Route 166 beginning week of March 21

From the Missouri Department of Transportation

Drivers can expect lane closures and traffic delays when a project to resurface a section of I-44 and U.S. Route 166 in Newton and Jasper counties begins the week of March 21, the Missouri Department of Transportation said.

The contractor will begin work by installing guardrail in locations along I-44 between the Missouri/Oklahoma border and a point just east of I-49/Missouri Route 59 at Fidelity, and on Route 166 between the Missouri/Kansas border and I-44 beginning the week of March 21. When that work is complete, contractor crews will suspend work for a time.

Then beginning in the spring, contractor crews will return to lay a new asphalt surface, permanent lane markings, rumble strips and detector loops along that same stretch of I-44. In addition, the project includes paving at the Welcome Center on eastbound I-44 at Mile Marker 1.6 as well as extending the acceleration lane at the end of the westbound-I-44-to-northbound I-49 ramp (Exit 18).

Traffic Impacts for Route 166

Drivers will encounter lane closures and flaggers directing traffic through the work zone

• Contractor crews will be working during nighttime hours, 7 p.m.-5 a.m.

• All lanes OPEN during daytime hours

• Drivers should use caution when traveling through the work zone and watch for crews and equipment working close to traffic

•Drivers should find alternate routes around the work zone

•Signs and message boards will alert drivers approaching the work zone

•No signed detour

• Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map for road closings/traffic impacts

Traffic Impacts for I-44

• Expect lane closures where contractor crews are installing guardrail and laying asphalt

• Contractor crews will be working during nighttime hours, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

• At least one lane of traffic will be OPEN in each direction at all times

• Signs and message boards will alert drivers approaching the work zone

• Signed detours:

• Westbound I-44 to northbound I-49 — westbound drivers will travel to Exit 13 (Prigmor Avenue), then back to eastbound I-44

• Northbound Missouri Route 59 to westbound I-44 – northbound drivers will continue north on Route 59/I-49 to Exit 47 (Cedar Road), then around to southbound I-49 and to westbound I-44 (Exit 46)

• Loop 44/Missouri Route 66 interchange (Exit 15) is not available as a detour

• Drivers should find alternate routes around the work zone

• Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map for road closings/traffic impacts



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Debbie A. Cunningham

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