Cody Newill

General Assignment Reporter

Born and raised in Independence, Mo., Cody is passionate about the Kansas City metro and its culture. A graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Cody has contributed to arts and culture publications such as The Bohemian Zine and completed an internship with KCUR's "Up to Date." He currently helms the Sunday morning newscasts and produces digital content for the station's website.

Ways To Connect

Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Friday that a 20-year-old Topeka, Kansas man has been charged in a plot to detonate a suicide bomb at the U.S. Army base in Fort Riley.

Grissom said that John T. Booker, Jr., also known as Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, has been charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

He could face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison if convicted.

National Weather Service

The Kansas City metro area could be in for a wet and wild Wednesday with severe thunderstorms, large hail and even tornadoes possible as storm cells loom to our west and southwest.

National Weather Service Pleasant Hill meteorologist Jenni Laflin says there's around an 80 percent chance that the metro will see some rain tonight, but more severe probabilities can't be quantified just yet.

Rama / Wikimedia Commons

Updated Wednesday, 9:21 a.m.:

According to the Jackson County Election Board's unofficial results for Tuesday's municipal election, Independence's levy increase passed with 64 percent approval and Lee's Summit's bond issue passed with nearly 80 percent approval.

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Cody Newill / KCUR

Dozens of low-wage workers rallied Thursday outside the McDonald's at 3741 Broadway in Kansas City to protest a recent decision by the fast-food giant to raise wages for some workers.

McDonald's is raising wages by at least a dollar for about 90,000 employees in corporate-owned restaurants. That means employees working in franchised restaurants won't get a raise unless franchise owners follow suit.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than a dozen education activists are marching 60 miles from Merriam, Kansas to Topeka for the third year in a row to protest how the state funds public schools.

The walkers from Game On for Kansas Schools were greeted by hundreds of supporters in Lawrence Saturday. The group takes issue with the state legislature's decisions to fund schools through block grants and replace the old funding formula with an outcome based method.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 700 volunteers showed up at Lakeside Nature Center Saturday morning to help clean up the Blue River. 

The volunteers divided up into more than 20 groups to clean up different sections of the river. One of the teams stationed at the Coal Mine Pond just off I-435 had their work cut out for them: on top of the usual trash, a 16-foot boat sat underneath the water.

Group leader Jim Armer has been involved in river cleanups for about 10 years. In that time, he's seen just about everything there is to see at the bottom of a riverbed.

Ford Motor Company / Wikimedia Commons

The middle class is seemingly ever-present in American politics and ideals. President Obama pushed for what he calls "middle class economics" in his State of the Union address, and according to a Pew research study in 2012, nearly half of all Americans identified themselves as being part of the middle class.

TheTruthAbout / Flickr-CC

Representatives from the Kansas City branch of ridesharing company Uber say that a new ordinance scheduled for debate by the Kansas City Council Thursday could force them to leave the city entirely.

The new ordinance would require ride-share drivers to pay a $250 fee to get licensed, or $150 if their parent companies pay an annual $10,000 fee. To ease the up-front cost, the city would waive its inspection fee and allow drivers to use state vehicle inspections instead.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The University of Missouri-Kansas City's graduating medical students gathered in the School of Medicine's courtyard Friday to find out what hospital they'll be paired with to complete their residencies.

Nearly every one of the more than 100 graduating students was crying, laughing or a combination of the two when they got to open the envelopes containing their assignments.

As their names were read off, faculty members stuck colored pins on a map of America to represent where the class of 2015 will be going. Graduate Chiazotam Ekekezie ended up getting her first choice of school: Rhode Island Hospital at Brown University.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Dozens of volunteers from across the Kansas City metro gathered at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., Saturday as part of a disaster simulation.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Nearly a year ago, three people were shot and killed outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kan. The only suspect, former Ku Klux Klan member Frazier Glenn Cross, was known by authorities to harbor anti-Semitic beliefs. 

Stand Up KC

More than 200 activists marched in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March through Selma, Ala.

The march was organized by Stand Up KC and the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity. Most of the protestors were fast-food workers who are calling for $15 an hour wages and union representation. 

Terrance Wise has worked for Burger King for more than 10 years. He believes that corporations are slowly warming up to raising wages for workers.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Community activists and faith leaders from Kansas and Missouri rallied at the intersection of 63rd Street and Troost Avenue Thursday, calling for a "moral economy."

One issue that several speakers focused on was a recent comment by Federal Reserve Bank  of Kansas City president Esther George suggesting that interest rates may be increased to combat inflation. 

Dan Wood / Vimeo-CC

A wise man once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." 

Luckily, there are two time-lapse videos of Kansas City's sights that will help you stop and look around our beautiful city. The first came out late last year, and the second just a few days ago.

Be sure to keep some tissues handy if you're the sentimental type:

MoBikeFed / Flickr-CC

A recent federal ruling will help connect the Kansas City metro to the Katy Trail. 

The Surface Transportation Board issued its decision Thursday to allow 144 miles of the Rock Island Railroad tracks to be used as a bike trail. The railroad hasn't been used for more than 30 years.

Once completed, it will create one of the longest cycling trail networks in the country. 

Eric Bunch of BikeWalkKC says the connection will be a boon for both Kansas City and the entire state. 

Kansas City, Mo., residents had one of their last chances to speak out about the city's proposed budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year Saturday.

The biggest issues were incoming cuts to cultural facilities like the American Jazz Museum and safety net health clinics. The Jazz Museum alone stands to lose $125,000 in funding.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The NFL's Pro Football Hall of Fame will be moving a portion of its collection into Union Station this summer. 

The "Gridiron Glory" exhibit is a self described "best-of" collection of the full Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. More than 200 items like former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway's jersey and vintage film footage of Super Bowls past will fill the exhibition.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County

Since he was elected in 2013, Unified Government of Wyandotte County Mayor and CEO Mark Holland has been able to boast some impressive developments and job growth in the county.

Holland reiterated those successes in his State of the Government address Tuesday, making particular note of 4,000 new jobs created in 2014. He said that number represents about 30 percent of all new jobs in the state of Kansas.

Wiki

When you walk into a restaurant, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that can make or break the experience.

Of course the food is of paramount importance, but poor lighting, decor and authenticity can make even an exquisite plate of duck confit look like a soggy KFC drumstick.

Luckily, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jill Wenholt Silva know a thing or two about restaurant ambiance. Here are their picks for standout restaurants with great ambiance:

Billy Krest / Imgur

Billy Krest is a self admitted "road porn" enthusiast. (Author's note: be careful typing that phrase into a search engine.) He also loves playing SimCity, a game that allows players to create their own virtual towns and metropolises.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists gathered outside the Kansas State Capitol Saturday to protest Gov. Sam Brownback's executive order rescinding sexual orientation and gender expression protections for state employees.

The rally was organized by LGBT activist group Equality Kansas. Executive Director Tom Witt says that, despite being frustrated with Brownback's order, he remains optimistic.

Wikimedia - CC

It's common knowledge among Kansas Citians that much of Johnson County, Kan., is suburban, while Kansas City, Kan., proper is an urban core.

What might not be common knowledge is that Overland Park, Kan., has a larger total population count and higher employment density than KCK. So is it still a suburb?

Ecjmartin1 / Wikimedia Commons

For nearly 200 years, Jackson County has been home to followers of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Today, thousands of members visit the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Mo., which is a sacred destination for the faithful.

But if you take a look back at the early days of Mormonism, peace and joy weren't in abundance, as militia forces, settlers and the state fought against the church for nearly a decade.

The beginnings of Mormonism

Cody Newill / KCUR

Los Angeles based performance and visual artist Tim Youd has taken up residence in Kansas City for the next three weeks to re-type two novels set in the city.

Youd is re-typing Evan Connell's novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," two books that depict Kansas City's upper-middle class in the 1920s and 30s. The performance is part of a larger project where Youd visits a city and reproduces a book written or set there on just two pages of paper. 

Heather Prewitt / KCUR

The 2014-2015 winter season hasn't been particularly white in the Kansas City metro area, but Wednesday's expected 1-3 inch snow accumulation and early dismissals by some area schools has us wondering: will this be the last chance kids will get to go careening down (mostly) snow-covered hills?

National Weather Service forecaster Jared Leighton says probably not.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Paul LeVota of Independence, Mo., has put together a task force that will be looking at how Kansas City can improve its infrastructure in order to attract the Super Bowl.

In 2006, Kansas City was turned down to host this year's game because voters didn't approve a tax to create a removable roof for Arrowhead Stadium. 

But last year, Super Bowl XLVIII was held in New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, which doesn't have a roof. LeVota says that gives him hope that Kansas City can win over the NFL for the benefit of the area.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Johnson County's "JO" bus line is now managed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, effective Feb. 1. The consolidation effort has been in the works for more than a year.

Jameson Auten of the KCATA says that the merger isn't a total takeover, but just a managerial shift. 

"Johnson County remains in control of policy decisions, but the KCATA is able to provide recommendations on how to better coordinate services," Auten says. "This arrangement does provide cost savings to Johnson County."

The Women's Foundation & The University of Missouri / Community Commons

The Women's Foundation of Greater Kansas City has released the full results of its collaboration with the University of Missouri examining gender equality in Missouri. 

The study identifies five main areas of inequity: income, child care, health insurance, poverty and representation. Each area can be further broken down by county and even local tract maps to give a better idea of what issues affect specific areas.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Nearly 500 students from the Kansas City metro area competed in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, Tech Challenge qualifier Saturday. 

Thirty-seven teams of middle and high school students filled UMKC's Swinney Recreation Center. Each team brought a small remote-controlled robot to roll around small arenas. The students guided their robots to try to collect Wiffle balls and place them in tall bins.

MoDOT Photos / Flickr-CC

Kansas and Missouri's transportation departments demolished another section of the Fairfax Bridge Saturday. 

The section was the second to be taken down with explosives this year. Both KDOT and MoDOT say the bridge, which crosses the state line, can no longer bear the weight of cars and trucks passing over it daily.

Several dozen people parked off of the 7th Street Trafficway in Kansas City, Kan., to get a view of the explosion. David Dumler brought his son to watch as a familiar bridge from his childhood was taken down.

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