Cody Newill

Digital Editor

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 works as the digital editor for the station, producing web and social media content. 

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KCTRANSIT.com

The KC Streetcar Authority could prevent the city's downtown streetcar line from receiving any federal grant funds for operations, according to a report from the City Auditor's Office.

The report published Thursday says the Federal Transit Administration requires recipients of grants for transit operations to be "procured through a full and open competition." 

Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas City's Public Works Department plans to tap into city employees to nearly double its residential snow plowing routes this winter.

Public Works officials encourage all public employees to sign up for 8 - 12 hour shifts driving pickup truck plows this winter. They'll focus exclusively on helping clear off residential roads and helping residents who might be stuck on roads.

knittymarie / Flickr-CC

Educators behind two proposed elementary charter schools in midtown Kansas City are eagerly awaiting approval next week by the Missouri State Board of Education.

The Midtown Community School Initiative approached Citizens of the World Charter Schools last year in hopes of opening two schools in Kansas City. CWC operates charters in New York and Los Angeles. They hope to open the Kansas City schools next fall.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Updated 9:05 a.m. Monday:

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) representatives say school districts were given ample time to prepare for online science testing that caused big drops in annual performance points for the Hickman Mills School District.

Sarah Potter with DESE's communications department says the district had years to get students ready for the switch.

"Districts were notified in 2010 that all state assessments would go online by 2015," Potter said. "That gave districts time to direct budgets toward technology and also prepare students with 21st century computing skills. At the end of the day, it's up to districts to help students prepare for any state test."

Cody Newill / KCUR

Around two dozen community members joined Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) officials and Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed on a tour of Prospect Avenue Wednesday to give feedback on the proposed Prospect MAX bus line.

The $54 million project is currently in its early development phase while the Federal Transit Administration mulls over the ATA's application for federal funds. The ATA asked for $30 million, and the city just passed a resolution pledging matching funds of $12.4 million. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

The KC Streetcar Authority has almost completed its streetcar vehicle maintenance facility and will soon turn on power to streetcar cables to begin testing the line.

The facility, named after longtime transit advocate E. Crichton "Kite" Singleton, sits at 3rd Street and Holmes. Streetcar maintenance workers are expected to be hired in November and will take care of the streetcar vehicles in the building's maintenance bays.

Once the final touches are put together at the facility, more than 20 employees will work there.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 100 people met at the Adrion Roberson Athletic Field off North 9th Street and Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kansas, for a community healing and prayer event Saturday.

The metro area has seen at least 16 children killed over the last year, many in drive-by shootings. Minister LaRon Thompson said it was simply time to speak out against the violence.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests announced Saturday two more settlements against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph related to a former priest who took lewd photos of young parishioners. 

Two civil suits were settled between the diocese and three litigants Friday. Two girls and their mother were awarded $200,000 and payment for counseling services related to sexual abuse by former priest Shawn Ratigan.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr-CC

Catholic Charities of Northeastern Kansas is serving significantly more residents at its food pantries than in previous years.

The organization served nearly 175,000 individuals in need of food over the last 12 months. That's a 25 percent increase over the previous year.

"The economy has picked up, but a lot of people who have gotten jobs are working jobs that (pay) low wages," says Kim Brabits, the organization's vice president of program operations. "Although they're no longer unemployed, they're still (sometimes) living below 200 percent of the poverty level."

Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

A local group is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a little known but important gathering of gay activists in Kansas City.

The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC wants to memorialize the first meeting of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, or NACHO. The group gathered at Kansas City's State Hotel in February 1966, three years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

For 35 years, the American Royal's World Series of Barbecue called Kansas City's West Bottoms home. But this year, the popular competition made its debut at Arrowhead Stadium.

The event drew a record 618 barbecue teams from across the country to the parking lots around the football stadium. The American Royal insisted for years that the city raze Kemper Arena to help keep the expanding competition in the West Bottoms. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Several dozen volunteers helped finish up the Blue Valley Middle School Outdoor Learning Center Saturday in memory of two of the victims of the shootings at Jewish community sites in Johnson County.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Sprint will move to cut up to $2.5 billion in operating costs over the next six months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal obtained an email detailing the move from the Overland Park-based telecommunications company's CFO Tarek Robbiati Thursday. So far, the company hasn't announced how they plan to cut the money, but layoffs are likely.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Several hundred protesters met the Westboro Baptist Church outside Oak Park High School Thursday in support of the school's transgender homecoming queen.

Landon Patterson, a senior at the Northland school, was crowned queen two weeks ago. In response, the noted hate group decided to protest outside a gas station near the school.

They were met by a large counter-protest organized by alumni and supported by groups like the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ and local LGBT activists.

Cody Newill / KCUR

A court order Tuesday has officially killed the petition initiative to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City.

Presiding Judge Justine Del Muro of the Jackson County Circuit Court ruled Tuesday that the initiative, which called for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, should be removed from the Nov. 3 ballot.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 100 members of the community, Kansas City police and neighborhood groups helped to clear brush and trash around 35th Street and Prospect Avenue Saturday.

The cleanup event was organized by the Kansas City No Violence Alliance in conjunction with the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, Kansas City Police Department and numerous Prospect residents. The Alliance has focused on deterring violent crime along Prospect since April.

For Johnson County Community College students who want to take classes at the University of Kansas, things are going to get a whole lot easier, according to JCCC officials.

The two schools will roll out a new partnership program that will allow JCCC students to enroll in general education courses at the community college while also taking upper-level courses in their field of study at KU's Edwards or Lawrence campuses.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City officials are working to dismantle both an ordinance and a coming vote for a raise in the city's minimum wage in response to a veto override by the Missouri Legislature.

The city passed an ordinance in July that would've raised the local minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020. Petitioners with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City felt that wasn't enough, so they decided to move ahead with their own petition for $15 an hour by 2020.

GM Media -- Creative Commons

Kansas City, Missouri could soon be home to a new auto parts manufacturer and 375 new jobs.

The Kansas City Council's Planning and Zoning Committee Wednesday advanced plans for Challenge Manufacturing Co., a contractor for General Motors, to move into a space near Kansas City International Airport.

The company requested $56 million in bonds and 75 percent tax abatement for 10 years from the city. 

Planning and Zoning Chair Scott Taylor says the company had considered several different sites, including Kansas City, Kansas, but its first pick was near KCI.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Hundreds of firefighters and spectators took part in the fifth annual Kansas City 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb on Sunday, despite a bomb threat made last week.

Bagpipes and drums echoed throughout the halls of downtown's Town Pavilion as 343 firefighters from eight states suited up and climbed the 38 -story building three times in a row in memory of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Each firefighter had the picture of one of the 343 New York City firefighters who died at the World Trade Center taped to their backs.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 500 union members and politicians rallied in Kansas City on Saturday to show their support for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a so-called "right-to-work" bill.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa spoke passionately to the crowd of people packed into the Teamsters Local 41 hall.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The Federal Transit Administration has given first-round approval to a big overhaul of Kansas City's Prospect Avenue bus line.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has been working for several years to turn the route into a MAX line like the Main Street and Troost Avenue routes.

The Transit Administration's approval means the project can now move into its development phase, and the KCATA can start trying to secure federal funding to help offset the estimated $54 million price tag.

Salvation Army USA West / Flickr-CC

The Salvation Army's Olathe food pantry is facing a severe food shortage due to rising demand.

Since 2012, demand for food has climbed 72 percent at the Olathe location. Officials say that it could be because of a sharp rise in poverty levels in Johnson County, Kansas since 2000. 

Stand Up KC

The Kansas City Council passed an ordinance earlier this summer that would've raised the city's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020. And while the move was praised by social justice organizations and workers, many business groups felt it was done too quickly.

In the weeks since then, a lot has changed with the minimum wage debate in Kansas City. Competing initiatives, an election and state law have all converged into a confusing mess.

To straighten out the tangle of procedures and petitions, KCUR has put together a timeline of the major developments surrounding the minimum wage. This isn't an exhaustive list, but it is our best effort to compile the significant dates and moments in the minimum wage conversation in Kansas City.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The Kansas City Council passed an ordinance this summer that would've raised the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020. But competing petitions and state laws have complicated the issue, and threatened the raise for Kansas City workers. 

'A glorious day for workers'

Activists and low-wage workers with activist group Stand Up KC protested for higher wages for years before the council's vote. For Subway worker Dana Whitman, who has struggled to pay rent on the wages she earns, that day earlier this summer was a day of joy and relief. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Activists and LGBT community members held a memorial service for Tamara Dominguez, a 36-year-old transgender, Latina woman who was brutally run over three times in a parking lot Aug. 15. 

Dozens showed up to the service in Westport, which was organized by the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project and Una Lucha KC. Many placed red roses, a favorite of Dominguez's, on a pedestal next to an alter covered in candles and pictures.

Johnson County

University of Missouri-Kansas City students with a valid student ID can now ride Johnson County's bus lines for free.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority expanded the service as part of its new focus on regional transportation since former Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Joe Reardon was hired as president.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The Kansas City Aviation Expo and Air Show drew thousands of people to the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport over the weekend.

People streamed across the closed Broadway Bridge to attend the show, which hasn't run since 2011. Air Show director Ed Noyallis says the main point is to get kids excited about aviation.

"They're all thrilled, you know, it's just fun," Noyallis said. "Airplanes are always a fascination for everybody."

Ken Zirkel / Flickr-CC

The Kansas City Council approved a petition that seeks to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 for a Nov. 3 election.

However, state law is likely to get in the way of the measure, regardless of what voters decide. When council members passed the city's minimum wage ordinance last month, they believed that a state bill forbidding local wage hikes gave a small window of opportunity.

But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that bill, which could be considered during the Missouri General Assembly's special Sept. 16 veto session. If it's overridden, any minimum wage ordinance or petition passed by Kansas City would be in violation of state law.

Chris Murphy / Flickr-CC

Overland Park's Corporate Woods commercial park is for sale, less than 10 years since it was last on the market.

The 22 building, 2.2 million square foot park was bought by Stoltz Real Estate Partners in 2006. Back then, Stoltz paid $290 million, which the Kansas City Business Journal reports as the largest real estate sell in Kansas City history.

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