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.

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Besides food and presents, Christmas music might be one of the most important parts of the holidays.

From Bing Crosby to Brenda Lee, dozens of music artists have produced timeless classics that never lose their seasonal appeal.

That said, one can only tolerate "White Christmas" so many times before suffering a holiday breakdown. To keep that from happening, here's a list of more obscure Christmas tunes that are sure to brighten your spirits.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Missouri has the lowest average gasoline prices in the country at just $2.05 a gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel tracker.

On Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., that average is even lower, at $1.97 a gallon.

The only city with lower prices in Missouri was Springfield, at $1.94 a gallon, according to AAA.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Seven people involved in a protest in downtown Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday were arrested as they attempted to block Interstate 70.

The protest was themed #BlackLivesMatter after the viral hashtag, which took off after the decisions not to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Judith E. Bell / Flickr-CC

The Kansas City Star has been targeted by a nationwide billing scam, according to Star editors.

The paper has been publishing a warning box in its print edition cautioning readers to disregard any renewal notices asking for money to be sent to Oregon or Nevada.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Updated, 5 p.m. Wednesday:

In the wake of Kansas City, Mo., Councilman Michael Brooks' resignation, Mayor Sly James says his focus is on filling the empty 5th district seat. 

"We're not looking for someone who can warm a chair. We're going to look for someone who can do the job," James said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

KMBC

At a Kansas City Police Department community listening session Saturday, Chief Darryl Forté said it’s “highly likely” that officers will wear body cameras soon.

Forté has called together a community work group to gather information on what camera services are best for the department, but said he doesn’t have a specific schedule at this time.

Dank Depot / Flickr-CC

Last month, Missouri marijuana legalization group Show-Me Cannabis filed a ballot initiative for 2016 that seeks to regulate marijuana consumption the same as alcohol. Now, another petition is trying to give Missourians a broader option.

The Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection Act of 2016 seeks to fully legalize marijuana use and cultivation for all residents of Missouri, with no age limit.

Derek Jensen / Wikimedia Commons

A new bill introduced to the Missouri General Assembly seeks to give voters the choice to ban the use and enforcement of red light and speeding cameras statewide.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court heard three cases testing the legality of traffic cameras. But Mo. Rep. Paul Curtman (R) of the 109th District wants to give the final say to voters.

90.9FM The Bridge

Kansas City community radio station The Bridge is launching a new hour-long music program this January hosted by local music aficionado Chris Haghirian.

"Eight One Sixty" will debut on Jan. 6 and air weekly on Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. The show will play all local music and feature interviews, news and live performances from Kansas City-based artists. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Several hundred people packed into the Somali Center of Kansas City Sunday to honor the memory of the teenager who was killed in a hit and run last week.

More than a dozen faith-based organizations and some civic leaders attended the memorial service for Abdisamad "Adam" Sheikh-Hussein to show their solidarity with his family and the Somali community.

Steven Depolo / Flickr-CC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that this season’s flu shots may not be as effective as last year’s due to a mutation of the H3N2 flu virus.

The H3N2 flu strain has "drifted" as doctors say, into a new subtype. So this season’s vaccinations will only be about 48 percent effective at preventing people from catching the H3N2 flu strain, according to the CDC.

National Women's Law Center

A new study on gender inequality in Missouri has identified five major areas where women are treated unfairly: income, child care, health insurance, poverty and elected offices.

That’s where women face a significant disparity compared to men, according to the Women’s Foundation and the University of Missouri. At a preview conference on Friday in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the groups shared key findings.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr-CC

For decades, the bald eagle was an endangered species, but conservation efforts bolstered populations, particularly in Missouri.

Conservationists point to the insecticide DDT, which was banned in the 1970s, as one of the main threats to bald eagles. But now, more than 2,000 of them migrate into Missouri alone during the winter to feed at the state’s abundant rivers and lakes.

Joel Marquardt / City of Roeland Park

For more than 20 years, limestone caves and an old swimming pool at 48th Street and Roe Avenue in Roeland Park, Kan., have sat vacant.

But city officials are starting to float new ideas about how to use the space.

At a city council meeting earlier this month, Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt showed off conceptual drawings that would change the limestone cave formation into a hub for restaurants and bars. The concept is similar in design to Kansas City’s Power & Light District.

If you thought Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the only big holiday shopping events, think again.

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as a marketing campaign for American Express. Last year, small businesses across the country raked in $5.7 billion in sales on that one day. And that number is expected to grow this year.

Dan Murray is the National Federation of Independent Business’s Kansas branch director. He admits he was skeptical at first, but quickly realized how the dedicated day can help visibility for such businesses.

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A new report ranking Kansas City-area companies on LGBT equality essentially gave the Missouri side a B — and Kansas a C. 

United States Justice Department

Attorney General Eric Holder asked police across the nation to prepare appropriately Friday for demonstrations tied to Ferguson, Mo. 

The warning comes as the public expects a grand jury decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown.

In a video post by the Justice Department, Holder said that protests are most effective when they're nonviolent.

Chris Yunker / Flickr-CC

With holiday vacation days in sight, many will be leaving the Kansas City area to go visit loved ones.

Instead of just eating gas station burritos that look like they've been irradiated, why not stop for something a little more refined?

This week on Central Standard, food critics Mary Bloch, Charles Ferruzza and Cat Neville discussed the best spots to eat within 250 miles of the Kansas City metro. From fried chicken to artisan chocolates, they covered a wide range of tastes and culinary styles.

Keith Allison / Flickr-CC

The Oakland Athletics confirmed Wednesday that Billy Butler will play for the team starting in 2015.

Despite showing a desire to remain a Kansas City Royal, Butler's $12.5 million option for 2015 was too much for Royals managers.

Oakland approached Butler with a three-year, $30 million contract and $5 million signing bonus.

Some had mixed emotions about seeing Butler leave the only professional team for which he's played. Dean Tangeman posted this response on Twitter:

The Johnson Drive reconstruction project that started in mid-2013 in Mission, Kan., is finally coming to a close. 

For many business owners, having their parking blocked off by construction for so long dealt a major blow to their bottom line. Hershel Casey of the Casey Brothers service station said that he was surprised by just how much the construction hurt business.

"Well during the summer months, we were down about 45 to 60 percent on business," Casey said. "I think it took about twice as long as it should've."

Shari Hartbauer / Lincoln Journal Star

Jeff Piehler, the retired Prairie Village thoracic surgeon who built his own coffin, died Friday after a 12-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 67.

In February, Piehler penned a New York Times op-ed about his decision to build his own coffin. Though his family believed it was morbid at first, building the coffin helped Piehler come to terms with his own mortality. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

JJ's restaurant re-opened Wednesday night for dinner in its new location in the West Plaza district of Kansas City, Mo., inside the Polsinelli Building at 900 W. 48th Place.

It's been a work in progress for more than 11 months. When a natural gas explosion destroyed the original location in February 2013, it was questionable if the popular meeting spot would ever recover. 

In the days following the explosion that left server Megan Cramer dead, JJ’s co-owner Jimmy Frantze couldn’t even bring himself to look at the building.

Highwoods Properties

When the Country Club Plaza's traditional holiday light display is switched on this Thanksgiving, nearly 85 percent of the bulbs will be new LEDs. 

LEDs typically cost more up front than regular incandescent bulbs, but they also consume anywhere from one-twentieth to one-tenth of the energy.

Gayle Terry, spokeswoman for Highwoods Properties, the company that owns the Plaza, said that the transition to LEDs was long expected.

Courtesy photo / The City of Overland Park, Kan.

People who live in Overland Park, Kan., should be getting more reliable cellphone signals by year’s end, thanks to some inconspicuous antenna installations. 

Chicago-based telecommunications contractor Extenet Systems installed a handful of cone-like cellphone signal boosters on top of light poles throughout Overland Park.

Overland Park Public Works city traffic engineer Brian Shields says that the additions are a good alternative to building large cellular towers.

Rama / Wikimedia Commons

Two of the four constitutional amendments on Missouri's 2014 Election ballot passed Tuesday, and two did not.

What passed:

bigstock.com

Voters in Kansas went to the polls Tuesday to decide some heated races for both national and state political offices. The Kansas U.S. Senate seat and Governor's office races have been particularly intense. 

Below are the results for a selection of the races. You can find full results at the Secretary of State website.

Unofficial election results will be updated below as precincts across the state report results.

Updated: 1:10 p.m., Wednesday.

Cody Newill / KCUR

As Election Day approaches fast, Democrats in Kansas are bringing politicians across the state line to inspire voter turnout.

At a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Kansas City, Kansas Saturday, Missouri U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver toed a delicate political line. At no point did he directly endorse any of the Democratic candidates for political offices in Kansas, instead focusing on inspiring Democratic voters.

Cody Newill / KCUR

In an appearance at Union Station Wednesday, Kansas City Mayor Sly James showed up decked out in a blue bowtie and matching Kansas City Royals hat to show support for the boys in blue as the team headed into the final game of the World Series.

James said the excitement Kansas Citians have shown during the World Series has been long overdue.

"You can't buy this kind of pride," James said. "It's about time that we had something like [the World Series] where we can say, 'This is ours, we did it, we showed the rest of you, and this is something we're going to cherish.'"

Landrum & Brown / Kansas City Aviation Department

You may not be shocked to hear that Kansas City International Airport is in the running for "worst airport in America."

A poll being conducted by design and technology blog Gizmodo lists eight airports in contention for the title. The list of candidates was gleaned from nominations they solicited from more than 600 disgruntled travelers.

Currently, New York's LaGuardia Airport leads the poll with more than 24 percent of the 5,775 total votes. KCI has 6.4 percent.

Bernard Pollack / Flickr-CC

A constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot could limit gubernatorial power over the state's budget. 

Missouri Constitutional Amendment 10 seeks to restrict the governor's power to withhold revenue based on projected budget shortfalls. It has quickly become one of the most politicized amendments on the ballot.

Ballot language:

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