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Nick’s Picks | UAW Strike, Royals Ballpark and Freeway Lid Heavy News Week Ahead

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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We’re waiting for the next shoe to drop this week in the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike. 

So far, three plants have joined the picket line, including the General Motors assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.  

Now GM is telling workers at the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, that a shortage of parts may force layoffs. The plant, which employs around 2,200 workers, could shut down as soon as today.  

The facility makes the Chevy Malibu and the Cadillac XT4 crossover SUV.  

There’s no word yet on what will happen at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly plant in Claycomo. It employs more than 7,000 auto workers. 

Rather than striking all at once, the UAW’s leadership has chosen selective walkouts. The union is keeping its strike plans secret as it continues to negotiate with management. 

Royals Ballpark 

We’re waiting this week for John Sherman to put us out of our misery. 

In June, the Kansas City Royals owner said he’d pick a site for the team’s new ballpark by “the end of the summer.” 

This Saturday marks the first day of fall. So, time is running out for this planned announcement. 

In the meantime, last-minute lobbying is underway behind the scenes. 

Last week, Jackson County lawmakers approved a $100,000 contract with a local law firm to negotiate stadium lease details.  

We also know Sherman met with both Mayor Quinton Lucas and Jackson County Executive Frank White. So far, neither leader has been willing to reveal the details of those conversations. 

Last Week, Reviewed

Downtown Freeway Lid  

Expect to hear more details this week about that ambitious plan to place a lid over the Interstate 670 freeway loop that cuts through downtown.  

The so-called, “South Loop Project” would place a cap over a four-block stretch of the busy freeway near T-Mobile Center. The city has plans to build a destination park on top with spaces for music, entertainment and community gatherings. 

On Tuesday night, the project’s backers will release new designs to the public.  

It could get heated. 

Building the park may require permanently closing Baltimore Avenue and Walnut Street. Transit advocates are worried that it would just drive more traffic onto Main Street, slowing down service on the streetcar line. 

If you’d like to attend the meeting, it takes place at The Gallery Event Space, 61 E. 14th St., in the Power & Light District. Tuesday night’s event starts at 5 p.m. 

Rendering shows the four blocks of the downtown freeway loop that would be covered with a deck that would create a public space.
The South Loop Link would deck a four-block stretch of Interstate 670 with a park. (Courtesy | City of Kansas City)

Ralph Yarl Case 

Andrew Lester returns to a courtroom in downtown Liberty this week in the “wrong doorbell” shooting case that has attracted international news attention. 

Lester, who lives in Kansas City’s Northland, was charged with two felonies for shooting Ralph Yarl on the night of April 13, after the Black teen mistakenly arrived at the wrong address. 

Lester, 84, has pleaded not guilty and will be arraigned on Wednesday.  

In the Missouri Court system, an arraignment is a hearing in open court where a judge formally reads the charge or charges against the defendant. 

Helicopters Buzzing Neighborhoods 

If you hear explosive blasts and army helicopters flying over your home this week, you’re being told not to panic.  

It may sound alarming, but it’s part of an extraordinary week of military training exercises now underway in Kansas City.  

A spokesperson for the U.S. Army says they’re bringing their battle training to urban areas to better match the kinds of places troops will encounter when deployed.  

The exercises include the use of controlled explosions for breaching doors.  

Residents in several Waldo neighborhoods thought they were under attack over the weekend as military and local police surrounded an abandoned property near 79th Street and Holmes Road. Neighbors next to the site were notified that helicopters, explosions and gunfire would be seen and heard. 

The training missions will continue through Friday. So far, the military is not disclosing the locations or times. 

National News 

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to visit Washington on Thursday, as Congress debates whether to send his country a multibillion-dollar aid package. 
  • The Federal Reserve will release its next interest rate decision on Wednesday. Will the nation’s top bankers hike or drop rates? Or will they keep things as they are? New homebuyers are already feeling the pain. The run-up in rates means buyers are paying 56% more on their mortgages than at the start of 2022, when rates were near record lows. 

Voter Registration 

This week, we will be celebrating National Cheeseburger Day, Rice Krispie Treat Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. 

We’re also marking National Voter Registration Day. That’s on Tuesday. 

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 25% of Missourians aren’t registered to vote, even though they’re legally eligible to cast ballots.  

In Kansas, 27% of eligible voters have not filled in the paperwork that would allow them to participate in elections.  

On Tuesday, the League of Women Voters is taking matters into their own hands and launching a voter registration campaign at Penn Valley Community College. League volunteers will also be registering voters at the streetcar stop at Union Station and at major bus stops along Troost Avenue. 

KC Monarchs 

The Kansas City Monarchs are hoping to lift their league’s biggest trophy this week. 

The baseball team, formerly known as the T-Bones, is in the middle of a best-of-five championship series against the Chicago Dogs.  

The winner of the Miles Wolff Cup Finals could be decided as early as Wednesday night at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas. 

Haunted Houses Open 

It’s pumpkin spice season. Can we also declare this the official start of Halloween? 

Kansas City’s haunted houses reopen for the season this week.  

The Beast, Edge of Hell and Macabre Cinema swing open their creaky doors to thrill seekers, starting Friday night. 

Celebrities, Distractions and Diversions 

It’s a big music week in Kansas City. 

Former Beatle Ringo Starr is at the Uptown Theater on Friday night.  

Canadian rock band, Nickelback plays T-Mobile Center on Tuesday. 

And on Saturday, Kauffman Stadium erects a massive on-field stage as it welcomes Guns N’ Roses and Alice in Chains. 

Looking for something else to do this week? 

The Louisburg Cider Fest starts Saturday, and the Liberty Fall Festival is this weekend in downtown Liberty. 

And Kansas City’s biggest outdoor art event takes over the Country Club Plaza, starting Friday night. It’s the 92nd Annual Plaza Art Fair

Nick Haines tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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