The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

The highlight this week was the opportunity to read to a couple of schools as part of the Read Across America program. First, I read to third graders at Arp Elementary. They are currently using the old Carey Jr. High School building as Arp has been shut down due to too many maintenance concerns. Next, I read to a group of second graders at Dildine Elementary. I love these opportunities to introduce myself to the students and spend time reading to them. I can’t wait until my grandson is old enough to sit down and read books together. Right now, he is on the go all the time. Thanks to the kids for the invitation to be part of their school day.

I have been spending some time at the Capitol testifying on bills and asking our legislators to support bills that are good for Cheyenne. Senate File 77 was written by Senator Nethercott and it is an important piece of legislation to our local base and other critical industries. It deals with the efforts of China and other adversarial nations to spy on our military and other industries. This bill would support efforts to notify the state when property close to these sites are purchased by our economic and ideological adversaries as defined by the United States in 15 C.F.R 7.4.  Protecting our military base from bad actors is so important especially as we are starting the missile upgrade. Getting notice of a problem lets our folks take counter measures to protect critical technology.

I am proud of our city staff who helped amend Senate File 114 that would recognize contractor licenses issued in the state and provide for reciprocity from city to city. Our chief building official, Tono, and city fire marshal, Mason, led the effort to make sure the bill was good for Cheyenne and fair to the building community. It passed this week and will help licensed contractors who want to work in our community have an easier path to get licensed. With all the building fixing to start in Cheyenne, we need the help and this will make getting the help easier.

Our city team spent some time with our renewable energy consultant to further refine our plans for solar power on the closed part of our Happy Jack landfill and renewable natural gas project at our Dry Creek wastewater treatment plant. Our grant proposal is due to the EPA on April 1 and we are working frantically to get all the grant components completed by the due date. The great news is we have made considerable progress. I love the concept of taking undevelopable land and making it economically beneficial for our community. Fingers crossed the EPA agrees.

I love rodeo and I admire the cowboys and cowgirls who compete, especially at the college level. Judy and I attended the LCCC Lariats N Lace rodeo fundraising dinner last Friday night. We were honored to have Kassidy, who is a rodeo athlete from Montana, sit at our table. The Little America conference center was packed with supporters and a large amount of money was raised to help support these athletes. I am looking forward to the next home rodeo event where we can watch Kassidy compete in her three events. All the athletes we met were so nice and deserving of our support.

The city council gave me an amazing Christmas present last year, a new position to help manage projects. We have so many projects going on at all times and a professional project manager to help keep them on track is something I have wanted for a while now. We did interviews this past week and I was so pleased to find we had a perfect candidate who has years of experience and the professional certification to match. We offered him the position and he will start on March 26. Keeping projects on their timeline and on budget will help make our limited municipal dollars go further. Excited about the new addition of a project manager.

Last year, the Chamber of Commer did a survey about our building department. I did not like the results and was frustrated that the survey results did not include specific information we could act on. I have taken a random sample of building permits from last year and have started interviewing permitees about their experience with our building process. This week I got great feedback from the team constructing a large project in Cheyenne including very specific things they would like to see changed to make building in Cheyenne better. I still have more interviews to go and I really appreciate folks taking time to help us improve. More to come.

Thursday, Frontier Days announced their line up for the Year of the Cowgirl night show lineup. They had a standing room only crowd who cheered as each artist was announced. Turnpike Troubadours, Jason Aldean, Jelly Roll, Machine Gun Kelly, T-Pain/Ludacris, Lainey Wilson, and Thomas Rhett should make for a very entertaining late July lineup. Each year I tell Judy we should take some nights off as we are exhausted by the end of CFD. Each year we have good intentions until the lineup is announced and we buy tickets to every show. Sigh! Can’t wait.

I have shared my frustrations with you about the Cheyenne National Cemetery not being ADA compliant and how it makes it hard for veterans and their families to attend funerals and visit loved one’s graves. My conversations with the VA have not gone well as they consistently deny the site is out of compliance. This week our engineering staff went out and did an ADA compliance check including measuring all the grades getting from the parking area to the sidewalk surrounding the cemetery. The results show the curb separating the parking area from the cemetery has a slope of 27.3 percent and is so far out of compliance even an untrained eye like mine can see it prevents our veterans from gaining access to the cemetery. The Department of Justice has set a maximum slope of five percent for ADA compliance. I will be sending these observations and report to our congressional delegation in the hopes they can finally get the VA to admit there is an accessibility concern and take responsibility for fixing it and fixing it immediately.

March 10 is a day I look forward to every year. I love daylight savings time. Coming home and having daylight to get things done gives me so much energy. I hate the waking up early part as you know, but the extra daylight in the evenings makes it all worth it. Don’t forget to set your clocks back, you don’t want to be late for church.