The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

It is budget season. Robin Lockman, our treasurer, and I will spend lots of time together in the next few months. A balanced budget is required to be passed by the City Council in June and between now and then we will spend time meeting with all our outside agencies we support and the city departments to learn about their budgetary wants and needs. I appreciate Robin’s expertise and the time spent by others preparing their budget requests. We have limited resources so we have to make some very hard decisions about what to include.

Kathy Emmons from the City/County Health Department was our first budget meeting. One big change is the WIC program is back in their office. Helping mothers and their children is a labor of love for her team. Something new I learned: they have a lot to do with the challenge of keeping disease infected mosquitos from infecting our residents. They do so much to help our residents with their immunizations and I appreciate their customer service.

Art Cheyenne’s mission is to promote art and culture in our community. Desiree Brothe is the new boss and she shared the projects they hope to accomplish with the $50,000 they have asked from the city budget. Today, we have 43 murals, 34 large boots, and 65 new bronzes, with more art installations being planned. I would encourage you to try the new QR codes on the bronzes that help tell the tale of the artist, donor, and the inspiration for the piece. I appreciate their efforts to help maintain our current pieces and encourage the addition of new art in many forms.

Safe Harbor is one of the agencies we support that does such important work in our community but also work I wish we didn’t need. You see, they do interviews of children who have been victims of crime in a safe manner and place. Lynn Huylar works with all our local law enforcement teams to keep our kids safe from those who want to hurt them. I can’t wait until the day we no longer need their services. Until then, it’s a blessing to have an agency looking to protect kids.

Betsey from LEADS is relentless in her advocating for economic development in Cheyenne. I am serious when I say relentless but in a good way. We spent time this week talking about their infrastructure priorities that will support new business parks where we know companies and jobs are coming. The High Plains exit on I-25 goes to the west, but with the new 3,000-acre business park being constructed to the east we need a bridge over the railroad tracks to support commerce headed their way. Another new business park is currently being annexed west of Cheyenne and it has sewer capacity needs to support a new data center development planned for the area. I enjoy the conversations and LEADS willingness to participate in the solutions.

Bluepeak is a newer internet supplier in our community. Lana and her team stopped by to update me on their progress installing fiber optic services to every home in Cheyenne, and to see what they could do to impact our nonprofits with their philanthropy. They are making progress with almost 11,000 homes reached and a planned 7,200 for this construction season. I love the efforts of so many of our businesses to find ways to give back. Thank you all!

Junior Leadership of Laramie County is a program that takes juniors in high school and provides them an opportunity to learn about our state and local governments. I spoke to them for the second time since being elected mayor. I love that the program is educating these students about what we do and it is my hope it will inspire some of them to consider serving later in life. At a minimum, it will let them know how to take part and influence the process. If you have an upcoming junior in high school, encourage them to apply. It is a great program.

One of the highlights for me this week was an hour conversation with Carter Napier who is the city manager in Casper. It is fun to hear about what they are doing in Casper and for me to bounce ideas off a very experienced municipal leader. While it is natural to feel some competition with the city closest in population to us, I have never asked for information they were not willing to provide. We do the same, always. Now when our schools play theirs, it’s a different story! Go Indians, T Birds, and Bison!!

We were discussing liquor license renewals on Monday evening at our City Council meeting. The Derby Club on Pershing Boulevard has an interesting mix of businesses that has made some of our council members question how well they could go together. A Historic Horse Racing casino, paired with a liquor store, and an arcade targeting kids warranted a personal visit. I joined 4 council members who were given an update and tour by Brian Rico and Kyle Ridgeway on the current business plan and the new bowling alley scheduled to open in October. At the end of our tour, we came away impressed by the efforts to make sure the diverse user groups are protected. We also appreciated their efforts to create a fun entertainment venue most everyone will enjoy.

I had 8 meetings on the schedule for Wednesday. Three delt with housing and our efforts to build more affordable housing units. I spent more than an hour with Ansley Mouw, who is a local architect and an advocate focusing on our housing needs. I left that meeting with more confidence we will eventually crack the code and get the housing units built. Dan and Brenda from our Affordable Housing Task Force came by to talk about their efforts to create a Housing Trust Fund that would help fund affordable housing efforts. Good news, the City Council has implemented most of the recommendations from their report. It is going to take the proverbial village to solve this challenge.

Emergency Management (EMA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) just completed an analysis of the risks and strengths identified in our community to react to a potential challenge to our infrastructure. Think of challenges like a prolonged loss of power for weeks or longer. They want us to think about how we would respond as a community, preserve the continuity of government, and take care of our residents. Leadership like this may be a blessing if the unimaginable happened.

I was so proud Thursday as we cut the ribbon to open the new fire station on Converse Avenue. I spoke at the ceremony and first thanked you, the voters of Cheyenne and Laramie County, for your overwhelming support of our public safety efforts. A big thank you went to Chief Kopper and the entire department for keeping the construction of the three new stations on track. I also thanked the City Council for their vision in bringing this plan to the voters and purchasing the location for our next station. These are the right stations in the right locations and will serve our residents and firefighters for many decades to come. Look for the open house notice to come very soon for your chance to tour our beautiful new stations.

It is finally spring and I can’t wait for all the upcoming warm weather activities. The only downside is the allergies and itchy eyes. Enjoy March Madness, hope we get a couple Cinderellas.