The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

My week started off with a visit from Ed Galavotti who is a veteran and is helping fund a bronze of Vernon Baker. Mr. Baker was from Cheyenne and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II. Ed is working to raise the money and has spent time researching Mr. Baker’s story. I love our bronze project as it is keeping these amazing stories like Vernon Baker’s alive for future generations.

I really need to say thank you to a lot of people who have spent time helping me understand the math involved in creating affordable housing. Wyoming has a severe shortage of these kinds of housing units and there are companies around the country who have figured out how to build lots of housing using models not currently being used in Wyoming today. This week I met with McDermott Property team who has an interest in building affordable housing in Cheyenne. They walked me through how they structure the financing. That information will help us find a way to build more affordable housing in the future.

The Pump House was used back in the day to serve the water needs of the residents of our community. The sandstone block is the same as was used on the UP Depot. It has fallen into disrepair and today is abandoned. I took a tour of the building this week with our project manager, Paul Bellotti. We wanted to get a feel on what it will take to get it stabilized and eventually restored. First, it is a very cool old building. Second, it will take a lot to get it restored and ready to be used again. I really want to figure out a way to save it so future generations can see it and learn the history of how it was used.

The police department lost a great officer this week with Allison Baca’s retirement. The part I liked the best about the retirement ceremony was the coworkers and community members who got up and shared what an amazing officer she was. I love that she is finishing her master’s degree in counseling and will continue serving our community by helping children and their families. We wish her well in her retirement and good luck in her next career.

Judy and I attended the LEADS Annual Banquet on Friday night. If you look around Cheyenne you will see LEADS’ impact everywhere. Over the past few decades, they have recruited many great companies and helped others expand. Governor Freudenthal was the keynote speaker and shared the history of economic development in our city and challenged us to keep making investments in the future. This week during the LEADS board meeting, they shared the $3.5 million investment they are making to bring over 70 acres of property ready to be developed in the short timeframe so many companies now demand. We have to be able to construct and deliver a building in 12 months or less. That takes big investments upfront to be able to deliver.

Saturday morning, bright and early, I was at Little America to welcome the Rocky Mountain Conference of the Kiwanis International Conference. We know how involved our local Kiwanians are with the pancake breakfast during CFD, and their support of many projects that help children. Internationally, there are 438,087 members who raise annually $340 million to do over 200,000 service projects and donate over 7.3 million volunteer hours. It was an honor to have them in our city.

Later Saturday morning, I attended the cornerstone ceremony at our new Fire Station #4. The longstanding tradition for the honorable Fraternity of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons to consecrate the cornerstones of buildings constructed the administration of free government and justice. It was fascinating to see the ceremony and the many members who had a part in it. I appreciate the prayers to protect the building and those who participate in the mission of protecting and saving lives in our community. During the ceremony some of the firefighters got a call and drove off with lights flashing and sirens sounding. I smiled as the building was not yet open for service but was already protecting our residents.

I have been meeting with a random sample of builders to interview them on the performance of our city team when it comes to the development and building of their projects. I am always looking for ways we can provide improved customer service to our residents and the building community. I met with another company this week and I so appreciate their time in sharing their experiences working in Cheyenne. I am halfway through my interviews. I really enjoyed the conversations.

We have asked the Interim Joint Communications Committee to study a couple of issues this summer with the hopes we might get legislation to improve our ability to build affordable housing and generate electricity. This week I have met with folks from our local utilities, the rural electric cooperatives, and regulators. I had no idea how complicated the rules were regarding utilities and the delivery of electricity. The first committee meeting is on Monday morning in Lander.

The Wyoming Senior Olympics have given seniors a chance to compete in 18 sports for many years now. I served as the cycling commissioner a few years ago. The athletes may be seniors, but they are serious about their sport and having fun. They came to share that Cheyenne may have a chance to host the National VA Golden Age Games, which is a senior games for veterans 50 years old and up. It brings up to 2,000 athletes each year and the host city rotates to a different state each year. It would be a tremendous undertaking, but a great opportunity for our local veterans to compete in a national competition locally.

I met with a developer who wants to build an apartment building downtown. The lack of parking is making the development a challenge as the cost of undergrounding the parking is very expensive and putting the parking on-site would reduce the size of the project and make it unprofitable. It shows the real challenge we have to get people to live downtown.

We have been talking about the idea of building an energy business park. We met this week with a couple of companies that could be great tenants of this business park. One of the companies is planning on mass producing 1 megawatt nuclear reactors that could be used in very remote industrial situations where power is not available or would be so expensive it would prevent it from being viable. Think of very remote mines. One of the folks we met with served as a nuclear engineering officer on the USS Cheyenne. I love the synergy of a USS Cheyenne sailor coming to Cheyenne and creating a business.

Wednesday evening, we hosted the Laramie County Elected Officials Quarterly Dinner at our beautiful Botanic Gardens. It is a great opportunity to network with our fellow elected officials and to hear what is happening in their offices.

I asked to have lunch with the Governor this week as I had a long list of topics I wanted to update him on. Hosting the Capitol in our city requires a bit of coordination at times. Water, housing, passenger rail, interim legislative studies, Cosmo announcement, energy business park, downtown apartments, and economic development were just some of the things I asked about. I appreciate the Governor taking time to meet and share some tikka masala.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I read and signed a proclamation at the Paul Smith Children’s Village. I hope someday that we won’t need to have this month to talk about child abuse prevention but until that time I appreciate all the people and agencies who are working so hard to protect the children in our city and state.

Judy and I have started a major remodel of our house. It is amazing how much we have accumulated over the past 20 years and how tiring it is to sort through it and get it out of the way. I am feeling muscles that I had forgotten about.