It is hard to believe I am writing the last Mayor’s Minute for this year. The song lyrics about days being long and years short sure ring true as I get older. I also can’t believe Christmas is days away. Panic has not kicked in yet, but I sure do have some shopping to do for both presents and the holiday dinners. Hope you are all ready for the festivities and the season.
This week started off for me with the first meeting of the Cheyenne Passenger Rail Commission. Colorado has been working for years to create passenger rail service from Pueblo through Denver and on to Fort Collins. I would love to see that vision extend an additional 50 miles north to Cheyenne. We have an amazing number of folks who commute both into Cheyenne from northern Colorado and Cheyenne folks who work in Colorado. It would be great for those who commute and for people who just want to visit in both directions. Our first meeting included a presentation from Andy Karsian from the Front Range Passenger Rail District. With the federal money being dedicated to rail service, the time is right to work together to make it happen. We will keep you updated on progress.
I was the Military Affairs Chairman almost a decade ago now, and I enjoy getting to attend their luncheons when the schedule allows. This week the Commander of the 153rd Airlift Wing, Colonel Barry Deibert, was the speaker. Colonel Deibert updated the group on the recent deployment of four C130 aircraft and the team dedicated to support the mission, and the state of the wing. I sometimes think folks forget about the dual mission of our National Guard folks. First, they report to our governor and support the home front. Second, they report to the President and support our national mission. Please remember the military members and their families who are deployed this holiday season as we are home celebrating with our loved ones.
Saturday morning, I attended a wreath laying ceremony at the cemetery on the base. The Veteran’s Remembrance Memorial has sponsored this event for a number of years now. Ms. Salle and her husband, Alf, have a huge heart for serving veterans and remembering those who are still waiting to come home. We were asked to say the name of each veteran as we placed a wreath by their headstone to keep their memory alive. I was not expecting to speak, but when asked I shared the story that goes with the bronze POW/MIA bracelet I wear each day. Colonel Stanley Scott Clark was shot down in 1969 while serving in Vietnam and has been missing since that Feb. 14 day. He would be 95 years old today and I wear his bracelet to keep his memory alive by telling his story every time I am asked. We have so many service members whose families can’t place a wreath on their graves, hoping one day they will all come home. I especially enjoy seeing children at the event as honoring our veterans at ceremonies like this needs to go on into the future.
We closed on a piece of property on College Drive this week that we purchased for a future fire station. We learned how difficult it is to find the perfect location as we sought sites for the three stations we are currently building. With the amazing growth we currently see in the south part of our community, and what we know is coming in future years, it was important to secure a site now. Steven and Carol Powers were the sellers of the property their parents owned for 70 years and where they grew up. It was emotional for them, but they were happy to see it go to a fire station that will serve the community for the next 50 to 100 years. I appreciate their willingness to work with the city to continue to improve our public safety services.
Sofia is a new employee and she started a Christmas decorating contest between departments at the Municipal Building. I got to help judge the contest this week and I am impressed with the creativity of some of our folks. The winners were the City Clerk’s office. They hand-made so many cool decorations. I got a huge laugh at a poem written in response to our building department red tagging decorations. The author killed it. Fun things to keep the spirit alive this time of year.
I have met with the American Heart Association a couple of times since becoming mayor. This week they wanted to talk about the city looking seriously at Complete Streets. Complete Streets is a concept that requires the city to include a conversation about all user needs and not just cars. Bikes, pedestrians, and folks with disabilities are all groups they would like to see included as we design new streets and rehab existing roadways. They believe a Complete Streets program would encourage more people to get out of their cars and become healthier and a checklist to make sure we are maximizing the potential of every road. Our MPO is currently working on a handbook to do just what the American Heart Association is advocating for, and I am supportive of making our streets more accessible for everyone.
We moved our meeting of the governing body to Thursday night because our regularly scheduled meeting date fell on Christmas day. A couple of highlights for me were the passage of a couple of ordinances that will help reduce the cost of housing in Cheyenne. We moved a couple of additional ordinances forward on second reading that will also address the housing availability and costs. Advice from our affordable housing task force and others led to the creation of these ordinances and I appreciate the city council for their support. The mayor’s office also received a Christmas present from the city council in the form of a new position to help manage the large number of projects we always have going on in a growing city. I appreciate the help – Thank you!
Judy and I would like to wish you all a blessed holiday season. Merry Christmas everyone!