The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

This week has felt a bit disjointed as we were off due to the Juneteenth holiday. With the City being closed Wednesday, my internal clock and calendar have been off. Judy and I stopped by the Juneteenth celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Saturday morning. Ms. Watson did such a nice job explaining the history of the events that resulted in the creation of this national holiday.

The EUL or Enhanced Use Lease is a project that has the potential to bring much needed housing and commercial development on Air Force-owned property near the base. The EUL conversations started 10 years ago, and we are still working with all involved to get it done. This week we met with the new group the Air Force has designated to negotiate a ground lease partnership. With all the new activity coming in the near future connected with the missile upgrade, we need to see the EUL over the finish line.

I am the honorary commander of the 90th Missile Wing’s Mission Support Group. Our Command Chief Master Sergeant, David Teets Jr., retired on Friday. After 24 years of serving our country in the USAF, he is taking a step back to spend more time with his family. He is moving to Oklahoma to teach Jr. ROTC and spend more time with the family love of rodeo. One of my favorite memories of Chief Teets is during a warrior day. The first leg of the challenge is a 2.5 mile run with a 25-pound backpack. The young lieutenants were vaunting about how they could kick the old man’s butt if he were to run. The Chief got up, put on a pack, and proceeded to beat all of them by at least six minutes. We are going to miss Chief Teets, and I wish him well teaching the next generation of military leaders. Proud to be MSG!

Friday night, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce held their annual gala. It is a celebration of the business community. Little America had the best dinner I have eaten there in many years. Winners of the Chamber awards included:

  • Girls on the Run for Non-Profit of the Year,
  • Kelly Ceballos for Spirit Award,
  • City Drug for Community Service,
  • Micro-Business of the Year was Ranch Eats,
  • Small Business of the Year was Black Cat Steel Erection & Crane Service,
  • Large Business of the Year was Puma Steel,
  • Marti Derringer was Teacher of the Year,
  • Student of the Year was Keely Henderson from South High,
  • Emerging Leader was Meagan Herrington,
  • Business Advocate of the Year went to Senator Tara Nethercott,
  • Dr. Larry Meuli won the Chamber Heart Award, and
  • Ken Dugas was named the Chamber’s Person of the Year.

It was a great night to celebrate all the amazing businesses and individuals we are blessed to have in our community, and we are so fortunate to have a Chamber rated in the top 2 percent of all chambers in the nation.

I hope you were able to attend Fridays on the Plaza this past week. Hinder, combined with the Wyoming Brewers Festival, resulted in a crowd of around 7,000 people. The Brewers Festival has been a staple now for years and the money raised goes back to the financial support of our Historic Depot. It was a huge night where the food trucks sold out and the rain waited until almost the end. I am proud of our city as the whole thing happened with no incidents. Shout out to our CRE team and the amazing job they do getting the plaza set up for these events.

A new book has been written about Cheyenne’s Capitol Avenue Bronze project. Starley Talbott and Michael Kassel interviewed the artists and donors, and they tell the stories of the subjects of the bronzes. On Saturday afternoon, Deselms Fine Art held a book signing with the authors. Later in the day we held a dedication ceremony for the new Princess Blue Water bronze at the corner of 21st Street and Carey Avenue. Princess Blue Water’s relatives came from all around the region to help with the dedication. Star blankets were given to honor those who helped make this bronze happen and a smudging ceremony and prayer were said. I would encourage you to read about this amazing woman. It is worth the time and effort.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg was in town Monday afternoon to tour some of the federally-funded transportation projects in our area and to hold a press conference at the new Greenway underpass on U.S. 30. As our city has grown to the east, the roads connecting areas like Saddle Ridge and our downtown just can’t handle the new traffic volumes. We are currently reconstructing the two-lane roads to a modern four- and five-lane roadway. Federal Highway Administration grants paid for $15 million of the $25 million project. We took the Secretary on a tour of the I-25/I-80 interchange and WYDOT Director Westby did a great job of showing the need to upgrade this 65-year-old interchange. At a cost of at least $350 million, it is beyond the capacity of the state to fund this needed upgrade of our interstate system. FHWA has special funding mechanisms to help complete these kinds of projects.

Tuesday morning was spent with two different companies that are in the home building business. One has completed the first phase of their multifamily development. They have promised to build 1,000 apartments by 2030. The second is new to our area and loves Wyoming. They are looking at the need and for opportunities. I shared the numbers from the recent WCDA study that shows Laramie County needs at least 5,000 housing units by 2030. I am so encouraged by the private sector’s interest in helping us build housing.

Thursday night Judy and I attended Lee Shannon’s retirement party. Lee is retiring from Blue Cross Blue Shield after a stellar career. Lee and I have worked together for so many years. We wanted to wish him well. I will miss him at Wyoming football games.

The experience that made me the most nervous in my time as mayor was when I was asked to MC the Old-Fashioned Melodrama. As I was standing in the back of the house getting ready to go on stage, my heart was pounding. They have invited all the past mayors to attend a show and asked me to MC again. Yikes! Brenda Lyttle met me to go over what to expect. She is so calm about it which comes with doing shows for 40 years. She started off as the heroine, became the villain, and then played the heroine’s grandma. So, I guess July 25 will be fun and if you hear my heart beating you will know I am still nervous.

Hope to see you all at Superday on June 22 in Lions Park. Don’t forget sunscreen and water! It is always one of our favorite events of the summer. We’re also celebrating Bike to Work Day on June 26 – get your bikes and helmets ready!