Once a quarter, a group including LEADS, Visit Cheyenne, LCCC, the National Guard, the Chamber of Commerce, CRMC, the Wyoming Business Council, and the City get together to give each other updates. This started during Covid to find ways to support each other and we continue to meet for the same reasons. I appreciate the leaders of these groups investing the time to make sure we are all up to date.
Casper and Cheyenne have so much in common. I seek out opportunities to talk with Cartier Napier, their city manager. This week we wanted to meet with their team to talk about an EPA grant we are applying for that would provide the City $1 million to hire a consultant to develop a plan to improve the air quality in our city. We thought it might also be a nice opportunity for Casper. Once you have a developed plan, the city would then be eligible for millions of dollars to implement the plan. We are looking at a community solar project and maybe passenger rail as opportunities that would be great for Cheyenne and have the benefit of helping improve our air quality. It is a short timeline but our grants manager is making it happen.
The whole horseracing issue is dead at CFD, but it is still very much alive in Laramie County. The folks from Churchill Downs stopped by to introduce themselves and their plans to build a track at the Archer events center. The decision who, if anyone, will get the permission to build a track in our county will be made by the Gaming Commission, but I appreciated getting to know the team from Churchill Downs. They told me the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby will happen later this year. That is a big legacy to uphold.
This weekend was the celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in our city and all over our country. We started at 2nd Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon. I have been reading a lot of Dr. King’s writings. I spoke during the service and I asked the question, “Is Dr. King still relevant in our country today?” From the 1950s to today, so many of Dr. King’s dreams have come true. Schools and lunch counters are integrated, folks can travel our country without the need of the Green Book, residents in all 50 states exercise their right to vote, and we can sit in any bus seat. Much has been accomplished, but much is still left to be done. Racism in our schools, discrimination at local stores, and hateful protests at our last Pride celebration are local examples of the dream not yet being fully realized. The highlight for me was the choir, they sang so beautifully.
Sunday evening, the 40th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet dinner was held at the Red Lion. The Commander of the 90th Missile Wing, Colonel Johnny Galbert was the speaker for the evening. He is the right leader for our base, but I had no idea that he was such an effective speaker. He brought Dr. King’s best attributes to life for the audience. I like getting dressed up and hanging out with Cheyenne’s best.
The cold weather stopped the MLK march on Monday. Happy to report the Historic Depot opened their doors so the program could happen. Judge Ronn Jeffrey was the MC and did a very nice job setting the stage for Dr. O from the University of Wyoming who spoke of the life and influence of Dr. King. I was so thankful we did not have to freeze walking from the Depot to the Capitol.
The city closed on a piece of property that will become an important part of the Reed Avenue 6th penny sales tax project. It is at the corner of Reed Avenue and 23rd Street. We have been trying for years to get this project going. In 1909 the city council gave the Reed Avenue right-of-way to the Colorado Railroad. This has prevented the project from progressing until we had a breakthrough last summer. Now we are buying the needed property and getting the plans ready to start construction. I appreciate the seller seeing the vision and letting us buy this important piece needed for our plan.
The base invited me to join an interview with a national reporter writing about the happenings on our Air Force base. I get a lot of opportunities to interact with Air Force staff and I always come away so impressed by the quality of their leadership. I was invited to discuss the progress we are making on housing and quality of life investments in our community. You might not know the military is our largest employer. We have been partners for 156 years now and I look forward to our ongoing partnerships.
The Wyoming Department of Education held an MLK event for young people Tuesday evening. I spoke about two parks we have named for Dr. King and the Buffalo Soldiers. Rev. Catherine Fitzhugh is such a powerful speaker and she painted a vivid picture of Dr. King and the life of the Buffalo Soldier. I wish I had her gift. I appreciate the Department of Education working to educate our young residents about these interesting people.
We took another step in our effort to create a State Historic Site at the High Plains Arboretum. A public meeting was held at the State Museum and 83 people showed up to support the Arboretum. CarlyAnn Carruthers and Christina Bird from State Parks and Jessica Friis from our Botanic Gardens did a great job of telling the history, present situation, and plans for the future. Good news – the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee voted to support the bill creating the State Historic Site. We now have to get two-thirds of the House of Representatives support to get it introduced and approved.
Our Municipal Building was built in the late 1970s. It is pretty much the same building today. The voters on the last 6th penny sales tax gave us the money to do a study about what the future of the Municipal Building should be. They have been all over the building with this futuristic-looking camera system to make a video of the current conditions and this week each department was interviewed to find employee sentiments. I have no idea what their recommendations will be but I was impressed by the thoroughness of their questions. We will keep you informed as we go through this process.
Wednesday night, South High School and Central High School played a basketball game at Storey gym. The highlight was the pregame where the Veterans Remembrance Memorial donated a POW/MIA stadium chair to South High School. Ms. Sallee and Alf have donated similar chairs to UW, East High School, and CFD in the past couple of years. I hope this chair is a daily reminder to the students of the over 80,000 American servicemen still missing. I was so impressed by the ROTC cadets that helped give the ceremony the dignity it deserved. Thank you to Principal Gentry and the school district for their support of this worthy program.
Stay warm and safe!