The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

It has been a difficult week for a number of families who were flooded out of their homes by a broken BOPU water main. The extremely cold weather froze the ground and caused it to heave, bursting a 12” water main. You can imagine the amount of water that comes out of a pressurized 12” pipe – it would be massive. Unfortunately, the water main was uphill from the homes and water rushed downhill and into the basements of the homes. I can’t imagine the horror of waking up to the sound of breaking glass and rushing water. Today these families are in a precarious position – the incredible loss combined with the need to take care of their families. They are reaching out for help and the first step is to file a claim with BOPU’s insurance company. It is unknown at this time how that process will play out.

Cheyenne is an amazing community and Alan Jones from Rocky Mountain Restoration came to the rescue to pump out the water and help the families start the process of recovery. Landyn Medina stepped in to help publicize the crisis and rally support. They are amazing and I want to publicly thank them and everyone who has come forward to help.

Judy and I have donated to the GoFundMe accounts and I would encourage those of you who can, to do so. I am hopeful the families’ homes will be repaired quickly and more importantly the families will find peace in this devastating time.

The Wyoming Academy is a collaboration between Leadership Wyoming and the Wyoming Business Council. It brings together a cohort from across the state who spend 10 months learning about the state and the economic development drivers that make our economy go. I had breakfast with the class and shared some of our efforts in economic development and our focus on affordable and attainable housing. I especially enjoyed the great questions and interactions. Getting folks from around the state to meet and learn best practices is going to jump start economic development in many parts of our state.

We have a vibrant police department made up of more than 130 professionals who keep our community safe. The sworn officers have a small group that I meet with to talk about their jobs and how we can help support them in their careers. Hard to believe, but it is budget season and we talked a lot about the upcoming increases being required for police retirement contributions. I don’t want to make our officers take a pay cut by making them pay more, but we also need to look at our upcoming budget to see what we can afford. I would like to thank our community for the support we give our law enforcement. It is not like that in other parts of our country.

In 1970, the city entered into an agreement with the South Cheyenne Water and Sewer District to provide water when their supply failed. It is an old agreement and the BOPU and the city would like to see it updated. I met with members of the SCWSD staff and board to learn what was preventing an updated agreement and to see if there was a way forward. The district has about 10,000 people, making it about the size of Cody or Jackson. As the district grows, BOPU must find new water sources. In the city, we do that by charging a system development fee and using the revenue to invest in expanding our system. We wanted to discuss how the SCWSD should be contributing to expanding the overall system. Our agreement also says the district can’t charge less for water than what we charge city customers. It appears that is not being followed.

There are also things the city needs to address and I appreciated hearing their concerns. We are scheduled to follow up in a couple of weeks. We have worked together for 53 years and I am confident we will find a way to navigate this conversation and many more years together.

The Cheyenne Passenger Rail Commission met for the second time. Dan Bilka from All Aboard Northwest updated the commission about their efforts to bring long distance rail service to the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to bring passenger rail to Cheyenne from Pueblo, Denver, and Fort Collins. I-25 is busy and getting more congested every year. Rail service could be a game changer for many commuters and folks looking to visit other Front Range communities. More to come.

Thunder Plains is a proposed horse racing track the owners hope will be built just east of Cheyenne. Bill Edwards shared their plans and the folks who plan to build out the 320-acre project near the TA truck stop. They have an aggressive plan to build much more than just a horse racing track. The next phases would bring much-needed recreational facilities to our community. The county commission has approved the project at the local level. Next step is approval from the Wyoming Gaming Commission. I took advantage of the meeting to talk to Bill about his years of building housing developments. Can’t help myself when that kind of expertise is in the room.

We don’t get to do it often enough, but I had lunch with a couple county commission members. I had asked them a month ago and then forgot to put it into my schedule, leaving them hanging. Needless to say, lunch was on me this time. It is important to check in with each other. Good relationships between local governing bodies help make getting the people’s business done easier. Our commission makes that easy.

We closed on the Beast Foundation building on Wednesday afternoon. For the first time in recent memory, the city has its own gyms we can use to program youth and adult sports. Andy started this nonprofit to give the community and especially our youth a place to recreate. She picked the city to continue the mission and our team is committed to making sure that happens. We have thousands of kids and their families that will now have a place to participate in city recreation programs. Our governing body is so proud to be in a position to make this happen. Look for news from our department about upcoming opportunities.

The police department held their annual awards ceremony this week. I love celebrating success and our department did a great job recognizing their top performers. I especially enjoyed the Unit Citation Awards where stories of officers working together to protect our community were shared. I sometimes forget how young our officers are until you see their kids running around the room. They were so cute and I loved their energy. Again, thank you for your support of our officers and their families.

Judy and I really enjoyed these unusually warm days. We drove to Salt Lake City to visit our son Sean and his fiancé, Kaili, last weekend. It was nice to get away and spend time with family. Snow is in the forecast but it was nice while it lasted. Stay warm and safe.