I started working on the Enhanced Use Lease with the Air Force in 2014. It is an opportunity to take a piece of Air Force-owned property outside the base security fence and lease it for housing and some retail that would improve quality of life for our community. Since then, the project has stalled as the Air Force works through the leasing process. I met with the current group working to negotiate the lease and build this much needed housing. We are looking to see if State Loan and Investment Board resources might help bridge the funding shortfalls. I can report the negotiations are ongoing and I am hopeful we will soon have a signed lease. Patience has been the key to this project, but the outcome will be brilliant.
I am not a morning person – that is well established. I got up early on Saturday morning to have breakfast with Councilman Dr. Rinne. I enjoy the opportunities to get together one on one to talk shop with council members. We also get to talk Nebraska women’s volleyball. Our Huskers are the top-rated team in the nation and as of this moment in the final 8 in the tournament. Fingers crossed!
I met with the folks from Black Hills Energy to talk about the industry currently under construction and coming to Cheyenne and the need for electrical power today and in the future. LEADS has developed a real niche for data centers, family-owned manufacturing, and other businesses that consume a large amount of electricity. It is very challenging to build the infrastructure to meet the demand, but that is just what BHE must do.
I was invited to attend the city council Straw Poll Dinner, where the council unofficially selects their leadership for the next year. The lead time gives the incoming president time to put the committees together as they only have a week after being officially elected by their peers. Congratulations to president-elect Ken Esquibel and vice president-elect Mark Rinne. I look forward to working with them and all the city council members in the upcoming year.
Wednesday, I had lunch with Councilman Laybourn. He is laser focused on making our downtown the best it can be. I share his passion and love the work being done by so many to beautify our downtown.
We have the Employee Advocacy Group that helps represent our non-uniformed employees. They recently did a survey on employee satisfaction with their city jobs. They wanted to share the results with me and discuss the comments they were given. I am not normally a survey guy as the results are not always actionable, meaning direct comments we can use to improve. In this case the survey was well done and I appreciated the candor and directness. I will share it with the city council and HR to see if we can address their suggestions.
I am a proud East High School graduate. I was pleased to be invited by the DECA club to attend the grand re-opening of the T-Bird Nest store. I have spent the past 40 years in the retail bicycle business and it was a pleasure to see the high-quality job the students have done in their store. They use the store profits to fund their travel to national competitions and I learned they have been very successful there. I walked into EHS 49 years ago as a sophomore and it looks just like it did that first day.
We made an application to the State Loan and Investment Board to fund the infrastructure for an affordable housing project being developed by Habitat for Humanity. We asked for $1.8 million to install the water lines, sewer main, and necessary road improvements. The vote was 4 to 1 with the only dissent coming due to a recent vote to not approve the multifamily façade changes recently made at the city council that would have reduced the cost of construction. I made comments on the value of home ownership for the family. It is transformative and I want to thank SLIB for their support and wish Habitat the best in building 17 new affordable homes for Cheyenne.
The Cheyenne Fire and Rescue annual awards ceremony was held Thursday afternoon. I don’t normally speak at these events, I just want to celebrate the awards with the team. I asked to speak this year to let the department know how proud I am of the work they have done to help design new fire stations currently under construction, spec’ing new fire apparatus currently on order, the grants they have applied for that further the mission and capabilities of the department, and for the way they have worked with the administration to improve our department. The future looks so bright at CFR.
Dads making a Difference held a graduation Thursday night and I stopped by to meet the graduates and congratulate them on earning a CDL. More importantly, they are changing the trajectory of their families. It was the 30th class in the past 15 years.
There has been a lot of talk and misinformation this week about a proposal to build a horse racing track on the Frontier Days grounds. The neighbors have made their fears about the proposals very clear to the city and county. It now looks like the lease we have with CFD will need to be modified before they can allow horse racing. I have a meeting today with Accel Entertainment to discuss the neighborhood concerns and outline my expectations in getting the concerns answered. I was excited when I first learned about the proposal last week. I have never been to a horse race and thought it could be fun. My enthusiasm has been replaced with a need to know more about the company and their proposal so we can make sure the city and neighborhood are protected.
I do love this time of year due to the holiday events we get to attend. On Dec. 1, the Governor and First Lady hosted the Capitol Tree Lighting. The tree is massive and covered with ornaments made by children from across the state, many of whom have disabilities. The ARC of Laramie County has for years done a great job in hosting this event and supporting folks with disabilities to live meaningful lives.
Judy and I also attended the tree lighting on the base. It was a cold evening but the energy of the kids and their singing Christmas carols made it worth it. It is important to remember the mission that is performed by the military who work at F.E. Warren. They have members on alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When we are home on Christmas, there will be hundreds of missile operators, maintenance, and security forces on alert and away from their families.
I was invited to Hebard Elementary School to read a Christmas book to Melanie Mullikin’s third-grade class. It was a blast and the energy and excitement of the children was contagious.
I also stopped by the Cheyenne Sub Vets Christmas party. I wanted to thank them for the work they did to purchase a bronze called the “Lone Sailor” for our downtown project.
Finally, we’ve enjoyed some holiday festivities at the Municipal Building. The third-grade class from St Mary’s came to the building and sang Christmas carols, and the next day, three members of the Cheyenne Symphony stopped by to play Christmas music. I appreciate their visits!