I enjoy our relationship with the military community we are blessed to have in Cheyenne. The Wyoming Air National Guard has sponsored Discovery Day in a C-130 hanger for students from all over the region. It is a chance for the students to be exposed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities in the workplace – planes, robots, CSI-style environmental monitoring, and so much more. 1,800 students made it a very busy and exciting day. The guard folks rocked that afternoon and I am looking forward to next year.
The Flight Crew from LCCC came by the office to visit me and Councilman White. Wally Erickson and Billie Addleman shared all the great things happening at the college, and especially the athletes that attend and compete there. They were joined by two Cheyenne graduates making a difference with the volleyball team. Jazzy graduated from East High and LCCC and went on to complete her education at CU Pueblo. She is now the assistant coach on the team. Elysiana also graduated from East High School and stars as a middle blocker. Our LCCC volleyball team is ranked No. 18 in the national standings for Division 1 junior colleges. I went to their game against Western Nebraska Community College and was so impressed with the quality of the game and the big win by the Golden Eagles. I would encourage you to take time and attend a volleyball game, rodeo, basketball, or soccer game. I have come to learn that the quality of the athletes, coaches, and the competition is outstanding.
We have a new director at our Metropolitan Planning Organization – Jeff Noffsinger. We met to talk about the possibility for passenger rail from Colorado to Cheyenne. It has been talked about for years now and is really gaining momentum on Colorado side. Our challenge is to get the lines extended beyond Fort Collins to Cheyenne. The plan is to form a Passenger Rail Coalition and make sure we are ready when the time comes. The MPO is also studying where to place a passenger rail station. It would be so fun to take a train to a baseball game or show in Denver.
I got a call from our friends in the city of Casper. They wanted to know how we got the old Hitching Post building torn down. I shared the story of our Urban Renewal Authority and the ways the program can benefit the community. In our case we did get the old buildings remediated, but we have not been as successful in getting the new buildings started. The plans still call for new hotels, a coffee shop and possible residential on the north end of the property. It is nice to share and ask for help from the other cities and towns in the state.
Starley Talbot has written 11 books, many about the capital city. Mike Kassel has partnered with her on at least four of them. They stopped by to share their most recent book on the interesting people buried in our local cemetery. I enjoyed learning about the fascinating stories of the folks who lived in our city. I appreciate their efforts to help us preserve our history and share it with all of us. I would recommend giving it a read.
Wednesday morning, I joined the Travel, Recreation, and Wildlife (TRW) Committee from the Legislature on a tour of the Arboretum. It is part of the legislative process to consider making the Arboretum a State Historic Site. The Arboretum is a real state treasure and a partnership with State Parks, State Forestry, BOPU, and the city could ensure this treasure would be saved for future generations. The TRW committee is asking the hard questions I would ask to make sure it is the right thing to do. I’m looking forward to being part of the process as they work the bill and look for ways to preserve this almost 100-year-old site.
The Chamber of Commerce did a poll recently to gauge the satisfaction of their members with our departments involved in the building and development areas. The survey results were disappointing, and I met with all the relevant departments to discuss the survey and the comments. I also met with the Chamber folks on Thursday morning to discuss their perspective. We made a commitment to look for ways to improve the experience in our city departments and asked them for specific things we need to improve. Good customer service is the goal and we will work to make our service live up to expected standards. My meeting with our team assures me our staff is ready and willing.
The Board of Public Utilities is a city agency, but by state law very independent of the city’s influence. I enjoy my time and conversations with Brad Brooks, the BOPU director. We met to discuss an ordinance before the governing body to rewrite Chapter 13 of the City Code. We discussed some amendments that would make the ordinance clearer and match the ordinance to current processes. It will slow down passage but should make it clearer to future readers.
We have a resolution requiring the city to annex F.E. Warren Air Force base by the end of the year. Staff have been working on the necessary plans to meet the deadline. We have also been communicating with the local base leadership. We have learned they don’t have an opinion on the annexation, but Air Force headquarters has a definite process we want to support. We will slow down our process to make sure the Air Force has plenty of time to complete their review. The goal of the annexation is to open the areas bordering the base to future city development. The city is landlocked to the north and east, so opening development opportunities to the west is important for our future. We really appreciate the base staff who are helping us understand the timeline and needs of the Air Force.
The Comea Shelter has been serving our homeless population for years now. Robin Bocanegra has been running the shelter, advocating, and educating our city council on the needs and how we can help. She stopped by to update our team about how the past few years have been so different and how it is affecting the shelter operations. Surprisingly the homeless population is not what I would have expected. It is much older and with many more disabilities. Many of these folks are not able to work and don’t have the resources to take care of themselves, so Comea steps in. Sadly, since Covid, the donations that support the shelter have dropped by more than 50 percent. Rising costs, harder to serve populations, and dropping revenues is starting to become a crisis. I am trying to visualize our city without the Comea Shelter. Disaster. I would ask all of you that have the ability to help to do so and continue to do so. I think it is time to have a community discussion on the best way to financially support the homeless. Too many agencies are working hard to help but in an uncoordinated fashion. Focusing our efforts would ensure the biggest bang for our limited dollars.Braver Angels sponsored a panel discussion on race issues on Thursday evening. The panel was made up of elected officials, law enforcement, faith community, business community, and other leaders. I was impressed with the crowd of over 100 people who came to hear the 12 panelists discuss race. The biggest takeaway for me was the need to keep talking and to not remain silent when we see or hear discrimination. I hope our community will keep the discussion going and that discussion will remain civil.