NOTE: The following is a column written weekly by Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — This week has been dominated by talk of animals and the city’s/county’s contract for sheltering services. This topic has been very emotional for many of the folks we have been talking with. We understand their concerns and are trying hard to keep the rhetoric down and answer questions directly and honestly. Where are we as I write this week’s edition? As of late, we have been talking with the shelter’s team and asking for transparency by sharing the financial information needed to analyze the recent financial request made by the shelter. Moreover, the city’s responsibilities are much larger than just funding the shelter and the 53% increase they are asking for. The economy is tough, and we know it will probably get tougher. Nevertheless, we must take a broader view of all the funding requests the city will need to support in the upcoming year. We will continue to communicate with the shelter’s staff and board and hope for a successful conclusion.
Coach Tim Dennison retired as the head soccer coach at Central High School after decades of service. Last Friday evening, an open house was held at the Metropolitan, and past players and colleagues stopped by to congratulate Tim on the impact he had on so many young men who played for him. Mrs. D was an integral part of team Dennison, cooking spaghetti dinners and giving hugs to players who needed support. Judy and I love these guys and the impact they had on our son Jac. It was great meeting players from so many decades ago who stopped by to share their Timo stories. Thanks for your unforgettable service, Coach!
You know my feeling about the amazing volunteers who make Cheyenne such a great place to live. Also, last Friday night, I stopped by Little America to read a proclamation and congratulate the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club on celebrating 100 years of service to our beautiful city. The club adopted East Park, and we renamed it Kiwanis Park as a legacy project to commemorate the club reaching 100 years and continuing for the next 100. I know they will come with gloves and shovels for decades to come, making sure Kiwanis Park will be a showcase for residents. On behalf of the city, congratulations, Kiwanis, for making a lasting impression in our community for the past 100 years, and thanks for all you do for our city!
AmeriCorps in Cheyenne has two great programs that make a huge difference in so many lives. Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions stopped by the office to share with me what they do and how they also benefit from the work. Foster Grandparents go into our schools and help teachers every day. I’m sure the teachers appreciate the help, and the Foster Grandparents benefit from the socialization and a “home”-cooked meal. Senior Companions, on the other hand, adopt homebound folks and help them by running errands and getting them to their various appointments. What a remarkable gift of service! I loved the meeting and the opportunity to show appreciation for all they have done in this community for the past 53 years.
This has been a sad week for me. I attended two funerals in Cheyenne this week, and they could not have been more different. First, Louise Cole was buried, and it was a celebration of a great life well lived. She lived 88 years and gave so much to her family and our community. Later that same day, we buried Andrew Gorman, the son of one of our firefighters. Andrew was 26, and was so loved by his family and friends, and had so much more in life to give. His passing was such a sad contrast and loss.
In other news, we all know there is a gold rush coming to Laramie County. I met with the folks from Gold King to discuss the upcoming Industrial Siting Council meeting scheduled in May. I’m excited to see the mine and the jobs that will come to our city. A modern gold rush will be a sight to see.
Veteran’s Affairs built a veterans cemetery just west of the Arboretum a few years ago. It is such a blessing to have a resting place for veterans in Laramie County. The actual cemetery is beautiful, but I have been frustrated by what was not built. There are no restroom facilities or parking areas, and the roads are a muddy mess. I feel sorry for the families and friends who have to endure this mess while burying a loved one. Senator Lummis’s staff arranged a meeting with the folks responsible for the cemetery. I shared my frustrations and was disappointed to learn they have no plans to invest in improving the situation except for the construction of restrooms. It seems that the VA expects the city to provide the rest of the amenities. This week, the city placed gravel on the road to improve the situation. I hope the VA will find a way to better serve our veterans and their families in the future.
Byron Mathews retired from our fire department and took the job as the State Fire Marshal. We all gathered at Ike’s Bar and Grill to thank him for his service to Cheyenne’s Fire Rescue and to congratulate him on his new position. Byron has been a fixture in the public safety world, and we wish him all the best.
Brian Rico gave us a tour of the new entertainment center “307 First” is building on Pershing Boulevard. Rico envisions having the old Montgomery Ward building transformed into a historic horse racing casino, liquor store, bowling alley, arcade, laser tag, escape rooms, duck pin bowling, party rooms and so much more. I really appreciate what this Wyoming company is doing with its investments and the quality-of-life difference they are making.
The flooding east of Thomas Heights is something this governing body has inherited. It has taken a couple of years, but we have finally reached a point where we will be able to correct the problems. I want to publicly thank Robin and Debra Courtier for their willingness to be the most important part of the solution. They have agreed to allow the city to build a drainage facility on their property that will hold the water and prevent the water from causing damage to county properties to the east. Our city engineer, Tom Cobb, and drainage engineer, Gene MacDonald, have been amazing in finding a solution we could all agree on. It is my hope the construction will start this summer. I know it will take a couple of years to complete, but we have made the first step in a long process.
A bit of great news for the Collins family. Our oldest son Sean successfully defended his dissertation at the University of Utah and earned his Ph.D. in English Literature. He loves teaching college English classes, and Judy and I could not be prouder of the hard work, dedication and commitment he showed in earning his doctorate. I can’t wait until early May to see him officially graduate.
I hope you all have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, you enjoy March Madness and your bracket holds up for an easy win.
If you have a question or comment for me, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll continue to answer your questions or concerns in the following Mayor’s Minute column.