NOTE: The following is a column written weekly by Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Our week started off at the Metropolitan for a fundraising dinner for the Holy Apostles Church. One highlight was hearing from two ladies who grew up in communist Russia and Romania. Their stories about how religious folks were persecuted was astonishing. The good news is they were able to get out and make it to the USA. I admired their stories and courage. I bought a CFD belt buckle in the auction, so I am ready for this year’s edition that starts in a month.
Our treasurer, Robin Lockman, and I have been working through the budget process for six months now. The Governing Body passed it on Monday night. A general fund of $60 million will fund the majority of our city activities for the next year. Your City Council has spent countless hours in work sessions, and it feels good to have the budget done. I have shared this with you before, but our treasurer is a rock star and made this easy for me and the City Council.
Steve Borin is an old friend, a realtor, and a developer in Cheyenne. I appreciated him stopping by to discuss the health of downtown — how important parking is as we see more development in the area, ideas on how to get some tough projects completed, and how breakfast at Snooze is amazing. We both agree that our downtown is doing great and the potential for the future is amazing. I appreciate Steve and the other investors who are making such a difference.
I was pleased to take a group of bankers around town to show off some of the great success stories we have. I wanted to get them excited about our growth and the investments businesses have made in Cheyenne. We went by some of our bigger housing developments: Saddle Ridge, Whitney Ranch, Sweetgrass, and Harmony Valley. Cheyenne has seen much success in manufacturing and technology. We took a tour of Lunavi, a Cheyenne-based data center. Courtney Thompson explained why data centers thrive in Cheyenne and about their data center. We all came away so impressed. Next, we went to Searing Industries. They are a manufacturer of steel products. They take 40,000-pound rolls of American-made steel and manufacture steel beams and piping. This plant is making over 100 feet of product per minute. Hanna and Victor wowed us with the process and the investment Searing has made in Cheyenne. Business is so good; they are adding an additional 40,000 feet of manufacturing space. I appreciate these folks taking time to share their stories.
You know of my appreciation for our local military. Thursday I was on the base to celebrate the 28-year career of Chief Master Sergeant Charles Orf on his retirement. He is the Command Chief of the 20th Air Force, commanding over 12,000 airmen across four wings. I always get so emotional as they give their thanks and recognize the support of their families. Brenda had to give me a tissue. One of the highlights was Chief Flanagain reciting the Watch. Recognizing Chief Orf standing watch for our nation, and now his watch is completed. His watch was passed on to the rest of the defenders he helped train. Chief has a great family, and his kids will now get to finish school in one location. I wish them a well-deserved retirement and appreciate the invitation to attend.
The Thomas Heights neighborhood flooding issue has been going on for a number of years now. It is something our administration has inherited and we are committed to solving. Last year we worked with one of the neighbors to ask for their assistance in solving the issues. They were kind enough to help, and we spent the past few months working up a game plan to solve this permanently. Our plan is complete, and we met with the neighbors again to ask them to let us modify the drainage structures on their property. I was encouraged by their reaction, and now we will work up an agreement so we can begin the process of finally getting this unfortunate situation solved. It is going to take help from many parties, and I am committed to getting it done.
Holly has set a light schedule this week to help me get to feeling better, and it gave me time to work on liquor license issues. Our experiences with the 11 applications for the one license we received after the census has galvanized municipalities across the state to work change at the state level. I have been working to understand the numbers and the issues so I can help in finding the solutions. I see two issues that need to be resolved. First, the number of bar and grill licenses needs to be expanded. This is the license type that lets Olive Garden operate in Cheyenne. We are authorized 14 by state law, and we have issued or have applications for all of them. It is hard for me to understand why we would want to limit restaurants. Second, most Wyoming cities, towns, and counties are also out of retail liquor licenses. This is the license required to sell package alcohol, cater liquor, and run a bar. Cheyenne is authorized 38, and we along with most other cities are sold out. This is limiting competition and our ability to grow and diversify our economy. Our first opportunity to speak with the legislators is at the end of June. I am looking forward to the conversations.
This Sunday is Father’s Day. I am blessed to still have my dad, who just turned 85. Judy and I wish all the fathers a great day, and hope you get to spend it with family and friends.