NOTE: The following is a column written weekly by Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — This past weekend was about anniversaries and history for Judy and me. Forty years ago, Judy and I were married in Laramie while students at UW. In celebration of the many years we’ve spent together, on Sunday, we had brunch at Little America and sat at the same table we did 40 years ago. I love that we are still friends and I look forward to spending the next couple of decades we hopefully have together. I was also blessed to hold my grandson for the first time. Another important milestone I crossed in August was seeing 40 years in the bicycle business. Cheyenne has been great to us and our business. It was truly a great weekend.
Now for the downside of the weekend: My football teams laid eggs. I did not really expect Wyoming to beat Illinois, but I did expect them to be more competitive. I’m hoping they will bounce back this week against Tulane. We will be there in our brown and gold. You may not know this, but I was born in Nebraska, so quite naturally, I follow the Cornhuskers as well. This past week, they traveled to Ireland to play Northwestern. The favored Huskers lost a close game by three points, again! These close losses are killing me. I so looked forward to watching hours of college football on Saturday, even if it doesn’t end up the way it plays out in my mind.
Last Friday, I was still in Casper for the Corporations Committee of our legislature. I had breakfast with leadership from Casper’s public utilities to discuss water issues. We are concerned with our water situation here in Cheyenne if the Colorado River Compact ever decides to call Wyoming water. I wanted to see how they get their water, share our story, and see if we could help each other. It was a good conversation and I look forward to more discussions.
The Corporations Committee is currently looking at ways the legislature can influence our housing shortages. I have learned from mayors in cities and towns both large and small that we all have something in common: no available housing. Workforce housing is especially tough. I appreciate the discussion and hope that over time we will be able to find strategies that will make quality and affordable housing available for everyone in our state. I am proud of our housing task force. Their chairman was at the meeting testifying to solutions and advocating for folks that can’t afford a safe place to live.
Last Friday night was another new experience for me. I was given the opportunity to stand on stage at Fridays on the Plaza and thank the teams that make this great concert series happen. Again, I would like to thank all our staff, but first and foremost special thanks to our clean and safe crew; they are the folks who keep our downtown clean and help set up and tear down the set. Our tech, stage, and event team works so hard to make sure the sound at the concerts is perfect; our marketing and creative team makes sure all our events are of the highest quality; our public safety team from fire and police keep our events safe and family friendly; lastly, the leadership of our Community Recreation and Event department — Jason’s team works so hard year-round to make sure we have fun things to do. I also want to thank the nine sponsors who make the concert series possible. Our team loves putting on these events, but without sponsors, we would not be able to afford to do so. We had a great crowd that showed up for the final night of the season, and Jocelyn and Chris put on a great concert.
In other news, I have not been bitten by a mosquito for a few years now, and that is due to Steve Trowbridge and the Weed and Pest team we have working for our city. They work to stop mosquitos while they are still in the larval stage, and also the adults who fly and bite us. Weed and pest also helps kill noxious weeds. It was fascinating to learn that the city uses beetles to eat specific noxious weeds. His team also works to keep flies down around Frontier Days Park, using traps, nematodes, and special wasps. We can help keep the pest population down by keeping standing water from sitting and giving mosquitos a place to breed. I appreciate the ability to walk my dog without getting eaten by mosquitos.
Chief Jason Coughey runs the Laramie County Fire Authority. It is a county fire district. We have met many times over the past two years to discuss the fire business and I appreciate his counsel. He is currently enrolled in the executive fire officer program and as part of his class, he interviews people about their communities. I enjoyed our conversation on Cheyenne and Laramie County. Our partnership with the fire authority and Cheyenne Fire and Rescue is so important. Neither of us has the manpower to do everything on our own.
Speaking of the fire service, Chief Kopper stopped by to give me the latest news in our effort to build the new fire stations the voters approved on the 6th Penny Sales Tax. The bids are due to the construction manager right now. They should have our final bid pricing next week, and the final bid should go through the City Council process in September. We hope to break ground on the first station in October. We still have some details that need to be wrapped up, but we are almost ready to start construction. When we are done, our response times will be improved, making our community safer.
We have been working on the Enhanced Use Lease with the Air Force since 2014. It will provide affordable housing for our community and for airmen looking for a quality place to live. We met with members of the governor’s office and other state offices to learn what assets we can bring to make this project successful. I really appreciate the positive reaction and support we are getting and hope we are close to making the EUL happen.
Monday evening, the City Council held a work session to discuss the status of our current goals. We set seven goals in January, and they consist of the 15th Street Railroad Experience, annexing county pockets, Belvoir Ranch’s trail system, procuring a gymnastics building, homeless issues, Reed Avenue Corridor, and surface water drainage mitigation. In this session, we had our city department directors report on the progress made on each goal. I find this year’s goals much more challenging than last year’s. I was pleased to hear we have made progress on each of our goals, but the reality is that many will take more than just this year to accomplish.
We have had a Mayor’s Youth Council for 21 straight years now. This year’s class is larger than most, with 15 members. We met for the first time this week, and I enjoyed the experience. I can tell they are going to be an active group and accomplish much during the school year.
We have received a few requests for outside user agreements to get water services for county developments. I have been reluctant to support these requests because my math tells me it would be detrimental to the city. In meeting with some of the applicants, they believe the additional activity will more than make up for the perceived losses. I guess the math is too complicated for me, so we met with David Aadland from the University of Wyoming School of Economics. They have an economic analysis division that will do an analysis for us to help us understand the effects of providing water to county development. I hope to have the analysis by the end of March. Stay tuned.
Later in the week, we held an after-action meeting to review this year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days. In 2021 our meeting took hours to review ways we could improve. This year took an hour and most of the comments were positive. It worked well, so let’s keep doing it this way. It is important to keep improving our processes.
As I mentioned earlier about anniversaries and history, Joseph Dolwick has worked for our street and alley department for 40 years now. I asked him to stop by so I could congratulate and thank him for his service. He has operated every piece of equipment our city owns over his years of service. I am constantly amazed at the quality of our city employees.
I hope over the holiday weekend, you all find time to spend with friends and family. Go Pokes and Huskers!!
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer them in the following Mayor’s Minute column.