NOTE: The following is a column written weekly by Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — What a difference a week makes! Our beloved Pokes won the special teams and defensive parts of the game and beat Tulsa in overtime. Judy and I went and enjoyed a perfect game day in Laramie. My Nebraska Cornhuskers also won a tough one against North Dakota. As I write this, I’m sitting at my kitchen table watching Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills play Thursday night football and he is playing brilliantly! All is well.
The Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown Jr., has challenged his members to think outside the box to meet the challenges of future potential adversaries. One person taking the challenge is Captain Dan Hochhalter, commander of the 243rd Air Traffic Control. He runs our air traffic control squadron for our Air National Guard. He envisions the need for our military to capture islands rapidly, using our air operations. He has trained his air traffic controllers to protect airports and begin over-air operations in a very short time. Last Friday, they demonstrated this new concept by flying Blackhawk helicopters from Camp Guernsey and capturing our airport tower, seizing the airstrip, and starting air operations within minutes. I enjoyed observing his team’s professionalism and understanding the need for this concept in today’s world. Great job, Dan and your Red-Tailed Hawks!
We have talked about our housing needs for a long time now. We had a company from Fargo, North Dakota, visit and fall in love with Cheyenne. I found out about their visit and asked the realtor to set up a meeting so I could sell Cheyenne and answer any questions they might have. We got a chance to Zoom on Tuesday and I am so encouraged by the way these folks see our city. They love our downtown area and the beautiful buildings we are still blessed to have. They also loved the local restaurants they visited. The best part is they are interested in making investments in Cheyenne and helping us solve our housing crisis.
Can you believe we now have over 45 miles of greenway in our beautiful capital city? Thanks to our voters, who have helped us build this system since 1991. I recently received a letter from a couple living in an RV who are driving across America. They said our greenway ranks up there with any they have ridden. Tuesday, we got to cut the ribbon on another section of the greenway. Taking Carey Avenue into Lions Park, you will see the new pathway connecting the avenues to Kennedy and over to Central Avenue. I walked the area, and I must say, what a nice addition to our system. Big shout-out to the greenway technical review committee and Jeannie Vetter, our parks planner who has this exceptional vision and makes it all come true.
Many companies have tried to solve the puzzle of renovating the Hynds Building and have not been able to piece the deal together. I believe it will take everyone working together to see the Hynds and Hole successfully redeveloped. We took steps on that path this week with a meeting attended by Betsey from LEADS and a developer wanting to make the project happen. We brainstormed funding sources, timelines, and partners that could join this endeavor. I pledged the city’s support and feel like the economy has reached a point where this project just might get done. I feel like our downtown is like a supermodel who smiles and is missing their front teeth. Our dream team must work together to make this project happen.
It is surprising how much the city’s processes are involved in the building industry here in Cheyenne and in most cities. Planning, engineering, forestry, BOPU, and our building department are just a few that have some kind of regulatory input in the building processes. I met with reps from the Southeast Wyoming Builders Association to talk about our involvement and ways we can be more supportive. Time is money and any delays cost the builders both. We have a good team, and that was recognized by the association, but any organization can improve, and they had ideas on ways we can do just that. My biggest question is how they define good customer service in this industry and how our team can work to meet that standard. I love our team and appreciate the industry working so hard to build our housing industry.
Tim Sheppard runs the Wyoming Veteran’s Commission and he stopped by to share what the commission does to advocate for veterans’ issues. I think the big takeaway for me was how many veterans are not taking full advantage of the benefits they have earned. Therefore, it has become Tim’s mission to find and help them! He also shared their efforts on veteran homelessness, suicide, hunger initiatives, employment opportunities and so much more. If you know a vet that could use help, please reach out to Tim and the commission.
There is a change in the number and quality of businesses looking to expand in Cheyenne. LEADS reports they have been getting one or two calls a day from quality companies looking for places to house their businesses. One common need for all these companies seems to be power and water. We met and learned from Black Hills Energy and our BOPU team what their capacities are so we can better communicate with potential new businesses. Black Hills shared that in the past 10 years their electric load has more than doubled. It takes a lot of investments to provide this much growth in such a short period. I was so happy to hear that providing electricity should not be a detriment to our ability to grow. With good timelines and commitments, they can provide whatever we need. However, water is harder to provide since you just can’t manufacture more of it. That said, we do have a water issue. Our challenge is the growth has been unexpected in many areas where it is now occurring. That means the infrastructure might be undersized for the water and sewer loads that new industries might require.
Anything can be fixed with time, money, and good partners. We have great utility partners and I appreciate their willingness to work collaboratively to diversify our economy.
Forty-two years and six days is a very long time. Randy Hickman has worked that long for the City of Cheyenne, in our street and alley department. For the last few years, he has been the head of the department. He is the gentleman who showed me how to fix potholes, and let me tell you, that was a day of hard work. He officially retired on the eighth day of this month, so I stopped by to thank him and congratulate him on a great career. You can tell his crew loved him and he them. Randy, wishing you a well-deserved retirement. Hope the hunting and family time keeps you happy and busy.
I will apologize in advance to all of you who are subjected to having to look at pictures of my beautiful new grandson. My heart is full!!!