Note: The following is a weekly column written by Mayor Patrick Collins.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Our week started off working on the council goal of understanding the solar power industry. This week, we had Tim Rehder from the EPA Region 8 office educate us on the grant opportunities available through so many different federal programs, like the Climate Pollution Reduction Act, Solar for All, Inflation Reduction Act and Repowering America’s Lands, to name a few. We now have a great roadmap of the way forward.
Friday evening was another first for our community. The Veterans Remembrance Memorial founded by Ms. Sallee and Alf placed a POW/MIA stadium chair at East High School during the football game. More than 81,000 military members still have families waiting for them to return home. The chair is part of our promise to never forget. East High School is the first high school stadium to have a POW/MIA chair in the nation and it was an honor to be part of the dedication ceremony. When I asked the school to participate, the answer was an overwhelming yes! Thank you to Mr. Mirich, Mr. Schlabs and Col. Johnson.
Friday night was all about the love of books and our amazing library. The Book Lovers Bash was exciting for me as Andrew Child, an author of one of my favorite book series, “Jack Reacher,” was one of the speakers for the night. Andrew has taken over for his brother, Lee, to continue writing Reacher and I loved hearing how the series came to be. Andrew and his wife, Tasha Alexander, moved to Tie Siding, Wyoming, where they write and enjoy the open spaces and refuge we have in our beautiful state. So much money was raised to support the mission of the library and I found a whimsical painting of a dog for our home. I still find so much joy in reading books, just wish there was more time.
I was supposed to travel to Phoenix for a meeting Sunday afternoon. My flight was canceled due to the weather and I ended up staying home. I had scheduled Monday and Tuesday off, so I worked from home and got caught up on many of the small projects I needed to get done. It is a great feeling to catch up.
I have shared my sincere appreciation for the work Stride Learning Center does for the kids in our community. I took Col. Dines from F.E. Warren to visit the center as they have 68 military kids that attend and I wanted to show him the great work they do. Infants to children 6 years of age get the most amazing care and it does not cost the family anything. We currently have 600 kids in Laramie County and 3,200 across the state in 14 similar programs. Trisha shared with Colonel Dines and Rita Meyer the challenges the programs have with the state not funding the agencies at a level they can survive. For every dollar the state funds 6-year-olds in the school districts, programs like Stride get 51 cents. We have much work to do at the legislature to educate them to the needs of our youngest residents.
I am excited that the Air Force Global Strike Commander is going to visit our base and community in mid-November. General Bussiere will be joined by his wife and we met to talk about a tour for her to show off some of the city features that are important to supporting airmen. It was nice to have Audrian Galbert, the first spouse from our base, lead the meeting. The Galberts are on their third time being stationed in Cheyenne, this time as the commanding couple. I look forward to talking about issues like housing with the AFGS Commander and learning what we can do better to support the Air Force mission here in Wyoming.
The city and county have collaborated to form the Human Service Advisory Committee to invest our 5th penny sales tax dollars we have dedicated to helping the less fortunate in our county. We have partnered with the United Way to help vet the applications and help ensure the outcomes from the agencies are funded. We met this week to hear about the progress our agency investments have made in the past year. Grateful for the help from the United Way and the agencies who do so much to help so many with the limited dollars we have to give them.
Thursday was spent mostly working to get the development agreement with Project Cosmo finished. Cosmo is a potential large data center development that we hope will choose to come to our city. Our staff has spent so many hours working with the Cosmo team to help make them comfortable making a billion-dollar investment in Cheyenne. Today we got the final draft of the agreement from the company, and it heads to the Public Services Committee on Tuesday of next week to start the approval process on our end. I am hoping we will eventually get to an announcement and groundbreaking. My fingers are crossed.
We reached an agreement with the animal shelter for a three-year contract earlier this year. Part of the agreement is a regular reporting of shelter statistics to the city and county. Britney Tennant came by the office to give me a heads up and prepare for the work session we have scheduled in a couple of weeks. The shelter is doing well, but the number of animals going through the shelter is beyond belief. The shelter is definitely living up to their mission of taking care of the furry members of our community.
Summer Wasson is a member of our Technology Advisory Committee. They held a Cyber Security Summit earlier this year and she came by to give me a final breakdown of their success. Cybercrimes are exploding and it is the committee’s goal to educate us on ways to protect ourselves from their predatory ways. They are also looking for other projects in the technology realm that they can bring to our attention. Please learn and use good computer practices to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.
The team from our City Clerk’s office came by to talk about the electric scooters we have all over our city. We opened the city to their use about 18 months ago and we have learned the good, bad and ugly of the scooter business. We have reached out to neighboring communities to see how they are managing the scooter business. We plan to bring some significant changes to the city council in the near future. We also talked about the myriad of businesses that are choosing to operate without the proper licenses in the city. Many of these may become a health risk to those who use their services — tattoo artists being one example. We will be working to see what we can do to protect the community and make sure those in business are properly licensed and inspected.
The last meeting of the week was with our Compliance Director, Eric Fountain. One of the dirtier jobs his team does is cleaning up homeless camps. He wanted some extra support for the crew that actually does the work. Granted, and with thanks from our community. He wanted to see if we would support our Chief Building Official helping the high school programs that build homes for Habitat for Humanity. Of course! I am proud Tono wants to get involved in mentoring the next generations of framers, plumbers, electricians, etc. Lastly, our old Jeeps in his department are dying. I need to find funding for his crew to get around the city.
I am watching “Bohemian Rhapsody” as I write this week. I am watching because we have tickets to Queen this weekend and Judy and I are so excited to see this epic band. Have a great week and go Pokes, beat the Rams!!