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(COMMENTARY) Mayor’s Minute with Mayor Patrick Collins (11/24/23)

Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins (City of Cheyenne)

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Dear Cheyenne,

It is Thanksgiving morning as I sit at the kitchen table and write this week’s edition of the Mayor’s Minute. My boys are home and my grandson is so dang cute. My heart is full! I am hoping you all are with family and friends on my favorite holiday.

I had coffee with Tom Hirsig and two members of the CFD board of directors to talk about the bridge we hope to build from the CFD grounds over the interstate to a new parking area on the base. As we look at this project it should not be just a bridge to hold rodeo patrons. I see it as having possibilities to connect the base residents to our almost 50 miles of Greenway all year long. With all the possibilities, I wanted to talk about the city taking over this project to make sure we consider all the benefits this project might bring to our community. Providing an improved visitor experience with convenient parking for the rodeo, year-round Greenway access to another part of our community, and maximizing other opportunities are goals I hope we can achieve in the next year.

The city has partnered with the Cheyenne Animal Shelter for a very long time now. We had a bit of a challenge reaching a new contract earlier this year, but that is now behind us. One of the new goals of the contract is to improve the communication between our organizations, and we worked on that aspect during a work session of the City Council last Friday. Britney Tennant provided City Council with the statistics for the past quarter. It always amazes me to see the numbers of animals that need shelter services. More than 1,000 animals experienced love the shelter staff gives all the animals in their care. The one statistic that concerns me is the number of cats and kittens in our county. 30,000 kittens are born in our county each year, with 68% not living to adulthood. That means almost 10,000 new cats fight for territory each year. It really brings home the need to spay and neuter our animals. I appreciate the new level of communication and cooperation.

I do talk a lot about the amazing volunteers we have in our community. I was invited by CFD to attend the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, where each committee recognizes their volunteer of the year. Witnessing the genuine emotion shown by the winners made me realize how much the recognition meant. I love celebrating the volunteers’ success and Judy and I appreciated being invited to be part of it.

During the Finance Committee meeting this week, there is one item I wanted to bring to your attention. As you know, we are building three new fire stations to improve the timely delivery of emergency services. One lesson I took away from that process was the difficulty we had in finding the perfect locations to place the new stations. Without a couple of landowners stepping up, we would have been in trouble. Chief Kopper and I talked about where our next location priorities need to be. The simple answer is south. With the Sweetgrass subdivision, the recent signing of a development agreement for the Project Cosmo data center and all the projected future development in the area, we will need to add a fire station in the near future. With that in mind, our fire department has modeled where a station should be placed to serve this growth area. We have made an offer for that location and the purchase agreement will be voted on Nov. 27. We have been saving money in our Public Safety Infrastructure account to be able to make these kinds of investments and I am pleased we will have secured the perfect location to build a future fire station.

I signed a proclamation declaring the dates from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 as the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.” The local Zonta Club is working with other organizations to raise awareness and advocate for local solutions. I enjoyed meeting with the delegation and letting them know how much their efforts were appreciated. In speaking with leaders from Safe House, I learned they have a full house with 46 people in the shelter. It shows how much work we have to do to eliminate gender violence in our community and nation. Nice job, ladies, appreciate your leadership.

Colorado has been working on passenger rail to serve between Pueblo and Fort Collins for years now. Our Chamber got involved to see if we could bring the trains to Cheyenne. I met with our MPO director, Jeff Noffsinger, to talk about formalizing Wyoming’s effort to make sure it happens. I believe getting passenger rail service would make a big difference, especially for the many members of our workforce that commute to and from Colorado daily. You will see a more formal recommendation in the coming weeks, but I am committed to doing all we can to bring the passenger rail service to the capital city.

I had lunch with a couple of friends who happen to be on the airport board. Jeff Storey and Kevin Paintner gave me an update on activities happening at the airport and asked for help in getting our annual lease agreements through our city council process. The good news is commercial air service is showing success with planes 85% full. The airport also just installed a jetway that will allow folks to walk to and from the plane without having to go outdoors. This is especially important for our residents who use wheelchairs. Voters approved a 6th Penny project to expand the airport parking lot, and the lot is almost full. Really appreciate the support of the voters and the quick work to get it built and ready for travelers.

I am watching TV as I write — Thanksgiving tradition of the Lions playing football (and normally losing) — and getting dinner ready to cook. I do love spending time in the kitchen and sharing a meal with family. Turkey, mashed potatoes, broccoli salad, cranberry and pumpkin pie are our family tradition on this holiday. Please enjoy a blessed holiday and I hope to see you at the Christmas Parade on Saturday evening.

Mayor Patrick Collins
Cheyenne, Wyo.