CHEYENNE – Visit Cheyenne brought the Small Market Meeting to Cheyenne from September 26th thru 28th. This conference brought 100 meeting planners whose job is to site conferences up to 2000 people. I was asked to give a short welcome last Sunday evening, and I found it to be one of the liveliest groups I have met as mayor to date. I shared with them a bit about Cheyenne’s history, our appreciation for choosing Cheyenne, and our hopes they will bring conferences to our beautiful city. Our goal is 15 conferences over the next 5 years. To give you a bit of context, this small conference had an economic impact of $175,000.
Monday morning started with our regularly scheduled radio show at KFBC. I am a guest before every city council meeting and am joined by a rotating member of the city council. I appreciate the opportunity to share what is on the council agenda, and answer questions from the audience. Reece does a great job of asking pertinent questions and making us feel welcome. It is a great venue to ask us direct questions.
I went back to my old high school, East High, on Monday afternoon. Zoey, Sahar, and Clayton are IB students and wanted to meet with me and Superintendent Dr. Crespo on their CAS project. They are working on a project to feed families in need at the grade schools they attended for the Thanksgiving break. They wanted to bounce ideas off us and get information on how they could be successful. Dr. Crespo has a bunch of past experiences in this area and was wonderful in suggesting ways to make their project a big success. Zoey is a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council, and I am proud of these seniors. It was a bit weird going back to the old school.
We did a video shoot for the “Honor Your Hometown” campaign. I shared that I did not feel like I had a hometown growing up. My dad was employed in the defense industry, and we moved a bunch while I was growing up. That changed for me when I was 22 and I moved back to Cheyenne. Recently married, we did not know what to expect, but Cheyenne supported us and our small business. Now I tell people I have a great hometown, thanks Cheyenne.
I meet with the Mayor’s Youth Council every Tuesday after our regularly scheduled city council meetings. The council is made up of students from each of our high schools. Two members are assigned to attend the council meeting, and it is interesting to hear their understanding and thoughts on the meeting. After listening, I give them my opinions, and we talk about what is happening and why. I love their questions and enjoy explaining how local government works.
We had another department director staff meeting this week. I keep bragging on our staff, and I felt the same way during this meeting. In the 90 minutes we spend together, I am always impressed on how busy our departments are. I also love how well they communicate with each other and offer advice and help where they can.
It was cold on Wednesday, and that seemed appropriate as we met at the county building to hold our annual snow plan meeting. Every department in Laramie County was represented and seem ready to respond to the snow when it comes. I just hope that snow fall does not come close to what we experienced on March 12th of this year. Jeanine West, from our emergency management agency, does a great job of making sure we are ready for whatever may come.
The Urban Renewal Authority and Hitching Post is still taking time and attention. I met with the new owner of the Hitching Post site to make sure we are on track for the remediation of the old burned-out buildings. Good news is they have started, and the buildings are coming down. We also had a URA board meeting on Thursday. I so appreciate the five volunteer board members who give of their time to help make this program work. This is a new program; we have some growing pains as we must create all the processes from scratch. I am excited that multiple landowners in the area are looking to develop in the area of the Hitching Post. A true public-private partnership success.
I had lunch with Municipal Judge Ron Jeffrey. I was nice to catch up with an old friend, and to get an update on the good work he is doing with the youth portion of our court. Ron has been such an important influence on the youth of our community for decades. I am looking forward to hearing him speak during the 50th anniversary dinner for Youth Alternatives in a couple of weeks. Hope you would join us to celebrate this historic anniversary dinner.
Steve Wagner is the President of the Expedition League in college baseball. This league is a summer college baseball league, and they would like to expand into Cheyenne. It is something I would love to do. Our problem is I do not think we have the capacity to add another 32 games to our existing adult baseball fields during the height of the summer. A new field would cost around 4 million dollars, and it is hard to justify for the proposed level of use, especially with our recent budget woes.
I have shared with you that we are in arbitration with our fire union. The request for management rights has led to our disagreement. The union had a change of leadership this month, and with that change came an opportunity to resolve our differences. We met this week, and the union made a new offer to resolve our impasse, and we have accepted their offer. It feels good to have an agreement and get the disagreements behind us. I love and respect our firefighters, and I hate to be at loggerheads with them.
This week I had the pleasure of reviewing employee of the month nomination packages. We started this internal program three months ago to give our employees a chance to recognize the efforts of their fellow city workers. Reading through the nomination forms was a good reminder of the commitment, dedication, and exceptional quality our fellow city employees exhibit on a day-to-day basis. Not only are we blessed with team members that serve selflessly at work, but we also work with folks whose dedication to others extends into their private lives. So far we have recognized Samantha Crowley, Andrew Hays, and Steve Sheneman.
The question this week comes from Ron Betts. He writes “as one drives down many residential streets, they are crumbling as well as making these areas look terrible. Is there anything in the future to start repaving any of these”?
Ron, the good news is we do have a plan to address our roads. It was something I was passionate about during the campaign. Currently, the city gets $4.5 million dollars a year for road maintenance. To do what you are asking, we need closer to $10 million a year. To address the shortfall, the city council put $14 million for road maintenance on the 6th penny sales tax ballot that will be decided this November 2nd. Proposition #5 is stand alone on the ballot and is dedicated to Cheyenne road maintenance projects. We made the decision to not include new roads on the tax, but to focus on preservation of our current 350 miles of roads. It is our goal to do maintenance on 10% of our road system every year from this point going forward if the funding is available. We have not been as diligent with our maintenance program in the past as I would have liked, but with a consistent pavement management program, we can get back on track.
If you have a question for me, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll continue to answer them in the following Mayor’s Minute column.