CHEYENNE – Judy and I took a trip over the Labor Day weekend to take care of some family business. The trip took us to four capital cities in four days. Cheyenne to Denver, to Carson City, Nevada, and finally to Sacramento, California. The only disappointing thing was I had to miss Lt. Rob Dafoe’s retirement from the police department. Rob was a very valuable member of our department and I wish him a happy retirement. The thing that I found funny during our trip is I was noticing all the things about these cities that catch my attention here in Cheyenne. I was looking at road conditions, curb appeal, vibrancy, landscaping, and all the things I am concerned about as Mayor of Cheyenne. I probably missed so many cool things, looking at infrastructure. It was nice to get some away time with my bride, but this Mayor thing has definitely skewed the way I look at things. Sigh!
I got the ride of a lifetime on Tuesday. The Union Pacific Railroad invited me to ride in the cab of No. 4014, better known as Big Boy. I met the steam locomotive in Greeley, Colorado, and we made our way to Cheyenne and our beautiful depot. The crew of three was made up of engineer Ed Dickens, fireman Austin, and conductor Ted. It was like watching a dance as they communicated with hand signals to make a small adjustment to make Big Boy purr. It was great to see grade schools lined up all along the fence, jumping up and down in excitement. Then Ed would pull the chain to let the train whistle go, and the excitement went off the scale. Cheyenne is blessed to have this American treasure located here. The crowds show the passion folks have for our historic trains. My sincere thanks for the opportunity.
Mental health is such a big need in our community, and for that matter, every community in our state. Peak Wellness has been a great partner for many years. Wednesday, I attended the luncheon where the merger of Peak Wellness with Volunteers of America was announced. Volunteers of America is a nationwide program that has been serving the less fortunate for 125 years. The Cheyenne acquisition will be part of the Northern Rockies division that includes Montana, Wyoming, and parts of South Dakota. My thanks to all the great people from Peak Wellness for all they have done for Cheyenne, and welcome to Volunteers of America. It will be a great partnership.
I may not have shared with you my appreciation for those who are gifted in the arts. I had a visit from Delissalde, the sculptor who crafted the four beautiful bronze statues located in the newly renovated state capitol building. The statues are all of women and are named Truth, Justice, Courage, and Hope. He told the story of how they were named and how he came up with the concept for the “sisters”. I was in awe of his skill and vision. I went to the capitol on Thursday for an early morning meeting and took a few minutes to marvel at their beauty. I would encourage you to do the same.
We met again to work on the Hitching Post project. Things are on track, and it is a beautiful thing. The contractor is on-site working to remediate the asbestos contamination and to tear down the burned-out buildings. We still have a lot of work to do to get all the details finalized, but the good news is progress is being made. It shows how important public/private partnerships are in this project to make it happen. It looks to me like that partnership is the secret sauce we need to use again on those stubborn development projects like the downtown hole and the Hynds building.
I had a visit from Jack McIntyre from LEADS to talk about how the city might help them relocate a business that is trying to expand. I am so proud of LEADS and its vision for business retention and expansion. This effort is a focus on helping existing businesses stay in business and expand if they can. It makes sense to me to invest in businesses that have already invested in Cheyenne. In this case, I think we can help, and it is exciting to see the growth of our local business community.
I think I have shared with you that we have a fire pension at the state that is predicted to fail in 2026. There are currently 260 retired firefighters from across the state in this pension plan named Fire A. Cheyenne has 79 of the 260 firefighters, and I feel a real sense of responsibility to make sure the city and state live up to the promise of a pension to our retirees. The good news is the legislature seems ready to partner with the cities, towns, and counties that have retirees in the Fire A program. I testified on Thursday morning (too dang early) that the City of Cheyenne stands ready to accept our part of the financial solution to this problem. The legislature will be working on the terms of the partnership in the coming months so we can see it voted on in the next legislative session. It was great to hear Casper and Sheridan step up and pledge their support for the rescue plan. I got a chance to talk with Carter Napier, the City Manager in Casper. We agreed that we should start getting together to collaborate on issues we face collectively. Working together, we will accomplish so much more than working independently.
I was the guest speaker for the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club luncheon on Thursday. The subject was the upcoming Sixth Penny ballot. It is amazing to me how fast time has flown by. We start early voting on Friday, September 17. I shared the highlights of the projects from Laramie County, Pine Bluffs, Albin, Burns, and Cheyenne. These projects are very important to Cheyenne and Laramie County, but I think they are a matter of survival for the smaller towns in the eastern part of our county. They just do not have the tax revenues to take care of even basic needs like water and sewer systems without the Sixth Penny Sales Tax. I would encourage you to visit our website where you can see the ballot and the explanation for our projects. We even have the videos of the work session where the projects were pitched by our staff members. Watch for the guest editorials that will be coming from the city, county, and towns.
One great thing about being the Mayor is the interesting meetings, people, and ideas you get exposed to. One of those was on Thursday where the concept of “climate wellness” was introduced. Marvin Nash and Dale Steenbergen spoke with me about how we can become a leader in Climate Wellness through Soil Health. I have no idea if this will work or if we will want to be a partner, but it is fun to learn about new ideas and opportunities. I am always open to ways to put our beautiful city on the map. More to follow.
I love that football season is finally here. The Wyoming Cowboys are perfect, the Broncos start this weekend, and I am so excited to watch both play. I hope your favorite team wins this weekend unless they play the two teams above. I also love the trash talk I give and get in return during this time of year. Our new police chief comes from Kansas City, and as you can imagine, we have a bet on who wins. The loser must wear the other team’s jersey at work. Come on Broncos!!
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.