It seems like a couple of topics have been on our agenda a lot recently. Liquor licenses and historic horse racing venues. 307 First is a Wyoming company that owns the shopping center on Pershing that has The Office restaurant and the theater. They have a vision to create an entertainment area and the next step is the redevelopment of the old Montgomery Wards building. One of their subsidiaries is 307 Horse Racing and the plan is to build a historic horse racing venue in the building, a package liquor store, and something fun like a bowling alley on the second floor. The liquor part comes with the transfer of the liquor license to serve the new project. The first phase should be open this summer.
I have shared the tough decision the city council had to make between the great applicants for the single new retail liquor license the city received. Our population growth during the census resulted in one more license for the city to issue. We have had public hearings, work sessions, a committee of the whole meeting, and now the final council meeting. Get Bent, LLC was the project the city council decided to issue the license to. They will call their business the Railspur and will serve food from breakfast until it becomes a club in the evening. I want to again compliment the great entrepreneurial applications we received. Only one could receive the license by law, so now we will appeal to our legislators for relief.
On a related topic, Cory Talich came by to share the plans Town and County Liquors has for the future. We have been looking at the new applicants, and one of the older liquor dealers wanted to share their vision on how they plan to improve the shopping experience in Cheyenne. Maury Brown has been a philanthropist in our city for a long time and I was encouraged to hear the family plans on continuing his great work. I appreciate how much of a difference one person can make.
Not everyone has health insurance or can afford health care. We are blessed to have a nonprofit agency called HealthWorks that works to bridge the gap for those in need. Since 2005 they have provided quality medical care, dental care, mental health services, and a pharmacy. Folks are charged on a sliding scale. Margaret Cox, the CEO, shared how they are busting at the seams, and in need of more space to meet the growing demand for their services. What a blessing during the pandemic to have this service in our community. It is my hope they will find a new building that will allow them to maximize this essential service.
It has been a year since we hired Chief Francisco as our police chief. We had lunch to catch up and make sure we are on the same page. The chief wanted me to express his thanks for the way Cheyenne has welcomed his family, and for the support our city gives the men and women who wear the uniform. I am proud of our department and their leadership; they truly want to serve and protect.
While on the topic of law enforcement, we need your help. Property crime and vandalism has reached tragic levels. Folks are destroying bathrooms in our parks, defacing property, stealing parts off vehicles, destroying the grass in our soccer fields, and so much more senseless crimes. The police can’t be everywhere and that’s where you come in. I need you to keep your eyes open and if you see something, say something. Call the police and they will take it from there. I had a friend get his camper stolen. It took the thieves a while to cut the gate, move the boat, back up the vehicle and drive away. It would have been brilliant if someone would have called it in and we could have arrested the bad guys.
I met with Jen Seitz, one of the folks who applied and did not receive the liquor license. Her team wanted to restore the 110-year-old elevator located on the Reed Ave. Corridor. I appreciated the positive way Jen is looking to the future. I shared some of the feedback I received from the city council on ways they can be better prepared for the next opportunity. My hope is that opportunity will come sooner rather than later.
Tuesday morning the city held a wellness fair for our staff at the Ice and Events Center. Julia in our HR team killed the planning and execution of the event, and I appreciated all the vendors who set up to support our employees. I actually won a door prize, an electric toothbrush from Delta Dental. It always feels a bit weird to be in the Ice and Events Center when the ice is gone. I spent so much time there with my kids watching them play hockey.
As part of our budget process, employee groups come by to share their concerns and hopes for ways we could invest our budget dollars. The Police Protective Association came by this week. They wanted to thank the city council for the recent pay raise and advocate for a couple of things we could do to make recruitment and retention more successful. I asked about staffing levels and for advice on how we can battle the property crime we discussed earlier. These guys are so positive about our community.
We held our normal directors staff meeting. I really enjoy the updates and the opportunity to find ways our departments can collaborate. One big concern is the new federal laws concerning CDL licenses. For some reason they have made getting a CDL a much harder and longer process. In our Public Works department, we have 112 employees that require a CDL to do their job. Public Works is our sanitation department, street & alley, and traffic groups. It is becoming almost impossible to find candidates for these open jobs. If we can’t figure out a solution to the CDL hiring problem, the city will have to cut some of the services we provide. This could jeopardize our ability to do recycling, yard waste program, and cause a suspension of other services. We are working to develop an in-house training program that could help the city keep our positions filled. The city is a great place to work if you want a career. Think pension and great benefits.
I have lots of meeting each week. Sometimes they are not so comfortable. I met with one of the neighbors in the Thomas Heights area that has been having flooding trouble since a city development was built a few years ago. He feels like no one is listening or trying to help. I assured him that I was personally involved and working to find a solution. I also assured him our staff was equally dedicated to finding a fix. It breaks my heart to see these folks hurting.
Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day, and I am blessed to have Holly Martinez in the mayor’s office. Holly is the keeper of the schedule, advisor, and really the boss. It was nice to have lunch away from the office and just hang out for a bit. Andy Worshek and Michael Skinner make up the rest of the team and we all think the world of her.
If you have a question for me, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll continue to answer them in my following Mayor’s Minute column.