Over the past weekend, I was able to check another item off my bucket list. Andy and I attended the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia. I have watched the game and pageantry for years and have always wanted to see the game in person. Believe me, the experience did not disappoint. Andy is our Chief of Staff and a retired Navy Master Chief. He has a nephew at West Point and another graduating from the University of Wyoming Army ROTC. No matter who won, we could not lose. I loved the pageantry; thousands of midshipmen and cadets marching onto the field and covering the entire area. Football is not the main attraction at these games, but it was the first overtime game in 123 years. The Army team won, and we witnessed both schools coming over to the sidelines to sing their school song. Although these young men were competitors that Saturday, they will be comrades in arms very soon.
Major General Porter, Wyoming Adjutant General invited Judy and me to the Wreaths Across America Ceremony held at our state capitol. I love their message of “Remember our fallen U.S. veterans,” “Honor those who serve,” and “Teach your children the values of freedom.” Governor Gordon and General Porter did a wonderful job of verbalizing this mission statement, and I was moved by the meaning of the moment in our beautiful capitol rotunda. Making it even more meaningful were the Gold Star families that were in attendance. Please remember our military members and their families, this holiday season.
The city just finished annexing a 1280-acre business park. We hope that a very large data center will locate in part of the park, and the rest will develop into an employment center that will diversify our local economy and make Cheyenne more resilient to the boom and bust of our extraction industries. We met with LEADS and one of the landowners to discuss the construction of roads necessary to serve the area. We are so blessed to have legacy families here in Cheyenne, that are willing to work with LEADS, Greater Cheyenne Chamber, the city, and the community at large—-helping to create jobs that will keep our kids and grandkids here in Cheyenne. I know great things are going to happen in this area!
Our investment committee met this week to get an update on how the economy has affected our investments. The good news is our investments are beating the benchmarks we set. The bad news is we have been affected negatively just like everyone else. We are blessed to have Patrick Fleming as a local advisor to our team. I am always amazed by the lessons I learn from his expertise. I came away from our meeting thinking we have a very good plan going forward, and that next year is going to be tough on us all.
LEADS board of directors met again this week. While things are a bit slow during the holiday season, LEADS had another five prospects added to their list in the past month. It is a constant surprise to me how long these deals take. Project Cosmo, the large data center, has been in the works for five years now. The team at LEADS is so patient and positive about our community, I don’t know how anyone could say no to them.
I spent Wednesday afternoon reading state statutes on Downtown Development Authorities (DDA). Our DDA has done a great job this past year working to improve the business climate of our downtown and has created some amazing events for residents and visitors alike. Getting re-educated on the rules and regulations of the authority has been interesting. I especially liked reading the 1991 master plan. Understanding why we created the DDA and reading the mission statement and goals were enlightening. We have accomplished many of the things the plan suggested, like acquiring and redeveloping the historic depot. I look forward to working with the DDA to see even more progress in our downtown.
We had our last directors meeting for this year. It was a bit melancholy for me, as it means we have hit the halfway point in our administration. I can’t believe how time has flown by. We talk about so many things during our meetings: water issues, gold mines, development codes, annexations, snow days, compensation studies, animal control, vagrants, compost fires, shop with a cop, retirements, governor inaugurations, software updates, knee replacements, hero employees, budgeting, and new fire stations to name a few. I am blessed to work with such a great team.
I also met with our HR team and treasurer to talk about a new compensation study we expect to receive in the next couple of weeks. We are all feeling the inflationary pressures in our current economy, and the city is no different. This study will let us know where we are regarding employee pay and give us a guideline for how to proceed. It would be nice if we had unlimited resources, but we don’t, so it will be a challenge to meet all the needs. I like having a roadmap to success and this study should help map out our strategy.
Jared Olsen is one of Laramie County’s legislators. He is taking over the chairmanship of the Corporations Committee in the house next year. We spent the summer working with the joint committee to work on liquor licensing bills. The committee on the house side is entirely new for the next session, so I thought it was best if we continued the conversation regarding all the work we did prior. I appreciate the time our legislators spend with us and the work they do behind the scenes. We have a lot of work to do before we can get three liquor license bills adopted in the new year.
My last meeting for this week was spent with our city surveyor Jack Studley, our city attorney, and city engineer. We have been working on many development projects in our city that have a connection to the railroads. I have found the folks from the railroads are very nice to work with, but very hard to convince when it comes to allowing the city to build out the plans we have. Jack educated me on the Railroad Act of 1862, which provided the railroads with so much land. As a result of that act, their ownership of these lands is blocking our ability to complete the Reed Avenue Corridor plan, 15th Street Railroad Experience, Belvoir Ranch Trail System, and some greenway projects. It’s going to be a hard road to success on these projects, but we won’t stop until we cross the finish line.
I am starting to feel a sense of panic as Christmas creeps up on us, and I am not ready. I hope your preparations are turning out a lot better than mine.
If you have a question or comment for me, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll continue to answer your questions or concerns in the following Mayor’s Minute column.