I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I enjoy having a great meal with family and watching football from morning to night; what else could you ask for? I have a lot to be thankful for and one of those blessings is the successful surgery my wife had a few weeks ago, to repair a detached retina. We spent 10 days at home with Judy lying down on her left side. Although this wasn’t the vacation we planned, it was quite restful. We watched old movies, hung out, and basked in the love we received from our community through phone calls, prepared meals, and flowers. Cheyenne rocks!
Our vacation of total relaxation came to an end on Monday. Both Judy and I are back in the office. On the day of City Council meetings, my day is spent reviewing the agenda with staff, preparing for all the potential motions that may be made, and making sure we are prepared to run the meeting. I appreciate our staff so much; Jennifer who is the assistant to the City Council, Kris and Kylie from our City Clerk’s Office, and our City Attorney Stefanie who help me review the agenda and make sure I am prepared to chair the meeting. Boy, do I enjoy our meetings.
Housing was a topic of discussion at a couple of meetings I had this week. The first meeting I had was with Josh Dorrell who runs the Wyoming Business Council. Attainable housing is a state-wide issue and thus a main objective for the Business Council. I shared some of the ideas we have at the city level, asked for ideas the state has, and spent time learning about solutions to our housing shortage. I’m excited to learn about the interest the Business Council has to solve our housing issues across the state. We share the passion and will be working together over the coming months to put our ideas into motion.
We have talked about a new data center that is looking to build a new campus in Cheyenne. We call it project Cosmo. I’m excited that a company is going to invest billions of dollars to build a 700,000-square-foot data center in our city and want to make sure it happens. I have learned that these international companies have a wide range of experiences when dealing with local governments. Sometimes, this leads to very complicated water and development agreements being proposed. While this business is very important to Cheyenne, LEADS, and our state, the City of Cheyenne does not conduct business this way. I spent time this week talking with the company site selector team to explain the Code of the West and our way of taking care of our business community. I’m excited by their plan to break ground this spring and the long-term vision they have for Cheyenne. We have work to do to eventually earn their business, but our team is dedicated to making it happen.
The Business Council works with Harvard University. They have a Pathway to Prosperity program that uses six pathways to help Wyoming improve its economic development efforts. One of the pathways is around housing. Brenda Birkle and I met with Heather and John from the Business Council and members of the Harvard team. I am beyond excited about this opportunity. The Harvard team does this type of work all over the world, and I am certain some best practices will come our way to help us in our efforts to build more attainable housing. I appreciate the Business Council letting me invite myself to this meeting and into their process. I am a fan and can’t wait to see where this leads us.
Throughout the month, I meet with our department directors as a group. I enjoy taking the time to discuss what is happening in our city and within individual departments. I find these meetings to be a great place to collaborate and find ways to support each other. It is amazing to see how many departments are involved in projects and events we hold in Cheyenne. One great example is the Christmas Parade sponsored by our Greater Chamber of Commerce. From our end, the city provides support from our police department, fire department, community recreation, and events team, public works, city council, and many employees who volunteer. The crowds were amazing again this year, and the organizations who built floats and entertain us are my heroes. Make plans to join us next year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving if you’re not already an attendee.
I shared with you the vacation plans Judy and I had before her eye surgery caused us to cancel. I met with Domenic from Visit Cheyenne and the DDA who led the Cheyenne delegation and so aptly represented our city. He shared the great time they had at the 30th anniversary of the Cheyenne Hotel at Disney Paris. Our team showed up in boots and cowboy hats. They gave the manager a custom belt buckle and made many friends in Cheyenne and Wyoming. Then they took a high-speed train to Lourdes to meet the mayor of our sister city; it’s a Cody-sized city with the second most hotel rooms in France. More friends were made! I appreciate our ambassadors who had a blast and did a great job representing our capital city.
A little over a year ago I met Andrew and Karl who were in Cheyenne looking at a development property. That property did not work out, but they came to love the opportunity they saw in our city. I shared our housing concerns, and they recently broke ground on their first apartment building in Saddle Ridge. So far there are 220 units, which is amazing, but they came to town Thursday to talk about building 780 more. Their team and investors toured the construction site and looked at new locations to expand their operations. I left our lunch feeling great. They are excited to keep investing in our beautiful city, and they could not believe the way our city’s employee team takes care of them. They have many stories about how our employees helped them save time and headaches throughout the permitting process. I’m really proud of our city employees.
Summer, who chairs our Technology Task Force came by to update us on where the task force has been focusing its efforts. What a smart group of people they are! I’m very concerned with the cybersecurity risks our small business community and residents face. Our task force is planning a full-day cybersecurity seminar to help our small businesses and residents protect themselves from the cyber-attacks that happen every three seconds in our country. We are hoping to hold the event in June 2023. Getting cybersecurity right is not hard, but it is so important to protect ourselves from heartbreak.
The last meeting of the week was a code adoption town hall meeting. The state adopts building code standards, and by law, the city must do so within six months. These codes affect our building community, so it is important to be transparent and allow our builders to be a part of the discussion. Tono Pomerleau is our leader in this effort, and he has been working tirelessly to get the word out on the potential changes in our building codes. The ordinance to adopt these codes is scheduled to go before the governing body on December 12. The adoption will go through three readings before potentially being finalized in early January. I would encourage the building community to get educated during this process… It could affect your livelihood.
It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is only 23 days away! I’m already feeling the pressure to get shopping completed. No playing Scrooge for me, this year.
If you have a question or comment for me, please send an email to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer your questions or concerns in the following Mayor’s Minute column.