CHEYENNE — Judy and I got a chance to really kick off the holiday season on Saturday with the wreath hanging at the depot plaza and the Christmas parade in downtown. I loved the mounted patrol that rode their horses to bring us the wreaths to hang on the light poles. Then Brendan and Katy Ames drove our vehicle along the parade route. I was amazed by the enormous crowd of kids of all ages lining the road to see the floats. A special thanks to the volunteers who made the parade possible, you rock and the folks who made the floats, you are all amazing. You all made me proud to be from Cheyenne.
The YMCA is an institution in our community. Childcare, sports, wellness, and fun are just a few of the great things they provide. Patty Walters our local YMCA CEO introduced me to Chris Coker, CEO of the YMCA of Northern Colorado. It was great to learn about all the innovative things the YMCA is doing across the country and the partnerships they are creating to improve recreation and services. I came away motivated to look for ways our city can find partners in everything we do.
We are blessed to have some amazing legislators in Laramie County who do a good job of representing our interests. I was privileged to have lunch with Senator Tara Nethercott. I had a full-page list of things I wanted to talk about. Two hours later we had exhausted all the topics. I am always encouraged by the passion our elected officials have for Cheyenne.
Inflation was over 7 percent in the past quarter in Wyoming. We are all seeing it at the grocery store, gas pump, and your favorite shops. Things are getting more expensive. I spent time with Robin Lockman, our City Treasurer to discuss our concerns on inflation in the cost of running our city and the difficulty in finding employees as the cost of wages is on the rise. It was a great hour talking with someone who really knows her subject matter and has the city’s best interests in mind.
I have discovered another great place to have lunch. Commissioner Malm and I met at Ike’s Bar and Grill to discuss animal control and sheltering issues. The City has partnered with the County to take on the responsibility of animal control when the local shelter decided to no longer offer this service. I am proud of the way our animal control officers have taken on the duties and are doing the job. We also discussed our contract for shelter services with the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. It is going to cost more money, but we are committed to trying to make our over 50-year relationship work. We met with the new director of the shelter later in the day and I believe we have reached agreement on the terms of a new contract. The city council is on board, and I hope the county commissioners will do the same. By the way, the fried burrito is the bomb at Ike’s!
Our downtown bronze project is really taking off. The plan is to put a bronze art piece on every corner from the capitol to the depot. Judy and I went to a dinner at Harvey Deselms home on Tuesday evening to meet some of the donors and sculptors who are making this project happen. As we walked to the front door, four of the new bronzes were on the driveway. Wow! Our hope is now to have all 28 sculptures installed by Frontier Days. I have learned a few new things in this process. Mary O’Hara grew up on the Remount Ranch and wrote My Friend Flicka. Willis Van Devanter is the only person from Wyoming to sit on the US Supreme Court. These two individuals and many others will have their likenesses sculpted for our project. A QR code will be on each base that will educate on the sculptor and tell the story of the bronze piece. We installed three last month and three more go up next week, all donated by folks in this great community. It will be amazing!
I spent Wednesday and Thursday in Casper. I have wanted to form a committee of the largest Wyoming cities so we can discuss issues we have in common. Cheyenne, Laramie, Rock Springs, Casper, Sheridan, and Gillette all attended, and it was a blast to compare notes. Our discussion topics included water, state funding, ARPA funding, urban renewal, pharmacy taxes, fire pensions, liquor licenses, storm water diversion, animal control, housing shortages, Wyoming Association of Municipalities’ role, and strengthening partnerships. Getting mayors and city administrators together to compare notes was amazing. I was pleased at how many issues we found one city had already worked and could help the rest of us keep from reinventing the wheel. Cheyenne has worked urban renewal, while Casper has done so much research on how to handle surface water and drainage problems. I appreciate all the mayors and administrators taking a chance to meet. We are already scheduling our next meetings and plans for our staffs to meet in their respective areas. I loved a line that Jolene from Casper shared with us. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We are going far and together.
This week’s question comes from my friend Ed Boenisch. Ed is part of the Compassionate Cheyenne group and has a real heart for our people. Ed writes “in your last mayor’s minute you discussed the good news of multi family housing units and homes being built in the near future. How many of these units will be wage related housing for the large and critical number of folks who are the support staff and service industry for new and existing businesses in our city?”
Ed asks a very important question. Cheyenne is short of housing in all categories right now and that number is predicted to get worse in the future. Many of the multi-family units will help with this need. I think what Ed was really asking about is the folks whose salary can not keep up with the inflationary costs we are seeing in our housing market. We have housing that comes with a discount for folks who are the working poor. As I understand the current need, we have a waiting list of 1,000 families for this type of subsidized housing. Our planning department has met with developers that are planning to build these units, and I always ask developers to consider adding low-income projects as they look at Cheyenne. WCDA has limited funding that they use each year to add to the housing inventory and I have met to encourage them to continue to look at our city. Ed, I appreciate you keeping these needs in our minds and hearts, we have more to do.
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com.