It has been a great week, but some events have me feeling my age. It is not often that I feel old, but I’m starting to think that, working with younger people and their buzzing energy keeps me feeling younger than I deserve.
Judy and I spent a few hours on Friday night on the base, for the annual tree-lighting ceremony. As you can imagine, there were tons of kids running around so excited for the season. Just watching them wore me out! We remember those days and the energy it takes to keep up with the children makes me feel old. The youth center choir did a tremendous job on the traditional carols, and we had a blast! It was nice hanging out with Colonel John Dines, our honorary commander too.
Our son Jac turned 28 on Saturday and we were blessed to have our grandson for about seven hours. He is almost 4 months old, and I had forgotten how much fun a baby can be, but also how much work it requires! Judy and I were exhausted by the end of the night. This was the second time I felt old in a short period. He is a handsome little guy, and we loved our time together.
It is amazing how many decisions we make that require our legal team to weigh in. Policy decisions belong to the governing body but making sure our legal team participates early and often can save time and frustration. This week we met to discuss an oil company looking to drill under some city-owned property. Everything comes with choices, and this one had three to choose from. A solar farm is coming to Laramie County, and we are required to respond to the Industrial Siting Commission. No specific playbook, so lots of time to plan our response. Lastly, the state had an amazing last session in their efforts to save our Fire A retirement fund that was headed to insolvency. Our city had to financially contribute, and the state wants a promissory note. A lot of time was spent by staff to make sure the proposal matches the requirements placed by the state in the legislation they passed. I believe we are there now. I appreciate Stefanie and John for all their advice.
Our staff has been educating me on the cost of maintaining property given to the city by developers that are not buildable. Historically, it has been dedicated to the city; individually, these properties are not a big deal; and collectively, they would take so much time and money. We met this week to talk about how the city should look at these situations in the future. It is complicated, but we will continue to focus on the subject until we can figure out what is best for our community.
Sonny Cross has worked for the city for 40 years. Most of those years were spent in our Street and Alley department. I enjoy the opportunity to personally thank our long-time employees and get to know their history with the city. Their dedication and institutional knowledge are awesome. Sonny retired on Thursday of this week. A tradition in Street and Alley is you hang your hat on the wall as you leave, and it stays there forever. Sonny is known for his cowboy hat, and he hung it up for the last time on his way out. Thanks for a great job, enjoy your well-deserved retirement.
This week’s call with Cosmo went very well. I got a list of things they needed and spent time with our city staff to make sure we got them delivered promptly. Remember, Cosmo is a very large data center project we are excited to see come to town. My fingers are still crossed they will say yes.
The City Council invited Judy and me to attend their annual straw poll dinner. It was nice because we don’t get to see the spouses very often, so it was great catching up. The only business we had for the night was nominating the president and vice president for the upcoming year. The City Council will make the election official on January 3, 2023, during the first meeting of the new year. Richard Johnson was nominated as president, and Ken Esquibel was nominated for vice president. I look forward to working with the City Council and its elected officers in the new year.
I have shared my concerns about granting outside user water agreements to developers in the county. My hypothesis is the agreements would be detrimental to our annual revenue, especially sales tax. Since it is just my hypothesis, we have hired the University of Wyoming’s economic analysis group to study the issue and help us understand the impacts. We met with Dr. Aadland and Dr. Van Sandt this week, to have more in-depth discussions to help their efforts. We expect their report by the end of March.
We have a group of people who volunteer to represent and advocate for our residents with disabilities. The Mayor’s Council for People with Disabilities does just that. I got together with them this week to take our annual picture. A unique statistic they shared with me says, almost 1 in 5 residents have a disability of some kind. Isn’t that something? It makes me understand our need to make the city more accessible. I appreciate the council’s time and effort they put into, meeting the needs of our community.
The Swan Ranch Business Park south of I-80 and west of I-25 has been a great addition to our industrial efforts. Rail service and interstate access have made it attractive and successful. The city entered into an agreement almost 10 years ago, but with time, it has shown a need for modifications. We met with the team from the business park to discuss how we should move forward to make it work for them and still protect our interests. We have a good framework from the discussions and plan to get back together to make it happen. This will need the governing body’s approval and I hope to present it to them soon.
Thursday was a busy day. My day started with a coffee meeting with Dyno Nobel and our Board of Public Utilities to talk about how we can work more closely together. A labor management meeting with the fire union followed shortly after. We are working informally on the issues before our upcoming negotiations. From that meeting, I went on to the state capitol to say thank you to Buck McVeigh, as he retires from his position as the Chief of Staff for our governor. My last meeting of the day was with Councilman Laybourn to discuss the DDA. Great talk by the way.
I ended the evening attending the inaugural Cheyenne Fire Rescue awards and promotions ceremony. I started the week feeling old and ended it the same way. I don’t know how you feel about firefighters, but they are amazing in what they do! I guess I forgot how young they are. At the ceremony, family and friends showed up to support their loved ones receiving awards, but there were so many young kids and babies. This made me realize fighting fires is a young person’s game. Sigh! It was so rewarding to see the department celebrate the successes from the past year and congratulate the new engineers and lieutenants that made new grades. We also got to congratulate the probationary firefighters who made it past the first year. One of the top highlights included two awards named for two firefighters, Michael Head and Douglas Beach, who died tragically, while employed by the department. By awarding someone annually with their awards, will keep their memory alive and honor the characteristics that made them special.
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.