One of the meetings I enjoy each month is one set up by the Greater Chamber of Commerce. We call it the Economic Development Primaries Call. It includes the Chamber, Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Visit Cheyenne, Laramie County School District 1, National Guard, Business Council, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, County Commission, City Council, and others. It started during Covid to let each group communicate what it needed and how it could help the others. I love that we keep meeting to make sure Cheyenne and Laramie County thrive.
A month or so ago the City Council passed a resolution requiring the mayor to work with Carbon Asset Management (CAN) to develop a MOU for how we could work together. We met this week and developed a draft for the council to review. CAN has developed an innovative program to help improve soil health, that could benefit our environment. Next step is the city council approvals.
Health insurance is a big cost for the city, and an important benefit for our employees. We have been discussing the benefits of having a fully insured policy versus going to self-insurance. We had an interesting work session with the city council to learn about the alternatives, and to educate ourselves on the topic. Our fiscal year starts July 1st, so the time to make the decision is coming soon.
I am a city boy, who loves rodeo. Judy and I went to Laramie to support the University of Wyoming Rodeo Team at their gala dinner. They seated an athlete at each table, and we were joined by Cameron Jensen. He is a junior from Bingham, Nebraska and competes as a calf roper. Such a nice and respectful young man. I met people from all over the state, there to support an amazing program. I am looking forward to watching them compete.
A few years ago, you could find covenants in older neighborhoods that prevented people of color from living there. Some other covenants spoke to religion or nationality prohibitions. I had coffee with Sarah Morey who was outraged when she learned about these kinds of covenants on her new home. She did something about it and convinced the legislature to empower homeowners to easily remove these covenants. You can too if you find yourself similarly situated.
Our building industry is an important part of our economy. The city has rules and regulations that cover the industry, and it is important that we communicate expectations on both sides. We had a visit from a local realtor that shared some of the concerns. As a small businessperson, I want to deliver great customer service for everyone that does business with the city. I am scheduled to attend a builders’ forum in the next few weeks to listen and make sure we are on the right track. I know our employees are great and with the right tools and support will deliver the quality customer service this building season.
I had no idea the popularity of the historic horse racing industry in Cheyenne. I had a company that is looking to build new horse racing facilities in our city stop by and share their plans. The goal is to bring folks up from Colorado and provide entertainment for our residents. I have learned that the revenue to the city and county is substantial and am excited to see the impact.
We all know of the Old West Museum. I was invited to shoot a video that will be used to explain the expansion plans to further showcase their mission to preserve our western heritage and history. Funny how you think you know a business, but find you really have only scratched the surface. I am excited about the destination tourism opportunity this expansion will bring to Cheyenne. Folks visit Cheyenne hoping to see the west, and our Old West Museum is one of the places they will find it, today and even more so in the future.
I am impressed by the leadership and management found in the team at LEADS and their board of directors. They held a strategic planning workshop to review current plans and make sure they are on the right track for the future. Having a clear vision and being laser focused is one of the keys to their success. I appreciate all they do to diversify our economy and give our future generations a choice to stay home here in Wyoming.
We have been having labor-management meetings with our fire union for the past couple months. Today we met and I am happy to announce that we are confident that we are ready for negotiations to start next week for next year’s contract. We meet quarterly throughout the year, and it is imperative that I understand our firefighters needs and they understand the city’s needs. The details that will be presented this month will need to be approved by the membership of the fire department as well as the city council. I appreciate the candor of the fire fighters and the hard work of our fire chief.
Our Botanic Gardens is an absolute jewel in our city. They are supported by an amazing group of volunteers. We met to discuss the requirements the city has to be a volunteer. During the meeting I learned that our volunteers have donated over $122,000 worth of time. We would not have a Botanic Gardens without this amazing group of people. We are working to make volunteering easier and appreciate all of you that choose to make Cheyenne a better place to live.
Housing is one of the biggest concerns I have in regards for our economy, and a risk to our future growth. I met with Brenda Birkle who is the chair of our housing task force. She gave an update on the progress they have been making, and I am excited for the opportunity we will have to implement their recommendations. The Cadets at the Air Force Academy that have taken on helping the task force are working to update the housing data for our community. Our future depends on getting our housing availability and affordability figured out.
It is budget time, and we had our first meeting with an outside agency, the Cheyenne Symphony. We meet with all departments and agencies to understand their financial needs and discuss next year’s priorities. The Symphony has historically received $6,500 from the city to help defray the cost of the YES concerts. The YES concerts are an opportunity for our local grade school students to attend a symphony concert. The Cheyenne Symphony was hit hard by the Covid pandemic. Since that time, audiences are starting to come back to watch these amazing musicians. I would encourage everyone reading this to attend a concert, it is definitely worth it.
We had a great meeting with a local landowner that we are working out a trade of land for a new fire station. Three companies, located at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Lincolnway will be closing, and a new fire station will be built in east Cheyenne. The plan would be to trade our old station location for the new site. Appraisals are being ordered, and the trade will save the city a million dollars in cash. I so appreciate the willingness to make this deal and improve public safety by getting the stations inside the four-minute response time goal.
Question this week comes from Michael Dixon. He writes, “why is it that we are pushing for hotels and things like that instead of finding an investor for a rec center? Why does the city have extra money to give grants to multi-billion-dollar companies instead of a grant for Cheyenne volleyball or to build a rec center?”
Michael, I share your feelings that Cheyenne needs a rec center. We have asked the voters three times to fund it, and it has been defeated at the polls. We have worked hard to see new businesses come to Cheyenne, including hotels. In the case of the Hitching Post, the only one that I know has been given any public help, we have used the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to invest the property from the Hitch back into the project. Rec centers don’t pay property tax, so there are no taxes to reinvest into the project. That being said, I have been working hard to do two things. First, build a gymnastics center and athletic courts to do just what you are asking for. It is one of the seven stated goals of the city council for this year. Second, I have been meeting with companies to educate myself in ways we can build a rec center without having to rely on the voters, who have told us no three times. I hope you understand that just because we are working to improve our tourism industry by supporting new hotels, we are not ignoring the quality-of-life issues you address. Thanks for the question.
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer them in my following Mayor’s Minute column.