The highlight for my week was my father turning 85 and the family spending the day in Denver at a Colorado Rockies baseball game. It is amazing how good a hotdog tastes at a ball game. The Rockies surprised us with a 7-1 victory over the Miami Marlins, and it was great to spend some family time doing happy things. A perfect birthday.
Are you tired of me talking about liquor issues? I know this summer is going to be full of these discussions as the legislature has made it an interim topic for discussion. I met with Mike Moser at Central Café to see if we could find some middle ground to take to the legislative committee meeting in Hulett at the end of June. He heads the Wyoming State Liquor Association. Other than getting sunburned on the patio, it was a good first meeting. We both agree the bar and grill licenses need to be expanded and talked about the option of a tavern license to help many of the folks we had to say no to during our recent retail license discussion at the city council. We will be meeting with the Wyoming Association of Municipalities (WAM) next week in Laramie to continue our discussions.
You know it is a small world, especially in Cheyenne. I met with Brenda Henson who runs our State Department of Revenue to discuss the challenging part of our Urban Renewal Authority (URA). Small world, as Brenda and I graduated from high school together too many years ago. The challenge we are working on is how to get the money from the state to our fiduciary account to pay the expenses of remediating the contaminated buildings at the Hitching Post. It seems simple, but in reality, it is not. The URA laws were written in 1965 and our tax laws were rewritten in 1990. They just don’t track. I appreciate our County Auditor, Ken Guille, for his efforts to make this happen. Why can’t things just be simple, sigh?
I have shared with you my concerns with how some of our minority students are being treated in our schools. Superintendent Crespo has been working hard to find solutions, but it is a daunting challenge. I met with Drew Hall and Chris Zimny to get introduced to a new program they hope to introduce next school year called Sources of Strength. It is an evidence-based, upstream prevention program that empowers student volunteers to help change the behavior and expectations in their individual buildings. What I am most impressed with is the new direction the district is taking. They found a successful program and are working to make it fit Cheyenne, good for you!
I am blessed with a great team in the mayor’s office. Our Public Information Officer, Michael Skinner, has been such a great part of making my first 17 months successful. The city is going to purchase a new software system and I suggested Michael apply for the new position. He would be perfect to help the city implement this complicated software. I think he thought I was mad at him, but nothing could be further from the truth. With Michael getting ready to leave our office, I spent a few hours interviewing candidates to replace him. We have three unbelievable and diverse candidates that I am excited about. We will be making an offer very soon.
Speaking about new software, we had a work session of the city council to allow the prospective software vendor to show the capability to our city council. I was blown away by what it can do and the ability to save staff time by eliminating duplication of efforts. They say governments that have implemented their software save one percent in the general fund budget. That could mean savings of up to $600,000 a year for our city. I have been through computer conversions before and I know how much work will be required to get it done, but the ability to be more transparent with our community and efficiency for our staff will make the effort worth it.
I met our city engineer, Tom Cobb, and a local engineer to discuss our greenway and other city projects. For years we have been short of money to get road and other projects done. Today, we have the money thanks to the voters of Laramie County investing in the Fifth and Sixth Penny Sales Taxes. Thank you. Today the challenge is finding the contractors and staff to get the projects done. It is a good problem that we are working to get solved. Our supply chain challenges have not helped.
Councilman Pete Laybourn stopped by to catch up and discuss the Reed Avenue Corridor project. This project was approved on the Sixth Penny Sales Tax by the voters, but we ran into a roadblock in getting the project done. In 1908 the city council gave the right-of-way to the Colorado Railroad to facilitate the new rail line serving west Cheyenne. Since that time, we have been working to find a solution with the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) to get some of the land back that will let us complete this project. It will include walking and greenway paths, outdoor dining areas, landscaping and trees, and create an entertainment district in the west edge. There are some beautiful 100-year-old warehouses that are empty that will make amazing breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and fun shops. I am hopeful we will find a way forward.
I got sick and had to take my first sick day since being elected. I have one heck of a cough and aching body. I share all the time that the great folks of Cheyenne do way more than is expected. I was talking with Amy Surdam about a development she and her husband Dan are hoping to do downtown when she learned I was under the weather. She stopped by my house and gave me a Covid test. Thankfully negative, but what an amazing thing she did. Thank you.
This week I received an email question about the senseless tragedy that occurred in Uvalde, Texas. The question most want to know is: are our police ready and trained in case something like this happens here? My heart goes out to the community and the families that lives are permanently changed. Every time we see one of these types of incidents, I reach out to our police chief to make sure we are trained and ready should the most horrific crimes happen here. I can report we train specifically for active shooter situations and our officers are ready to defend our community at the risk of their own lives. It is so important that if you hear someone make a threat, you call the police or a school principal. So many of these tragedies could have been averted if a call had been made. Please keep the families of all the shootings in your prayers.
If you have a question for me, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll continue to answer them in my following Mayor’s Minute column.