CHEYENNE – The Women’s Civic League helped get me into the holiday spirit. I was asked to cut the ribbon on this year’s Christmas House. I am ashamed to admit I had not been to a Christmas House before this year, and I can report, it is awesome. The house was filled with so many cool gifts, crafts, and scrumptious snacks. I am eating some English Toffee as I write. The Women’s Civic League has been living their dedication to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service since 1948. They have used the proceeds of the Christmas House to give grants to more than 250 local non-profits. Thanks for all you do and thanks to the Wright family for lending their house to this great event.
I met with our Treasurer to understand the funding options for our recently passed Sixth Penny Sales Tax projects. I am concerned about the risk of inflation to our projects the voters approved in November. We are taking steps to expedite the construction of the projects most at risk to mitigate the cost of inflation. I am excited by the support of our voters, and we will make sure to get these projects done on time.
Another first for me was a visit to Primrose Retirement Community. I was invited to a question-and-answer session with the residents. I was please to find I knew a couple of the residents, and a couple more are related to staff at the city. They asked good questions and made my visit enjoyable.
We just settled the contract with the fire union, and we are scheduled to start negotiations again in less than two months. Man, time flies. We met with the union representatives for our quarterly session and had good conversations on the operations of the department. We also discussed how we should move forward together in next year’s negotiations. We both want to prevent a prolonged fight. It was a good start.
Judy and I were invited to the holiday party hosted by General and Brenda Lutton and Colonel and Bill Barrington. Quarters 92 was decorated for the season, and the food was amazing. It is nice to share time with our military partners. The base and city were born on the same day in 1867, and we have grown close over the past 154 years.
I will remind you all again that I am not a morning person, especially on the weekend. Sunday, I traveled to Grace United Methodist Church to give a city update to the men’s group. Unfortunately, it was at 8:00 a.m. Sigh! But my friendship with Brian Martin and the promise of Andy cooking breakfast got me up. There is so much to be proud of at the city, it was hard to stop in the allotted time. Found out Councilwoman Dr. Michelle Aldrich made breakfast, and it was delicious. I do appreciate the opportunity to brag about our city.
We had a Chief Economic Development Officer when I was elected. Brendan Ames was great to work with, and it was sad when he left to work for Senator Lummis. We met for coffee and it was nice to catch up and to discuss how the Senator can help Cheyenne and Wyoming grow and diversify our economy. There are so many opportunities where we can collaborate.
I spoke about Sixth Penny projects earlier. We were approved to build three new fire stations. This is one of the projects where inflation could challenge us. We met to finalize the locations where the stations will be built. It is exciting to see the years of planning start to come together. These new locations were selected to account for the past few decades of growth and to ensure timely response to our residents. I think our firefighters are excited to see the investment in our fire service.
We have an energetic committee dedicated to creating a destination tourism venue along 15th Street. The Union Pacific Railroad has graciously donated 17 railcars that we can use along 15th Street and Reed Avenue to enhance the visitor experience. Domenic Bravo of Visit Cheyenne took committee members on a tour to look at the cars. Everyone was so impressed and cannot wait to get them on display. There is a lot of work to do, but I can envision the end result and it is beautiful.
Kathy La Plante is the boss of the national Main Street America program. She was in town on Thursday, and we met to talk about their program and the conditions in Cheyenne. I learned about some of the things Main Street does and shared the dreams of our beautiful town.
Cheyenne has a new airport director, Tim Bradshaw. He comes from the Roanoke, Virginia where he ran their airport. The airport is such an important part of the quality of life for our community and an essential tool for economic development and business. We talked about the old airport terminal and waiting for the FAA to decide how it can be used in the future. Using the airport as an economic development engine was also high on the list of priorities. Mr. Bradshaw replaces Tim Barth who is retiring and looking forward to refereeing basketball.
I love the lights along 17th Street in the evening. We approved the lights back in 2012 on the Sixth Penny Sales Tax. There is a block in the middle that did not get lights installed, and the council has been working to finish the project. It is always a surprise how much goes into a project at the city. Our team has been meeting for months and we hope to complete the project during the coming summer. The lights really complement our downtown.
We have over 500 employees that make up the heart of our city government. A group of those employees have been meeting to develop a wellness program. Making sure they all have access to the basics of health care and educating them on ways to live a healthier life is the goal of our first phase that we hope to roll out at the first of the year. Instead of making it a requirement, the committee has found ways to incentivize employees to want to participate. I am proud of the work they have done to make their peers lives better.
The Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) we have been working with F.E. Warren Air Force Base was a topic of conversation with the Wyoming Business Council on Friday. The Business Council has awarded the city a grant and loan to help develop housing at the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) park-n-ride location off Happy Jack Road. The idea is to build housing on the base property to serve the airmen and to develop a commercial area to serve the region. Our grant deadline will expire in June, and we asked for an extension to allow for more time to negotiate the lease. Thanks to the Council for granting the time and for their support of Cheyenne.
Our question this week comes from Priscilla Weddell. She asks, “just wondering if anyone is working on getting a Trader Joe’s to locate in Cheyenne.”
Priscilla, I have not shopped in a Trader Joe’s store but have heard such great things about it. I do know that developers are working to attract a grocery store to the west side of Cheyenne, and Trader Joe’s is one they have targeted. I hope they are successful in attracting a grocery store of some kind to fill the void on the west side of our town.
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.