CHEYENNE – I started this Mayor’s minute period with coffee with our City Engineer, Tom Cobb. Tom came to the city after years working in the private engineering world and that experience has helped him to balance the needs of our developers with the requirements of the municipality. We spent two hours drinking coffee at the Paramount and talking about staffing, growth, the way we select consultants, fixing the concrete on the parade route, flooding underpasses, surface water drainage, pavement management, crack filling roads, parking at the Lincoln Theater, paving park roadways, paving an alleyway in downtown, Christensen Road properties, signs, WYDOT, MS4 permit, our municipal building, our golf swings, and how much fun we are having in our jobs. We are planning to work on 10 percent of our city roads this coming year and every year after to get our pothole problem under control.
Our voters blessed us with the ability to build three new fire stations to improve the safety of our community. Chief Kopper, Councilman Tom Segrave, and I met with two landowners about locating stations on their properties. I was so pleased with the willingness to support the city and our mission to locate stations on their lands. With the high inflation rates we are currently facing, it is critical we get the process started to avoid huge price increases. I will report once the locations have been finalized.
98 of Wyoming’s cities and towns are represented by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities (WAM). I had lunch with the executive director to talk about the inherent tension between the small towns and larger cities. We need to support each other, but there are so few big cities, we sometimes feel left out of the conversation and process. It was a great lunch where we were able to talk about how to best meet the needs of both groups, and issues we are facing heading into the legislative session. The African proverb, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. WAM needs to go forward together.
During these holiday times, there are many things that I am thankful for. One is our Greater Chamber of Commerce. I attended their board meeting again this week and was reminded all they do for our community and state. It is a volunteer board, with amazing staff supporting the efforts to grow and protect our business community. They are true partners.
A part of our downtown team met to talk about how we can support a business looking to move in our downtown. LEADS, Visit Cheyenne, Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and the city are working to help make it happen. The big delay right now is a similar one we have experienced on many of our recent efforts: the railroads are involved. I love the folks we are dealing with; it just takes time to work through the process. Retaining Cheyenne jobs makes the effort worth it.
Speaking about jobs, I attended the LEADS board meeting at 7:00 a.m. I participated in the Progress and Prosperity campaign years ago, and the dream was the creation of jobs. As a board member I saw six potential prospects considering Cheyenne get incentive proposals approved. These proposals could result in 400 new jobs over the next three years and could add $380 million to our GDP. LEADS is actively working the negotiations, and we expect in the next 120 days to know the outcomes. My Progress and Prosperity dream come true!
The Census has been completed for this decade, and with that comes the requirement to redraw our ward boundaries. The rules are we must wait until the state gets the boundaries for the house districts redrawn, then we can do ours. We have to create three wards of equal size and have it done by the time folks can register to run for office in May. It is going to be a last-minute effort and we are getting a head start to make sure we are ready when the time comes. I appreciate the team effort of our City Attorney and Clerk who are leading this effort.
Had a short call with Casper City Manager, Carter Napier, to discuss the challenges we face and the opportunities the American Rescue Plan (ARP) can be for our cities and state. The Governor’s Strike Team is working to maximize the impact it will have for our residents. We are excited to be part of this effort and hope our cities will see the benefits for decades to come.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is charged with planning the future transportation efforts in the metro part of our city and county. We met this week to discuss the plan to modernize Converse Avenue from the north edge of Dell Range to the future location of Carlson Avenue. Traffic is projected to double in the future and this plan looks forward and gives us a safe and efficient road section. The big topic was the need to plan Powderhouse from Dell Range to a point well into the county. In the county the pavement has deteriorated to a point it needs to be replaced, but we want to have the new plan before spending the money. In the city we have a new grade school coming and we need to know the plan before installing traffic signals and the other contemplated upgrades. We will work through the process and report back.
The Old Cheyenne Elevator on Reed Avenue was the site of an open house to unveil the plans for the building’s future. I am so impressed with the Rose and Seitz family vision for what this building can and should be. The whole Reed Avenue Corridor is planned to be a vibrant area with walking and biking paths, restaurants, bars and breweries, shops, and places for people to live. Joining the hosts were the Westby’s and Rauzi’s who are already transforming their properties into a brewery/restaurant and an event space/music venue. I am so proud of their confidence in Cheyenne and their investment in the West Edge. It was a glorious night.
We have lost a few giants in Cheyenne in this past year. We lost another one in Frank Cole. I attended his funeral to honor him and the amazing things his family has done for Cheyenne for a few generations now. Frank was my first landlord when I started the bike shop in Cheyenne. I got to know and appreciate his passion for his family and our community. He is missed.
I spoke with a Colorado developer that specializes in design-build with a core business of architecture and construction. Shawn shared they are looking at Cheyenne and wanted to discuss a few projects they are looking to do and ask for my priorities that they might help with. We talked about the potential of our downtown, the need for attainable housing, and the Hynds building. I shared my excitement for our future and invited them to come visit so we can show off the opportunities.
I attended the Airport Board meeting on Thursday to honor Pete Illoway who was retiring after serving the airport for 20 years. I spoke about the amazing volunteers we have in Cheyenne and thanked Pete for being a shining example for all of us to follow. Thank you, Pete, for your service to Cheyenne.
I had a quick meeting with two members of our Technology Task Force. Garreck Vassar and Summer Wasson updated me on the initiatives they are working on. Cybersecurity is a big one. They do not want to invest in smart city initiatives until we are sure we have a safe infrastructure to run it on. Helping the city, residents, and business prevent ransomware and other intrusions is a great service. We are also looking at how to install electric vehicle charging stations across our city. Electric is part of our future, and we want to get prepared.
Technology businesses are making their mark in our local economy. I attended the ribbon cutting for Elite Mining, a manufacturer of mining servers for the bitcoin industry. They have a revolutionary mining process that is green and energy saving. Combining manufacturing and technology is a great addition to our city. I was impressed by the CEO Justin Podhola and his explanation for choosing Cheyenne. He gets what our state has been doing to prepare for his business.
I received a voicemail from a gentleman named Dale who stated “I want the Mayor to address the fact there is no market for recycling materials except for aluminum cans and milk jugs. Why are we promoting this so much and if we are short of money why are we running trucks for just those two things? We are not being truthful to the citizens”.
Dale, we do have a vigorous recycling program in Cheyenne. We do not sell our recyclables; we actually pay $80 per ton to have a company take them. We get some money back when the contractor sells our materials. The top seller is cardboard and #1 and #2 plastics, followed by aluminum and paper. We do it because it is the right thing to do versus burying it in the ground. It is also a financial decision as airspace in our landfill is extremely expensive. It is cheaper to recycle and compost than putting it in the landfill.
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.