It feels weird to write 2022 on the headline for the article this week. Good news is I have not made the mistake, yet, of writing 2021. Not sure how long that will last.
I hope everyone had a safe and fun New Year’s holiday. Our family spent the time cooking, eating, playing games, eating, and having fun watching football games. I am not sure Judy would say that is fun, but she is a trooper and spent time with all of us watching the bowl games. I am excited for the new year and the opportunity to reflect on what we have accomplished and what we will strive to do in this new year. I hope all your resolutions come true.
We started off the new year meeting with Ben Hornok. Ben helped the city as an owner’s representative during the building of the new city courthouse. Our staff recognized they did not have the skill set to manage the project day-to-day. They hired Ben and he brought the project in on time, on budget, and with a building we could maintain due to his thoughtfulness in the way items were spec’d. We discussed how we can do the same with the three new fire stations we are going to build later this year. I am excited to see what he proposes.
In today’s environment it is hard to recruit employees to come to work in any organization. For our police department that is also a challenge. We have a great department and a community that really respects and support our officers. I have been waiting for what I hope would be a wave of transfers from communities that don’t have the love we have for law enforcement. On Tuesday, we swore in four new police officers. They all come from outside of Wyoming and two are experienced officers looking for a better quality of life to pursue their vocation. Ty Volin comes from Oregon as a sergeant with 10 years of experience, Kilian Sweet had four years with the Indianapolis Police Department, Corrin Campbell comes from a family of officers as her dad is a 21-year member of Denver’s Police Department, and Nathanial Lucero retired from the Marines and used his GI Bill to put himself through the Colorado academy. More good news is we are processing additional transfers. I would encourage anyone interested in becoming a Cheyenne police officer to apply, we would love to have you.
I think many of you would be surprised on how many things the city and county collaborate on. I met with our County Commission on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming expansion of the Whitney and Dell Range intersection. It is part owned in the city and part in the county. We met to discuss how we would split the cost of the road and how we would share in the management of the project with WYDOT. Other than a bunch of good-natured ribbing, we easily split the costs and now the project will move into the next phase. As the city has grown to the east, and the county has grown all over, improvements to our roadways are essential. It is nice to have such good partners in the county.
It was fortuitous that I was at the county building as I had a chance meeting with our sheriff, Danny Glick. We have a problem with abandoned cars in the city and county. In Cheyenne we tagged over 700 cars in our right-of-way and had to tow over 200. We share a tow lot with the county, and it is not big enough to fit all the cars. It takes many weeks to process an abandoned car. With the Hitching Post coming down, we have a big fence that was put up to keep the abandoned hotel building safe from transients. It is coming down soon and my plan is to move it to expand the tow lot. Sheriff Glick agreed and so do the Commissioners. We will be working on a plan to collaborate on expanding the lot and making our neighborhoods a bit safer.
I am a graduate of Leadership Cheyenne, class of 1997. I had a blast and still am friends with some of my classmates. I was invited to lunch and to join a panel to talk with the class 25 years later on leadership. Senator Ellis, Commission Malm, Council President White, and I had a blast talking about how we got into our respective positions and answered a few questions from the class. The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce sponsors this program, and I found it to be very educational on all aspects of our city. I would encourage you to apply, it is definitely worth it.
Our Urban Renewal Authority (URA) Board met on Thursday and heard a program on how tax increment financing projections are made. We use these financial projections to determine how large a remediation project we can take on. LEADS has hired experts to help the city through this process and I cannot tell you how much of a difference they have made. I hope many of you will drive out to West Lincolnway to see how the old, contaminated buildings have been torn down and the site is getting made ready for the construction of new developments that will enhance our western entrance. The URA was the secret sauce to get this project over the top and make it happen. I hope we get a chance to use it again this year.
We had planned to hold our goal setting for the governing body this Wednesday and Thursday. I was so excited to sit down with the city council and reaffirm our way of doing business together and to chart a new list of goals to tackle. We completed all but one of last year’s goals, and we need challenges for 2022. This dang snowstorm postponed our event, so we will have to reschedule. It was gratifying to have council members commenting on how important it is to meet in goal setting and committing to finding days to make it happen.
It has been a while since we have had any significant snow. I want to remind everyone of our snow plan priorities. Our job is to provide a safe transportation system for the traveling public. When we have a snow big enough to require our 12 snowplows to respond, our first priority is our major arterials and collectors. Second, we make sure the areas around our schools and hospitals are open for bus and ambulance traffic. Once we have the main roads cleared, we work to keep them open to traffic. In normal storms, we do not venture into residential neighborhoods. With a bit more snow, we do plow in neighborhoods and sometimes use a local contractor to plow a 10-foot-wide path down the middle of residential streets. This only happens after we have the major roads cleared. When it snows, we normally have a rash of traffic accidents that snarl up traffic. I guess folks forget how to drive in poor conditions. I appreciate all of you who slow down and drive safely under the adverse conditions.
Please stay warm and safe this weekend. I am hoping for a Bronco victory on Saturday, or our police chief will have me wearing a Chiefs red jersey again. Sigh!