I spent last week in Cody for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities’ annual convention. I really do enjoy spending time with other mayors and council members from across the state. I was tasked with chairing our resolution committee. Our cities and towns create the resolutions to give direction to our legislative committee for the next legislative session. The discussion was spirited, and I enjoyed the experience. I learned that the legislature recently passed a rule requiring mayors and council members to take an eight-hour class to get certified in their job. I agree it is a good idea, but I wonder why the legislature exempted themselves from the rule.
We dedicated the Capitol Avenue Bronze Project last Saturday afternoon. It was an event I had been looking forward to attending. I really thought it would take years to complete the installation of the bronzes on Capitol Avenue, but the team did a fantastic job surpassing my level of thought. In just 20 months, the Capitol Avenue Bronze Commission has installed 46 bronzes; 11 more are ready to install, and six are in development. Thanks to Nathaniel Trelease, Harvey Deselms, Caren Murray, Dixie Roberts, Susan Samuelson, and Jeff Wallace for their leadership. Please take a walk and enjoy the beauty downtown. I also want to thank our Community Recreation and Events team for setting up the dedication stage and sound system. You guys rock!
Throughout my time as mayor, I’m continuously learning how to be a better partner to the development community. A meeting this week showed how our communication could improve to prevent misunderstandings. Being clearer can help save time and frustration, and our team received their message loud and clear. Both the municipal team and the developers want Cheyenne to be a place where development flourishes. Collectively, I’m sure we can make that happen.
I have spoken about the private-public partnership called the Enhanced Use Lease for some time now. It will be a housing and commercial development located where the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) park and ride is currently located off Happy Jack Road. It was announced that a local company, Coldwell Banker, won the right to negotiate the lease with the Air Force. I’m excited that we are finally at the point where this development can get underway.
Searing Industries is an advanced manufacturing company located in the Swan Ranch Business Park. They built their first plant dedicated to making steel beams and pipes ten years ago. This week we dedicated a 47,000-square-foot addition that will allow them to manufacture smaller tubes for the industry. Lee Searing and his family love the secret of our business environment. Lee not only invests in his manufacturing plants, but he also builds housing to guarantee his employees have safe places for their families. He is an exceptional businessman, and his continued investment is appreciated.
Vigilant Guard (VG) was an amazing thing to watch this week! So that you know, VG is a disaster response exercise designed to stress our ability to respond to the maximum. By stressing our local capabilities beyond the breaking point, we must look to our neighbors and federal partners. Vigilant Guard simulates the worst day possible in Wyoming—tornados, civil unrest, rail car derailment releasing gas, mass casualty active shooter, communities cut off by flooding, and so much more spread over the whole state. The National Guard invited me to watch Wednesday’s activities, starting with a civil unrest demonstration at the Archer Events Center. Food shortage caused a riot, and the Laramie County Sheriff asked for help. The National Guard’s Quick Response Force supported local law enforcement and controlled the situation.
Early afternoon I saw a simulated active shooter in Powell High School. We flew a C-130 to witness the events and watched how the emergency management teams handled the carnage of the event. Ambulances, air evacuation helicopters, both private and military, and first responders from everywhere collaborated to handle the situation. There was also a radiological event as part of the crisis, and the Region 7 hazmat team was called in to clean up the school.
We flew home and visited the headquarters of the Wyoming Homeland Security Department. The basement bristled with folks from all over the region. My big takeaway from the exercise is that our partnerships are critical to handling these emergencies, and practicing helps show our vulnerabilities and allows us to plan better for the future.
One pleasant surprise from this exercise was the inclusion of a Tunisian contingent. Their pilots helped fly the C-130 and Blackhawk helicopters. They had members help with the Region 7 hazmat cleanup, and their leadership saw how our civilian and military would work together during a disastrous situation. I sat next to the Chief of Staff of the Tunisian Air Force at dinner that night. Our partnership with Tunisia is a beautiful way to break down barriers and create friendships. I am looking forward to visiting Tunisia someday, very soon!
We held our second focus group with employees from every department to discuss a proposal to create a wellness program. I appreciate the candor we received for the questions asked. My goal is to give our employees the tools they need to understand their health; getting their blood work done, visiting the doctor, dentist, and getting an eye exam annually. Paying for these services will give them the information they need to make good future health decisions. We have a lot of work ahead of us as we design something simple and easy enough to encourage our employees to participate. I really want our employees to retire happy and healthy so they live long enough to enjoy their pensions.
Early in the week, I was invited to lunch by an old friend from Laramie. Wyoming Independent Living was cooking hamburgers and educating folks on their mission to help people live in a world without barriers. I learned that 19 percent of Cheyenne’s population has some disability. This group helps people identify and overcome barriers so they can live independently. I enjoyed the burger and Amy and Erwin’s passion for the folks they serve.
I am privileged to serve on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Policy Committee. Tom Mason has led our MPO for over 33 years, and Thursday was his last meeting. He is heading into a well-deserved retirement. There are not many roads in our community he did not help design or other important projects he helped with, like the greenway and the historic depot restoration. I wish Tom a long and wonderful retirement!
This weekend we celebrate Juneteenth across our nation. Local celebrations will be held at Martin Luther King Park on Saturday from 8 to 4 p.m. Please join me and many others as we celebrate this special day locally. I pray the rain stays away!
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