CHEYENNE – Last Friday was one of the darkest since I have been elected Mayor. We lost 13-year-old Makaili Evans to a tragic accident on his way to McCormick Jr. High School. Judy and I are heartbroken by the loss, and send our condolences and prayers to the family, McCormick students and staff, and those who knew and loved Makaili. I so appreciate the first responders who worked to save his life. Life is precious! We are reminded to cherish and love those around us. I have been asked what the city is doing to make sure this does not happen again. I have met with the school district, police, and city engineer to understand the issues and learn what we can do. I do know we need to drive carefully and without distractions, especially in our school zones.
We met with the developer of the Hitching Post again this past week. The buildings are almost all down, and the planning for the new buildings are well underway. We are also platting the city property next to the ice and events center so we can develop that property in the future.
We held our second work session on the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act money to discuss what our engineering, planning, and board of public utilities have prioritized as their asks for the money. We have one more session left and then the city council will start the decision-making process on how to invest these dollars. Engineering asked for funds to update software and money for maintenance of the Pump House Wetlands. Planning asked for software updates, funding to mothball the Pump House, and money to create a new parks master plan. Our last master plan for parks was done in 2006. The Board of Public Utilities (BOPU) shared 11 projects they would like help with.
The Pokes won on Saturday, and Judy and I were there to cheer them on. It has been a couple years since we attended a game, and it was a blast to watch our beloved Pokes beat CSU. The bronze boot is home where it should be.
I spent a few hours on Monday talking with different departments about pay. It seems that inflation in wages has made it harder to hire and keep our valuable employees. We had some very good presentations that did a great job of showing the need. The governing body will have some tough decisions in the coming budget discussions.
The Laramie County Community Needs Assessment is done every three years. Amy Speiker from the hospital and many others are working on this edition. We had a great lunch at the library and heard an update on their progress. The needs assessment is a systematic examination of our health indicators for Laramie County. They identify the big problems, and the people and assets that can solve them. I love statistics, and they spent an hour giving them to us. We will meet again on December 7th to hear the results.
Dr. Margaret Crespo is our new Superintendent of Laramie County School District 1 (LCSD1). We got together again to talk about her first 100 days, and all the ways we work together. I shared our concerns with finding gym space to run our recreation sports programs, especially since the district eliminated most grade school sports. We collaborate well in so many areas, and it is wonderful that they want to meet regularly to just talk. One big takeaway is her request for parents of school kids to take it easy on our teachers. They have been under so much pressure, and really need a break.
A 4,000-seat events center would be awesome for Cheyenne. I spoke with the group trying to build one in our great city. As you can imagine, there are many challenges, and they are trying to navigate all of them. What I can report is they are hard at it, and optimistic about the success it would find in Cheyenne.
I shared my appreciation for the great support our Sixth Penny received in our last election. The only disappointment was the failure of the gymnastics proposition. It passed in the city, but lost when those outside the city voted no. I met with our recreation staff and a couple of council members to see if we could find a way to build it. We have a couple of ideas to share with the governing body that may save the gymnastics program. Fingers crossed.
Laramie County Community College (LCCC) is growing and has become a real college campus. Tuesday night I joined a group to say thank you to Art and Carol Merrell for their financial support of the new Merrell Student Activity Lounge on campus. It is a great space, with computer terminals that the new E-Sports teams use to compete against other colleges. While we were there, the E-Sports team won their 26th match of the year. The generosity of the Merrell’s and our community is a constant and pleasant surprise.
I had lunch with our police chief on Wednesday. It was great to catch up and make sure he still loves his choice to move from Kansas City to Cheyenne. I can report, no regrets. He loves it! We discussed staffing, abandoned vehicles, building remodels, traffic safety, recruitment, and the fun personal stuff you share with friends. I truly love our staff.
I had a tough realization on Sunday evening while preparing for our city council meeting. I was reading about a homeland security grant we received while listening to the news about the Biden Administration vaccine requirement that all employers with 100 employees must follow. It hit me that our city has over 500 employees and we may be caught up in this requirement. I met with legal staff on Wednesday to learn what our responsibilities are, and what the potential time frames could be. I love our employees and will do whatever is required to make sure they are secure in their jobs.
Last meeting of this week involved how we can help COMEA with their efforts to serve the homeless community. We are working collaboratively with our partners to try to acquire a low barrier shelter for those not ready for sobriety. We are not there yet, but I like the direction our discussions are going. I know our city council is ready to support this effort, and I am proud of the folks working with our homeless population.
I would like to recognize and thank the veterans in our community. I have shared with you my awe that young men and women raise their right hand, and volunteer to serve our nation, knowing they may see a shot fired in anger. We are so blessed by their service which gives us the ability to live in a free society. 10 percent of the folks living in Laramie County have served our nation, thank you for your service!
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com.