CHEYENNE – As part of the promotion process at our police department, along with the testing, verbal interviews, and review of accomplishments; you are assigned a project to research and write a paper telling the chief how you would solve it. I love this deep dive to find solutions to problems we are having in Cheyenne. For the Sergeant’s promotion, property crime is the problem the five candidates are working to solve. I had two of the candidates interview me on the subject, and I am excited to see what they come up with. I can tell you the quality of our candidates gives me comfort with the future leaders of our department.
Last Friday (Sept. 10), we had a work session of the City Council. These are opportunities for the council to get an in-depth discussion on topics we need to work on. This session was called Act or React-Cheyenne’s water supply. In the west, water is the most valuable thing. We have a very complicated water system with water coming from all over this part of Wyoming to service our city. We found water rights that had not been purchased in the Little Snake Drainage, that is part of the Colorado River drainage. For decades, this purchase has served Cheyenne with excellent water supplies. Today, Lake Mead and Lake Powell are almost empty, and there is a risk to the water we get from this drainage from a curtailment imposed on water users. This could have a serious effect on the amount of water we have for domestic uses. The Board of Public Utilities (BOPU) gave us an update on the situation and how they are reacting to the situation. Our planning staff updated us on how they are looking at our Unified Development Code (UDC) to change our development codes to help Cheyenne use less water on things like landscaping. Around a third of our water is used on watering landscaping, parks, and golf courses in Cheyenne. I like that our BOPU and Planning Departments are acting to be ready for the future. We need to pray for snow this winter to start filling up Lakes Mead and Powell.
Cruise Night has become a big event here in Cheyenne most every Saturday night. Cool cars bring crowds to downtown, and while there, support a different non-profit each week. Last Saturday (Sept. 11th), My Front Door was the recipient of the largess of the cruisers. Another big deal was the visit of Sam Mahdavi, from Sam’s Garage, and Lokar Classic Car Show. He and his crew came to shoot the cruise night, highlight Cheyenne, and share the story with the nation on Motor Trend TV, RevN, and Mav TV. I got a chance to meet him and do a small interview. They loved Cheyenne and are coming back next year to see the Daddy of ‘em All.
The Wild West Air Show is an annual event put on by the 153rd Air Lift Wing at our local airport. It is a two-day event that highlights historic airplanes and showcases some amazing aerobatic planes and pilots. It was a blast. On Saturday, at least 4,500 folks showed up to enjoy all the show had to offer. For me the highlight was the B-17. I read a book about the 8th Air Force in World War II, called Masters of the Air. The B-17 was a big part of our winning the war. It was amazing to crawl into it and envision them flying at 35,000 feet in negative 35-degree weather over Germany and back. I was honored to give a welcome on Sunday and hope you will make time next year to attend. Thank you to Lt. Jeremiah Singleton, Max McMillan, and Codiann Moritz for the invite and for the tour of the historic planes.
We swore in three new firefighters on Monday morning. I swear they look so young. My better guess is I am getting so old. Anyway, it was great to see young folks stepping up to serve our community and our fire department is a great place to do it. We are holding a fire academy for our firefighters, and some are coming from other cities like Laramie. It is nice to see how well we are all collaborating to train the next generation of firefighters. My guess is they are sore after the first week of physical training.
I met with our legal department, compliance department, and building department to discuss blighted and distressed properties in our city. It is my opinion that the way you support neighborhoods and good neighbors is holding bad ones accountable to our nuisance and zoning rules. Having old cars rusting on the lawn, weeds that are taller than a first grader, and dangerous buildings must be remedied. I appreciate personal property rights, but when you live in a city you must follow the health and safety rules. We are working on our strategy for how to move forward.
The city took over the animal control functions in partnership with our county partners at the beginning of this month. The Cheyenne Animal Shelter decided to discontinue the service when they lost their control officers. In about 10 days, Eric Fountain from our compliance department, hired officers and got the animal control service up and running without a missed day of service. We will be providing services Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I am proud of Eric and his work to make sure we have animal control services. I am also happy that we seem to have worked out a deal in concept to continue to partner with the Cheyenne Animal Shelter to house the animals we pick up. They are so good at sheltering and taking care of our dogs and cats, its great we can continue our 48-year relationship.
Wyoming Parks Service has a really cool program, that I think could be a game changer for southeast Wyoming. They have helped create five collaborative groups in different parts of the state that will work together to increase the outdoor recreation opportunities. Tuesday, we had a three hour zoom meeting to decide if we want to create one for Laramie, Albany, and Carbon counties. After hearing the benefits of the collaborative approach, I am all in to participate. My hope is we will see the Belvoir Ranch recreational opportunities developed and to create more opportunities for our residents and guests to enjoy.
I had a great lunch on Tuesday with Councilmen Tom Segrave and Pete Laybourn. It is nice to catch up and talk about projects they want to work on. I have two pages of notes on things we need to do. Thanks to Tom for buying lunch, my turn next time.
Former Cheyenne Mayor Jack Spiker started the Mayor’s Youth Council back in his day. I am happy to continue the Youth Council. We meet the day after every city council meeting. It is fun to ask for their impression of what happened during the meeting and to discuss my version. They are young but have a really good grasp of what is happening, and I love that they have opinions and are not afraid to share them. Jan Spires has been the city sponsor of the Youth Council for many years and has done a great job of mentoring the group. She is retiring from Youth Alternatives and the Youth Council. Jan and I graduated high school together and her retiring is making me feel old (Firefighters and now Jan). Devyan Paiz is taking over and will be great.
The City of Cheyenne is a very important part of Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD). The City’s Police Department, Fire Department, Sanitation, Public Works, Community Recreation, City Clerk, BOPU, Planning, Engineering, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), and of course your Mayor play a role in CFD. We met with the CFD committee to talk about what went well and how we can improve for next year’s show. I have over four pages of notes that we will use to revisit these issues next spring to make sure the suggestions get implemented. The City is important to CFD, and CFD is important to the City.
The MPO is funded by the federal government and is charged with making sure we have good plans for the future of our transportation system. The members are Ralph Tarango from WYDOT, Troy Thompson from the Laramie County Commission, and your Mayor. We met on Wednesday to approve the budget and review the plans for the upcoming year. We also got to hear from WYDOT, the County, and City on projects we can expect in the coming year. I will give a list of next year’s projects as we get closer to the construction season. With our growth, we have good plans to make sure our roads can handle what we know is coming.
We met with our department directors on Thursday morning. One big topic I wanted to discuss is our legislative priorities for next year’s legislative session. What happens at the capitol really does make a difference for the 99 cities and towns in Wyoming. We went around the table to get updates on what’s going on. I can tell you after two hours, our staff is busy working to make your City better.
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.