The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – August 18th
Published on August 18, 2023
CHEYENNE – This has been one of the toughest and most emotional weeks of my term as your mayor. Unfortunately, we’ve recently lost two valued members of our team. Aaron Booker served Cheyenne for almost 20 years as a firefighter. One thing I have learned is firefighters have a higher cancer rate than the general public. Fighting fires exposes firefighters to carcinogens, and Aaron was unfortunately one of those who contracted a fatal cancer. Aaron had two families: his wife Courtney and their children, and his Cheyenne Fire Rescue (CFR) family. CFR firefighters live together for 48-hour shifts with 96 hours off, all year long. You can imagine the closeness of the members of his fire family. Aaron served Cheyenne, but so did his family who had to do so many things we take for granted without him while he was on duty in the fire station. My heart aches for both his families as we will say goodbye to Aaron at his funeral on Saturday.
Cathyleen Rice worked in the mayor’s office as our public information officer. Her office was just a couple steps from mine. She missed work on Monday and a wellness check found she had passed away sometime over the weekend. Cat had been with us for a year now and was one of the most energetic and sassy people I have ever worked with. She was just 29 years old and loved by those of us who worked with her. She came to us from the southeast and I loved the way she embraced our western lifestyle during Frontier Days. Boots, jeans, and cowboy hat. There has been lots of tears and sadness along with funny stories told in the office. It has been a hard week and I would ask for your prayers for Aaron and Cathyleen and their families.
Last Friday I traveled to Casper to attend the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Recreation legislative interim committee meeting. One of the topics on their agenda was the opportunity to make the Cheyenne Arboretum a State Park. I wanted the committee members to know the city is all in for a partnership to save the historic trees on the Arboretum and improve the visitor experience. They heard testimony and put off the decision on sponsoring a bill until October when the State Parks folks will have a budget prepared for the potential park. I called Carter Napier, the Casper city manager, to have lunch before the committee meeting. I love getting to hang out and learn from someone with so much experience running a city.
Judy and I volunteered to pour beer for Fridays on the Plaza. It was finally a beautiful night for our concert series. I served the ready-to-drink beverages like White Claw and malt margaritas. I am still amazed how many drinks we served in the three hours we worked. The crowd was great and well mannered, and the music was so much fun. I am really proud of our city team that puts on this concert series. It is a lot of work but when we see the smiles on the faces in the crowd, it makes it worth the cost and effort.
I don’t have much time for golf these days, but I did get out a couple of times this week. Saturday, I played in the city’s employee golf tournament with Judge Ross, Judge Jeffrey, and city engineer Tom Cobb. It was a blast and I hit the ball well for not having played in a long time. The Airport Golf Course was in amazing shape and my complements to our staff. I am sure the rain has helped. Tuesday was the LEADS annual golf tournament. Keith Zabka, Commissioner Gunnar Malm, and Board of Public Utilities (BOPU) Director Brad Brooks were my teammates. I came back to earth with the golf swing, but the day was perfect and so was the company. I need to find more time to swing the clubs.
Jean Vetter is our greenway planner. She has been working so hard to acquire the right-of-way to allow a greenway segment from College Drive to the new Kiwanis Park. Just over two miles along the railroad tracks. We had another closing for a land swap that almost completes our needed right-of-way. I am so appreciative of the many folks who see the vision and have helped our process by selling, trading, and giving us the land we need to make this greenway happen. You guys rock!!
We held another 7:00 a.m. LEADS board meeting this week. So early, but so interesting to learn about the different businesses and industries looking at Cheyenne for locating new jobs. Four new data center companies have contacted LEADS with interest in Cheyenne in the past month. We have built quite a reputation in the industry as a great place to site a data center. I know so much more needs to be done, but their interest gives me hope of diversifying our local economy and continuing to build our technology sector.
We have a city council goal of opening the Belvoir Ranch to our residents by building a trail system for hiking and biking. Our focus has been to connect our ranch trails to the trails Colorado built around the Big Hole. Unfortunately, we need to cross the Union Pacific Railroad to connect the two systems and they have not been willing to allow that to happen. Wednesday I toured the ranch with Todd Thibodeau who has a vision to create a robust trail system on the ranch side of the tracks while we wait for the railroad. We spent two hours driving and walking his 16 miles of proposed trails. I can’t tell you how excited I am for implementing his vision. The ranch has so many bluffs and beautiful draws that will make for great trails. I am so excited to share the maps and vision with the city council and the public. This is something we can get done right away giving our resident access to their ranch.
Our Technology Taskforce sponsored Cyber Cheyenne on Thursday at LCCC. Cyber attacks happen at the rate of one every few seconds in America. The task force, led by Summer Wasson, wanted to highlight the risks and what we should be doing to protect our valuable data, both privately and in the workplace. An amazing list of presenters shared best practices and how we need to take cyber security seriously. Billions of dollars are stolen from individuals and businesses every year. I hope this is just the beginning of the conversation in our community on the subject.
The 243rd ATC Squadron held a ribbon cutting for the new Cheyenne Airport Radar Approach Control Facility (RAPCON) on the airport on Thursday. This $35 million facility will help make our airport safer and give our controllers the tools they need to better do their jobs. The 243rd has worked hard to find equipment not being used in the DOD and finding a way to get it transferred to Cheyenne. This new facility is so much higher tech than the one I visited last year. This kind of ingenuity has earned the Red-Tailed Hawk squadron numerous awards in the past few years. Thanks for making our airport safer.
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer them in my following Mayor’s Minute column.