The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – March 25th
Published on March 25, 2022
CHEYENNE – It has been a very busy week. I love being busy, it makes the days fly by. It is a happy time with daylight savings time finally starting again. I live for the warm sunshine. I find it gives me so much energy and a more positive outlook on the world. Golf season is just a few weeks away, my mental health seems to improve with a club in my hand!
We did something we have not done since being elected mayor; I signed an ordinance in a public setting. The governing body passed the bias crimes ordinance and I wanted to sign it publicly. As mayor, I do not get to participate in the discussions during the meeting. Robert’s Rules require me to run the meeting and hold my opinions. This public signing gave me a chance to articulate my support and thank folks for getting it done. I believe it will be the most important ordinance I will sign in my term as mayor. It is an important message to send to the world, Cheyenne is open for business. Employers that bring a business, workers that choose to move here, and folks that live here -- we will protect you from the kinds of harassment outlined in the ordinance. It was a chance to show some leadership to the state and other municipalities. It was also a chance for me to thank our city council for their leadership in taking on a tough subject. It is done and it is my hope the message is clear, Cheyenne is a great place to live, work, and play.
More Hynds Building news. I had a follow-up with the Neenan Group. They are partnering on a project that will bring affordable housing to this historic building that has been empty for 40 years. They are excited about the project and the possibilities Cheyenne and the Hynds have to offer. More good news, we have at least five groups looking at the Hynds, it is time to get this building renovated and back to life.
We held a city council work session on the impacts of community health. Dr. Amy Spieker and Josh Hannes from the hospital, educated the city council on things that impact our community health and best practices for things we could choose to do to improve the outcomes. Things like zoning, mixed use developments, collecting good data, helping make childcare available and affordable, asking for input from diverse groups, and promoting relationships and interactions that are shown to improve health were some of the recommendations. It is interesting how decisions we make as a governing body can have lasting impacts on incomes and health outcomes for decades. It is a sobering thing we need to keep in mind as we make what seem like routine decisions.
I like to fish but have never fly fished. My jam has been bass fishing for a while now. Fly fishing looks like fun, but I just have never found the time to learn. Saturday night I attended the Platte River Veteran’s Fly Fishing Banquet as a guest of my friend Dave Smith. This group is dedicated to taking veterans fishing. Their motto is “The Water Holds No Scars”. Getting folks into the water and fishing is therapeutic for the vets and helps them deal with the physical and mental costs of their service. I was amazed at the number of volunteers and vets who make this program go. Navy Seal Lt. Jason Redman was horribly wounded in Iraq and shared his story and inspirational message of “getting off the x”. This community of Cheyenne continues to inspire me with the way they give back. I won a fly rod, so next step is a lesson and some healing water time.
Cheyenne and F.E. Warren Air Force Base are getting ready for the impact of the upgrade of our missile system. Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) is coming, and it is going to change our community for at least a decade. Monday morning, I joined the first mayor’s call between the three communities that will have the missile upgrade happen on their bases. Minot, North Dakota and Great Falls, Montana are scheduled to follow Cheyenne with GBSD implementation. We are the first, and the goal was to compare notes and find ways to collaborate. Dale Steenbergen from the Chamber was invaluable in letting the other communities know what to expect and things they should be doing today to get ready. In the next three years, this project will be ramping up and we will be seeing a huge amount of activity. I appreciate the Chamber getting us ready.
We have all heard of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) supercomputer located in the North Range Business Park. It is one of the fastest computers in the world and is dedicated to studying earth systems. This research will help scientists understand severe weather, climate change, water availability, wildfires, predict weather events, air quality, renewable energy, and solar storms. Our current supercomputer is named Cheyenne and is scheduled to be replaced next year. The new computer can perform 19.87 quadrillion calculations per second, 3.5 times faster than the current Cheyenne model. Summer Wasson is a member of our Community Technology Advisory Council. Summer and Gary New from NCAR took us on the tour. It is an amazing place, and I am proud to have them in Cheyenne.
From the supercomputer we went to visit VMAccel. Darrick Horton is the CEO and the entrepreneur that has perfected a new way for datacenters to operate. In the entry of the offices, they have a TV immersed in a liquid material. The TV operates normally! They do the same thing with the computer servers, immerse them in this proprietary liquid that does not conduct electricity. This allows for a very effective cooling system that lowers the cost of operating data centers. By removing the cooling fan, you can save over 20 percent of the electricity required to run the server. It was weird to see millions of dollars of servers immersed in liquid, but they have it figured out and are now looking to grow the concept to the larger datacenter footprint. I have learned so much since getting elected about the amazing folks diversifying our economy and building the tech and manufacturing economies in Cheyenne.
Back to the budget. Dr. Kathy Emmons is the director of the Cheyenne/Laramie County Health Department (CLCHD). They have been so very busy during the Covid pandemic, so now it is time to get back to looking at how they can make our communities healthier. I learned the department was started in the 1940’s as part of a national effort to help the growing populations of poor. Their ask this year is $1,049,967, an increase of $92,394 from last year. State cuts have meant the city and county will have to shoulder a bit more of the costs. We contract with CLCHD to do restaurant and other inspections related to health and safety. They also provide family planning services, maternal and child health care, and public health nursing. I don’t know where we would have been during the pandemic without them.
The Kiwanis Club has been serving and making a difference in Cheyenne for 100 years now. To celebrate and acknowledge this epic anniversary, they have been looking for a legacy project. We met to discuss their interest in helping develop our new East Community Park. There is still more to figure out, but they are planning a substantial financial donation to help jumpstart the park and obligating themselves to helping make sure the park is beautiful for years to come. In typical Kiwanis fashion, they celebrate by finding a service project.
I talk all the time about how the city and county work together. State law requires the city to redraw our ward boundaries after every census. County Clerk Debra Lee called to schedule a meeting where we can collaborate all our efforts. Using GIS to map the areas really helped us to see the work that needs to be done. The legislature finished so late this year that we are going to be stressed to get this done by the time folks register to run for office starting May 12th. I love our partnerships.
We have a new liquor license to issue due to our city growth. We had six amazing presentations that are all worthy of getting this lone license. You can watch each presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlyegE6MkVE. I am out of space this week, so I will update these and the next five applicants next week.
Enjoy the sunshine.
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.