The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – May 28th
Published on May 28, 2021
CHEYENNE – Last Saturday was a fun day. I started my day by joining Councilman Cook as an honorary starter for the Kinship Connections 5k run. It is a fundraiser for grandparents and others raising their grandchildren. Great cause and I was so impressed with the runners that came out to brave the cool weather and get some exercise. After the run started, I had breakfast with Commissioner Malm. I appreciate the County Commission. The members make it easy to work together. My heart goes out to him and his family on the recent loss of his father.
Last Saturday we also gathered to witness the Historic Airport Fountain being turned on for the first time in a while. The Historic Preservation Board took this project on and are very close to saving a piece of our history. They told a bit of the Airport history; I would recommend taking the time to read about it. Thanks to everyone that helped make this restoration happen.
Monday, I met the incoming base commander for lunch. Colonel Barrington will take command June 28th. The base and city were born on the same day, and we have a great partnership. It is her third time being stationed at the Mighty 90, and she and her family are so excited to take command. We talked housing, Frontier Days, and how we can work together in the future.
Monday night at our City Council meeting we had a robust discussion on the budget. We have a balanced budget at just over $54 million dollars. I think we are about done with the process and I am looking forward to the new fiscal year. The highlight of the meeting was the vote to make Chief John Kopper our permanent Fire Chief. He has been a real asset to our team, and I was happy to give him the job on a permanent basis.
Chief Francisco and I met with a local businessperson on Tuesday to discuss problems they are having with vandalism and stolen catalytic converters. It seems like these kinds of problems are happening other places in our city. Please keep your eyes open and call if you see something out of place. As a small businessman, these kinds of thefts are devastating.
I met with Baylie Evans from gBETA on Tuesday afternoon. She helps run a pre-accelerator program that helps five companies from around the state each year get ready to go out for venture capital investors. They give them an intensive six weeks of coaching to give them a leg up and a strong start. The hope is to build homegrown companies that will diversify our economy and create jobs for our future. Microsoft underwrites the costs of this program in Wyoming.
I had the privilege on Tuesday night of speaking with the Southeast Wyoming Builders Association. They are the group that is building Cheyenne and it was fun to spend time with them. We talked about the shortage of building materials and lots to build on, the lack of affordable housing, and the great things coming in Cheyenne’s future. I discussed the fees they pay and how we need to make sure we cover the cost of services. It was a good dinner and a great group.
Wednesday morning, we had a department director staff meeting. This is always a highlight for me. We take turns discussing what is going on in our departments and look for ways to help each other. As I was waiting to come into the meeting, you could hear them laughing and enjoying each other. It is a great team.
I shared with you a month ago about a trip I took to Wayne, Nebraska to visit an offsite housing construction factory. I was blown away by the process of building custom houses in a factory setting. Wednesday afternoon we had a meeting to start the process of building a similar factory here in Cheyenne. 120 to 250 employees at above average wages and getting homes built for our housing shortage would be amazing. I appreciate the partners at the Wyoming Business Council, Governor’s office, and Chamber of Commerce. We are just getting started, but in 30 months we hope to see houses coming down the assembly line.
One thing that has kept our office busy this week are the appointments for members of the Affordable Housing Task Force. We will be sending out a list of the folks that have agreed to help us find the best practices that will get more housing built in our city. You will start seeing reports in the next few months as we make progress.
Thursday morning, my wife Judy and I met with Mike Smith, the PR Chairman of Cheyenne Frontier Days and Jimmy Dean Siler, the General Chairman of CFD to discuss what the expectations they have for the Mayor during the Rodeo. We are so looking forward to supporting CFD and having a blast during the “Daddy of ‘em All”. Looks like I am going to be very, very busy. Can’t wait!
Another thing you all need to know about me is that I am afraid of heights and early mornings. I spent Thursday afternoon at the Airport as a guest of the Air National Guard touring the 243rd Air Traffic Control Squadron. Captain Dan Hochhalter is the commander of the group and his enthusiasm for his troops and job was amazing. This military group provides the air traffic control for Cheyenne’s airport, and they are ready to deploy anywhere in the world in 72 hours to provide the same services for the military. I can tell you the Red-Tailed Hawks rock! The nickname comes from “Tom” the red-tailed hawk that lands on the railing of the control tower. Back to my fear of heights, the view from the control tower is amazing, but I just could not go out on the balcony.
As we enter this Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to pause for a moment and remember our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen that have given their lives to build and protect our country. Our unique relationship with the military here in Cheyenne is a good reminder for me of all we have to be thankful for. Our city and the base were born on the same day and I am proud that we have grown up together.
This week’s question comes from Doug Peterson. His question was very long, but a big part of it involved what is happening at the Historic Hitching Post Inn.
The Hitch burned down a decade ago. We had another fire there in January. The remaining buildings are filled with asbestos and are an abandoned nightmare. Good news is we have a person interested in buying the buildings. I talk with him on a regular basis. He has plans for restaurants and entertainment along Lincolnway and 120 condo units in the area behind them. When you are working with hazardous buildings it takes time and we are making good progress. The City Council is working on creating an Urban Renewal Authority to help the city fight blighted areas. It could help the Hitch and other areas of our city like the downtown hole. I hope to see the purchasing process end in the next 120 days and the buildings start to be remediated. A prayer for our success would not hurt!
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.