The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – September 23rd
Published on September 23, 2022
CHEYENNE –My week started off with an assurance that our future generations are going to be alright. The Wyoming Air National Guard held a Discovery Day for middle and high school students. It was a stem-oriented event that was attended by hundreds of students from Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado. I was so impressed by the booths and the way the students were engaged with the technology. Speaking with the students gives me so much hope for their future success. Nice job Wyoming Air Guard.
I am excited by the possibility that a local development group will win the award from the Air Force to develop the Enhanced Use Lease lands. The property is located on the Frontier Days offsite parking lot. I envision hundreds of apartments that will house our military members and community, along with a fun assortment of commercial businesses. My hopes are getting higher after a meeting I had with a couple of developers who have decided to join forces to make sure a local Wyoming company wins the business.
We are blessed in Cheyenne to have an amazing Symphony Orchestra. They held a gala on Saturday night to raise funds to support this amazing group of musicians. Judy and I enjoyed the music and bought a few things in the silent auction. I hope you all plan to see a show this season. I can’t wait to see the movie, “Home Alone” at the Civic Center, with the orchestra playing the music. See you there.
Councilman Laybourn has represented Ward 1 for years and been involved with our community his whole life. I enjoy our meetings, and we had another one this week. He just got back from a water conference and wanted to share what he learned. We have so much more we can do to be more water efficient. He was also concerned with residents who just don’t want to be good neighbors, too many unlicensed cars, garbage in the yards, uncut weeds, and abandoned homes. We talked about what tools we currently have, and what tools we need to create to help mitigate these issues. I appreciate Pete’s passion.
With the inflationary pressures we are currently seeing in our economy, I am increasingly concerned about how the least fortunate in our community will afford housing. I have made it a goal to recruit companies that will build affordable housing. Overland Property Group is one that has answered my calls and is very interested in our market. I have been getting educated on how these kinds of projects are financed, and what I found is disappointing. To provide housing for folks in the 80% AMI and lower, it takes tax credits to make the deals. In Wyoming, we only get $3.1 million a year for the whole state. This means we might get 40 apartments in Cheyenne every year or two. With thousands of units needed, it is discouraging when I do the math. As I learn more about the subject, we will need to find every asset to make a difference.
When Bryan Pedersen was a young legislator, he had the opportunity to get involved in a group that took young leaders and gave them opportunities to grow and learn about the world. Now he is paying it forward by sponsoring young leaders from Southeast Asia to come to Cheyenne and work for a bit, in their specialized fields. We have a young man from South Korea who is a planner, and he is now helping in our city’s planning department. What a great opportunity for these young people! I think the best thing about these programs is the opportunity to get people of different cultures to work together and get to know one another, to break down the prejudices that currently plague our world. I enjoyed meeting them and wish them a great experience while here in Cheyenne.
I attended the LEADS board meeting this week. It is exciting to learn about what is happening in the economic development business. It is always flattering when a new business looks for opportunities in Cheyenne. That is definitely the case with the meat packing plant that made a proposal to locate a $1.1 billion facility in the Swan Ranch Business Park. I think it is important to look closely at every opportunity as they are hard to come by. Today I attended a meeting with the Wyoming Business Council and LEADS to discuss the proposed meat packing plant. I shared my real concerns at the plant’s requirements for 3000-acre feet of water per year, and how we would handle the housing for the proposed 2500 new employees. In the end we determined the meat packing plant would not be a good fit for Cheyenne and Wyoming. We just don’t have the infrastructure to support this business venture. By the way, 3000 acre-feet of water is 977,550,000 gallons of water a year.
Sources of Strength is a new program for Laramie County School District #1 that is aimed at giving our students eight pillars of strength. These pillars are designed to help our kids be mentally strong to combat suicide and bullying. The peer-to-peer part of getting students to support each other has been proven in many places across the nation. We have talked about the struggles many kids have in school and I applaud LCDS1 for this innovative program. It is my hope that we will see the program expand from the schools to across our city. We all can help make our city a better place to live, work and play.
We are so close to breaking ground for our three new fire stations. We are scheduled to get the shovels out on October 5 for the first groundbreaking at the Converse location. There are always a few details that come up at the last minute. However, Chief Kopper and I met this week to deal with some, including easements to make sure our new neighbors have proper access to their sites. A year from now we will be cutting ribbons for our new locations and seeing an improved safety response for our city. Thank you again voters for your support of this important program.
Matt Crossman is a writer for Mountain Law magazine. I met him during Frontier Days, and he called to interview me about cowboy hats. I had a blast as we laughed at our experiences. I wore a cowboy hat for the first time during the 125th CFD at the Coronation Ball. I definitely felt a bit out of place with a beautiful cowboy hat on my head for the first time. I was also amazed at how quickly I came to love it. Today, I own three cowboy hats and always look for opportunities to wear them. Matt had a similar experience this year when he bought his first hat while covering CFD. I enjoyed the interview and can’t wait to read the article.
I was supposed to film a PSA with Superintendent Crespo on making sure our kids arrive safely to school and reminding our drivers to pay attention to pedestrians. It was postponed due to the rain, but I wanted to talk about it for a brief minute. We have had so many calls in the past few days with folks concerned about pedestrian safety. Quite a few people shared with my office the close calls with students, cyclists, and cars that they have witnessed in the past few weeks. Please take a minute to reflect on your driving habits. Are you distracted? In a hurry? We recently witnessed the horrific tragedy when a driver is distracted, and I would appreciate everyone taking a minute and committing to good driving behaviors.
If you have a question for me, send it to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer them in the following Mayor’s Minute column.