The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – May 13 | News
Mother’s Day was a big hit at our house with our son from Utah surprising his mom with a visit. It was great to have our two sons home with their better halves. We didn’t do much but having a full house was great. Being an empty nest is too quiet.
I received comments this week that my illustration of taxpayer dollars required to pay our firefighters was seen as a dig against our firefighters. My illustration was meant to show the income challenges we face in the city. I love our firefighters and firmly believe that they deserve every dollar we pay them. I apologize for not having clearly communicated my intention.
Last week it was all about the budget. Our Treasurer, Robin Lockman, and I presented the Mayor’s proposed budget last week. Since that time, we spend every lunch hour with our departments sharing their budgets with the city council. It’s great to see our department managers share department highlights and then discuss our budget for our next fiscal year which begins July 1, 2022. I’m proud of our team and how they’ve prepared their budgets, and how they shared their visions with our city council.
I was invited to a meeting at the historic depot to meet a few people from the Union Pacific Railroad. We discussed plans for the 15th Street Rail Experience and how we could partner to make it happen. I appreciate their willingness to meet and look for ways to work together. The 15th Street project will be an incredible tourist attraction and I can’t wait to see the first phase completed.
When I was elected, one of the first goals I shared with our staff was my desire to update our computer software. The COVID pandemic has shown us that our computer software does not allow our residents to do business with us online as much as they should. We spent the next few months reviewing our upgrade needs and options. The answer seems to be a company called OpenGov. I met with one of the founders to discuss our needs and his company’s ability to meet them. I was impressed by his honesty of their strengths and weaknesses. We will have a council business session in a few weeks to get the full OpenGov story.
The House held its May military luncheon last Friday. The highlight of the luncheon is the Military Affairs Committee presenting the Cheyenne Award to the top groups from the 90th Missile Wing, Army Guard and Air Guard. The 790th Missile Security Force Squadron, 115th Field Artillery Brigade and 243rd Air Traffic Control Squadron were the well-deserved winners. The army and the city have grown together and I love how close we have become.
I received some good news regarding the Hynds building last Friday afternoon. One of the groups I’ve worked with is closer to adapting a project to our historic building. I’m encouraged that they feel the building is a perfect match for their vision and they just need to work on the historic and federal tax credits to make it work. I know we’ve been here before, but this one is different.
Tacos & Tequila is a fundraiser for the Comea Shelter. Judy and I joined Councilor Segrave and his wife Ann in supporting our homeless shelter. A few highlights for me were the incredible amount of money that was raised and having dinner with a man named Patrick. Patrick is homeless and lives on the streets of Cheyenne. Robin convinced him to publicly share his story of being in the Navy and being homeless. I really liked Patrice. He was smart and easy to talk to. A hip injury in the Navy caused him to use painkillers which became addictive. Patrick looks forward to the new Comea Stages Center where people like him can get off the streets and work on sobriety. I think it will.
I’ve watched Craig Culver advertise his restaurant on TV for years. On Monday, I had the chance to meet him at the grand opening of their new restaurant on Lincolnway. He shared that they are now in 28 states and have over 800 restaurants. I appreciate how their project helped clean up the old crumbling pizzeria and modernize the whole area. I also have a new favorite lunch; their fish is amazing and not just for Fridays.
The City’s Historic Preservation Council is a group that works to preserve Cheyenne’s history. On Tuesday, I joined their meeting to thank them for their service to our community and to read a proclamation declaring May National Historic Preservation Month. Cheyenne has so many beautiful historic buildings. I appreciate having a group that keeps these buildings in mind.
Carter Napier is the city manager of Casper. We have been meeting regularly for a year. I see Casper not as a competitor, but as a community that we can work with together. We have spent time this week working on how to approach the interim matters posed by the Legislature. We’re meeting the six biggest cities next week and I wanted to get a head start on the conversation.
I love the painted boots that are all over our town. While our municipal building was closed, I spent a few months working in an office at the depot and marveled at the visitors who posed for pictures near the boots. We now have a new boot in town. The hospital added a boot to our collection, and we unveiled it on Wednesday afternoon. Chad Blakely, an art teacher at South High School, was tasked with capturing the hospital and the workers who have served our community for 160 years now. He did an excellent job.
We’ve all been following the Thomas Heights flooding issues. I met with our municipal engineer, Tom Cobb, to discuss the flood mitigation plan there. Gene MacDonald and Kelly Hafner are drainage engineers who worked on the solution. They briefed me on the solution and the partners we will need to recruit to permanently resolve the flooding affecting our county neighbors to the east. I like the plan and will now get to work on getting the team together. I shared with our team that we did not cause the problems, but we are responsible for fixing them. We are taking care of it.
The Day of Giving has been a Cheyenne institution for quite some time. This is a multi-day event where people can donate to help those less fortunate in our community. The Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) volunteered for Youth Day on Thursday. I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff people were bringing to the Kiwanis Community House as donations. Last year Youth Day saw eight tons of donations and I would be shocked if this year didn’t measure up. Food, clothing and personal care products will make such a difference to our nonprofit organizations that benefit from Giving Day.
If you have a question for me, send it to [email protected] I will continue to answer them in my next column of the minute of the mayor.