Mayor Patrick Collins mug.jpg

Mayor Patrick Collins

Last weekend was a busy one for our family. Judy and I went to Littleton, Colorado, to watch the musical “Carousel” outdoors at Hudson Gardens. The gardens were beautiful, and watching a show while seated in the grass was so much fun. It was a Christmas gift that took a couple of years due to the pandemic.

Sunday, we attended Steve Ganison’s installation as pastor of New Kingdom Church of God in Christ. He is a longtime city employee, and Judy and I enjoyed the four-hour service. Good luck, Pastor Ganison.

Monday morning, we had our first meeting to discuss potential employee pay raises. To make sure we are spending our limited funds wisely, no raises can be given without approval of the mayor, treasurer and HR director. Our employees have not had a raise in three budgets now. I hope our budget situation improves, as they sure deserve more.

I met with Dave Bartlett to discuss the new Coyote Ridge school again on Monday. This school will be located at the intersection of Carlson and Powderhouse Road. The cost of construction has gone way up, and we are working together to try to find a way to make the school happen. This one will house fifth and sixth graders from the Central triad.

The fire union stopped by on Monday. We have not been able to find agreement on a contract this year. When good people cannot agree, we look to a neutral arbitrator to help us make the decision. The city is looking to get management rights, and the union would like to keep what they have bargained for over the years. We really appreciate the skills of our firefighters.

Our City Council meeting Monday night was the longest we have had so far in my administration. I cannot believe how long our agendas have become since my council days. With a growing city, annexations, zone changes, plats and other ordinances and resolutions are to be expected. The biggest news from the meeting is the appointments of our Urban Renewal Board members. Thank you to Ken Dugas, Katye Brown, Ryan Whitehead, Chet Halvorson and Rob Graham for their willingness to serve. The Hitching Post is our first URA project, and I hope by the end of summer to have made progress on the site.

I helped cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Chase Bank branch on Tuesday. They are the largest bank in the USA, and it is a big deal that they have selected Cheyenne for the first branch in Wyoming. Welcome to the capital city.

Dr. Margaret Crespo, the new superintendent for Laramie County School District 1, stopped by to introduce herself on Tuesday. I found her to be very direct in her communication. I really value the partnership we have with LCSD1.

A great friend from high school was in town, and we had dinner Tuesday night. Brian and Penny Jo live in Mesa, Arizona, and I was laughing as they were cold in our 70-degree weather. It is amazing how you just pick up conversations with great friends.

The rest of this week was spent at the 65th annual Wyoming Association of Municipalities Summer Convention. WAM is made up of 98 cities and towns across the state. Wednesday morning, we played in the president’s golf tournament. It is a great time to visit with folks from other places. My team went bogey free and shot 5 under par. Not enough to win, but we had a blast. Thanks Joan, Mike and Brad for the fun morning.

I was so proud of our Botanic Gardens and the staff Wednesday evening. We had our welcoming reception there, and I wanted to show off our beautiful gardens. I received so many compliments on our people and the way the gardens looked. Food from The Metropolitan was delicious.

Thursday, we had our Region 1 meeting. It is made up of Laramie, Albany, Platte and Goshen County cities and towns. One thing that became really apparent is we all have the same problems and concerns. Housing, budget and lack of a workforce was reported from every city and town. We are hoping the state will not further cut our budgets, and we can start to get a handle on our financial futures.

Daniel Porter is a fraud investigator from Tennessee. He presented a program called “Was Radar O’Riley a Fraudster”? He educated us on the risk of fraud in municipal governments. It made me determined to make sure our internal controls are in place and regularly tested. I plan on interviewing our auditor to see if there are areas we need to improve. He scared the heck out of me.

I loved Doug Griffiths and his presentation “13 Ways to Kill your community.” He was very entertaining and imparted ways communities should be investing to keep themselves relevant. I took pages of notes and will order his book. I was happy that Councilman Laybourn and Councilwoman Aldrich were there to catch the message. I have a new way of thinking on a few items that I hope will make a difference for Cheyenne.

Laramie County Rep. Dan Zwonitzer joined Rep. Cathy Connolly and Rep. Albert Sommers to do a panel discussion on upcoming legislation. They also answered many questions on how the Legislature looks at funding municipal government. I appreciated their spending time with us. We have a lot of needs, and they helped me understand how to prepare for next year’s legislative session.

I stopped by the first Affordable Housing Task Force meeting on Thursday afternoon. I could not stay, as the WAM conference was in full swing, but I wanted to thank the members for their willingness to serve on this important task force. The members are so talented, I know we will find some ways to make a difference in our housing shortage. Brenda Birkle has agreed to lead the effort, and I know we are in good hands. Reports will be coming soon.

Thursday night, I skipped the banquet and headed out to the Neighborhood Night Out block parties across our city. I was able to hit a half a dozen of the parties. I so appreciate the folks who agreed to host these events. The goal is to get neighbors together and for our police department personnel to have a chance to meet them. I ate some great food and met so many nice people. The Valley Girls had me laughing.

This week, I have had many folks write with concerns about the homophobic T-shirt that was being sold at the Eagle’s Nest bar here in Cheyenne. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that anyone in Cheyenne would espouse thoughts like these, let alone put them on a shirt to sell. I know Cheyenne people to be loving and accepting, and this abhorrent episode is in no way reflective of our people. We are the capital city of The Equality State, and it is important to let our LGBTQ neighbors know we believe they are a valued part of our community.

If you have a question for me, send it to media@cheyennecity.org. I’ll continue to answer them in a future Mayor’s Minute column.

Patrick Collins is the mayor of Cheyenne.

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