This week, I met with our staff to discuss the transient problems downtown. We have a significant investment in our parking garage. The damage done is very expensive and the filth makes the garage less attractive to the citizens who need to park there.
The homeless population are human, and we need to treat them as such, but we cannot have the current situation continue. We will be working on two fronts. First, to try to find safe places for them to live, and second, to find ways to protect our investment in downtown. It is truly time for a community conversation on this issue.
We had our quarterly investment committee meeting this week. Two members of the committee are Patrick Fleming and Jeff Prince. These men are professionals who are experts in the investment field and give of their time to help our city financially. I am continually amazed by the volunteerism of our Cheyenne residents – 3,000 Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) volunteers, our Day of Giving, you name it. Way to go, Cheyenne!
We held a meeting Tuesday to discuss how we deal with bad neighbors. Folks who have abandoned cars and trash piled up in the yards, continual noise complaints and potential criminal activity fit that definition for me. My direction to our staff is that I have no patience with bad neighbors. While I understand the aesthetics can be debated, it is important that we support our neighborhoods with strong and reasonable ordinances to give our team the tools to clean it up. You will see action on this in the coming months.
I was honored to attend the Cheyenne Police Department’s annual awards ceremony Wednesday. There was a large crowd to see officers, civilians and volunteers receive recognition for their outstanding performances. Awards were given for firearms proficiency, with the top shot going to Officer Norris. Top fitness awards were given to five members. The Desperado Awards were given to 13 officers who showed initiative and made a felony arrest. I always thought being a desperado was a bad thing, but not here!
Unit Citations were given to five groups that worked together to catch bad guys, like stopping a kidnapper who tried to take an 8-year-old girl. They gave four officers the Life Saving Award for saving a domestic violence victim that would have died but for their heroic actions. The Volunteer of the Year was given to Nancy Cruff, the Civilian of the Year was Jennell Webster, the Specialty Officer of the Year was given to Officer Horne, the Officer of the Year was Officer Hutchinson and the Chief’s Award went to CSO Sgt. Frankhouser.
I shared with the crowd how blessed we are to live in Cheyenne, where a police officer is respected and where our officers are a credit to the profession of law enforcement. It’s a big contrast to many areas across this great nation.
Also on Wednesday, I spent an hour at the Botanic Gardens. I was able to meet the amazing staff that make our gardens and parks so beautiful. They are a fun and lively bunch. I spent most of that hour transplanting very small purple Pirouette Petunias. They have planted 55,000 plants in the greenhouse and are now putting them in larger pots until it is time to plant them outside. I maybe did 200 in my hour; you can imagine the time it takes our staff and the amazing volunteers to make this happen. It really makes me appreciate our staff and the efforts that go into what I may have taken for granted. As you walk the gardens this summer, remember those beautiful purple petunias were mine. Haha!
I met with Scott Hoversland who runs the Wyoming Community Development Authority. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss affordable housing and the lack of it in Cheyenne. The good news is they have partnered with builders to create 1,230 affordable units in the Cheyenne area, and they are looking to do more. The bad news is our need is in the thousands. I was excited to meet Scott and begin the dialog on how we can leverage his tools into more affordable housing in our community.
I took CPD Chief Mark Francisco by the COMEA House this week to make the introductions. Executive Director Robin Bocanegra gave us a tour and explained the mission of their homeless shelter. It is amazing what staff and the board of directors have done over the years. My last visit was in 1997 with the Leadership Cheyenne class. I appreciate the dedication and compassion they give to the homeless population. A couple of the staff members I met were former clients that have graduated to good jobs and giving back.
My question this week comes from a third grader here in Cheyenne. I’ll share his letter and my answers below.
Dear Mayor Patrick Collins,
Hello! My name is Lakota, and I need to ask you a few questions for a project I’m doing for my school. My first question is what is the hardest part about being a mayor? My second question is what is your favorite part about being a mayor? My last question is what is your favorite thing about Cheyenne, Wyoming? Thank you for your time, and I’m excited to hear from you.
From, Lakota Webb, third grade at Cheyenne Virtual School
Dear Mr. Webb,
Thank you for taking time to reach out, and thank you for making me a part of your project. I love your questions, and I am happy to answer them for you.
The hardest part about being mayor is making time for everything that I want to accomplish for the citizens of Cheyenne. There are many great opportunities for economic and quality-of-life improvements in our city. We are fortunate in Cheyenne to have incredible employees that are dedicated to the citizens here. They do a great job of helping me with the difficult decisions.
My favorite part of being mayor is talking to students, residents and businesses about Cheyenne. Visiting students, interacting with our local business owners, meeting people in their neighborhoods and learning from them how we can improve Cheyenne is one of the most rewarding aspects of being mayor.
My favorite thing about Cheyenne, Wyoming is the friendliness and helpfulness of the residents here. We have so many people that are very generous with both their time and their resources. I find that to be a great motivator.
I hope this helps, and I wish you luck on your project.
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.