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UP to Arts Cheyenne leaders for trying a new approach to boost participation in the monthly Cheyenne Artwalk.

Starting next month, the event will move from Thursday night to the first Friday of the month. The format also will change to a “party-like” atmosphere, focused on one venue, with the hope people will then branch out and explore other gallery spaces in the neighborhood. There will be food, drinks, artist workshops and live music to accompany the featured exhibit.

Since the new ArtHaus mobile gallery is expected to be completed early next month, it also will become part of the Cheyenne Artwalk, as Arts Cheyenne parks it outside each featured venue to expand the available space.

Arts Cheyenne Executive Director Bill Lindstrom told Wyoming Tribune Eagle arts and entertainment reporter Will Carpenter that the goal is to “attach a Friday night environment to the Artwalk, which has always been an attractive night for people to come out, in general.” First Fridays are successful in other communities across the country, including in Denver, where the largest is the First Friday Art Walk in the Art District on Santa Fe Drive.

Of course, Cheyenne won’t experience a comparable level of success right away. But with the right promotions and buy-in from artists throughout the area, the First Friday concept could take off in the Capital City – and not just during the warmer summer months.

On May 6, we hope to see area residents at the depot downtown for the First Friday Cheyenne Artwalk and the second annual Fine Art Exchange. And mark your calendars for each first Friday after that as a new Cheyenne tradition is born.

DOWN to federal officials for creating racial and income disparity when it comes to access to national campground sites.

According to a recent study by outdoor recreation researchers at the University of Montana, the federal government’s online campground reservation system is struggling to keep up with the surging popularity of outdoor recreation. It also fails to provide equitable access, since it tends to require a high-speed internet connection and some institutional knowledge of how the system works.

Using cellphone location-tracking data sold by businesses that develop apps for smartphones, the researchers traced campground visitors back to the ZIP codes where they live and then took a look at recent U.S. Census data on ethnicity and income. The analysis concluded that more white, upper-income visitors are able to secure the best campsites, which often require reservations.

In addition, the study found that few minority residents have jobs that let them plan a vacation six months in advance, which often is required to secure a reservation at Recreation.gov. Plus, reservations for certain dates open at a specific time, and you may end up competing with thousands of other users for a campsite with a few dozen spots.

So what’s the solution? One of the researchers, Will Rice, said a lottery system – currently used in some Yosemite campgrounds – could help with both long-term reservations and those issued on a daily basis, depending on availability. It’s definitely worth a try, because everyone deserves an equal opportunity to have a great camping experience.

UP to the Wyoming Department of Family Services for creating and preparing to launch the Wyoming Homeowner Assistance Fund program.

According to a news release, “the program officially opens for applications on May 2 to help eligible homeowners in the state who have fallen behind on mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The program will prioritize helping homeowners who make less than 150% of the Area Medium Income catch up on their mortgage loans. Other eligible expenses also will be covered, including past-due payments of utilities, property taxes, homeowners insurance and homeowners association dues.

The maximum amount allowed per household is $17,000, which will be paid directly to the vendor on behalf of the homeowner, according to the release. And the money can’t be used by anyone who isn’t currently behind on their mortgage payments. (To learn more, visit dfs.wyo.gov/haf.)

This sounds good – we just wish it had been available sooner. We also hope it’s not coming too late to help people stay in their homes during the current period of high inflation.

UP to the Cheyenne Planning and Development Department for working to identify barriers to housing development in our area.

As the department assesses housing needs in the community and decides what changes are needed to the Unified Development Code, the public is asked to complete a brief survey to offer more information. It can be found online at https://forms.office.com/g/w5gSJa1xNT and only takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

Working in conjunction with the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force, we hope these efforts lead to more options for lower and middle-income residents in the future.

WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK: Contact us via email at opinion@wyomingnews.com.

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