We’ve commented many times on the editorial page on how much we appreciate the fruits of summer in Laramie. Whether it’s the quiet that comes with the population dropping, Jubilee Days, farmers markets, the perfect weather many days or whatever else you can point to, lots of locals will tell you it’s their favorite time of year.
However much we love it, as we approach the end of the summer months, we are feeling excitement for the fall. Our public schools are back in session, which is a big change for parents and educators, and University of Wyoming students are steadily flowing back into the city, which is a big change for everyone. Say what you want about traffic, long grocery store lines or wait times at restaurants, our college-age population brings a unique light of life to our university town.
There will no doubt be a significant influx of people with the start of UW football Saturday, which is an economic boon that our community can benefit from. Some business owners will argue game times or other factors prevent them from seizing maximum benefits from the thousands of visitors, but we are optimistic innovative folks can come up with forward-thinking ways to attract those crowds and keep them spending money locally.
We’re also pleased about the CBS telecast of Saturday’s game against the Missouri Tigers. This brings national attention to UW at our very attractive home stadium. There are good arguments to be made that having these eyes on UW is an effective recruitment tool for prospective students. A packed War Memorial Stadium on a national broadcast shows that people love living in Wyoming and going to our university.
Shifting gears, applause should go first to the young athletes and their advocates, and then to the Albany County School District No. 1 school board’s vote that has set the stage to start offering high school softball in 2021. Many people felt for the athletes when a February Boomerang front page showed clearly disappointed young faces with the headline saying the softball vote had failed. Those hearts were uplifted to see the photo on the Aug. 15 front page where those athletes cheer in jubilation after the affirmative vote. Kudos to the athletes for their efforts and our elected officials for making the right decision.
Speaking of elected officials, it is a good thing for the Laramie City Council to start investigating whether each of the boards is working most efficiently, both for the volunteers’ time but also city staff’s. There did seem to be some confusion on the Traffic Commission, so it’s proper for the city to take a step back and look at its role in local government. The volunteer board members give up so much of their time that it should be clear going forward how they can best serve residents by clearing up certain areas, including determining if the commission is purely a recommending body or an authoritative one that can make decisions without the council’s approval. Because its members are appointed, not elected, it’s proper for it to be advisory. It is our hope that the city maintains the taxing authority of the Downtown Development Authority. Its tax initiatives in that regard have failed the last few times it tried, but at some point our absentee landlords may want to get on board with making our community and their properties more valuable.
When it comes to downtown, we’re excited to see some of the development taking place. There are new attractions that drive traffic to the area and keep people there. Breweries attract crowds when the sun is up or down, and you don’t have to be a beer drinker to enjoy the jovial atmosphere. It’s exciting to know a highly visible vacant space on Third Street and Grand Avenue will finally be filled, as well. Hopefully the southeast corner of the same intersection left with a mess will see a cleanup and resurrection of business sometime in the near future. It’s also been great to see two holes filled downtown with attractive storefronts. Several years ago, it didn’t seem clear to anyone whether these gaps would ever be restored to their potential, so it’s a relief and encouraging to see that development take place.
It is a continued pleasure to see downtown supporters gather for cleanup days, the next occurring Thursday before our influx of weekend visitors. These kinds of efforts show commitment to having a community we can all be proud of, so we are thankful for those who participate and Laramie Main Street for leading the charge.
Finally, bravo to all the young entrepreneurs who participated in Lemonade Day on Aug. 10. This program allowed kids to come up with ideas for their stands and a brand, build that up and sell a product. Of the earned income, they are to save one-third, spend one-third and contribute one-third to a cause of their choosing. That’s a great model for finances as adults facilitated through a fun project. For those who saw some of or all of the stands, it was truly impressive work spread throughout the city. Our hats off to those at First Interstate Bank who organized the event, as well.