Casper’s new mayor and vice mayor were sworn in for the new year at city council’s first meeting of the year.
Assistant to the City Manager and City Clerk Fleur Tremel swore in Mayor Steve Freel and Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz, and the council members changed their seats.
Former Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson had an excused absence. When new mayors are selected by the council at a work session in December, the council members usually chose the vice mayor to be the mayor.
After the swearing-in, outgoing Mayor Charlie Powell thanked City Manager Carter Napier and the city staff for their hard and often unsung work.
Powell, who came to the council in 2011, cited some of the city’s long-term needs including a new police station, replacing Fire Station No. 1, somewhere finding the funding to complete the Midwest Avenue reconstruction after the city didn’t receive a federal grant, and continuing the North Platte River rehabilitation project.
After the meeting Freel pointed to the age of some of the city’s amenities and their needs.
“A lot of the different amenities that we have around, you look at the Events Center you look at Hogadon, a lot these things were built back in the ’80s,” he said. “So we’re talking at 40 years of use on them, and they’re at a point where we’re needing to replace a lot of items.”
Lutz, an accountant, has a focus on the vagaries of the state economy and how they affect the city’s budget, she said.
“Budgets can be adjusted; budgets can be amended,” she said. “There’s a reason for that and that happens a lot in this state because sometimes we get defensive and conservative and we pull ourselves back, and things are great, they’re much better than we expected.”
Powell served through very hard budget times, but he said the city still was able to accomplish a lot in the past decade:
- David Street Station — was just an idea a decade ago, and since has reinvigorated downtown.
- Built two fire stations to replace two old ones.
- Replaced the buildings at the Hogadon Ski Area.
- Replaced pool at Mike Sedar Park.
- Platte River Restoration — will be appreciated for 50-80 years, and it probably saved Outer Drive on the city’s west side..
- Midwest Avenue reconstruction.
- Location of the new State Office Building that will bring 500 employees downtown.
- Developed the Old Yellowstone District.
These improvements hopefully will stem if not reverse the demographic trend of an aging community by providing the amenities that keep and attract young people, Powell said.
“There is a can-do atmosphere in Casper,” he said.