Sunday, February 23, 2014

Do hordes of Colorado burger wranglers commute to Chey-town?

It's about a half hour (34 miles) from downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming, to downtown Wellington, Colorado. I've passed it hundreds of times on my way to Fort Collins and Denver. I've stopped many times, too. I used to buy lottery tix at the convenience store -- never won a thing. I sometimes get off I-25 at Wellington to take the back way to the Fort, especially if I'm heading downtown. I once had a flat tire at the Wellington exit on a moonlit Fourth of July. There are worse times to change a flat than on a warm, brightly lit Colorado night. My family was asleep in the car. I took my time. I half expected a drunk to come barrelling into us. But traffic was light and impaired drivers bound for Wyoming were behaving themselves.

Wellington is a quick commute for those employed in Wyoming who prefer Colorado's rarefied atmosphere. You know, progressive politics, legalized marijuana, organic groceries, FoCo's Craft Beer Nirvana and a lively live music scene. Of course, you also have to pay state income tax. I am told that there are as many Wellington-based commuters heading north to Cheyenne each morning as there are heading south. And it's not just those employed at Laramie County's big Wal-Mart distribution center, Warren AFB, refinery, LCCC or state government. It's also those employed in the retail trade. Business people in Cheyenne keep telling me that they can't fill their fast-food jobs from Cheyenne folks and they have to reach out to Coloradans. Seems odd that people would commute 30 or 40 or 50 miles to wrangle burgers, but that's what I hear. Let me be clear -- I have no evidence for such a claim. Blogging is not an evidence-based practice. If I said that the sun revolves around the earth, you might take my word for it, especially if you were a fundie. You might dispute my claim, commenting that I am a nincompoop, a Know-Nothing prog-blogger, a waste of electrons.

So let's look at some real stats.

Wyoming's unemployment rate is 4.4%. Colorado's is 6.2%. But a recent story in the Denver Post says that those figures don't include some 250,000 Coloradans who have "disappeared" from the workforce. If those people were thrown into the stats, that state's unemployment rate might be more like 10%, according to a story in The Daily Caller. Read more about Colorado's unemployment picture here.

Maybe those disappeared are working part-time in Wyoming? They wouldn't be the first people to disappear into The Great Wide Open. Remember, we are the state of UFOs, cattle mutilations, unsolved murders and Cindy Hill. Mysteries abound!

Hand it to Wellington. It's looking at ways to restore its quaint downtown. The Downtown Revitalization and Main Street Project just finished a needs assessment survey of the town's businesses. The Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce is holding meetings on Feb. 24-25 to discuss all of this.

It appears that Wellington wants to be more than a bedroom community for Fort Collins and Cheyenne. Everyone is thinking locally these days, some places more than others.

Wellington has its own poem. It's not a great poem but I'm impressed that the town features poetry on its web site. Here it is:

As you wander toward the Rockies,
from the way of the rising sun, you come to the Boxelder Valley,
and the Town of Wellington.
We take pride in our little city, not a selfish motive shown.
For our harvest will be plenty, from seed that’s freely sown.
How that dear old town is growing.
Its streets are clear of dust. Where my heart is there I’m going,
It’s Wellington or bust!
And the moment that I spy it, not a boost will I deny it.
Every man there will stand by it. The watch word will be Trust.
Here’s to you old-timers, the backbone of the land.
Alone you’re sure to falter. Together we all stand.
And now in conclusion,
May we all be as one, and put forth our best efforts,
For a greater Wellington.

--W.O. Haberman, 1917

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