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Charlie Powell

Casper City Council members Chris Walsh, left, and Charlie Powell listen during an October 2017 work session. At Tuesday's meeting, Powell was sworn in as the city's mayor.

The Casper City Council informally selected its new leaders during a work session last month. But on Tuesday, Councilmen Charlie Powell and Shawn Johnson were officially sworn in to their new positions as mayor and vice mayor.

“I just want to thank the citizens of Ward 2 for putting their trust in me and re-electing me to another term on the City Council,” Johnson said, “and I thank the City Council for their trust in me to serve as their vice mayor.”

Powell then thanked the family members and co-workers who sometimes pick up the slack at home or work when council members are busy with city business.

Powell, who previously served as mayor in 2015, said he plans to be an “active mayor.”

“I think there is more to transparency than just providing records when someone asks for them,” he said. “Transparency is about providing explanations for the things that the Council has done or the issues in front of council. It’s about being out in the community and being present and responding to information requests, and I plan to do those things.”

The mayor and vice mayor positions are appointed for a year each. They are chosen from among the nine-member council in a work session and then are approved formally after the first of the year.

Much of Tuesday’s meeting was devoted to swearing in new officers and members and saying goodbye to departing ones, but the Council also discussed some potential route changes for public transportation.

After much debate, the Council decided last year not to cut funding to the Casper Area Transportation Coalition, a nonprofit that relies on city and federal money to provide low-cost public transit.

City leaders were considering cutting the organization’s funding by $133,000 to ease the fiscal burden on Casper’s general fund. But many of the citizens who rely on the bus convinced the Council to nix that idea.

However, the Council urged CATC officials to find other cost-saving measures.

After working alongside Aaron Kloke, the supervisor for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, CATC officials have found a variety of route modifications that could save money.

Carol Crump, a CATC board member, said that CATC officials have surveyed passengers and examined the bus routes to find cost-saving changes that would cause the least distress to passengers.

All the changes can be read in the council meeting’s packet, which can be viewed on the city’s website. Council will discuss the proposed changes at a work session later this month.

In fiscal year 2017, the organization provided roughly 46,000 rides on its door-to-door buses and 160,000 rides on its fixed routes, according to the coalition’s executive director Marge Cole. That number continues to grow as the baby-boom generation ages.

Its door-to-door buses, which require passengers to schedule appointments, offer help to those who need extra assistance. The vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts and bus drivers who help each passenger on and off.

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Follow city reporter Katie King on twitter @KatieKingCST

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Local Government Reporter

Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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