Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee – June 11, 2011 – South Lyon

JUNE 11, 2011

Present:  Robert Tischbein, Barney Whittier, Dave Randall, Hugh Gurney, John Langdon, Kathleen Newell, Jim Hinkins, Kay Chase, Jim Wallington, Don Monteith

Members and Guests Present: Steve T. Sobel, Norma Ward, Clark Charnetski, Rich Vavra-Musser, Dan Platz, Diane Patterson, Robert Patterson, John Guidinger, Doug Wilson, Kim Powell, Bob Weinburger, Patricia, Tischbein, Sam Crowl, Larry Kreig, Larry Sobczak, Eli Cooper

Call to Order:  Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.  Member Steve Sobel was appointed timekeeper.

Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer Randall circulated his report for review.  As of May 31, 2011, the checking account had a balance of $13,734.38 and the Pratt Fund was valued at $16,227.17.  Gurney moved to accept the report.  This was seconded by Newell and approved by the members of the Executive Committee present.

Secretary’s Report: The minutes of both the Executive Committee Meeting and the Monthly Membership Meeting held on April 16, 2011 at Millett Depot, Lansing, were reviewed.  Langdon moved acceptance, seconded by Newell.  The motion was approved by the members of the Executive Committee present.

Coordinator Reports:
Government/Public Affairs: Langdon passed out information about SB 4251 which would earmark a portion of the sales tax from motor fuels to state and local road programs. He also distributed summaries of where the various High Speed Rail projects stand at this time.  He noted that hearings on the Michigan State Rail Plan are being held during this time frame and passed out information on when and where these are scheduled.

Communications:  Chase called attention to the Railroad History Conference to be held in Kalamazoo on November 5.  She expressed pleasure that the Kalamazoo Gazette had carried three separate articles about rail issues during the last week or so, including one in which she was interviewed.  She read a letter asking MARP members to register their vote online in support of Clare in the 2011 “This Place Matters Community Challenge” sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Clare could receive a $25,000 prize which would be used to restore the Clare Railroad Station.

Newsletter:  Chase noted that the Spring issue of The Michigan Passenger came out in late April.  She will continue to discuss its scheduling with Valderas.  Chase plans to begin issuing a monthly online bulletin in the near future.

Wallington asked that news articles be forwarded to Sobczak for posting on the MARP website.

Outreach:  Tischbein handed out a schedule of upcoming outreach events and asked members to indicate which ones they would be willing to staff.

Membership:  Newell passed out a report on the number of members who had renewed February-May.  She will add January statistics when she receives them.  She noted that renewing members had also donated $541.00 with their renewals.  In response to a question from Wilson, Newell expressed her intention to address membership retention,  possibly through the website.  Charnetski suggested first asking for memberships, then sending a bill later.  Chase will be reviewing results to date, then sending a second notice to non-renewing members.

Montieth suggested selling life memberships to those age eighty and above for $50.00.

Meetings:  Wallington reported that the next meeting will be at the Dowagiac station on Saturday, July 30.  After the meeting, members will be able to attend a local festival.  Chase is organizing a side trip to a local museum.  The Wolverine will make a special stop on that day for members.  Amtrak will need to know how many will be taking advantage of this service.

The Annual Meeting will take place at Clara’s in Battle Creek on Saturday, September 17, starting at 10:30 a.m.  Registration of $20-$25 will cover a choice of one of three selected entries from the menu.

On Saturday, October 8, we will gather at the historic C&O depot in Petoskey.  The curator of a local museum may be the principal speaker.  Indian Trails will offer special rates to Petoskey.  Lodging will be available at a historic hotel nearby operated by Stafford Smith.

The November meeting will be at the depot in St. Joseph on either November 12 or 19.

No meeting is scheduled for December.

Regional Chapter Reports:
Northern:  Monteith continues to distribute Amtrak National Timetables throughout Northern Michigan.  He plans to attend the scheduled hearings on the Michigan State Rail Plan in the Upper Peninsula.  To attract interest in the revival of rail service, he has had the timetable of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad reprinted.  These are available for $2.50 per copy.

Metro Detroit:  Hinkins attended the recent hearing on the Michigan State Rail Plan in Detroit.  He found the rail investment packages interesting.  The proposed plan is divided into four packages.  In the Baseline Package, with existing funding only available, the Wolverines would be dropped.  In the recommended Better Package, Wolverine service is maintained.  There is also a Good Package and a Best Package, which would include $9.2 billion over the next twenty years.  Wilson urged that someone review the report in its entirety and report their findings to the Executive Committee.

Work on the West Detroit junction improvements is scheduled for later in 2011.  Renovation of the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit is underway.

Tischbein is working to get volunteers to keep tabs on the Pontiac and Detroit Amtrak stations.

Western: Langdon welcomed several members attending today including Kim Powell and Sam Crowl.  Sam is director of Operation Lifesaver in our area.  Langdon then reported on the abysmal on time performance record of Michigan trains.  He suggested that members review this data on line.

Pere Marquette ridership remains soft compared to that on the Blue Water and Wolverine routes.  The Pere Marquette is rarely included in Amtrak specials.  We need to work with Amtrak and MDOT on this disparity.

Vavra-Musser reported that the new waiting room at the St. Joseph Depot is now open, though still waiting for the arrival of new seating.  It is very attractive.  The old waiting room is now a meeting room.

Vavra-Musser is working to have additional frequencies of the Pere Marquette during the PGA tournament in St. Joseph in 2012.  The course is just ½ mile from the station and trains could actually stop right at the course if a temporary platform was built.

Kreig expressed the need to have a group focused on each of the Michigan routes, a group including heavy hitters such as mayors who could market the services and push for additional frequencies.  He will prepare a proposal for consideration by the Executive Committee.

The meeting of the Executive Committee adjourned at 10:55 a.m.

Respectfully submitted:    Approved:


Hugh D. Gurney     Robert Tischbein
Secretary      Chair