Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee – November 12, 2011 – St Joseph

NOVEMBER 12, 2011

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

Also Present:  John DeLora, Rich Vavra-Musser, Doug Wilson, Ron Leatz, Alan Bond, Carl Biek, Cass County Rail, State Senator John Proos, State Representative Al Pscholka, Mayor Bob Judd, Steve Sobel, Dan Platz.

Call to Order:  Vice Chairman Whittier called the meeting to order at 10:08 a.m.

Secretary’s Report:  The minutes of the Executive Committee meeting and the Monthly Members’ meeting held at Jackson on October 8 were reviewed.  Langdon moved acceptance of the Executive Committee minutes with corrections. The motion was seconded by Randall and approved by the members present.  Newell then moved acceptance of the Members’ Meeting minutes.  The motion was seconded by Chase and approved by the members present.

Treasurer’s Report:  Randall reported that, as of October 31, 2011, the checking account stood at $9,790.86 and the Pratt Fund was valued at $15,071.73. DeLora moved acceptance, seconded by Langdon.  Members present approved the Treasurer’s Report.

Coordinator Reports:

            Public & Governmental Affairs:  Langdon reported that he had attended the Great Lakes International Trade and Transport Hub Summit, held recently at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.  Present were numerous people interested in strengthening trade between Chicago, Montreal and the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, including trucking interests and representatives of Customs and Immigration on both sides of the border.  The governor spoke enthusiastically about Chicago-Montreal passenger rail.  The current high level tunnel beneath the Detroit River would be used for passenger rail.

The governor reiterated his support for Chicago-Montreal passenger service at the Michigan Rail Summit, held in Lansing on October 31.  This meeting was well attended, with many interested in rail freight.  Again, emphasis was on building a coalition including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario and Quebec.  MARP wants to be part of this collaborative effort and members sat among the various interest groups to point out the value of passenger rail.

Wilson reported that several Southwest Ontario mayors met recently to emphasize the importance of passenger rail to the area.  He and Tischbein plan to meet with Ontario interest groups in the near future.

            Meetings:  Wallington handed out the tentative schedule for 2012.  The next meeting will take place on January 14 at the Williamston Depot in Williamston.  Meetings are planned for Kalamazoo in February, Pontiac in March, Chelsea in April, Grand Rapids in July, Durand in September, St. Louis in October and Essex, Ontario in November.

Hinkins suggested Albion as future meeting site and Leatz suggested a meeting aboard an excursion train operating out of the former House of David property.

            Membership:  Newell reported that she is now on top of where members live geographically and will be contacting the Regional Chairs to contact new members in their respective regions.

            Communications:  Whittier complimented Chase on the first issue of On Track, MARP’s new electronic news letter.  Chase then introduced Randall, who reviewed the Independent Contractor Agreement he had drafted to provide direction for the new editor of The Michigan Passenger, who will produce the newspaper as a paid contractor. Approval of the draft was moved by Langdon, seconded by Randall, and agreed to by the members present.

Chase announced that the proposed editor is Larry Sobczak and that he is working on the Fall issue of The Michigan Passenger which is scheduled to hit the streets before Thanksgiving.  She then moved that the Executive Committee establish an Editorial Committee to assist, advise,  and review the work of the editor.  The motion was seconded by Monteith and passed by those members of the Executive Committee present.  The members of the Editorial Committee will be Wallington, Chase and Gurney.

Welcomes:  State Senator John Proos of St. Joseph and State Representative Al Pscholka welcomed the group to St. Joseph and West Michigan.  Both urged MARP members to develop engaging stories portraying the value of passenger rail as a way of building support among their wary colleagues in the Michigan legislature.  They need concrete examples of why passenger rail is important to their constituents.  Responding to Vavra-Musser’s concern, Proos agreed to push the governor and MDOT to get the Pere Marquette route added to the Midwest Rail Initiative blueprint.

Mayor Bob Judd also welcomed the group and thanked MARP for its advocacy of passenger rail in West Michigan.  He stressed the need for increased funding and for keeping the value of passenger rail before the public.

Adjournment:  The Executive Committee adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


Respectfully submitted:                                  Accepted:

Hugh D. Gurney                                             Robert Tischbein

Secretary                                                         Chair