MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS
March 14, 2015 – Kalamazoo MI
Members Present: Larry Krieg, Jim Wallington, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Robert and Diane Patterson, Jeanie Merckel, Chuck Merckel, Don Monteith, Doug Wilson, Bob Tischbein, Tim Hoeffner, Dick Pekarek, Phil Mange, Jeannie and Wendell Aten, Burton TenBrink, Rich Vavre-Musser, Dan Platz, Cathy Hart, John Cwiek, Don Heydens, Charley Bonnell, Clark Charnetski, Dave VanderBee, Tom Stegink, Kim J. Powell, Barb Spaulding Westcott, Don W. Westcott
Guests: Mark Miller, Steve Charnley, Ken Hart, Shasta Duffey, Rosemary Horvath
Call to Order: Chairman Krieg called the meeting to order at 10:45 a.m.
Appoint Rosemary Horvath acting secretary. Langdon moved, seconded by D. Westcott. Executive Committee approved.
Approve Jan. 10, 2015 membership meeting minutes. Motion by Wallington, seconded by Charnetski. Approved.
Introduction of guest speaker Shasta Duffey, vice president sales and marketing, Grand Elk Railroad, based in Kalamazoo. She drew comparisons between a proposed passenger rail service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City and what could begin in Michigan, between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Freight traffic between Elkhart and Grand Rapids for Grand Elk has increased. Grand Elk owner is WATCO Companies LLC based in Pittsburgh, Kansas. Grand Rapids businesses are growing and requiring more rail line infrastructure. Grand Elk moves about 22,000 cars annually, 80 percent originating in Elkhart, and has plans to build new sidings in Grand Rapids and purchase a building for warehousing to keep up with demand. Duffey also highlighted employment opportunities at Grand Elk and the influence of technology has had on the industry. Freight is the main focus but company is open to needs of the public interested in passenger rail service.
Communication Editor Kay Chase presented Duffey with a complimentary MARP membership.
Accept Treasurer’s Report. J. Cwiek moved, seconded by Wallington. Motion passed.
Chairman Krieg presented Treasurer J. Merckel a $2,500 check from the Michigan Environmental Council to support MARP’s activities in Michigan By Rail initiatives. Activities include promoting the Coast to Coast proposal to create passenger rail service between Holland, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit. Langdon noted the partner agreement specifies MARP volunteers will assist with outreach and public engagement to monitor interests and preferences. Langdon circulated copies of the partner agreement and reminded members participation is needed. Sixteen public events are proposed. (Amended May 16, 2015, John Langdon moved).
Langdon circulated copies of the agreement and said everyone in the organization is needed. He has lined up 16 public events.
The Treasurer reported nine have renewed memberships.
Checking Opening balance: $12,966.27
Closing balance: $16,310.68
Pratt Fund Opening balance: $17,675.59
Closing balance: $18,693.78
MEETING SCHEDULE – Don Westcott
MARP tentatively will meet in April at South Lyon in the Detroit Metro area except there may be a conflict with NARP.
May 16 is at Durand during Railroad Days at the Depot. Guest speaker is a retired history teacher. Topic is the Flint/Holly Railroad, among the state’s earliest railroads.
Sept. 5 is the annual MARP meeting in Durand.
Details for remaining months will be announced but dates tentatively set for the third Saturday of the month.
OUTREACH – Chuck Merckel
Event in Fruitport was cancelled. CSX scheduling seems to be holding up printing of Amtrak timetables. Release expected mid April. Commitments by volunteers are required if MARP is to participate in public events handing out Amtrak and other train material. Event sponsors want early commitments so members need to plan ahead. An outreach schedule is available online.
GOVERNMENTAL/PUBLIC AFFAIRS – John Langdon
Activities for Amtrak Train Days are underway. Contact your regional chairs to volunteer. The first event is in Toledo for National Train Day May 2. Regional chairs are asked to assist Coordinator Chuck Merckel in recruiting volunteers for specific locations and dates.
Clark Charnetski said the $71 million Indiana Gateway Project will upgrade right-of ways between Porter, Ind. and the Illinois state line. A new universal crossover will be constructed near U.S. Steel in Gary. Pine Yard upgrade is equivalent to third track for four miles. Upgrade in Whiting is important because this connects a third track siding equivalent to five miles. Clark asked members to attend the WALLY meeting in Ann Arbor.
Tim Hoeffner, MDOT Director of Office of Rail, said there will be no noticeable operational improvements expected on the Wolverine route this year. MDOT is considering alternatives to servicing the 14 refurbished commuter cars stored in Owosso. The rail project the cars were intended for is slow to develop. Krieg outlined a timeline starting in 2006. In spite of delays, there is progress, Krieg said. Great Lakes Central, owners of the train cars, has lined up a broker and is promoting leases.
Warren Fritz, West Region Chair, invited members from the western region from the Indiana border to Ludington to meet for five minutes and discuss opportunities.
Meeting adjourned 12:45 P.M. Charley Bonnell moved. Seconded by Burton TenBrink. Approved.
Rosemary Horvath__ ___Laurence J. Krieg
Rosemary Horvath Larry Krieg
Acting Secretary MARP Chairman