Group seeks to change SMRS board
By CRISTINA TRAPANI-SCOTT
CLINTON — A group of local people are spearheading an effort to make changes to the Southern Michigan Railroad Society (SMRS). The group has organized close to 180 new members, according to group spokesperson Attorney Charles Gross.
“We are interested in seeing control of the railroad return to local people,” he said.
“We’ve organized enough people who support this that we think we can do that.”
The Southern Michigan Railroad is run by the Southern Michigan Railroad Society, a nonprofit group overseen by a board of trustees and made up of member volunteers. The annual by-laws meeting is held each November, and this year is scheduled for Nov. 14. Gross said the group is hoping to garner enough votes to reorganize the board of trustees.
“At this point there is a group that is concerned about the way the railroad is being managed,” said Gross. “It’s being run by a group of people from outside the county who don’t have the best interest of the community at heart, so we feel we need to get local people in control of the board of directors.”
In addition, Gross said he felt the track and train were not being cared for properly. “A group of us decided several months ago that we were tired of trying to work with the railroad and it was time for a change,” he said.
Southern Michigan Railroad Society President and Museum Curator Cynthia Given confirmed the attempt to by the group to make a change, but said she couldn’t discuss the issue at this time. The Society has hired Attorney Dana Dever to help them in the case, but Dever could not be reached for comment before press time on Wednesday.
The Southern Michigan Railroad Society train runs throughout the summer on a 13.5-mile track between Clinton and Tecumseh on weekends and in the fall for fall color tours. The SMRS formed a corporation in 1982 and started with motorcars. The train became operational in 1985 after the SMRS acquired the track, which is a portion of the former Palmyra and Jacksonburgh line. The train currently is not running because of problems with the engine. Given said she’s hoping the issue will be resolved before the start of the Clinton Fall Festival on Sept. 25.