By Pat Maurer
“The fundraising efforts to relocate and renovate the historic Clare railroad depot are still ongoing, said Clare Railroad Depot Steering Committee member Ken Hibl.
“We have a phenomenal committee,” he said, “They have raised more than a third of the goal from local funds and donations, and are still working hard towards raising the $250,000 needed for moving costs and site preparation. “There has been a tremendous outpouring of community support for this project.”
“As of today, we have raised $45,553 in cash donations and $67,749 in donated time/goods,” Committee member Diane Lyon said Wednesday.
Individuals interested in supporting the project can stop in at Clare City Hall or MidMichigan Community Action Agency or go to one of these links http://www.mmcaa.org/depot/, http://www.claredepot.com/ to make a direct donation to the project, make a memorial pledge on behalf of a loved one, or purchase engraved walkway bricks. Additionally, logo pins & patches, engineer’s caps, and wooden Cat’s Meow depot collectibles are for sale at Clare City Hall and available for purchase at many community events including the upcoming depot open house on October 6. And of course, volunteers are always needed!
The CRDSC is hosting a depot open house from noon to 4 p.m. next Saturday in conjunction with the Michigan Steam Railroading Institute fall color tour which will run from Owosso to Clare on October 6th.
Train passengers are expected to be in downtown Clare for about three hours. For more information about the train color tours, go to http://michigansteamtrain.com/sri/tickets/.
More funds for the depot project are coming from “The Images of America: Clare 1865-1940” book written by Author Robert Knapp. The book, featuring 200 vintage images of Clare, is available locally for purchase at Ace Hardware, Byler Manufacturing, Clare Chamber of Commerce, Clare City Hall, Clare County Historical Society, Cops & Doughnuts, Doherty Hotel, Gateway Pharmacy, Herrick House, MidMichigan Community Action Agency & Witbeck’s Family Foods with a portion of the proceeds from these book sales going toward the depot project.
Major donors to the project ($1,000) or more include Chemical Bank, Chicago Vessel Fueling Company, the Midland Area Community Foundation, Clare County Arts Council, Clare Irish Festival Committee, Design Builders of Clare, A.J. & Sandy Doherty, R.L. Folkert, Robert Knapp, MidMichigan Community Action Agency and Anna Pryor.
Hibl said the committee will also be actively seeking grant funds from area foundations in the near future.
The City of Clare purchased the depot from the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay Railway Co. in 2005 with the intent of renovating the historic building, Lyon reported. One of the stipulations of the purchase was that the depot must be moved from its original site due to access, liability & safety issues.
Attempts to acquire the approved State Historical Preservation relocation site (Thompson Hotel) failed, Lyon said. Then in December 2011, the City approved the purchase of the old CARQUEST lot (south of the Clare City Park on Fourth Street) and MidMichigan Community Action Agency donated the two adjoining lots as the future site and new home for the depot.
Once the project is complete, the renovated depot will become a community center.
The proposed occupants and uses for the rehabilitated depot include a trail-head for the Pere-Marquette Rail-Trail, a living museum of railroad history, home of the Clare Area Visitors Bureau, Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, Clare County Arts Council & art gallery, Clare Main Street office, a railroad maintenance office, and to eventually serve once again as an active railroad passenger depot.
The Clare Railroad Depot Steering Committee (CRDSC) formed in 2010 and is comprised of 48 members. Jan Winter serves as Chair of the Committee and Tammy Miller serves as Vice Chair.
The committee’s Board of Directors (Cabinet Members) include: Larry Barco, former President of Mid Michigan Medical Center-Clare; Mark Ruhle, President of Midland Chemical Bank; Nathan Rogers, President Rogers Athletic Company; and Jeff Poet, President of Jays Sporting Goods.
Organizations involved in rehabilitation of the depot include the City of Clare, MidMichigan Community Action Agency, Clare County Arts Council, Clare Downtown Development Authority & Main Street, Michigan Department of Transportation, Great Lakes Central, Clare County Historical Society, and Clare Depot Preservation Inc.