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February 1st

[2017] VIDEO: Ride the Rails Into Durand Aboard A Steam Locomotive in the Late 1950s
By far, just about the coolest local railfan video we've ever shared! To kick off #RailfanFebruary, take a 20 minute ride into Durand aboard a steam locomotive in late 1956 and see glimpses of Durand Union Station, still a major railroad passenger hub.

Do you have a railfan video? Share it with us and we'll feature it here! Email the link to breaking@durandnow.com!

February 5th

[2013] Mayor Doyle: Railroad Days On Main Street, Here's Why...
The decision was made at Monday night's Durand City Council meeting to hold the Railroad Days festival on Main Street again this year, despite an overwhelming majority of participants in a recent survey conducted on the Railroad Days festival website indicating that Saginaw Street, where the festival was located for decades, is the better location.

Mayor Deb Doyle, speaking at Monday night's City Council meeting, said "I was disappointed when I read about a survey online to move it back to Saginaw Street when we've pretty much been saying all along that it was never going to go back."

Kent Edwards, President of the Railroad Days committee, disagreed, saying "It was never told to me, as President of Railroad Days, and I had asked the question numerous times, about bringing Railroad Days back to Saginaw Street." That aside, Edwards went on to explain that the survey wasn't created for the purpose of making a determination as to whether the festival would be held on Saginaw or Main, but rather, simply to gather input from residents.

While most respondents to the survey chose Saginaw Street over Main Street, Edwards said at Monday night's council meeting that of the 22 Railroad Days committee members that took part in a discussion recently about this year's festival location, it was the concensus that the committee, as a whole, would like to keep the festival on Main Street. The main reason cited was safety.

With the addition of "pedestrian-friendly" sidewalk extensions, it was determined that firetrucks would not be able to get down Saginaw Street in the event of an emergency.

Mayor Doyle issued the following statement to DurandNOW.com via email about the decision:

"At the council meeting last night, RR Days President, Kent Edwards said, while it was not his personal preference, the majority of the RR Days committee wanted the carnival to remain on Main St. It is my understanding, from several sources, that Arnold Amusements prefer the new location also. Apparently, there is room for more rides. Speaking for myself, I did not want the carnival to return to Saginaw St. The city has just made a major investment in a beautiful new streetscape, it would be a shame to have that damaged. The most important reason is a public safety issue. The new pedestrian friendly curb extensions would make it impossible to get a fire truck through there without a significant loss of space for the carnival booths and rides."

At Monday night's meeting, Mayor Doyle also mentioned the concern of potential damage to the newly paved Saginaw Street, to which Edwards emphatically responded, "The way the rides are set up, they are on platforms. They absolutely do not drill into the city streets. Their weight is distributed. The rides will not damage the city streets."

Some business owners weighed in on Monday night as well. Leonard Krawczyk, who owns the Iron Horse Pub on Saginaw Street, said "We've been part of this for 55 years... of having the carnival uptown... and it's been a boost to our business." He went on to say "Business has been down considerably once it moved over on Main Street." Tim Shaw, owner of Shaw's Pharmacy, who is in favor of the festival staying on Main Street, said many of his business's clientel would find it more difficult to access the store if the festival returned to Saginaw Street.

But, perhaps the place where discussion on the subject is most colorful, is online, where unhappy residents have been posting comment after comment about the decision across social media platforms. Below are some comments taken from our Facebook page:

Renee: "It's a joke..They can come clean our yards, re-plant our flowers and chase people out of our yards at night..This is a residential neighborhood...they can also come and hire a tow-truck so WE can park in our own driveways on the 100 block of Mercer st!!!!! City hall needs to come and stay at our houses during this week-end and see how "convienent" it is for them!!!!"

Dan: "They don't want to invite the potential risk to the recently improved downtown streets. So instead let's add to the worsening of our city streets. Who elects these people and how can they ignore the public who voiced their opinions."

Jody: "Then why bother taking a poll??"

Do you think the decision, though perhaps unpopular, was the right decision based on safety concerns?
Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page!

[2014] Mary Warner-Stone Honored By DUSI Board
Mary Warner-Stone, Executive Director of Durand Union Station, Inc., was honored by the Board of Directors at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 28th. Mike Rexin, Board President, presented Stone with a certificate of appreciation for her outstanding job performance over the past several years. 
Citing an improving financial picture, increased utilization of the building, and ongoing improvements to the Library, Archives, and Museum exhibits, Rexin stated that the Board felt it important to publicly thank Stone for her perseverance and professionalism.   
“During your tenure as Director, the organization has faced some difficult challenges. You have done an outstanding job of responding to those challenges with creative solutions and ideas. Your leadership has also been instrumental in involving more volunteers to work toward our common goal,” said Rexin. 

Prior to the meeting, the Board attended a training session sponsored by the Cook Family Foundation. The Board Development Workshop, facilitated by Patrice Martin of the Non-Profit Network, covered the duties and responsibilities that board members have, both individually and collectively.   

Numerous tools and strategies to accomplish those duties were presented as well, giving attendees more and different perspective on their own and fellow members’ expectations, and their own responsibilities.

The workshop was well received, with several of the Board members expressing a sharpened focus on the jobs to be done. Strategic planning and periodic reviews of policies and procedures will all be regular items on the agendas of future meetings as a result of the topics covered in the session.

[2015] Chamber of Commerce Closed Temporarily
City Manager, Amy Roddy, confirms that the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce is temporarily closed due to staffing issues arising from "serious health and personal family matters." Roddy says "It is a very difficult time but anticipated to be short-term."

February 7th

[2017] Durand Railroad Days Festival Announces New Midway for 2017
Arnold Amusements has provided the midway at Durand Railroad Days for years, but won't be returning in 2017. The Durand Railroad Days Festival has announced that Chesaning-based Big Rock Amusements will bring the midway to this year's Railroad Days festival, May 18th through 21st.

Matt and Kelly McDonagh purchased Matt's father's company, McDonagh's Amusements, in 2012 to grow their own company, Big Rock Amusements, which they founded in 2010 after purchasing Georgia-based Jules and Beck Combined Shows.

Matt and Kelly are the third generation McDonaghs operating McDonagh's Amusements. Matt's Grandparents, Bruce and Ruth, built the company more than 50 years ago from a shetland pony ride.

Today, Big Rock Amusements has all the classic and best carnival rides, like the Himalaya, Alien Abduction (aka Gravatron), Sea Ray (aka Sea Dragon), Sizzler (aka Scrambler) and Tilt-a-Whirl. One of Big Rock's newest attractions is the Giant Wheel, a massive 80-plus-foot ferris wheel with gondola seating and thousands of computer-controlled LED lights.

Get complete information on Railroad Days 2017 at the RAILROAD DAYS INFO DEPOT powered by Blight Propane!

February 8th

[2018] Allstate Insurance Office Has New Location!
The move was completed at the end of last year, but Christi says there are still Allstate Insurance customers that stop by the former downtown location looking for her. If you're looking for your Allstate Insurance office, you'll find it -- and Christi -- in the former Durand Auto Parts building on Oak Street. The new address of Allstate Insurance in Durand is 810 N Oak Street.

Johnson says she was leasing her former location and, separately, her husband's business, MCT, which was also located downtown, was leasing its space. She said they both were in desparate need of more space and most other commercial locations were not suitable for their needs.

"This building wasn't the best fit either but we saw a lot of potential in the old auto parts building," she said. Christi and Bill Johnson purchased the building in January 2017 and began gutting and renovating; "We completely tore out all plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling and lighting, for starters," she said. "Interior concrete walls and floors had to be removed as we started building new interior walls."  

All told, she says, they finished close to 3,500 square feet for office use. The building still offers 4,900 square feet, which she says they are giving a "much needed face lift" to, despite having no official plan yet for making use of it. "We'd like to get it cleaned up and keep our options open for future use," she told Durand Now.

Christi invites you in to take a tour anytime. "It was an amazing transformation and facelift for that corner."

Check out transformation photos below!

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The former Durand Auto Parts store as it appeared on January 19th 2017./Durand Now photo

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The former Durand Auto Parts store being readied for new life, as it appeared on April 12th 2017./Durand Now photo

February 11th

[2013] 96-97 Marching Band Year-In-Review Surfaces On YouTube
A short film highlighting the Durand Marching Railroaders during the 1996 marching season, as well as the bands' 1996-1997 concert season, was recently uploaded to YouTube. The video was produced by members of the now-defunct Durand High School student-produced "RTV" weekly news program, of which former Band Director, Charles Birch, played a significant role in growing in the 1995-1996 school year. Birch influenced the purchase of thousands of dollars of equipment that eventually led the program to be one of the more impressive among student-produced  shows at the time.

The group, led by 1998 graduates William Green and Josh Strickland, produced these Year-In-Reviews in 1996, 1997 and 1998, which were made to be shown at the bands' end of year banquet, and features a special section for the bands' graduating seniors; displaying their senior portraits set to songs like "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan and "Friends" by Michael W. Smith.
  
The arrival of this particular video on YouTube is timely, as it is the year in which current Band Director, Ed Turner, who earlier this year announced his retirement, marking an end to the 'Birch/Turner era,' first took the reigns as the band's primary director.
  
Not long after the 96-97 Year-In-Review was posted to YouTube by 1997 Durand graduate, Josh Ellsworth, the 95-96 video was posted; a video which marks Birch's final year as director. Other videos, including State Finals performances spanning 1993 to 1997 have now been posted online.
  
Watch the 1996-1997 Durand Marching Railroaders Year-In-Review below.
  
VISIT THE DURAND MARCHING RAILROADERS PAGE ON DURANDNOW.COM FOR MORE ON BIRCH, TURNER AND THE MARCHING RAILROADERS, PAST AND PRESENT

[2017] A-LIST: It's Time To Vote!
Three hundred eighty four nominations for more than one hundred different businesses throughout Shiawassee County are now up for a vote!

The Shiawassee County A-LIST, the definitive "Best of" directory of leading local businesses throughout Shiawassee County, will be revealed on April 3rd 2017, following the two week preliminary round of voting that runs February 12th through February 25th, and the final round of voting, narrowing down the Top 5 vote-getters of the preliminary round to just one winner in each sub-category, as well as one overall winner for the category.

There are 12 categories. Most categories are split into multiple sub-categories. There are a total of 51 sub-categories. The preliminary round of voting will also feature a "Write-In" section -- one last chance for businesses that were not nominated to get on the A-LIST.

The Shiawassee County A-LIST will be published on the website Uplift Shiawassee.  

CLICK HERE to submit your A-LIST votes NOW!

February 16th

[2015] Shiawassee Apple Museum Is Open -- Online
A new website is live, serving as a clearinghouse for all-things Shiawassee Apple. But first things first, if you're like the curator of ShiawasseeApple.org and have lived in Shiawassee County for multiple decades but never knew about the significant history our county played in the development of one of the most prominent apples today, then you need to start telling your friends about the Shiawassee Apple, and then send them all to this website for the whole story.

A short summary, and what led curator, Josh Strickland, to begin the project, sees Vernon as a focal point of this particular apple's rise to becoming named a "Promising New Fruit" in the early 1900s. Strickland wrote "My great grandmother lived in Vernon for many years. In the lot next to her house, which she also owned, stood a single apple tree. My grandfather has told me on more than one occasion that our ancestors were friendly with the Johnny Appleseed. I wonder..."

He went on to say, "In its infancy, the 'museum' will simply be an online collection of materials related to the history of the apple, as well as links to places like Eastman's Antique Apples, a place apple lovers would love to know about. But I envision one day down the line a physical place that would invite passers-by in to learn more about the apple and other local items of history, and perhaps even taste a Shiawassee apple."

Be one of the first to Like Shiawassee Apple Museum on Facebook!

[2016] Lady Railroaders Battle Cancer In First-Ever Coaches vs. Cancer Match-Up
Durand's Lady Railroaders will participate in a first-ever initiative by the Flint Metro League and Genesee Area Conference to join the National Association of Basketball Coaches and American Cancer Society's Coaches vs. Cancer.

The program pits numerous area schools against each other at special games designed to help the American Cancer Society finish the fight against cancer.

Teams from the Flint Metro League and Genesee Area Conference will challenge each other in events on two separate days, Monday February 22nd and Tuesday February 23rd.

Durand's girls will host Holly on Tuesday February 23rd, with the JV Railroaders and JV Broncos game beginning at 5:30pm. The Varsity Lady Railroaders and Lady Broncos will face off beginning at 7pm.

At the special game on Tuesday there will be additional ways to support the American Cancer Society's work, with $10 t-shirts available while supplies last, and $1 "Wall of Hope" cards to honor someone that has fought cancer.

Find out more at facebook.com/cvcmichigan.

[2017] Meet Durand's New City Manager
Durand's new city manager is Colleen O'Toole. She's officially on the job, having started on Monday of this week.

She told Durand Now on Thursday "I am incredibly enthusiastic to be working with such a passionate and engaged community. I strongly encourage residents to stay connected and check out our recently launched social media resources."

The City of Durand is now on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

O'Toole also said that she is very excited to work with The Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce. "Much of my background is in economic development and entrepreneurship so I place a lot of value in the local institutions built to support of our businesses," she said.

Last month, the Durand City Council voted unanimously to offer her the position. O'Toole comes from the Chicago area.

February 17th

[2014] Small Fire At Library Contained Quickly
A fire outside the Durand Memorial Branch of the Shiawassee District Library was contained quickly on Friday in the early hours of the afternoon.   
The fire started when a heat gun was left unattended by a plumber that was working to thaw a frozen pipe.
The Durand Fire Department was called to the scene, however,  the fire was able to be extinguished by library staff.

February 18th

[2013] First-Ever Railroad Days 5k Planned
Coming to Railroad Days 2013, it's the Railroader 5k Run, 5k Walk and Choo-Choo Trot, Saturday May 18th. The event will bring participants through downtown Durand and will award winners with cash prizes. Registration is now underway, and through March 31st is only $15 for the 5k and $10 for the Choo-Choo Trot. After March 31st, the registration fee increases to $20 for the 5k and to $12 for the trot.   

The 5k Run begins at 8am with the 5k Walk immediately following. The Choo-Choo Trot will begin at 9am. The award ceremony for both events will begin at 9:15. All children who participate in the
trot will receive awards. $100 will be awarded to the fastest overall male and female runners. The second place male and female will get $50, and third, $25. Medals will also be awarded to the top 3 in each age group for both the run and walk.

Other events planned for May 18th include the Railroad Days parade, which will begin at 1pm.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER NOW!

February 19th

[2013] Area Author To Hold Book-Signing for "Boxcar Joe," About 1950s Durand
Teresa Lee Schanski wrote a book called "Boxcar Joe," recalling the sights and sounds she experienced while living near the railroad tracks in Perry. The book, which is set in 1950s Durand, is about our railroad town and a man who seemingly had nothing to offer those around him, but ended up offering everything to some.  Jann Johnson Lardie, a popular local artist with pieces at galleries in Owosso and Lansing, illustrated the book. "Boxcar Joe" is geared toward young readers but, according to reviews, is entertaining for all ages, especially those with ties to our area. Teresa Lee, Schanski's pen name, and Lardie, will be at the Shiawassee Arts Center in Owosso on Friday, March 1st from 6 to 8pm to sign copies of the book. The book will be available for sale that day, or click here to order it now!

February 22nd

[2014] Durand Graduate To Be The Next Shiawassee County Undersheriff
Changes are coming to Shiawassee county administration as Sheriff Braidwood
named three people to new positions. Doug Powell, the county jail administrator,
is a 1981 graduate of Durand High School, and will move into a new role upon the
retirement of current Undersheriff, Bob Paine. When Powell starts in his new posi-
tion, his vacated position as jail administrator will be filled by Tammy Wilson, a
1981 Owosso High School grad and current Corrections officer.Sgt. Jeff Harkness
will become the new 911/Central Dispatch Director upon the retirement of Lt. Barb
Paine. Harkness is a 1987 Ovid-Elsie grad.

February 23rd

[2014] Author Sally Labadie To Appear In Byron
Former elementary teacher-turned-children's author, Sally Labadie, will make a stop at the Byron branch of the Community District Library for a book signing on Thursday, February 27th. She'll read one of her books, which will be available for purchase, and then sign copies beginning at 5pm. More information is available by calling (810) 266-4620 ext 312. 

Labadie taught for 32 years, spending time at Nellie Reed Elementary in Vernon and 5 years as principal of Elsa Meyer Elementary in Corunna. 

Find out about more Community District Library happenings at mycdl.org.

February 25th

[2018] City Seeks High Bids On Little Patch of Land
The City of Durand is taking sealed bids on an approximate quarter acre of industrial property on Goodall Road, with a minimum bid of $158,000, it was recently disclosed. With that price tag, questions began swirling. City Manager Colleen O'Toole said on Saturday "that price is accurate. There is interest in a cell tower developed on the site."

For those wondering if this land is or would have been part of the Project Tim footprint, she said it is not. "This is a rather small parcel and not something they needed."

One of the conditions of the sale is that the property is being sold for the purpose of industrial/commercial development.

The deadline for bids is March 1st. A $1,000 deposit must accompany all bids. Bids will be reviewed during the regular city council meeting on Monday, March 5th, at 7:30pm.

[2018] From The Express To Now - Chapter One
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February 26th

[2018] From The Express To Now - Chapter Two
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February 27th

[2018] From The Express To Now - Chapter Three
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February 28th

[2013] Open Letter from Railroad Days Committee President, Kent Edwards, on Festival's Main Street Location
The President of the Railroad Days Festival committee, Kent Edwards, has issued an open letter to residents regarding the committee's decision to request that this year's festival again be located on Main Street rather than Saginaw, despite a survey conducted last year that indicated an overwhelming preference by residents for the festival to be located on Saginaw Street.

Hello Durand-

I understand there has been some concern on the part of some individuals about the location of Railroad Days 2013 to be held May 17, 18, 19 and 20.

The purpose of Railroad Days is to attract local and out-of-town residents to our festival so we can share the rich heritage of our community and the friendly cheerful environment of its residents that has made the all-volunteer members of Railroad Days, Inc. proud to call Durand home. Our goal is to showcase the beauty of our community and encourage people to use our local businesses year round, not just the weekend of the festival. It is also our goal to put our best foot forward and show people that Durand is a great place to live and do business so they may be willing to take up residence here.

The members of Railroad Days, Inc. begin planning, organizing and working on each year’s events in September with a budget that is determined by the revenue from the previous year. The money that is made by Railroad Days, Inc. is used to perpetuate the festival each year. Without these funds and the sponsorships and donations of many of the local businesses and service organizations, we would not be able to fund the next year’s festival. There is no room for free giveaways and gratuities such as carnival ride bracelets except for advertising and as an expression of thanks to our royalty which includes the queen’s court, princess and prince who take their time to represent our community in a positive manner to other communities throughout the year.

I assure you, as President of Railroad Days, Inc., that the decision to hold the carnival and related events on Main Street this year was not a decision that was made in haste. Many different factors came into play and numerous means of input were used to gather all pertinent information to make a decision of what was best for the community of Durand. Our committee took a poll in the fall not only to get a feel for what the community desired but what could be done to help Railroad Days grow and be more attractive to not only the local community but to railroad enthusiasts from surrounding communities and towns throughout the state and Midwest. After extensive discussion and consideration, the members of Railroad Days, Inc. voted to request the Main Street location for this year’s Railroad Days carnival.

The Main Street location with the fabulous Durand Union Station in the background is an impressive sight. With the trains rumbling through between the carnival and the Union Station it certainly ties the whole festival into one theme. There is also more room for rides and events as Arnolds Amusements has been able to bring at least two more rides than they were able to bring to the Saginaw Street location.

With the carnival on Main Street the parking spaces in front of the downtown businesses are now open for customers to do business in the downtown area. When the carnival was on Saginaw Street, there was absolutely no parking downtown. The carnival is still close enough that parents can use the downtown restaurants and businesses while their children are taking advantage of the rides.

The newly remodeled and beautifully streetscaped downtown area will no longer be covered up and hidden by carnival rides but will be visible to visitors and residents alike.

It is necessary, by law, that there to be a route for rescue vehicles to have access to the north, south, east and west sides of town by approved roads for the safety of the people in and around the city of Durand. Main Street is one of the approved routes, Genesee and Saginaw Streets are also approved routes. When Saginaw Street was blocked off, Main Street had to be open. When Main Street is blocked off, the Genesee to Mackinaw Street and Saginaw Street corridors must be open for public safety.

Last but certainly not least, when the carnival was on Saginaw Street, it was necessary to allow for fire lanes on both sides of the carnival so fire trucks could access the downtown businesses and upstairs residences in the case of a fire. With the rebuilding of the 100 and 200 blocks of North Saginaw Street and the enhancement of the streetscape bump outs, the fire lane access is no longer possible without damage to the those bump outs. Neither Railroad Days, Inc. nor the City of Durand can afford the rebuilding of these structures or repair of rescue equipment for that matter, in the unfortunate case of an incident requiring the services of this equipment. With the carnival on Main Street, access to businesses and residences by rescue equipment is virtually unhindered resulting in a much safer environment.

The poll taken by Railroad Days, Inc. has identified several different issues that we are in the process of addressing including the litter left in the yards and streets by a few inconsiderate residents and attendees of the festival. We will continue to work with the city to resolve the issues we are now aware of. We welcome input from the community on ways to improve the festival.

We hope to continue to see the positive and cheerful attitude shown during the four days of our community festival as the residents and businesses of Saginaw Street have graciously expressed for over 35 years.

So please set aside the weekend of May 17, 18, 19 and 20, peruse the Schedule of Events when it becomes available, enjoy the parade, the carnival and all of the events and activities offered. Stop into our downtown businesses, have dinner, an ice cream cone or even get a tattoo if you would like. In short join us in showing our friends and neighbors, local and distant, what a fabulous friendly place Durand is.

-Kent Edwards
 President, Railroad Days, Inc.

[2017] Owen Rood, Beloved Longtime Publisher of The Durand Express, Passes Away
Owen Rood has passed away.

Rood's wife, Inez, notified Durand Now Publisher, Josh Strickland, in an email on Monday February 27th 2017 that Owen had passed away early that morning.

Owen Rood purchased The Durand Express in 1952 and published the newspaper until selling to Mark Zale in 1988, but soon returned to, again, run the newspaper in 1992. He finally retired in 1997 when he, again, sold the newspaper; this time to the Argus-Press.

The many fond thoughts and memories of The Durand Express that residents today still share, are largely a reflection of Rood's passion for his community, local news and service over the course of nearly five decades.

Moreover, Rood is credited with having "planted the seed" that inspired the woman for whom the initiative to save Durand Union Station is largely attributed to; Norma Ward was determined not to allow the depot's demise after Grand Trunk abandoned it in the mid-1970s and it all started when Rood published a plea for someone or some organization to take over the facility.

Owen and Inez had been graciously helping Durand Now with a special project over the course of the past eight weeks. More information on that project will follow.

Durand Now would like to take this time to honor Mr. Rood and his legacy, that which we set out to carry on when this Durand, Michigan news website launched in 2012, nearly ten years after The Durand Express disappeared from our doorsteps.

"The world and Durand lost a wonderful man today," Inez Rood said.

Owen Rood was 94 years old.

A service for Owen Rood will be held Saturday at 2pm at Watkins Funeral Home in Durand. Visitation will take place from 5 to 8pm on Friday and for an hour prior to the service.

[2018] From The Express To Now - Chapter Four
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