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.
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.
President, Railroad Days, Inc.
 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. From The Express To Now - Chapter FourREAD THE WHOLE STORY