Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting – Annual Membership Meeting
November 21, 2015
Richland County Library, Columbia, SC
Open: 1:15 PM
Present: Martin Wheeler, Ed Locklin, Ralph Messera, Jim Frierson, Leon DeBaer, Gene Kirkland, John Bobinyec, Sen. John Courson

Secretary's Report: In the absence of CAPT Secretary Phil Astwood, Martin read the minutes from the previous meeting held September 19th in Greensboro, NC. Minutes were unanimously approved

Treasurer’s Report: Gene noted that everything he works with is now “up to speed”. He said that there is a problem with e-mail addresses not being up-to-date. There is also a problem in that members are not getting mailed notices of meetings on time or not at all. Gene distributed copies of three Financial Reports which covered three periods from January 12th through November 19th, 2015.

Election of Officers and Directors for 2016: A motion was made to keep the currently-serving directors in their slots and this motion passed unanimously. A second motion was made to elect the existing “slate” of officers to permit them to continue in their current positions. Motion passed unanimously. Art Peterson was the only officer that was not heard from regarding his intent to continue in office. Martin said that he would contact Art about continuing to serve. He noted that he would first check with David Robinson prior to contacting Art.

Update on resolution drive in South Carolina in support of expanded rail passenger service: Martin noted that someone needs to check with Phil Astwood about any new addresses for legislators that he may need. Jim said that he would take care of this and he noted that there may be changes in SC House and Senate committee members when the new 2016 legislative session begins in January. Phil has agreed to do another mail-out in the new year.

Update on CAPT fostering creation of an association similar to Virginians for High Speed Rail: There followed a discussion of what CAPT should do in response to David Robinson’s correspondence regarding his moving ahead with the formation of this new group with or without CAPT’s involvement. Martin proposed that we invite David to CAPT’s next meeting to discuss how the two groups may be able to assist each other going forward.

At this point, Martin took time out to brief Senator John Courson, who had just joined the meeting, on where we were on the agenda as well as on the resolution drive in South Carolina in support of expanded passenger rail service.

Update on news in North Carolina and South Carolina affecting transit and passenger rail: Gene provided an update on the annual Santa Claus train. This year, Santa will ride the Carolinian on the portion of the route between Selma and Raleigh, NC. Leon informed the members that he had looked into how CAPT could help NCDOT’s BeRailSafe Program. He said that the organization’s Roger Smoak wants to come and speak to CAPT.

There followed a brief discussion on safety issues; particularly a much needed protocol for dealing with rail accidents in small communities. A case in point was the mishap in Mebane, NC not too long ago.

Gene observed that state legislators are not even aware of what passenger rail does. He said he wants to spearhead a move to get citizens to write their lawmakers about this subject.

Ed asked about high-speed rail between Charlotte and Atlanta. He said he understood that the choices had been narrowed down to three alternative routes. Ed shared some information he had learned, including a projected timeline for completion of the route analyses.

Martin updated the members on the extension of the light rail line in Charlotte. He said the project is moving right along and eighteen new cars would begin coming in February, 2016. Station platform extensions are now being completed also.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website: John informed the members that he has not had time to work with PayPal.

Ed stated that he may work on the newsletter as soon as he learns how to use the new Windows 10. He said he still has Windows 7 but he noted that it will not be supported for much longer.

Amtrak Update: Ralph told the members that the omission of the diner on the Silver Star was extended to the end of April, 2016.

Leon and Gene shared the news that miniature horses are now considered as service animals on Amtrak trains including the Piedmont and Carolinian.

Reports by Officers and Directors: Martin asked for comments from the officers and directors present but all said that they had previously given their input.

Planning for Future Meetings: John reminded the members that when we have meetings just for board members, we should try to have them in the areas where most of those board members are located.

After a general discussion regarding meeting locations for next year, the following were confirmed as the meeting schedule for 2016:

January 16 – Durham, NC

March 19 – Raleigh, NC

May 21 – Spartanburg, SC

July 16 – Charlotte, NC

September 17 – Charleston, SC

November 19 – Columbia, SC

Matthews, NC and Winston-Salem, NC were also proposed as alternate locations for meetings in 2016.