Executive Director Updates, November 2018

Welcome to the executive director’s updates for November 2018.

We’ve had a really good October and the staff and I appreciate all you have done for us this month.   We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the museum locating to this site, hosted a 2nd weekend of steam trains, held both a Home School event and our second Thursday program and wrapped up with Train or Treat.  Looking ahead, there are multiple projects moving along at the museum and planning is under way for 2019 to be a great year.

Our 20th anniversary move celebration during steam weekend #2 featured presentations from former Chapter president Randy Minter.  Comments from Lesa Campbell (our previous administrator) and Tom Cooksey (the realtor that assembled the donation). Chuck Hardt assembled video and photographs into a YouTube presentation located  here.  It was very rewarding to see all we’ve accomplished through the lenses of where we started. Many volunteers and attendees helped with setting this event up, bringing a covered dish and cleaning up.  THANK YOU!

Our steam weekend events included “golden hour” photography events both weekends.  The evening shoot during weekend #2 was coordinated by Casey Thomason (one of the corporate photographers for Norfolk Southern) and featured several scenes featuring the visiting steam engine and also our own equipment. A good group of photographers and a lot of fun.

Thank you also to Sue and team for a very successful Great Days of Service. The volunteers involved made a big difference in the appearance of the education module. Also important it made connections to two groups that are indicating a desire to bring groups on a routine/regular, possibly monthly, schedule. For those of you not familar, GDOS is one of the nations largest volunteer events each year and we’ve been a part of it for many years. For more details, please click and see the Gwinnett Daily Post article.

Train or Treat wrapped up our month and was a well-attended success.  We had tables from sponsors throughout our community helping excite our visitors. We had train rides, wagon rides & costume contests.  Attendance was up over 15% from 2017 and train rides were up 26%.  THANK YOU everyone who participated!

Following our successful fundraising initiatives in September, we’ve had contractor meetings related to installing rail in the two north passageways of the RTE building.  We’re anticipating our contractor to be onsite in November to start that project. We’re currently scheduling contractor meetings to discuss the electrical components of the building and anticipate steady progress on that aspect of the project as well.  In building 3, we anticipate our siding contractor to be onsite the week of Nov 5 so we’ll soon have that project wrapped up.

Fundraising going forward will begin being dedicated to other priority projects; please see our donation page for more details. As we approach the end of the year I am asking  that everyone consider the museum as a component of your year end tax planning.  Whether you need to reduce your holdings of appreciated stock or you need to complete a required minimum distribution from a retirement plan, the museum as a 501(c)3 non-profit can work with you for a direct donation that in many cases reduces tax bite on you.  Feel free to reach out to me by using our Contact page and clicking administrator.

Coming up in November we have Model RR days and then we start our slate of Christmas holiday events.  Santa arrives Nov 17 and we start Breakfast & Lunch with Santa on Nov 24.  Tickets for Breakfast and Lunch are online at our ThunderTix  site. Our education department also has a fantastic 2nd Thursday event planned.

For your Holiday planning, please be aware that the museum will NOT open on Thursday, Nov 22 in observance of Thanksgiving.  We will plan to operate regular hours on Friday Nov 23 so feel free to come over and shop our giftshop for Chirstmas gifts or just explore the Duluth Historical Society’s Festival of Trees.

Congratulations to Kristen on winning a “Next Generation” scholarship to the Heritage Rail fall conference. The HeritageRail Alliance (HRA) Next Generation scholarships are for individuals interested in the railroad preservation industry. The scholarships assist two people in attending the annual HRA Fall Conference where they will meet others in the industry, learn important topics in seminars, and gain insight into making railroad preservation work a career.

Our spring semester events planning is well underway. It includes repeats of popular activities (TypeWriter TypeIn, photography contest, Caboose Days, Fast Track 5k) and the introduction of a few new ones (Steak Cookoff, Georgia Street Rod Association meeting).   While our events add flair to the museum, the heart and soul is preservation and you’ll see several pieces of equipment move on display during the spring, lead among them the Western Union car we’ve worked diligently on this year.

As we continue growing, our 2019 agenda includes several items that have not gotten as much attention in the past. This includes review/revision to our strategic plan, a review of our board to identify development & growth opportunities, and a review of our fundraising strategies.  All of these initiatives will be geared towards making the museum stronger, more engaging and more accessible.  I’m looking for to the exciting opportunities ahead and hope you’ll join me on this journey.


About Randy Pirkle 54 Articles
Randy Pirkle is the museum's Executive Director Emeritus.

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