Executive Director Updates Jan 2019

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone has had a great holiday season and is looking forward to an exciting 2019.

The museum had a very successful holiday season thanks to your support, our volunteers, community volunteers and the Duluth Historical Society.  We hosted Santa’s arrival via train as well as 4 weekends of both Breakfast & Lunch with Santa.  These family focused events brought out lots of smiling visitors and many families have made them an annual part of their Christmas season. THANK You!! Our volunteers went above and beyond to ensure everyone had a good time even with the sometimes challenging weather and I appreciate the efforts. Duluth Historical Society again assembled a great Festival of Trees and helped coordinate entertainment both of which we appreciate.

As recognition for all she does, Sue Kelly was honored in December by Explore Gwinnett with their “Friend of Gwinnett Tourism” award. Congratulations Sue on her award and also on her upcoming fifth anniversary of being in museum management.  The museum and our community are both better for your engagement and I’m better for your friendship. Thank You!

As we start into 2019, it is a good time to take a look back at some of the milestones from 2018. Our volunteers, community and area supporters have worked together to accomplish a lot this year and this list is an abbreviated set of accomplishments:

  • Another year of success with no injuries to volunteers or staff
  • Successful events throughout the year including our 20th anniversary celebration featuring a visiting steam engine
  • Growing education programs
  • Renovations well under way in building 3
  • 2 Tracks complete and 2 under way in our new RTE building
  • Major work complete on the Western Union maintenance car
  • Expansion of space in building 1 and lighting improvements
  • Rehabilitation of modular building for shop office underway
  • Met and exceeded the challenge grant from the Hudgens Family Foundation
  • Improvements to parking lots & landscaping.
  • Diner car rehab under way
  • HO Scale train functionally complete and scenery is growing.
  • Increasing number of volunteers and volunteers taking leadership roles.
  • Park Train operating consistently with a growing cadre of volunteers taking charge of it’s growth & maintenance
  • Website got a significant refresh and upgrade.

Looking into 2019, here are some of the items I look to see us make progress on during the year.  Your support and  feedback will be important to our success.

  • Completion of RTE building track, installation of exhibits and beginning phases of lighting
  • Refresh and expansion of exhibits in building 1
  • Completion of the rehabilitation of EMD SW7 switch engine #8202
  • Return to exhibit EMD E8A SOU6901 that has been off exhibit for restoration work
  • Refresh of cabooses used during warm weather season for train ride
  • Rehab of 1 of the two cars assigned to birthday party use
  • Completion and installation of Western Union maintenance car exhibit
  • Landscaping & sidewalk improvements
  • Building 3 rehab completed with office space
  • Improvements/relocation of train boarding area for better weather protection
  • Growth of our volunteers both in number and in skill set
  • Updates to our strategic plan including board and fundraising to accelerate our growth
  • Rehabilitation of the modular building so we can centralize our education department staff and improve programming
  • Fun and engaging events throughout the year

Speaking of events… We will be announcing events on a regular basis via our Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/SoutheasternRailwayMuseum/) as well as here on our website.  Facebook is frequently easier and faster to use to communicate so I ask that you follow us to stay up to date between website updates.  We have an assortment of events coming in 2019 to excite a variety of tastes.  Our photography competition is getting some major tweaking thanks to information Kristen picked up at the Heritage Rails Association conference in October, you can find details at PHOTO.  Coming back for a second iteration is the Type-In event that was started in 2018 with wide acclaim.  Our Caboose Days event is moving to March this year and will feature a SCA sanctioned steak cook off. Then in May we have our fifth annual Fast Track 5k on a new schedule that we hope will be more convenient to everyone.  Alongside our Saturday events, our growing education department will continue to host our 2nd Thursday pre-school programs as well as field trips.

In closing, THANK You for all you do to support the museum. I am looking forward to a great year and hope you’ll continue to be a part of the museum and it’s success.


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

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