JAN / FEB / MAR / APR / MAY / JUN / JUL / AUG / SEP / OCT / NOV / DEC

January 1st

[2013] DurandNOW.com: Statement of Purpose
The words "journalist" and "reporter" have been thrown around in the past day or so by some visitors to the site. For several weeks at DurandNOW.com, we've discussed producing a "Statement of Purpose," or simple outline of what the site is intended to be. It is clear that now is the right time to do it.

Before we get to that, however, let's start with some introductions. Who is "behind" DurandNOW.com has never been a secret. Most of it has been publicized on several occasions and in several places, including our Official Press Release, which is, and always has been, posted on the front page of the site. But, as DurandNOW.com continues to grow, it is appropriate for us to re-introduce ourselves.

Josh Strickland
I developed and launched the site and am responsible for nearly all that is posted.

Sarah Strickland
My wife, a photographer, who should get credit (but usually doesn't) for many of the photos that appear on the site, as well as a consultant, with whom I discuss ideas and concepts.

Steve Strickland
My brother, a consultant, among many other things, with whom I also discuss ideas and concepts.
 
A family affair? Yes, a bit. But, there are many, many contributers who deserve an equal amount of credit. Without content, there is no site.

An excerpt from the DurandNOW.com Official Press Release:

"'A News + Entertainment Site for Durand, Michigan' doesn't really encompass the whole heart of what the website is or what I hope it becomes, but, generally speaking, that's what you'll find here," according to Josh Strickland, creator and editor. He goes on to say, "I'm excited to make this investment in my hometown."

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
To deliver community news and information, to support and build up the community and to improve the perception of others about our community.

There they are. Three simple functions of DurandNOW.com.

DurandNOW.com is not hard news or investigative reporting, it's girl scout cookies, yard sales and fender benders. That is to say, it's the little things. Having grown up here, and understanding some outsiders' perceptions of Durand, I also hope that the site will aid in improving those perceptions, giving people the chance to see that Durand really is a great place to live and learn.

As for the words "reporter" or "journalist," those are a little too stuffy for this outfit. We're simply a group of people who have decided to make an investment -- one of several -- in our community.

January 3rd

[2016] For Sale: Wilbur Bills and Doyle Knight
The Durand Area Schools Board of Education is taking sealed bids for the sale of two former elementary schools, Wilbur Bills Elementary in Bancroft and Doyle Knight Elementary in Lennon.

Wilbur Bills is listed as an approximately 25,793 square foot building on approximately 15 acres of land, located at 251 West Prior Road in the Village of Bancroft. Doyle Knight is listed as an approximately 18,459 square foot building on approximately 2.45 acres, located at 900 Oak Street in the Village of Lennon.

An informational meeting will be held at Wilbur Bills, including a walk-through inspection, on Monday January 4th at 10am. A similar meeting will be held at Doyle Knight the same day beginning at 1pm.

Bids must be received by Superintendent Craig McCrumb by 3pm on January 11th 2016 and accompanied by a certified or cashier's check for $1,000.

Bids will be reviewed for consideration at the regular Board of Education meeting beginning at 7pm on January 11th and a vote to accept a bid for each of the properties at the January 27th Committee of the Whole meeting will take place.

Conditions of the sale include a signed purchase agreement within five days of the acceptance of a bid.

Purchase agreements and other documents related to the planned sale of both buildings has been posted to the school district website, according to a public notice issued by the district. That notice also advises any questions related to the sales be directed to the office of Superintendent McCrumb, at 310 N. Saginaw Street in Durand or by phone at 989-288-2681.

January 5th

[2014] State of Emergency in Shiawassee County
The Shiawassee County Emergency Management and Homeland Security has announced a State of Emergency for Shiawassee county due to heavy snowfall and blowing and drifting snow that is causing roadways to become hazardous and impassible.

The agency advises, to avoid accidents and to aid public safety response, all residents are asked to stay off the roads at this time. 

Road Commission crews will continue to plow primary roads throughout the night. The State of Emergency will be allowed to expire once roads are again clear and passible for safety response   and residential traffic. 
County offices will be closed on Monday, January 6th. The City of Durand previously announced its offices would be closed on Monday and the January city council meeting has been canceled.

[2014] 1980s: Local Man Writes, Performs Song About Durand Called "Waiting For A Train"
Durand resident, Bill Spence, was recorded by ABC12 (WJRT-TV) during a Railroad Days celebration in the 1980s, performing a song he wrote about our city. Video footage from Durand has been added to the original audio recording and was recently posted to YouTube.

WAITING FOR A TRAIN
(Bill Spence)
Well the Grand Trunk Western slows down
To change the crew in our town
And the bells ring at the crossings all the time
So if you're in a hurry, no matter who you are
You'd better go around our town, or you won't get too far

You can wait down at Southside
You can wait up on Main
In Durand you can spend a lifetime
Waiting for a train

But if you're a railroad buff like me
Drive out to Durand and you'll see
Enough to keep you satisfied for many years to come
The crashing of the coupling cars
The lights flashing at the crossing guards
The trains keep rolling in and out of the Grand Trunk Railroad yards

You can wait down at Southside
You can wait up on Main
In Durand you can spend a lifetime
Waiting for a train

Now I don't mean to run 'em down
The railroads helped to build this town
Way back when the mighty tremblin' Iron Horse was king
Just stroll through our museum
Then close your eyes and dream
You can almost feel the earth shake
When you hear that wildcat whistle scream

You can wait down at Southside
You can wait up on Main
In Durand you can spend a lifetime
Waiting for a train

January 6th

[2014] Storm Snowfall Totals Are Out: Shiawassee County Hardest Hit In Michigan
The National Weather Service has released official snowstorm Ion snowfall totals for Michigan, and if it's a contest, Shiawassee county gets the "W." Owosso recorded a whopping 18.7 inches of weekend snowfall. Flint's 17.1 inches is good enough for the most snowfall in a major Michigan city, followed by Lansing, with 15 inches. We measured 16 inches on the northside of Durand and 15.8 on Durand's southside -- unscientifically. Did you take a measurement where you are? Share it here! 

Here are some more numbers from the National Weather Service:

Owosso 18.7"
Swartz Creek 18"
Fowlerville 17.5"
Flint 17.1"
North Branch 17"
Lapeer 16.5"
Corunna 16.4"
Linden 16"
Millington 16"
Peck 16"
Howell 15.9"
Clarkston 15.3"
Flushing 14.5"

In addition to the significant snowfall, dangerously low temperatures combined with brisk winds are a formula for life-threatening conditions. The National Weather Service provides the following chart for measuring how quickly a person can receive frostbite based on the temperature and wind. Monday night's projected low temperature for the Durand area is -7. Wind speeds are varying between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Based on those figures, according to the chart, frostbite would begin to set in within 30 minutes of being outdoors.

January 7th

[2015] Memorial Service for Owner of the 206 to Be Held On Sunday At Bar
Claralyn Tompkins, a Durand High School graduate that eventually served Durand residents as a self-employed accountant and co-owner of the legendary 206 Bar in downtown Durand, passed away on December 23rd.

Tompkins' is survived by her husband, Thomas; sons, Scott and Justin, and daughter-in-laws, Melissa and Jody, and several grandchildren.

On Sunday January 11th, a special memorial service for Tompkins will be held at the bar, located at 206 W. Main Street, from 1 to 5pm.  

"It's a very casual memorial service," Jody said, "all are invited, family friendly, just come on in and tell us a memory you have of Clara!"

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to benefit the Genesee County Humane Society.

Tompkins was 62.

Read more on our OBITUARIES page.

January 8th

[2018] Amidst Prep for Move to Saginaw Street, Water Line Break Closes Jim's Pizza
Jim's Pizza is preparing for a move to Saginaw Street, in the former RS Green Insurance Agency building. Since Greg Martin opened Jim's Pizza, it has been located on Main Street, just down the block from Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant. Martin told Durand Now on Monday afternoon that Jim's Pizza has to close until further notice after a water line in the upstairs apartment broke. Martin hasn't confirmed the anticipated opening date of Jim's new location, but there's been talk that it's expected in the coming weeks. When it opens, the new location of Jim's Pizza will be located at 215 N. Saginaw Street, across from Ed's Standard.

January  9th

[2016] New Dealership to Make Durand Home
A new Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM dealership will break ground near the intersection of Durand and Lansing roads if all things go as anticipated. Durand City Manager, Amy Roddy, told Durand Now in an email that Wiseman Realty made an offer to purchase city owned land. She said that the offer was acceptable and the city completed the necessary requirements to sell the land. The City Council approved the sale at the January 4th city council meeting and closing will take place in the next 30-45 days.

Roddy said a deal for Randy Wise Automotive Group to purchase Durand's longtime dealership, Tucker (formerly Jim Tucker) Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM, as well as other dealerships, is said to be in the works, but she could not confirm whether that deal had closed. We reached out to Justus Tucker, General Manager of Tucker, but have not yet heard back.

January 10th

[2018] Jim's Pizza Will Not Reopen On Main Street
While preparing for a move to a new location on Saginaw Street, Durand's favorite local pizza spot, Jim's Pizza, was forced to close unexpectedly on Tuesday due to a water line break in the upstairs apartment that impacted equipment and operations in the restaurant. Early on Wednesday morning, owner Greg Martin confirmed to Durand Now that he will, regrettably, not reopen the Main Street location. When Jim's Pizza reopens, it will be at the new location, in the former home of RS Green Insurance Agency, at 215 N. Saginaw Street.

In a Facebook post, Martin said "It is with regret that Jim’s Pizza will not be reopening at its current location of 216 W. Main Street due to circumstances beyond my control. Jim’s Pizza will be reopening at our new location of 215 N. Saginaw Street in the near future. Currently I do not have a specific date as to when the opening will be,but I will continue to post updates until we reopen. Thank you for your patience and continued support and I look forward to seeing you at our new location soon!"

January 12th

[2018] SageLink To Merge With Portland Federal Credit Union, Become PFCU
Portland Federal Credit Union and SageLink Credit Union, jointly announced their intent to merge subject to regulatory and membership approvals. As part of the merger agreement SageLink Credit Union will merge with Portland Federal Credit Union, who has applied for state charter and will be changing their name to become PFCU. The combined credit union will have total assets of $521 Million and 13 branch locations covering the following Michigan counties, Kent, Barry, Ionia, Ingham, Shiawassee and Genesee. This will make PFCU the 27th largest credit union in the state with a combined 46,000 members. 

“Helping members is what our credit unions are all about”, said Harvey Hoskins, CEO of Portland Federal Credit Union “We share similar values and goals with SageLink and through this merger we will be able to provide expanded products and services to our members, along with the same outstanding service they’ve come to expect from us over the past 70 years.”

“PFCU has a strong reputation in business lending to members that will enhance our lending platform and ability,” said SageLink CEO, Anna Willson. “Moreover, the adoption of technologies that SageLink brings in like, Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) and the combined product mix and support functions from both entities will allow the credit union to be a significant competitor in Michigan for years to come.”

The existing operating locations will retain their current name and branding, with SageLink Credit Union becoming, ‘SageLink a Division of PFCU’, for an interim time of up to 3 years from date of merger, ultimately becoming PFCU. Portland Federal Credit Union CEO, Harvey Hoskins will remain CEO and Anna Willson, president/CEO of SageLink, will join the PFCU executive team.

In addition to the increase of products and services offered, both parties have expressed their excitement about how this partnership will provide expanded convenience through a network of locations that will now incorporate parts of the I-69 and I-96 corridor. This will allow members face-to-face service opportunities that extend as far East as Flint and as far West as Caledonia, near Grand Rapids.

The intent to merge has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both credit unions and is expected to be completed at the beginning of the 2018 third quarter, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and membership approvals.

About Portland Federal Credit Union
The 70 year old Portland Federal Credit Union was established within the Holly Carburetor Plant in Portland, MI. Today, the credit union is a full‐service financial institution with seven office locations throughout mid/west Michigan, over 29,500 members and $321 million in assets. Harvey Hoskins, the CEO, has served the credit union for 27 years. To find out more, visit our website at www.pfcu4me.com.

About SageLink Credit Union
The 81 year old SageLink Credit Union was established through Shiawassee Teacher’s Credit Union in Corunna, MI. Today, the credit union is a full-service financial institution with 6 locations in Shiawassee and Genesee Counties and over 17,300 members and $200 million in assets. Anna Willson, the CEO, has served the credit union for 36 years. To find out more, visit our website at www.sagelinkcu.com.

January 13th

[2013] Durand Gets A New Chief of Police
A new Chief of Police was sworn in at the Durand City Council meeting on Monday night. Jason Hartz, a 16 year veteran of the force, will replace outgoing Chief Sampey. His first order of business was naming Officer Clayton Pletscher Durand's new Sergeant. Pletscher was given the option to accept the newly created title and he did. The decision to promote Hartz was approved unanimously by city council. 

Sampey had served in the capacity part-time, while also serving part-time as Byron's Chief of Police and holding a third full-time job. City Manager, Amy Roddy, who issued the "oath of office" to Hartz on Monday night, said that Durand needed a full-time Chief and Sampey could not provide that service alongside his other responsibilities.

Chief Hartz is working on his Master's degree in Criminal Justice and has been married to his wife, Stephanie, for 15 years.

[2016] A Dress for Every Girl, A Price for Every Budget -- New Business Opens In Lennon
Marla Brisbin was born and raised in Durand. She now lives near Lennon -- she recently told Durand Now that she loves the quaint little village type business areas. She said she was inspired to open her new shop, Diva On A Dime, after homecoming dress shopping last year with two of her granddaughters.  

She said seeing how expensive and hard it was to find a wide variety of sizes, she decided that she wanted to help as many girls that she could find the dress of their dreams at a very affordable price.  

Marla's motto is "A dress for every girl. A price for every budget." She said dresses will sell for $40. Dresses will also be available to rent for $20. An additional $20 rental deposit will be required, but will be returned provided the rented dress is comes back to the shop free of holes, rips, stains and other damage.

Diva On A Dime officially opened on Monday and will be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 10am to 6pm. The formal dress resale shop is located on Main Street between Baker Insurance and Midway Bar.

January 14th

[2013] Durand's New Fire Truck Has Arrived
Replacing engine 604 that has been in service since 1985, Durand welcomed the newest truck to its' fleet last week, a 34-foot Smeal Pumper. Funds from the sale of the outgoing truck helped cover the cost of the new truck, which ran the city more than $300,000.

[2017] Durand Now LLC Posts 29% Revenue Increase, Launches Another New Site In 2016
Durand Now LLC posted its highest annual earnings in 2016, with a 29% increase in total revenue over 2015; a 29% increase in cash business and a 65% increase in trade business. The increase also reflects growth in the company's website development business, Railroad City Design, which has been building and maintaining websites for numerous local businesses and organizations since 2013.

Durand Now LLC began as a single local news website, DurandNOW.com, launched September 1st 2012. Quick revenue and website traffic growth fueled an investigation into the launch of a "sister" site. On April 19th 2014, CorunnaNOW.com made its official debut, marking the first of several major events that year.  

On June 4th 2014, the Limited Liability Company, Durand Now LLC, was formed, and just months later, another new website was launched; Uplift Shiawassee (UpShia.com), a website to serve the entire county with a focus on positive news stories and community information.

The calendar year 2015 marked Durand Now LLC's highest trafficked calendar year to date, with nearly a half million page views across the three websites, the majority of which came from DurandNOW.com. That year also brought the acquisition of two more website URLs representing Shiawassee county communities; PerryPulse.com and OwossoNOW.com, and a partnership with Cano's Broadcasting's WOAP radio that included a new website for the radio stations that was powered by Durand Now LLC.

Between May 11th and December 1st 2015, PerryPulse.com redirected to CorunnaNOW.com. Between November 1st 2015 and July 14th 2016, OwossoNOW.com pointed to UpShia.com. The new WOAP website launched on October 1st 2015.

PerryPulse.com served the Perry community with news and information under different ownership from June 2013 to February 2015. In February 2015 the URL was allowed to expire. When PerryPulse.com was returned to the Domain Registry in May 2015, Durand Now LLC acquired it. On December 1st 2015, the new PerryPulse.com went live.

OwossoNOW.com did a "soft" launch on July 14th 2016, offering only the standard community calendar and Yard Sale Directory seen on other Durand Now LLC sites and sharing Owosso-focused news stories published by WOAP. In September 2016 WOAP built and launched their own website, effectively ending the partnership with Durand Now LLC. Three months later, on December 16th 2016, OwossoNOW.com posted its first proprietary story. The design of OwossoNOW.com remains very different than the original Durand Now LLC sites.

Plans for increased expansion in 2017 are in the works, including a new county-focused website.

Here is a breakdown of 2016 stats for each Durand Now LLC website:

Mobirise

Durand Now LLC boasts the greatest total potential social media reach of any Shiawassee County media organization. In addition to the combined 9,566 fans of each brand's various social media platforms, in 2016 Durand Now LLC entered into an agreement with the Owosso News and Events Facebook page to add an additional 1,454 fans. Further, Durand Now LLC Publisher Josh Strickland's pages increase potential reach by 6,162 Facebook, 1,984 Twitter and 1,594 Instagram fans and followers, bringing the grand total social media reach for Durand Now LLC to 20,760.

Argus-Press tops out at 13,446 between its Facebook and two Twitter accounts. FriendsandCommunity Owosso reaches 12,137 on Facebook. Friends and Community Shiawassee County reaches 10,791 on Facebook. WOAP-AM/FM reaches 10,550 between its Twitter and two Facebook accounts. WRSR-FM reaches 5,030 between Facebook and Twitter. Independent Newsgroup reaches 2,087 on Facebook. WJSZ-FM reaches 669 on Facebook.

Durand Now LLC will expand its reach in 2017 via YouTube and its free direct-to-inbox news delivery service, The Email Express. Currently, Durand Now LLC currently has 85 subscribers on YouTube and 522 subscribers to The Email Express.

January 17th

[2013] DurandNOW.com Launches #DigDurand
Are you on Twitter? We're launching the #DigDurand campaign! It's a new way to show your Railroader Pride. FOLLOW US at twitter.com/DurandNOW and be sure to tag any tweet that references something you love in Durand with #DigDurand!

January 18th

[2017] Durand Business Gets Shout Out In Michigan State of the State Address
Governor Rick Snyder presented his State of the State address on Tuesday January 17th. During the approximately hour long speech he recognized a growing Shiawassee County business, calling it one of the "greatest companies in the world."

2nd Chance Wood recently acquired property in Durand's "Innovation Center" in order to expand from its location on M-71 in Vernon. The company opened in Vernon in 2010. 2nd Chance Wood will invest $2.5 million to construct a new building and add more than 50 new jobs.

Speaking of the company, Snyder said "They could have gone to Texas, Wisconsin... they're in Michigan."

2nd Chance Wood repurposes lumber from old trees, barns and demolition sites, Snyder told the audience that included Durand Mayor Pro-Tem, Dr. Brian Boggs, and former Owosso Mayor and State Representative Ben Frederick.

Watch the entire State of the State address below. The 2nd Chance Wood shout out happens at 42:30.

January 19th

[2013] Argus Calls Durand Now 'Competition'
The Argus-Press officially considers DurandNOW.com competition. ...and that makes us feel good. 

Last week we were contacted by a reporter with the century-and-a-half old newspaper that was interested in writing an article about DurandNOW.com. The reporter indicated that they like what DurandNOW.com is doing and don't think that the two entities are exactly 'competition.'   

Admittedly, we thought it curious that the big Shiawassee County newspaper would want to feature, or even make mention of, 'the little website that could', that, while perhaps not an actual full-on competitor, aims to be the authority on happenings in Durand. The general rule of business competition as I know it, is the underdog pokes at the heritage. The heritage should never acknowledge the underdog.

Unlike DurandNOW.com, Durand isn't the Argus' primary focus, but it does fall within the scope of the paper's primary service area, so, naturally, we started theorizing on strategic reasons the Argus would choose to highlight DurandNOW.com. One suspicion was that by bringing more attention to our site,  it would encourage readers of a certain other Durand-focused periodical to sample it and, perhaps, "make the switch."

The benefit to the Argus?

That "certain other Durand-focused periodical" is produced by an Owosso-based company that makes periodicals for several communities throughout Shiawassee County, making their enterprise as a whole, a full-on competitor of the Argus. If the Argus was able to damage one of their papers, it would certainly have an effect on the company as a whole, rendering the Argus stronger across the county. Besides, it's not going to hurt the Argus to send a few of their own readers to DurandNOW.com, right? The Argus covers the county. DurandNOW.com just covers Durand.

Thus, the relatively easy decision was made to accept the offer and allow the Argus to write a story about DurandNOW.com.  

A day had passed (we were kinda busy) so we sent a late night email back to that reporter. We read the reporter's response the next morning. It said "My boss put the kibosh on my idea. He thinks Durand Now and the Argus are competitors."

This outcome may actually be better than having been "featured in the paper," aka, having been used as a pawn in -- what we thought would have been -- a really smart, strategic and sneaky move.

I guess that reporter really does like DurandNOW.com.

...and, I guess DurandNOW.com and the Argus are... competitors.

For the record, we have never identified the Argus as competition. We're not trying to do what they do. As for that certain other Durand-focused periodical...

[2014] Official: Durand Superintendent To Retire
Cindy Weber, Superintendent of Durand schools,made official what has been speculated about in the past year; she'll be leaving the district. Weber announced that she would retire, effective June 30th, 2014, at the January Board of Education meeting. In May of 2013, Weber interviewed for the position of Superintendent of Midland Public Schools, amidst financial challenges and cuts to staff in Durand, causing a whirlwind of controversy and helping to fuel the growth of Facebook groups like Operation Railroader Pride. The group, which went online in April of 2013 under the name Committee to Support Durand Schools, began as a support mechanism for helping to get the Headlee renewal passed in August. The renewal passed overwhelmingly.

January 20th

[2018] GoFundMe Established As Part of Efforts to Restore Historic Village Community Hall
The Bancroft Planning Commission, with the help of local volunteers, is seeking to restore the local Community Hall. For over 70 years the hall has functioned as a central hub for many events in the Village of Bancroft including wedding and funeral dinners, community yard sales, dances, church functions and even town hall meetings.

Early in its existence, the structure served as an egg processing plant. The war-era Quonset hut was donated to the village in the 1940s by a local businessman, for use as a community hall.

Over the years of use, however, the building has deteriorated to an unusable condition which has forced the people of Bancroft to make a choice: either sell off their community center or to take action and seek to restore it. Many in the community did not want to see this facility, which has been such a beloved building in the lives of the people of Bancroft, be sold for private use. They want to see it remain a community hall that is available for the community to use.

It is for this reason that the Bancroft Village Council has granted approval for local volunteers, in conjunction with the Planning Commission, to raise the necessary funds and seek grants in order to see the Bancroft Community Hall restored and become a usable and attractive center of the Village.

After seeking initial bids and estimates, the Planning Commission has set a goal of raising $200,000 to fund this project. This cost will do more than simply make the Community Hall a useable structure. The dream, instead, is to make this building an excellent space that the people of Bancroft and the surrounding areas will seek out and desire to use for their community events.

This fundraising and restoration is a grassroots campaign and is made up entirely of local volunteers who want to see this vision become a reality. If you would like to stay in touch with regular updates about this project, please “like” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bancroftcommunity/. If you would like to donate to help restore this beloved, local community center you can give at www.gofundme.com/bancroftcommunityhallrestoration or you can send a check to “The Village of Bancroft,” P.O. Box 97, Bancroft, MI. 48414 with a memo to “Restoration Fund.” Or, if you would like to be involved in some other way or have any further questions about how you can help, feel free to call Linda Wert at (810) 516-6929.

January 21st

[2015] Proud Papa Announces Birth of Son "To Be Raised In Durand"
New dad, CJ Lauderdale, proudly announced the birth of a son born to him and mom, Darcy Shay, on January 19th. Keegan Alexander Lauderdale was born at 6:22am, weighing it at 9 pounds and measuring 20 inches. Mom and baby are healthy and CJ says we can count Keegan among new arrivals in 2015 that will be raised in the Railroad City.

Congratulations CJ and Darcy! Welcome to the newest Railroader!

January 23rd

[2016] New Durand Chamber of Commerce Board Meets for First Time
After being closed for more than six months beginning in late 2014, The Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce re-opened in mid-2015 under new direction. The Chamber's new Director, Kathy Olund, began working with City Manager and Board President Amy Roddy to assemble a new board.  

On January 21st 2016, the new board met for the first time in the Chamber conference room.

Members of the new Durand Chamber of Commerce board are Christi Johnson - Allstate Insurance, Mike Fuja - Jon Michaels Fine Jewelers, Josh Strickland - Durand Now, Robert Tyrell - Webcor Packaging, Jeri Birchmeier - Durand Senior Care & Rehab, Yvonne Ryan - Blackmore-Rowe Insurance, Betty Fuller - Iron Horse Pub and Craig McCrumb - Superintendant of Durand Area Schools.

Elections for leadership positions and a determination of term lengths for each member are planned for the coming months.

On Wednesday January 20th, the first meeting to prepare for the 2016 End of Summer Cruisin' event was held at the chamber office, attended by numerous past cruise participants. The board and members of the public will continue to develop plans for this year's event at future meetings. The next is scheduled for March 16th.

The next board meeting is planned for February 18th.

The Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce is on Facebook! Click here to LIKE, and check out the Chamber's brand new website at durandchamber.com.

[2017] Citizens Bank Closes; First Merit To Follow
Citizens Bank, formerly Charter One and prior to that, known as First Federal of Michigan, has closed.

First Merit Bank, which has two locations in downtown Durand, has also announced it will close both locations this year.

36 other First Merit and Huntington Bank branches throughout the state will also close as part of a merger of the two institutions. The closings are expected in first quarter, according to Craine's Detroit Business.

Meanwhile, Fifth Third Bank Risk and Administration Manager, Mike Modlin, confirmed with the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce that the branch located at 5300 Durand Road, at the intersection of W. Monroe, will not close as had been speculated by some.

The closure of Citizens and First Merit leaves just Fifth Third and SageLink Credit Union in Durand. SageLink's corporate headquarters is located at 311 N. Saginaw Street in Durand.

[2017] Jumbo Video Closes Abruptly
The "OPEN" sign is off. Durand's last video store, Jumbo Video, has closed. Cardholders say no notice was given before the store, located in Durand Plaza, formerly Monroe Plaza, ended operations earlier this month.

"On Demand" options at home and kiosk-style rentals have increasingly challenged traditional video rental stores. Video rental chain, Blockbuster Video, closed all its remaining stores in early 2014.  

Since Blockbuster's closing, Family Video is the largest video rental chain. It operates a location in Owosso.

January 24th

Three special anniversaries were celebrated at the Shiawassee District Library in 2014. The library system observed its first twenty years of service, the Durand Memorial Branch celebrated 60 years in operation, and the Owosso Branch celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Shiawassee District Library
The Shiawassee District Library was formed on July 1st, 1994 when the cities of Durand and Owosso, and Bennington, Owosso and Rush townships merged to create a new library system including the former Durand Memorial and Owosso Public Libraries. Ken Uptigrove, former Owosso Public Library Director, was hired to serve at SDL’s first director.

The library’s direct millage provided a stable source of funding, increased the books and materials purchasing for each branch, and allowed for building improvements. Technology improvements over SDL’s first few years included a new automated circulation system and website. Public access computers were added at each branch and now total 15 at Owosso and 7 at Durand. Wireless Internet access was added in 2004. Downloadable books and music are also available.

Durand Memorial Library
The Durand Memorial Branch first opened its doors in March 1954 after seven years of community effort to construct the building. Most of the early collection of books was borrowed from the state library and many of the furnishings were handcrafted and donated by the community. Iva Stevenson served as the first librarian.

Use of the library and the size of the collection increased rapidly so that a children’s room was added in 1971. Another addition was built in the summer of 1980 to house the fiction and non-fiction collections. In 1989 the library’s reading room was constructed.

The library’s collection grew through the years as well. Books continued to be borrowed from the Michigan State Library into the 1970’s to supplement the small collection. LP records were available in the 1960’s, but were later replaced with cassette tapes and eventually music CD’s in the 1980’s. A small collection of 8mm films were purchased in the 1970’s. Videocassette movies were eventually replaced with DVD films, and Blu-ray movies were added in 2012.

To stabilize and increase funding for the Durand Memorial Library, the library became a branch of the Shiawassee District Library when SDL formed in 1994.  

SDL in 2014
Both branches of the Shiawassee District Library were busy during 2014 with 190 programs attended by more than 3,800 people. Programs were held on writing family history, ghost hunting, Christmas wreath making, and more. Both branches also offered winter reading programs for adults.  

Children’s services during the year included Lego block parties, craft programs, Wii days, and more. Children and their families were invited to hands on science programs, live animal encounters, story hours, and more events during the Fizz Boom Read! summer reading program.  

Shiawassee District Library offers a collection of 97,800 items including 80,500 books, 3,600 music CD’s, 2,200 CD and cassette books, 1,880 movies on DVD and Blu-ray, and subscriptions to 15 newspapers and 163 magazines within its two locations. The Overdrive downloadable books collection contains more than 8,000 titles.  

104,000 people visited the libraries during 2014 and more than 69,200 books, movies, and more were borrowed from the Durand and Owosso branches during 2014. Patrons also borrowed more than 4,300 books and other items through MelCat, the statewide interlibrary loan service. Almost 5,200 Overdrive books and more than 900 Freegal music tracks were downloaded.

Each of Shiawassee District Library’s participating municipalities is represented on the library board. Current board officers include: President Robert Smith of City of Durand, Vice-President Tom Smith of City of Durand, Treasurer Rosemary Schultz of City of Owosso, and Secretary Denice Grace of City of Owosso. Trustees on the board include: Ed Humphrey of Bennington Township, Joan Aue of City of Owosso, and Robert Teich Jr. of City of Owosso. Long time board member Kitty Campbell of Rush Township resigned from the board in November.

“2014 was a year to celebrate our special anniversaries; SDL’s 20 years of service, Durand Branch’s 60th anniversary, and the Owosso Branch’s centennial. We are looking forward to many more years of library service in our communities as Shiawassee District Library continues to change, improve, and offer new services in the future”, says Steven Flayer, Library Director.

L to r: Mayor Norm Sparling (with shovel), VFW Past Commander Stuart Coleman, Mrs. Rex (Mae) Teeters, VFW Past Commander Bob Grice (with shovel)/Courtesy Photo

Mobirise

January 25th

[2015] VIDEO: See Durand Union Station, The City By Drone
There's nothing quite like a birds-eye view. Thanks to "drone" technology, we're able to see Durand Union Station and the City of Durand from a whole new perspective. Thanks to Jim Shaw (@jimshawdotnet) for capturing the captivating images!

We want your train videos! Snap a clip ANYWHERE of ANYTHING train-related, and let us share it on our YouTube channel! Email the link to breaking@durandnow.com!

January 26th

[2013] Anniversary: Blizzard of 1967
It was on this date in 1967 that Michigan got blasted with a fierce snowstorm that left an estimated 50,000 cars and 1,100 buses stranded in Chicago, and hundreds there were arrested for looting. Check out our "You Know You're From Durand, Michigan When..." gallery for pics taken in Durand after the storm. Click here or here to see video taken after the storm.

January 27th

[2014] "Original Capital" Historical Marker Stolen from Shiatown West Park
Shiawassee Township Supervisor, Anthony Karhoff, is once again expressing his dismay after being notified by a Shiawassee County Sheriff's deputy on Saturday that another historic marker has gone missing. The plaque, located at Shiatown West Park, was placed almost 90 years ago by the Daughters of the American Revolution Shiawassee county chapter, noting the land's original designation, "for public use," when Shiawasseetown was platted in 1837. It was the anticipation by the area's early settlers that the state capital would be located at Shiawasseetown.

In September last year, the Knaggs Bridge Historical marker was stolen from outside Burns Grange #160. The marker was found a month later in the waters of Geeck Road Park. In December, grave markers and headstones were stolen from local cemetaries.  

Karhoff is personally offering a reward, and he says some residents have contributed to the reward, all in an effort to identify those responsible and prevent future incidents.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Shiawassee County Sheriff's Department at (989) 743-3411.

January 30th

[2014] Durand Principal Wins Award
Christa Bowman, Principal at Bertha Neal Elementary, was honored recently for her devotion, energy and innovative leadership style by the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association. Bowman received the Principal of the Year Award in Region VIII which covers Shiawassee, Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties. Bowman is the first principal from Durand Area Schools to receive the award since MEMSPA began issuing it 36 years ago.

[2016] Flint Water Crisis: Girl Scouts Will Host Bottled Water Drive In Durand Today
Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan are taking the quest for clean water to the streets of Durand. Amidst the Flint Water Crisis, where more than 20,000 Flint homes are affected by high levels of lead in water, affecting more than 100,000 people, the Girl Scouts will set up at two locations in Durand today. Beginning at 11am, the girls will be at Wendy's collecting bottled water, empty pop cans and bottles and hosting a bake sale, to benefit the residents of Flint. While that event continues until 5pm, Girl Scouts will also begin a similar collection at Papa Joe's, downtown, at 1pm. That drive will also end at 5pm.

On Friday, Governor Rick Snyder signed a $28 million bill to provide supplemental aid to the residents of Flint. On Thursday, the Governor issued a proclamation extending the Flint Water Emergency until April 14th.

Also on Thursday, Lt. Governor Brian Calley announced a water bottle recycling plan for Flint residents, to keep bottles out of landfills. Governor Snyder tweeted yesterday that the state has distributed more than 200,000 bottles of water, 100,000 filters and 30,000 water testing kits in Flint.

Meanwhile, a $10 million project began last year to replace much of Durand's outdated water and sewer infrastructure. You can get complete and regular updates directly from the architects and engineers on our REBUILDING DURAND page.

January 31st

[2015] Depot Receives One-of-a-Kind Donation With Significant Local Historical Relevance
A one-of-a-kind item with major historical importance to steam railroading, national railroading history, and even Durand history, was recently donated to the Michigan Railroad History Museum. The front number plate from Grand Trunk Western Engine #6319 was given to the museum by Mr. Ken Gilson of Tennessee, and is already on display in the Museum.

Engine #6319 is historically significant, as it was the engine to pull the very last regularly-scheduled passenger train on steam power in the entire United States. The last run, conducted on March 27th 1960, began in Detroit and concluded in Durand. The passenger demand for this last trip was so high that a sister engine, GTW #6322, was brought out of retirement to pull as well. These two engines and their final run represent the end of the steam era for railroading in the nation.

The number plate joins a previous donation by Ms. Janis Bancroft of Grand Ledge, who, in May of 2014, graciously donated the brass bell from the locomotive in honor of her father, longtime machinist and Superintendent of the Grand Trunk Yard in Battle Creek, William “Harry” Calladine.

The engine itself has been dismantled, meaning the number plate and bell are two of the only surviving artifacts from this important locomotive. It is the view of the staff at the Museum that these two items belong together, and there is no better place in the country for the two items to be displayed than the site of its final trip, Durand Union Station.

Durand Union Station, Inc. and the Michigan Railroad History Museum are beyond grateful to Mr. Gilson and Ms. Bancroft for their donations and are excited to share the story of the end of the steam era with the community of Durand and the State of Michigan at large.

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!

Mobirise

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

Mobirise

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
READ THE WHOLE STORY

February 26th

[2018] From The Express To Now - Chapter Two
READ THE WHOLE STORY

February 27th

[2018] From The Express To Now - Chapter Three
READ THE WHOLE STORY

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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