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City should support rail plan

Editor's View
By: Don Chaddock
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Rarely do I actually give my opinion on a subject. But I believe it’s time I weigh in on one project trying to build some steam — excursion runs from Folsom on the old rail line. Last week, I had the opportunity to ride on the old rail line from Folsom out to the washout of the line near Latrobe. The hope of organizers is to raise funds to restore the line so visitors can take a small excursion railcar up to Latrobe and eventually all the way to Shingle Springs. While residing in Carson City, Nev., there was a push by a grassroots organization to do something similar with the old Virginia & Truckee Railroad. They wanted to restore the track from Virginia City down to near Carson City, but naysayers said it was too costly and there would not be enough interest. The Nevada train supporters needed to build a trestle to span a mining pit, an overpass to cross Highway 50, restore two mountain tunnels, and lay down more than 16 miles of fresh track, at a cost of $54 million. Well, the group has completed about the first half of the project and now offers rides from Moundhouse (just outside Carson City) up to Virginia City. By 2012, they expect to have the old line restored. The Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Association (FEDSHRA) is in a much better position, in my opinion, than the old V&T simply because most of our track is still here. It’s a little banged up, sure, but it hasn’t been torn apart. The tracks between Carson City and Virginia City, for example, were removed in 1941. Money for the Nevada project came from a tourism grant, a 1/8-cent sales tax in Carson City, neighboring counties, the Nevada State Railway Foundation and a few other sources. According to Bill Anderson, president of FEDSHRA, no public funds are being sought to restore our local rail line. They hope to accomplish the task through good old-fashioned volunteerism, private donations and fundraisers. I believe city leaders, as they move forward to annex the area south of Highway 50, should bear in mind the importance of the rail excursion project and what it could mean in terms of tourism dollars for city coffers. The railroad is already in place and other than a few road crossings, this shouldn’t present a problem for the city. ODDS AND ENDS Joe Gagliardi, Folsom Chamber of Commerce’s top dog, seems to have more pep in his step of late and an observant Kerri Howell, our esteemed city council woman, made note of Joe’s smooth stride. “Congratulations to Mr. Gagliardi who is walking much better than he was a few months ago,” Howell said during last Tuesday night’s council meeting. “Aren’t you supposed to have your cane?” For those who are unaware, Joe recently had hip-replacement surgery. … Speaking of Joe, he was at the council meeting to discuss the new FLASH (Folsom Lake Area Shopping) Pass program. He said the cards contain e-offers for local businesses to receive discounts or two-for-one deals. “(The FLASH Pass) stimulates local business, local nonprofits, keeps consumer spending in the Folsom area, provides tax revenues for community services (and) savings for local consumers,” Joe said. “The card (is) a Web-based program (that is) dynamic so it can grow as more businesses participate.” In short, if you buy a card, you can visit folsomflashpass.com to see what businesses are participating. This way, as more businesses join the program, it can be updated immediately. Think of it as a new and improved entertainment coupon book that can be changed at will, giving the program much more flexibility. To learn more, call the chamber at 985-2698. … City Manager Kerry Miller recently displayed some lack of critter knowledge when he referred to a group of goats as a flock. Mayor Steve Miklos was quick to poke fun at the faux pas. “We know what a city boy (you are),” Steve said. “A ‘flock’ of goats? It’s a herd.” The goats were used for weed abatement in the Empire Ranch area. … Telegraph Editor Don Chaddock can be reached by email at donc@goldcountrymedia.com or by calling (916) 351-3753.