Letters to the Editor
May 9, 2013

To the Editor:
Dear VCTC Commissioners,
As a concerned resident of Fillmore, an employee of Fillmore & Western Railway and a ten year board member of the Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau, I’m asking you to commit to learn everything you can and accept suggestions made for keeping the Santa Paula Branch Line a viable, workable rail line. I understand that the key issue is having the SPBL generate revenues for VCTC, equal to the point that it costs to maintain the line.
My career expertise is in the travel and tourism marketing industry, the first 6 years in hospitality/hotel sales and the last 14 years for Ventura County’s tourist railroad and as a destination marketer for the Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau. I have seen first-hand what tourism spending has done for the communities of Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Simi Valley and in Fillmore and Santa Paula. I’ve been very involved as a partner with the Ventura, Oxnard and Santa Clarita tourism bureaus in various ways.
To “mothball” the Santa Paula Branch Line would obviously force Fillmore & Western Railway to close it’s doors. The Railway attracts 50,000-70,000 visitors every year for train rides, events, festivals, not only in Fillmore, but also in Santa Paula and Piru. These tourists stay in hotels, eat at our restaurants, shop in our stores, buy their gasoline at our service stations, in other words, they come, spend their money and go home. Tourism is the # 1 industry in Los Angeles. For the first time, there was over $102.3 Billion dollars in direct travel-related consumer spending in the state of California in 2011. Figures are not in yet for 2012, but the state tourism office forecasts that $107 billion total travel-related consumer spending will take place this year. The Heritage Valley depends on travel and tourism dollars, not only the railroad, but the antique and collectible stores, the restaurants, the lodging establishments, not counting the people employed in these travel-related industries. To force the largest tourism driver in this area to go out of business, is blatantly proclaiming that it isn’t of value or important to the commissioners of VCTC. If the Railroad closes its doors because of a VCTC decision, it would devastate the economy of the Heritage Valley.
The owner and consultant of Fillmore & Western have made suggestions to staff of VCTC for the last three years on ways to generate more revenue, it has fallen on deaf ears, and I believe the information was not passed on to the commissioners. How can you make informed decisions, if VCTC staff does not give you the information that will educate you on the subject?
The railroad has had opportunities to haul freight on the line, and is willing to give a portion of the revenue from that to VCTC, but was told by Union Pacific that VCTC staff told them specifically not to allow Fillmore & Western to haul freight. Were you informed of the decision, unilaterally made? When the Weyerhauser Plant was still operating in Santa Paula, Union Pacific made deliveries of supplies to and from that business, they did not contribute any monies from their profits to VCTC, nor did they pay any maintenance on the tracks that they hauled the freight on from Montalvo to Santa Paula.
The right of way along the railway, is 50 feet from the center line of the track, mostly agriculture farmland and commercial nurseries operate along the line, outside of city limits. This right of way belongs to VCTC. Fillmore & Western has recommended many times over the last several years, that leases be generated with the farm and ranch owners if they want to “use the right of way” for their employee parking and equipment movement. It has fallen on deaf ears. Has VCTC staff ever informed you of this possibility to generate revenue along the Santa Paula Branch Line?
Getting politically involved is not what I do, but I feel as if I have no choice but to speak out and put forth some of the deliberate machinations that are being levied with a bias and malicious intent by VCTC staff towards Fillmore & Western Railway. My livelihood, my job and the jobs of my fellow employees, are in jeopardy if the commissioners make the decision to abandon the branch line, or if Fillmore & Western is not allowed to haul freight on the line.
The originators of the agreement between VCTC and Fillmore & Western, generated the agreement with a long term vision, and Fillmore & Western has certainly operated in good faith with a commitment to stay in it for the long haul. We maintain the line, repair and replace crossing arms when motorists knock them down or a rancher’s hired help bends the rails with tractors, all with the expectation that VCTC shares in the responsibility to pay a fair wage to those employees that do the work.
Recently, when invoices have been sent to VCTC from Fillmore & Western, we get word back that they (VCTC) have changed their bookkeeping practices and now the invoice has to be accompanied by new information, yet delaying payment further. It often takes many invoices and many phone calls to get payment that is morally and ethically due the railroad.
I hope that this information has given you reason to pause and ponder the serious situation of honoring the original lease agreement, or willingness to renegotiate the lease in a fair and transparent manner, keeping in mind, that many jobs and the local economy depend on your informed vote.
Thank you for time and consideration.
Kathleen McCreary


To the Editor:
Do you remember when you graduated from high school? It all seemed like so much fun! But little did we know how much our parents were sitting home, worried sick, knowing that we were out all night at the after parties to all hours. They prayed until the door opened and you were safely in bed. The things we put our parents threw!
Now! For the big one!! You are the parent sitting at home, your child is getting ready to graduate. They have been invited to a party, which will go on all night! You have heard of the car accidents that have happened in the year since you have graduated, and you think about how lucky you where, and you start to worry about your child. Will they be as lucky as you?
The answer is YES!!! It is called Grad Nite Live! Let us take them for the night. But we need your HELP!! It takes money to rent the buses and the boat. Grad Nite Live is having its yearly Yard Sale this Saturday May 11, 2013. It starts at 8:00am & goes to 3:00pm. We need stuff, and more stuff to sale, we also need people to help! People to help set up, please be at the Fillmore District Office on Sespe Ave at 6:00am.
If your child is a senior you really should be there! If your child is not yet a senior, come help so you will learn what to do when it’s your turn. If your child has grown, then we know at some time you will be a grandparent!!!
Please call me if you can help,
Thank you,
Terrie Metzler

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To the Editor:
Several years ago I made an inquiry as to the rough railroad crossings in Fillmore. The reply I got was that it was not the city or the railroads responsibility. Since then they have improved 4 of the crossings. The last one being on A street when they made the overlay. I noticed that they are going to overlay Sespe between A Street and Old Telegraph road. Surely we can find enough money to fix this crossing also. By the way, who in the h*** is responsible for fixing these crossings? It would be nice to know.
I would like to get a reply from the City and Railroad about what their plans are.
Ernie King