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Board OKs train restoration project

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An iconic Collierville landmark will soon be restored.
The town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-1 on Monday night to pay $171,500 for repairs to the locomotive, tender car and caboose just south of the Historic Town Square.
Alderman Tom Allen asked for the Board to consider postponing the project and using the funds to improve the salaries of town employees.
“I know we’ve set aside money for this and I know it needs (repairs),” he said, “but this time I just can’t vote for spending money on a train when we’re losing employees about every week.
“I think it behooves us to protect our employees first,” he continued. “They’re what makes us look good. We could put this off another year or two and use that money to increase the salaries of our employees.”
Two years ago, Memphis approved a resolution that transferred ownership of the train to Collierville on the condition that the town would preserve and maintain it.
Aldermen Billy Patton said the town should work to honor the agreement with Memphis.
“I think the locomotive was a great donation to the town,” he noted. “It is an icon that does need to be preserved.
“Once we acquired ownership,” he continued, “part of the agreement is that we would preserve it. This actually honors the agreement.”
Patton said the Board plans to discuss the matter of compensation improvements for town employees at a later date but called the restoration project a “separate subject.”
The project calls for the removal of asbestos and lead paint from the train and applying a fresh coat of primer and paint to affected areas.
Work could begin in as soon as a week and completion is slated for 60 days or less.
The locomotive and tender car were built in 1912 for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad.

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