CADILLAC — If just one kid gets interested in engineering, it will have been worth it.
So says Chandlar Gabara, a member of the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Class of 2021. The class project is fundraising to refurbish the Shay Locomotive historical marker in Cadillac and to modernize the learning experience there by adding QR codes “and things of that nature,‘ Gabara said.
“It is our team’s mission to assure that we as a community pay our respects to the mechanical marvel, for all that has done for us,‘ Gabara said.
The Shay Locomotive, now displayed in City Park across from After 26 and The Market at Cadillac Commons, is considered important to the region’s history because locomotives like it allowed the logging industry to operate year-round.
The Chamber’s Leadership Class is raising about $70,000 to give the Shay Locomotive display a new look. The project will raise the roof on the shelter, remove columns that block the view of the machine and add nighttime lighting. In addition to the QR codes to enhance the learning experience, a local historian is digitizing Shay records.
Investing in the Shay is also part of the vision for placemaking in Cadillac, of a piece with the Market at Cadillac Commons, the fireplace and splashpad and the new trailhead for the White Pine Trail.
“It’s more important now than ever to really give our Commons that identity, and just really show what direction Cadillac wants to go in,‘ Gabara said.
John Wallace, the city’s community development director, is also a member of the Chamber’s leadership class this year.
Refurbishing the Shay display is a dream come true for some.
“There were probably about four or five community members that came to the city, about two or three years ago and they were on this project,‘ Wallace said. “And I sat in on one or two meetings at that time and they were just not able to get the traction that they needed.‘
But the 2021 leadership class unanimously went for it (the vote had to be unanimous because of Wallace’s involvement; usually simple majority decides which project the class pursues but that’s not the case when one of the class members is involved in the project outside of the leadership class).
The class is in the final steps of fundraising and is asking the community to pitch in.
By purchasing a commemorative brick, you can have your name tied to the project, though those donations will need to be in by June 15. Other donations can be given into July, Wallace said. Wallace anticipated that the project could be completed this summer.
The link to donate is here: https://www.cadillac.org/shay-showcase/