Group in the former Waiting Room at the old Galion Train Station listening to State Rep. Steve Reinhard praising the City of Galion for their work and planning done to save the Station.

City celebrates depot restoration project

By CYNTHIA DEAN Inquirer Staff Writer

Galion's Big Four Depot isn't having a birthday but it was the subject of a celebration yesterday. Members of the community, historical groups and state and community leaders were all on-hand to step off the latest revitalization effort for the landmark.
Recent passage of the state's capital budget revealed the city will be on the receiving end of $50,000 thanks to the efforts of State Rep. Steve Reinhard. Reinhard called the city and asked if there was a project appropriate for the budget and the call was answered with over 400 pages of information on the depot and the effort to save it. According to City Manager Phil Honsey, the amount requested was considerably higher than what the state budgeted. "We asked for half-a-million and got $50,000," said Honsey in an earlier interview. Yesterday Reinhard commented on the amount.
"This is the first time someone put in a request for the state budget and didn't get what they wanted and still held a celebration," he said laughing. The amount was lower due to the states' trimming expenses for 2003.
Reinhard praised the city and its citizens for the work and planning done years ago to make the appearance in the budget possible.
Calling to mind the depot's importance to the community, Reinhard mentioned the depot's history with military personnel and said the depot could be a place where the veterans commission could gather and have a place of their own.
The military history was shared later by former funeral director Bob Richardson who spoke of his years helping funeral director Herman Volk come to get the bodies of those who gave their lives for the United States in the Korean War.
Richardson recalled there was room for two funeral cars between the depot and its annex building. He said funeral directors would wait with the families of the deceased in the lobby during middle of the night transfer of the war dead.
A military escort accompanied the caskets and was always the first person off the train. The escort stayed with the casket until it was in the funeral home. While in Galion, Richardson said the escort would stay at the hotel or sometimes with the family of the deceased before returning to his grim task in other cities.
Pat Wittibslager, Marty Hoover Cecil and Elizabeth McHenry shared their memories of Galion's' railroad as the three grew up in railroad families.
Wittibslager's father was a telegraph operator with the railroad and she recalled what a treat it was to come and watch the people come and go. She recalled the tears shared when her favorite cousin came in on the train at midnight safe from his duty for his country. She also recollected her tears as the train took her away from family in her college years.
"We are so lucky to have this building," Wittibslager said. "It is the hub of the community; a great landmark. It is a tribute to our past and a symbol of what is to come."
Cecil's family moved to Galion in 1954 due to her father's employment with the railroad. She herself is a fourth-generation railroad employee, having worked with the railroad during her school years.
Congratulations on Galion's successful efforts for the depot were offered by Glen Harper of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, Poggemeyer Design Group, which is handling the architectural work for the project, City Council- member Pauline Eaton, Galion Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dave Dayne and Kevin Kuchenbecker, executive director of Downtown Ohio/Heritage Ohio.
Honsey also introduced the city's own restoration team of Tim Tischer and Josh McBride. Both men work for the city and have undertaken the job of building replacement windows, painting and replacing exterior boards as needed.


The pictures were added to Cynthia Dean's Galion Inquirer article.


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