558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
COPR manager heads down the tracks
Toby VanAltvorst resigned from the City of Prineville Railway to pursue a new career in Washington state
March 07, 2013
The City of Prineville Railway is developing a new management strategy following the departure of its manager Toby VanAltvorst, who resigned last month.
Rather than hire a replacement manager, Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester said the City will lean on several employees to run the railway. The team includes long-time railway employees Bud Bowman and Jim Bass, as well as business development manager Dale Keller and Prineville Freight Depot manager Matt Wiederholt.
“The immediate plan for this next budget year is to just pull that team together,” Forrester said. “We have got a great business plan model that we have been working on, and we feel that between (City Finance Director) Liz Schuette and myself, and the others, we can keep the business going.”
To help ease that transition, the City is looking at some new opportunities for the railway that Forrester said show promise in terms of rail traffic.
“We feel pretty good about moving through the next year without replacing Toby right away,” he said.
VanAltvorst is leaving the railway because he was offered an ownership position in a small, start-up, short line railroad in Washington state.
“It was a great opportunity for me, so I decided to jump at it.”
He went on to thank the community for entrusting him with the railway and praised the recent progress of the facility.
“It was a good three years overall,” VanAltvorst said. “We navigated some pretty difficult economic times and the railroad managed to get to the point where it is not using its bank account up anymore to operate. A couple of times, we had some good quarters where we were able to put money in the bank.”
Forrester spoke highly of the departed railway manager, noting that he brought a lot of expertise in railway operations and marketing to the table.
“Under his tenure here, the railroad has done well with how he has managed the Connect Oregon (grants) and how he has helped stabilize and increase rail traffic.”
During his tenure, the railway has added a new multi-use freight depot that includes a crane for heavy freight and railcar repair. They have completed a variety of improvements to the Prineville Junction, which connects the Prineville rail line to the Burlington Northern trunk line that runs north to south down the center of the state. In addition, the railway has benefitted from new businesses like liquid de-icer producer EnviroTech, who ship their product by rail.