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.,\\A-1 and Associates REALTOR Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty 477-3651 502 W. 15th Street Austin, Texas 78701 the legendary RAW DEAL Steaks, Chops, Chicken open lunch and evenings 605 Sabine, Austin No Reservations SE\(ZUEL…_ 600 WEST SEVENTH STREET, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78701 king out Knox City our report in the spring on rail\(Ohs., i Commission has revised at least s policies. It is now mailing noall affected customers whenever .id applies for permission to close t depot. In the past, the commis Itified only mayors and county , leaving notification of small-town ers to the railroad. examiner James Houchins said bserver story had “a little some’ to do with the change. He also he last two years have seen a jump ‘ number of applications for clos :companied by increasing num ” complaints along the lines of: t idn’t really know about this till l’ew days ago.” “I heard enough ints,” Houchins said, “to know a notification problem.” ir n its first trial, Houchins said, the ocedure didn’t have the effect he ed. When Southern Pacific i to close depots serving in, Giddings, Caldwell, Yoakum, e, and Llano, notices were sent to shippers at each of the six points, with fill-in-the-blank protest “We were prepared to go out into 1 ;s,” Houchins said, but the comn received only six protests from towns combined. A single, con1, ted hearing was scheduled for De r 6 in Austin. commission may need more than the-blank forms to overcome the of futility some small-town shipeel when opposing railroad plans. :nox City case, featured in our earticle, is one of the best examples of JW much weight local shippers can t their protests to carry. Knox City case has been notable to community support behind the ; the parties protesting Santa Fe ‘ay’s application include the mayor, resident of the chamber of corn!, and a banker. In spite of objecfrom the community and the rails customers, Houchins has recomled that the depot be closed and that business from Knox City and the neighboring towns of O’Brien and Benjamin be handled through the depot at Rule, 18 miles away. The proposal will go before the RRC in early December for a final decision. Meanwhile, local shippers are starting to give up on the railroads. The O’Brien Co-operative Gin Company, for instance, is switching to truck transportation of its carload lots of cotton. The reason: by agreement With the railroads, cotton buyers across the state have stopped paying freight charges from gin points to compression points, which means the O’Brien co-op must pick up a 53-cents-per-hundredweight charge between O’Brien and Hamlin that it didn’t pay last season. Gin manager Samuel Tankersley said a local motor carrier who offered cheaper and more reliable service is now trucking the cotton to Hamlin, two counties away. The railroad squeeze on small-town Texas has been compounded by boxcar shortages. At the end of last season, Tankersley complained in a letter to Houchins about the Santa Fe’s “boxcar shortage which has delayed shipping and has necessitated the movement of cotton by motor truck, at greater expense, to meet marketing commitments.” Now the co-op is experiencing its biggest season in about ten years and expects to ship between 18,000 and 20,000 bales. But the railroad couldn’t guarantee boxcars for O’Brien, and trucks started to look like a good idea. To W. R. Baker’s way of thinking, that’s about the worst thing that could happen. Baker is president of the Knox City chamber of commerce and a party to the protest against the depot closing. He says we ought to be relying on fuelefficient trains to move more and more of our freight, but by gradually cutting back on services the railroads are forcing small-town customers to use trucks. Railroads long ago surrendered their less-than-carload business to motor carriers \(some of which are railroad subsmall-town carload freight go the same route. “We need our rail system. It’s just going to be important,” he said. Although the RRC examiner has recommended that Knox City’s depot be closed in spite of its admitted profitability for the railroad, the local protesters convinced him to make one concession. Houchins revised the proposed final order to require an extra clerk at the depot in Rule who would handle business from Knox City during peak harvesting seasons in October, November, December, January, and June. Santa Fe has filed an exception to that recommendation, contending that an extra clerk would be needed only during June. Specifically, the railroad requested “that language be added allowing discretion as to when an additional clerk might be necessary.” “Discretion” is exactly what K. O. Richardson, regional legislative director for the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, would like to see left out of the final order. Richardson filed an exception against an earlier draft of the order and requested that details of the clerk’s employment be spelled out. Personal contact and prompt service were the major concerns of shippers who protested the closing. As Z. I. Smith, the Santa Fe agent at Knox City, pointed out, the Rule depot already serves three communities; closing the Knox City depot will add three more. And when a harvest is in full swing, everybody wants cars and bills of lading at the same time. To insure that shippers can get service when they need it, Richardson “wanted the language tight enough that the provision would be followed.” As far as the final decision is con cerned, Richardson doesn’t expect the commissioners to start denying the re quests of railroads. “Not this commis sion,” he said. “They are more aware of the public than they were, bqt I don’t think their attitude has changed very much.” The Knox City News is also skeptical. Noting RRC chairman John Poerner’s assurance that his decision on the Knox City depot closing “depends on the interest of the local people,” the News editorialized this summer, “If it weren’t such a serious loss for the entire area, we could all laugh at that remark.” Lorraine Atherton Personal Service Quality Insurance ALICE ANDERSON AGENCY INSURANCE & REAL ESTATE 808A E. 46th, Austin, Texas 459-6577 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31