WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 20, 2019, Amtrak recognized community activist Dara Casey of Malvern, Ark., with its “Champion of the Rails” award. Given out annually as part of the Amtrak President’s Service and Safety Awards, it honors non-Amtrak employees who have worked to promote and improve intercity passenger rail service throughout the nation. Casey was presented with the award by Amtrak Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating and Commercial Officer Stephen Gardner.
In 2018, Casey contacted Amtrak regarding improvements at the Amtrak station in Malvern, which is served by the daily Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio-Los Angeles). Customers wait for the train in an enclosed breezeway on the southern end of the former Missouri Pacific Railroad depot. The Mediterranean Revival style red brick building was constructed in 1916, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
After several discussions, Casey coordinated a community gathering at the depot, explaining to residents and to several Amtrak employees her goal of revitalizing downtown Malvern, beginning with the Amtrak station.
With the approval of Amtrak, Casey spent the following months coordinating among Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak, local businesses and municipal departments to renew the station, including repainting the shelter; building new planters and benches; and cleaning up the surrounding area so it was free of overgrown foliage and debris. A new Amtrak sign and garbage cans are planned.
Casey has also worked with the local police department to patrol the area around the station on a regular basis to ensure the safety of customers and residents.
Casey has been recognized by her community as being a champion for Malvern, and as a result of her efforts, she was elected the president of the Downtown Development Board. She continues to lead projects to beautify the community. Her latest project is cleaning up the roundhouse site near the Amtrak station, which once housed locomotives for the shortline to Hot Springs, Ark.
Amtrak congratulates Dara Casey for her devotion to her community and thanks her for promoting awareness of Amtrak service in Arkansas.