Jeff Stover Retires From SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority
After 37-Years

Lewisburg, PA – Mr. Jeff Stover was celebrated recently for his dedicated leadership of the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) as the first Executive Director for the organization. Formed in 1983, the JRA has continually fulfilled its mission to preserve Rail Freight in the Central Susquehanna Valley. Instrumental in the success of the JRA was Jeff Stover and his tireless efforts to preserve, expand, and invest in rail service. Starting in 1983 with the preservation of 2 railroads, what is now the Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad and the North Shore Railroad, the JRA now owns nearly 220 miles of railroad across 9 counties. Jeff was hired in 1985 to lead the fledgling municipal authority. During Stover’s tenure, the railroad swelled in size and rail volume. He guided the upgrade of the Nittany Mainline to allow unit trains traverse the railroad at higher speeds, successfully secured over $11 million in 2010 for rail expansion during the Marcellus Shale boom, and most recently lead the effort to acquire the Selinsgrove Industry Track in Snyder County.

Current JRA Board Chairman, Russ Graham noted, “Jeff’s calm demeanor and professionalism have been instrumental in the increased economic development of Central Pennsylvania. He built a foundation of success that will enable our region to continue to grow and prosper.”

Jeff Stover offering thanks to the crowd.

To honor Stover, a large gathering was held to celebrate his leadership and successes on February 16 at the Rusty Rail Brewing Company. The luncheon celebration included remarks, memorable stories, and accolades. Speakers included, Former Union County Commissioner, former JRA Board Chairman, and current JRA Board Member John Showers, current JRA Board Chairman President Russ Graham, former Lycoming County Planning Director and former JRA Board Chairman Jerry Walls, Board Solicitor Tom Schreck, former Executive Director of SEDA-COG and current Board Member Bob Hormell and current Executive Director of SEDA-COG Kim Wheeler. The master of ceremonies for the afternoon event was long time board member representing Clinton County, John Gummo. Gummo introduced newly appointed Executive Director Steven Beattie, Executive Secretary Michelle Ballou and complimented the continuing good work of JRA Property Manager, Kyle Postupack. Gummo further acknowledged the JRA Board of Directors as a cohesive force for positive economic growth throughout our region. The retirement event was sponsored and privately funded by “Friends of Jeff Stover”.

Stover officially retired on December 31, 2022, and will continue to consult for the JRA on an as needed basis. During his retirement, Stover plans to catch up on travel to see his children and life-long friends while continuing to reside in Lock Haven, PA.

For more information on the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority our website.

About the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority: Established in 1983 and celebrating 40 years, the JRA’s mission is to preserve rail freight service across a nine-county area of central Pennsylvania. The JRA is responsible for nearly 220 miles of railroad across six railroads. JRA rail service, in cooperation with its strategic partner and operator, North Shore Railroad, supports over 100 customers and 12,600 jobs in the region.

MEDIA CONTACT: Steven Beattie, Executive Director: [email protected]

SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority Announces New Executive Director

SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) is pleased to announce that Steven Beattie is the new Executive Director of the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA.)

Beattie began his career as a project manager for area engineering consulting firms, including Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., where he managed the Lewisburg office. He later joined the Larson Design Group where he worked in a multitude of roles: Site/Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager, Retail Design Senior Project Manager, and the Director of Sales and Marketing. He most recently served as the Community Development/Grant Manager for the Borough of Lewisburg.

Since 1998, Beattie has served numerous roles for engineering consulting firms in the SEDA-COG region. Throughout his career he has served municipal, commercial, industrial, and institutional clients managing projects through the design, funding, and construction phases. His latest accomplishment includes leading the effort to secure over $3.4 million in funds for the Borough of Lewisburg over an 18-month period.

In addition, Beattie has obtained various licenses and certifications throughout the course of his career, including being a Notary Public, a Licensed Landscape Architect, and having received the Advanced Emergency Certification for the role of municipal emergency management coordinator.

Beattie’s major goals as Executive Director include preserving and expanding upon the legacy the JRA has built in our surrounding communities.

“My top priority, as I take on this role, is to continue the work started by the Joint Rail Authority dating back to 1983. In doing this, I plan to promote economic development in the region, ensure our industries have access to rail, and maintain our rail infrastructure to support our customers and their growth,” Beattie said.

Beattie is coming on board to replace the retiring Executive Director, Jeff Stover. Stover has been with SEDA-COG since 1985. He started his career as the Manager of Transportation and throughout his tenure became the Chief of Transportation and the Executive Director of the JRA.

SEDA-COG JRA Board President, Russ Graham, is excited to see what’s next for the Authority under the guidance of Beattie.

“The JRA has been extremely fortunate to have had Jeff Stover as our Executive Director for the past 37 years. His professionalism and knowledge of our rail system has been instrumental in countless economic development and railroad upgrade projects over the years. Jeff will be difficult to replace, however we are confident in Steven, and we look forward to working with him as we move into the next chapter of the JRA. Steven’s background in the engineering field and his experience in intergovernmental relationships will be a huge asset to the JRA,” Graham said.

Beattie earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University’s College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design. He later went on to earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s Zeigler College of Business.

Beattie stressed the role that rail plays in the overall success of our area.

“I have always been a proponent of economic development in our region, whether that is through small businesses in our downtowns, tourism, or large manufacturers. Rail served industries in our region provide family sustaining employment opportunities for our hardworking, educated, and skilled workforce. The JRA’s role in maintaining and growing rail service in the region is critical to the success of these businesses and our regional economy,” Beattie said.

The primary mission of the JRA is to preserve essential rail freight service and to further economic development and job creation in the region through improvement and expansion of rail infrastructure. Since the inception of the JRA, the Authority’s presence has grown from five counties to nine (Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union.) The 80 miles of rail line it preserved through the North Shore and Nittany & Bald Eagle lines has grown to 215 miles with the inclusion of the Juniata Valley, Lycoming Valley, and Shamokin Valley railroads, and an extension of the Nittany. The dramatic success of the Authority’s short-line railroad system has been cited in national publications and by distinguished organizations at every level, private and public.

Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver is a nationwide, non-profit public information program dedicated to eliminating collisions, injuries and fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights-of-way. Through a network of State Coordinators in 49 states (excluding Hawaii), Operation Lifesaver sends nearly 2,500 volunteers into the field to deliver a public safety message.

NEWS RELEASE: SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority fullfilling its mission for over 30 years

For over 30 years, the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) has been a self-sustaining engine of economic development for central Pennsylvania.

The JRA, an eight-county joint authority formed in 1983, has preserved rail service and fostered economic development and job creation throughout the region.  The JRA was formed by the forward-looking efforts of its member counties. It has driven local economic growth and creation of good jobs. When the JRA purchased the lines that were being abandoned in 1984 from Conrail, the action saved 3,000 jobs. Now, with six lines that provide rail service to about 85 industries, it has helped local business preserve over 10,000 employees in the region. In 2014, rail traffic topped 26,000 carloads over 200 rail miles; in the 1980s, it was less than 2,000 carloads on 80 miles of line.

Not only has the JRA saved private-sector jobs, but it also has always partnered with private industry for its railroad operations. The JRA owns the real estate, including the tracks, rail yards, bridges and buildings, while the actual rail services are handled by a privately owned railroad operator. The current operator is the North Shore Railroad and its affiliated companies.

The North Shore Railroad purchases locomotives and hires crews to serve the customers. The JRA receives an operating fee from the private operator. From its inception, the JRA’s operations have been supported solely by an operating fee paid from freight revenue. The JRA administrative operations are not – nor have they ever been – subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

The JRA’s public-private partnership has documented phenomenal results in terms of rail infrastructure improvement, economic development and community benefits.

Due to the success of this public-private partnership, the JRA was recognized by the World Bank in a 2009 independent study as a model for public-private partnerships to stimulate rural economic development. Since 2004, the JRA has invested or leveraged $46 million in rail capital projects to further its mission.

Clinton County Commissioner Jeff Snyder said it best: “The JRA was created for a purpose and it has done what it needed to do over the years to support the area businesses. It’s working – don’t change it!”

The JRA has preserved, improved and expanded rail infrastructure through key partnerships and funding projects. In the last five years alone, the JRA has partnered with over 42 private companies and public entities, creating jobs and improving the region’s railroad infrastructure.  Some of the best jobs in central Pennsylvania are in companies that are served by railroads. Over the years, the JRA has been fortunate – like many railroads in Pennsylvania – to have received capital grant funds for expansion or substantial improvement of the rail infrastructure.

In addition to economic development, transparency is a hallmark of the JRA’s operations. It is an open and transparent organization as demonstrated by holding public meetings, having minutes available on its website and regularly briefing its member counties on its activities.

In the past two years, the JRA undertook a process to select an operator to continue rail service on its lines after its current agreement expires on June 30, 2017. This effort has been managed through a competitive procurement process, with consultation by expert rail operation consultants. The JRA’s current operator, the North Shore Railroad, is joined by two other proposers being considered in the ongoing process: Carload Express and Northern Plains Railroad.

Throughout this process, the JRA has undertaken extensive due diligence as to how each of the three proposers would run the railroad going forward. Public discussion and consideration of these proposals at JRA meetings have been robust. Objections, however, have been raised by a disappointed fourth proposer which had not been selected to participate in the final process given its ranking relative to the other proposers.

The JRA will continue to operate in an open and community-minded manner in which it has historically conducted its business to further promote its original mission: preserve essential rail freight service; bolster economic development; and support creation of good jobs in the community.

Short Line Railroads: Saving an Endangered Species of Freight Transport

This report highlights the action of the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board and the SEDA-Council of Governments to form rail authorities and save short rail lines that would have otherwise been abandoned. These lines continue to be critical for economic development, with rail infrastructure being central to creating and retaining jobs in each region.