SMD Draft Minutes 13 Dec 2020

Submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  18 or so were present.  The Superintendent convened the meeting prior to the published start time to allow for any attendees having trouble with the Zoom connection time to try logging in multiple times.  After some socializing, Superintendent Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

20.12-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3781.32 in its bank account.  That amount includes disbursements for the Winter Wheel Report and $16.42 for brochure holders.

In response to questions about NMRA and MER distributions, the Paymaster explained those checks are now sent directly to him (one at the end of August and one in September).

20.12-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Clerk Harvey Heyser read the following clarification received from Web Master Tom Fedor regarding items in the November draft minutes concerning the web site, the blog, and SMD’s Facebook page:

Website/Blog:  The Division has one official website. It is smdnmra.org. Our website is the SMD blog. All members should look to smdnmra.org for news, features, and information from Division officials. There could also be news from Region and National officials shared on our blog. I recommend that all SMD members visit frequently, and subscribe to smdnmra.org to receive notifications of official posts on the Division home page.

Facebook Page:  The Division also has a social media account on Facebook.com. While the Facebook page is a private site, membership is not restricted to SMD members. If a person demonstrates a genuine interest in our Division or has connections to people in our Division, access to the Facebook content can be granted by the SMD moderators. The Facebook page is a place for those who join to freely share and communicate directly with each other on any topic related to railroading. 

To expedite the wording of a somewhat complicated motion, Clerk Heyser made the following motion (seconded by Alex Polimeni):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the November 2020 meeting be approved as submitted, with the above clarification included in the December minutes.  The motion passed unanimously.

WebMaster Fedor’s recommendation that all SMD members join the Division’s Facebook group was also noted.

Old Business:

20.10-4 2021 Mini-Con: In response to questions from attendees, the Superintendent and Chair Pete Clarke repeated the reasons for not holding a Mini-Con in April 2021 (the main reason being the likelihood of being stuck in the pandemic through the spring of 2021).  Holding the virtual raffle (see the following minute) will serve to remind area modelers of the future 2022 Mini-Con.

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  Brian Wolfe has offered to donate a $100 gift card.  Bill Martz has forwarded information on what has to be done to conduct a virtual raffle.  Bob Morningstar reported there are web sites that can help with the raffle.  (He volunteered to help.)  The Superintendent will confer with the Advisory Committee and report back in the new year.

20.10-8  Brochures:  Bob Johnson reported on the locations he has placed the brochures (Main Line and HobbyTown (and a few more where he plans to place them – the Train Room – Hagerstown – the hobby shop in Mt. Airy, and the Train/Vehicle Museum – Frederick).  Members who have other suggestions should contact Bob or Jerry Skeim.

New Business:

20.12-3  Holiday Cards:  Alex Polimeni suggested sending actual, USPS-mailed cards to all members as a tangible indication that the SMD is still functioning and that we still value their participation.  He shared a link to a card web site and suggested the card of a PRR Altoona to Cumberland train arriving at a depot on a snowy evening in the 1920s (99 cents per card).  He indicated that he has the addresses and could get them out quickly.  The Superintendent will consider a message insert about SMD activities in the coming year.

Bob Johnson made the following motion (seconded by Ron Polimeni):

Motion:  To authorize an expenditure not to exceed $175 for sending holiday cards to the members.  The motion passed unanimously.

20.12-4 Staying Engaged:  Bob Morningstar suggested bringing projects to the Zoom meetings (making meetings more model-centric) through electronic sharing:  using the screen share function of Zoom, short videos (such as Dave Thalman’s layout visit/clinic at the October meeting), and even PowerPoint slide presentations.  Members mentioned the Op Sig’s Second Section meetings held each month in addition to their regular meetings and the Hindsight 2020 RPM all-day meet (posted on YouTube).  The discussion concluded with a decision to consider additional SMD virtual activities – a second get-together each month (perhaps on a different day of the week).

20.12-5 NMRA Virtual Events:  The NMRAx events seem to be organized largely by volunteer effort.

20.12-6 Regional Events:  Planning for the in-person fall 2021 MER Convention at Hunt Valley is proceeding.  Bob Morningstar cautioned that the event may have to be virtual.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely in January 2021 (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by e-mail.

Following the meeting, Bob Morningstar presented a clinic introduction to JMRI, a free tool to aid hobbyists in the enjoyment of all of the sophisticated electronic features of products produced for model railroading.  Bob serves as a beta-tester for new versions of JMRI (released at approximately 6-month intervals) and offered to assist SMD members in setting the program up.  He also emphasized that JMRI is modular and that you do not have to use all of it.

SMD ZOOM Meeting – 10 Jan., 2 PM

Jerry Skeim, South Mountain Division Superintendent

Everyone,

Upcoming Meeting Date: 10 January 2021

The next SMD meeting will take place on Sunday, 10 Jan. 2021 via ZOOM. Log on time opens at 1:30 PM with the business meeting scheduled to start at 2:00 PM. The ZOOM login information is identical to the December meeting. A reminder will be sent out NLT the 9 Jan. 2021.

If any member has any concerns that they feel need to be addressed to the membership, or discussion topics that they feel should be included in the January meeting agenda, please forward them to me through our Gmail address at southmoutaindiv@gmail.com as early as possible before the upcoming meeting.

You will be able to find an impeccably prepared copy of our December meeting minutes at SMDNMRA.org preceding the January meeting.

In other news:

I hope that everyone had a pleasant Christmas. Unfortunately, COVID-19 does not yet seem to be in our rearview mirror and cases continue at very high levels. Here’s hoping that there will not be another post-holiday surge as we witnessed after Thanksgiving. Please continue to follow the guidelines as outlined by our health agencies. On a more positive note, now that a couple of the vaccines have been approved for distribution and once we get the most at-risk populations vaccinated, our health workers, first responder’s and the elderly, I am looking forward to seeing an actual schedule for when the rest of us might be able to get vaccinated.

There is no post-meeting clinic or layout viewing scheduled for this meeting. If anyone would like to share anything with the division at the meeting please let me know through the division email account at southmoutaindiv@gmail.com.

Hope to see you all on Sunday 10 January 2021 at 2:00 PM.

Stay safe and well!

Jerry Skeim, Superintendent

Happy New Year – 2021 Mount Clare Junction

Welcome to 2021! I wish I could say that January 1st completely wipes away 2020, but I can’t. What I can say is that we are continuing to plan a great convention for all of us to get together in 10 month’s time. Expect registration to open in the second quarter with a flurry of announcements before then (you thought I was going to say snow, didn’t you?).

During newsletter signup, and via the website contact page, all are invited to express what you would like to see or do at the convention. If you’ve submitted a request, it’s in the graphic above, and we are actively working to build clinics and events for you.

Should your idea, clinic or interest not be covered by an event listed on the website, take a moment to reach out to us, as other modelers have, and we’ll make something happen!

Share this with your fellow hobbyists.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Socially distance. Get the vaccine.

Together we can be together in 2021.

[Source Mt. Clare Jct. Convention Committee info@mtclarejct.com -ed]

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – 8 November 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  10 or 12 were present.  The Superintendent convened the meeting prior to the published start time to allow for any attendees having trouble with the Zoom connection time to try logging in multiple times.  After some socializing, Superintendent Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

20.11-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price was not present to report.  [Shortly after the meeting, Paymaster Price reported to the Officers that the Division has $3808.09 in its bank account, the same amount as in last month’s report.]

20.11-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Alex Polimeni made the following motion (second by Bill Wilson):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the October 2020 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

20.10-4 2021 Mini-Con: The Superintendent reminded attendees that Chair Pete Clarke (not present) had indicated his unwillingness to schedule an event for Spring 2021 because of uncertainty about the pandemic situation.  Attendees were reminded of Chair Clarke’s hope that the Mini-Con will remain a face-to-face event with numerous opportunities for informal interaction (rather than a virtual event).  The Superintendent urged the Division to double down on remote interactions for the time being and on the SMD’s virtual presence (web site, blog, Facebook, etc.).

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  Paymaster Price has volunteered to handle the financial aspects of the raffle including a PayPal account.  The Division has little collective experience with on-line raffles.  Bill Martz has some experience, which he will share with the Superintendent.  Anyone else, who has such experience, should also contact the Superintendent.  A tentative date of April 2021 was discussed (rather than Christmas/New Years 2020, which is too near). No decision was made.

20.10-8  Brochures:  No report from Bob Johnson.  [On 11-19-20, he reported he would be placing the brochure holders/brochures at Main Line hobbies, HobbyTown of Frederick, the museum in Frederick (if they are open), the hobby shop in Mt. Airy, and (possibly) the Train Room in Hagerstown.  He may also consider the WM Historical Society location in Hagerstown.  He needs a contact.]

New Business:

20.11-3 Wheel Report Deadline:  For the Winter issue, the deadline is November 15, 2020.  Editor Tom Fedor expressed interest in having photos of things members have been working on during the pandemic.

20.11-4 Regional Conventions:  The next MER Convention will be in Hunt Valley, outside of Baltimore.  There is a link to to convention web site on SMD’s web site.  It is understood that the cancelled 2020 Carolina convention will be rescheduled for 2022.

20.11-5 SMD Blog:  Members were encouraged to subscribe to the blog for e-mail alerts.  Following questions about posters to the blog (unknown to attendees), Webmaster Fedor pointed out that posting is open to anyone.  (The unknown poster turned out to be a member of an operating crew.)  Currently, the blog features photos of Jay Beckham’s layout.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely in December (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by e-mail.

Following the meeting, there was no clinic.  Superintendent Skeim is planning for clinics following future meetings.  Members were encouraged to volunteer to give clinics.

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – 11 October 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  The Superintendent convened the meeting one hour prior to the published start time to allow for any attendees having trouble with the Zoom connection time to try logging in multiple times.  After some socializing, Superintendent Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

20.10-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3808.09 in its bank account, the same amount as in last month’s report.

20.10-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Because of computer problems (letting the smoke out), Clerk Harvey Heyser was unable to access his copy of the draft minutes.  Paymaster Price read the draft minutes for the September meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).  Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Alex Polimeni):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the September 2020 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

There was general agreement among those present that the SMD dispense with reading of the draft minutes in future.

Old Business:  None brought up.

New Business:

20.10-3 Remote meetings:  Superintendent Skeim notified attendees that remote meetings on the internet using the Zoom platform will continue for the foreseeable future.  Meeting dates will continue to be the 2nd Sunday of the month.  Members expressed appreciation for a first reminder 2 weeks before and a second the Friday before the scheduled meeting.  Editor Tom Fedor will post the dates on the SMD blog, and Alex Polimeni will post on Facebook.

20.10-4 2021 Mini-Con: In response to a question about delaying the date of the event because of pandemic concerns, Chair Pete Clarke made the following points:

  • He indicated he had been in contact with Brian Wolfe on Mainline Hobbies.
  • He asked attendees if they would give in-person clinics in a crowded hall if the situation in the spring is what it is presently.  The response was generally negative.
  • He pointed out that trying to set up a spring 2020 event was likely wasted effort considering what we don’t know at this time.  He expressed his opinion that effort will be best spent keeping the SMD strong and functioning at this trying time.  (Helping Mainline Hobbies, creating content for the Wheel Report, and posting remote clinics (show and tell like the informal Mini-Con ones) on the SMD blog/Facebook pages were suggested.)
  • Holding the Mini-Con outdoors was suggested but was not favored because of unpredictable weather, the difficulty of providing for power needs, and inability to hear presentations.
  • Summer 2021 was suggested.  Chair Clarke indicated a willingness to consider that possibility if the current situation improves greatly and quickly.  A possible summer 2020 flea-market (not at Blue Ridge Summit) was also briefly discussed.
  • Chair Clarke will begin planning for the 2022 Mini-Con in March/April of 2021.  He reminded all of the importance of Mainline’s mailing list for getting the word out.

20.10-5 Strengthening the SMD:  Members pointed out that a stronger internet presence now will help the SMD face the electronic future.  Several members reported on their positive experiences with virtual NMRA events (NMRAx).

20.10-6 Virtual Mini-Con:  In light of NMRA virtual events, a virtual Mini-Con was suggested and discussed.  Recorded clinics could be compiled for internet viewing.  Chair Clarke reminded everyone that the in-person interaction is one of the most important qualities of SMD’s Mini-Cons.

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  Members suggested holding a virtual raffle to support Mainline Hobbies.  Paymaster Price volunteered to handle the financial aspects of the raffle including a PayPal account.  No decision was made.

20.10-8  Brochure:  Bob Johnson reported the brochures have not been distributed and volunteered to do so (with a brief inserted notice of the upcoming remote meetings).

20.10-9 Remote Clinics – Equipment, Resources, etc.:  A desire to have more than just looking at each other’s faces was brought up.  Remote clinics and layout visits were suggested.  Attendees mentioned interest in more sharing of what we are doing.  In answer to a question, Alex Polimeni discussed recourses available to members for making remote presentations, including speaking to the camera and the screen-share function of Zoom (button at the bottom of the Zoom screen).  Following adjournment, Dave Thalman made a presentation demonstrating some possibilities.  He reported using his i-phone both walking around and mounted on a phone tripod (available on-line for $15 to $20).

20.10-10 What other groups are doing:  Attendees reported on virtual clinics and events held by other groups (both NMRA affiliated and not) and of how those interactions have aided in dealing with the isolation brought on by the pandemic.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely in November.  Members will be notified by e-mail.

Following the meeting, Dave Thalman made a presentation including a video of recent progress on his layout and a discussion of his efforts to complete background scenery.  He reminded everyone of the potential for damage to fragile foreground structures as a result of trying to reach over and around them into the more distant areas of a layout.  That fact encouraged him to do scenic work this summer. 

Dave also discussed his signaling plans using sensors (to change the lights to red when a train passes) and timers (to reset them to green after a given time interval).  That approach will greatly simplify signaling his 4-track mainline.