From the Super, 12 SEP Meeting Reminder

Alex Polimeni, superintendent

Another summer is coming to a close, and you know what that means: the South Mountain Division year is just beginning! Although it was my hope to be welcoming you back with a long-awaited and much-anticipated in-person meeting, I’m afraid that won’t be happening, at least not until 2022.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading in the United States and things set to get worse once more as the weather changes, everyone must decide for themselves what level of risk they’re comfortable with. Speaking as your Superintendent, I cannot, in good conscience, ask our membership to gather in the close quarters our hobby takes place in. 

That said, I believe there’s still plenty for SMD to do while this terrible pandemic runs its course. To this end, you’re all invited to our September membership meeting via Zoom next Sunday, September 12th. “Doors” open at 2 PM, with the business meeting to commence by 2:30 PM. 

I’m still looking for presenters to give clinics after the September, October, and November meetings via Zoom, so if you have something you’d like to share (especially if it works well as a video or slideshow!) do let me know. If we don’t have a clinic, I’m looking to turn the after-business time over to a round table discussion about a particular theme.

I believe SMD and the NMRA has a great deal to offer our membership even in a post-pandemic world, and I’m excited to talk with you about the possibilities these next few months. So, if you have the time, please stop by the Zoom meeting or, otherwise, drop us an email directly! Harvey, Ray, and I are eager to get the Division back on the rails.

See you all soon,

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent

Zoom meeting instructions were included on page two of the SMD members’ only version of the Wheel Report link that was sent to all on 1 September. If the connection details are needed, contact the Division leadership at

A copy of the minutes from the last membership can be found at this previous SMD blog post:

SMD Draft Minutes 16 May 2021

SMD Draft Minutes 16 May 2021

Submitted by Clerk, Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – May 16, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  18 or so were present.  Assistant Superintendent Alex Polimeni convened the meeting prior to the published start time for logging in.  During the lead-up to the meeting, Frank Benenati shared video taken in 2014 at Cass.  The Assistant Superintendent called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

21.5-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3668.40 in its bank account (the same amount as last month).  The Paymaster reported that the $150 memorial contribution for Superintendent Jerry Skeim (passed by motion at the last meeting – minute #21.4-3) has not been made yet because we do not know where the family wishes it to be sent.

21.5-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Ray Price):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the April 2021 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

21.4-3 Superintendent Jerry Skeim’s Passing:  Jerry’s absence has been keenly felt.  His obituary was published in the 5-14-21 Frederick Post.  An e-mail message from his son was read.  Elizabeth Bolsvert, his daughter, joined the meeting.  The family plans a small military funeral in Minnesota in August.  Jerry’s wife is still on oxygen as she recovers.

Bob Johnson picked up the Division’s projector and contribution car from Jerry’s family.

New Business:

21.5-3 Election:  Nomination Committee Member Tom Fedor reported that he sent election notices by e-mail or by USPS to all Division members listed in the most current membership roster.  Because he had monitored the returns, Webmaster Fedor abstained from voting.

Clerk Heyser reported the vote tally:  24 cast by electronic ballot, 1 cast by USPS, 1 cast by proxy, and 1 cast in person at the meeting for a total of 27 votes total.

For superintendent:  19 – Alex Polimeni (elected)

8 – Jay Beckham

For Paymaster: 27 – Ray Price (unopposed)

For Clerk: 27 – Harvey Heyser (unopposed)

Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Bob Morningstar):

Motion to accept the results of the election of officers for the year 21-22.  The motion passed unanimously.

21.5-4 Feedback from Members:  Superintendent-Elect Polimeni requested feedback from members over the summer about what they wanted from their officers in the coming year.

21.5-5 Hobby Hangout:  Following the success of the informal get-together held 2-27-21 (minute #20.12-4), members suggested holding another during the summer.

21.5-6 In-Person Meetings:  Given the uncertain status of the pandemic and the vaccination rate, there was a lengthy discussion about this matter.  The following were mentioned:

– The target for in-person gatherings is tentatively September of 2021.

– The SMD should verify that any prospective hosts be comfortable with having a large group of visitors.

– Everyone should be respectful of an individual’s vaccination status.

– It was suggested that, out of respect for the host, visitors wear masks.  Meeting notices should specify any mask requirements.  (Jay Beckham reported that, at his open houses this spring, requiring masks was graciously adhered to.)

– An outdoor event such as a swap meet may be preferable, even though model railroading events are generally held indoors.

21.5-7 East Broad Top Railroad:  Jane and Pete Clarke reported that plans are proceeding to open the railroad for tourists on the 2nd and 4th weekends of June and July.  The Friends of the EBT will hold a meeting at Robertsdale on June 12, 2021.

Adjournment:  The Superintendant-Elect accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held in the fall.  Members will be notified by e-mail or USPS.

Clinic:  Following the meeting, Frank Benenati presented a clinic on making foreground trees from twisted wire armatures.  He recommended referring to the Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs by Petrides (sp?) and the Scenic Express web site for information and diagrams of tree types.  Frank demonstrated armatures made by twisting 26 gauge florist’s wire coated with caulk and painted with artist’s acrylics.  (He uses the same technique at the bottom of the trees for roots.) 

Frank uses various materials for the branches (Huechera, Super Trees, etc.) and for the foliage (Scenic Express Super Leaves, for one) attached to the armatures with various adhesives.  He demonstrated his finished trees and reported one danger:  He likes his new trees so much that he is replacing the older trees on his layout.

Vote now: MER-NMRA – 2021 MER Director Election

Mid-Eastern Region

The MER is holding the MER-NMRA 2021 MER Election of Directors.

The voting deadline is Aug 31 2021 11:30 pm Eastern Time (US & Canada).

The Region is using an online election system to tabulate votes. SMD members should have been emailed and assigned a unique access key that can only be used to vote once, keeping voting choices anonymous. Do not forward the email. Do not reply to the email to vote, as votes will not be registered.

If you have election questions, feedback, or if you are unable to make the electronic Ballot work, please contact Howard Oakes ( and he will send you a paper Ballot.

SMD Draft Minutes 11 April 2021

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – April 11, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  21 or so were present.  Because of the untimely passing of Superintendent Jerry Skeim, Assistant Superintendent Alex Polimeni conducted the meeting.  The Assistant Superintendent convened the meeting prior to the published start time for logging in.  During the lead-up to the meeting, long-time member Steve Green recounted some of his adventures in trying to start up a 3-D printing business in 2014 and how changes in the printing media and the curing process ended his hopes of becoming a “tech millionaire.”  The Assistant Superintendent called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

21.4-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3668.40 in its bank account.  That amount reflects the Assistant Superintendent’s cashing of reimbursement for the holiday card (item #20.12-3).  The Paymaster reported that the Division’s sole source of income presently is the $70 to $75 received yearly from the National and the MER.

21.4-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Ray Price):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the March 2021 meeting be approved as submittedThe motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

20.10-3 Remote meetings:  The sense of the discussion was that remote (Zoom) meetings will continue through May (including the end-of-the-year election).

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  The Assistant Superintendent suggested postponing any action on the raffle until the fall of this year (2021) when new officers have taken office.  There was general agreement with that suggestion.

New Business: 

21.4-3 Superintendent Jerry Skeim’s Passing:  This extremely unhappy event was quite upsetting to all attendees, who expressed their grief at length during the meeting by recounting their experiences with Jerry.  All that is known at this time is that he may have contracted Covid while visiting his wife in the hospital, and after seeming to be on the mend, he took a turn for the worse.  The Assistant Superintendent has not been in touch with Jerry’s daughter Elizabeth, but some information has been provided by Bill Reynolds.  Because of Jerry’s wife’s illness, the family is taking things slowly at this time, understandably.  The Division will act as further information becomes available.

Jerry joined the NMRA in 1971.  He was 74.

Webmaster/Editor Tom Fedor has volunteered to pick up SMD materials from the family.  The SMD will publish a remembrance of Jerry in the MER Local.  Division members expressed their willingness to aid the family with the liquidation of his model collection.  Members should send cards to Jerry’s home address, which Webmaster Fedor will post on the SMD website.

In remembrance of Jerry and the many things he did for the Division, Alex Polimeni made the following motion (second by Garry Snook):

Motion:  That the South Mountain Division make a $150.00 donation in Jerry’s memory to the charity designated by the Skeim familyThe motion passed unanimously.

21.4-4 Running the Division:  According to the By-Laws, the elected officers and the Advisory Committee meeting during a Planning Meeting on March 28, 2021 (minutes distributed by e-mail), requested that the Assistant Superintendent step in to run the division because the Superintendent is “unable to serve.”  (Jerry had requested that Alex substitute for him at the March meeting.)

The members thanked Alex Polimeni for stepping back into the Superintendent’s responsibilities for the remainder of this meeting year (until the summer).

21.4-5 Nominations for the May Election:  The Nominating Committee reported that they have put out a call for volunteers willing to run for SMD offices, have engaged with members directly encouraging them to run, and will have a slate of candidates for the election.  In addition, any three (3) members can approach someone they would like to nominate and then, with that person’s permission, can pass the name to the Nominating Committee for inclusion on the ballot.

Ballot information will be published by e-mail.  Proxy votes should be forwarded to the Nominating Committee, who will forward them to the Clerk for voting during the election.

21.4-6 Memorial to SMD Members Who Have Passed Away:  Memories of those members were shared, and a suggestion was made that the Division pay dues for one or more new NMRA members as a memorial.  It was decided to table this discussion for the fall (2021) when the new officers take over.

21.4-7 Achievement Program News:  John Pursell has achieved his Master Builder Scenery award by remote judging.  He is now working on electrical and structures.

21.4-8 May Clinic:  Frank Benenatti will demonstrate making tree armatures using stranded copper wire.  He requested that members have 3 ft. of stranded wire cut into (4) 9 in. pieces, so they can make their own armatures as they watch him do it.

21.4-9 Selling Collections:  John Pursell reported that the Cumberland Model RR Club buys collections for resale.

Adjournment:  The Assistant Superintendant accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely on May 16, 2021 (the third Sunday because of Mother’s Day) at 2 p.m.  The election for officers will be held at that time.  Members will be notified by e-mail.

Clinic:  Following the meeting, Bob Geldmacher presented a clinic on 3-D printing.  The PowerPoint for the clinic was distributed by e-mail attached to the 4-9-21 meeting announcement.  The pdf shows examples of 3-D printed objects Bob has made (some quite unexpected), a summary history of the technology, and a list of sources of further information.  Members are encouraged to review the pdf, which does a much better job of conveying the clinic than any short summary by this “technological caveman.”