By Bob Morningstar, MER Director
The 2019 Mid-Eastern Region “Liberty Bell” convention was held October 10-13 at the Valley Forge Crowne Plaza in King of Prussia, PA. I attended all 4 days and was really pleased with the experience. The hotel and hotel staff were excellent, the Convention committee did a great job of venue selection and negotiating a very reasonable room rate. The Convention Committee chair reported that there were 236 registered attendees.
The arrival and badging process was painless and took all of 2 minutes on Thursday. The “White Elephant” sale was well stocked with goodies to buy. I took up 15 items to sell, came home with only 5 items and I was $62 to the good when I checked out on Sunday morning.
Thursday night was the quarterly MER board meeting, items of significance included:
- The MER newsletter editor has stepped down and the region is looking for a new editor, any takers? Tom?
- There was a discussion of having a full audit of the regions financials The expense is prohibitive and the board is working toward getting a financial review completed which serves the purpose of an audit but can be done by volunteers versus paying for a CPA. Not to worry as it appears we are in good financial shape and the MER treasurer is very conscientious.
- The executive committee chairperson provided an update on the convention attendance and there was discussion about the competing RPM events taking away both presenters and clinicians from the NMRA conventions.
Friday morning there was a regional editor’s breakfast, for those involved in producing the divisional reports and the region report. Part of my duties as a director will be to oversee the production of the eLocal, so the opportunity to hear the various editors describe their processes and challenges was informative and useful. There was a interesting discussion about copyright and the importance that the editors ensure that any content (including photos and diagrams) be produced by the author or if from someone else that there is a written paper trail of permission to use. The main takeaway was that all the editors could use more content from the membership. Producing content for our Wheel Report provides an opportunity to share your modeling activities and is another avenue to learn from others. One division actually produces paper copies of the newsletter and places them in area hobby shops to increase the awareness of their division and the NMRA. Perhaps something for us to consider?
The clinics were well done, the audio visual equipment worked, and the Philly division staff excelled in ensuring that someone on the convention staff was at each clinic to introduce each speaker, assist with the computer and projector, and present a certificate to the presenter at the end of the clinic (This was a great idea and I hope future convention planners do the same.).
My contest entry this year was the Western Maryland Cement Hopper clean out facility that was located on my layout. It took 2 hours to gently remove it from the layout and place it on a piece of homasote for display purposes. I entered it in the online display category and earned 3rd place with 79 points. I intend on taking the judges comments and revising the model for a later submission, hopefully to get to the 87 points necessary for a merit award. Close but not close enough. The judges comments were encouraging and fair. A bit more attention to detail is what it needs.
I admit I am a clinic junkie and attended them from 8 AM until well into the evening (getting my monies worth). There were some very interesting clinics on 3D printing, another hobby of mine, and a fascinating clinic on poultry cars and poultry transport in the late 19th and early 20th century. Who knew that live chickens traveled by rail? I didn’t.
Saturday was spent in clinics from morning until dinner, except for an informal meeting with a couple Master Model Railroaders and David Chance, MER AP manager.
They answered many of my questions and encouraged me to pursue the MMR.
I did not attend the banquet as I had plans to meet with old classmates from college that evening. The last day, Sunday, wrapped up with clinics in the morning and the annual MER business meeting. Twenty five or so members attended and yours truly was installed as a new Director at the very end.
Overall it was worth my investment. I enjoyed a few days of total immersion in the hobby that I love. The new friends I made were priceless. Next year’s convention is in Charlotte, NC. I have already marked off for it at work and encourage all to attend.