From the Super, 10 OCT Meeting Reminder

Alex Polimeni, superintendent

Everyone, Winter is coming! As the leaves begin to fall and we start slinging pumpkin guts for Halloween, I would like to invite you all to our October membership meeting via Zoom this Sunday, October 10th. “Doors” open at 2pm, with the business meeting to commence promptly by 2:30pm. As always, you can find our September minutes HERE. In other news, we’re still looking for a clinic for this weekend’s meeting. If you have something you’d like to talk about, let us know!

And, on that note, I would like to announce the return of the long-awaited and much-anticipated SMD Hobby Hangout on Friday, October 22nd at 7pm via Zoom. More info to come, so stay tuned!

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 southmountaindiv@gmail.com.

A copy of the minutes from the last membership can be found at this previous SMD blog post: <http://portal.smdnmra.org/2021/10/07/smd-draft-minutes-12-sep-2021/>

SMD Draft Minutes 12 Sep 2021

Submitted by Clerk, Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – September 12, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  20 or so were present.  Superintendent Alex Polimeni convened the meeting prior to the published start time for logging in.  

During the lead-up to the meeting, there was extensive sharing:

  • Frank Benenati – his full-scale fishing rods – he then recounted further progress with his trees using super leaves from Scenic Express,
  • Alex Polimeni – his new house with hobby room and garage (for which Ron Polimeni has already drawn a layout plan),
  • Rich Randall – showed photos of his new catenary at Avery, ID (to which Steve Green noted Bachmann’s new DCC’s LED for simulating sparks might apply),
  • Steve Green – his work on electronic projects, and
  • Andy Arnold pointing out that electric busses also spark – Andy Dodge recalling that those busses were so quiet his mother had to drag him from playing in the street when they came by – Alex Polimeni recalling the “singing rails” when the Acela passes (long before any other sound) – Jack Fritz reporting that Porsche is developing recorded engine sounds for their electric cars (to achieve the full Porsche experience).  [That brought many suggestions that we model railroaders could help them out with DCC and sound decoders.] – The discussion ended with a bunch of “codger style” complaints about cars that turn off when stopped to save fuel.

The Assistant Superintendent finally was able to call the business meeting to order shortly after 2:30 pm.

21.9-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3635.47 in its bank account.  The Paymaster reported that the $150 memorial contribution for Superintendent Jerry Skeim (passed by motion in April – minute #21.4-3) has not been made yet because we do not know where the family wishes it to be sent.  The Superintendent will check with Jerry’s daughter.

21.9-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by email).  Steve Green made the following motion (second by Don Florwick):

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

Old Business:

21.4-3 Superintendent Jerry Skeim’s Passing:  The superintendent reported that Mrs. Skeim has recovered to the best of his knowledge.

21.5-5 Hobby Hangout:  The Superintendent will try to set up another between meeting informal get-together.  Friday evenings (the typical operating session night), Saturday afternoons, or Sunday afternoons were suggested as times for the Hangout.  Members were reminded that the informal sharing can be them sitting working on a project and talking about it as well as “slideshows” or videos (via screen share) of something they have accomplished or are interested in.

New Business: 

21.9-3 Assistant Superintendent:  The Superintendent announced his choice of Mike Shockey.  Mike has been Superintendent previously.  Unfortunately, he works on weekends but will try to join the meetings when he can (as he did at this meeting by zoom during his break).

21.9-4 Clinics:  There is a need for clinics for the rest of 2021 while meetings are remote.  Experience with the Hobby Hangout and the pre-meeting sharing sessions demonstrates techniques (such as screen sharing) that make giving a remote clinic possible.

21.9-5 Advisory Committee Meeting Report – Held Friday, 9-10-21 – minutes not available yet:

  • The Committee recommended holding meetings remotely by zoom for the rest of 2021.  The Superintendent asked for feedback on this decision from Division members present.  There was a lengthy discussion with most responses agreeing with the Committee’s recommendation for the rest of 2021.  There was concern that the upcoming flu season may increase the negative effects of covid.
  • The Superintendent reminded members that the Division has already lost one member and stated that we do not want to lose any others.
  • When the SMD transitions back to in-person meetings, a questionnaire for hosts and attendees was suggested to give people pause (even if they do not feel comfortable answering questions about their vaccination status).  The Superintendent will consider this with the Committee.
  • Consulting the CDC status tracker was suggested as a way to plan for the future.
  • Also suggested was gathering in small groups or pods.
  • The Superintendent ended the discussion by stating that he 100% wants to get back to face-to-face meetings as soon as it is safe to do so.

21.9-6 Future Mini-Con: At present, the Advisory Committee is not certain about 2022.  Chair Pete Clarke is inundated with his work as Membership Chair of the Friends of the East Broad Top (by a doubling of membership) and will need substantial assistance with the arrangements for the next and following Mini-Cons.  He has indicated that he has organized the Mini-Con requirements on a spreadsheet that should make the task much easier for a new volunteer.  Volunteers are needed.

Member feedback indicated that holding an indoor event like the Mini-Con at this time is questionable – perhaps an outdoor swap meet late next spring.  The Superintendent remembered that swap meets within the Division have not always worked well and suggested taking tables at other train meets.

Brian Wolfe of Mainline Hobbies stated his readiness to put up funding for a Mini-Con in 2022 if the SMD is willing to put it on.  Mainline’s lead time is about a month to get out advertising and mailers.  Another date is possible if the fire hall is not rented.  (However, that may conflict with the election for officers scheduled for May.)

The consensus of the discussion was to wait to see if the pandemic situation is improved.  The Advisory Committee will revisit the issue in early December.  Contacting potential clinicians for the formal clinics was advised, so they can plan ahead (even if the Mini-Con cannot go forward).

21.9-7 Possible Outdoor Activities:  The following suggestions for a spring 2022 Division outdoor activity were made:  riding the EBT, railfanning at Horseshoe Curve, a trip to ride #1309, etc.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely by zoom on October 10, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.  Members will be reminded by email.

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Clinic:  Following the meeting, Jane and Pete Clarke gave a lengthy report (including screen sharing) on the East Broad Top Foundation Inc.’s plans and activities as well as those of the Friends of the EBT (FEBT).  Among the items mentioned were the following:

  • Joe Kovalchick, whose family was largely responsible for saving the EBT, will be on the Board of Directors for the Foundation.  It was gratifying to see that the formal Foundation picture featured three Kovalchick family members standing on the end platform of one of the passenger cars with the other Board members at track level.
  • The Foundation is conducting restoration work on Mikados #14 and #16.
  • The Foundation has moved 3 hoppers to the Robertsdale scale track for display.
  • The carpentry shop at Orbisonia has been jacked up, stabilized, and refurbished to serve as a workspace for the FEBT.
  • There are plans for a 2021 Fall Spectacular and FEBT Reunion using the railcars and diesel.
  • The Foundation is considering extending the rails south, but the tunnels present a formidable obstacle for going very far.
  • Linn Moedinger will be lending his restoration expertise to the foundation’s efforts.
  • At Robertsdale, the FEBT has cleaned out junk and salvaged artifacts for display.  They are working on exhibits for the old Post Office as well as upgrades to wifi/internet connections.  The gift shop is open.  There are walking tours of the outside parts of the mines, and the miner’s museum is close by.
  • The FEBT continues its work restoring the roof and trim on the depot.
  • Among the SMD, there was agreement that the revival of the EBT was one of the few good things to come out of 2020.