Bridge Out Ahead: The Past, Present, and Future of SMD

Alex Polimeni

This past decade has been a tumultuous time for the South Mountain Division. My Dad (Ron) and I first began attending membership meetings after NMRA annexed our county (Hampshire County, WV) into SMD and his email address was placed on the Wheel Report’s mailing list. The rest, as they say, is history… but let’s revisit it all the same.
My first years in SMD were under the leadership of Paul Rausch. With his unfortunate passing, assistant Superintendent Bill Wilson administered the election with three names in the hat: Don Florwick, Paul Mahoney, and my own, Alex Polimeni. The youngest Division member by at least two decades, it was incredibly humbling to receive your vote of confidence.
I served as Super for three years until declining to run again for the 2020-2021 season. Instead, the chair was turned over to Jerry Skeim with the agreement that I would serve as assistant Super to help in the transition. Sadly, Jerry became the first and only SMD member we lost to the pandemic, passing in the hospital after a severe COVID-19 infection. For the second time, I took the chair after losing our previous Super all too soon.
I’ve since yielded the chair once again, this time into Bob Johnson’s capable hands… but this job is too big for any one person, even if it’s “just” organizing a social club for model railroading. Under Paul, to me, to Jerry and Bob, the train has kept moving, but from where I’m sitting, the bridge is very much out ahead… and you, the Division, must decide if that means it’s the end of the line.
As things stand, Bob Johnson has said he will serve no more than one more year as Superintendent. Ray Price continues to serve as Treasurer, as he’s done since at least my first year as Super. Bob is currently acting as Wheel Report editor while I serve as acting Clerk. SMD has welcomed a number of new old faces and seen old ones return, yet the fact remains that we are not what we once were.
Although I kept the seat warm, I regard my time as your Super as a failure. There was so much potential I had hoped to harness, but I wasn’t the person to make good on it. The potential itself, however, remains unchanged. SMD has a storied history more than 40 years in the making, a membership that spans four states, and a crown jewel of the Mid-Eastern Region in our annual Mini-Con. With roughly 90 members at any given time, we have the potential to become a powerhouse and help the hobby to flourish in our Division.
This is your Division, but more than that, it’s our Division, each and every one of us. We decide its value, not just for ourselves, but the friendships we have because of it. If you’re reading this, think about what SMD means to you. The bridge may be out ahead, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

-Alex Polimeni

Author: smdnmra

South Mountain Division, Mid-Eastern Region, National Model Railroad Association