From the Super’s Desk

Jerome “Jerry” Skeim, South Mountain Division Superintendent. (Tom Fedor)

I would like to introduce myself to those members who may not have heard that I was elected as the new SMD Superintendent last month. My name is Jerry Skeim and just briefly, I live in Thurmont, MD and have been an NMRA member for just shy of 50 years. I moved from the Washington DC area in 2017 to Thurmont and have enjoyed being a member of the South Mountain division since that time.  I am looking forward to a good year, hoping for a time that we can get together in person before next summer, safely without the fear of this current public health crisis.  

Just letting everyone know, our next scheduled meeting is on Sunday, October 11th by using the ZOOM application. Please email the Division at for meeting credentials. Meeting will start at 2:00 pm. There will be the business meeting and if there are any of you that would like to participate in a little show and tell highlighting any modeling that you have done over the summer or show updates to your layout you are more than welcome to do so. I will ask for any volunteers to show us their work after we adjourn the meeting.

In other news 

Since my election last month I would like to report that the division has retained the talents of the following modelers in their roles as advisory staff to both myself and to the division. Those folks include Mr. Bob Johnson, Mr. Don Florwick, Mr. Pete Clarke and Ms. Jane Clarke along with Mr. Alex Polimeni as the Asst. Super, and Mr. Tom Fedor as our Wheel Report Editor, as well as additional social media and webmaster positions.  I do want to mention that besides being on the Advisory committee Pete Clarke has agreed to again handle the reins of the Mini-Con, should conditions permit, and Jane Clarke will continue to be our AP coordinator. Thank you to one and all, I am very grateful for your continued support, advice and counsel as we navigate the coming year.

If you are not that familiar with the ZOOM meeting format or the process on logging in, the meeting site will open 1 hour early on Sunday at 1:00. That will give those of you who might want to do an early login or if you are logging in to ZOOM for the 1st time it gives you an opportunity to do so. Hopefully you won’t feel rushed and be able to be on board at the start of our meeting at 2:00.

From the members

Jay Beckham  – Would like the membership to know that he has 50 plus years of MRR, RMC and other model magazines to give away.  He can be reached at

Hope to see you all on Sunday the 11th at 2:00.

Jerry Skeim, Superintendent

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – 13 September 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SMD Mini-Con of April 18 and the regular meeting of May 17 had to be cancelled.

[A summary of actions taken in preparation for the 9-13-20 meeting is appropriate here.  

Through the late spring and summer, NMRA National developed guidelines for remote/distance events.  Those guidelines were shared with all NMRA groups through the Regions.  MER Director Bob Morningstar passed information along to the SMD.

The Officers and Advisory Committee held a Planning Meeting for Remote/Distanced Meetings by an 8-28-20 test Zoom call.  Minutes of that meeting were made available to members by e-mail on 9-7-20. 

During the Planning Meeting, the Officers and Advisory Committee reviewed the SMD By-Laws, which include the following:

Article XII-1:  “Membership meetings will be held at such times and places as may be determined by the officers.”  Note that the Officers are charged with determining the places of meetings.  Based on advice from the NMRA National, the Zoom platform can be considered a place.  Also note that the By-Laws do not specifically mandate face-to-face elections.  Consequently, the Officers (with Advisory Committee agreement) decided to hold the election at a remote regular membership meeting normally scheduled for the second Sunday of September (9-13-20).

Article XII-4:  “Proxy voting is permitted on any issue where advance notice is sent to all members, such as referendums, changes in the Bylaws, or election of officers. Proxies will be sent to the Clerk-Paymaster, who will vote them as directed.”

Article XII-5:  “At any membership meeting, fifteen members (in person or by proxy) will constitute a quorum for purposes of voting on items announced in advance. Fifteen members (in person) will constitute a quorum for other purposes.”

Article XIII-4:  “The names of the candidates for office will be communicated to the membership at least fifteen days before the election.”

Article XIII-5:  “If contested, the election will be conducted by the Nominating Committee Chair at the annual meeting via secret ballot. Ballots will be counted and results announced before the close of the meeting. Positions will be filled by a simple plurality of votes.”

Members were notified of the election and candidates by e-mail on 9-29-20.  As there was only one nominee for each position, the election was not contested.  Consequently, the election could be conducted by the out-going Superintendent.

In preparation for the remote regular meeting and at the suggestion of MER Director Bob Morningstar, Zoom practice sessions were held on 9-11-20 and 9-12-20 in order to familiarize members with logging into Zoom meetings.  Members were able to participate in those sessions by various electronic devices and by land line telephones.]

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  After some socializing, out-going Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

20.9-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3808.09 in its bank account.  That balance took into consideration the Division’s purchase of a Zoom license, expenses related to the fall Wheel Report, and receipt of 2 checks from the MER.  The Paymaster reported that he did not purchase the $150 gift certificate raffle prize for the cancelled Mini-Con.

20.9-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Clerk Harvey Heyser summarized the draft minutes for the March meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).  Don Florwick made the following motion (second by Bob Johnson):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the January 2020 meeting be approved as submittedThe motion passed unanimously.

Minutes of the Planning Meeting held by the Officers and Advisory Committee (8-28-20) had been made available previously for members to read via e-mail.  There was agreement that no further discussion was necessary at the September membership meeting.

Old Business:  Old business will be discussed at the October 2020 meeting.

New Business:  

20.9-3 Election of officers:  Out-going Superintendent Polimeni stated that this remote meeting was being held in a time of emergency.  He reviewed the provisions of the by-laws and the decisions made by the Officers and Advisory Committee.  He placed the slate of nominees for elected officer positions before the membership for a vote:  Superintendent – Jerry Skeim, Clerk – Harvey Heyser, and Paymaster – Ray Price.  A roll call vote was taken.  For the purposes of establishing that a quorum was present the following names are numbered and in the order of the roll call.

Voting for the slate of nominees:

1) Ron Polimeni, 2) Jay Beckham, 3) Bill Wilson, 4) Dave Thalman, 5) Ray Price, 6) Jerry Skeim, 7) John Madden, 8) Bob Johnson, 9) Jack Fritz 10) Andy Arnold, 11) Don Florwick, 12) Gary Nastasi   13) Bill Martz, 14) Andrew Roberts,15) Harvey Heyser, 16) Rich Nemchik, 17) Alex Polimeni, 18) proxy Tom Fedor, and 19) proxy Richard Benjamin.  (The 2 proxy votes were cast by the Clerk.)

Voting against the slate as presented – no one.

Abstaining – none of the SMD members present – (Meeting attendees who live in non-SMD counties did not vote.)

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

Motion:  That the slate of nominees be adopted unanimously.  The motion passed unanimously.

20.9-4 Zoom account:  Alex Polimeni will administer the SMD account for now.  The page can be used for informal (non-meeting) activities (hanging out, etc.).  Experience with the practice Zoom sessions indicated ways to share content (use of the screen share capability on Zoom), ask questions, get help with problems, give layout tours, and hold other activities of interest to the membership.

20.9-5 Revisions to the By-Laws:  Alex Polimeni pointed out the need for provisions related to “times of emergency” and suggested that matter be taken up during the course of periodic review of the by-laws.

20.9-6 Members praised outgoing Superintendent Polimeni for the job he did during his term of office.

20.9-7 Division Facebook page:  Members were encouraged to use the page for informal contacts.

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

Following the meeting, informal discussion among members continued.

Clutter from the Super’s Desk

Alex Polimeni, superintendent (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

My friends,

The months since we last enjoyed each other’s company at Jay Beckham’s house have undoubtedly been some of the strangest and most trying any of us have experienced. I’ll be the first to admit this year’s upheavals have knocked the wind out of me, and I can only imagine it’s the same for so many of you.

What this means for South Mountain is that we need to get our Division back on the rails for what is undoubtedly going to be a year like none before in SMD’s history. Invariably there is opportunity amidst adversity, and this pandemic has also created an opportunity for model railroaders everywhere to both work on their projects and collaborate with each other across the digital divide.

Moving forward, SMD will hold our postponed officer’s election during this September’s virtual Zoom membership meeting Sunday, September 13th at 2pm.

We’ll also be holding Zoom test calls Friday, September 11th at 7pm and again on Saturday, September 12th at 1pm so folks can make sure they’re able to connect.

As there are no contested races, we need only a quorum of 15 votes to elect this year’s slate by acclimation. We ask that all members, whether you’re planning to participate in the Zoom meeting or not, email your votes to, clearly specifying whom you’re voting to elect to each position (Superintendent, Clerk, or Paymaster).

Please make sure your votes are submitted by Saturday, September 12th. The Clerk will then allocate your votes by proxy during the meeting, allowing for a motion of election by acclamation to be made and carried. I will then hand off Division affairs to the new slate of officers at the conclusion of the meeting.

Our incoming officers have a huge task ahead of them- but, I’m not worried, because if the last three years have taught me anything, it’s no Superintendent could ask for a more supportive membership than you. I’ve gone into every term of my tenure as Superintendent excited about that year’s prospects for SMD, and because of all of you, this year is no different. You care about your Division, you want to see it succeed, and I have total faith that together, we will emerge from this tumultuous time stronger than ever.

Thank you again for a great three years,

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent

2020/21 SMD Officer Candidates

Jerome “Jerry” Skeim, candidate for South Mountain Division Superintendent, is pictured outside his Thurmont, MD home on 25 August 2020. (Tom Fedor)

Candidate for Superintendent

I desire to lead a truly outstanding group of model railroaders. Participation is the key to a healthy division. Besides the obvious love that we all share for railroading, for me the NMRA is all about the people. What you and I bring to the division makes it what it is and what it can become.

We are currently living with COVID-19. This pandemic is challenging us to both maintain our health and our associations with others. Until we can meet again in person we will have to use alternate methods to stay in touch. As most of you are aware, there are a number of ways to do electronic meetings, so one of the current available options will have to be decided on and implemented. The challenge is to serve as many members as we can. Also understanding that some do not have the option of utilizing current technology. It will be a challenge to be as inclusive as possible.

At the same time we need to be good stewards of our finances and do what we can to retain current membership and promote the hobby with the goal of increasing membership.

I managed a branch office of a financial institution for 15 years. Served in the military for over 20 years. Prior to my retirement I worked for the Army National Guard Bureau in Arlington, VA. For the past two years I have served as the Assistant Superintendent of the South Mountain Division.

I retired in 2017, and have been married for over 40 years to the love of my life. We have 5 adult children. 

I have been a member of the NMRA since 1971. I participate in as many railroad events that I can ranging from commercial shows, layout tours, NMRA sponsored events and meetings, national, regional, local conventions, mini-cons, presentations and operations opportunities.

I have a love for all scales in the hobby but my main interests are On30, On3 and 2-rail O scale. A new narrow gauge layout is currently in the construction stage. This was a point to point, 33 mile common carrier and logging railroad once headquartered in North Central Minnesota.

Incumbent Candidate for Clerk

Harvey Heyser III, clerk (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

As a scale modeler for 50 years or so, I have modeled in HO, O, and now large scale, specifically G scale (1:22.5), using gauge one (1-3/4”) track which represents meter gauge (I use it to represent 3 ft. gauge.).  The three layouts I have started all got to the ‘plywood dragon’ stage and went no further.

I find early 20th century (before WWII) prototype railroads quite fascinating.  My favorite is the Cumberland and Pennsylvania.  Now that I am retired, I plan to model the C&P as a freelance, 1920s, coal hauling, narrow gauge short line. Layout design and operations also fascinate me. Contacts made through the SMD have given me many opportunities to participate in both those activities.

I have been an NMRA member since the 1970s and an SMD member since returning to the Shepherdstown, WV area in the mid-1980s.  I very much appreciate the SMD for the opportunities for fellowship and the chance to learn new things about our hobby.

Incumbent Candidate for Paymaster

Raymond Price, Paymaster (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

I joined the SMD in 1987 after moving to Frederick County.  I reside in the eastern part of the county, almost along the Carroll County line.  I have served in all of the elected positions within the division and even edited the newsletter.

I am interested in modeling the late 19th – early 20th century to 1904, primarily because of smaller equipment and shorter trains.  Currently I am planning a small 4×8’ layout to test how I do with building one.  I also enjoy operations and participate in that aspect as often as I can.

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – 8 March 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met at the home of Jay Beckham near Berkeley Springs, WV.  24 or so were present.  After viewing Jay’s layout, Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

20.3-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3930.17 in its bank account.  That balance took into consideration the $40.19 spent for two Wheel Reports.  Purchase of the $150 Mainline Hobbies gift certificate for the Mini-Con raffle prize will happen soon.

20.3-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Clerk Harvey Heyser summarized the draft minutes for the February meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).  Jerry Skeim made the following motion (second by Ray Price):

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

Old Business:

19.9-7 2020 Mini-Con:  [Because of the Corona virus emergency, the 2020 Mini-Con had to be cancelled.  That decision was made in coordination with Brian Wolfe of Mainline Hobbies.]  Chair  Pete Clarke’s report from the March SMD meeting is, therefore, summarized here:  Food, raffle, door prize, clinics (informal, formal, and make & take), venders, clean-up, and electrical needs were all lined-up.  The Superintendent volunteered to print and bring name tags for SMD members, who do not have them.

The Corona virus situation was discussed based on the very limited information available at the date of the SMD meeting.  Disinfectant would be available at the event.  Members were advised not to come to the Mini-Con if they have respiratory issues.  It was noted that attendance could not be predicted because of the fluid nature of the situation.  It was clear that Chair Clarke and Mainline Hobbies were taking the situation seriously and had given a great deal of thought to how to respond.

20.1-7 Nominations Committee for the May Election:  Committee Chair Ron Polimeni reported two members are considering running for Superintendent.  Alex Polimeni indicated that he will help with the transition and that past Superintendents have been extremely helpful during his terms.  Three members can also nominate someone (with the nominee’s consent).

20.2-4 SMD promotional pamphlet (tri-fold) giving specific information about Division activities:  Bob Johnson reported that 400 brochures had been printed (using the graphics and text reviewed at the February meeting) for the cost authorized at the last meeting.  The intention is to distribute them at the Mini-Con and to place them at Mainline Hobbies, HobbyTown – Frederick, and other hobby shops.

New Business:

20.3-3 Host Jay Beckham welcomed everyone to his home.  The SMD expressed thanks for hosting the meeting.

20.3-4 Membership privileges:  In answer to a question, it was pointed out that NMRA membership allows for attendance to any division meet; however voting privileges apply only for the division a member is assigned to by zip code.  It was also pointed out that the NMRA has a data field for changing division assignment for members who wish to belong to a different division from the one based on their zip code.

20.3-5 East Broad Top Foundation:  The news of the forming of a non-profit foundation composed of experienced railroad people (including Joseph Kovalchik and Wick Moorman) was greeted with excitement.  Membership in the Friends of the East Broad Top (FEBT) was suggested for anyone who wishes to support the Foundation and its work.  Tentative plans are to get the railroad operating soon using rail car M-1 and diesel switchers.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting is scheduled for May 17, 2020 at Steve King’s home in Fayetteville, PA.  [Because of the Corona virus emergency, this meeting was canceled.]

Following the meeting, host Jay Beckham presented a clinic on laser cutters for model railroading.  He followed the presentation with a demonstration – cutting out an outhouse.  (Yes the interior furnishings were included but, thankfully, not the smell.  May Whit Towers rest in peace.)  Members modeling the less advanced years of railroading got outhouse samples to take home.