Officer Candidate Announcement

The following members of your South Mountain Division are running for election for the 2021/22 term.

Division members should watch for a direct email that will contain instructions on how and when to vote.

Candidates for Superintendent

Jay Beckham

Jay Beckham
Like most of us, I started out in this wonderful hobby with a Lionel O Gauge train set, then an American Flyer train set. Then HO came out and I got serious about model railroading in the 1960s. My first MER convention was in Silver Spring, MD in the late 60s. I moved from the DC area to WV in 1977 and shortly after I joined the then-new SMD. I helped with the first Hagerstown MER Convention by designing a computer registration program on my IBM System 13. Later in the 80s, I served as Superintendent of the Division for two terms and in 1990 earned the Achievement award for Association Volunteer.
I modeled in HO until about 1997 when I changed to O scale. Currently modeling the PRR in Baltimore and the PRR on the Northern Central as well as a small bit of Baltimore Transit Company trolley line. We have four people now helping with the layout and I mainly work in designing and building structures using casting, laser cutting, and 3D printing. Also, most of the trackwork and the existing electronics are my work. However, we are currently reworking the CTC machine and building PRR signals to replace the existing 3 color signals.
I married Julie in 1963 and we have two daughters and son-in-laws, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. I am a graduate of the University of Maryland and majored in accounting and information systems.
Regarding the future of the South Mountain Division and the NMRA in general, I believe that attracting young people to the hobby is paramount. Our Mini-Con is a good example of a venue that does just that. But in addition, we need to get out into public spaces when that option again becomes possible and safe. Years ago, the division created a portable O scale module which we displayed and operated on several occasions. But then the interest lapsed and I donated the module to the Roundhouse Museum in Hagerstown. So we must make an effort in this direction or this division and model railroading may not survive us.

Alex Polimeni

Alex Polimeni
I have been a member of the South Mountain Division for almost ten years and have previously served as SMD’s Superintendent for three of those. As an experienced TT&TO dispatcher, model scenery builder, and painter of all things miniature, I have chosen 2021 to begin pursuing the title of Master Model Railroader. If elected to return to the Superintendency for another term, I hope to implement a robust agenda as SMD emerges from the recent pandemic era. With a focus on member-to-member communication and collaboration, and exploring safe re-opening for train shows, layout tours, and the 2022 Mini-Con, I want to give SMD a strong start in the coming decade.

Candidate for Paymaster

Raymond Price

Ray Price
I have been a member of SMD for 30+ years. I model in HO, and am interested in the late 19th to the early 20th century time period. The Western Maryland RR is my railroad of choice, before it came out of its bankruptcy.
I have served as the Division Paymaster for some time, but am still interested in serving in that capacity if you choose to support me in the upcoming election. Thanks for your support.

Candidate for Clerk

Harvey Heyser III

Harvey Heyser, III
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.

SMD Superintendent Jerry Skeim

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

It is with much sadness that the South Mountain Division must announce the death of Jerome “Jerry” Skeim on 8 April 2021. A member of the NMRA since 1971, Jerry was Assistant Superintendent of the South Mountain Division (SMD) for two years before being elected to the Superintendent’s post in the fall of 2020.

Information obtained on Jerry’s Facebook page noted he was from Bemidji, MN, where Jerry attended high school and studied mass communications at the State University of the same name. In his introduction as a candidate for Superintendent, Jerry noted that he retired in 2017, has been married for over 40 years to the love of his life (Deb), and included that they have 5 adult children. Jerry went on to share that he managed a branch office of a financial institution for 15 years, served in the military for over 20 years, and before retirement he worked for the Army National Guard Bureau in Arlington, VA.

Quoting from Jerry’s Superintendent’s bio he wrote, “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 is a point to point, 33-mile common carrier and logging railroad once headquartered in North-Central Minnesota.” His On30 layout was inspired by the Minneapolis, Red Lake, & Manitoba, (MRL&M).

Jerry was optimistic about the future for the SMD, writing to a “truly outstanding group of model railroaders,” that, “Besides the obvious love that we all share for railroading, for me, the NMRA is all about the people.” Jerry’s main goal for his term as Superintendent was service to the membership and inclusiveness. During the pandemic, Jerry achieved his goal to stimulate participation and interaction with the implementation of a second, more informal, monthly virtual video gathering to talk trains and share personal projects. 

SMD Assistant Superintendent Alex Polimeni shared, “He was a good friend and will be dearly missed.”

Details regarding funeral arrangements have not been shared by Jerry’s immediate family as of this publication.

Compiled by Tom Fedor, NMRA 139877

SMD Draft Minutes 14 MAR 2021

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – March 14, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  15 or so were present.  In the Superintendent’s absence (for medical reasons), Alex Polimeni, Assistant Superintendent, convened the meeting prior to the published start time for logging in.  During the lead-up to the meeting, Frank Benenatti described his recent tree armature building efforts using 4 pieces of stranded wire.  He offered to give a clinic on the subject.  Then, the Assistant Superintendent called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

21.3-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3631.90 in its bank account.  That amount reflects invoices for the holiday card (item #20.12-3) and the Spring Wheel Report, as well as a $35.50 deposit from the MER.

21.3-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Bob Johnson made the following motion (second by Andy Arnold):

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

Old Business:

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  The Assistant Superintendent reported that Superintendent Skeim has been working on the raffle but has not yet communicated details.  There was discussion of whether or not to open ticket sales to MER members or to restrict them to past Mini-Con attendees.

20.12-4 An Informal SMD Get-Together (aka Hobby Hang-out and Second Monthly Meeting) by Zoom was held 2-27-21.  A brief summary of what participants shared has been made available on the website.  There was general agreement that the virtual event was successful and that the SMD try to hold another get-together in March.

21.2-10 The next Timonium Great Scale Train Show has been scheduled for April 10th and 11th.  To help maintain social distance, the show will be held in four separate sessions with limited attendance.  Attendees will have to pre-register for the limited number of tickets.

New Business:  

21.3-3 NMRA Attractions for Younger Modelers:  Alex Polimeni reported on his outreach to younger modelers through other modeling interests, forums, etc.  They seem to feel that the NMRA does not offer them anything they cannot get from the internet – that the NMRA is a pre-internet organization.  The report initiated an in-depth discussion with SMD members responding strongly that the NMRA gives them many benefits including the following:

Standards and compatibility – We would not have the hobby without these.

Camaraderie – Alex Polimeni reminded us that younger people do much less face-to-face socializing and are much more likely to be lone wolves in the hobby.

Archives and information so important for better models

The discussion suggested the need to go where young modelers are, to ask questions, and to act accordingly.

Several efforts to reach out to younger people were noted:

The modular group north of Baltimore came from a community college class.  (Modules, which because of their limited size, address the lack of space issue facing younger adults living in smaller homes.),

The success of the mini-layout movement in Europe and Asia – These small layouts also address the lack of space issue and are aided by the daily contact so many foreign hobbyists have with rail transit.  (The US, however, does have 6000 hp locos and 2 mile long trains.), and

The efforts of Games Workshop to support gaming clubs in schools.

It was pointed out that the hobby has had some success reaching out to empty-nesters and retirees and that this was something the SMD has been trying to do, especially with the Mini-Con.  There was a suggestion that National relax its restrictive policies related to insurance to make it easier for the divisions to use regular meetings to attract new members.  The high cost of membership was brought up.  There was a suggestion that the SMD open the Informal Get-Togethers to non-members.

No decisions were made.  It was noted that input from Region Director Morningstar would be helpful in giving a better understanding of the bigger picture.

21.3-4 The East Broad Top RR has received new flues for #16 and is holding railfan activities.

Adjournment:  The superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely on April 11, 2021 (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by e-mail.

Clinic:  Alex Polimeni presented a clinic titled ‘Painting Figures with the Citadel Colour System.”  He had previously distributed a handout attached to the 3-12-21 Meeting Reminder (e-mail).  The paint system is water-based acrylic and intended primarily for figure painting.  Richard Benjamin reported that HobbyTown of Frederick carries the Citadel system.  Alex especially recommended the shades, which are paint mixtures using clear mediums rather than just water or alcohol thinned colors.  Consequently, the shades settle into cracks and details much better than the washes model railroaders normally use.

Annual Election

Your South Mountain Division (SMD) is preparing for the annual election of officers and requests your participation. The Nominating Committee consisting of Ron Polimeni and Tom Fedor is seeking candidates for the position of Superintendent, Clerk, and Paymaster during the 2021-2022 calendar year. Please notify us of your interest to lead our Division before 15 April 2021. If you are not contacted directly by the committee, note that any three members may nominate someone via written notice to the Nominating Committee, with the permission of the nominee. 

Duties of Officers

    1. The Superintendent will preside over Division and Officers Meetings and will perform the usual duties of the head of a nonprofit organization. He or she will be an ex officio member of all committees except the Nominating and Audit Committees.
    2. The Clerk-Paymaster will serve as the Division secretary (Clerk) and the treasurer (Paymaster). Clerk duties will include: taking minutes at all meetings, maintaining a roster of active members, maintaining the Division’s records, sending notices of meetings. Paymaster duties will include: receiving and disbursing funds, and preparing financial reports. As stated in article VI, these offices may be combined and held by one elected person, or split and held by two separately elected people.

For more details regarding the governance of the SMD please find our bylaws online at

Our Division website is, and our email is


Ron Polimeni & Tom Fedor

SMD Draft Minutes 14 FEB 2021

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – February 14, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  22 or so were present.  The Superintendent convened the meeting prior to the published start time for logging in.  After some socializing, Superintendent Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

21.2-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3781.32 in its bank account (the same as last month).  That amount does not include invoices for the holiday card (item #20.12-3).  Alex Polimeni forwarded those invoices to the Paymaster during the meeting.  John Madden made the following motion (second by Alex Polimeni):

Motion:  That the Paymaster’s report for the February 2021 meeting be accepted.  The motion passed unanimously.

21.2-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by email).  Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Alex Polimeni):

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

Old Business:

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  The SMD has possession of the gift card donated by Mainline Hobbies and the lifetime pass to the Great Scale Train Show.  The process of conducting a virtual raffle was discussed at length with the following issues brought up:

    1. What state and local laws and regulations will apply?  The MER is chartered in MD.  Where is the SMD chartered?  Different counties have different regulations for raffles.  For instance, Frederick County requires a permit; Washington County does not.
    2. How will the SMD accept payment?  Where to send payment and to whom?  A raffle manager living in the county where the raffle will be held was suggested.
    3. To whom will we advertise the raffle?  Division members?  NMRA members?  Attendees to past Mini-Cons? The hobby public?
    4. Tickets – actual or virtual?  It was decided not to limit the total number of tickets available or the number an individual buyer could purchase. 
    5. Information required from purchasers?  Name, e-mail, phone number, etc.?
    6. How many raffles can the SMD hold in a year?

20.12-4 Holding a Second Virtual Meeting of the month for matters other than business – an informal SMD get-together by Zoom:  Saturday evening was the preference expressed by respondents to the Superintendent’s survey.  He suggested 2-27-21 for the first get-together.   Bob Johnson made the following motion (second by Harvey Heyser):

Motion:  That an informal SMD get-together be scheduled for Saturday, February 27, 2021, at 7 p.m.  The motion passed unanimously.

Members were invited to “bring” things to share (show & tell).  No business will be discussed.  Zoom Master Alex Polimeni will make himself available beforehand to answer questions about screen sharing.  (Basically, anything that can be put on the screen can be shared – electronic files, “slides from PowerPoint, videos, etc.)

20.12-6 MER Hunt Valley Convention – fall 2021:  At the present time, the convention is still planned to proceed face-to-face; however Region Director Bob Morningstar reported the Region lost a significant amount of deposit money on last year’s canceled convention.  The Region must make an additional deposit in April, at which time a decision will have to be made.  The SMD website has a link to the convention page with information about the hotel.

New Business:  

21.2-3 Tom Fedor has reported that the deadline for the Spring 2021 Wheel Report is imminent.  He is willing to accept submissions until February 21st.

21.2-4 MER President Kurt Thompson has passed along a warning about scams made in his and the NMRA’s names.  Members should be aware.

21.2-5 Covid vaccines:  Members shared their experience and status.  One member got his shot by volunteering at a vaccination clinic.  At the end of the clinic, he and his wife were there when they had left-over doses to give.  [Model railroaders are a creative bunch.]

21.2-6 SMD Elections:  Nominations were solicited for the election to be held in May.

21.2-7 NMRA Elections:  Bob Morningstar encouraged SMD members to participate in the upcoming National elections as the nominees have differing views of the direction for our organization’s future.

21.2-8 3-D Printing Clinic:  Bob Geldmacher requested questions about 3-D printing for him to address in his upcoming clinic.

21.2-9 An operations clinic given by Bill Wilson will be held at the May meeting.

21.2-10 The next Timonium Great Scale Train Show has been canceled.  No one was certain about the rest of this year’s scheduled shows.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely on March 14, 2021 (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by email.

Clinic:  Bob Morningstar presented the second part of his clinic on JMRI.  He discussed the use of Decoder Pro for setting the CVs in DCC decoders and “walked” members through the applicable screens and toolbars.  Bob also repeated his offer to help anyone [maybe not Thumbs] having difficulty with JMRI.