SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – January 12, 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Following an open house at the Frederick Society of Model Engineers, Division members met at the HobbyTown USA Frederick, MD store.  23 were present.  After looking around the store and socializing, Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

20.1-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price (not present) submitted a report that the Division has $4115.08 in its bank account, the same as in November, 2019. 

20.1-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Clerk Harvey Heyser summarized the draft minutes for the December meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).    Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Jane Clarke):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the December 2019 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

19.9-7 2020 Mini-Con will be April 18, 2020:  Chair Pete Clarke reported the following.

a. Informal Clinics:  1 slot remains to be filled.  2 or 3 back-ups (in case of no-shows) would be helpful.  Suggested topics – Kadee uncoupling and hands-on model railroad photography (with attendee’s own phone).

e. Attendance:  Chair Clarke indicated that the 220 or so attendees at recent Mini-Cons is about the limit of what the venue can handle.  Consequently, the current promotion is successful.

f. NMRA/SMD promotion at the Mini-Con:  Discussion indicated that the Division has gotten some new members from Mini-Con attendees but not as many as we would like.  It was observed that many attendees are not yet at the point of their hobby “lives” when they want to become NMRA members.  (They are most interested in information that helps them build a layout.)  The following were suggested:

1) Brief announcements at breaks regarding the Division and the NMRA (stressing Rail Pass and the layouts in the SMD),

2) Invitations to attend SMD meetings (noting the limit of three before required membership),

3) Efforts to determine what attendees are looking for from the Mini-Con (check-the-box type survey forms better than ones requiring written response),

4) Directions to Division “specialists” who can help answer their questions (including the many at the Mini-Con),

5) Display of the banner advertising the MNRA /SMD (Bob Morningstar), and

6) Handing out the SMD promotional pamphlet (tri-fold as discussed earlier) giving specific information about Division activities – layout visits, clinics, etc. (Bob Johnson).

19.10-6 White Elephant Table:  At this late time of the year, it was the consensus that this issue should be discussed during the Planning Meeting for next year (summer 2020).

New Business:

20.1-3 Host Richard Benjamin welcomed everyone to HobbyTown USA.  The SMD expressed thanks for having the meeting area nicely arranged for a discussion between all present. 

20.1-4 Guest Attendance at Division Meetings:  It was noted how important this is to promoting new members for the NMRA and the SMD.  Almost all Division activities happen during the meetings held during visits to members’ homes.  Wheel Report Editor Tom Fedor reminded all present of the NMRA’s policy limiting to three (3) guest visits to Division meetings.  There was discussion of how this policy makes the SMD look unwelcoming and hampers promotion of the NMRA through invitation to Division activities.  Editor Fedor reminded everyone that meetings (and clinics, when known in advance) are listed on the web-site.  With regard to Mini-Con attendees, the consensus was that when they are ready to participate in the SMD, they will join the organization.

20.1-5 SMD membership:  The Superintendent indicated the Division is in a good place right now and does not need a major effort to grow.  The following was reported:

Current SMD membership around 80

Meeting attendance between 15 and 30

Number of people involved in the Mini-Con around 42 (most are SMD members)

The event reaches about half of SMD members.

20.1-6 Cross-bucks:  Don Florwick distributed the 4 remaining.  (The SMD paid for these.)

20.1-7 Nominations Committee for the May Election:  Bob Law was suggested for membership on the Committee (to report at the March meeting).  Tom Fedor will facilitate communications.  Job descriptions (including the Superintendent’s) will be in the Wheel Report.

20.1-8 Spring Wheel Report deadline:  February 15, 2020.

20.1-9 Frederick County Society of Model Engineers’ layout status:  Nothing to report.  They still have to relocate at an undetermined future date.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting on February 9, 2020 will be held at 2:00 p.m. at the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club in Chambersburg, PA.

Following the meeting, those in attendance expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to have a wide ranging discussion of the SMD and its activities and again thanked host Richard Benjamin for his efforts facilitating the meeting.

SMD NMRA January 12 Meeting Reminder

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

Happy New Year, everyone!

With the hope that you’ve all had a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season, I’d like to extend an invitation to our January meeting at Richard Benjamin’s Hobbytown USA location in Frederick, MD. Doors will be open by 2PM, with the business meeting to follow. Hobbytown’s address is …

454 Prospect Blvd., Frederick, MD 21701

In lieu of our typical home layout tour, SMD has been invited to visit the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers club car! Their doors will open at noon. If you have time, leave home a little earlier and come see what they’ve been working on! The FCSME club car is at …

423 East Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701

As always, if you need to catch up on last months meeting- I know I did, since I missed it!- you will find meeting minutes HERE.

In other news, the deadline for the Spring Wheel Report is fast approaching on Feb. 15th! Share with us what you’ve been working on this winter, or even what projects you’re planning for this coming year. 

April’s Mini-Con is also coming up, so if you’re signed up to give an informal clinic- or even a formal clinic, like I’m doing- absolutely don’t do like me and wait until the last minute to prepare it! April may seem months away but is, in fact, functionally tomorrow.

Speaking of the Mini-Con, I’ve only just now realized an error made it into the Winter Wheel Report; the Mini-Con will be held Saturday, April 18th, not April 20th. How did I notice this? By looking up the date so I could refer an interested friend who needs to apply for leave at work in advance, of course! Do make sure to invite your friends, relatives, coworkers, *their* friends, relatives, coworkers…

Here’s to another great year for the South Mountain Division!

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent 

November 10 meeting minutes

Submitted by Harvey Heyser, Clerk

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

Draft Meeting Minutes – November 10, 2019

Division members met at Dave Thalman’s home near Winchester, VA.  8 were present.  After viewing the host’s layout and socializing, Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

19.11-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $4115.08 in its bank account, the same as in October.  The Paymaster expects up-coming expenses for the Wheel Report and for Mini-Con 2020 preparations:  raffle and concessions.

19.11-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The Clerk summarized the draft minutes for the October meeting.  Because there was confusion about the minute related to the web site, the Clerk requested that approval of the minutes be delayed.  Those present agreed.

Old Business:

18.10-5 Web Site:  Tom Fedor is now the Webmaster.

19.9-7 2020 Mini-Con will be April 18, 2020:  There was minimal discussion in Chair Pete Clarke’s absence.

b. Food:  Members brought up the need to have bottled water for attendees.

19.9-9 Bob Law’s Open House was very successful.

New Business:

19.11-3 Host Dave Thalman welcomed everyone to his HO layout.  Tracks around the two 4 track helixes were operating smoothly.

19.11-4 Future Meeting for January 2020:  The Frederick Airport was suggested as a possible location for the meeting with, perhaps, a visit to the Frederick Society layout close-by.  Arrangements for using the Airport facilities can be made at the last minute.  There will be a charge for drinks.

19.11-5 Visitor:  Bob Hiller, N scaler and high-rail collector, introduced himself to the SMD, and members provided information about the NMRA.

19.11-6 Winchester MRRC:  Andy Arnold reported the Club has demolished and removed its layout but is finding that alternative locations are very costly.

19.11-7 SMD member Bob Morningstar has been elected MER Director.

Adjournment:  The Chair accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held at Bob Morningstar’s home near Greencastle, PA on December 8,2019.  Assistant Superintendent Jerry Skeim will preside in the Superintendent’s absence.

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Following the meeting, host Dave Thalman presented a clinic about weathering with washes, Pan Pastels, and acrylics.  He stressed doing weathering in the same light as on the layout.

Blame the Brass

Alex Polimeni, superintendent

by Alex Polimeni

“Clutter from the Super’s Desk”

Maybe it’s just me, but Thanksgiving always feels far off until it’s the coming  Thursday and you realize you haven’t bought a thing for holiday dinner…

Of course, Thanksgiving also means the South Mountain Division season is under full steam, and let me tell you, we’re highballing it down the main this year. The year kicked off with a visit to Jeff Grove’s new layout back in September, where Jeff gave a thoughtful talk on his eye-catching structure weathering techniques. Last month, we found ourselves in the south-west corner of Division territory, returning to Dave Thalman’s PRR railroad four years after we’d last seen it. Next, we’re coming back around to newly-elected MER Director Bob Morningstar’s home in the run up to the Christmas holiday- and while I’ll be away on travel that day, I’ve asked my assistant Superintendent Jerry Skeim to preside over what should be another good meeting.

Looking ahead, we’re starting next year with a couple of real highlights. In January, the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers will be opening their doors for layout tours at 12PM, ahead of the meeting proper at Richard Benjamin’s HobbyTown Frederick location- so, plan to get an early start! Afterward, in February, we’ve been invited to hold our Frederick meeting at the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club in Hagerstown, MD. I haven’t seen either of these club layouts myself yet, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Even further down the tracks, 2020’s Mini-Con is coming together thanks as always to Pete and Jane Clarke’s tireless efforts, Mainline Hobby Supply and, of course, YOUR incredible contributions. Simply said, we put on a great model train show, and that’s something every Division member should be proud of. On that note, if you’re not involved yet, we’re excited to have you come aboard!

Finally, I want to say that it has been my pleasure and genuine privilege to serve as your Superintendent these past two and a half years. After a great deal of consideration, I have made the hard decision to step away from the Super’s desk after May 2020.

I chose to accept my nomination in early 2017 because I wanted to honor Paul Rausch’s memory, and the Division chose to give me a literal vote of confidence (and a leap of faith) in electing me Superintendent. Considering a personal history in other volunteer organizations with a, shall we say, similar membership demographic, it’s meant more to me than I can say that you would trust your Division’s youngest member at the metaphorical throttle.

Going forward, I’ve got a few things going on, with the prospects of getting married, starting a business, and taking classes all on the horizon for me, and a position like this shouldn’t be allowed to stagnate around a single person regardless. If you think you’d be interested in taking a turn in the chair- or think somebody else really should!- we’ll be setting up the nominating committee come January, and I’m confident we’ll be in good hands no matter who steps forward for consideration.

Until then, I’ve still got 6 months to finish out, and plenty on the agenda to complete before then- including a “SMD Superintendent For Idiots” playbook I hope to pass along to our next Super, so maybe they can get the hang of it a little quicker than I did! I’ve learned a lot, had a ton of fun, and remain incredibly grateful to South Mountain Division for my time behind the Superintendent’s desk.

Clutter from the Super’s Desk

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

And we’re back!

I hope everyone’s had a terrific summer, and I’d like to invite you all to join the South Mountain Division at Jeff Grove’s home outside of Hagerstown, MD this coming Sunday, September 15. Doors open 2PM for a layout tour, with the business meeting and a clinic to follow.  Please email if you need Jeff’s street address.

Jeff says you’re free to enter the basement through the side door, and asks only that folks be considerate and don’t block his neighbor’s driveways.  As always, you can catch up on last May’s meeting courtesy of our Clerk’s impeccably edited minutes, in this previous post

In other news, now is the perfect time to get family and friends involved in the hobby with an NMRA Railpass! This discounted trial membership runs for 9 months- or, exactly the duration of the SMD season. Short of that, don’t hesitate to simply bring along a guest who might be interested in what we’re all about, either.

On that note, I’d invite everyone to check out AP Chair Jane Clarke’s article in the fall Wheel Report and on the SMD Blog regarding improving your modeling with the Achievement Program- something I’m hoping to get in on myself this winter.

Hope to see you all soon,

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent, Div 10