~ From The President's Office ~ 

   As you read this, by now, the holidays have passed. I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah, and a very Happy New Year. With the dawning of 2011, you may be wondering where is your 2010 Observer issue. Regrettably,  it has been met with delay due to conditions beyond control. Our author was faced with  hard drive computer problems, that have since been rectified, resulting in a delay of  nearly four weeks. I'm told, as of this writing, barring any unforeseen issues, that it should be in your hands sometime this January. I do apologize for this delay, but knowing the outstanding good nature of our membership, I expect and hope you have kept faith in the progress of what our volunteers do. Trust me, this book will be worth the wait.
  This past December, I embraced the U.S. Marine Corps. Toys for Tots program, both personally and officially as President. On December 4th, I decided to travel to Bainbridge, NY with fellow member and Publications Chairman Carl Ohlson to meet the Canadian Pacific Toys for Tots train, traveling on the old Delaware & Hudson line. This is a scheduled stop where volunteers assembled both on and off the train to collect and distribute toys, as well as clothing, cookies and beverages. Dunkin’ Donuts and Freihofer’s are big sponsors of the event. Carl and I brought many toys, and the Society also kicked in a bunch as well, making our toy count about twenty. Traveling on the train, pulled by a locomotive in D&H livery, was fellow member and Scranton Division representative Norm Barrett, who recently retired as a Conductor on the CP, but made the trip to assist his replacement. It was great to see him out in the field during this event.
  About 200 local residents turned out to meet the train, and receive items of need, such as clothing and toys. The need is very real, and I was touched by such a display of  generosity and caring. I’d like to embrace this cause, both personally and as President of the Society. I plan to start asking our membership for the donation of unwrapped toys in September, and to accept them at our October meeting, and November Convention. I believe it’s a worthy cause, one that is warming to the heart, knowing that a needy child will have a toy to open on Christmas day.
  Membership renewal continues at a slow but steady pace. As of December’s meeting, we have 685 members, of which 373, or 54% have renewed for 2011. Since membership in our Society remains such a great value, I urge all those who have not yet renewed, to consider renewing for 2011. Please get your renewals in to our Membership Chairman as soon as possible.   
  Our Archives Committee continues to do good work in our Archives, and the scanning of vital documents has progressed rapidly with several thousand scanned. Kudos to those members who toil day to day in this and all efforts related to our Archives.
  Our Annual Convention was again a great success with 94 people in attendance, all having a wonderful time. A big thank you goes out to those members who organized it, gave a program, assembled a display, gave on-site tours, and for donating raffle prizes. Also, thanks to Orange County Community College for a job well done in catering a hearty, plentiful and delicious dinner in a comfortable atmosphere. Also, congratulations to Jeff Otto for wining the John Hobbs Chryn award as member of the year. The previous three winners decided unanimously to choose Jeff, and it is well deserved.
  Finally, as I head into my ninth year as President, I wish to thank all who have voted for me, and those who serve with me as we continue our path of education and the historic preservation of the New York Ontario & Western Railway. 

George S. Shammas 


"For the Good of the Society"

A common phrase? One you've heard before? Perhaps, but maybe one that is said more nonchalant than with passion. What do I mean? Well, as a member for twenty
four years, I see our Society as an entity. It has life, it has grown, it can be fragile at times, it undergoes changes, it needs to be cared for, even nurtured. Of course these terms may be applied to many facets of everyday life, so it is only fitting that we as members provide what is needed for our Society to function, and meet the challenges that lie ahead;... always acting  individually and in concert for the good of the Society.

Thankfully, many in our group have risen and continue to rise to each occasion as presented. Work is work, no matter how you slice it, but those who choose to volunteer for that work never bemoan it, and have been happy to contribute when needed. The work that they do is perhaps viewed as a `task with benefits', in that personal gratification can result in the effort given. That may or may not be true, but for me, it's a call to service for a cause I truly believe in. Yet, this is not the only cause I believe in, nor is it the only place I have responded to a call where I have donated time and talent. I've learned to diversify as time goes on.

As President, my mantra, (and I use this word according to definition 2 in Microsoft Dictionary as follows: Often repeated expression or idea: an expression or idea that is repeated, often without thinking about it, and closely associated with something), my motto if you will, has always been `For the Good of the Society`. For me, it's a good thought to keep in mind as I act on behalf of the Society, and it is one that helps to fuel my spirit and intention as I continue to take on the task of President, and serve in a
proactive fashion.

Apparently, and hopefully, I'm not the only volunteer to subscribe to this phrase. Our perpetual needs can be demanding at times, and participation is key, as with any group, but even more so in our Society. As we continue to face average member age issues, it was particularly rewarding for me to see several  of our young members step in and step up to meet tasks and challenges in recent months. They have been commended by me, and should be commended by all members. Perhaps the phrase `For the Good of the Society' has hit home with them......

...Perhaps it will hit home with you.                                                                                                        

George S. Shammas

N.R.H.S. Update

    I am writing this letter to bring you up to date on a situation that effects some of you directly, and the Society as a whole. As you may know, the Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society Inc. has had quite an evolution since its inception in 1963. Originally being formed as the Ontario & Western Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, it later merged with the Ontario & Western Technical Historical Society in order to consolidate the interest both groups had in the NYO&W Ry. This group continued on as a chapter of the NRHS until 1978 when it changed its corporate name to the present name as listed above, and identified itself as an "affiliated chapter" of the NRHS. We do not know the reason for this change.
    As a separate and stand alone organization, the O&W R.H.S. continued for thirty years to offer membership in the NRHS, and to collect and process dues on their behalf right up until present day. This, we have done for no gratuity or benefit, and have willingly and graciously done for the sake of railroad history preservation. After all, isn't that what we are all about?
    As you may, or may not know, the O&W R.H.S. has been, and is a group run entirely by volunteers. These passionate and enthusiastic members volunteer their time and talents to attain Society goals. We have all come to enjoy the publications, web site and yearly events that membership affords at such a reasonable cost. This can only be achieved by those members mentioned above. For this, I am truly grateful.
    The O&W R.H.S. has accomplished many things in its life, and has grown by leaps and bounds. The quality of our products speak for themselves, and many core and active members have experienced a level of fraternity, if you will, among its members. Unlike the O&W R.H.S., the NRHS has not had the good fortune of willing volunteers to work in the various fields of its operations. This is a sad occurrence, one that has forced the NRHS to outsource some of its services. Most recently, as early as the Fall of 2007, the NRHS contracted out its membership services to a firm known as Fernley & Fernley, located in Philadelphia, PA. This firm is now paid by the NRHS to process its dues.
    For the past twelve months, the O&W R.H.S. and the NRHS entered into a transition period, which was agreed upon by both parties. From our standpoint, the transition period was rough, to say the least, with many problems and difficulties experienced by our Membership Chairman, Ray Pinglora. Ray has served in this capacity for many years, and has stepped up in many areas to take care of our Society’s needs. Ray was good enough to give this some time to work itself out. However, with Fernley & Fernley in control of NRHS membership; stipulations, deadlines, duplicate and triplicate work, and computer software were unfairly demanded of Ray. Ray finally reached a point where he could no longer continue a working relationship with Fernley & Fernley, and asked to be replaced. Unable to replace him, I, as President, could not allow an outside Society to influence the operations of the O&W R.H.S., nor could I stand idly by while a valued volunteer such as Ray became increasingly upset and frustrated with
the work he so graciously volunteered to do. By the way, Ray is the recipient of the 2006 John Hobbs Chryn award , which is given to the  Member of the Year.
    In the Spring of this year, I reached out to the senior officers of the NRHS, in hopes of rectifying this situation, and to work out an agreement between the two Societies by which we could continue to collect membership dues on behalf of the NRHS. Ray and myself put forth a proposal, or compromise, that would work for both groups, thus allowing the O&W R.H.S. to continue to offer its members the opportunity to join the NRHS. After many weeks of consideration, the NRHS, and Fernley & Fernley refused to make any concession. Therefore, a decision was reached by the O&W R.H.S. Board of Trustees to discontinue accepting memberships for the NRHS.
    What does this mean to you? Well, if you are not a member of the NRHS, nothing will change. If you are a member of both the O&W R.H.S. and the NRHS, very little will change. The option to join the NRHS through the O&W R.H.S. will no longer be available. The membership dues we process will be for O&W R.H.S. membership only. The NRHS will now bill you directly. By now, you should have received a letter from them, notifying you that your NRHS membership status will change to "At Large". There will be no change in the dues structure, as there was no discount for maintaining dual membership. Your dues to the NRHS will simply be sent to them directly.
    The Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society is disappointed in the rigid approach of the NRHS, and deeply regrets that a working relationship could not be achieved. We have, and will continue to support the preservation of railroad history, and promote railroad travel. If you have enjoyed your membership in the NRHS, then I encourage our dual members to maintain that membership.
    To all of my fellow O&W R.H.S. members, I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. I hope you can appreciate the efforts that were made by our Officers and Trustees in avoiding this outcome, but I trust this change will not effect your desire to maintain your membership in the Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society. We are nearly 700 strong, and we will continue our dedicated commitment to provide to you the quality membership experience you have
come to know.
George S. Shammas
President, O&W R.H.S.

George's dream came true when he met the Godfathers of Heavy Metal, Judas Priest at the PNC Bank Arts Center on 8/9/08.