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Model railroad museum dealt another blow when president resigns

August 03, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

SHARPSBURG

daniels@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum Inc. was dealt yet another obstacle late last month in its efforts to convert the former Antietam Station west of Sharpsburg into a showcase for model railroad displays.

Citing personal and work-related time constraints, Museum President Blair Williamson resigned his post. Williamson said he was disappointed he was not able to preside over a public opening of the museum, which he says is unlikely to occur this year.

"My work schedule changed, and I just can't dedicate the same time to the station as I did," said Williamson, who works as a dispatcher at C&O Canal Headquarters in Sharpsburg. "I was hoping to see the station open, but things just changed. My work schedule changed."

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Williamson's resignation is the latest of several problems - including funding issues, termites and bat infestation - confronting the group that began to refurbish the former train station in 2000.

"It's been going kind of slowly lately," he said. "The inside of the station still has to be done, the floors have to be finished, the walls have to be painted and the handicapped ramps have to be installed."

Funding has been the greatest problem as the group has sought to restore the structure off Shepherdstown Pike. After voting down a funding request for $31,000 in June 2004, the Sharpsburg Town Council voted in December to cover the group's expenses as individual requests are made.

Vice President Frank Schaller is expected to replace Williamson at the group's Aug. 8 meeting. Schaller credited Williamson for what he has been able to accomplish, though he said there is more work to be done.

"Right now, we're kind of in a transition, we're trying to figure out what options we have," said Schaller, who works with the portable restroom division at A.C. & T. in Hagerstown. "(Williamson), he got quite a lot done, there's going to be some tough shoes to fill. Any time we lose a key man like that, it does create a problem."

Schaller said restoration work continues at the museum, and contractors are scheduled to perform exterior projects including painting and trim work within the next few weeks. He said he is willing to serve out the remainder of Williamson's term, which expires in December.

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