Crew and Board
Al is officially retired from our electrical department; however, he still occasionally makes it out to the yard to inspect our work.
When Barry is at the yard his spends his time working on historical railroad items but by day he works as a Senior Business Development Manager at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Additionally, his previous experience in the auto repair business has been most helpful in a painting and body repair projects.
Chief Operating Officer
Bill is a member of the board and previously served as the President and Chief Operating Officer. His years of railroad experience began with the Texas and Pacific Railroad. He retired from Union Pacific as a Locomotive Engineer.
Bruce is the former President and founder of LASTA. He remains an active volunteer and recently completed a Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail (2,000 miles), spreading the news of 745 along the way. Bruce is presently working with our membership and relocation committees.
Charlie is out in house track expert. He is retired from KCS Railroad.
David serves on the Board of Directors and is responsible for our training and safety program. He is currently employed as the Vice President of Operations for a short line railroad.
As retired chemical engineer, Gerry’s years of experience in local industry steam applications has been most helpful. He has been with LASTA since 2002 and previously served as our Chief Mechanical Officer.
J. Roger Brown
Roger started volunteering for LASTA in 2002 after seeing write up about 745 in the newspaper. Early assignments included cleaning and spray painting the insides of both theater cars and then doing the carpentry work on the interior of the Jefferson car and theater cars.
James Guilbeau (aka Sparky) became involved with LASTA in 2004 when he helped obtain a handheld radio for the statewide tour. He later worked with Al to rewire the former south-yard for 240/120 volts. Since then, he has continued to work on documenting and safely improving LASTA’s electrical systems. He also maintain various electrical & electronic systems in the consist.
Jim Bigfoot Bellmyer
Jim has been with LASTA since 2006 and is the Director of Rail Safety Education and serves as the Liaison for Operation Lifesaver and LASTA and is a NSC certified Defensive Driving instructor. Bigfoot is retired from many years in the Transportation Industry, he is very active in rail grade safety educating the public, teen and adult drivers, Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts in promoting the “Do’s” & “Don’ts” around railroad tracks, he is also a member of the New Orleans Regional Safety Council. Jim was elected to the Board of Directors in 2011.
He is a fireman, electrician all around handy man and comes all the way from New Jersey when we move SP745.
Editor, 745 Journal
Lewis currently servers as the Editor of the 745 Journal.
Mary recently retired from Ochsner Hosption after 45 years as an RN. She has become an intergal member of the support crew and is even more active shince her “retirement.”
Matt became involved with LASTA in late 2004 when he learned about SP745’s and its crew’s radio troubles during a test run of the locomotive. Matt was successful in solving SP745’s radio equipment issues prior to the Bicentennial trip. Since then, he has continued to work on expanding and improving LASTA’s communication systems. Matt also helps maintain various electrical and electronic systems around the yard.
He has also volunteered his time to renovate LASTA’s website as well as creating a Twitter account to keep train enthusiasts updated on SP745 and LASTA events. Matt currently works in the telecommunications industry, providing technical services for broadcast and the wireless data industry.
Mike ‘Nitro’ Herbert
Mike “Nitro” Herbert enjoys working on equipment large and small. “Nitro” works as an equipment operator for Jefferson Parish. He first met former LASTA President Bruce Brown when he was working on the reclaimed oil project at the Parish.
His first job as a volunteer was to change the water pump on Rock Island 745 (“Agnes”). Since then he has worked on or operated all of LASTA’s maintenance-of-way machinery including the big Orton crane and smaller motor cars. Nitro is especially proud of the paint job SP 745 received prior to Gretna Fest 2010. “Nobody (who attended Gretna Fest) realized that this was the engine out of Audubon Park,” he recounts. He is passionate when painting is discussed, and has a strong desire to maintain historically accurate colors on the locomotives and cars.
Pattie joined LASTA has been an active volunteer since 2004. Since she first joined LASTA, Patti has photographed all of the SP 745 excursions, Steam Fests and other events. Just as importantly, she has chronicled the seemingly routine work done at the yard on Saturdays, the otherwise unseen activities that are now archived in the LASTA website photo albums.
Phil is currently leading the restoration efforts on our EMD locomotive. He is employed by KCS Railway as a Locomotive Engineer.
Retired Board Member
Ray Duplechain’s long and distinguished railroad career has taken him from the caboose to the front office. Ray began his railroading career at the end of the “steam era,” and he witnessed the transition to diesel-powered locomotives. Ray previously worked for the Southern Pacific and the New Public Belt Railroads.
Ray retired from the LASTA Board in 2012 and still server as one of our technical advisers.
Since the early 80’s, Richard has been involved in the preservation of SP 745 and other historic railroad equipment. His mechanical expertise has provided many valuable contributions to LASTA. He currently servers as the President and Chief Operating Officer.
Richard also currently serves as the director of the Louisiana Railway Heritage Trust
Walt serves on the Board of Directors and works with the media to bring public’s attention to our organization. LASTA was recently featured FOX 8 TV’s “Heart of Louisiana.” For the last 15 years Walt has been the Public Information Officer for a local civil court and just completed two terms (six years) on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee. Walt is a member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.
Wayne is currently serving LASTA’s Treasurer and is employed by the USDA as an Information Technology Specialist.
Former Crew Members
Erich passed away unexpectedly on June 11, 2013 at the age of 50. Born in Reno, Nevada, and raised in Piermont, New York, he eventually relocating to New Orleans. Erich was the Chief Mechanical Officer for LASTA and an avid rail fan.
As a designer of geological, geophysical and oceanographic instrumentation, Erich worked for Columbia and Stanford Universities. His expertise employed him on projects on every continent, including multiple expeditions to Antarctica, and sailed with the Ocean Drilling Program and on the research vessels other organizations.
Harry was native of New Orleans and resident of Baton Rouge and passed away on March 4, 2013 at the age of 69. He frequently made the trip from Baton Rouge to the LASTA Yard to participate in the physically demanding work and was a certified fireman on SP745. Harry served LASTA in many roles and always looked out for everyone’s safety.
Retired from Exxon after 33 years of service as a First Line Supervisor, Harry also served over 10 years as a Truck Lieutenant for the St. George Volunteer Fire Department.
Mike Hankins passed away July 12 2006. The “Hankins” crew car was named for his years of dedicated service.