Crew

Matt Anderson
Director

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.

Volunteer Spotlight Matt Anderson

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Wayne Babovich
Director

Dr. Babovich was a charter member of the Federally created Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama Rail Commission.  Appointed by Governor Treen, he served as the Commission’s chairman in 1984.   Wayne has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the University of New Orleans specializing in economic development.  A graduate of the University of Houston Law School in 1973, he practiced law for over 35 years, specializing in commercial and business law.

Still active in academic circles, he lectures regularly. Wayne has published, taught, and lectured in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. 

Wayne has served as a member of the Board of Directors of New Orleans Museum of Art, a member of the Board of Directors Municipal Yacht Harbor for the City of New Orleans, and a member of the New Orleans City Council. 

Wayne is an ardent supporter of mass transit and played a key role in the implementation of the New Orleans riverfront streetcar and the Gulf Coast Limited during the 1984 World’s fair.

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David Bartee
Director

David is a long-time volunteer. and was elected to the Board in 2012.  He served on the engine crew during our 2005 state-wide tour and in 2006, he operated the first revenue passenger train in Pittsburg, Kansas in over 75 years.  

From 2006 to 2012, David served as the ASTM International F-24 subcommittee task group leader to create steam locomotive operating rules and procedures for all steam locomotive operations not falling under federal jurisdiction.  

Currently, he serves as the Chief Mechanical Officer at Austin Western Railroad.

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Jim Bellmyer
Director / Operation Lifesaver Liaison

Jim "Bigfoot" 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 an NSC certified Defensive Driving Instructor. 

He is retired from many years in the Transportation Industry, he is very active in rail grade safety educating.  Jim served on the Board of Directors from 2011 to 2019.

Volunteer Spotlight Jim Bellmyer (2012)

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Bruce Brown
Founder

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 previously worked with our membership and relocation committees.

Sam Chanove
Support Crew
Lewis Doherty
Membership Director

Lewis Doherty serves as the editor of the 745 Journal, LASTA’s quarterly publication for members, and LASTA’s annual calendars.  He has a background in publication layout, editing and writing.

Ed Ernewein
Support Crew

Ed Ernewein was one of the founding members of the Old Kenner Railway Association  (OKRA) , and was involved in the transfer of SP 745 from Audubon Park.  Since retiring from the Federal Railway Administration official ( FRA ), Ed has assumed a greater role in operations and served on the LASTA Board from 2016-2019.

Ron Goldman
Support Crew

During the 1920s, Ron's Grandfather worked as a foreman in the Algiers Southern Pacific boiler shop. He was part of the crew that "built" 745. 

Ron has been a member of LASTA for 20+ years and has been currently training as a Fireman.

James Guilbeau
Electrician

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.  Since then, he has continued to work on documenting and safely improving LASTA’s electrical systems.  He also maintains various electrical & electronic systems in the consist.

Carl Gustafson
Engineer

Carl has been a member of LASTA since 2017.  He currently works as an Engineer with the New Orleans Gulf Coast Railroad. 

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Ed Hennisen
Engine Crew
Mike "Nitro" Herbert
Support Crew

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.  

Volunteer Spotlight Mike Herbert

Nathan Hull
Support Crew
Richard Jacobs
Director / CMO

Since the early ’80s, Richard has been involved in the preservation of SP 745 and other historic railroad equipment.

Richard became acquainted with SP 745 when the locomotive was on static display at Audubon Park. Sometime in 1983 or 1984, he heard a rumor that the locomotive was going to be scrapped. Of course, he went straight to the park to protest. However, when he arrived he found a group that was actually working to move and save the engine! It was then that he was hooked, and his energies turned toward assisting with the restoration effort.

His mechanical expertise has provided many valuable contributions to LASTA. He previously served as the Chief Mechanical Officer.  Richard also currently serves as the director of the Historic Railway Charitable Trust of Louisiana. 

Volunteer Spot Light (2010) - Richard Jacobs

 

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Robbie Jacobs
Support Crew
LJ Jordan
Support Crew
Barry Keegan
Director

Barry answered a call for volunteers in August, 2003 becoming the LASTA spray painter in support of the 2005 state tour. This included the refinishing and painting of the inside of the Jefferson car and the outside of all of the LASTA cars. He traveled with 745 for the first leg of the state tour. 

Following this trip, he organized a number of the Steam Fests held at Audubon Park and coordinated 745 at Gretna Fest for many years. He is on the LASTA Board of Directors and is currently working on our collective effort to secure both a new home for 745 and funds for the engine rebuild. 

Volunteer Spotlight Barry Keegan (2009)

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Erich Lendermon
Engineer

Erich Lendermon has always liked trains and railroads, and eventually, they became his vocation.  As a child, his parents took him to railroads and museums like The Texas State Railroad, The Grapevine Vintage Railroad, The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Wanting to have a hands-on experience with a steam locomotive and in particular, SP745, which his father
played on as a child when it was a static display in Audubon Park, Erich began to volunteer for LASTA around 2007.   The more volunteer work in which he participated, the more he thought about undertaking railroads as a profession and the more experience
he gained.

In 2011, Erich began working for the New Orleans and Gulf Coast Railroad as a switchman eventually becoming a locomotive engineer.  Then in 2014, he was hired by one of the major railroads, Kansas City Southern. As before, he started out as a switchman and worked his way up to engineer, which is his current position there.

Erich is a currently certified engineer and frequently
operates SP745. 

Alan Maleig
Support Crew

Alan was born and raised in New Orleans and played on 745 while it was at Audubon Park.  Many years later, he had heard about SteamFest and decided to go over and see what the locomotive looked like since it had been restored. Alan was impressed that the engine was operational and joined that organization on the spot. 

With his 30+ years of experience as an auto mechanic, Allan has been instrumental in keep things moving at the yard.

Volunteer Spotlight Alan Maleig (2012)

Wayne Minnick
Treasurer

Wayne is currently serving LASTA’s Treasurer and is employed by the USDA as an Information Technology Specialist.

Volunteer Spotlight Wayne Minnick

Walt Pierce
President

Walt says he got his love of all things trains from his father who worked for the Southern Railway as a car knocker (inspector) at Southern's old New Orleans Bernadotte Street coach yards and as a railway mail clerk. 

A communications consultant for more than twenty years as sole proprietor of Walt Pierce Communications, Walt previously spent 25 years in broadcast news as a Reporter, Managing Editor, Assignment Editor and News Director. But in 1999 Walt made a career change from broadcast journalism to public relations first as the Director of Communications for the New Orleans Public School System and for the last 20 years as the Public Information Officer for Orleans Parish Civil District Court.  

Walt is also involved in television and radio production as an Associate Director, Talent Coordinator and Stage Manager. He has been employed by all of the major national and regional broadcast networks working behind the scenes at professional and college football, basketball and baseball including the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans Pelicans and numerous Super Bowls broadcast. 

In the community Walt is active in several arenas including serving as Vice-President, Board of Directors, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Special Reserve Deputy Unit; President, Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA) and Board Member of the ACE Mentor Program of New Orleans. Pierce also served 6 years on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC) and is currently a member of the Rail Passengers Association (RPA).

Volunteer Spotlight Walt Pierce (2014)

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Bill Morris
Director / CMO

Bill was elected to the Board in 2008. Currently serving as our Cheif Operating Officer (COO), he is responsible for the LASTA's rail operations. 

Before joining LASTA, Bill spent many years working as a locomotive engineer with a Class 1 railroad.  

Alison Schenk
Director

Alison has been a long-time volunteer and joined the Board in 2013.  Her professional background includes the medical industry and private investigations.  

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Karl Smith
Support Crew

He is a fireman, electrician all-around handyman and comes all the way from New Jersey when we move SP745.

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Gewn Stryon
Director / Secretary

Gwen previously worked for the Jefferson Parish School System and the Jefferson Parish Department of Parks and Recreation. As the Information Specialist for Recreation, her duties included marketing, producing publications, managing team travel, photography and other areas in the management. 

Now retired, she volunteers time to LASTA as Secretary and Board member. She is involved in the concessions, gift shop, and helps keep our facilities organized.

Jacob Stryon
Support Crew
Skip Waters

While growing up in New Orleans, Skip loved watching trains go through the French Quarter on the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. He remembered SP745 in Audubon Park very vividly. He played on it as a kid and wondered as we all did, what it would be like for it to run again.

Skip is a member and past president of the North Texas Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society [NRHS] and currently serves on the NRHS National Board as a Director of District 7, which includes the state of Louisiana. He was also the Chairman and organizer of the 2008 Lone Star Rails NRHS National Convention 

In addition to LASTA’s projects, he's a member of other historical railroad groups including the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society, the Railroad and Locomotive Historical Society and the Austin Steam Train Association, which has SP786, a sister to SP745. Skip is excited to be on the board and working toward the goals of seeing SP745 roll again.

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OJ Williams
Yard Supervisor

OJ Williams is a retired mechanical engineer who enjoys working on anything mechanical.  Shortly after joining LASTA in early 2016, he took on the complete restoration of LASTA’s Fairmont MT-19 Inspection Car (a.k.a. "Speeder").  The restoration took over 6 months and made its first appearance at the 2016 LASTA Christmas party giving rides to attendees on a cart that was pulled by the speeder. 

In addition to maintaining the speeder and cart, OJ assists with the LASTA yard and Jefferson car maintenance.