The Garden State Division leadership team works for its members to provide educational and fun activities. This is your team!
If you need to contact us, please use the form on the "Contact Us" page to send an email to the leadership team.
Starting at age 6, I was interested in trains, and with a Lionel set at age 8, I was launched into model railroading. I made a transition to HO scale when in high school. With pauses for higher education and young children, I re-engaged with model railroading when my boys were young and we built a 4 x 8 layout in the basement. Now on my second layout since then, I am modeling Morris County railroads in the 1920s, in a full-basement design.
Active in the NMRA since 2003, I have been on the board of directors since 2015, served as vice-president, and now am serving as president.
Vice President and Whistle Post Editor
Jim has always had an interest in trains and modeling. He has been on the GSD Board since 2012 and has served as Editor of the Whistle Post since 2015. His railroading interests are reflected through memberships in numerous historical societies, including a run as President of the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for nine years. He is also a fan of RPM meets and model railroad operations. His large HO scale basement layout features PC and CNJ equipment of the early 1970s.
In 2009, my oldest son, Christopher, gave me a membership in the NMRA as a Christmas present. A present that has been giving me hours and hours of pleasure, ever since. I already had a layout that I built in my garage that took two years to become operational (sort of...). As a lone wolf, I did most things wrong, so I decided to tear it down and start over. With the help of my fellow Staten Islanders, the “tear down” was done in less than three hours, of course, the build back has taken 11 years and isn’t finished yet.
In 2012, I was asked to become a Director of the GSD, which I was pleased to do. After a year, I became the GSD’s Treasurer, a position I am pleased to continue to hold.
Secretary and Clinic Chairman
Since his older brother had Lionel trains, Jim realized that HO trains were more realistic, particularly the track. One Christmas, Jim received a Mantua Union Pacific Mikado and several freight cars. Since then he has always been interested in model railroading. After receiving a copy of Linn Westcott’s book HO Railroad That Grows, Jim started work on his first model railroad. Growing up on Staten Island, he did not see many real trains, and his inspiration came from model railroad magazines.
Jim first joined the NMRA in 1979 and when he moved to Middletown, NJ, he joined the Red Bank Model Railroad Club. In 1985 he changed jobs and relocated to Sussex County, leaving the club and the NMRA. Between his job with some business travel and raising two sons, Jim was busy but he stayed engaged in the hobby through magazines and then the Internet.
With his sons away at college, Jim renewed his interest in model railroading and joined the NMRA again in 2011. He became active in the Garden State Division, joined the Board of Directors in 2014, and later was elected division Secretary. He recently volunteered to be the division Clinic Chairman and since 2014, he has taken photos at our in-person events. Jim also writes a “Tools and Tips” column in the division’s newsletter, the Whistle Post.
Chuck Diljak, MMR
Immediate Past President
After growing up in a Pennsylvania town along the Lehigh Valley Railroad and attending college at a school in the heart of the Pennsylvania anthracite region, Chuck developed an interest in the railroads and mining industry that served this region. He has included or has plans to include many of the region’s features on his freelanced HO scale model railroad, the Wyoming Valley, through his research.
Chuck joined the NMRA in 2005 and is the Immediate Past President of the Garden State Division. Before this role, he served as President, Vice-President, Director, and editor of the division’s newsletter, the Whistle Post. He was also co-editor of the NMRA eBulletin and published various articles in Railroad Model Craftsman, NMRA Magazine, and NER Coupler.
Director and Achievement Program Chairman
Like many of us, my first experience with model trains was the American Flyer set around the Christmas tree. The pine scent of the tree and the smell of ozone from the electric locomotive was special. A few years later, my dad and I went to his cousin’s house. His son had built a Lionel layout in their basement. He had the big transformer, which he hooked up not only to run the trains but also to vary the brightness of the lights in the buildings. I expressed my interest to my parents who bought me a Lionel HO scale train set when I was 13.
In 2000, I joined the NMRA and spent time reading the NMRA Bulletin and other magazines. I attended Garden State Division meetings and my first NMRA National Convention in Milwaukee in 2010. That convention inspired me to get more involved with building a layout, building models, and scratch building structures. I entered my first model of an N scale small oil depot into a contest in the Mid-Eastern Regional convention in Mount Laurel, NJ in 2015 and won a first-place award.
During this time, GSD officers encouraged me to become the Achievement Program Chairperson, which I am still today. In 2020, I placed my layout in storage due to a move to a new home in NJ and look forward to rebuilding an operating railroad again.
Director and Membership Chairman
I grew up in Jersey City, NJ in the 1950s. Today, Jersey City is not noted for trains but in the 1950s it was different. Except for four city blocks along the Hudson River waterfront that the Colgate Company owned, everything else was owned by railroads. Growing up in that “playground”, how could I not develop a fondness for trains? Model trains started with a paper route. One customer was a local hobby shop and my delivery tip was the prior month’s copies of RMC, MR, and Trains without the cover! The cover was sent back for credit as unsold copies. As years passed, I grew in the hobby building Varney, Penn Line, Bowser, Mantua, Tyco, Athearn kits. Today, I prefer to bring back to life one of those “Old School” models. But, I also enjoy working and building with “New School” technologies.
After I joined the New York Society of Model Engineers, I learned of the NMRA. I joined the NMRA in 1970. At NYSME, I have served in a number of positions including President, now serving as a Director, and recently received the honor of being elected a Life Member.
I became a Director in the Garden State Division in 2008. Currently, I serve as the Membership Chairman and e-mail Clerk. Please let me know when you change your e-mail address through the Contact Us page.
“Knowledge has no value unless shared with others.”
We are here for that reason. You are here for the same reason. Think about it!
After reading an article about one modeler’s passion for his local railroad, Ciro asked himself what was my local railroad? To answer this question, it set in motion to better understand the historical significance of his local railroad – Staten Island Rapid Transit. This little-known railroad was B&O’s entry to Gotham City. Today, he is building a proto-freelance, HO scale, model of this Class 1 branch line from Cranford, NJ to St. George, Staten Island in the 1950s. Operations is a central focus.
Ciro has been an active Board of Directors member for the Garden State Division since 2004 and is presently a Director. He has held several roles including President and Secretary. He was recently elected as the Southern Regional Director for the NER.
Paul has been a model railroader since his youngest years. Originally in the realm of Tinplate, and switching to 2-rail O scale in his 20's. He currently models the New York Central West Shore and Susquehanna railroads in the New Jersey area in the transition era. He is a member of the New York Society of Model Engineers in Carlstadt, NJ, and the Garden State Model Railway Club in North Haledon, NJ. He is also a member of the TCA, and METCA.
Paul has been a NMRA member since 1981, and been involved in the division since 2006. He became a director of the Garden State Division in 2017. You will usually see him running the presentation electronics during division meets.
John has had a life long interest in model railroading starting with a Lionel train in his early childhood. He has been a member of the NMRA since 1998, while working in the manufacturing end of the toy and hobby industry. He started attending Garden State Division events in 2014 and became a director in 2019. John has been a member of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) and was one of the founding members of the Pocono Mountain Garden Railway Society established 2010.
John's primary scale is HO and follows Northeastern railroading. He is particularly interested in Northern New England regional and short line railroads of the late 70's to the early 90's. He does a lot of kit bashing, scratch building and detailing of their equipment and structures. John is interested in Railroad Prototype Modeling (RPM) for paper mill and grain belt related rail cars.