David L. Shank, APR

Shank Public Relations Counselors, Inc.

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Indiana Transportation Museum Appoints New Board Members

New Board Is Committed to Preserving Legacy of

Train Operations and the Museum


NOBLESVILLE, IND. – June, 6, 2017 – New officers of the Indiana Transportation Museum were selected at its May Board meeting. The new officers are:

  • Chair – John McNichols
  • Vice Chair – Les McConnell
  • Secretary – Don Helmer
  • Treasurer – Jeff Kehler


New Museum Board Chair John McNichols said the board “is completely and deeply committed to fighting to preserve and move forward the mission of the Museum and our train operations. We all are dedicated to the economic and historic benefits of the Museum’s Nickel Plate trains and the entertainment, dreams and memories they offer.”


The Museum is best known for the State Fair Train(sm) and the Polar Bear Express (sm) excursion trains. Both trains have been curtailed in an on-going dispute with the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.


Leadership Background:


John McNichols, chair – McNichols is an electrical engineer working in high technology product development for more than 25 years in defense, telecommunications and automotive industries. He is product director for Energetics Drivetrains, a developer and manufacturer of alternative fuel drive systems for commercial trucks and buses. He became involved with ITM “to see our nation’s rich railroad heritage be preserved for future generations.” McNichols has served ITM as a board member, treasurer, restoration and maintenance mechanic, railroad brakeman and student engineer.


Les McConnell, vice-chair– McConnell is the Assistant Fire Chief at Grissom Air Reserve Base. He joined U.S. Air Force in 1975 and retired in 2010. While with the Air Force, he worked for the Defense Communications agency and the White House Communications agency. He also worked for the Naval Air Warfare Center and Raytheon in Indianapolis. He joined ITM in 1983 and has volunteered in various roles including restoration of vintage cars and locomotives, operations manager, brakeman, engineer, and conductor. McConnell holds certifications in safety, fire, HazMat and emergency management. McConnell joined the board in March.


Donald Helmer, secretary– Helmer is director of Leading Edge, an overseas missions service firm that supports business in Eurasia and the former Soviet Union. He has experience in not-for-profit management and strategic planning. He lives in Noblesville, and also joined the ITM board in May.


Jeff Kehler, treasurer – Kehler is a resident of Fishers, Indiana and has been a volunteer with the Indiana Transportation Museum since 2002 as a coach attendant, dining car galley assistant, track and shop worker, board member, vice-chairman, and chairman from 2010-2017. Since 2000 he has been employed at JRA Architecture, LLC in Indianapolis where he has managed hundreds of building projects through the design, engineering and construction phases.


Other new board members are:


Josh Spencer – Spencer is operations director for his company Stone Spectrum. Spencer and his family live in the Geist area. He joined the ITM board in May 2017.


Denard Beemon – Beemon is president of Space Solutions Strategies. Beemon has established relationships with state and local governments, leaders in the real estate industry and many financial professionals. Beemon joined the board in May 2017


Bobby Milan – Milan is a founding partner of Bullseye Event Group in the secondary ticket and sports travel industry. Bullseye Event Group has worked with the NFL, The Masters golf tournament, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, several Superbowls and others. Milan joined the ITM board in May.


Cameron Nichols —Nichols graduated in May 2017 from Ball State University, magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in advertising and marketing. Nichols’ most recent work includes global branding, competitive landscape and positioning research for Brooks Life Science Systems’ global marketing team. Nichols joined ITM in 2008. He holds a number of licenses for railroad operations and joined the board in November 2016.


Aaron Hutchinson – Hutchinson is a financial advisor with the Indianapolis Mutual of Omaha office. He has a passion for railroad preservation, community involvement and has been active with the Museum since 2008. He has volunteered in many areas and has earned multiple railroad operations licenses. He is working to become a certified locomotive engineer. Hutchinson joined the board in November 2016.


Steve Roof – Roof retired after 30 years of service with Delta Air Lines working in flight operations, flight control, chairman of the Delta safety committee, marketing and customer service. Roof is a Federal Railroad Administration certified locomotive engineer. He has been a volunteer for ITM since 1997. Roof started as a brakeman, student engineer, conductor and engineer. He is now a designated supervisor of locomotive engineers and was appointed to the ITM board in March.


The following were appointed to the Museum’s operating groups.


Museum Operations Group

The Museum Operations Group handles promotion, restoration, ticketing, office management, grounds maintenance, collections, volunteer services, scheduling and website/social media management.


  • Cameron Nichols
  • Craig Presler
  • Lavonne Stage
  • Adam Fisher


ITM Railroad Operations, LLC

ITM Railroad Operations, LLC handles day-to-day operation of the railroad including maintenance, right of way, training and certification of operating crews, crew scheduling and signals.


  • Larry Elliott
  • Aaron Hutchinson
  • Les McConnell
  • Steve Roof
  • Bruce Jarrett


ITM Assets, LLC

ITM Assets, LLC holds and manages assets of the Indiana Transportation Museum which includes buildings and railroad equipment.

  • Michelle Yerkeson
  • Craig Presler
  • Josh Spencer
  • Cameron Nichols
  • Les McConnell


ITM Foundation, LLC

ITM Foundation, LLC manages museum investments and gifts. The Foundation is also tasked with overseeing the endowment and networking with potential donors.

  • Jeff Kehler
  • Bobby Milan
  • Don Helmer
  • Denard Beemon


In addition to newly elected members, long-time board members Bruce Jarrett and Michelle Yerkeson will be leaving the board. “Bruce and Michelle have done a great service for ITM and I know they will continue to support our mission as we move forward to bigger and better programs in the future,” McNichols said.


The Indiana Transportation Museum, headquartered in Forest Park, 825 Park Dr., Noblesville, Indiana, is a nonprofit museum and heritage railroad operation founded in 1960. The Museum mission is to engage and inspire generations regarding the rich culture and heritage of America’s and Indiana’s railroads by bringing to life the art, science and technology that defined the industry. The institution exists as a community-centered partner for the region and Indiana for education, tourism development, economic benefit and preservation of our rich heritage. The Museum sees visitors from across Indiana, the United States and the world.


The Museum’s trains, crews and track are certified by the Federal Railroad Administration.