Passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy
The Essex National Heritage Area lost a real champion and friend last evening. I will not try to complete here with the experienced eulogists who will write of his many accomplishments, but I will say that without his help we would not have what we have today in Essex County. Two decades ago, Senator Kennedy took a particular interest in the work of the Salem Partnership, and then helped the leadership of that group along with other leaders in Essex County to establish the Essex National Heritage Commission. He later became the glue the held the efforts to build the Friendship together, and was present and presided over the dedication of that ship years ago. Annie Harris and I met with the Senator on numerous occasions both in the region and in Washington, and he was always most gracious and committed to the mission of Essex Heritage. We and the Commission will miss his advice and friendship. He will be missed desperately by this region, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts this country and the world.
Essex Heritage Planning Session
Earlier this week, the volunteer leadership of Essex Heritage met in a strategy session to help develop a long-term plan to assure the continuing success of this initiative. It now seems most appropriate that this task was undertaken on the same day that Senator Kennedy passed away. He was our champion and his help was critical to our decade of success. During the first decade that the Essex Heritage has been providing services and helping to build collaborations in the region numerous programs and outreach efforts have been offered that help build awareness and help to educate the residents of the area. It was agreed that over the next several months an examination of all offered regional programs must be undertaken, to be certain that they are continuing to serve the region and helping to achieve the goals of the organization. The strong relationship that exists between the Commission and the National Park Service continues to be wonderful asset, and that partnership needs to be expanded and we must continue to use the relationship to expand the reach of the National Park Service to an even larger percentage of the region’s population. Over the life of Essex Heritage working relationships have been built between the Commission and the municipal leadership that run the thirty-four communities that make up the Essex National Heritage Area. It is very clear that in the future, the Commission must continue to offer and develop programs and initiatives that enhance the municipalities we must continue to serve. All of the participants in the recent session pledged to work over the next several months to develop strategies that will enhance the value of the Essex Heritage to the region, and to the elected leadership of the area, and most importantly to the residents who live and work here in this area.
Continue to Diversify Fundraising Efforts
We have been most fortunate to have received funding to help operate Essex Heritage from a wide variety of sources. The wonderful relationship we have maintained with the National Park Service has allowed us to receive federal funding to help support the effort. Until just this last year, when the local economy worsened, our local Commonwealth of Massachusetts Legislative delegation had helped obtain funding from the Commonwealth. That funding has been temporarily suspended, but as he local economy rebounds we are confidant that with the continuing support of local legislators that funding will be restored. Dozens of local business organizations have been most generous with their support, and we are most appreciative of their support even when times have been difficult. We have also received a continuing level of support from the wonderful residents of this region, and we encourage all of you to continue to provide support so that Essex Heritage can continue to grow the services offered to this region. In the new plans now being formulated we anticipate seeking support from some of the generous foundations that operate in and around this region. Support at that level would add substantially to our capabilities and allow us to expand produce offering and services to the region. For more information on how you can support the work with a contribution of Essex Heritage, check the ENHC web site at www.essexheritage.org Your support is appreciated and it will allow us to continue to advance our work to preserve the historic, natural and cultural resources of Essex County.
Important Vote Taken by Danvers Town Meeting
On Monday evening the members of the Danvers Town Meeting body unanimously approved a warrant article that approved a merger of several school organizations and the funding to build a new Vocational Technical School in that Town. The vote was the first of many such votes that must be taken in the other sixteen communities that are part of the school district. The Danvers vote was important as it was the first community to vote for the plan, and as the host community this was an important and critical first step. Essex Heritage was one of the first community organizations to recognize the importance of the plan to the region, and offered immediate support. We are very pleased that the Town of Danvers offered such complete and substantial support for this plan. Town Manager Wayne Marquis and Selectman Dan Bennett have been instrumental in the planning for the both the Town of Danvers and the region, and those efforts have been substantial and are now showing up as the plan moves towards completion.
Editorial Note: I am pleased to try to be a “reporter” regarding some of the activities in this region that positively affect the mission of Essex Heritage. Towards that end, I would welcome your comments about these presentations, and would also encourage you to contact me with questions, concerns or observations. I can be reached at Essex Heritage at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consider providing your observations
TOM LEONARD, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, ESSEX NATIONAL HERITAGE COMMISSION