Friday, October 30, 2009

Essex Heritage Planning, North Shore Medical Center, Election Day, Halloween and Daylight Savings Adjustment

Friday, October 30, 2009

Essex Heritage Long Range Planning Process Continues

In the decade or so since Essex Heritage was first formed much has been accomplished and in general the mission remains the same. The Commission is committed to the preservation and promotion of the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County. In many ways the strategies to accomplish this task have changed over the years, and at the present time the leadership team of Essex Heritage is participating in a series of meetings to review and refine those strategies for the decade ahead. We still believe that the concept of using the collaborative building capabilities of a strong regional network of partners to encourage regional participation is critical and must be enhanced. But across time the strategies and tactics to accomplish these ends must be refined. Over the last couple of months and continuing through the end of the year, meetings of the Essex Heritage Trustees will continue to address these critical issues. We are pleased that participation in this effort has been so complete. The support offered by the Board members to insure that all opportunities are considered and every option is considered has been most gratifying. This is a process that is essential to the long tern future of the Commission and the expectations remain high that a vision for the future will be in place in the near term.

North Shore Medical Center Annual Community Meeting

On Wednesday evening, October 28, 2009 I participated in the annual meeting of the Board of Overseers and annual report to the community from the North Shore Medical Center. The meeting was held at the Peabody Marriott Hotel, and the setting and the accommodations at that facility were wonderful. I sat with Wayne Marquis the Town manger of Danvers, who was in attendance representing that community that became a host community for NSMC this tear.

The chairman of the Board of Overseers, Stan Lukowski the former CEO of Eastern Bank welcomed all to the meeting and then introduced Bob Norton the President of North Shore Medical Center. President Norton provided a report on the last year of operation of NSMC and reported on some real success in both physical plant improvements and how the hospital handled patients. The major improvement this year was the opening of the new facility on Endicott Street in Danvers, and I was astonished to learn that in just the four short months that Endicott Street had been open over 17,500 patient interactions had already taken place at that location. A wonderful presentation by Dr. Jefferson Prince focused on the work being done in the area pf ADD and ADHD was provided and the meeting ended with a brief reception.

I have served as an Overseer for many years, after taking a turn on the NSMC Board, when I was still in the employ of the Salem Five Bank. I was also the volunteer chairman of the NSMC Cancer Walk, that I was astonished to learn will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of that endeavor in 2010. I have enjoyed my many years of association with the NSMC, and am pleased to be connected to an organization that is so important to the wellbeing of this entire region.

Election Day for 2009 is Next Tuesday

Next Tuesday, November 3, 2009 is Election Day. While there are no federal or state races to be decided this year, there are still many municipal elections of importance in the region. The special primary election for the open Senate seat in Massachusetts will not be held until early in December, but if your community is holding an election, we urge you to get to the polls and vote. There are several hotly contested races for Mayor in Lynn, Beverly, Newburyport, Haverhill and Lawrence and many of those communities have City Council or Alderman races as well. Going to the polls and picking a candidate to run your community for the next two years is an important task of every American citizen. Essex Heritage urges you to cast a ballot in your community

Halloween Celebrated Tomorrow

One of the biggest nights of the year for children in this region is Halloween and on Saturday evening of this weekend, the neighborhoods where you live will be alive with children and parents celebrating the holiday. Please take special care to be watchful as you drive through those neighborhoods for the youngsters who will be in costume and only thinking of the next treat they will receive at the next doorstep. Special care should be taken to drive safely and keep an eye out for all who will be out and around this weekend.

We also hope that all of the precautions and advance planning that the City of Salem Police department and other City officials have taken will pay off in a safe and fun filled event for the thousands that will likely show up in the Witch City to take part in the annual celebration of Halloween. If you or family of friends are planning to travel to Salem this weekend get there early, travel by public transportation if possible and most of all be civil and considerate of others, and have a fun time.

Daylight Savings Time Adjustment Needed this Weekend.

This weekend marks that end of daylight savings and on Saturday night we turn back our clocks and get an extra hour of sleep. We will all know that daylight saving time is ended late on Sunday afternoon when sunset takes pace at about 4:30 p.m. I know that the start of winter is still 6 weeks away, but when it gats dark so early it certainly seems that winter is not far away. This is also a great time to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Motif #1 Being Lighted, Danvers Light Plant, Town of Ipswich Land Planning, Loss of a Leader, Planned Giving Programs, New Commissioners Elected


In the last couple of days, I noted with interest several local news stories that have come to my attention that will clearly have impact on this region. The stories are varied and have impact on different sections of the region, but all the issues are worth noting.

Rockport’s Motif # 1

After several months of planning and working together with many community interests, the famous Motif #1 in Rockport, that is one of the most photographed sites in this region will soon be lit every evening from dusk until midnight starting this December.. The consortium that made this happen is broad based and was led by Peter Beacham, Chairman of the Town’s Economic Development Commission. Congratulations are in order from Essex Heritage to all who played a role in bringing this idea to a successful conclusion. A local architect, Jack Campbell provide his services, the Rockport Rotary Club provided funding, National Grid provided the fixtures and the Historic Commission, the Planning Board and the Public Works Department all participated to the planning for the project that will certainly shine a positive light on one of the most recognizable icons in this entire region. This is a wonderful example of the kind of cooperation that is possible when a consortium that has the best interests of a community can come together to accomplish a goal.

Danvers Light Plant to Participate in a Pilot Energy Project

The municipal owned power company in Danvers is one of six community owned power companies that will participate in an energy efficiency project in eastern Massachusetts. The project that will begin soon will use technology produced by a Gloucester based company and will allow real time energy monitoring with internet based tools that will guide consumers and businesses towards deeper and more sustainable energy savings. The Danvers Light Plant will soon install wireless energy monitors in fifty test homes and some businesses in the Town and will run the programs for a year to measure results. It is hoped that this project will be a forerunner of more things to come as power use is monitored to help lower costs and achieve more efficiency. This project when coupled with the planned installation of smart meters across the entire Town is a most positive step for the utility.

Ipswich is an Example of How Smart Growth Planning can be Most Effective

Congratulations to the Town of Ipswich for being a community that clearly knows how to make planning work to their advantage. Over the last decade the Town has used its resources wisely to acquire land and preserve other parcels with zoning changes that will help preserve the character of the Town for future generations. The Town Government has used the investment of Town funds to leverage even more federal, state and private funds to insure that the Town is developed in a smart measured way. The municipal leadership of the community should be recognized for a wonderful achievement and a most successful strategy.

Region Loses a Religious Leader

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has announced the retirement of the Regional Bishop for this region, Bishop Francis X. Irwin. The retirement will leave a void in this area, as Bishop Irwin has been a fixture in the region for many years. I have known the Bishop from his days as the head of Catholic Charities in the area, and during recent years when he had an office at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody and a residence at St. Mary’s Rectory in Danvers. Just recently Bishop Irwin presided over and provided a wonderful and fitting eulogy at the funeral of my good friend and mentor Brother Bill Drinan, C.F.X. the former Headmaster of St. John’s Preparatory School. Bishop Irwin will be missed by many in the region.

Planned Giving Initiatives

I suppose that in our lifetimes we are all asked at one time or another to consider a gift to a worthy cause. I have been connected to St. John’s Preparatory School for longer than I would like to admit, and have provided support for many programs that benefit so many who attend that school today. I am proud to be the co-chairman along with my good friend and long time associate, Paul Hennessey of the Planned Giving Committee of that school’s Institutional Advancement office, and welcome helping out in that phase of the school’s advancement efforts. They have been reasonably successful in attracting planned gifts to support the school, and I am proud of my commitment to that work and encourage all who might have an interest in learning more about support of that level to contact the school directly.

We have tried to learn from the best at Essex Heritage as we attempt to let residents of the region and friends of the Commission know of opportunities to provide a planned gift to this initiative. The work of St. John’s Preparatory School in this area is a model for us to emulate, Essex Heritage is starting to address these matters in small initial steps and have the capability to accept a planned gift if someone had such a desire to offer the region that kind of support. If anyone needed any information about a planned gift and how it might impact Essex Heritage please contact either me, or Mary Williamson at our office for more details.

New Commissioners Elected at Essex Heritage Annual Meeting

At the recent annual meeting the Commission elected a number of new commissioners. The first of these new members are;

Ms. Sheila Fields, Beverly Chamber of Commerce
Ms. Susan Goganian, Beverly Historical Society
Mr. Jack Good, Beverly National Bank
Mr. Glen Mairo, Essex Harmony
Mr. Caleb powers, Action Business Coaching
Ms. Dianne Seely, TD Bank
Ms Cathleen Wardley, Boston Marriott Hotel, Peabody
Ms. Joanne Scott, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem

We are pleased to add these new Commissions and welcome them to Essex Heritage. We are certain that in their place of work, their home community or their sphere of influence that they will become advocates and ambassadors for the mission of Essex Heritage.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scenic Byway Meeting, Senator Fred Berry Food Drive, Haunted Happenings, Pioneers in Partnership Award Winner

MONDAY, October 26, 2009

Scenic Byway Meetings

The Essex Heritage Scenic Byway program is continuing to be developed by the regional committee that has been organized to insure that the program has local input. A meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Ipswich Town Hall and members of the Essex Heritage leadership team along with the consultants that have been contracted to help in the management of this initiative will meet with local representative to continue the planning process. More information in the future as the planning progress

Senator Fred Berry Food Drive

The weather on Sunday certainly contributed to what appears was a most successful food drive organized by the office of Sate Senator Fred Berry of Peabody to benefit the food pantries of southern Essex County. I stopped by the site in Danvers where food was being collected on Sunday, to make a personal contribution to add to the gift already made by the staff of Essex Heritage and there was a big crowd making contributions of both food and cash. I know that the Danvers People to People Food Pantry, where my wife works as a volunteer received a substantial amount of contributed food later in the day on Sunday, and that gift was much appreciated. There is clearly a great need today at food pantries all over the region and Senator Berry should be congratulated for his initiative and the success of the effort. I would suspect that even now it is not too late to make a contribution and I know that between now and the coming holidays every one of the local pantries would welcome contributions of both food and cash to help them through this very busy period. Each month between now and the end of the holiday season, President John Hall of Salem Five Bank, and this year’s President of Salem Rotary Club is collecting spare change at one meeting a month for St. Joseph’s Food Pantry in Salem. I am certain that there are many drives like that being undertaken at organizations and churches all over this most generous region...

The City of Salem in the Homestretch of Haunted Happenings

Certainly the weather on Sunday was most conducive to events like Haunted Happening in Salem. I was not in the city on Sunday, but I have it on first hand reports that the crowds were large, as the sun was shining and the weather was warm for the season. For most of the month of October, crowds, even during mid week have been large and most orderly in the City as we close in on Halloween itself that will be celebrated this year on a Saturday. The numbers of visitors to the City being reported by both the Salem Chamber of Commerce and the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center are up substantially from past years, and it seems that the City id headed for a record October. I am certain that the city has planned well for this end of the fall season event and we encourage visitation as the season means a great deal to the merchants of this community, but like every one connected with the event we urge all the visitors to enjoy the festivities, but to retain levels of civility and to not infringe on the rights of others. This weekend I noted a posting on Face book from Kate Fox, the Director of Destination Salem that she attributes to the Boston Globe, that seems to say it all about Salem at this time of year. The quote was that “Salem owns Halloween like the North Pole owns Christmas”.

Another Pioneers in Partnership Winner from the Essex Heritage Annual Meeting

The final winner of an Essex Heritage Commission Pioneers in Partnership award that we will profile is the founder and chief curator of the Amesbury Hat Museum. This endeavor started rather modestly as after moving to Amesbury, Ms. Allison Kelly saw an opportunity to preserve a piece of local Amesbury lore that had largely been left forgotten. Ms. Kelly who is a retired nurse and library volunteer first began to collect hats that were once a staple product of the Amesbury economy manufactured by the Merrimac Hat Corporation that was founded in 1856. Over the many years that she has been pursing this endeavor she has collected hundreds of hats in her travels up and down the Eastern seaboard from the rocky coast of Maine to sunny Florida. That collection of hats is now exhibited in the old mill building at 9 Water Street in Amesbury, where after making an appointment this collection can be viewed. For all of Ms. Kelly’s efforts to help preserve the wonderful manufacturing history of this region, Essex Heritage Commissioner Deborah Carey nominated Allison Kelly to receive an Essex Heritage Pioneers in Partnership award at the Essex Heritage Annual Meeting. Accepting the award for Ms. Allison Kelly, who was unable to attend the meeting due to the health of her husband was Peter Bryant the Chairman of Amesbury Treasures.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meeting with NPS Officials, Pioneers in Partnership Winner, and Weekend Sports Events

National Park Service Visitors in Attendance in the Region

We were very pleased to have a number of National Park Service officials and visitors from other National Heritage Area’s at our recent Annual Meeting. That group was visiting this region as immediately following the Annual Meting we convened a meeting with that group that could have a substantial bearing on the future of Essex Heritage. For the last year or so, the Commission has been collectively working on the completion of an evaluation that would measure and quantify the success of Essex Heritage since its inception. A substantial amount of data has been gathered on the activities of the Commission and a preliminary outline of those findings have been developed and now needs to be developed into a final report that must be presented to the US Congress.

We were joined at the meeting by the Executive Directors and senior staff of two other National heritage Area’s who are scheduled to be the next area’s examined. Our Visitors from the Augusta Canal Heritage Area in Georgia and Smokestacks and Silos from the State of Iowa were most interested observers at the meeting. A substantial amount of progress was made at the meeting, and there is now every indication that in the near term a report that will satisfy all of the parties that have an interest in this evaluation will be completed. The National Park Service after gathering this information will make a final report to the Congress that will recommend the future of this particular Heritage Area and others elsewhere in the country. A recent report by a blue ribbon panel has been widely distributed that discusses and makes recommendations on how the Park Service should address the second century of their existence. That report called the “Second Century Report” is complimentary to the Heritage Area’s and urges that the National Park Service consider making these entities full-fledged partners of the Park Service in the future. That resolution would be great news to all of us who have interests in seeing this concept advanced.

Another Pioneers in Partnership Award Winner Profiled

The second of the two Pioneers in Partnership Award winners presented at the Annual Meeting was made to a group from Ipswich that collectively joined forces to organize the 375th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Town of Ipswich. The two partners in this endeavor sought and obtained Town Meeting support along with substantial private support to manage a year long series of community historical events that catalyzed numerous volunteers, civic groups and businesses to create and execute this wonderful series of events that is just now coming to a close. These two exceptional community volunteers served the Ipswich Historical Society in many capacities over the years as both the volunteer President of that organization and the as the volunteer Director of the Essex Heritage Ipswich Visitor Center. Bill Nelson has had a long and participatory relationship with Essex Heritage as he has managed the Essex Heritage associated Visitor Center in Ipswich almost since the site was first established. The joint concerted effort to assure that this wonderful community celebration took place led two Essex Heritage Trustees, Fred Winthrop and Paul McGinley to each nominate Nathaniel Pulsifer and William Nelson to receive the prestigious Pioneers in Partnership Award. I want to take this opportunity to note that even with the volunteer work offered by Nat and Bill, the Ipswich Anniversary event with all of its wonderful community ramifications would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of Bonnie Hurd Smith. The wonderful administrative support that she offered to this project went well beyond the scope of the contract she signed to help pull this program together. Her participation was most important and Essex Heritage congratulates and recognizes her for her wonderful work on this project.

Ending Today with Two Personal Observations

Local sports activities both professional and amateur have always been one of my passions and this weekend there are two events that certainly have attracted my attention. On Saturday, with the series tied at nine wins each, Boston College’s football team travels to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame University for the final time in this series. These games held over the last two decades have always been most entertaining, and for this region, I hope this is not the last time these two major Catholic Institutions play one another on the gridiron. It would be wonderful if sometime in the near future, the two Athletic Directors of the schools could get together to announce a new series of games for the future. This is series of games that should be continued.

The other major sporting event this weekend is the trip by the New England Patriots to Wembley Stadium in London, England to play the NFL team from Tampa Florida. The NFL certainly wants to extend its franchise internationally, and they could not have picked a better team to head to London to accomplish this end than the Patriots. The wonderful history that exists between America and the United Kingdom is personified by the revolution against the English Crown that began right here in New England and ended with the Declaration of Independence from the crown by the colonies. Now the colonies are bringing a team back to England to compete in one of England’s most famous sporting venues. I will have an eye turned to each of these events over this weekend.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Annual Meeting, Pioneers in Partnership Award Winners and Old and New Communication Tools


Essex Heritage Annual Meeting

The morning of October 21, 2009 dawned bright, clear and frosty. The Essex Heritage Annual Meeting started at 8:30 and the setup in advance of the meeting began at 6:30 a. m. We are always indebted to our committed and conscientious staff that arose early and cleaned the frost off their wind shields, to be at the meeting site before the sun even rose this morning. It was a perfect fall morning and Essex Heritage had a full house in attendance at its annual fall meeting at the Community House in Hamilton. We are indebted to the Board of the Community House for providing their wonderful facility that we had access to this morning. The Hamilton Community House is a classic example of the wonderful spaces that we have been blessed to have met in over the last dozen years.

We want to particularly thank William Bowler a Hamilton Selectman for being in attendance and for bringing the greetings of the host community. This meeting marked the last meeting that was managed by outgoing President Ms. Nancy Huntington Stager and started the new term of President Kevin M. Tierney. The transition appeared seamless and both Nancy and Kevin provided valuable information to the group assembled. The group included a contingent of Senior National Park Service officials who are in Essex County to work with Essex Heritage over the next couple of days, to complete the long awaited evaluation report that will ultimately be presented to the United States Congress.

Essex Heritage Executive Director, Annie Harris and our senior partner, National Park Service Regional Superintendant Patricia Trap provided a recap of the work accomplished by the Commission over the last half year to enhance this partnership. Ms. Harris provided details about .specific endeavors undertaken by the Commission with some of its other regional partners, and received a warm round of applause when she announced that Essex Heritage was prepared to partially reinstate the Partnership Grant Program in 2010. The Grant program has been one of the most important projects undertaken by Essex Heritage during the life of the Commission, and a reinstatement of the program even on a limited basis will be warmly received by the region. Over the life of this program, Essex Heritage has provided almost 300 individual grants to non profit partners, and municipalities that total in excess of $1.5 million dollars. That commitment of funds that has seen grants made in every one of the thirty-four communities in the region has resulted in an additional $15.0 million in investment made in the region. In the weeks ahead more information on how this program will be re-started will be released, but just the fact that the program will be back in place in some form in 2010 is great news for the region.

Pioneers in Partnership Awards Provided

At the meeting three Pioneers in Partnership Awards were provided and today I want to focus on one of those awards. In future postings, information on the other two awards will be outlined but for today we will focus on the award made for a Topsfield project.

A Pioneer in Partnership award was presented this morning to a special individual who exemplifies the best of Essex County. Our award winner currently serves on four working committees in his home town of Topsfield; the Planning Board, the Recreation Committee, the Open Space Committee and the Rail Trail Committee and also serves as the Topsfield representative to the Border to Boston Trail coalition that Essex Heritage has helped to manage for the last several years. He had provided the Town of Topsfield with over 30 years of uncompensated service to his community. Long before the Border to Boston coalition began to take shape; for the last two decades our 2009 award winner has been tirelessly working to develop a rail trail in Topsfield. That effort has recently been rewarded as the first section of the trail was opened just last weekend. For his many years of effort, Mr. Joseph Geller received the prestigious Essex Heritage Pioneers in Partnership Award at this morning's Annual Meeting.

.Essex Heritage Communicating Using Many New Resources

Over the time that Essex Heritage has been serving this region, we have taken great care to make the Essex Heritage web site, better organized and a vehicle that provided valuable information to the user. The site is regularly updated and current information and activities are always highlighted in a way that makes that information highly visible. For example during the weeks leading up to our signature event, Trails and Sails that series of events was prominent on the site. It is clear that many visitors to the series of free events offered those two weekends in September obtained the information that they needed to plan their experience by accessing the Essex Heritage web site. We were recently provided information by our web-master that confirms both the importance of the web site to Essex Heritage and to the region. During the month of September 2009 that covers the period of the Trails and Sails events and the period leading up to the events Essex Heritage experienced more than 57, 500 “hits” on the web site. That total is up almost 27, 500 hits from the prior month. That activity represents a healthy increase in activity month to month. We can only surmise that the increased activity was due to requests seeking information on the Essex Heritage signature event. During the month of September inquires came from all 50 states in the country and the District of Columbia and their were visits from dozens of countries around the world including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, India, Australia, Russia, Chili, Brazil and many more. In addition to a much broader use of the web site, Essex Heritage is also communicating using social networks like Face book, Twitter and Linked in as well as using other non traditional methods like the BLOG where you are now reading this message.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, October 19, 2009

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting, Northeast Harvest, Tax Credit Act, Park Service Officials to Meet in Salem


Essex Heritage Annual Meeting in Hamilton Tomorrow

We are now just one day away from convening the Annual Meeting of the Essex Heritage Commission at the Community House in Hamilton. We have always thought it important to hold these regional meetings in unusual locations around the region that we serve, and the meeting in the morning will be no different. We are pleased to be calling the meeting to order for the first time in Hamilton. The Community House is a special place where so many wonderful Hamilton social and business events have been held, and we feel privileged to have been allowed to use the facility for our meeting. We expect attendance to be high at the meeting and also anticipate that will be many in the audience who have never been in this facility before. That will serve our purpose quite nicely as it will continue our tradition of bringing our partners and associates to locations not easily accessible to the general public. We are also pleased that Hamilton Selectman William Bowler, will attend the meeting representing our host community and will bring the greetings of the Town of Hamilton to the meeting

This meeting will also mark the end of the term of office of Ms. Nancy Huntington Stager who has served as the Essex Heritage President for these last two years. Ms. Stager who serves as an Executive Vice President managing the Human Resources function for Eastern Bank has been a special leader for the Commission during her term of office. Nancy has lead by example and has exhibited an exceptional style of management as she has taken the status and standing of the Commission in the region to new heights. Ms Stager will be honored at the Annual Meeting and her commitment to the mission of Essex Heritage will be noted with a special award given by Essex Heritage and our senior partner, the National Park Service.

The October 2009 meeting will also mark the beginning of the Kevin M. Tierney era as President of Essex Heritage. Kevin who years ago was a contemporary of mine at Salem Five Bank now serves as President and CEO of Saugus Bank. We are certain that Kevin will use his many administrative and leadership skills to pick up right where Nancy Stager left off, and under his direction Essex Heritage will continue to grow as a major player as we strive to serve this region as a collaborator and coordinator of regional services.

Northeast Harvest

Last month, we pointed out to you that Essex Heritage in collaboration with the Essex Agricultural Society, the Mass Department of Agriculture, and a list that looks like a “who’s Who” of the Farming Community in Essex and Middlesex Counties are producing a monthly Newsletter. The October edition of the Northeast Harvest was published in the middle of this month], and contained a number of informative articles about farming in the region. The Newsletter identifies Winter CSA’s that have been created by many of the local farms. The winter programs usually begin in late October or early November and will run through March 2010. If you had a share in a summer program you should ask your provider if a winter program is available. The articles that were of the most interest to me, was the stories about turkey’s and where they can be found and finally, a “how to” primer on how to prepare that holiday delicacy. Based on the weekend weather we just experienced these past two days, it is clear that the Thanksgiving Holiday is closer than you think. I hope that many of you who regularly read this BLOG are also subscribers to the Northeast Harvest Newsletter. If you are not and want to be added to that electronic mailing list contact Essex Heritage at and we will see to it that you are added to the mailing list.

Continuing Report on the Community Restoration and Rehabilitation Act

Supporters of the federal rehabilitation tax credit act have reminded us that continuing support is needed to assure that the act is passed by the U S Congress in this session. They have asked us to contact our representative in Congress to seek support. We are proud the say that our Congressman John F. Tierney has already recognized the importance of extending the legislation and has signed on as a signatory on the bill. Thanks Congressman Tierney.

Meetings with National Park Service and the Center for Park Management

Next week immediately following the Essex Heritage Annual Meeting members of our Board of Trustees and other invited partners of the Commission will gather at the historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem for a two day session to finalize the evaluation report that was preliminarily outlined last spring. The meeting will bring together the Essex Heritage leadership group, senior National Park Service officials and the managers of the evaluation, the Center for Park Management. It is expected that as a result of these meetings that many unanswered questions that were discussed last spring, and several misconceptions about the work of Essex heritage will be qualified and a final report that shows the Commission as the unifier of the region will be one step closer to release. One can only hope that as we all gather in the historic downtown of the City of Salem in the middle of the Haunted Happenings celebrations that Salem has become famous for, that we all do not become bewitched and struggle to come to the proper conclusions. We are confident that all of the parties can come to a common understanding of the role of Essex Heritage and how important the Commission has become to the entire region.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, October 16, 2009

Peabody Independence Greenway, Newburyport Solar Program, Green Farms


New Rail Trail for Bicyclists and Walkers in Peabody Completed

As an organization that has devoted valuable time and precious resources to the development of rail trail activity in this region over recent years, Essex Heritage applauds the City of Peabody for their recent Rail Trail development accomplishments. Mayor Michael Bonfanti officially opened Peabody’s Independence greenway for use yesterday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Ross Park in West Peabody. What the City of Peabody has accomplished in such a relatively short period of time is amazing. The concept of developing a Rail Trail for this community with its wonderful combination of residential and commercial uses was only conceived a short two decades ago in a city master plan created in 1990. From the planning process to completion and use by the residents of Peabody in such a relatively short period of time is quite an accomplishment. The city moved from the planning stage that took the better part of a decade to the acquisition of the abandoned railway right of way and then the start of actual construction just a short three years ago. It appears that one of the keys to the success of this project was the various sources of funding that were acquired to complete the project. The city committed money raised from their Community Preservation Act funding to complete the trail design and then sought and received funding from the Federal and State governments for the more than $3.0 million in funding needed to complete the project. The Massachusetts Highway Authority has overseen construction and will ultimately turn the trail over to the City of Peabody when all of the work is completed.

The soon to be completed Peabody Independence Greenway now allows Peabody residents to travel 4.6 miles from the North Shore Shopping Center near the Leahy Clinic up into West Peabody along a paved way that moves along through woodlands and scenic views that opens up almost 400 acres to residents of the City. Travel for the most part can be accomplished safely with out the worry of vehicular traffic. There is a small stretch of the trail that has an on street connection. The City is already contemplating how the trail can be connected into the neighboring community of Salem and beyond where other trails exist. If one were willing to look into the future there might come a time when cyclists could ride in the State from the New Hampshire border deep into the coastal North Shore region.

Essex Heritage has and continues to play a coordinating role in the Border to Boston Trail program that will open up a rail trail in the future from Salisbury to Danvers. Some of that Trail is presently open and a section in Topsfield will open this coming weekend. We can only hope that some of the participants in the Border to Boston venture can learn from the Peabody experience and can envision what can be accomplished when a community decides to move forward with a single purpose. The recreational experience in Peabody is now much more expansive and the safety of cyclists in the community is protected. Once again, Essex Heritage offers its congratulations to Mayor Bonfanti and the other associated municipal officials who played a role in this project for what they have accomplished for their community and the region.

More Green News

In recent postings we have been noting activities in the region that positively affect the environment as those actions can be so important to the future. I noticed a recent announcement by the Town of Newburyport that will have such an impact. The Town and an energy services company, Ameresaco Inc. recently unveiled a solar power system that will supply power to several town buildings. The system that the Town is touting as the largest municipal solar project of its kind in the State will supply power to a public middle school and to the department of Public Works Building in town. In addition to providing power to the school, the project will also provide and educational experience for all of the students who attend the Nock Middle School. Weather and solar power production information will be provided to the students and that information will be used by the teachers and analyzed by the students in the classrooms at the school. This seems to be a wonderful use of solar power that serves both municipal needs and the students in the community.

Many Farms in the Region Seeking Green Solutions to Success

In a recent story in the Boston Globe, North Edition reporter Cathy McCabe authored a comprehensive story about the efforts of many farmers in the Essex County agricultural community who are employing eco friendly strategies to assure continuing success. The story noted the efforts of many in this region to use “green techniques” to help them continue to be relevant. The report noted the use of yard use that is being turned into compost and then recycled for a profit by Essex Heritage Commissioner Bill Clarke an eighth generation farmer at his farm in Danvers. It also highlighted the use of wind power and solar that is being tested for use at other farms in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury in the region. It seems certain that in the not too distant future that more and more of the farmers in this region will continue to explore new eco-strategies to stay profitable, and in that way preserve the current farming acres in the region as open, contributing and valuable space. It seems reasonable to assume that more and more green strategies will be employed in this region by the agricultural community in the years ahead,

As always, your comments, observation and questions about the work of Essex Heritage are welcome. Please contact me click here at or call 978 720 0444. Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ENHC Nomination Process, Haverhill News, Green News, Connor's Farm


Essex Heritage Nominating Committee Completes its Task

The Essex Heritage Commission Nominating Committee under the direction of new Trustee Sumner Jones from Eastern Bank had completed its task and has identified a dozen and a half potential new Commissioners. Invitation letters have been sent to the nominees and over the next couple of weeks prior to and just after the annual meeting exploratory conversations will be held with interested parties to learn if they will accept a position as a Commissioner. At the Essex Heritage Annual Meeting scheduled for October 20, 2009 at the Community House in Hamilton a final list of Commissioner nominees will be presented for election and the region will have a new group of advocates to help spread the good word about the work of Essex Heritage. As we finalize a list we will provide profiles in this space later this month.

News from Haverhill’s Mayor

Earlier this month we received a newsletter from the Mayor Jim Fiorentini of Haverhill. The Mayor while very guarded about the direction of State revenues and how those trends will affect Haverhill remained upbeat about several positive activities in his community. The City received a recent visit from Governor Patrick who participated in a celebration of the opening of Hamel Mills Lofts in Haverhill and to announce that the City will receive funding to build a new parking garage in the downtown. This is a project that is much needed and that the City has desired for some time, and the announcement was greeted with much enthusiasm. The Mayor’s newsletter also noted that the City had also received an Open Space grant to purchase an old rail trail in Bradford. That purchase has been accomplished without the expenditure of any municipal funds and the community is very pleased to now own the open space from the Basilier Bridge to the Comeau Bridge. The City is making plans to apply for State grant funding to convert that old rail line into a walking and bicycle trail. This is certainly part of a longer term plan but the Mayor remained confidant that there will be a rail trail in the future along the river in Bradford. Essex Heritage is certainly a strong advocate of rail trail expansion in this region, and looks forward to hearing more of this project in the not too distant future. The Mayor also announced that the City continues to Go Green. Solar panels are being installed at the Senior Center to help manage costs, and a posting that National Grid is about to begin construction on one of the largest solar farms in New England at the old gas company site was announced. The Mayor lauded this announcement as a great way to enhance the already positive image of the City of Haverhill.

Sticking with the Green Trend

I saw a recent news release that I thought was most positive as it contained information about two communities that were teaming up to qualify as Green Communities. If going green were not positive enough, any time two communities take positive steps to accomplish anything collectively it is a big plus for the region and the citizens of the two communities. . I have long advocated the need to accomplish more tasks collectively as there is so much more that can be accomplished together rather than alone. The communities of Salem and Swampscott that have a common border were recently selected by the State Department of Energy Resources to receive a technical assistance grant under the Green Communities program. The assistance is designed to help municipalities meet the criteria needed to qualify as green communities which will then make them eligible for additional grants. This certainly qualifies as a wonderful example of how two neighboring communities can work together to help accomplish a common and commendable goal. Anything that local communities can do to set an example of working together and saving energy is most admirable. We applaud the municipal leaders of Salem and Swampscott for seeing the need to work together and to cooperate as a small part of a larger region.

Connor’s Farm in Danvers

This is such a wonderful time to visit local farms. The fall season is a great time to experience all of the wonderful open space resources we have in this region, and the area farms are a perfect example and use of the preservation of open space. The Connor’s Farm at 30 Valley Road (Route 35) in Danvers just before one gets to Topsfield has always been a great example of combining the opportunity to purchase locally grown produce and having a little fun at the same time. The farm that was founded in 1904 and began life as a truck farm, now has had for many years, a wonderful farm stand on the 140 acre working farm, where all kinds of produce can be purchased. This year, Bob Connors, who I am happy to say played Little League baseball for me years ago in Danvers, mowed has annual corn maize to a new level. The seven acre maize is shaped as Family Guy characters “Stewie and Brian”. I can’t say, I can even begin to explain to you who these characters are, but I understand they are from a popular Fox TV show that appears here in the Boston region. Arial shots of the maize have appeared in local newspapers and a shot of the maize can be viewed on the farm web site at, In any event the maize is quite popular and is open through the end of the month. I am certain that Bob Connors would welcome you to a visit to his “Family Guy” maize and his farm stand through the end of this month. October is such a great time to get out into this region and enjoy all of the farms that dot this historic landscape.

As always, your comments, observation and questions about the work of Essex Heritage are welcome. Please contact me click here at or call 978 720 0444. Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day, Financial Successes, Banking Notes, Regional Fall Events

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day Holiday

We certainly hope that you all enjoy this wonderful fall holiday. There are a number of events and celebrations taking place all over the region, and we hope you find an event where you can enjoy the day. I intend to make this a very abbreviated posting as on this holiday as our office is closed for the day and also two of my grandchildren are participating in a soccer tournament west of here, and my wife are going to be spectators at a number of games today. I do want to note a couple of issues of note before I sign off.

Recent Financial Successes for the Region

  • The region received some wonderful news in the last couple of days when Governor Patrick announced that the State will make a firm commitment of an additional $21 million to the new Regional Vocational Technical High School scheduled to be built in Danvers. This new commitment brings the total offered by the State to $98.6 million towards this important regional effort. To date Danvers and Rockport have approved plans for the school and we expect that more communities will approve the plan in the near term. Essex Heritage was a very early supporter of the Regional Vocational Technical School and continues its support today.
  • The Governor also announced a second major commitment to the region when he offered $69 million to Salem State College to replace the library that was declared unsafe. This is most important as the College is continuing its efforts to gain University status could not accomplish that without a university style library.
  • Wayne Marquis, the Town Manager of the Town of Danvers announced at a recent Selectman’s meeting that the process of approving the town received some good news, when the High School rebuilding/addition process received some good news when revamped plans showed a reduction in total project costs of $3.2 million.

All in all, very good financial news for many regional projects.

Banking Partners Make Positive Announcements

Several of our most generous banking partners made news in the last several days. The soon to be announced Danvers Bank and Beverly National Bank leadership team made a wonderful commitment of $25,000 to insure the continuation of the Beverly Bookmobile project. On another note, Eastern Bank was named the number one Small Business Administration lender in the entire State. That commitment certainly helped a number of small businesses in both this region and across the state.

Regional Fall Events

· I see that the community of Newburyport has a number of events planned for Columbus Day. That looks like a great place to visit today.

· Next Saturday, October 17, 2009, the Groveland Historical Society will hold a Historic House and Barn Tour. The tour will feature seven 19th and 19th century homes and a reproduction of a Georgian Colonial. Four historic barns will also be on display. For more information call 978 374 3684.

Personal Note

Sunday was such a beautiful day here in New England, until late in the afternoon when both professional teams, the Red Sox and the Patriots both suffered difficult losses. One loss took place in the ninth inning and the other took place in overtime. I am sure that there were other events in the region that were much more enjoyable than the two described above.

As always your comments, questions or observations about the work of Essex Heritage is appreciated. I can be contacted at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, October 9, 2009

North Shore Chamber, Essex Heritage Annual Meeting, Tax Credit Program, First Bloom Grant

Friday, October 9, 2009

North Shore Chamber Continues Important Breakfast Series

Each month the North Shore Chamber continues to provide its members with wonderful programs at their monthly breakfast seminars. Each month the chamber provides either a topical speaker or a panel that provides valuable information to a large regional audience. The speakers generally represent federal, state and local government officials or representatives from private industry and those participants always provide information that is relevant to today’s news or current issues. The series moves between several local hotels or large function facilities and each month draws a large crowd of members and their guests to these forums. The most recent presentation was by the leadership of the leading hospitals in the region, and as always provided topical information on most important issues that affect us all. The medical profession and the current movement in Washington to update medical benefits for a larger portion of the population was a part of the discussion.

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting Scheduled for October 20, 2009

Over the last week or so, invitations to the annual October meeting of Essex Heritage have been delivered both through the mail and electronically. We hope that you received your invitation, but if you did not receive an invitation, and want to attend the meeting contact Essex Heritage at to secure a reservation. The meeting scheduled for the Community House in Hamilton will feature reports on the activities of the Commission ranging from plans for Bakers Island to the new Essex Heritage Scenic Byway project. A slate of new Commissioners will be offered for approval and the slate of officers for the 2009-2019 year will also be confirmed. Three new members of the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees will also be confirmed and three former Essex Heritage Trustees will be designated as Trustee Emeritus. At the meeting several new prestigious Pioneers in Partnership will be presented to regional activists who have completed projects that have had an impact on this region. In a future posting on this message, I will provide an overview of he award winners, and will outline the projects that were identified for the awards.

New Historic Tax Credit Legislation

I recently received a message from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that could have a substantial impact to help move this country out of the economic malaise currently affecting so many regions of the country. The message reported that legislation has been filed in the United States Congress that would extend the existing historic tax credit program. Taking a cue from the current Ken Burns documentary, the report notes, “That if National Parks are America’s best Ideas then surely one could make the case that Federal Rehab Tax Credit has been proven to be one of America’s best historic preservation ideas”. The tax credit concept was first introduced in 1976 and since then, over 50 billion in renovation and revitalization dollars have been invested in preservation projects. Now, on October 1, 2009 Senators Olympia Snowe and Blanche Lincoln along with Representatives Allyson Schwartz and Pat Tiber introduced a measure to the Congress that would make a good idea even better. The 2009 Community Restoration and Rehabilitation Act is a package of amendments that would further the mission of the rehab credit, by encouraging substantial energy savings in historic buildings whole spurring greater investments in commercial projects particularly with smaller businesses located in older neighborhoods where there is a critical need for revitalization. This could be a boon to business development as in 2008 alone the tax credit program produced $5.64 Billion in private investment and created over 57,000 new jobs or about 55 new jobs per project. I am sure that all of our friends in the development business and the banking industry will be watching and monitoring this proposed legislation to see if the legislation progresses through the Congress. Passage of the bill could be a spur to the economy both at the national level and regionally here in Essex County.

First Bloom Program Plans Announced

Essex Heritage in collaboration with the National Park Service and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem were recently notified that they were the recipients of a $20,000 grant from the National Park Foundation. The grant will fund the popular First Bloom program at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. This grant is a follow on project to a similar program at the Saugus iron Works National Historic Site n 2008. First Bloom is a national education conservation program that reaches out to urban youth to teach them about local plants and encourages them to protect the environment in America’s National Parks and in their own back yards.

In this program fifteen young boys and girls from the local Salem club who are in grades 4 through 6, will explore nature and work with National Park Service Rangers and local educators to learn the National Park Service ethic of environmental stewardship. The fifteen youth from Salem are part of a Salem Boys and Girl’s Club program called Ultimate Journey that introduces nature to these children using a variety of outside activities and field trips. Participants will post their experiences on a web site written for kids by kids. First Bloom was created by the National Park Service to honor the passion of former First Lady, Laura Bush for the environment. Ms Bush serves as the honorary chair of the National Park Foundation. This is the second collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, as last summer the club worked with the local National Park Site and Essex heritage on a summer camp initiative around this region,

As always, your questions, comments and observations about the work of the Essex Heritage are encouraged. I can be reached at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Northeast Harvest, North Shore Community College, North Shore Arts and Theatre

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Northeast Harvest…Your guide to Fresh Food Grown Locally

Northeast Harvest is a collaborative venture of the Essex Agricultural Society and the Essex National Heritage Commission. These two organizations have joined together to help sustain the farmers and the other agricultural producers of Essex and Middlesex Counties. Together we are working with many other local organizations as well as individual growers in the region to highlight the number and variety of farms and food products that are available in northeastern Massachusetts. To put it simply, our mission is to help consumers discover, enjoy and support the farmers and local agriculture in this part of the State of Massachusetts.

In northeastern Massachusetts, within a 35 mile radius north of Boston, there are hundreds of local farms producing a wide variety of fresh products, You can find a wide variety of fruit and berries, vegetables, cheese, honey ice cream and baked goods as well as unique products like llama wool and rare varieties of flowers. For more information on this collaboration please visit the web site at At that site you can also sign up for a periodic newsletter that provides current information on the farms and products of the region. Also it seems appropriate at this time to once again remind you that the Topsfield Fair that is offered at this time each year by our partner the Essex Agricultural Society is in full swing from now through the Columbus Day weekend. Visit the Fair this week to get a first hand flavor of the products offered by the farmers of this region.

North Shore Community College to Break Ground for a New Building

On October 29, 2009 on the Danvers campus of the North Shore Community College, the College will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the newest addition to the campus. The college has recently secured funding to build a new Health Professions and Student Services Building on the campus that is located just off Rt. 95 in Danvers. The new building will add to an already busy campus that along with the other college campus in Lynn is experiencing substantial growth in the number of students attending classes. Due in part to expanding programs and to the difficult economic times, the number of attending students has grown to a record enrollment. In the last year alone, the college has seen the enrollment of students in degree programs increase by almost 1000 students. The groundbreaking for the new Health Sciences building will also bring attention to the plan to make this new building one of the first in the State to produce more energy than it consumes. The new facility will be a model of green technology complete with solar panels, wind turbines and rainwater harvesting. While the funding for the construction of the new building is in place, there will still be a need to raise additional funds to furnish the building before an official opening. The college received substantial funding from the Commonwealth, but like all other public colleges in the State only a portion of the needed funding comes from public sources, and there always remains a need to raise private funds. The College has established the North Shore Community College Foundation to help with that task, and I am pleased to serve on that Board. The College has recently announced that it will be undertaking a major gifts campaign over the next several months to complete the furnishing of the new building. For more information on this project contact Sandra Edwards, Vice president of Institutional Advancement at sedwards@northshore,edu. Essex Heritage is proud of the partnership that it has established with the North Shore Community College and will continue to work with the College as it improves this region through education.

North Shore Music Theatre Facility Foreclosed

It was particularly sad to see that a foreclosure auction was held recently at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. It was not surprising to see that the lead bank in the consortium of financial institutions that held the mortgage on the property was the successful bidder at the foreclosure sale. In similar cases where the outstanding debt is so high, potential bidders are usually content to wait until after a financial institution has total control of a facility before beginning an exploratory attempt to acquire the property from the financial institution. I do not have any inside information, but the region can only hope that there might be an arts or theatre group in the area who might begin discussions with the new property owner to learn if some kind of deal can be struck. The loss of the theatre in Beverly has created a major void in the arts and theatre world in this region and it would be most positive to learn that there is a local group somewhere preparing an approach to bring theatre back to the region. The Essex County region is poorer for the loss of the North Shore Music Theatre and hopefully in the near term, a local group will surface with a new plan. Essex Heritage long ago recognized the need for the arts and for the kind of entertainment offered in this region, and maybe positive news on this front will be forthcoming.

As always your questions, comments and observations about the work of Essex Heritage or about anything that you see in these postings are most welcome. I can be contacted at Thanks Tom Leonard

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marlehead Not-For Profit Honored, Topsfield Linear Common, Governor Patrick Visits Salem, Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Meetings, N.S.Community College

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marblehead Chamber to Honor Not For Profit

At the 57th Annual meeting of the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce, on October 13, 2009 at the Landing in Marblehead the Marblehead Museum and Historical Society will be honored as the Non Profit Organization of the Year. The Museum is located at 170 Washington Street in the heart of Marblehead’s Historical District that includes over 200 privately owned colonial homes the helps preserve the qualities of this new England fishing port and harbor. The Museum preserves and interprets the local and national importance of Marblehead and its inhabitants through programs and artifacts that span five centuries. The Marblehead Museum and Historical Society is a wonderful partner in the work undertaken by Essex Heritage and we offer our congratulations on the award and the recognition they will be receiving,

Topsfield to Open Trail

It is certainly not too early to make plans to attend the opening of the Topsfield Linear Common Trail on Saturday, October 17, 2009. The dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled to take place at 1:00 p.m. That reception and presentation will be followed by a short walk to the head of the trail where a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place. This event is the culmination of years of planning and advocacy and the opening. of the 1/3 of a mile soft surface, multi-use tail will link the Village Center with a school, recreational facilities and local business. Essex Heritage is very pleased to have a played a part in both the planning and the funding for this project. Funding for the project came from grants from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Essex National Heritage Commission Partnership Grant Program. Planning and permitting is now underway for the next phase of this project that will take users to Route 1 across for the Topsfield Fair. Ultimately the 3.5 mile trail in Topsfield will connect with the contiguous communities of Wenham and Boxford and will be a part of the 28-mile Border to Boston Trail connecting Salisbury with Danvers. Essex Heritage has provided continuing leadership and support to this important regional coalition that is helping to develop this initiative.

Governor Deval Patrick Visits Salem

This morning the Governor of the Commonwealth, Deval Patrick paid a visit to Salem, to participate in two events. He was a presenter at the Massachusetts Development Work Force Board’s quarterly meeting held at the Salem Five Bank’s Community Room, and he used the trip to Salem to make a second announcement. He released additional information at a public appearance at the Salem MBTA station that funding to build a new six-story 750 to 900 car parking garage at that busy station is now in place. The City of Salem has been seeking funds for many years for a parking garage and railroad train waiting area to serve the hundreds of commuters who use the Salem station to travel to and from Boston. Salem’s location as the county seat and the headquarters for the current court system also draws many travelers from north of the city each day. In addition, the city’s reputation as a tourist destination draws hundreds of people each month that come to explore the city’s attractions all through the year. . The Salem Partnership a private-public partnership that has been advocating and fostering positive development in Salem for two decades has long had the creation of more parking facilities at the MBTA station in Salem as a primary objective. The current construction of a new Superior Court House in Salem that is under construction at the present time is certainly an added impetus for the addition of more parking for that part of the city. The current railroad station has no enclosed waiting area for the trains that service the City and points north, and the platforms where commuters wait for trains has long been thought of as one of the coldest stops on the MBTA system. It is anticipated that an effort to build a public-private partnership to help get a mixed use facility on the site will be a part of any plan.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byways Meetings Continue

There is just one more public meeting scheduled in the first round of meetings to outline the parameters of the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway that will run from Lynn in the South to Rockport at the northern end of the county. The meetings to date have been well received by all of the interests that have been invited to participate, and many good ideas have been offered and some plans slightly altered to take advantage of community input. It is anticipated that the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway will serve as a catalyst to more economic development in the region, and at the same time take advantage of local knowledge to be certain that any increased traffic is properly managed and provides a positive impact to the participating communities. Essex Heritage is pleased to be playing a leadership role in this initiative that will be most important to the coastal communities in the region.

North Shore community College Foundation Annual Meeting

This evening, as a member of the Essex Community College Foundation Board of Directors I will attend the annual meeting of that group in Saugus. The board will gather to hear from College President Dr. Wayne Burton, who will outline plans for the coming year, and to hear and audit corporate reports on the financial health of the Foundation. The Foundation Board exists to assist in fundraising efforts for the college that is only partially funded with public funds. In these difficult economic times, enrollments at the college have dramatically increased and the need for funding for the school and the many students it serves has never been greater.

As always, your questions, comments and observations about the work of Essex Heritage in encouraged. I can be reached at Thanks Tom Leonard

Friday, October 2, 2009

Private Label Wine, America's Best idea Airs, Salem State College, and a Personal Note


Danvers Historical Society and Alfalfa Farm Establish Partnership

Two organizations that have strong ties to Essex Heritage recently entered into a new historic relationship that should benefit both organizations. Alfalfa Farm that was just featured in a story that appeared in a recent Boston Globe North article has created two private label wines that will help bring attention to the work being done by Danvers Historical Society. A percentage of the sales of the two wines created and then introduced at the recent Essex Heritage Trails and Sails event at Glen Magna Farms will certainly benefit the Society, and is also expected to boost sales at the Topsfield winery. The two wines produced with the Danvers Historical Society label are a blueberry and a Cabernet Franc and are priced at only $16.00 per bottle. The Trails and Sails event was a wonderful success and Glen Magna Farms in Danvers and its gardens never looked better. To add to the evening, event attendance exceeded expectations.

Sales of the private label stock can be purchased at Alfalfa Farm Winery at 276 Rowley Bridge Road, Topsfield, and as noted, a portion of the proceeds will benefit and support the work of Danvers Historical Society. Dick Adelman the owner of Alfalfa Farm also serves as a Commissioner and strong supporter of the work of Essex Heritage and he and his family have always been wonderful supporters of not for profit organizations in the region. The work being done by Dick and his family is a great way to help preserve some of the wonderful open space in this region, and that incentive is important to Essex Heritage. Alfalfa Farms will be holding its annual Harvest Festival Weekend on October 17 and 18, and that would be a great time to stop and sample their products and to purchase some Danvers Historical Society private label wine to support a local preservation based organization.

Ken Burns Documentary on the National Park Service Coming to an End

All this week the exceptional Ken Burns documentary on the history of the National Park Service has been airing on the local Public Broadcast station in Boston. If you have not seen any of the episodes tonight will be last time they will be shown in their first airings. I would expect however that this is not the last time that Public Broadcasting will show these exceptional films, so if you did not see these spectacular films, watch local TV listings in the future to see when they will be reprised. In my role with Essex Heritage, I have had an ongoing relationship with the National Park Service for over a decade, and as I watched parts of this series, I was enthralled with what I watched. The photography was sensational and as each segment unfolded, I learned more and more facts and information that I did not know about the National Park service and their history. The history of the Park service and the people who helped make the organization what it is today was an eye opener to me. The sights and sounds of the documentary as they showed the premier parks in the system made you want to pack your bags and leave for a visit to Yellow Stone, Rocky Mountain or Arcadia as soon as possible. As the series title notes, the creation and continuing operation of the National Park Service truly is America’s Best Idea.

Salem State College Continues its Journey to University Status

Earlier this week, Salem State College President, Patricia Meservey testified at the State House in Boston in support of a bill that would give University status to certain State Colleges including Salem. Clearly, this designation for Salem State College would be well deserved and would allow the college to better “reach out” for students in this very competitive time. The status if granted would likely encourage more students to stay here in Massachusetts for college, and then the likelihood of their residing here to start their careers would be better. That would ultimately produce more and better trained workers to support businesses in this region, and that would be a plus for this local economy. There is no timetable for a vote on this measure, but Salem State can certainly count on the support of the Essex National Heritage Commission when the vote is scheduled.

One Personal Note

October 2nd has always been a special day for me. When I was just a teenager, I left home in Salem to join the United States Air Force on this day 56 years ago. I spent four very productive years in that branch of the military service. I served during the cold war period and a fair amount of my time was spent in northern Maine at a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base and we wee regularly preparing for an attack of some kind that fortunately never came. I later served in the United Kingdom, and the four years of my life that I spent in the service of my country was well spent and I learned wonderful lessons, such as teamwork, discipline and order that were all part of our daily lives in those years. I have always thought that this country should have some form of national service, as I certainly came out of my experience older, wiser and better prepared to face life as a contributing adult.

As always is the case, your comments, questions and observations on this material and the work of Essex Heritage is appreciated. I can be reached at Thanks. Tom Leonard