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

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