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

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