FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2010
Offering a Little Background on “Essex Happenings”
The posting today to Essex Happenings will be a little different than the ninety three other postings that have preceded this entry. I began this initiative on a hot sunny day back on July 18, 2009 while sitting on the deck of my home on Cape Cod, On that day, my son Mark and I had been discussing the work that I had been doing since somewhere around 1990 when several of us in Salem thought that we could take the work that was being done by the Salem Partnership to make the City of Salem into a better place to live and work and advance that concept to include the entire region formally know as Essex County. Mark convinced me at that time, that putting some of my thoughts, ideas and experiences into sort of an electronic journal that could then be shared with others would be a positive experience for both me and potential readers of the journal.. After Mark planted that seed, he went off to other summer activities and I enlisted the help of my Grandson Brendan Leonard to help me set up and put the Essex Happenings BLOG into place. I posted my first entry that day, and it was not much more than an introductory examination of what I thought I could accomplish with this exercise.
Since that day on my back deck, when I put down a book I was reading and took up an electronic pen, I have fairly religiously posted three times a week to the Essex Happenings BLOG. In the intervening time I have authored about 100,000 words in this fashion. I make a conscious effort to journalize what is happening at Essex Heritage and in other related partner organizations in the Essex County region as faithfully as I can. I have never tried to position myself as the official voice of Essex Heritage, but since those early days in 1990, together with Annie Harris. I have been in a leadership role in the organization, so I do have some substantial history and recollections of the organization. What I have tried to do since that first journal entry, ninety three postings ago, is to try to monitor this region and offer my observations as they pertain to the work of Essex Heritage and our wonderful partner organizations.
Additional Background on the History of Essex Heritage
Just for a little background that may not have been offered in the past in this setting, let me note that I became involved with Essex Heritage first as a volunteer Chairman when I was till serving as a Senior Vice President at the then Salem Five Cents Savings Bank. I was the volunteer chairman first of a “want to be” heritage area, when several leaders of this region gathered together to establish the Essex
“Ad Hoc’ Commission. For the next four years we all diligently pursued obtaining a designation from the US Congress as a full blown heritage area. At that time there were only eight such entities in the entire country. We were successful in 1996 when the Congress established a second set of eight heritage areas, and the Essex National Heritage Area was one of those eight. We immediately established a management entity called the Essex National Heritage Commission to manage the recently commissioned area, and I was elected the Commissions initial President. In 1999 I retired from the Salem Five as it was then called, and not being ready yet for a porch and a rocking chair full time, I agreed to come to work for the Commission for 100 days a year as part time staff person. I served three two year terms during those days as President, and then felt that it was prudent to bring in another volunteer President to make sure we had some continuity. We have elected three wonderful volunteers to serve in that role over these last five years. I have enjoyed working with Larry Harrington now with Bank of America, Nancy Huntington Stager of Eastern Bank, and our current President Kevin Tierney the CEO of Saugus Bank, .and I was asked to stay involved and was and continue to be elected as the President Emeritus of Essex Heritage every two years. I still am an active staff member at the Commission and the only change is that I now work 90 days a year instead of the 100 days each year that I first committed to work a decade ago. I spend a good portion of the summer months on Cape Cod, and do take a respite for these wintery blasts in New England for six weeks in February and March each winter. I am about to leave tomorrow for that six week stay in what hopefully will be the sunny and WARM south. I fully intend as I always have always done during my six week hiatus to stay in touch electronically with the region and the office. I read the local newspapers electronically every day, and monitor all of my commission and personal e-mail, and intend to post entries to the Essex Happening Blog on a regular basis. The only concession I will make is that I expect to post twice each week during this time rather than the three times I have been posting.
Postings will Continue Temporarily from a New Location
So starting on next Tuesday continue to look for regular postings on Tuesday and Friday each week to “Essex Happenings” from my vacation spot in Treasure Island on the west coast of Florida. I will still offer my observations on the activities of Essex Heritage and all of our wonderful and committed partner organizations, and any other observations of life in Essex County that seem to be to be pertinent. I will still be with you in spirit and will be “talking” with you from time to time. Thanks for your continuing interest and support in these entries and the work of Essex Heritage. We remain committed to the preservation, protection and promotion of the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County.
As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at www.essexheritage.org. Thanks. Tom Leonard