Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heritage Area meeting in Washington, North Shore Chamber Breakfast, North Shore Community College, New Commissioner and Sweet Salem Event


Alliance of Heritage Areas Executive Committee Meeting in Washington

Over the last several days, the Alliance of National Heritage Area’s leadership has been meeting in Washington to discuss matters of interest to the 49 Heritage Areas’ active at present in this country. Essex Heritage was one of the earliest Area’s to be so designated, with an approval that dates back to November 12, 1996. There were only eight heritage area’s that were approved before Essex Heritage with the earliest approval made in August 1984. Two of the original eight Heritage Area’s are located in New England and since the inclusion of Essex Heritage in the system one more New England site has been added, and that one was added less than one year ago in March 2009. That brings the total of the New England sites to four and that represents a fair percentage of the total active NHA’s. During the current meeting, the ENHC Executive Director, Annie Harris has joined with others on the Alliance’s Executive Committee to participate in a meeting with President Obama’s recently appointed Director of the National Park Service, John Jarvis. Mr. Jarvis has long been thought of as a champion of the National Heritage Area movement and meeting with him about the needs of the Heritage Area movement will hopefully be positive for the future of the movement.

North Shore Chamber Breakfast

This morning, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce held one of its informative monthly breakfast meetings. The setting this month was the Peabody Marriott Hotel and the speaker for the morning was the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation Executive Director, Michael Widmer. The foundation that was founded in 1932, and is widely recognized as the State’s premier policy organization dealing with state and local fiscal, tax and economic policy. The subject of the presentation this morning was the State Budget crisis and their expectations were that there is no real end in sight. Mr. Widmer as always presented substantial evidence to support their conclusions. He noted the substantial reduction in available jobs in the region and the impact that has on both revenues and expenditures. He did indicate that the budget just presented by the Governor was level funded for expenditures but that was a little misleading as shortfalls in revenue are still predicted and the gap will be made up by using one time revenue sources. He painted a rather dismal picture going forward as he indicated that based on their evaluations the reduction in State sales taxes that will be on the November 2010 ballot stands a good chance of passage, and that would continue to negatively affect the revenue picture for the state. His final admonition to the crowd in attendance was that something had to be done soon to slow the growth of insurance and retirement expenses for public employees as those items continue to have a most negative impact on expenses at all levels of government.

North Shore Community College Foundation

Yesterday morning, I attended the regular monthly meeting of the North Shore Community College Foundation Board that I serve on as a member. This particular meeting was important as much time was spent at the meeting briefing us on the impending capital campaign that the College will soon be undertaking. The college that is the 18th largest college operating in the Commonwealth serves slightly over 7200 students and operates two distinct campuses in Danvers and Lynn. The primary thrusts of the 2010 capital campaign will be three fold, and each of the three targets is of equal importance. The College will be seeking to raise one million dollars in gifts to support laboratory equipment and technology needs for the soon to be built Health Professions and Student Services Building that will be erected on the Danvers Campus. Funding through the Commonwealth is in place for the construction of the building, but the need to complete the outfitting of the building is a critical need.

A second leg of the capital campaign is to enhance the scholarship opportunities for students at the College. There is little question that it is becoming more and more difficult for students at the Community College to meet the financial needs of attendance. The College has several wonderful scholarship programs currently in place, but more support is urgently needed in this area. The final element of the fundraising effort is added substance and programs to the Lynn Initiative that responds to community needs relative to education and the continuing development of workforce opportunities.

All of these initiatives are most important to the continuing success of the school, and all on the board were urged to continue to help the College “open doors” to potential donors who might have an interest in supporting one of these three stated initiatives. The college provides wonderful opportunities to many in this region, and in these economic times the student population of the college has swelled as more and more adults have used this time to enhance their education. For more information on the college and its many programs that serve this region so well or if you wanted more information about the capital campaign or wanted information on how you could provide a scholarship for a student contact Tatiana Burgos-Espinal at or call her at 978 762 4000 X5527.

Meeting at Anna Jaques Hospital

Earlier this week, we had a wonderfully informative meeting with the President of Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport. Ms. Delia O’Conner the President and CEO of the hospital serving Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury and other surrounding communities has been a wonderful leader for this institution in Newburyport. Ms O’Connor was recently named a Commissioner of Essex Heritage, and Mary Williamson from the Essex Heritage staff and I traveled to the hospital to provide some detailed information on the Commission and the role of a Commissioner to complete her orientation. During our visit we learned as much about the committed community hospital that she heads as we imparted about the mission of Essex Heritage. The facility is certainly a wonderful asset to the region it serves, and another reason why this region is such a wonderful place to live and work. Ms O’Conner is a great addition to the list of Essex Heritage Commissioners and we are certain that she will be a superlative ambassador for our work in the region that the hospital serves.

Salem Chamber Event

Calling all chocolate lovers!!! Starting on Friday, February 5, 2010 and running through Valentine’s Day on 2/14 visitors to Salem will have a chance to sample chocolate all over Salem from Hamilton Hall to Pickering Wharf. In addition to the chocolate samples that will be provided there will be (weather permitting) ice sculptures and wine tasting events at stores and locations all over Salem. The event is sponsored by the Salem Chamber of Commerce and complete information on the events can be found on the Salem Chamber web site at

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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