Friday, April 23, 2010

Essex Heritage Trails and Sails Expands, Plan Design Issue Gaining Momentum, NBCVB Update, Northern Essex Community College Expands in Lawrence



I am not certain if you were aware of some of the changes we have made to the 2010 Trails and Sails events but they are extensive and we expect that they will make the event that much more enjoyable. First of all the events have been expanded to include two weekends and that will allow more of you to enjoy the many free events offered during the last two weekends in September. In addition to the expanded opportunities created by a second weekend, we have listened to many of your concerns and have improved the registration process. As we get closer to the weekends this fall, we will provide more detailed information about the depth of the events and how you will be able to sign up for the weekends much easier. But for now, get the last two weekends of September on your calendars. When you are participating next fall, you will be glad that you took the time now to reserve the dates.

Plan Design Initiative Gaining Support

In this space recently, I commented on a movement being advanced by local elected officials that are seeking a change that would allow communities to address changing health plans without the approval of municipal unions. It appears that the initiative is starting to gain support around the region. It is certainly clear that at this time, with continuing shrinking revenues and increasing costs of running local governments that some change is needed, and the medical insurance plan design might be the breakthrough now needed. As many of you are aware, I serve on a local municipal finance committee and it is becoming increasing clear in my community and I am sure in others, that changes have to made to control costs if services as we have come to expect them will continue. State aid is continuing to be cut, and individual communities are being forced to consider local option taxes to raise revenues to keep municipal employees from being laid off. Plan design is certainly one option open to local elected officials and the benefits of that kind of local option might be a lifesaver for many communities. Let’s hope that the Massachusetts Legislature will consider the needs of the communities and set the legislative process in motion to effect these changes.

North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau and Essex Heritage

Essex Heritage has long been a committed supporter of the work of the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau. Representatives of that organization serve on the Board of Essex Heritage, and we have reciprocal participation on their board. Our missions are similar, and Essex Heritage has always been an advocate and a supporter of the wonderful work that the Visitor Bureau accomplishes annually with their efforts. For many years they have encouraged hundreds of thousands of visitors from other parts of this country and from the Eastern Canadian Provinces to visit this region and aid in the local tourist economy that is so important to so many communities and local businesses in this region. Funding for the Visitor Bureau has been cut and they are doing all in their power to keep the important work they do intact. The regional visitor center that they offer to the touring public on Route 95 in Salisbury has been closed for some time and they are working closely with the local Commonwealth of Massachusetts legislative delegation to find a solution that will allow them to reopen that facility in time for the 2010 tourist season that is fast approaching. If any of you come in contact with one of our local Beacon Hill delegation be sure to mention to them that tourism and the financial benefits of that activity are important to this entire region. Finding a financial solution that would allow that heavily visited regional visitor center to open again would be meaningful and a most positive outcome for this region.

Northern Essex Community College Makes Commitment to Lawrence

A couple of days ago, I noticed an announcement in the local newspapers that Northern Essex Community College had agreed to rent space in the Riverwalk property on Merrimack Street in downtown Lawrence. The 26,000 sq ft space that will be rented for at least a five-year term will house twenty classrooms, computer labs, and a conference room and staff office space when completed. This is a wonderful commitment to an urban center that will help the economy of that troubled community, by bringing activity and students to the downtown area. In both Lynn and Salem, the commitment of North Shore Community College and Salem State College to those two urban centers have meant a great deal to those local economies as during the business week there are students adding to the economic vitality in the downtown of both of those two cities. The commitment of Northern Essex to the City of Lawrence is most certainly appreciated by the City officials in Lawrence as every thing that can add to the vitality of that community in a much-needed step.

Invitation to Graduation at St John’s Prep Received

Earlier this week a received an invitation to graduation at St. John’s Preparatory School, on Sunday, May 23rd that included an invitation to the Golden Eagle Breakfast that precedes graduation. This year the breakfast will welcome the members of the class of 1960 to the ranks of Golden Eagles as they receive commemorative diplomas from the Prep. I have several friends from that class and it will be pleasant to welcome them to the association. This is the 56th anniversary of my graduation from the Danvers school, and I always look forward to seeing old friends who also make it a point to attend these fellowship events. Graduation will be a bit of a dress rehearsal for my family as my grandson; Brendan Leonard will be part of the graduating class of 2011 from the Prep.

Ending Today with a Couple of Personal Comments

. On Wednesday evening, I had the good fortune of attending the Boston Celtics “blowout’ win over the Miami Heat, but that was simply the appetizer that evening. The main course for me came at halftime of the game, when my twelve-year-old granddaughter, Caroline Leonard played for her AAU basketball team, the Worcester Shamrocks on the famous parquet floor of the Boston Garden. The game lasted about eight minutes and Caroline had a couple of shots without a hoop, but we will all remember those few moments on the big stage. She was a little awed by the crowd, the lights and size of the arena, but she enjoyed the experience.

I am a hockey fan at all levels, from youth to high school to college to the professionals and truly enjoyed the double overtime win scored by the Bruins on Wednesday evening. Lets hope that they can close out this series and get on to a second round of the NHL playoffs

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thanks You. Tom Leonard


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