Friday, June 18, 2010

Rally for Heritage Area's in Washington, Scenic Byway Meeting, Fiesta in Gloucester and North Shore Medical Center Cancer Walk



On Tuesday of this week several of us from the Essex Heritage office spent a long but fruitful day in Washington DC. We went to the Nation’s Capital to participate in a rally event that was sponsored by the National Alliance of Heritage Areas. This event was planned by the leadership of the Alliance to bring attention to the work of Heritage Area’s across the country and to build awareness of our collective missions. We were able to purchase tickets from a discount air carrier and used some of the private contributions that have been raised over the last years to fund the trip. The day began for us with a 6:30 am flight to Baltimore and from there we traveled by road to Washington for the rally. We were also very fortunate to be able to schedule visits to both of the congressional offices that serve the Essex Heritage Area. We made brief visits with both Congressman John Tierney and Congresswoman Tsongas. Both of our representatives in Washington were very busy that day and Congress was tied up with numerous hearings and votes on issues connected to the tragic oil spill that is ravaging the gulf coast of this country. We were also able to spend a little more time with members of the senior staff from the congressional offices as we provided them with updates on the many projects that we are working on for the benefit of the region.

The rally began at 1:00 and ended about 45 minutes later as a brief shower passed over the capital region. The rally consisted of a bi-partisan announcement by several congressmen who have Heritage Area’s in their home districts that they have created a Legislative Caucus that will help bring attention to the work of the Heritage Area’s and the benefits of these organizations to the country. The two Congressmen who represent the area we serve have both agreed to join the caucus, but unfortunately due to the busy schedule they both maintain to represent this district they were unable to make an appearance at the rally. They have assured us that they will participate in the efforts of the newly created Legislative caucus and see this initiative as a positive development. We are most hopeful that this new arrangement in Washington will have a positive effect on the way Congress views our efforts.

It was very pleasant to see some of other leaders of the Alliance who gathered to rally together. I have always had a most positive relationship with a couple of the early leaders of this movement, and it was good to renew acquaintances with them. Augie Carlino and Dan Rice, who helped form the Alliance, were both in attendance, and Augie Carlino from the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area in Pittsburgh moderated the rally. Augie and I have communicated through the years of this association particularly during the football season when he tries to root his Steelers to victories over the Patriots. I was also gratified to speak to many of my contemporaries around the county who commented on how they regularly read both my BLOG postings and the column that I prepare each month that appears in both our local newspapers and in our electronic newsletter that provides update on the activities of Essex Heritage.

Our day ended with a delayed touchdown at Logan International Air Port at about 8:30 pm. We were delayed on the runway in Baltimore as an Italian airliner had to return to Logan earlier in the evening with a fire in one of the engines. Thankfully there was no loss of life as a result of that issue and by the time we arrived in Boston the runway had been cleared and the plane in question was surrounded by a series of flashing lights in a remote section of the airport. As I noted earlier the day was a long one that began with a wakeup call for 4:00 am and an arrival back in Danvers at about 9:30 pm. The day was a long one but was beneficial for both the Essex Heritage.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Meeting

Early on Wednesday morning after we all arrived back from Washington, Bill Steelman held a meeting of the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway group at Ipswich Town Hall. The meeting of representatives from the thirteen communities that are part of this regional initiative was held to provide a current update on the work of the consulting team working on this project. Essex Heritage has provided the staff support to make this project a reality and was responsible for obtaining the funding that is currently driving this program. This initiative is a wonderful example of the power of Essex Heritage as we have been able to bring the leadership of these diverse communities together in a collaboration that will benefit the entire region. This project and the Border to Boston Rail Trail initiative are wonderful examples of the spirit that now exists in the region as communities come together for common benefits. This change to a more regional way of thinking is a critical in these more difficult economic times as funding is scarce and so much more can be accomplished collectively than one community can accomplish on their own.

St. Peter’s Festival Scheduled for Later this Month in Gloucester

I have always tried to use this BLOG to provide information on our partner organizations that may be of interest to you. From June 23 to June 30, the annual St. Peter’s Festival will be held in the seaport community of Gloucester. Highlights of the week long festival will be a road race on June 24, 2010. Later in the week, the famous greasy pole contest, seine boat races, a youth basketball tournament and a mass and procession of the St. Peter’s statue and the Blessing of the Fleet will all take place. For more detailed information about the events and the schedules of this event, go to

North Shore Medical Center Cancer Walk

Please do not forget that this Sunday, June 20, 2010 is both Father’s Day and the date for the North Shore Medical Center Cancer Walk. It is not too late to remember your Father, and a wonderful way might be to dedicate your walk this Sunday at the North Shore Cancer Center walk that starts and ends at Salem Willows at 8:00 am. It is not too late to register for the walk. My wife Marge and I are planning to walk with a group from my long time former employer, Salem Five Bank, and we hope to see you there. For more information go to

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. Thank You. Tom Leonard

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