Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Ending, City of Salem in Line for Pier Funding, Salem Education Foundation, North Shore Elder Services, Essex Heritage History Continued


Last Week of Traditional Summer

As we move into the last full week of August that leads us into what most of us consider the start of fall we continue to enjoy wonderful summer weather. After the rain that covered the area for three or four days at the start of last week, the summer returned with summer like temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Along with the summer like weather, the tropics have heated up and the forecasts show a storm just slipping to the east of Bermuda this last weekend and another potential hurricane possibly moving up the Atlantic coast with some forecasts predicting we might experience some difficult weather on the holiday weekend. Those of us that are involved in the planning for the Friendship Sails program over Labor Day are certainly keeping an eye on that possible development. I realize that looking at forecasts that are predicting weather events a week in advance are a little chancy, but with an asset like the National Park Service’s Friendship, I am reasonably certain that if there is any risk of high winds or surging seas that great care will be taken with planning for next weekends events.

Salem Receives Federal Funding for Pier

Speaking of the ocean and the Friendship, a couple of weeks ago the City of Salem announced some very positive news. Earlier this summer the City concluded long-term negotiations with Dominion Energy to complete the details of a transfer of land to the City that will allow for the construction of conversion of the temporary pier on Blaney Street into a more permanent structure. This new facility will allow the city to expand the activities of the Salem Ferry, and will allow the City to attract larger seagoing ships bringing more visitors to the City and the region. The new pier would also allow the Friendship easier access to the open ocean and that would also be a boon to the city. Now it has been learned that Congressman John F. Tierney has included a one million dollar appropriation in the 2011 Federal budget for work on this project. The appropriation still must clear the US senate, but of approved would be a wonderful “kick start” for this important waterside project.

Salem Education Foundation

During a recent visit to the Essex Heritage office, I arranged to have a meeting with Sarah Morrill who serves as the President of the Salem Education Foundation. We met so that she could bring me current on the work of that organization. For a number of years, I have served on an Honorary Committee for this most worthwhile effort, and this meeting marked the first time I have ever been briefed on the current initiatives. I was most impressed with both the work of the Foundation and the current leadership, and at the end of the meeting agreed to stay on as an honorary member of the Board. Sarah provide me with information on the most recent round of project funding and reported that in 2010 the Foundation provided grants totaling $45,000 for projects that will benefit the Salem school system and the youth of this City. This years grants brings the total of the grants provided to teachers in the system to $440,000 since its modest beginning in 1994 when $2000 in grants were provided. The Foundation is also continuing to grow its endowment currently standing at $120,000. The biggest news that Ms, Morrill provided was that in 2010 the Salem Foundation had taken a most positive step by hiring their first ever part time Executive Director, Julie Manninen and she in turned brought on a part time administrator. The Salem Education Foundation has always enjoyed broad community support, and their fundraising efforts most recently have been most successful. I am pleased to be considered part of this valuable initiative and offered to continue to help the work of the group whenever possible in the future.

North Shore Elder Services

As the time that I will become a member of the Board of this wonderful regional organization gets closer, I am receiving more and more information about the services provided. The most recent information covers a wide range of issues that covers Home and Community Based Services. The services offered by this regional organization in this component is at the heart of what they do best, and as trends in the country change as more and more of American’s grow older. North Shore Elder Services will continue to be a leader in home-based services to the region.

Essex Heritage History Presentation, ( continued )

Part Three of the Essex Heritage History is as follows:

In The National Park Service’s Study of Alternatives the one that covered the entire county was the alternative that the Committee finally chose. That option was also the one that called for the establishment of three themes that would tell the story of the early history of the entire county. The three themes that were identified were: early settlement, the industrial story, and the maritime history. The Ad Hoc Commission, in those times, was operating with little or no financial resources, and also had no formal standing with the National Park Service. Staffing was being paid for through the Salem Partnership, but the support of Salem Maritime National Historic Site Superintendent, Steven Kesselman who saw the benefits of a Heritage Area to his NPS site was most critical. Beside Ms. Harris who was in the employ of the Salem Partnership the Commission had one employee, Ms Maureen O’Leary and as the volunteer Chairman, I was spending as much of my time as my banking assignments would allow working on the organization and structure of the Commission.

One of the most positive moves that the management team made was to prepare a proposal for Dr. Nancy Harrington, the President of Salem State College. The proposal suggested that due to the regional nature of the effort that the college might consider providing a staff person to the commission to assist in the work of the Ad Hoc group. President Harrington considered the proposal and acted favorably on that request. She provided Ms. Karen Caty who doubled the staff of the commission. Karen was a most positive addition to the staff, and after the year or so that she spent “on loan” to ENHC she went back to the college to continue her career. The Essex Heritage Board of Commissioners then elected Karen to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Commission.

The continuing commitment of Dr. Kesselman from the NPS was then and throughout the entire history of the Commission while he was serving in Salem, as Superintendent most important. Superintendent Kesselman provided a small amount of funds to the commission from his budget and with the help of some additional sponsorship funding from Salem Five the first printed brochure from the commission was prepared, printed and distributed. That document highlighted the three trails we were promoting, and helped establish the commission as a “player’ in the region. The Commission was operating at that time in the space on Central Street in Salem offered through the generosity of the Salem Partnership that shared the occupancy with the commission. The commission, needing more space for its work, ultimately rented an apartment in the building just above the Salem Partnership space on Central Street and moved its operation into that space.

When I retired from the Salem Five in May of 1999, the commission and I came to an agreement that I would serve as a more active chairman of the commission and would work towards accomplishing the ENHC mission, for about one hundred days a year. My schedule since that time has been to work about three days a week for most of the year except for the summer months. It is interesting to note that even today in 2010, I am still serving in that described role.

Congressman Torkildsen became a very important supporter of the Ad Hoc Commission and he personally “wrote” the legislation that was presented by him to the congress to create a formal Heritage Area. During our visits to Washington when we were providing “education’ on our mission to our elected officials, we also spent substantial time speaking with the two United States Senators who represented Massachusetts. Both Senator Edward Kennedy and John Kerry were particularly interested and supportive in our effort, but Senator Kennedy clearly became the point person for out work in the US Senate. During those early days of effort to bring attention to our mission, we were greatly assisted by the presence on our board of a former mayor of Lynn, Tom Costin who was very friendly with the Kennedy family and particularly Senator Kennedy. Tom’s participation during these days was most appreciated. Later in the life of the Commission, Tom Costin was named the second recipient of the Essex Heritage Hero Award in 2009 for his long time efforts to help this cause.

ENHC History to be continued in the next Essex Happenings BLOG posting

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Essex Heritage Trustee Meeting, and Part Two of the Continuing Presentation of the ENHC History


Essex Heritage Trustee Meeting

Earlier this week, the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees met in a regularly scheduled meeting, as they do every couple of months to provide guidance to the Commission. This meeting marked the introduction of three new members of the board. We welcomed Ms. Anita Blackaby, the Executive Director of the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Mr. Jason Korb, Vice President at Beacon Development in Boston and William Piercey, Vice President at Chase and Lunt Insurance Co. in Newburyport as the newest members of the Board, and look forward to working with them in the years ahead. All three new members have wonderful previous experience in activities that will be of great value to the Commission. Ms. Blackaby manages one of the most active historic visitor attractions in Salem. Mr. Korb participated in the work of the Commission’s Fa├žade Easement Committee and Mr. Piercey serves as he President of one of the most active partners of Essex Heritage, the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau. It is clear that their expertise will be of great value going forward.

Vice President, Richard Yagjian, from Hunts Photo and Video, who was filling in for President Kevin Tierney, who was not able to be present, managed the meeting. He introduced Executive Director Annie Harris who provided the board with a recap of the recent activities that Essex Heritage has undertaken to fulfill the goals of the Strategic Plan adopted by the board earlier this year. She provided information on activities to enhance revenue sources, build awareness of the work of the Commission and to work more collaboratively with our senior partner, the National Park Service.

Additional detailed reports were provided on three programs of great importance to the Commission.

Essex Heritage Trails and Sails…This free premier community event that will be presented on the last two weekends in September was reviewed and the brochure that was produced In-house and covers the 160 events at the 106 individual venues that will soon be available to the pubic was presented. Information was provided that in the last couple of weeks over 500 new potential participants have signed up to receive information bringing the total number of potential participants to over 2000, and the events are still over a month away.

Essex Heritage Membership Program…This new program instituted just a couple of months ago is showing great promise. A test mailing on the program outlining the benefits of membership and how the revenue raised from the program will be used was made to Essex Heritage “family” including Trustees, Commissioners and Explorers in early July. The results of that mailing to date have been most gratifying as almost 75 membership applications and dues payments have been received to date. The membership program will be a major focus of the Trails and Sails weekends and expectations of success remain high. If any of you have an interest in finding out more about the program information can be found at www.essxheritage.org.

Friendship Sails…. Information was provided about the two sails scheduled for Labor Day Weekend. The inaugural sail from Salem to Gloucester is sold out, but there are a few seats still left for the sail on Sunday to lead the schooners out of Gloucester Harbor, and the then observe the race festivities. ACT NOW, AND DO NOT BE SHUT OUT. Contact www.essexheritage,org for details.

The last item covered was a report on the wonderful partnership between Essex Heritage, the National Park Service, The Workforce Investment Board, and Eastern Bank. This summer, these partners, have joined together to establish a first jobs program for youth in the region at the two National Park sites in the region. Earlier this week Congressman Tierney who helped provide the funding for this most worthwhile program met at the two sites with the partners in the program and then sat down with the young people who have been employed to hear their stories first hand. All have agreed that is a most worthwhile program and a great use of federal stimulus funding.

Essex National Heritage Commission History

The final part of this posting today is to provide Part Two of the Essex Heritage History that is being presented in serial form in this BLOG. Part two follows:

After that lesson in basic politics, an exploratory committee named the Essex Heritage “Ad Hoc” Commission was established by many of the same folks that had originally lobbied for the Salem only model, but the group was expanded to include many regional leaders. The first Chairman of the Essex Heritage “Ad Hoc” Commission was the Mayor of Salem, Neil Harrington. There were several prominent regional leaders recruited to join with the effort on the premise that this initiative would be good for the region, and could be a boon to the economy of the county, with the increased cultural tourism that could be attracted to the region. The first meetings were held in the boardroom of the Salem Five Cents Savings Bank, and the early management of the efforts came from the leadership of the Salem Partnership. The Executive Director of the Partnership, Annie C. Harris served as the unpaid Executive Director of the new organization, and I played an important role as the then serving Chairman of the Salem Partnership. I was at that time a Senior Vice President of the Salem Five Cents Savings Bank with responsibilities for retail banking and community affairs and was spending a substantial amount of time on initiatives like the Salem Partnership and the soon to be established Essex “Ad Hoc” Commission. The bank was very community oriented, and felt that what was good for the community it served was also good for the bank so my time and commitment were willingly provided. In addition to my time, the bank also provided some staff time and other financial resources.

Some of the other local leaders that became involved in the early efforts to rally support in Washington for this effort were; Dr. Nancy Harrington, President of Salem State College, Attorney William Tinti, a well respected Salem Attorney, Mr. Byron Matthews, the former Mayor of Newburyport, Mr. Alan Colby a VP of Yankee Fleet in Gloucester, Mr. Thomas Costin, former Mayor of Lynn, Mr. Ted Grant, the Executive Director of the Lynn Business Partnership, James MacDougal, Essex County Green Belt Association, Tom Mc Nullty from the Town of Marblehead, Bob Bradford from the North Shore Chamber, Joe Bevalaquia, from the Merrimac Valley Chamber, Don Ruhl from the Town of Haverhill and others from across the region.

Shortly after the Essex Heritage initiative was first explored, Congressman Mavroules became involved in a political controversy and possible court action and in a very hotly contested democratic primary election he was defeated for re-election by Barbara Hildt from the northern part of the district. Ms. Hildt was then defeated in a close election by Republican candidate Peter Torkildsen from Danvers. Peter became the first republican to be elected to represent this region in quite some time. Mayor Harrington had resigned as the Chairman of the Commission after just a couple of meetings and the group elected me to serve as the chairman. After Congressman Torkildsen was elected there was some indication that he wanted to make a change in the leadership of the Commission and it was perceived that he wanted to name a local republican activist to head the commission. He also saw the then leadership as too closely aligned with Salem Mayor Harrington, who he viewed as a potential challenger in the future for the congressional seat. That challenge never surfaced, as Mayor Harrington never decided to run for the congressional seat. David Ives, the CEO of North Shore International Insurance who had succeeded me as one of the Presidents of the Salem Partnership who was also a very close friend of the congressman convinced Peter Torkildsen that it would be a positive move to keep me on as the chairman of the Ad Hoc group, to assure continuity, and on that recommendation the Congressman reappointed me Chairman. Over the intervening years, Essex Heritage always made every attempt to be thought of as neutral as far as politics was concerned. We have and will continue to work with elected officials regardless of party affiliation. We also requested of the Congressman that at that time that he formalize the appointment of all of other members of the Ad Hoc Commission through letters of appointment from the local congressional office. We believed that the congressional appointment lent credibility to the effort.

ENHC History to be continued in the next Essex Happenings BLOG posting

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Monday, August 23, 2010

Death of a Ships Captain, NE Harvest Newsletter, Danvers Swamp Walk and Part One of the Essex Heritage History


Death of a Ship Captain

I begin today’s entry on a sad note. During the last week the first volunteer captain of the National Park Service’s ship Friendship passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer at the Hospice Center in Danvers. After the National Park Service with the unwavering support of the Essex Heritage received authorization to build the Friendship. Jim Fox was one the very first volunteers to offer his services to help. During some of the very earliest meetings when the planning for how the ship would be used to help relate Salem’s maritime history, Jim Fox was one of the most active participants. His knowledge of the sea and the history of the maritime service were invaluable as we all tried to chart a course for the Friendship in her earliest days. It seems ironic that just weeks before the Friendship embarks on its first commercial sails over Labor Day weekend 2010, Jim Fox her first captain would pass away. The crew that he sailed and planned with, as the ship became a reality, will truly miss him. Over the past weekend the National Park Service provided a fitting memorial to Captain Fox when they tilted the lower yards of the Friendship and flew a black banner from the ships main mast in his memory.

Jim Fox was a man of many talents and his accomplishments at Massachusetts Maritime Academy were legendary. After his graduation in 19664 with an undergraduate degree he was awarded an honorary Doctorate later in life. He also served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the school, and also served as the President of the Academy’s Alumni Association and the Chairman of the Foundation that raised funds for the school. He will truly be missed in Salem at the Friendship and at his beloved Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Northeast Harvest Newsletter

This month’s Northeast Harvest Newsletter brought to you by an association with Essex Heritage and the Essex Agricultural Society has been published and can be accessed by contacting Essex Heritage at our web site, www.essexheritage.org. This month’s edition of the newsletter is filled with fun and educational facts about the most popular New England crop, corn. There is information about the history of the crop in this region and how important corn was to the first inhabitants of this region. There are articles on both how to pick corn and the best ways to cook and serve this crop. In addition to information about this major vegetable grown in this region the farms in the region that offer corn mazes are identified. Mazes can be found in both Essex and Middlesex Counties at Marini Farm in Ipswich, Connors Farm in Danvers, Honey Pot Orchards in Stow, Kimball farm in Haverhill, and Hansons farm in Framingham. The mazes in these locations can be great fun for the entire family and we encourage you to visit these locations this fall. In this edition there is also a listing of the agricultural resources in Essex County where Essex Heritage Trails and Sails events will be held on the last two weekends in September. Now is the time to make your reservations for Essex Heritage’s Trails and Sails event.

Town of Danvers Swamp Walk Project

Congratulations to the volunteers on the project team that are helping to build the Swamp Walk in the Northern end of Danvers and the Town Planning Department for the recent financial award granted to the project. Work on the walks and observation platforms that are being built in the Choate Recreation Area have been underway for some time now, and the recent grant will allow work to continue starting again in October 2010. The Town and the project is the recipient of a grant in the amount of $26,659.78 from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Trails Program that was applied for by the Town’s Planning Department. When completed this project will allow residents of this region wonderful opportunities to view an area of the region not previously accessible.

Essex Heritage History

I have always enjoyed the process of recording the history of organizations where I have played a role. Just before I retired from the Salem Five, I provided the bank with my recollections of the history of the bank as I viewed those events, and I expect that the history can still be found in the banks achieves. Then on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Salem Partnership, the public-private association that played a prominent role in the development of Salem in the 1990’s, I also provided that organization with a history for their records. That record is still intact at the offices of the Salem Partnership. Now in 2010 I have outlined my thoughts and recollections of the first dozen or so years in the life of the Essex National Heritage Area and the Commission that manages the area.

For those of you who are readers of these weekly postings that are not aware of the history of this organization over the next several weeks I plan to end these twice a week postings with a continuing relating of that history. I intend to offer this history in chronological order over the next several weeks a bit at a time, until we arrive back in 2010. I hope that you will rejoin me twice a week as I relate the story of Essex Heritage and hope that you will enjoy the history. Part ONE of the ESESX HERITAGE HISTORY follows:

A Brief History of the Essex National Heritage Commission From 1990-2010


Thomas M. Leonard, President Emeritus

In this report, I will briefly try to outline the history of the ENHC for the past two decades that I have served as President and now President Emeritus of since the time that the Commission was first contemplated in 1990. The history is certainly written from my perspective, and I am certain that my recollections of the work of the Commission may be different from others that participated in this initiative.

Many activists from Salem that were involved in the work of the Salem Partnership and were focusing on how it could grow and sustain itself, looked at the emerging model of National Heritage Areas as a natural way to sustain and carry on the work that the Partnership had already accomplished. As the process developed, The National Park Service and most particularly the Salem Maritime National Historic Site undertook a comprehensive “Study of Alternatives” to try to determine a course of action for the Park Service to undertake. The membership of the Salem Partnership and others in the region who had an interest in the economic future of the region was also offered the opportunity to participate in this initiative. There were several alternatives explored and outlined, and one of those alternatives called for the establishment of a Heritage Area proposal for just the City of Salem. This alternative had supporters as it was originally anticipated that the establishment of a “Salem Only” Heritage Area would allow for the continuance of the flow of federal funding that had been finding its way to Salem, to restore the wharves, build a visitor center, build and promote the Friendship and other activities. It was thought that some of the funding that might be obtained could be used to help fund the Salem Partnership, expand its staff and provide support for its other community activities.

A cursory investigation of the possibilities of establishing a “Salem only” heritage area was outlined and discussed in some detail with Nick Mavroules the then sitting Congressman representing this region and he appeared very lukewarm to the concept. He convinced the Partnership leadership that the United States Congress would be much more likely to look favorably on a proposal that included the entire region. He pointed out the political reality that a City with 38,000 residents would not mean as much to the US Congress as an area that included 750,000 residents. He also pointed out that support from the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation would be easier to obtain if the plan was regional in nature. After several long discussions and the examination of all of the pros and cons of the various plans, the area that was ultimately identified was the entire Essex County region. At that time the county and its 500 square miles of land closely mirrored the area that made up the Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District that was represented by Congressman Mavroules , so the Congressman favored this solution.

ENHC History to be continued in the next Essex Happenings BLOG posting

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Friday, August 20, 2010

Essex Heritage Photo Contest, Friendship Sails, New Peabody Trail, Food Pantry Needs, Salem News Award, and North Shore Elders Picks Date for Event


Essex Heritage Photo Contest

If you go to the Essex Heritage web site at www.ssexheritage.org you will find information about the 2010 Essex Heritage Photo Contest. The rules and an entry form can be downloaded from the web site. This year the photos all must be taken within the boundaries of the Essex Heritage Area and must be submitted before October 1, 2010. The photos must depict the historic, natural or cultural resources that can be found in such abundance in the region. Photography is an important aspect of the work of Essex Heritage and the participation of the residents from this area at the Photo Safari’s sponsored by Hunts Photo and Video in Melrose is particularly gratifying as each event is usually sold out well in advance, so we know that we have many photo enthusiasts in the region. We look forward to receiving a wide range of photos from our members and friends and choosing winners this fall that will have their work displayed in the National Park Service Visitor Center in Salem.

Friendship Sails

We are most gratified to report that the Friendship Sails event from Salem to Gloucester is now SOLD OUT. There are still some tickets left for the trip on Sunday to observe the Gloucester Schooner races, but they will go fast, so you must act quickly.

Crisis Could Bring Possible Solution to Lawrence Fire issue

I understand that the communities that surround the City of Lawrence are set to meet or have already met to discuss how they can continue to provide support to the beleaguered fire department in that City. Since the cuts that were made in staffing in that city due in part to budget woes and the reduction of State aid the City of Lawrence has had to call on neighboring communities to assist them as they fight fires in the city. I am certain that many options are being considered, but when faced with a crisis sometimes it is wise to seek solutions that are somewhat beyond the norm. I certainly hope that those conducting this summit consider a regional solution to this problem. Now may be the perfect time to consider regionalizing at least some of the fire protection services in the northern most section of this county. I would hope that if a regional solution comes out of this crisis that other parts of this region would look to that solution as they address the continuing need to reduce costs across our entire region without reducing community services. This entire region should be seeking alternative opportunities to deal with the continuing costs of providing services to the residents of this region. Those alternatives clearly include seeking regional solutions. The elected officials of this region owe the residents in this area their best efforts to find a better way to provide continuing excellent services in our communities at a lower cos.

City of Peabody Announces Plans for Another Bike Trail

An announcement was made last week that the City of Peabody is working on a plan to extend additional recreational resources in that community. In the recent past the City opened a wonderful and active 4.6-mile bike and walking trail that begins near the Leahy Clinic medical facility at the North Shore Shopping Center and travels into West Peabody. Now the City of Peabody has begun to plan a second trail that would be 2.7 miles in length and would connect with the existing trail. The city is working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on a ninety-nine year land lease that would, if approved by other city agencies give the City a second trail that would run north and south from Danvers to Lynnfield and would connect with the existing well used trail. The City Council and other city boards will have to provide approvals and support to see this trail become a reality, but the success of the first trail would seem to be a reason to continue to extend these kind of recreational activities. The City would look to the Iron Horse Conservation group that is providing support in other parts of this region to help implement this project.

Essex Heritage will continue to offer support to any community in the region who wishes to consult with us relative to projects like the one planned in Peabody. Essex Heritage has became a major player in the development of recreational rail trails in this region, and continues to use its collaborative influences to see more and more such activities expand in this region. Work on several trails in Danvers, Topsfield and in communities in the northern portion of the Essex Heritage Area continue to expand, and these recreational assets have long been a focal point for Essex Heritage. These efforts will continue into the future as the development of these trails certainly has a long-term impact on the enhancement of the quality of life in the region, and that clearly fits the mission of Essex Heritage.

Food Pantries across the Region need Support

I have been told that supplies in community food pantries are very low and need to be replenished in the near future if they are to continue providing these vital service to those in need. There are dozens of food pantries in our region and they collectively provide substantial resources to those in need. The summer is a particularly bad time, and we all get caught up in vacations, and now that the start of school is right around the corner our thoughts are elsewhere. Even though our minds are on other matters please give some thought to making cash contribution or stop into your neighborhood food pantry with some supplies. The volunteers that manage these community resources will be most thankful for your thoughtfulness.

Congratulations to The Salem News

We wish to offer our congratulations to the Salem News for the award that they recently received from the New England Associated Press News Executives Association. The award called the Thomas K. Brindley Award for Public Service was provided to the News and their staff for their coverage that triggered a State investigation that resulted in disciplinary action and calls for the removal or resignation of the Executive Director of the Essex Retirement Board. Their actions resulted in changes in that board and new leadership is now in place. The award was provided to the Salem News is in the category of Community Newspapers with circulation under forty thousand subscribers.

North Shore Elder Services Announces Date of “Give Thanks” Event

I have received notifications from the management team at North Shore Elder Services that the second annual “Give Thanks” event will be held at the Danversport Yacht Club on November 18, 2010. That date seems a long time away, but it is always a good idea to get information out early to get dates set in calendars. The event is a “friend raising” event that focuses on saying thank you to individuals and organizations that make life easier for area elders. This will be the second year that the event will be held, and it is expected to be bigger and better than the inaugural event in 2009.

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friendship Sails, Bill Steelman Returns, Sales Tax Holiday, Danvers Bi-Peds, Boys and Girls Club, Cape Cod Baseball Over



In this space on several occasions, I have reported on the inaugural sailing weekend scheduled by the National Park Service ship, Friendship. This replica sailing ship built be the National Park Service to help relate the maritime history of this region is a major attraction for the region, and this is the first time ever that the ship is able to take commercial clients on board. The Friendship only sails on special occasions, as its primary role is to be present at the Salem Maritime Historic Site to help interpret Salem’s rich maritime history. This opportunity was created when the ship completed a series of sea trials this past spring and was then certified by the United States Coast Guard.

It is most gratifying to report that in recent days there has been a rush to purchase tickets for this extraordinary event. The sail on Saturday, September 5, 2010 is almost sold out and the sail into Gloucester Harbor to view that community’s special event, the Schooner Races on Sunday are moving quickly to that status as well. The prices for both sails are set at $250.00 unless you are an Essex Heritage member and then the price is reduced to $185.00. The weekends of sails will be historic as this is the first time that the Friendship has been able to sail with commercial customers. The National Park Service will be a wonderful host for both events and they have plans to provide commentary that will make the trips that much more enjoyable. Clients for both sails are responsible for their own ground transportation and will have to get to Salem and then home from Gloucester on Saturday. For the Sunday event sailing patrons will be responsible for getting to Gloucester to depart for the Schooner races and then back from Gloucester when the sail is finished. For more information and details or to make a reservation for one of the few remaining spots contact Mary Williamson at maryw@essexheritage.org or call her at 978 740 0444. This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity and if you do not want to miss this chance ACT NOW.

Bill Steelman Back on Board

I stopped in to the Essex Heritage office on Monday morning to attend the weekly staff meeting and it was good to see Bill Steelman back at his familiar post. Bill, his wife Sue and his two sons have returned from the six- week assignment that his wife undertook at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. The sabbatical that the Steelman family took turned out to be a wonderful experience for the entire family but was particularly good for Bill and Sue’ two teen-aged sons. At the meeting this morning, Bill reported that going forward a great deal of his time and attention will be focused on the development of specialized programs specific to the utilization of the resources connected to the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway. The Byway runs along the spectacular coastline of Essex County from Lynn to Newburyport. Speaking of the two communities that act as the ‘ends” of the Scenic Byway, on Bill’s last day in early July before leaving for England did a reconnaissance bike ride over the entire length of the Scenic Byway from Newburyport to Lynn. As many of you are aware Bill is an enthusiastic bike rider and used his avocation to scope out the entire length of the Byway. He tells us he likes what he saw along the way, and in the future will be using his trip to outline sights and sounds of the Byway for all of the residents of this region

Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday

I visited an appliance store on the cape last weekend to purchase an appliance for my home on the cape. The store was very crowded early in the morning, and it appeared that there was substantial buying being done. From what I have read in yesterday’s newspapers the volume of purchase by consumers was at a high level It will be interesting to see the final results of this effort by the Commonwealth to stimulate the retail economy that has been weak at best. Will the economic impetus developed by the sales tax-free weekend carry over and will retail activity continue through the back to school period and then into the holiday period?

Danvers Bi-Pads Newsletter

Each month, I receive the newsletter published by the Danvers Bi-Peds and it is always filed with information. This month they reported on progress in Danvers on the rail trail, and noted that although right now it appears that it seems slow, but the expectation is that the trail will be ready in the fall. The newsletter also pointed out that the next meeting of the Town’s Rail Trail Advisory Board will be held on Thursday, August 19, 2010, and is open to the public. If any of you are interested in how the rail trail is progressing in Danvers, this might be a good time to be brought up to date at that meeting.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem

In the next several weeks, the Building Committee of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem will begin the process of determining the best approach to assessing community interest in a potential building project. Several appointments have been established with both national and local companies that could help the club conduct a series of interviews in the region. The purpose of these interviews that could begin as early as this fall would help the club determine the scope and the depth of any campaign to build a new facility in the near term.

The current owner of the building that houses the club has indicated that in the near term that they wish to sell the sixty-year old former parochial elementary school. Those plans have caused the Boys and Girls Club to consider several options as they look to the future. It is expected that a consultant will be picked in the next several weeks, and when that team has been established interviews of community leaders in this region will follow soon. It is expected that the series of interviews will help that club determine the depth of resources that might be available to them as they continue to explore all future facility options. Certainly, if anyone in the area wishes to provide any help to the Boys and Girls Club as they embark on this important exercise we would encourage you to contact any member of the Board of Directors or the club’s Executive Director, Joanne Scott at jscott@bgcgs.org.

Cape Cod Baseball Season Comes to an End

Late in the afternoon last Friday, on a day that had a distinct feel of fall, the Cape Cod Baseball League season came to an end with a shutout victory by Cotuit over Dennis-Yarmouth. That victory clinched the final game of a best of three game series and won the first tile Cotuit had achieved in over a decade. Over the course of the season this year, I viewed about a dozen or so games played by the Dennis-Yarmouth Red Sox and as in past years enjoyed the game the way it is played by these young collegians. At this point in their careers they are still not impacted by the big money earned by professionals and play the game with great abandon and enthusiasm. It is a long time between now and June 2011, but I look forward to another season of cape league baseball again next year. The game is played in this league the way baseball was meant to be played.

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Heritage Area Bill Signed, Trails and Sails, North Shore Elder Services. Local Achievements, Patriots Season Begins


Governor Signs Heritage Area Bill

Essex Heritage is pleased to announce that Governor Patrick has signed legislation that recognizes the importance of Heritage Areas to the Commonwealth. The new bill recognizes Essex Heritage and the other four Heritage Areas in the state as important entities that service the public good, The Governor urges state agencies and departments to consider the Areas in their plans and this also makes possible public-private partnerships and joint projects that advance the goals of Heritage Areas. Those goals are in important issues like environmental protection, heritage resource preservation, recreation, tourism, and trail development. The legislation that is now law was originally filled by Representatives Fennell and was co-sponsored by Senators Tarr and McGee. It was recently re-introduced by Representative Keenan and championed by Senator Berry.

The five Massachusetts Heritage Areas covered by this new law includes the Essex National Heritage Area, the John Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Area, the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area and the Freedoms Way National Heritage Area. National Heritage Areas are congressionally designated in perpetuity and receive an annual stipend of funds through the US Department of the Interior/National Park Service and are generally supplemented by private and foundation funds and in some cases State funding. Essex Heritage is very pleased to see this legislation become law and is looking forward to working with our elected officials on Beacon Hill in Boston and State officials to find ways to implement this law for the benefit of the residents of Essex County.


In my last post, I provided information on the ninth annual Trails and Sails event but neglected to outline some of the specific events scheduled. On the last two weekends in September, Essex Heritage will offer 100 FREE, FUN and FAMILY-FRIENDLY events at 80+ sites that will showcase our distinctive regional heritage. In addition to a number of new events and experiences enhancing the schedule this year, participants can use the new Trails & Sails Mobile website for up to the minute smart-phone access to the event line-up, directions to events, and to retrieve their personal itineraries.

While events will take place throughout the cities and towns of the 500 sq mile Essex National Heritage Area, participants are encouraged to spend some of their time this year along the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway, the 85 -mile coastal route linking 13 coastal communities between Lynn and Newburyport that features exquisite scenic views, period architecture, historic sites and recreational opportunities.

Here is a sampling by just one of the regions where programs will be offered.

Cape Ann is the place to give you a uniquely maritime-spirited adventure offering whale watches, dory rides and maritime explorations. You can also explore how the sea inspired the creativity of architects and artists alike by taking in the Cape Ann Museum’s fine collection of Fitz Henry Lane works, visiting the inspiring Sargent House, and City Hall’s emotional murals. If natural wonders are calling you, join the Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust and use your navigational skills to locate geo-caches and natural treasures in the Manchester Wilderness Conservation or take a guided tour around the Babson Farm Quarry at Halibut Point State Park to unearth the granite industry era amidst the breathtaking views from Crane Beach in Ipswich to Mount Agamenticus, ME.

We certainly hope that you will take advantage of these free weekends and it never to early to begin your personal planning for the events that interest you the most. Sign on to www.essaexheritage.org for more details.


Over the last several months, I have been working with the North Shore Elder Services (NSES) organization as they are considering me for membership on their Board. If elected at the annual meeting early this fall, I will be one of two representatives along with Joseph Palmer on the board from Danvers. North Shore Elder Services serves the communities of Middleton, Danvers, Peabody, Salem and Marblehead and they offer a group approach as a team of specialists tries to make life easier for seniors and those that care for them. They offer support and solutions on a variety of aging issues. NSES connects older adults with caregivers and professionals with the resources and services needed to solve complex aging issues. For example, The North Shore Elder services in conjunction with the Danvers Council on Aging will be presenting Congressman John Tierney in an informational session at the Danvers Senior Center on August 17, 2010. They also act as an advocate for seniors with our elected officials in both Washington and Boston and actively followed the debate in the US Congress that ended just recently with legislations that prevented cuts in Medicare benefits.

The organization is involved in issues every day that impacts senior adults in this region, and provides a web site at www.nselder.org that provides an incredible amount of information. At that site one can also sign up for a monthly newsletter that informs and instructs area seniors and those that care for them. I look forward to participating with this wonderful organization representing Danvers seniors and the Council on Aging and expect that I will learn more an more each day about the needs of senior adults and the resources available to them.


In the last couple of weeks several local people who I regularly interact with have accomplished some pretty sensational achievements and I want to note those actions. Pamela Parkinson, the Executive Director of the Danvers Senior Center recently completed a fifty-mile walk to raise both awareness and funding for Cancer research. I have known Pam for several years since she became the Director of the Senior Center and her energy and enthusiasm for the seniors of Danvers is contagious and I feel fortunate to be working with her on the Danvers Council on Aging. Congratulations Pam on your wonderful achievement.

This past weekend hundreds of bike riders including the two US Senators who represent this state made the ride across the Massachusetts to Provincetown on Cape Cod. The ride has become the biggest single day fundraising event for cancer research in the country. Two gentlemen who I know well completed the ride and they should be congratulated for their effort. Massachusetts State Representative, John Keenan who represents the City of Salem, and Larry Tormey from Danvers and the Danvers Bi-Peds have been long time supporters of and enthusiasts for this event and have once again completed this important ride to raise funds for this wonderful cause. Congratulations to both John and Larry.


On my way back to the cape recently I stopped in Foxborough to view the New England Patriots participate in a joint Training Camp practice with the World Champion New Orleans Saints, and then followed that by watching the first exhibition game on TV between the same two teams. In mid August it is pleasant for me to watch the NFL season begin, and one can always hope that the local team will return to the level of success that they enjoyed in the last decade and bring another championship to the region. In this case much will depend on the contributions of the many first and second year players who were recently drafted and must contribute to a general rebuilding process.

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trail and Sails Plans, Iron House, Other Rail Trail Development, City of Salem, City of Lawrence, O'Hare Leaves Danvers Herald


Trails and Sails 2010

I realize that it is still several weeks away, but from the commitment being paid to this event in the Essex Heritage offices you would think the event is this upcoming weekend. The ninth annual edition of Trails and Sails is clearly the signature event for Essex Heritage and the event in 2010 will be held on the weekends of September 17 through 19 and then again on September 24 through 26. It really seems hard to believe that in just five short weeks summer will be over and the fall 2010 will have arrived in Essex County. The arrival of fall could not be a better time to enjoy and appreciate all that the region has to offer, and participation in Trails and Sails is a wonderful way to see the region in all of its beauty. This year the staff has already lined up over one hundred free events on the two weekends and they are still working on adding more events before the two weekends arrive. This is a great opportunity to participate in a serried of walks, guided hikes, sails, historical tours, and many other adventures.

Also this year in response to your many inquires, we will produce a printed schedule of the events that will be available to those of you that want a brochure to help with your panning. The guide will become a wonderful reference document all through the year even after the Trail and Sails weekends are completed. The printed quite will be available on September 1, 2010 allowing plenty of time to use the brochure to plan your weekends. There will be a small fee of $5.00 that will be charged to handle printing and mailing and you can sign on to www.trailsandsails.org to both order the guide and to see all that is being planed for the two fall weekends. Please note that there will be a limited number of brochures that will be provided free of charge on a first come first serve at the Essex Heritage office in Salem or in branch offices of the event sponsors, TD Bank and Eastern Bank. We are particularly indebted to the two sponsoring banks for their commitment to this region and this event.

Iron Horse Issue

A couple of weeks ago, the Boston Globe North provided a wonderful article about the work that the Iron Horse Preservation Group has accomplished in this region. Much of the rail trail clearing that has been accomplished over the last year or so, have been achieved with the help of this organization. Trails in Danvers, Wenham and Topsfield have all benefited from the expertise and the energy of the Iron Horse group. As an organization that has devoted so much of its attention to the development of these recreational trails in this region, Essex Heritage is elated that so much has been accomplished in such a short period of time. The accomplishments of the last several months have clearly shortened the development time schedule for many communities and that has advanced the overall development of the rail trail movement and for that we are particularly pleased.

Speaking of Rail Trail Development

Two neighboring communities in the southern end of this region have joined together to begin the planning process for the development of a rail trail that would connect Lynnfield and Wakefield. Lynnfield is a community that is part of the Essex Heritage region, and the Town of Wakefield is just outside the region. The two communities received a half a million dollars from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to begin the planning effort and the Town of Wakefield is acting as the administrator for requests for proposals to begin the process. Even though the Town of Wakefield is just outside the borders of the Essex Heritage region we would be pleased to offer any assistance we can to this effort. Any effort to expand rail trails and recreational assets that help to enhance the quality of life in this region is important to us. The Town Administrator in Wakefield, Steve Maio is a former compatriot of mine when we both worked at the Salem Five Bank and he has a wonderful reputation as a real “doer” when it comes to recreational programs in the Town he manages

City of Salem Recently Profiled

The City of Salem should be pleased with story the appeared in a local newspaper earlier this month that highlighted the wonderful accomplishments that have been achieved over the last half-century. The success of the city as commercial, residential, governmental, and waterfront projects have been developed over the last five decades is substantial. Those successes can certainly be attributed to the competence of several city administrations and willingness over the years to seek support from numerous sources within the community. A perfect example of this willingness to work together has shown up over the last two decades with the collaborative efforts of the City and the public private partnership so aptly named the Salem Partnership. Congratulations to all who have had a hand in this collaborative effort.

City of Lawrence in Peril from Fire Dangers

The news from Lawrence over the weekend was most serious. Several fires broke out on Sunday, and because of the recent numerous fire station closings and firefighter layoffs in that City , Lawrence has had to rely on the mutual assistance system to fight the fires That process will be difficult to maintain as each of the communities that are sending help have many financial issues of their own to be concerned with at this time. The Commonwealth needs to address this issue quickly and with financial help as the condition in place in Lawrence is now a serious public safety issue for the residents of this proud former mill city.

Katheryn O’Hare Departs Danvers Herald

At the end of last month, Katheryn O’Hare concluded a decade long relationship with the Danvers Herald. During that time she was wonderful committed editor and reporter for this local newspaper. Every week the paper would produce a wonderful collection of local stories and information that was always valuable to the residents of the Town of Danvers. She covered events from Town Meetings to social events and always provided all of us with the information we needed to stay abreast of what was happening in town. Sometime around the time the Katheryn took over the role of Editor she asked me, through a contact with Myrna Fearer another Danvers Herald stalwart, if I would be interested in producing a monthly column regarding the activities of the Danvers Senior Center where I served as the Chairman of the Board of the Council on Aging. I continued that column for several years, and then added about seven years ago, a second monthly column on the activities of Essex Heritage. I still write that column every month and Kathryn would use her contacts to distribute the column around the region. I will miss Katheryn as she was the consummate professional and a friend. I expect that I will continue to provide the monthly column each month, but it will never be the same without Katheryn at the helm of the paper. I wish her well in whatever course she now chooses to follow. Whatever it is I am certain she will be as successful as she was as the Editor in Chief of the Danvers Herald.

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friendship Sails, Salem Maritime Festival,and Salem;s Heritage Days, Days and Beverly Homecoming, Congressman to Spaek in Danvers, Cape Cod Baseball


Friendship Sails to Gloucester

I want to take a moment to point out that tickets are for sale now for the inaugural public sail of the National Park Service ship Friendship. On Saturday, September 4, 2010, Friendship will leave her home berth at the Salem Maritime Historic Site and head out on a five-hour sail to the Coast Guard base in Gloucester. On the way to the historic port of Gloucester the passengers on this first ever-public sail will participate in maritime exercises on board and will be have the benefit of interpretive commentary along the way. Food and refreshments will be served just before docking in Gloucester and a wonderful overall trip is planned. To be a part of this once in a lifetime experience, tickets can be purchased through Essex Heritage who is acting as an agent for the National Park Service.

Tickets are priced most moderately at $250 and $185 (members price) for this extraordinary experience and the discount is applied if you are member of a local Rotary club or a member of the Essex Heritage Membership Program. In this case it will really pay to become a member of the Essex Heritage membership program right away as the cost of an individual annual membership is $40.00 and by signing up one would immediately qualify for the discount on the Friendship trip.

On Sunday, September 5, 2010 a second sail from Gloucester into the famous outer harbor to watch the annual schooner races will also be held. Tickets for both of these sails are available by contacting Essex Heritage at www.essexheritage.org or by calling Mary Williamson at 978 740 0444. Space is limited for both sails and it is certainly not too early to reserve your spot for this unique experience.

Salem Maritime Festival

Speaking of the Friendship calls to mind an event that I may be a little late reporting on in this format. Today and on Saturday, August 8, 2010 the Salem Maritime Festival will be held in Salem on the waterfront at the National Park Service site. Tours of the Friendship will be available and two other ships will be at the site and will be available for tours and some opportunity for a sail on the Thomas E, Lannon and Fame will be available. There will be entertainment, house drawn carriage rides and games and activities for children. At this event participation in the new National Park Service Junior ranger Program will also be available, This weekend’s activities in Salem kicks off the annual Heritage Days celebrations that are such an important part of Salem’s summer.

Salem Heritage Days and Beverly Homecoming

In the note just above, I briefly noted Salem’s Heritage Days by reporting on the initial event of that ten-day festival. During the period in early August over forty events have been scheduled including concerts, kite flying, a car show, a triathlon, road races, a bike race and the famous ice cream scooper bowl on the common. For a complete listing of all of the Heritage Day events and for more detailed information go to www.salem.org. These events tied to together under the Heritage Days theme and banner have been offered in Salem for almost a half-century and is certainly one of the premier community summer celebration events in the region. The event has been a success for almost as long as can remember and was a staple celebration for almost the entire time that I was employed at Salem Five.

In addition to the events in Salem, Beverly Homecoming that is as important event to that community as Heritage Days are to Salem will wrap up this weekend. I am sorry that I did not get a chance to add this information earlier but there are still some important events to be offered this weekend in that community. The events in the Garden City are winding up, but there are still concerts and tennis tournaments to finish up and a spectacular fireworks display on the waterfront tomorrow evening.

Congressman Tierney to Speak at Danvers Senior Center

It is never to early to make plans to attend an important presentation in Danvers relative to senior services. On August 17, 2010 in conjunction with the Senior Center and North Shore Elder Services Group, Congressman John Tierney will appear at the Danvers Senior Center on Stone Street in Danvers to both listen to concerns of seniors and to provide information on issues of interest to seniors. I have had a long time relationship with the senior center and have recently been exposed to the wonderful programs of the North Shore Elder Services Group and I applaud these two organizations for their effort to put this program together for the seniors in this region. The Congressman has long been an advocate for senior services in this region, and this will be a wonderful opportunity for local seniors to engage in a one-on-one conversation with the Congressman on issues of importance to seniors in this region. Unfortunately I will be able to attend the session, but I am certain that it will be well attended and many of my Danvers Council on Aging Board member friends will be in attendance.

In my other role as President Emeritus of Essex Heritage, we have consistently seen that the Congressman has exhibited a real concern for the issues of this region, and it has been a pleasure to work with him these last several years Our experiences over the years that we have worked with the Congressman and his staff here in the region and in Washington is that he particularly cares for the issues that effect the health and well being of his constituents and is always ready to address difficult issues. I encourage all seniors in the region who want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to air any concerns to the Congressman to plan on being at the Danvers Senior Center on August 17, 2010 from 1:30 to 3:00 that afternoon.

Cape Cod Baseball League Winding Down

As those of you who have read this BLOG know, I am a big fan of the Cape Cod Baseball League. The competition all summer is great and the players are playing for a professional contract, and the level of play is energetic and the players are most aggressive. The team that I follow, the Yarmouth/Dennis Red Sox, have finished first in the eastern division of the league and will open the playoffs tonight at home against Harwich. I am sorry that the season is coming to an end, but as in other years, I enjoyed the play in 2010, and will continue to track this year’s group of players to follow their progress towards advancement to the professional major leagues of baseball.

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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