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

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 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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