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

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