Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sails and Trails Recapped, Essex Heritage Membership Month, and Northeast Harvest Newsletter Published


Ninth Annual Essex Heritage Trails and Sails Event Concludes

This morning at the Essex Heritage staff meeting we spent a fair amount of time looking at the process over the last two weekends of Trials and Sails to set some planning for 2011 in place. The event next year will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the event and hopefully there will be some nuances built into next years event that will help bring attention to that decade anniversary. This year’s event seemed to all of us to most successful. We are discovering that the name Trails and Sails itself might be a little bit more well known that even the name of the sponsoring organization, Essex Heritage. Next year we might institute some routing changes when inquires come in seeking information that might focus attentions even more directly on Essex Heritage. During the last thirty days the section of our web site devoted to Trails and Sails saw an incredible increase in “traffic” as visits to the site were up over 40 % from the previous thirty day period. We have asked our webmaster to quantify those increases for us, and hopefully in the very near term will be have a more comprehensive overview of where those ”visits” came from during this peak period.

We have also learned that the mobile application that was created for the first time this year was also most successful as four % of the total visits were made by visitors with smart phones. The primary devices used were Apple I- Phones, along with I -Pads and I -Pods. Over the two week period of the event and the time leading up to Trails and Sails Essex Heritage registered 860 new participants bringing the grand total of all participants to over 2300 in total. We were also pleased to hear today from our long time friends at the Phoenix School in Salem, who noted that as in the past, their students and parents visited many sites as part of their annual Trails and Sails homework assignment.

My Personal Trails and Sails Events for Week Two

The second weekend of Trails and Sails is complete and over this past weekend I participated in several events that were both entertaining and informative. On Friday evening on what turned out to be a summer evening rather than the fall weather we were expecting, I was pleased that I was able to participate in any event where I was able to wear two distinct hats. The Danvers Historical Society hosted a classical concert in the recently restored Tapley Hall on Page Street in Danvers, and the evening was most successful. About three dozen residents of the area attended and enjoyed the hour long concert performed by the Danvers Historical Society’s artists in residence the Essex Harmony Coral group. I was pleased to be able to introduce the program and provide a little background on the balance of the weekend’s activities during Trails and Sails 2010. It was also a pleasure to be able as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Danvers Historical Society to provide an introduction of the singing group that has meant so much to the Society. Their presentation was wonderful and the newly restored Tapley hall was a perfect setting for the presentation.

On Saturday, I traveled again to the historic port city of Newburyport and participated in a most informative session at the Coast Guard Station, Merrimack River. The group that I participated with were treated to a most informative and instructive tour by a young seaman who was in the middle of a six year tour of duty with the Coast Guard. His presentation was complete and most instructive and he provided a wonderful inside look at the services provided to the boating public from that and other Coast Guard facilities. We learned that the three dozen both male and female members of the Coast Guard who are assigned to this location take their responsibility most seriously. We viewed the communications center for the region that handles maritime distress calls for that region and had the opportunity to visit and learn about the crafts that are at risk whenever they leave port to head out on a rescue mission. Merrimack River station is part of a coastal network that includes locations in Portsmouth, NH and Gloucester, Ma that provides security to the boating public in this region. Our tour was enhanced by the presence of a cadet who was in his last year at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Ct, who provided some insight into the training that a cadet is subjected to before he ever begins to be part of the life savings group of dedicated Coast Guard personnel.

We finished our summer like morning in Newburyport with a visit to Newburyport’s oldest church, the old South Church. That church that was built in 1756 for the Rev George Wakefield has a long a storied history and the team from the church that provided that discourse was well informed and did a great job in providing the needed information. The visit to the church included a stop at the basement crypt under the main altar where the body of Rev. Wakefield is interred.

Essex Heritage’s Focus for October to be Membership

Over the next thirty days, Essex Heritage is planning to place a high emphasis on gaining new participants for the recently revamped Membership Program. This program has already received substantial attention and the “sign ups” during the first months of the effort have been most gratifying. The focus for the next thirty days will be on current Essex Heritage Commissioners and friends, and recent Trails and Sails participants along with lapsed Explorers. In addition to those efforts that will focus on individual memberships, Essex Heritage will continue to seek corporate memberships and just recently we are pleased to announce that financial support has been committed from Crosby’s Markets headquartered in Salem and operating on the North Shore, Atlantic Hospitality (Blue Ocean Music Hall) in Salisbury and Henry’s Market in Beverly.

Northeast Harvest Newsletter for September

The September issue of the Northeast Harvest newsletter has been published. The publication that is a joint venture of Essex Heritage, the Essex Agricultural Society, Massachusetts Grown, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is filled this month as you might expect with news about apples, and where to pick them. As we drove around this past spectacular weekend wherever we turned in both Essex and Middlesex Counties we viewed large crowds at farms picking and sampling apples and other products. Stop by a local farm or orchard in this region this month and early next month to experience an important part of the heritage of this region, the agricultural resources. Also do not forget that the Topsfield Fair will be kicking off early next month and at local farms like Connors Farm in Danvers, where you can experience and enjoy a maze that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. If you wish to subscribe to the Northeast Harvest newsletter, contact Essex Heritage at www.essexheritage.org.

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, September 24, 2010

Essex Heritage Trails and Sails, Development Committee, Danvers Rail Trail, St John's Prep Headmasters Event and the Topsfield fair


Essex Heritage Trails and Sails

This weekend will mark the final couple of days of the 2010 Trails and Sails program. This ninth annual event has been most successful to date, and let’s hope that the weather this weekend continues to be pleasant and the crowds for the second weekend are as strong as they were in week one. There are several events scheduled for this weekend where I will be a participant, and I encourage all of you to visit the Essex Heritage web site at www.essexheritage.org to plan your weekend. There is an event in Newburyport that I am planning to attend that certainly appeals to me. The Coast Guard Station on the Merrimack River was very active last Saturday and they are repeating the open house that they scheduled again tomorrow. From what I have heard there were large crowds last weekend and I intend to be a visitor this weekend. In addition to that event, there is a rock quarry in Rockport and several wonderful farms that will all be available on this final weekend. There are also sites available along the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway that will offer wonderful stops to explore.

The other event that I know that I will be attending is the Harmony in the Hall re -dedication concert in Tapley Memorial Hall at 13 Page Street in Danvers. The Essex Harmony group that is associated with the Danvers Historical Society will present a one hour concert tonight at that site that will offer a wonderful selection of music. I am pleased to have been asked to represent both Essex Heritage and the Society where I serve on the Board at this event, and will introduce the program. Tapley hall has recently been refurbished and a visit this evening to that location will allow you to view that work as well as to listen to the selections of music that will be presented

Danvers Rail Trail

Just prior to the Essex Heritage Trails and Sails weekend, the Danvers Bi-Peds were forced to cancel their scheduled event that was going to offer a tour to Explore the Heart of Danvers. That tour was going to offer walkers the opportunity to begin to explore the rail trail work on the 4.3 mile proposed Danvers Rail Trail, but had to be cancelled as the trail was not completed sufficiently to have walkers use the trail. That news was a disappointment to many both here at Essex Heritage and among the many interests in Danvers that have been working so hard to make this trail a reality. News in the last couple of days has been much more positive as the Town of Danvers planning Department and the community based Rail Trail Advisory group was elated to learn that work that has laid dormant for awhile would start up again in earnest. Recent discussions with the principal of the Iron Horse Preservation Society in Nevada have cleared up some issues and work to complete the trail should be done no later than the end of October. There are some additional rails and ties that need to picked up, a rough grade established along the trail, and some surplus crushed stone spread on the surface and finally some directional signs installed to complete the project. The signage project has been supported by Essex Heritage who provided a Partnership Grant to the Town to help with this phase of the project. This revised work schedule is very good news and work will also start up again in Wenham and Topsfield as well. The scheduled work that is now expected to be finished in the early fall will go a long way to help complete the Border of Boston Trail that has been a major project for Essex Heritage. The Commission has played a major role in developing the coalition of communities that has been involved to help create the Border to Boston coalition that when completed will run from Salisbury to Danvers and is another wonderful regional resource that will add to the recreational assets of this area.

Essex Heritage Development Committee

Earlier this week the Essex Heritage Development Committee met to review the status of its efforts to schedule a series of meeting with regional business interests to seek financial support to insure the continuation or extension of Essex Heritage mission. In the first weeks of this effort several meetings with local businesses have been scheduled and to date a number of meetings have been held. The results of these early meetings have been most gratifying and expectations of additional financial support from regional businesses are expected. The Committee under the leadership of Charlie Cullen of the Provident Bank has recently expanded and has added Mr. John Farmer, a Senior Vice President and commercial lender from Eastern Bank to its list of participants. He joins Essex Heritage President Kevin Tierney of Saugus Bank, Jack Good of Danversbank, Joseph Milano of the Union Oyster House, Fred Winthrop of Ipswich the former Executive Director of the Trustees of Reservations, Richard Yagjian of Hunts Photo and Video of Melrose and the author of this BLOG, Tom Leonard, President Emeritus of Essex Heritage. For additional information or if you are a business owner who wishes to support this regional initiative contact the Essex Heritage Director of development , Mary Williamson at www.essexheritage.org or call 978 740 0444.

St. John’s Prep Holds Annual Headmasters Council Meeting

Last evening at Tupper Manor on the campus of Endicott College in Beverly, St. John’s Preparatory School held its annual Headmasters Council meeting. The evening was a wonderful success as both alumni and current and past parents gathered to socialize and to hear reports and expectations for the Danvers school from the Prep’s administrative team. My wife and I have attended these functions for many years, and last nights event was bit difficult as it was the first such gathering since the death last October of Prep Headmaster Emeritus, Brother Bill Drinan, CFX. At these events in the past we always made it a point to spent time during the event with Brother Bill. Brother Drinan was the Headmaster at St, John’s Prep during the dozen years that I served on the Board of Trustees at the school, and I worked closely with him over that period. The event last year was the last time that I was able to be with Brother Bill, who was a good friend and a wonderful supporter of the Prep. He was missed last evening and will continue to be missed by me and my wife. I will particularly miss him in the spring of 2011 when he will not be around to help my family celebrate the graduation of Brendan M Leonard ‘11 who will be a third generation of Leonard’s to graduate from the Prep. He will at that time join me from the class of ’54 and his uncle, Michael ’83 and his father Mark ’87. Since I first attended summer camp at the Prep in 1947, in 2011 we will complete a 63 year association with the Danvers school. .

Preservation Award provided in Ipswich

We were pleased to see, and Essex Heritage congratulates Sue Nelson of Ipswich on the occasion of her receipt of the Mary P. Connolly Award. The award is provided each year since 1992 by the Town’s Historical Commission to a local resident who has had a hand in the preservation of local Ipswich historic sites. Ms. Nelson has been involved with many preservation projects in Ipswich but was particularly involved in the preservation efforts of the 1677 Whipple House and 1800 Heard House.

Topsfield Fair

Now that the planning effort for Trails and Sails is over and all that is left for us to do is report on the number of participants who enjoyed the free events of the last two weekends, we can turn to the support of the Topsfield Fair. That event that will last for ten days early next month helps to preserve the wonderful heritage of the agricultural traditions in this region and the valuable open space still left in the area. Tickets are on sale at numerous locations around the region and we hope that all of you will make a trip the Topsfield location to support this century old tradition during the first ten days of October. Let is hope for a continuance of the fine weather we have experienced almost since 2010 began.

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Essex Heritage Premier Projects, Trails and Sails and the Scenic Byway Updated, and the Final Chapter of the History Provided


First Official Day of Fall

On Wednesday of this week, we will note the changing of the seasons, with the first official day of fall. Based on the early forecast that I saw we might be experiencing temperature in the eighties that day. It is possible that this may be one of the final days of summerlike temperatures and in the not too distant future we will begin to experience cooler days and the real feel of fall, so if your are a fan of summer weather enjoy the change over day as New England fall weather is likely right around the corner,

First Weekend of Essex Heritage Trails and Sails Complete

Speaking of nice weather conditions, the first weekend of the ninth edition of Essex Heritage’s Trails and Sails was blessed with spectacular weather. The hurricane that has been meandering just off the Atlantic coast stayed far enough away that it was not an impediment to any of the planned activities. After the initial weekend it is usually very difficult for us to get a handle on any attendance figures except from word of mouth reports. We do not receive any “official” numbers of the number of participants until the second weekend is complete, but all we have heard unofficially has been most positive. We had several staff people out and about over the weekend, including me, and all of the reports have been encouraging.

My wife and I spent the middle of the day on Sunday in Amesbury and Newburyport and the events we observed and participated in were active and well attended. Essex Heritage has long thought of Lowell’s Boat Shop as one of our premier partners, and in my long relationship with Essex Heritage, I had never visited the site until Sunday. Our visit with shared with about two dozen other visitors that were either part of our tour or the group gathering for the next presentation. The shop is the last remaining operating boat building enterprises still functioning and producing marine products in the area that once hosted many historic dory building yards. The boat shop was founded in 1793 and has been operating uninterrupted ever since. At the peak of their production a large crew of artisans turned out over 2500 dory’s in a single year, and today a single craftsman is turning out about eight to ten of these historic products in any given year. The shop that is located on the banks of the Merrimack River is now a working not-for-profit museum and is a National Landmark. In addition to the world famous Dory’s and Skiffs, the company also produces some decorative word products that certainly might be interesting to seafarers. The young lady that conducted our tour was well informed and did a wonderful job of presenting the long history of this important regional asset to our group.

When we left Amesbury we moved on the Custom House Maritime Museum in the historic port city of Newburyport. That tour of the facility on the waterfront was equally as informative and was even better attended. The forty or more Trails and Sails enthusiasts who participated in that tour were divided into two groups and were treated to a wonderful presentation that outlined the maritime history of this port city. The Maritime Museum also serves as one of the participating welcoming centers for Essex Heritage and their staff was well informed and most helpful to the group. When we completed that tour we headed back home again to enjoy the Sunday presentation of the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. In retrospect, as fans of the home team Patriots, we would have been much better served looking for another Trails and Sails event to attend rather than watching the game.

We can only hope that last weekend in the two week event is as pleasant as the one just experienced. In fact, being a little greedy, we are hopeful of two more pleasant weekends after Trails and Sails is concluded, as that period will mark the start and finish of Topsfield Fair week that means so much to this region.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Corridor Advisory Group Meeting

Late last week, I attended a most participatory meeting of the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Advisory group at the Beverly Library. The group that is comprised of community representatives from the thirteen stakeholder communities along the route held another most effective meeting. The current topic up for discussion centered on the creation of a management arm to help focus the work along the Byway in the future. It is clear from the portion of the meeting that I attended that the group most certainly wants to participate in the process of setting a course for the project, but views the past and present work of Essex Heritage as so positive that the group envisions Essex Heritage as the future “driver” of planning for the collaborative efforts to promote this historic roadway. As the fall progresses into very early winter, Essex Heritage will now schedule a series of meetings with interested residents and other parties in each of the thirteen participating communities to solicit viewpoints and opinions to help focus the program in the future. Bill Steelman, the Essex Heritage Director of Heritage Development is most effectively spearheading this effort in addition to his other duties. . Since this project will impact such a large number of communities served by Essex Heritage, we will continue to monitor progress in this planning effort and will keep you all informed as data is gathered and plans are formulated.

Essex Heritage History, Part 9 (Concluded)

From my perspective, I prepare a monthly column that is distributed to the Community Newspapers in this region, write an occasion op-ed piece for the Salem News, and have developed an electronic BLOG that I post help with the general administration of the Commission and assist Mary Williamson in the effort to generate additional local financial support, from both commercial interests and residents of the region. For the last year plus, I have also prepared an electronic BLOG called Essex Happenings and I post entries on the work of the Commission and our allied partner organizations in the region twice each week fifty-two weeks a year. The average posting consists of about one half a dozen items and provides substantial information on the Happenings in the region. In the first year that ended in mid July 2010 I have produced 135 BLOG postings on all manner of issues. Clearly, Mary Williamson and Elizabeth Rankin are primarily responsible for communications to the region, but I consider it part of my responsibility as well, and spent a good portion of my time along with an effort to raise funds as my two primary responsibilities.

Speaking of fundraising, in a previous section of this history, we spoke of how important the work of Congressman Tierney was to our financial success. When funding for the Essex Heritage Area first became available, the Congressman was there for us and in the first years of our existence we were blessed to receive an allocation of funds from the Interior Department through the National Park Service. Those early allocations were for one million dollars each year, and while we attempted to raise additional private funds from the business community and the public, the effort was not as intensive as it has become today. Federal funding in recent years has fallen to just south of $650,000 and so it is imperative that we find other forms of funding and increase revenues to support our work. Those efforts have included the development in 2010 of a financially driven membership program that is starting to bear fruit. The staff has also reached out to our Board of Trustees and created a Development Committee and we have intensified our efforts to raise funds from the business community. We have focused our mission on enhancing the quality of life in this region and are appealing to the business community for funding to help us achieve that goal as our success benefits them directly.

When I retired from Salem Five eleven years ago, I never anticipated that in 2010 that I would still be providing consultancy services to Essex Heritage, but I have found that the role still fits me well and I enjoy the process. I fully expect that as long as my health continues as it is in 2010, that I will continue to serve as long as the Commission is providing resources to this region. Our mission has not changed sine our establishment in 1997, as we strive to preserve, protect and promote the historic, natural and cultural resources of Essex County.

This concludes the ENHC History presentation that has been offered over the last several Essex Happenings BLOG postings. We hope that you enjoyed the presentation and learned a little about the work that Essex Heritage has undertaken over the last decade plus to make this region more livable and enjoyable for al residents and visitors.

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, September 17, 2010

Essex Heritage Photo Contest Deadline Extened, Nominating Committee Completes Work, NSCC Efforts, Salem Mayor Provides Update


Essex Heritage Photo Contest Deadline Extended

A couple of postings ago, I reported on the upcoming annual Essex Heritage Photo contest. This has been a most successful annual event for us, and the winners through the years have had their photos displayed in the National Park Service Visitor Center in Salem where they receive substantial exposure. There are a series of awards that are provided annually and that alone make the competition worth the effort. The original release indicated that the deadline for entries was early in October and that date has now been extended to November 1, 2010. The deadline was extended to provide all of you with the wonderful opportunities that are provided in this region during the spectacular month of October. This will allow for some foliage shots and also will allow for the opportunity to photograph some of the many venues available during Trails and Sails to test your photographic skills. The rules that apply for this contest can be found on the Essex Heritage web site at www.essexheritage,org. Please get out in the region, take some photo and enter our contest.

Essex Heritage Nominating Committee Names Slate

The Essex Heritage Commission Nominating committee under the leadership of Chairman Sumner Jones has met and has developed a slate of new Commissioners for election at the Annual Meeting on October 26, 2010 at the Carriage House at Lynch Park in Beverly. Several of the nominees have already accepted the nomination and have met with the Commission leadership to learn of their role. The balance of the slate is being contacted, and when that process is complete we will list the slate in its entirety.

North Shore Community College Foundation Efforts

The North Shore Community College is in the midst of a major effort to raise funds for a campaign that they have called, “Investing in a Sustainable North Shore”. The campaign focuses on the need to provide furnishings for the new Danvers Campus Health Professions and Student Services Building, Scholarships and Endowment and The Lynn Initiative that calls for scholarships for deserving Lynn youths. To date there have been several leadership gifts to the campaign and the college is using those gifts to attract other comparable gifts. The College will be holding a donor reception on October 5, 2010 at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, and any local businesses can take part in that event to learn more about the campaign. To participate in that event or to learn more about opportunities to help this regional educational institution assist this region contact Tatiana Burgos-Espinal at the college at 978 762 4000 x 5527.

Salem Rotary Receives Annual Report from Mayor Driscoll

In this space, I try to balance the presentations offered to report on activities across the entire region, but since we are headquartered in Salem, sometimes the orientation towards that city is a little unbalanced. Today I offer some thoughts on a presentation that Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem provided to the local Rotary club. I have been a member of the Salem Rotary club for almost twenty years and the annual update from the sitting Mayor of Salem is a tradition in the fall. Her report was specific to Salem, but in many cases the issues she reports on are applicable to almost every other community in this region.

Mayor Driscoll provided a comprehensive report on the health and expectations for the city. As required by law the city has established a balanced budget, but that process is not without its difficulties. At this time and under the difficult economic times all communities are experiencing with frequent local aid cuts mandated by the Commonwealth cuts in services provided have been made. There are currently fewer fire and police on the job in Salem, and the Mayor continues to work diligently to do every thing a local official can do today to renegotiate the generous benefits that most municipal employees receive. The Mayor this year noted that one of the more serious issues facing her community and others in the region is the pension issue. In most cases the pension obligations of local communities in not totally funded, and in the not to distant future that issue could become a most serious issue to manage financially for Salem and other communities in this region. She also reported that the unused sick leave policy that provides many employees at the time of their retirement with a substantial payoff for days accumulated during long careers at lower wage levels with funding at the highest salary level achieved is an issue that bears review and some kind of adjustment to make that process financially sound for these local communities. If some adjustment is not made to the present policies in municipal employee benefits the outlook for many communities in the region could be financially difficult in the future.

The Mayor reported positively on the health and vitality of the business community in the city. She provided a list of new retail establishments that have opened during the past twelve months, and the mix of year-round retail establishments rather than just tourist related businesses is encouraging. In general Mayor Driscoll was most positive as she always is, and looks to the future of her city and the region in general with great optimism.

Essex Heritage History, Part Eight (continued)

In the same time frame we have expanded the number of Commissioners who represent the thirty-four communities and the many occupations prevalent in this region up to one hundred and fifty community volunteers. That group of volunteers remains strong and vibrant as well and the pool of Commissioners is where we reach out to find new Trustees when that situation is demanded.

I started to note our staff, and became a little side tracked with information on our volunteers. In addition to Annie Harris and I, we are blessed to have Susan Lippman as our part-time CFO and the other two members of the valuable leadership team has Bill Steelman as our Director of Heritage Development and Mary Williamson as our Director of Development and Communications. Those three folks when added to the mix make us a strong cohesive, collaborative unit. We also are blessed with strong support staff and Elizabeth Rankin, Emily Levin, Debbie Foreman, Rebecca Zimmerman and Richard Scott and are wonderful and always willing to do what ever needs to be done in a small office like the one we manage.

The staff regularly manages many annual projects that make the Commission what it has become in the region. In addition to the Partnership Grant program, we annually manage a Heritage Hero Event, a series of Photo Safari’s, a Photo Contest, an informative monthly newsletter that goes out to 6000 friends of Essex Heritage, a newsletter from a partnership with Essex Agricultural Society that assists farmers, Explorer Events, an active informative web site, scores of news releases each year, National Park Service events like the work connected to the Friendship and the development of the Junior Ranger program in Salem and of course our premier event Trails and Sails each fall and other sundry opportunities when presented. In addition to the annual events, the Commission has played an important regional role by bringing many in the region together for projects. Several programs like the LINK’s program developed in partnership with Salem State College and the Beverly School System that has produced an education program for teachers that is then passed on the students across the county, the Border to Boston Rail Trail that has joined community efforts from Salisbury to Danvers, and the most important Essex Heritage Scenic Byway that has thirteen communities cooperating along the county’s historic coast.

In 2007 we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Commission with a wonderful celebratory event at the Topsfield Fair grounds. That event was a wonderful social and financial success with a sold out building and a level of attendance that exceeded even our highest expectations. The late Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy joined us that evening as our keynote speaker and celebrated with his many friends and admirers. That event became the catalyst for the very successful Heritage Hero Events that have been held these last three years. Those events have honored Salem Historian, Jim McAllister in 2007, former Mayor Lynn Tom Costin in 2008 and a trio of award winners in 201o that included, former Mayors on Amesbury and Newburyport, Nick Costello, and Byron Matthews, and Salisbury tourism activist Maria Miles.

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Travel Opportunity, 9/11 Anniversary, Trails and Sails Nears, Essex Heritage Annual Meeting Set, Essex Heritage History


Essex Heritage “Teams Up” With Collette Vacations to Offer Tour Plans

In An exciting new venture, Essex Heritage has joined forces with Collette Tours to present a Northern National Park Tour featuring Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons in August 2011. Open to the general public, this spectacular yet affordable eight day tour advances several strategic objectives for Essex Heritage. It advances our goal to connect people to our nation’s most spectacular places and strengthens our partnerships with the business community and creates an opportunity to generate incremental revenues to help fund our mission-critical programs. This collaboration with Collette Vacations is one way for Essex Heritage to sponsor authentic experiences that connect people to special places and at the same time enhance revenue potential. For more information on this opportunity or to obtain a brochure contact Mary Williamson at 978 740 0444 or at www.essexheritage.org.

Essex Heritage Trails and Sails Getting Closer

This week the staff at Essex Heritage is putting the final touches on a wonderful plan to show off this region in all of its fall beauty. Starting this upcoming weekend and then again next weekend, the signature event of the year for this organization will be presented. Just as a reminder, it is not too late to sign up and make plans to participate. There will be over 100 free events across the region over the next two weekends. Join the thousands of residents who have visited the Essex Heritage web site at www.essexheritage,org in the recent past to make your plans. It is not too late to see this region and enjoy all it has to offer.

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting

For those of you interested in getting dates onto your calendar, the Essex Heritage Annual Meeting this year will be held on October 26, 2010. We are most appreciative that the local organization that is managing the restoration of the Carriage House at Lynch Park in Beverly has made this site available to us for our meeting. The Carriage House at Lynch Park had great historic significance to this region and we are proud to be able to showcase the site and the work already done to improve the site.

Anniversary of September 11th

It certainly was a relief to see that the Anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center and the proposed radical action by a Florida pastor passed without incident. A planned burning of the Koran could have set off a series of consequences that could have had a most negative impact on relationships between nations and religious groups.

9/11 Service in Danvers

I attended a service in Danvers that morning that was much more in tune with the way that horrific event should be remembered. Danvers restaurateur, Kary Andrinopoulos who co-owns and runs Brother’s in the Danvers downtown for the third or fourth consecutive year hosted a remembrance service at his establishment. Each year the event that Kary started to keep the event at the top of mind in this region grows larger and larger. The event brings together many patrons of the popular restaurant in Danvers and regional elected officials to pause for a moment that morning to remember to the events of that horrible day. Gathered that morning on a bright sunny morning outside of Brother’s were Congressman John Tierney, Sheriff Frank Cousins, State Representative Ted Speliotis, Selectman Dan Bennett who all offered somber recollections of the event nearly a decade ago. The service opened with a prayer from a priest from St. Vasilios in Peabody and continued with the posting of the colors by an honor guard headed by Bruce Eaton from the Danvers American legion and the VFW. Stirring renditions of taps and America the Beautiful were provided by musical groups, and an Aunt of Karen Martin, the lead flight attendant on American Flight # 11, from Danvers who was killed that fateful morning presented a moving tribute to her niece and presented Kary with a framed remembrance for the restaurant. The service ended with the many who were gathered enjoying the generosity of Brothers as breakfast was offered to the many in attendance. Kary should be commended for his wonderful efforts to keep this event in our consciousness as time passes. This is the first time that I was privileged to be in attendance but it will not be the last.

September Weekend

This is always a most pleasant time of the year for me as fall arrives. This past weekend was no exception, as on Saturday, I was able to view some high school football as St John’s prep opened their season with a win over long time rival Peabody, Then on Sunday, on a near perfect day for football, I was able to enjoy a younger, faster clearly more athletic New England Patriots team post a win in their first game of a new season that now holds a little more promise going forward. But all that said, the highlight of the week was watching my grand daughter Katherine Leonard take a couple of shifts for the Danvers High School varsity field hockey team against Beverly. Danvers lost the game, and I found that I have much to learn about this sport. But as time goes on maybe I will begin to understand some of the nuances of this popular woman’s sport.

Essex Heritage History, Part Seven (Continued)

In November 2004 it became clear that the landlord who had purchased the Washington Street space from the Shetland Properties Company wanted the space for other purposes. There was an explosion of new residential condominiums being built in Salem, and there was an indication that the new landlord wanted us to vacate the space. We looked then, and continue to look for space that the ENHC can own, but finally settled on rental space in the old Eastern Bank facility on the pedestrian mall in Salem. We have been in that space since 2004 and remain in that location in 2010.

In the last several years, the Commission continues to expand its role in the region. We have added staff to the effort and in 2010, Annie Harris remains the Executive Director, and I serve now as President Emeritus. Annie Harris is the glue that holds all of this effort together, provides a high level of local leadership as well as providing a connection to the other Heritage Areas across the country. Nationally, a coalition of Heritage Areas has been established and that Alliance meets quarterly to plot a national strategy for the heritage areas across the country. That Alliance has recently created a Legislative Caucus and the two congresspersons from this region signed on to joint that effort as soon as it was established. Annie and Susan Lippman that now serve as our CFO has played important roles in the development of a manageable national organization.

My title was changed as after three full terms as President, I felt that it was wise to step down as the active President to put a succession plan in place to insure continuity. Towards that end since I stepped up to the new role, the Commission has elected three active volunteer Presidents. The first was Larry Harrington from North Shore Bank in Danvers and Peabody, followed by Nancy Stager from Eastern Bank and at present Kevin Tierney the President of Saugus Bank serves in that position. Nancy and Kevin have been very “hands on” and during 2009 and 2010 led the Commission through a long-range planning process that will serve the Commission well for the next five years.

During this period of the Commission’s life we have been most fortunate to have a wonderful group of Trustees who have continued to serve with great enthusiasm. When the management structure was established we developed a plan that there would be term limits in place for Trustees of three terms of three years each and over the years we have been blessed with a continuing stream of great volunteers. One of my primary jobs has been to keep the Trustees current and to continue to find Essex County leaders who would be willing to serve. I am most gratified by the support that we have received since our inception. I cannot remember a single individual that we ever asked to serve who have declined our invitation. The depth of the cadre of people who have served this effort is incredible and speaks volumes about the willingness of the leadership of this region to volunteer and serve. I will not attempt in this history to enumerate all of the men and women, who have served Essex Heritage, but suffice it to say that several members of the original group of twenty-five Trustees have fulfilled their term of office and have stayed connected to the Commission by serving as Trustee Emeritus. That position has been created to allow those Trustees who wish to stay connected after their terms end to stay involved. The current group of Trustees remains strong and committed and we have been most fortunate to continue to attract great volunteers from across the entire region we serve for this role. For a complete list of all who have served on the Essex Heritage Board see the web site at
www.essexheritage.org for a complete list of Trustees since our inception.

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, September 10, 2010

Anniversity of 9/11, Trails and Sails, Essex Heritage Scenic Byway, and History Installment


Anniversary of 9/11

Let’s hope that cooler and more measured thinking will prevail this Saturday on the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the church and its pastor in northern. Florida comes to their senses. There is certainly nothing to be gained from the plans that have been announced to burn hundreds of holy books as an act of retribution for the senseless destruction and death that rained down nearly a decade ago in New York City. The United States military and dozens of high ranging religious leaders from around the world have appealed to the Florida church to reconsider their planned action. The destruction of the symbol of the Muslims is just another senseless act will do nothing but inflame an already tense situation that exists between Christians and Muslims in this country. This country was founded on the principal of religious freedoms for all, and nothing positive can come out of the planned actions in Florida... We must never forget the sacrifices of the hundreds of innocent victims who died without warning in the attacks on September11th, but retribution in the form planned in Florida is certainly not the way to commemorate this national tragedy.

Essex Heritage Signature Event…. Trails and Sails is Now Just Days Away

If the early activity we view is any barometer, we certainly expect that the 2010 edition of Trails and Sails: A Weekend of Walks and Water will be the best and most well attended series of events in the long history of this event. We recognize that any event that is planned primarily in the outdoors is always predicated to some degree on the vagaries of New England weather. We have just experienced how weather can impact an event when the recent hurricane caused a radical change in planning for the first ever commercial Friendship Sail. That event was still successful but the schedule had to be changed when it appeared that the storm would disrupt or even cancel the event. The sail schedule was altered by many, who were unable to change their personal schedules and we are keeping our fingers crossed that another weather event will not impact the Trails and Sails Weekends.

This upcoming week will see much of the anticipated press and advertizing schedule making its appearances in local publications, and that activity we expect will drive even more local residents to action. To date we have seen a substantial increase in web site traffic to begin the planning process for these two free weekends of events and the general level of activity is up 11 % over the same period one year ago. The web site address where information can be obtained and schedules planned is www.essexheritage.org. Just click on events, and there is even a location on the site where you can make a donation to help us keep these events FREE in the future. For a contribution of only $20 you can receive a Trails and Sails tee shirt. To date we have nearly 2000 residents already registered and this year alone there have been 250 new applicants. Brochures that are most comprehensive and allow one to complete a personal plan can be found at the affiliated Essex Heritage Visitor Centers across the region and at the branch locations of our two sponsoring banks, TD Bank and Eastern Bank. The weekends filled with activities are just around the corner on September 17-19 and September 24-26. This is clearly the time to act, and plan your weekend of activity. You will certainly be glad that you participated.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byway

The Essex Heritage Scenic Byway that winds it way down the coast from Newburyport in the north to Lynn in the south is certainly one of the most inclusive initiatives undertaken by Essex Heritage. The participants include thirteen communities in the region that all share the wonderful resource of the Atlantic coastline. The eighty five mile byway, just a short ten miles from Boston, heading north winds through Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Manchester By the Sea, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Essex, Gloucester, Rockport and ends up in Newburyport. Essex Heritage has commissioned the creation of a Corridor Management Plan and that planning document will be a part of the agenda’s at a corridor management team meeting later this month, and at a series of community listening sessions later this fall. At those sessions in the thirteen communities involved in the process input from the public about their expectations for the Byway will be solicited.

During this past week, Bill Steelman who is managing this effort for Essex Heritage spent some of his most valuable time attending a conference in the nation’s capital. The session aptly called, Preserving Historic Roads will provide Bill with the opportunity to network with other Byway managers, and hopefully share best practices with other professionals who have similar pursuits. Hopefully, Bill will also be able to gather current information on grant opportunities and other financial initiatives that can help Essex Heritage advance this important regional project in the future. This project is a wonderful opportunity for Essex Heritage to use its collaborative skills to help organize thirteen diverse but connected communities to advance a regional initiative. This is the kind of project that defines what Essex Heritage is all about and what it accomplishes so efficiently when working collectively with others.

Essex Heritage History, Part Six (continued)

It became clear that the space we were sharing with the Salem Partnership and the apartment space just above that office would not be enough space for the ENHC. Staff had been added during the time that the Commission shared the facility on Central Street, and it was clear that additional space was needed. Susan Mason had joined the Commission as the chief financial officer. Space was found in a second floor office unit at 140 Washington Street, Salem, and in 2001 the Commission moved its operation to that location. The staff had begun to grow as more and more regional partnerships were being established and more and more programs were being developed.

One of the first programs developed was the coalition of Visitor Centers around the region. A loose partnership arrangement allows Essex Heritage to provide funding to community centers to help them as they built Regional programs to welcome visitors. Each year for many years the Commission has provided financial support to Visitor Centers in Lynn, Peabody, Ipswich, and Newburyport. Lawrence and Salisbury. Those centers have combined with the National Park Service Centers in Salem and Saugus to be a collaborative series of welcoming centers that have been a boon to the nearly 1,000,000 visitors who annually come to this region.

One of the most important programs that were established by the ENHC was the Partnership Grant Program. It was determined very early that the quickest and clearest way to establish both awareness and credibility for the Commission and to get some of the important federal funding into the region was to establish a grant program. The Partnership Grant program provides funding to communities and local not for profit organizations that are creating or establishing programs that are helping to advance the mission of the ENHC. The program was a matching program as well, and grants were only provided to organizations and communities that were making matching contributions on their own or with partnering organizations to the designated program. Since the inception of the program in 1999 the Partnership Grant program has had a substantial impact on the region. Over 200 grants have been provided that total $1.8 million. Those grants have generated over $15 million in matching funds and the grants that have been provided in all 34 communities in the region, have certainly improved life in the region. The first chairman of the program was Attorney Malcolm Mac Lean of Swampscott who has devoted a substantial commitment of time for many years to this effort. David Hildt, the former Mayor of Amesbury who still serves the Commission in that role, succeeded attorney Mac Lean.

In the early years an application is created and approximately 50 applications were presented to the Commission for funding. A committee of experts that reviews the applications for creativity and to determine how many partners have been included in the application considers the applications for approval. That group that makes recommendations to fund the applications approved approximately half of the applications that they received each year for funding. For a list of the 200 grants that have been made since the inception of partnership Grant program see the ENHC web site at www.essexheritage.org for detailed information and partners. After a one year hiatus in 2009 due to lack of funding the program in 2010 is now back in place In the most recent year a streamlined program was created to allow for the approval of projects and the distribution of funding with a slightly diminished level of staffing at Essex Heritage.

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friendship Sail, North Shore Alliance, Essex Heritage Development Issues, Labor Day Activities, Essex Heritage History Continued



After a substantial amount of anticipation and advance reporting by the local TV channels, Hurricane EARL diminished rather dramatically as it passed by New England. The storm that had been listed as a category two storm as it passed the mid Atlantic states was lowered to a level one as it brushed by the cape and the Islands. Very shortly after delivering some substantial rain and a little wind on the cape and islands it was reduced again to just a tropical storm as it continued up the coast and into Nova Scotia.

The storm caused the National Park Service to adjust the schedule of sailing for the Friendship by one day and then reversed the travel schedule between Salem and Gloucester. The ship went out on Sunday from Salem and participated in the schooner races off of Gloucester and then retuned to her homeport of Salem on the Labor Day Holiday. The change in schedule caused me to cancel the plans that my wife and I had to participate, so I will have to wait until I speak to some of the participants later today when I obtain some first hand reports. But from what I believe, the trips went well and the weather did cooperate and I am certain that the weekend events were spectacular.


On September 23, 2010 at the Lynn Office of Eastern Bank, the North Shore Economic Alliance that is managed by Bill Luster under the auspices of Salem State University will hold its fall meeting. The focus of the meeting will be transportation and the State’s Secretary of Transportation will be the featured presenter. It is expected that reports on Route 128 improvements in Danvers and Beverly, along with information on the Blue Line expansion into Lynn and the Salem and Beverly MBTA garages will be provided. This is a relatively new organization that is doing wonderful work on a series of economic development issues important to the region.


As the summer comes to a close, the Essex Heritage Development Committee has demonstrated a wonderful commitment to increasing corporate support for the work of the Commission. The committee members have been most participatory and appointments have been established at several businesses that will be visited in the first couple of weeks in September. The Committee has established a goal of gaining appointments with fifteen new corporate entities between now and the end of the year, and with the activities of the last couple of weeks we are well on our way to meeting that goal. We will continue to report from time to time in this space as new commitments from the region’s corporate community are made to Essex Heritage. The first commitment made for support was made by the North Shore Bank, in Danvers and Peabody and for that support we are most appreciative. If any of you who follow the activities of Essex Heritage wish to be visited so that we might provide more definitive information about the work of ENHC, contact Mary Williamson at 978 740 0444 or e-mail her at maryw@essexheritage.org


On Saturday, along with my wife, my son and one of my grandsons we enjoyed a day at the Deutsche Bank Championship Golf Tournament at the Tournament Players Course in Norton, Mass. My ten year old grandson, Casey has become enamored with golf this summer, and after a full eight hours and about seven miles of walking the hills, we had to talk him back into the car to head home. Oh well, maybe we have another golfer in the family.

The Tournament is part of the year-end PGA championship finale and was very well attended. In fact it appeared to me that the crowds this year were much larger than in previous years. I suspect that is most positive for the economy of eastern Massachusetts as along with the large crowds, the patrons of the event seemed to be spending freely and enjoying the day. The weather was most cooperative as after the storm passed the rest of the weekend was most positive for outdoor activities

Part Five Essex Heritage History, (Continued)

The structure that was chosen called for the election of a large number of local leaders who would serve as Commissioners. These Commissioners were chosen to represent the many communities, organizations, businesses, and educational institutions etc that were being served by this new initiative. The primary role then and today of a Commissioner is to be an advocate for the work of the ENHC and to promote the mission of the organization whenever possible. In the beginning many local elected officials were appointed as Commissioners, but later in the life of the Commission it was decided that every elected official in Essex County would automatically became an ex-officio member of the commission. The group of commissioners would meet once each year at the annual meeting that is held each October, and later because of the activity that was being generated by the commission it was decided to hold a second full commission meeting in May of each year. From the group of Commissioners that by 2010 had grown to just over one hundred and fifty members, a group of 25 Trustees are chosen for a maximum of three, three-year terms. That group meets every other month, six times a year. The officers of the Commission who are also Trustees also meet six times a year on the opposite month from the Trustees.

In October 1997 the new Commission held its first ever annual meeting and a slate of officers and by-laws for the ENHC were approved. The first slate of officers elected for a two year term of office was: Thomas M. Leonard, President, Thomas Costin, Vice President, James MacDougall, Vice President, William Tinti, Clerk. The first ever-annual meeting of the ENHC was held in the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center in Salem and in addition to some organizational business; the creation of the ENHC was celebrated. It is interesting to note that since that inaugural annul meeting, the Commission has held two meetings each year through 2010 and those meetings have been held around the county at historic, educational and in some cases private locations.

In the congressional election two years later, a repeat of the close election battle for the sixth congressional seat held two years before was repeated, only this time John Tierney prevailed. It is very clear that without the strong commitment offered to the ENHC by the retiring congressman the legislation he offered and shepherded through the Congress would not have passed. His enthusiasm for the history that was being preserved played an important role in his strong commitment to the process.

The leadership of the ENHC met with Congressman elects Tierney shortly after his election and received a commitment from him of continuing support for this initiative. In the original ENHC legislation, we were authorized to receive up to $1 million per year up to a total of $15 Million over a 15-year time frame. Upon John’s election to the US Congress he found a method to get some of the authorized funding released and in 1999 the ENHC received the first funding since its inception. That funding has continued uninterrupted through 2010, although as more and more Heritage Areas have been created nationally, the amount of annual funding has diminished each year. The allocation of funds made to Essex Heritage has been reduced each year and at the present time we are receiving about 60% of what we once received. That reduced funding has been supplemented by an increase commitment to this initiative by the corporate community of the region and personal contributions from Trustees and friends of Essex Heritage.

We have not mentioned except briefly, since we began this report the role that the two United States Senators played in the creation of this initiative. Clearly without the total support and unwavering commitment of Senators Edward M. Kennedy until he died in 2009, and John F. Kerry we would never have been successful. Their support since the days of the “Ad Hoc” effort through the present time has been superior. There is very little question that the creation and the continuing funding of the Essex Heritage Commission could not have been possible without their support. The support of Congressman Martin Meehan and now his replacement, Niki Tsongas, after Congressman Meehan took a new position with the University of Lowell also should be noted as they represent four of the communities in the northwest corner of the Essex National Heritage Area, and they have offered their support and counsel at every step along the way.

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, September 3, 2010

Labor Day Holiday, Friendship Sails Schedule, Essex Heritage Meetings, Tourist Activity Strong in Region,


Happy Holiday Weekend

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a most pleasant Labor Day weekend, and I hope that you enjoy all of the activities planned on what is considered the unofficial end of summer. I reported this once before, but this holiday always brings back memories of my father-in -law Martin Waldron of Peabody and formally of County Mayo, Ireland. Marty always pointed out to me on the evening before Labor Day that he could stay up a bit later on that Sunday evening as the next day was not a “labor day: for him, meaning he did not have to head for his strenuous job in the leather industry the following morning. The Labor Day weekend also ends my summer sojourn, and I look forward to being back at my desk at Essex Heritage on next Tuesday morning, and am anxious to begin to get immersed once again in the work of the Commission.

Friendship Sails

As I prepare to post this report to the Essex Happenings BLOG, Hurricane Earl is churning up the Atlantic coast. The impact of Earl is still a little uncertain, but the most recent forecasts have the storm passing the Massachusetts coast sometime later today and into tonight. It appears that the storm has weakened and the severity of the wind and the potential rain amounts will be less than originally projected. The outer cape and the island of Nantucket appears to be the area that will be most impacted.

All of these weather issues have placed the schedule for the first ever Friendship commercial sail in a most uncertain condition. I am not going to make an attempt here to report on the adjustments to the schedule that have been offered, but encourage you if you are a planned passenger on the sail and have not already contacted Essex Heritage at 978 740 0444 to get the most up to date information please do so today. It is difficult when an event that has been planned for so long and with such anticipation has to be adjusted due to conditions that are well beyond the control of the National Park Service and Essex Heritage.

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting Planned

Twice each year, Essex Heritage schedules a meeting to bring the region current information on our activities and plans for the future. This year the October meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, 2010 and it is hoped that the meeting will be at a North Shore location in the City of Beverly. We will have confirmation of a location in a week or so, but wanted to get the date in your hands as fast as possible. Stay tuned for more information in the next couple of weeks at the latest.

Alliance of National Heritage Area’s Fall Meeting in the Region

Let me also provide another additional report on a scheduled event also to be held in October 2010. Just after the Columbus Day holiday weekend, Essex Heritage will be hosting the quarterly meeting of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas in this region. The many members from the other heritage Areas around the country will gather in this region to discuss national priorities for the Alliance, and to enjoy the hospitality of this historic region. While the meetings are not open to the public, the activities I am certain will be interesting to readers of this BLOG, and I will provide reports as they develop.

Summer Sensational in Salem

With a big thank you the Salem News for their work on an article on tourism that appeared this week we are most pleased to hear all of the good news that they reported. They completed a very comprehensive poll of the visitor attractions in the city and virtually every one reported wonderful attendance numbers for this summer season just now coming to an end. All of the major attractions in the regions premier tourist destination were up in attendance and some sites were even predicting record numbers for the year. There were several reasons provided for the success but the good weather seems to be an important factor.

I have not had the opportunity to hear from other parts of he region, but I suspect that of Salem attractions are in a positive climate them the rest of the region is following suit. We can only hope that the economy improves a bit, the weather stays fair and temperate and that the foliage attractions, farmers markets, road side stands, Halloween activities and the Topsfield Fair produce the same results as we have viewed in the summer that is just ending. With all of that accomplished, Essex Heritage and the region will mark 2010 as a most positive season.


Part four of the History of Essex Heritage (continued)

During Congressman Torkildsen’s first term in Congress the leadership of the Ad Hoc Commission made several trips to Washington seeking his support and continuing to make a case for the passage of legislation to create a new Heritage Area in our region. In November 1994, on the very last day of the Congressman’s first term in Washington the legislation that he had prepared and advocated for was approved by the House of Representatives but by the time the house acted, the Senate had adjourned and the legislation failed to pass and died at that time. From our perspective, it meant heading back to “square one’ and starting over with a new Congress that would begin its service in 1997.

During the next two years the leadership of the ad hoc commission continued to push the congressman for passage of the proposed legislation, and he certainly continued to provide support. But the Congressman had other matters on his mind, and he was in a very competitive election race for his seat in Congress. A local Salem attorney who had recently served as the President of the Salem Chamber of Commerce mounted a most aggressive campaign as a Democrat and in a hotly contested election lost after a recount to Congressman Torkilldsen. Even though Peter Torkildsen was certainly preoccupied with his re-election campaign, he continued to provide substantial support for the “Essex” legislation and on the last day of the congressional session in 1996 the Essex National Heritage Commission along with seven other Heritage Areas were created when both houses of congress passed the Omnibus Legislative Bill in 1996.

There were seven other organizations that were approved as part of this bill, and with the passage of the bill the number of National Heritage Areas in the country doubled. We will always be indebted to the Congressman and Senator Kennedy for their efforts during that two-year period. It was a difficult time as we still had limited funding and we continued to work collaboratively with others in the region in the anticipation of the ultimate passage and funding of the proposed Heritage Area. The legislation that was signed by President William Jefferson Clinton created the Essex National Heritage Area in perpetuity and provided fifteen million in funding that could be drawn down if approved at a rate of no more that $1 million per year over a fifteen year period.

When the legislation passed, the management structure that we had anticipated that contained either a federal or state commission was stripped from the final bill. The bill as passed allowed the leadership of the Ad Hoc Commission to organize its own management structure. The Park Service through the local superintendent once again provided funds that allowed for the hiring of an independent consultant who helped us sort through the options that were available. Several members of the leadership team gathered in the upstairs rooms of the Lyceum Restaurant in Salem in the spring of 1997 and sorted through the options. It was decided that the concept that worked for so many mutually managed organizations in New England like Savings and Cooperative Banks, Insurance Companies, and hospitals would work for this new initiative. It was agreed to organize within this structure and it was also agreed that even though there was no formal commission established with this new organization, the name Essex Heritage “Ad Hoc” Commission had worked so well that the new organization was called the Essex National Heritage Commission (ENHC).

The ENHC still had no funding to begin to carry out its mission, but we were created, and were enthusiastically beginning to establish partnerships with communities and other organizations across the region. At that time we organized a concept that would have a series of commissioners that would serve the region, and from that group a twenty-five member Board of Trustees would be identified to mange the general focus on the Commission. From the Board of Trustee a slate of officers would be picked and elected to serve as the day-to-day management arm of the Essex Heritage Commission. That structure has served us well, as even today in 2010, fourteen years later the structure established then works as well today as it did in 1986

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