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 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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