Friday, January 29, 2010


St John’s Prep Honors Teacher-Coach with Award

On Wednesday evening, my wife and I, attended an award celebration in the Milano Dinning Room on the campus of St. John’s Prep in Danvers. The occasion was the presentation of the first ever Martin Luther King Diversity Award that was provided to long time Prep Track and Field and Cross Country coach, Raymond Carey. The event that was originally scheduled on the holiday that celebrates the birthday of Dr. King, who led the fight to create a more diverse culture in this country, was moved to last night when the holiday morning arrived stormy. The award that was provided to the recently retired history teacher at the school for the extraordinary work that Ray Carey has done during the last 25 years to change the race relations climate, promote tolerance and to reach out to bring young men of color to St. John’s Prep as students.

Coach Carey has played a lead role at the Danvers school as for the last several decades he has encouraged the school’s administration and it’s Board of Trustees to make the changes needed at the school to teach a generation of students the importance of fighting prejudices in race, religion, sexual preference and to promote tolerance. Ray who also graduated from the Prep, served in many capacities in this effort, and helped drive Board of Trustee and faculty committees as they addressed issues of importance to the cause of race relations, tolerance and diversity.

St. John's Headmaster Skip Shannon presented the award last night to Coach Carey, and noted in his remarks that the proof of Ray Carey’s success in this effort is clearly in the number of students of color who now attend St. John’s. When this effort began two decades ago, students of color represented about 1% of the total student body, and now in the 2009-2010 academic year the percentage of students of color at the school have now risen to 12%. The total population of students of color now exceeds 125 students. I was proud to be in attendance last night and to share the evening with Coach Carey and to offer my accolades for his efforts. All of us who have a continuing connection with the school congratulates Ray Carey and knows that he will continue to play a role in this important issue at the Prep in the years ahead.

Massachusetts Not the Only State where Cutbacks are Being Felt

I receive a monthly newsletter from The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and that publication is usually filled with positive articles about efforts around the country to preserve our important American heritage. One of the stories in the most recent issue cites the closure of parks and historic sites in states all across the region. The most prominent of these closures, brought about due to the continuing economic difficulties being experienced nation wide is in Pennsylvania where that State’s far reaching budget cuts have resulted in the closure or reduction in hours of operation of almost all of Pennsylvania’s historic sites and parks. The most recent budget approved in that state reduced the funding for the Historical and Museum Commission by almost $7 million dollars, and that was a 37% cut and resulted in numerous closures. As part of that closure process, nearly 200 positions across that State were eliminated.

The State of Pennsylvania has one of the broadest arrays of state parks anywhere in the nation and the closures are certainly devastating to those in that State that focus on these assets. This year the future of many of these sites will now rest on the ability to attract volunteers to help fill the gaps created by the budget cuts. Reduced hours of operation will be expanded only if “friends” groups or volunteers can be found. The State of Pennsylvania is not the only state to be considering making budget cuts that will impact State parks and other historic venues, as California and Arizona have closed parks, and Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Tennessee have slashed funding for parks, and Idaho and Colorado are considering closures.

So you can see that some of the moves made in Massachusetts to close some of the most visible and heaviest visited Welcoming Centers is not without precedence. The economic conditions that are causing these actions are wide spread, and may make travel experiences this coming summer season a little difficult. I have recently heard that the closure of the much-needed Salisbury Welcoming Center operated by the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau has had some recent good news. Lets hope that something can be worked out at that site as this region certainly needs that center operating as it is the gateway to this region as visitors arrive from the three neighboring New England States to the north, and serves all of the visits from our friends in the eastern Canadian Provinces.

Historic House in Framingham with Ties to this Region in Danger of Demolition

In the Preservation newsletter a second article caught my eye, as a home in Framingham MA now owned by a local bank has fallen into a state of disrepair and local residents are mobilizing to try to save the home. Sarah Clayes and her husband originally built the home in 1693 following the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Sarah Clayes was the sister of Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty and all three of the women were found guilty of practicing witchcraft in Salem and Sarah fled from Salem to Framingham to avoid being executed like her two sisters.

The local advocates who are attempting to organize an effort to save the house are hampered by improper weatherization and vandalism, plus a very “cloudy” title due to the divorce of the last couple to own the house. The all volunteer group that is trying organize the effort to save the house estimates that they will need to raise $2 million to acquire and restore the property and another $2 million to set up an endowment to support the historic house when opened as a museum. Looks like a tall task ahead of the group. I wish them well.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Special Observations, Salem News Editorial, Essex Heritage Audit, Salem Police Chief Speaks at Salem Rotary

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Notes on Ongoing Observations

From time to time I have to remind myself that on any given day, there may be a new reader or two of this effort to inform residents of the region about the activities of Essex Heritage. The Essex Happenings BLOG seeks to provide information about the day to day initiatives of Essex Heritage and other activities of our many partners in this region as together we attempt to make the place where we either live or work a more livable environment. Essex Heritage considers itself an umbrella organization that serves as an advocate for the promotion and preservation of the historical, natural and cultural resources that exist in such abundance in this region. We attempt to accomplish these tasks as a collaborator with other organizations when our support and participation are required and sometimes simply as a convener if those are the skills that are needed for a particular project.

The observations offered in these frequent postings are my personal thoughts as someone who has been associated with this effort over the life of the project and are not intended to be positioned as the official posture of Essex Heritage, its staff or any of its many volunteer members of the Board of Trustees. I hope that the observations offered here are informative and provide a more complete understanding of the work of so many allied organizations and individuals who work to make this a better place for all of us to live and work. I also on occasion will offer some very personal observations about activities in this area not necessarily associated with or even remotely connected to the work of Essex Heritage, but those are the opportunities afforded me today through this new medium of communications. I continue to encourage anyone who reads of our work to contact me if any of the material raises a question or you need additional information. I can be reached at

Salem News Editorial Today

We are certainly appreciative of the support on the Salem News Editorial Page today for an idea offered at the recent Essex Heritage Municipal/Legislative Leadership Breakfast. Essex Heritage and the local National Park Service leadership team are exploring the possibilities of using the recently obtained license for the Baker’s Island Light Station as a catalyst to establish a broader opportunity for Essex Heritage and our senior partner, the National Park Service to provide more collaboration in the waters of Salem sound. The idea to develop a concept that could be called Harbor Islands North that would be similar to what exists with the Boston Harbor Islands is an exciting concept, and we are most hopeful that in the near term a more complete plan might be explored and then examined by many interests in the region. There is still much to be done before even a preliminary plan can be examined, as we certainly can not plan for a venture like this in a vacuum. There are many regional interests that need to have an opportunity to participate, not the least of whom are the neighbors who share Bakers Island with Essex Heritage. The one concept that all can be certain of is that access to Bakers Island will never be unlimited, as our plans call for access to be only by controlled tours and always accompanied by guides.

Essex Heritage Audit Committee Report

Under normal circumstances Audit Committee meeting reports do not make for “can’t put down” reading material and the meeting Essex Heritage held today was no different, but still most important. We are most appreciative of the work accomplished by the dedicated Essex Heritage Committee who gathers annually to pour over financial reports and independent auditor opinions. The firm of Parent, McLaughlin and Nangle conduct the audit and present their findings and recommendations. The meeting today confirmed once again that the work of the Commission is being recorded properly and the independent auditors have once again found that all financial reports that are filled with Federal and State agencies are in order. For the management team at Essex Heritage this is always most comforting news, as one must always know where they have been, before staring to chart a course forward. The committee is managed by John Meserve. President of Merrimac Savings Bank, and he is assisted by Robert Conley of Ryan and Coscia PC of Salem, and the bulk of the preparation work for the audit is prepared and managed by Susan Lippman the CFO of Essex Heritage.

Salem Police Chief Speaks to Salem Rotary

I have always particularly appreciated presentations at weekly Rotary club meetings that either provide me with information that I did not have previously, or tell me an interesting story. At this Tuesday’s Salem Rotary meeting, our speaker was someone who I have known for years, and a presenter who certainly related something that I did know before the meeting. Paul Tucker the recently appointed Chief of Police in Salem has been with the Salem force for over 28 years prior to his selection as Chief. At my previous employer, Salem Five Bank I had numerous occasions to deal with Paul in both his role with the Police force and as a community volunteer. Paul grew up in Salem, and both of his parents were elementary school classmates of mine at the now closed St. Mary’s school on Hawthorne Boulevard in Salem. It is interesting to note that the school now hosts the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem. Paul’s wife Anne worked with me for a number of years at the bank, and we collaborated on many projects in that capacity.

At the Rotary presentation Chief Tucker provided us with an overview of the technology currently being used by area police forces, from number plate identification to fingerprint and DNA examinations. He related how important it is to consider some of the privacy and personal rights issues as these technologies are being used to help keep our communities safe and to put wrongdoers in jail, He also provided some insight into how these new technologies are also being used to prove the innocence, in some cases, of wrongly accused and even incarcerated individuals, Chief Ticker included numerous examples of how the technologies are being used today, and provided a level of comfort that he truly understood the privacy issue as well. All in all, the presentation was most informative and that is all one can hope for when a luncheon speaker presents anywhere,

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, January 25, 2010

Essex Heritage Breakfast Held, Congressman Tierney Keynote Speaker, Danvers Town Meeting, Fishing for Sustainability, Thank You Endicott College

Monday, January 25, 2010

Essex Heritage Municipal/Legislative Breakfast

This morning a strong cross section of regional elected officials, and business leaders from the region Essex Heritage serves gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody to learn about the current activities of Essex Heritage. The weather this morning was a bit threatening and we were worried that those predicted conditions might serve as an attendance impediment, but that certainly was not the case. The projected rain and wind held off at least until we could conduct our meeting and get people back to their more normal schedule of events. We were most gratified by the number of Mayors, Town Managers, Administrators, Selectmen, and State officials who gathered with some of our partner organizations for breakfast and an update of Essex Heritage activities both past, present and future.

Our two senior volunteers, current President Kevin Tierney of Saugus Bank and Immediate past President Nancy Huntington Stager of Eastern Bank provided a great overview of the past accomplishments of the Commission, and laid the groundwork for a new strategic vision for the future. The presentation was most complete and left the officials gathered with a much greater appreciation of the mission of Essex Heritage. Kevin Tierney focused on the advocacy work of the all volunteer group, and paid particular attention to the successes Essex Heritage has had in attracting substantial federal grants to the region. It was also illustrated how the federal grant dollars had been leveraged to produce an even more substantial financial investment in the region. These investments substantially impact the regional economy. Several current projects that focus on the collaborative nature of the regional Essex Heritage strategy were outlined, with a particular emphasis on the Scenic Byway Project, the Border to Boston Bikeway, the stewardship role Essex heritage has been asked to play with the Baker’s island light station and the reinstatement of the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant program. The grant program that is clearly one of the most participatory and successful programs ever offered by Essex Heritage, and is now back in operation, and On-Line grant applications are now being received at www.essexheritage,org. A brief overview of preliminary plans to create a broader National Park Service presence in the region without any acquisition of private property was provided, and thoughts to create a program in this region similar to the Boston Harbor Islands program were outlined. This expansion effort might encompass much of Salem Sound, and might be thought of as a Harbor Islands North effort

Congressman Tierney the Keynote Speaker

We were particularly pleased that Congressman John F. Tierney was able to join us this morning. John has been one of the strongest advocates we could ever have had for the work of Essex Heritage. His commitment to this program has been unwavering since that day he took office in the Congress, and has been a forceful voice for funding for Essex Heritage. That has not been easy, as the Congressman pointed out this morning. The biggest competitor the Essex Heritage has in Washington is our own success. So much has been accomplished by Essex Heritage in its brief twelve year existence that other regions all over the country have attempted to emulate that success by trying to establish a similar concept in their particular section of the country. These competitors continue to seek some of the available National Park Service funding for similar projects, but the achievements of Essex Heritage and Congressman Tierney’s strong voice has kept the necessary funding in place for this region.

The Congressman then spent the rest of time at the podium speaking of the “landscape” in Washington and the changes that the recent election of new Massachusetts Senator Scott brown has had on that process. He also provided information on the continuing need of the country, this State and our region to create more and more jobs. This along with education is an important phase of the Congressman’s work in Washington, He concluded his remarks with another ringing endorsement of the work of Essex Heritage, and pledged to continue to be an advocate for our cause.

Special Town Meeting in Danvers Tonight

In my role as a member of the Danvers Finance Committee, I will attend some portion of the special Town meeting tonight at the Middle school, where banning texting while driving, and the acquisition of a property currently owned by the Town will be considered to be sold to a Town supported organization interested in the creation of more affordable housing. The bulk of the meeting will be devoted to several complex zoning matters, including moves to change the existing zoning in the Danversport section of Town,

Fishing for Sustainability

This past Sunday the Boston Globe North edition carried two interesting stories about the fishing industry that may really be a sign of the times. One story focused on a group of Shrimp fishermen who have teamed up to pre sell shares of their catch that allows local families to receive a set amount of shrimp ready for the table each week. This shareholder concept has been widely used by area farmers in recent years, and seems to be a trend that other food producers are using. The second item concerned a Seabrook NH fisherman and his wife who after spending the early part of the day fishing, then after a tedious day at sea, comes home cleans and removes extraneous parts of the fish that he has caught, and then markets it directly to pre arranged consumers. Both of these concepts could be ideas whose time has come.

Essex Heritage says Thank You to Local College Interns

Over the last couple of weeks, Essex Heritage has been the beneficiary of some wonderful highly technical computer support from two student interns provided by Endicott College in Beverly. The college has a regular student intern program and the work that was done for Essex Heritage in the past couple of weeks on the recently restored Partnership Grant Program was most helpful. Thank you to Endicott College and Rick Mitchell from the Essex Heritage staff and to the student interns that they provided.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, January 22, 2010

Essex Heritage Breakfast on Monday in Peabody, Heritage Hero Event Planning Advances, North Shore Alliance for Economic Development Holds Meeting


Essex Heritage Municipal/Legislative Breakfast on Monday

This Monday, January 25, 2010, Essex Heritage will hold a Municipal and Legislative leadership breakfast at the Marriot Hotel in Peabody. The meeting and the breakfast have been made possible due in part to a gift from our sponsor Salem Five Bank. Based on the wonderful advance response that we have had for this event the meeting and the discussion we expect to stimulate, this gathering will be a most meaningful regional event. We are particularly pleased at the response from local Mayors, Town Managers and Town Administrators and the elected officials who represent this region on Beacon Hill for their commitment of time with their attendance. An informative presentation that highlights plans for the next couple of years and takes the time to review the work of the last several years of activity will be outlined for our participants. We fully expect that when the meeting concludes all in attendance will have a greater understanding of the regional aspects of the work of Essex Heritage and will have a greater appreciation of what our projects have meant to the area. We are particularly indebted to our Immediate Past President, Nancy Huntington Stager from Eastern Bank and Current President Kevin M. Tierney from Saugus Bank for their willingness to take the lead in both the planning for and the presentation of the strategic vision that will be outlined on Monday. We are also appreciative that Congressman John F. Tierney has taken time from his active schedule to join us on Monday as our keynote speaker. With all that has gone on in Washington and in the State of Massachusetts in the most recent past, John’s observations and insights will be most timely, as will his continuing support for the Essex Heritage mission.

Heritage hero Planning Continues

In May 2010, at the Tupelo Music Hall in Salisbury, Essex Heritage and our Senior Partner, the National Park Service will present Heritage Hero Awards to three most deserving recipients. Former Mayor’s Nick Costello of Amesbury, Byron Matthews of Newburyport and long time travel and tourism advocate, Maria Miles of Salisbury will be honored for their work and their outstanding commitments to Essex County. These awards will be third in this series of awards as in the past Essex Heritage has recognized Jim McAllister of Salem, and Tom Costin of Lynn and Nahant .

Essex Heritage staff has been very busy organizing the event that will honor these three Essex County pioneers on May 20, 2010 and an Honorary Committee that will help promote and manage the event has been formed and that list looks like a "who’s who"of the tri-town area of Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury. Presentations that night will include a retrospective look back at the work that our three recipients have done to make their three communities what they are today. Provident Bank in Amesbury has agreed to be the title sponsor that evening, and several other local organizations have also committed their support. More sponsors are most welcome and commitment for the purchase of tables for the event can be secured now by contacting the Essex Heritage Director of Development, Mary Williamson at or by calling her at the Essex Heritage offices at 978 740 0444.

North Shore Alliance for Economic Development Winter Meeting

Yesterday, along with a wide ranging group of area activists, I attended the winter meeting of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development held at the most impressive Cummings Center in Beverly. The meeting was presided over by Salem State College President Patricia Maguire Meservey and the Executive Director of the Alliance, Bill Luster. We were welcomed to the city by the long time recently re-elected Beverly Mayor, Bill Scanlon who provided a brief overview of what the Cummings Center property means to the City of Beverly. That presentation was followed by an update from the Cummings Center Property Manager who spoke of the size of the complex that has now grown to in excess of 2 million square feet of space currently occupied by over 500 clients and is still growing. There are certainly numerous employment opportunities that are presented at the Cummings Center property, and the project has also become the single largest tax payer in the community. In addition to the many North Shore business persons who are participating in the work of the Alliance, numerous municipal and elected officials who represent this region on Beacon Hill in Boston were also in attendance.

The primary presenter at the meeting was the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Robert DeLeo, who is just completing his first year in this leadership role. Speaker DeLeo painted a particularly bleak picture for the Commonwealth in the year ahead. He predicted that State revenues will continue to fall, and that will certainly affect how the Commonwealth can distribute funds to local communities and other worthy projects. The loss of revenue over this year and next would be the most precipitous drop in revenue over a two year period since World War Two. He reiterated his support for slot machines at tracks and indicated that he would support broader casino gaming in legislation that he expects to file next month. His rational for the support for gaming legislation is that it will create jobs. He repeated several times that priority one for the Commonwealth and the Legislature was the creation of more jobs for both this region, his community and for the state as a whole.

The Speaker also focused his remarks on transportation issues. He spoke of using federal stimulus funds to build a new 500 car parking garage in Revere near the Wonderland stop on the MBTA’s Blue Line. He indicated continuing support for extending the Blue line into Lynn, but provided no timetable for that extension. He also alluded to plans to reach out to businesses to encourage them to open dialog with Community Colleges to better train students in specific skills that would also add to the creation of jobs that will so important to the State this upcoming year.

The meeting ended with an announcement that was delivered State representative Ted Speliotis who represents Danvers and a portion of Peabody that a long awaited State highway project had been funded and construction would now begin this spring. The two exits at Route 35 and at Route 62 on Route 128 in Danvers that are two of the most dangerous exit and entrance ramps in the Commonwealth will be upgraded and provided with acceleration lanes. This project has been on local radar screens for nearly two decades, and hopefully will now be completed in a timely manner and it will certainly provide continued economic stimulus to business that need those ramps for access, including the Cummings Center in Beverly.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

U S Senate Election Results, Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program Guidelines , Salem Partnership Newsletter, Whittier Bridge Hearing


Election Results for the Special Election for United States Senator

The results of the special election held yesterday to fill the vacant United States Senate seat were truly extraordinary. The win by Massachusetts State Senator and soon to be seated US Senator, Scott Brown was a testament to a wonderfully crafted election campaign and much hard work by both the candidate and his supporters. Senator Brown certainly captured a substantial portion of the independent voters in the State who clearly sent a strong message to all elected officials in both the Commonwealth and in Washington to reconsider recent activities. Essex Heritage congratulates US Senator elect Scott Brown who the electorate is sending to Washington to represent all of the citizens of the Commonwealth, but it is clear that in addition to sending Senator Brown to Washington, a message is also being sent that should resonate loud and clear. The recent plans and activities surrounding the adjustments being planned for health care in this country needs to be .reconsidered and a more participatory process needs to be put in place. .

Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program Restored
In several recent postings I have reported that the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant program was going to be reinstated and that $25,000 would be available in ten $2,500 grants. It was announced today that the grant process is now open for applications and Essex Heritage is prepared to accept online applications at for the matching seed grant program to eligible Essex County organizations. Suspended in 2009 due to budget constraints, Essex Heritage is fulfilling a strategic priority by providing financial assistance to those organizations that steward this region's nationally significant heritage. Essex Heritage is currently accepting on-line proposals from municipalities and qualified nonprofit organizations for projects and activities that support Essex Heritage's mission to preserve and promote the historic, cultural, and natural resources of the Essex National Heritage Area. $2,500 grants will be provided to ten qualified applicants whose projects:
Create or further develop educational opportunities for youth
Increase awareness and understanding of the region’s heritage
Preserve and enhance historic structures, landscapes and cultural resources

Detailed information about the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program, including guidelines, criteria, deadlines, frequently asked questions and application materials, are available online at Review of the guidelines is highly recommended as significant changes are being implemented with this year’s program, including the online only application process and pre-set grant amount.
Essex Heritage is pleased to be able to bring this important and popular program back to the region. If you have a program that you believe will meet the criteria identified, please review the application process and consider offering an application.
City of Salem/Salem Partnership Economic Growth Initiatives Newsletter
I recently received a copy of a newsletter published jointly by the City of Salem, and the Salem Partnership. Essex Heritage has always had a particular interest in the activities of the Salem Partnership, as the creation of Essex Heritage was the direct result of actions initially instituted by the Salem Partnership. Both Annie Harris and I have long associations with the Salem Partnership and both of us still serve on that organization’s Executive Board. The newsletter released today was filled with optimistic reports of economic progress in the City of Salem assisted by the Salem Partnership run by Executive Director Patricia Zaido, who also serves as a Commissioner of Essex Heritage. Updates on projects that have long been associated with the Salem Partnership and other projects that will certainly affect the economic well being of the City were outlined. The report covered a wide range of projects including

J Michael Ruane Court Complex at Bridge and Federal Streets
New multi purpose Senior Center Building at Bridge and Boston Streets
MBTA Parking Garage at Bridge and Washington Streets
Old Salem Jail Restoration Project at Bridge and St Peter Streets
Bridge Street Causeway Park Project
Port Development , Harbor Walk and South River Dredging Projects

The newsletter provides complete details on all of the projects noted above and if you are interested in more detail than provided here, that information can be found on the Salem partnership web site at It is clear from the winter newsletter and the work of the current administration of the City of Salem and its Mayor Kimberly Driscoll that Salem is a community on the move.

Whittier Bridge Improvement Project to Hold Regional Hearing on January 21st

On Thursday, January 21, 2010 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold a regional public hearing at Amesbury City Hall to present design plans for the massive Whittier Bridge/I95 project. This $285 million dollar highway project, the largest in the Commonwealth since the “Big Dig” project, will have a substantial impact on the northeastern part of the region served by Essex Heritage. The hearing on Thursday is open to the public and to learn more about the project or to voice concerns consider attending the meeting. Essex Heritage because of its close association with both the Border to Boston project and the Coastal Trails Coalition headed by Bill Steelman, Essex Heritage’s Director of Development has a special interest in seeing the project include a provision for bicycle and pedestrian access. Specifically Essex heritage supports three key proposed enhancements to the project: a linear bicycle and pedestrian facility crossing the Merrimack River, preservation of the former railroad tunnels under Rt 95 just north of Rt 110 and rehabilitation of the railroad corridor on either side to enable a rail-trail link between Salisbury and Amesbury, and the expansion of the existing Merrimack River Trail linking Mosely Woods and Maudslay State Park over public land. If these issues also resonate with you, consider attending the public hearing tomorrow at the Amesbury City Hall to make your thoughts known to the Commonwealth. Essex Heritage is most supportive of the plans outlined by the Coastal Trails Coalition to preserve a once in a lifetime opportunity to fulfill the promise of a truly diverse and inclusive transportation system in the Commonwealth and particularly her in the northeastern part of the State.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, January 15, 2010

Homelessness, Cape Wind, Gordon College, Martin Luther King Day, and Get out and Vote


Homeless Issue and Motel Living Featured in Newspaper

Over the last week, the Salem News has run a multi part series on the issue of homelessness and the poorly conceived solution by the State of Massachusetts to use local motels units as a solution to the problem. I congratulate the local newspaper for its comprehensive coverage of this most difficult issue, as homelessness is a most vexing issue in this country and the need for more public housing to help solve this issue is personified in the stories outlined in the Salem News series. The series reported on the difficulties young families who are placed in local motel units must endure as young children are subjected to most uncomfortable and difficult conditions, as the motel solution clearly does not work. The motel solution does not work well for any of the participants, as this plan places the affected families in a very difficult situation. In the series just presented it is also quite clear that the host community, in this case the Town of Danvers has also been severely disadvantaged as social services provided by the Town are taxed almost to the breaking point. The Senior Center staff that also has community council responsibilities and the wonderful People to People Food Pantry leadership has done yeoman work during this social crisis, but other issues that could have attended to at this time have not received the attention they should have received. In addition, the State Government who has mandated this solution provides virtually no financial support to the community that is obligated to provide not only social service support, but must provide substantial educational needs that in some cases includes an expensive transportation component. The Host community also has substantial public safety concerns added to the burden that is undertaken by the host community. The Town of Danvers and its many generous citizens should be complimented for the way that they have rallied around these “new residents of the Town”, to try to make the experience more tolerable than it could be, if just dropped into these locations without the level of support that the Town of Danvers has mustered. I certainly hope that early in this new year that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts finds a way to correct this obviously poor solution to a most difficult problem, and at the same time provides some financial relief to an already taxed municipal budget in the Town of Danvers.

Cape Wind Project Heads Towards a Solution

Recent news out of Washington indicates that the Secretary of the Interior is moving towards a final decision on a long tedious decision process focused on clean energy wind power. The project to try to build a large-scale wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod has moved along ever so slowly for almost a decade. The opposition and the support for the project have been very clearly identified, and regardless of which side of this issue a group settles on, the passion for the position is clear. There are many moving parts to this issue, and preservation interests, Native American Tribes, the National Park Service, clean energy advocates and business interests that want to build the wind farm, and many cape cod residents with conflicting positions have all clearly staked out their position and made their positions well known. The news today indicated that a decision on this very important project would be made by April 2010, and that is good as this project if approved could be the catalyst for other clean energy projects in other sections of the state. A series of projects being undertaken by other interests in this region could be most positive for the environment and for the general state of the region’s economy. The City if Salem has built a demonstration wind project on Winter Island and the final disposition of the Cape Wind project could give life to projects like the one in Salem and other projects in Essex county communities.

Gordon College to be Recognized by the City of Salem

Gordon College may have its main campus in Wenham, but they certainly have a wonderful commitment to a couple of important preservation projects in Salem. Since the spring of 2008, the colleges, Institute for Public History has been working in Salem to restore the replica village near the Forest River known as Pioneer Village, and a restoration and use project on the Old Town Hall, just off the pedestrian mall in Salem’s downtown. During the heart of the tourist season, the College offers an interactive presentation of “Cry Innocent: The People versus Bridget Bishop, where the audience at each performance acts as the jury at a mock trial. Both of those projects have been impacted positively by the College’s actions and their efforts have not gone unnoticed. On January 27, 2010 at the Salem Senior Center the City of Salem Park and Recreation Commission will recognize the college along with other organizations and individuals in the community for their efforts. Congratulations to all at the College responsible for the successes in Salem. Gordon College has worked diligently in Salem, to provide visible and exciting projects that help keep the cities 350-year history alive.

On Monday, Martin Luther King’s Life will be celebrated

On this Monday, January 18, 2010 the country and the region will celebrate the life of the great American patriot, Martin Luther King. The day will focus on the achievements of this man while he lived, and across the country, there will be presentations and commemorations that will honor his memory. This region is no different, as at St. John’s Prep there will be a first ever celebration where a long time teacher at that school will be honored for his commitment to the cause of equality. At the Danversport Yacht Club, the Friends of Danvers Committee for Diversity will meet to honor several individual who exemplify Dr. King’s legacy. I hope that on this holiday, you may be able to attend an event like the two enumerated here, or at the very least pause for a moment to remember the great cause of Dr. King’s life, and to reflect on how far this country has come since the death of Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King day is a holiday for Essex Heritage and as such, our offices will be closed. I will not offer a posting to “Essex Happenings” that day and will next “talk” to you on Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

US Senate Election on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I almost forgot to remind you of the importance of your vote on Tuesday. Regardless of who you support, the important thing is that you go to the poles next week and exercise you rights to cast a ballot and help choose who we will send to Washington D.C. to represent this state.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Municipal Breakast Update, New Essex Heritage Trustee, Salem Rotary Meeting, Sheriff Cousins Provides Update

Essex Heritage leadership Updated on Municipal Breakfast Plans

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, the Executive Committee of Essex Heritage met in a regularly scheduled meeting. In addition to the usual operational reports that are provided to that body, an update on the upcoming Municipal/Legislative breakfast in Peabody on January 25. 2010 was provided. A report on the agenda for that meeting was outlined and an overview of what is expected to be accomplished in the presentation to a group of municipal and other elected officials in the region we serve was reviewed. It was also reported that reservations for this event are running ahead of expectations, and there will be strong representation from over the entire region. We have positive responses from large City Mayors, Town Managers and Administrators from both medium and smaller communities and the leadership of Essex Heritage is looking forward to the opportunity to provide an update on past, present and future activities of Essex Heritage to that group.

New Essex Heritage Trustee Appointment

Another important issue considered by the Executive Committee was the appointment of a new Essex Heritage Trustee. That matter was discussed and a positive recommendation was unanimously made to present the appointment of Mr. Bruce Whear, the President of Wire 4 Hire, a Salem businessman and a Swampscott resident, as a Trustee to the full board at their next regularly scheduled meeting. We were recently made aware that due to a very busy schedule, David Hall of Newburyport who has served on the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees since the middle of 2010 has asked to step down from that post. David has agreed to stay on as a Commissioner and has been and will continue to be a strong advocate and financial supporter of the work of Essex Heritage. We are most appreciative of the past commitments of David Hall, and we look forward to continuing to work with him as we pursue the Essex Heritage mission in the future.

This resignation has opened another spot on the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees and a recommendation will be made to fill that vacancy by adding Mr. Bruce Whear of Swampscott and Salem to fill that spot. I have had the pleasure of working in many capacities with Bruce Whear for a number of years, and have served with him on several boards including the Salem Rotary Club, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem and the North Shore Community College Foundation Board. Bruce has been an Essex Heritage Commissioner for many years owns and operates, Wire for Hire a most successful electrical contractor business in Salem and in that capacity provides a link to Essex Heritage to a broad array of professionals in the building and home improvement trades. Bruce has been a licensed electrical contractor for the last three decades and has built his business, Wire 4 Hire into a most successful electrical contracting company. Bruce has served as an Assistant Governor of the Rotary District that serves this region, and is the founder and administrator of the Contractors Consortium. In addition to his electrical business, Bruce is a part time actor and has appeared in a number of local TV commercials and has acted in local plays and comedic performances. We believe that Bruce Whear will make strong contributions to the work of Essex Heritage and we look forward to early February 2010 when he will officially join the board of Trustees,

Salem Rotary Club Meeting

Yesterday, as I do on most Tuesday’s at noon, I attended the weekly meeting of the Salem Rotary Club at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. I have been a member of the Salem Rotary for about sixteen years, and continue to enjoy the fellowship offered each week at lunch, and also find that the speakers who impart information to us each week provide me with a continuing stream of information about the City and the region where I live and work. I had only been a member of the Rotary for about six years when I retired for Salem Five, but felt that I would stay a couple of years longer, on my own, and now after an additional ten years, I find that I still active and participating in the work of the club. It is clear to anyone that comes in contact with the work of the club, that what the membership of this and other Rotary Clubs in the area do for this region is superlative. The fundraising efforts of the Salem club are herculean and the beneficiaries are broad and varied. Some of the most important beneficiaries are the Salem schools and the youngsters they serve. At yesterday’s meeting four of those young people were honored for their leadership efforts, and the presentations that each of them provided was inspiring. There were two young women for the Salem Academy Charter School and two equally talented and articulate young women from Salem High School. Note that all four recipients of the Rotary awards were women.

Sheriff Frank Cousins Provided Information on the Efforts of his Office

Yesterday the primary presenter at the meeting was Sheriff Frank Cousins representing the many correctional institutions that he manages. Sheriff Cousins provided an update on the work of his office to not just incarcerate prisoners but to provide programs to help rehabilitate them before they once again rejoin society. He brought us up to date on the activities and the population at the House of Correction in Middleton and on several other facilities in Lawrence for transitional prisoners and in Salisbury for a group of woman who are receiving treatment and then the receiving the opportunity to participate in work release programs. In response to a final question from the audience, the Sherriff indicated that if he had more money suddenly in his budget that he would allocate those funds to the development of more educational programs and to provide more attention to drug treatment and education. Like most of the speaking programs offered at the Salem Rotary Club, I came away from lunch with more knowledge that I had when I arrived.

Tragedy in Haiti

The news overnight from the Island of Haiti painted a most difficult picture for the residents of that country. The earthquake and the damage that was sustained on that island seems to be almost unbelievably severe. The buildings on the island are flimsy at best, and the devastation appears to most complete. There certainly is a large Haitian population located in this region, and we certainly feel badly for those that cannot even make contact with their family members still on the island to learn of their plight. We can only hope that the loss of life on the Island will be less that originally thought, and that the rescue and humanitarian efforts of the American Government soon to be launched will have some impact on the those now suffering in that region.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, January 11, 2010

Essex Heritage Municipal-Legislative Breakfast, Danvers Town Meeting, St John's Prep MLK Award, Patriots Season Ends with a Thud

MONDAY, January 11, 2010

Essex Heritage Regional Municipal/Legislative Round Table meeting Scheduled for January 25, 2010

Over the last several months the leadership and the senior volunteers of Essex Heritage have been examining the activities and focus of Essex Heritage to identify a restated vision for the organization. This effort has been ongoing and most rewarding as all aspects of the work of Essex Heritage has been considered and an updated vision has been established and strategies to accomplish the goals outlined by the vision have been enumerated. The primary purpose of the exercise over these last months was to insure that Essex Heritage can continue to be a resource to the communities that it serves at a time when those resources are needed more than at any other time in recent history. Clearly the economic times and the uncertainties that are facing the local communities in the region we serve are difficult and each individual community is identifying specific strategies to address specific problems, but we believe that this is the time to act in concert with others. We believe that there is a lot that has been accomplished in this region by Essex Heritage that “flies under the radar”, because so many of our collaborative efforts are designed to highlight partners in the region and subvert the spotlight from the Commission. We will take some time at this event to highlight some of those initiatives that are regional in nature and truly cooperative efforts accomplished with one or a coalition of our many partners in the region.

Two weeks from today that new vision and an outline that will examine how Essex Heritage will enhance its already positive image in the region will be expanded and presented at a Municipal, Legislative breakfast meeting at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody. Invitations to that round table discussion have been extended to every Mayor, Town Manager, and Town Administrator in the thirty-four communities that are served by Essex Heritage. In addition to the local municipal leadership, invitations have also been extended to the entire twenty-five member legislative delegation that represents this region on Beacon Hill in Boston. We expect to see a broad representation of the leadership of the region in attendance at the session, and we are most pleased that Congressman John F. Tierney a long time staunch advocate for our work will be a keynote presenter at the breakfast. This will also be a wonderful opportunity for the regional leadership in the area to meet with the volunteer leadership of Essex Heritage and the vast majority of the Board of Trustees of the Commission will attend the meeting and be available to discuss the mission of Essex Heritage with the regional leadership. The members of the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees are a wonderfully diverse mix of local businesses, educational institutions and local not-for-profit service and visitor related organizations.

We believe that there has never been a more important time for regional dialog and problem solving than right now, and we will take the time that morning to provide perspective on how specific Essex Heritage strategic initiatives can help drive regional collaboration and provide economic opportunities. The primary presenters at the meeting representing Essex Heritage will be the current President of Essex Heritage, Kevin M. Tierney, the President and CEO of Saugus Bank, and Nancy Huntington Stager, immediate past President of Essex Heritage and the Executive Vice President of Eastern Bank, who over the last months have been the driving force behind the effort to update the strategic vision for Essex Heritage. The presentations will include some pertinent history of Essex Heritage through its initial years of operation, and an outline of the role of Essex Heritage in the future as it convenes collaborates and advocates on behalf of the communities, and sites of this region.

Town of Danvers Will Conduct another Town Meeting Later this Month

On the same day as the Essex Heritage Municipal and Legislative breakfast on January 25, 2010, the Town of Danvers town meeting members will once again gather for another Town Meeting. This meeting will cover a number of zoning matters, and a couple of other topical issues that are making there way through the Selectmen, including a Town texting ban while driving. A general Town Meeting means another session or two for the Finance Committee. Since I am a member of that body we will be gathering this week on Thursday evening at the Town’s senior center to once again hold discussions on Warrant Articles.

St John’s Prep to Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with an Award.
On Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 18, 2010, St John’s Prep will be hosting a luncheon to help celebrate the holiday. At the luncheon that will be held in the Milano Dinning Room on campus, the first annual Martin Luther King Award will be provided to Ray Carey '67. During Ray’s time on the Danvers campus he has been instrumental in leading a wide range of justice and diversity efforts at St. John’s Prep and in the wider community. Ray Carey was an innovative social studies teacher at the “Prep” for nearly three decades before retiring from the classroom in 2006. He continues to coach the very successful three-season track program at the school, and also serves on the board of directors of Healing Abuse Working for Change, a Salem-based agency that provides services for people affected by domestic abuse.

New England Patriots Season Ends with a Thud and a Dud

On a cold and raw day in Foxborough yesterday, the up and down season of the New England Patriots came to a most unusual end. After winning all of their home games this year and carrying a multi-game home playoff winning streak into the game with Baltimore on Sunday they were beaten in every phase of the game played yesterday. Certainly for fans of the team, and their large season ticket holder base, that includes me, the disappointing loss was difficult to watch, and there will most certainly be many changes to be made before we see the team again at Gillette Stadium in September 2010. But I can not lament a single season loss or even a single season that did not live up to expectations. The last decade of Patriots football has been a joy to watch and enjoy. For someone who sat through the very lean years, and this team has most definitely had their share of lean years, the 1990’s were a most enjoyable decade, and I truly enjoyed the three world championships and the competitive nature of this team throughout the decade just ended.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, January 8, 2010

Additional Essex Heritage Scenic By-way Meetings Scheduled and National Park Service Junior Ranger Program Being Developed


It was pointed out to me yesterday by one of my readers that my last posting offered in January noted a December date. I guess I was just reluctant to let 2009 end. I am now on track again and focused on the right month.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Regional Meetings

During the month of January, Essex Heritage and the consulting team that is assisting in regional scenic by-way effort will hold its second round of regional meetings. These Scenic Byway Advisory group meetings will be held in clusters to be certain that the regional aspects of the planning process can be assured. The six scheduled cluster meetings will be held beginning on January 12, 2010 with a meeting of interests from Marblehead and Salem, and will conclude with a meeting on January 28th that will be hosted by Beverly and will include Manchester-by-the-Sea. Other meetings will be held on January 13th in Swampscott with their neighbor Lynn, and on January 20th when, Essex, Ipswich and Rowley will gather in Rowley, The final two meetings will be held on January 21st when planners from Gloucester and Rockport will meet, and to complete the process, Newbury and Newburyport will meet in Newbury on January 27, 2010. A complete schedule of meeting locations can be viewed at,

These meetings are a follow up to an earlier set of gatherings and will continue through a third set of meetings to be scheduled later this spring. The primary purpose of the regional meetings is to insure that input is received from each of the 13 communities that will be a part of the 75-mile long State designated Byway. The input gathered at these regional meeting will insure that each participating community along with regional stakeholders have an opportunity to identify important features along the by-way for the consulting team. When the regional information gathering process is completed a corridor management plan will be created and the strategies outlined in that plan will be shared with the participants. The funding for this effort that was created by and managed by staff from Essex Heritage was obtained through a grant from the National Scenic By-way program and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Along with local community representatives, and regional stakeholders an invitation to join in this process has also been sent to the Representatives of the 13 communities who serve the region on Beacon Hill in Boston.

National Park Service and Essex Heritage Collaborating on Junior Ranger Program

Over the last several months Salem Maritime Historic Site staff and Essex Heritage staff have held a series of meeting working to craft a new and improved Junior Ranger program for the Salem Park. The program that will be in place for the 2010 park season will certainly make the Salem site and the Friendship a much more “family friendly’ place to visit. The plan to enhance and improve the National Park Service Junior Ranger program will focus on the development of programs that will both educate and interest youngsters from Ages 6 to 12 who will find that a visit to the Salem site in the future will be most enjoyable. The Salem site has always been a wonderful attraction for the three quarters of a million visitors who annually stop at the site, but this new program will provide an updated educational experience for the youngsters in the families who visit.

At a recent meeting, outlines of an Activity Booklet was provided and Essex Heritage staff is committed to work in tandem with Park personnel to make certain that this marvelous educational tool is complete and ready for use this year. The activities being contemplated will include exercises for the youngsters that will allow them to come away from the site with a greater understanding of what the maritime site meant to the country and this region and will put the explanations in lessons that can easily be taught and understood. One example of an activity that will be offered really caught my eye.

The solution to a question that will be posed in one activity will provide an answer that I have often pondered as well. For many years, I have enjoyed walking in Salem. The city has always been an easy community to move around in, and a great place to take a walk. For many years I took a daily walk from the downtown in the city where I worked, along Derby Street by the Maritime site down to the power station and back to Salem’s downtown business district. As I passed the Custom House, on many occasions I would add a “loop” to my walk that would take me out along the Historic Wharfs to Derby Light and back. I was never certain what that loop added to my walk in the way of distance, and now in the Junior Ranger Program there will be an activity outlined that will allow for a measurement using simple mathematic principals.

The exercise will ask youngsters to first measure their stride using the commemorative bricks laid at the Derby street end of the wharf when the Friendship was launched. The length of each brick at 7.5 inches will be provided and when the number of bricks in the length of the stride is calculated, a simple math solution will determine how many inches and then how many feet in ones stride. Then the youngsters will be asked to start walking from the Derby Street end of the wharf all the way to the Derby Lighthouse and count the number of strides taken. The number of strides from one end of the wharf to the other multiplied by the number of feet in ones stride will provide the answer to the question, how long is the wharf. That answer can be further refined to find how many yards traveled, and what percentage of a mile is the length of the wharf. This will be a great way to teach both how math can be used to solve everyday problems and at the same time will provide a wonderful exercise experience for youngsters that will be equally as beneficial. When the snow on the wharf melts, I am anxious to test the instructions and get my answer to how long the wharf is from one end to the other.

We certainly expect that in 2010 more junior Ranger Badges then ever before will be awarded. Completion of some portion of the activities that will be provided in the new Junior Ranger Activities Booklet will win a Junior Ranger badge, and we can anticipate that this summer many youngsters will complete the required tasks, and head home after an enjoyable experience with both an educational experience and a Junior Ranger badge to prove completion.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Local Inaugurations, ENHC Grant Program, Preservation Easement Program in Place, Asbury Grove Listed on National Register

Wednesday, December 6, 2010

Local Municipal Inaugurations

Since the New Year began the ten municipal governments in the region that have a Mayor serving as the chief executive of the city have all held inaugurations. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the ceremonies in Salem, as they were held right outside our door in the old Salem Town Hall. The Salem services were most impressive complete with honor guards and school choirs. Mayor Kin Driscoll and other elected city officials all took the oath of office. Mayor Driscoll is beginning her second four-year term, and promised to keep the City on the track of progress that it has been on during her first term.

Bill Steelman and Mary Williamson from the Essex Heritage staff both attended the swearing in services in Newburyport and reported that those services were equally impressive. In that community, the ten living former Mayors of Newburyport were presented by new Mayor Donna Holiday and thanked by youngsters from the school system for their previous service to the community, and that certainly was a nice touch. We were not able to attend any more of the regional services, but we congratulate Mayor Bonfanti of Peabody, Mayor Scanlon of Beverly, Mayor Kezer of Amesbury, Mayor Kennedy of Lynn, Mayor Kirk of Gloucester, Mayor Manzi of Methuen, Mayor Lantigua of Lawrence, Mayor Fiorentini of Haverhill and pledge to continue to offer the services of Essex Heritage to them and their communities whenever possible. We anticipate that all of these Mayors from our larger communities along with the Town Mangers, and Administrators and other senior officials from the other 24 communities in the region will attend the Municipal Leadership Breakfast that Essex Heritage is sponsoring on January 25, 2010 at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody. At that meeting, Essex Heritage has prepared a presentation that will focus on this organizations plan for the future, and will outline how those plans might be beneficial to the region’s communities.

Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program

In this space a few weeks back we provided some most positive news on the resumption of the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program. The program planning for the introduction of an “ON LINE” based application process is moving forward towards completion. We have had a slight amount of slippage in the planning process and the date when the application process will be complete and available for entries to be delivered has been moved back a bit. We now expect that certainly by the very early part of February the site to deliver applications will be “up and running”. We do not see any delay in the announcement of winners for the ten (10) $2500.00 Essex Heritage Grants and that process will be in place by early to mid spring 2010. Please continue to watch this space and other Essex Heritage communication processes as the information to signal a start to the process will be widely distributed in more than sufficient time for all who are interested in applying to meet application deadlines.

Preservation Easement Accepted by Essex Heritage

On the final day of 2009, Essex Heritage accepted a Preservation Easement on an apartment project in Lynn at Liberty Square and Washington Street. The Commission and the Preservation Easement Committee that has been established by Essex Heritage has worked diligently over the final quarter of this year to complete all of the voluminous paperwork that was required to complete the planning and the acceptance of this preservation easement. This is a new service offered by Essex Heritage that provides a much needed opportunity in this region. If there are other organizations who might want to learn more about this process and how it might be beneficial to them, please contact us at Essex Heritage will be pleased to set up a time for a more complete explanation of the benefits to an organization who might wish to learn how the offering of a Preservation Easement might be beneficial.

Asbury Grove Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Just a few days before Christmas 2009, an announcement was made that another Essex County landmark property had been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The 150 year old Asbury Park Camp Meeting Ground formally run by the Methodist Church has now been added to the prestigious list of places in the country most worthy of preservation. This is wonderful news for former and present owners and residents of this century and a half old neighborhood. The area includes 153 modest cottages, some of which retain their fanciful wooded ornamentation. A handful of dormitories, built by church societies, as does a chapel built in 1894 survive even today. A library, dinning hall, and bakery, all constructed in the early 20th century remain as communal spaces serving current residents. Some of the most pressing renovations were made this past summer to the wooden tabernacle on the grounds. The tabernacle is thought to be the oldest such tabernacle in the country. The preservation work was accomplished by the residents of the community with substantial assistance from a $26,000 grant provided by the Town of Hamilton. The nomination to the register is a direct result of a meeting organized by Essex Heritage with board members of the Asbury Camp Meeting Corporation during the 2004-2005 Essex Heritage-Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Heritage Landscape Inventory project. At that time, Essex Heritage reached out to several experts from both the DCR consultant team and others to join with us in organizing a meeting with the board members of the Corporation. The corporation was encouraged to pursue the National Register listing at that time. In 2007, Essex Heritage also provided additional grant funding along with other funding sources to repair the 1894 tabernacle roof. We are very pleased that this result has been achieved, and is gratified that Essex Heritage played a small role in the process of designation.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, January 4, 2010

Flight over the Region, NPS Retirement, Danvers High School Band at Rose Parade and Happy New Year Medical News



On behalf of all of us at Essex Heritage is our pleasure to wish all of our friends around the region, a belated but most prosperous and healthy New Year. It has been a week or so since I last posted to Essex Happenings and I certainly hope that the Holiday period was pleasant and time spent with family and friends was enjoyable.

Flight Over the Region

A couple of days before Christmas, I had an excellent experience as I had the opportunity to take a flight over this region in a small single engine airplane. This experience is the result of a long time relationship with St John’s Prep and Brother Tim Paul CFX. Over the last six decades I have had a wonderful relationship at St John’s Prep as a summer camper, a student, a parent of two students, a volunteer with a parents club, a member of the school’s Board of Trustees, a grandparent of a current student, and still participate today as the chairman of a committee focused on making alumni aware of planned giving opportunities. During about half of that time, I have the privilege of knowing Brother Timothy Paul, CFX who has also served in several teaching and administrative capacities at the Prep. He is now a biology teacher at the Prep, and has taught both of my sons and my grandson, now at the Prep, and he is currently the moderator of an Aero Club at the school. In that role, Brother Tim has gathered about three-dozen students who have exhibited an interest in flying, and through a series of activities both at the school and at Beverly Airport he is developing young men who might pursue this avocation later in life. The school received a generous financial grant from a Prep Alum, who is a flying enthusiast and with that gift, Brother Tim has created a program that provides basic ground training along with some modest flight experience. Brother Tim advises that to his knowledge this is the only High School program like this in the country. As the club moderator, Brother Tim received his license to fly early in 2009, and as time permits, takes a flight each month to remain current,

On Brother’s December trip he asked me I wanted to “tag along”. We left Beverly Airport on a clear, sunny but somewhat windy day and headed north on a course parallel with Route 95 north. Just after take off, we flew over the “Prep”, and then had a view off the left wing of the City of Lawrence. We traveled north to about the Hampton, New Hampshire area. From our vantage point, we had a sensational view of the soon to be replaced Whittier Bridge over the Merrimack River, and the City of Newburyport, West Newbury and Plum Island and great views of the Essex County coastline. We turned south and passed over the spectacular marshlands in the northern end of the region, and then flew over Cape Ann where we had wonderful views of Rockport and Gloucester and their historic harbors. The trip lasted all too short a time as we lined up for a landing on Runway 27 at a quiet Beverly Airport. It was quite a treat to view the area we serve at Essex Heritage from 4000 feet, and it became even more clear than at any time in the past to me, that we have a wonderful landscape in this region, and it is even more important that Essex Heritage continues to develop plans to preserve this important resource for both this and future generations.

Best Wishes to Peter LaChapelle on his Retirement from the NPS

The news of the retirement of Peter LaChapelle from his post at the Salem Maritime Historic Site is good news for Peter, but bad news for the site and the region. Peter, who grew up in Salem, has spent the vast majority of his National Park Service career on this park site has served the site, the City of Salem and the region with great distinction. Peter has been a wonderful asset as he has lent his special expertise to the management of the site, various tourist endeavors in the City of Salem, and many of the activities that Essex Heritage has undertaken as part of our association with the Salem National Park Site. We certainly wish Peter good luck in his retirement and we are certain that we will see Peter in many capacities as he will likely still be playing a role in tourist activities in the City of Salem in the future.

The Town of Danvers Marching Band Shines Bright in Pasadena

As a resident of the Town of Danvers, it is always a moment of great pride when we see the Danvers High School Falcons marching band participating in another national event. On New Years Day 2010, the band, made up of 172 Danvers youngsters, participated for the third time in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The band has also appeared in a parade in Disney World as well, so they are certainly a well recognized musical troupe. These are expensive trips and band members, fund raising efforts, and cooperative businesses in the community raise all of the funds needed to complete the travel. The weather was most cooperative for the event, unlike the last visit of the band to the Rose Parade when it rained most of the day. The band that has become one of the highlights of the Danvers community was its usual spectacular self. They were positioned at the very end of the parade, and carried a large American Flag in keeping with the patriotic theme of the event. As the parade wound down, at least as far as the TV presentation was concerned, a flight of US Navy fighter jets flew over the Danvers contingent. Congratulations to the band, the director, and the parent support group for a wonderful performance. Danvers and the entire region are proud of your achievements.

Good Health News as 2009 Comes to a Close

After a couple of very uncertain days at the end of 2009, while the medical team from Massachusetts General Hospital that is helping craft a plan to help treat my wife pondered a couple of recent tests, we waited for results and a diagnosis. We finally learned that now all appears to be clear. That was wonderful news as the second half of this past year was most difficult for her as she was treated for a tumor. Together, we now look forward to a healthy 2010 and hope that the New Year will be a healthy one for all of you as well.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard