Friday, April 30, 2010

Essex Heritage Joins National Awareness Campaign


Essex Heritage Joins National Awareness Campaign

A couple of weeks ago, Essex Heritage organized a rally in at the replica sailing ship, Friendship to bring attention to the plight that Heritage Areas and other preservation based organizations find themselves in today. We along with others find ourselves in a difficult situation with proposed federal budget cuts on the horizon. That rally proved to be quite successful as a large number of our friends and partners came to the National Park Service site in Salem to express their concerns at the proposed reductions. On that morning we gathered many residents and Phoenix School students from the region that dropped what they were doing and came to our assistance. Several pictures were taken showing concerned citizens holding signs that said “This Place Matters”. Many of those photos found their way into local newspapers and several editorials were written in local newspapers supporting the posture we had adopted and also rallied to support our effort. Since those plans proved to be successful more such efforts are being planned both at the local level by Essex Heritage and nationally by the Alliance of Heritage Areas.

At a recent meeting of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) a plan was developed to support building awareness at both a national and local level of the importance of Heritage Areas. It was decided that in order to accomplish this task, public awareness of National Heritage Areas had to be brought to the attention of the United States Congress, and to financial supporters and partners at all levels. A positive message had to be developed that would compliment those advocacy efforts and increase awareness of National Heritage Areas across the country. In developing this strategy two questions had to be answered. What is the message that will make the Heritage Area case, and how do we get that message out? How do we raise the awareness of the vital work that Heritage Areas in general and Essex Heritage specifically bring to our communities and our region and how can this raised awareness make the biggest impact? It was decided that our message had to answer the question…So What?

The Heritage Area message clearly has to relay that Heritage Areas are practical, smart models for creating economic development in our communities. So, how are Heritage Areas going to accomplish that task? A plan was developed nationally and will now be implemented locally by Essex Heritage. A series of public relations activities will be undertaken across the many regions that are served by Heritage Areas and will culminate with a major rally/event in Washington in June 2010. A date and location for the National Rally will be announced shortly. On that day, the Alliance on National Heritage Areas will be holding a press conference to hopefully announce the passage of a resolution for a National Heritage Day and the announcement of the National Heritage Area Legislative Caucus. The national organization and Essex heritage are confidant that a large group of representatives from Heritage Areas across the country and many of our local supporters will travel to the Nation’s Capital for the event, also taking advantage at the same time of an opportunity to visit with Congressional offices. At the press conference and rally we are going to provide hats, banners, buttons, etc., for the participants. We will also be developing a press kit to distribute which will be a thumb drive with information on the Heritage Area federal platform as well as a story and images from each Heritage Area including this region that is represented by so many wonderful partner organizations...

The tag line/slogan for our campaign will be “National Heritage Areas: Smart, Green and Working. The slogan is clean, simple and marketable, and it speaks to the case that we are trying to make to Congress and to local funding sources. Although all Heritage Area are different from one another in our focus and operations, this tag line fits every Heritage Area including Essex Heritage. We have built off of the concept of the National Trust’s “This Place Matters” campaign that encourages people in the communities to take photos of their with a sign. For the Heritage Area campaign, Essex Heritage will ask all of our partner organizations to take pictures of their treasured site along with as many members of the organization that can be gathered for the photo with our tag line “National Heritage Areas: Smart, Green and Working.” and mail those photos to us at Essex Heritage. We will then compile these photos and upload the images to a digital picture frame and provide one to each congressional offices to place in their Washington and local offices. Essex Heritage is planning several other individual events and Public Relations concepts and as those events are planned we will certainly keep you posted.

Northeast Regional Economic Summit

On Wednesday a large group of local community activists gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Danvers to participate in a program organized by the five institutions of higher learning in this region. The event that focused on regional collaboration featured a presentation from Massachusetts Lt Governor Tim Murray and many of the management team from the Patrick/Murray administration. The presentation all focused on the assets that are in place in this region and how the many organizations involved in the region can accomplish much more by working together collectively. The message of the day was that although Massachusetts is not “out of the woods” yet, the economic conditions in the Commonwealth are improving. Murray touted the many projects around this region that have been put in place or will be put in place soon, by the Governor’s office, all with an eye towards job creation. This is a critical component of any recovery plan as since the recession started Massachusetts has lost over 150,000 jobs, but the current outlined projects have added 25,000 workers back to the work force. The presenters focused on several regional projects all over the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley that was the section of the State represented at the meeting. Information was provided on innovation, education, infrastructure improvements and Stimulus spending that are all hallmarks of the program, to get the region back on its feet.

Cape Wind Farm Approved

Yesterday, US Secretary of the Interior and Governor Patrick announced that the long awaited decision on the Cape Wind project has been made and the project will proceed as planned. The decision to proceed with the development of a130 wind turbine project to be located in Nantucket Sound was received with great hope by the supporters of the project and promises by the opponents of the project to stop the progress of the project. It appears that the resolution of this important clean energy project might still be awhile away before resolution.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Essex Heritage Rail Trail Update, Economic Summit in Danvers, Essex Heritage Annual Fund Progress, Whittier Bridge, Iceland Visit and a Local Walk


Coastal Trials Coalition Grand Opening Celebration

Essex Heritage is particularly pleased to have played a role in the overall development of the conversion process that has transformed abandoned railroad and in some cases electric right of ways into wonderful new community recreational assets. One of these new community assets links an emerging 30-mile public system of bicycle and pedestrian trails with the unique costal features, town centers, neighborhoods and transportation hubs in the four communities in the northeast corner of Essex County. Bill Steelman the Director for Heritage Development for Essex Heritage has been a wonderful resource and coordinator for many in the Essex National Heritage Area, as numerous communities in the region have undertaken the exploration and ultimate development of recreational bike and walking trails in the area. Bill’s willingness to offer the resources of Essex Heritage and his own personal experience in this process has been a welcome addition for many communities and their regional leaders and he has helped move this important initiative forward over the last several years,

Beyond the assistance to the regional impact of the broader Border to Boston Rail Trail, that he has helped to organize for Essex Heritage, the one project where he has taken both a personal and professional interest is the Coastal Trails Coalition that links the communities of Amesbury, Newburyport, Newbury and Salisbury. Bill who lives in Newburyport has played a leadership role in that project serving for a number of years as the volunteer President of that organization and along with others from those communities who have similar interests have moved trail development in that area from the planning stage into the reality of having actual trails and programs to support those trails in place. On Sunday, May 23, 2010 that coalition of trail proponents will celebrate a wonderful achievement for the lower Merrimack Valley and all of Essex County when The City of Newburyport and the Town of Salisbury will celebrate the grand opening of The Clipper City Rail Trail in Newburyport and the Old Eastern Marsh Trail in Salisbury.

If you are a fan of these kinds of recreational assets that are so important to the continuing development of the quality of life in this region plan to attend the ribbon cutting on May 23, 2010 and take part in celebrations planned in those two communities. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony that day at 1:00 pm at the waterfront junction of the Clipper City Rail Trail and the Harborwalk in Newburyport. Come celebrate this achievement with the sponsors of this event, Essex Heritage, Institution for Savings, The Newburyport Bank, and the Provident Bank as food, art, music and celebration will be offered that day from noon until 4:00 pm.

North Shore Community College Helps Sponsors Economic Summit

On Wednesday of this week, The North Shore Community College and other regional organizations will be sponsoring an economic summit at the Crowne Plaza in Danvers. The headline speaker at the Northeast Regional Economic Summit will beLt Governor Tim Murray. We certainly expect that several issues of regional importance will be addressed at the summit, and Annie Harris and I will both represent Essex Heritage at the seminar. Lt Governor Murray as a former municipal leader himself always provides a community perspective to regional issues. In the BLOG posting in this space on Friday, April 30, 2010, I will provide a recap of the issues addressed and the solutions offered at this regional event.

Annual Fund Update

In the recent past on this BLOG, I have provided information about the annual fund efforts of Essex Heritage as our fiscal year comes to a close. The contributions that we have received to date are most appreciated, and the commitment of the businesses and the many individuals who have contributed to this effort will go a long way to assuring the continuation of our work in this region. In just the last couple of days, major contributions have been received from Eastern Bank, TD Bank, my former employer Salem Five, Shetland Properties, John Walsh Insurance Agency, Danversbank and MacLean, Holloway, Doherty, Ardiff and Morse. The commitment that these companies have made are most valuable to Essex Heritage as we continue to provide programs that help preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County. For any businesses or resident of this region who might feel that a contribution to the Essex Heritage Annual Fund would help us continue to carry out our mission, it is not too late to make a contribution. Information on the Essex Heritage Annual Fund can be found at

Whittier Bridge Update

From time to time, we have attempted to provide information and updates on the planning process that will ultimately focus on the plans to replace the Whittier Bridge that spans the Merrimack River in Newburyport. Tonight at the auditorium in the Newburyport City Hall from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm, officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold an informational meeting to outline the work on the $3 Billion dollar bridge and the adjacent roadways improvements. The primary purpose of the meeting is to present an analysis of the process that will be used to evaluate river crossing alternatives. Essex Heritage has a continuing interest in seeing that one of those river crossing alternatives allows for pedestrian and bicycle crossing capacity on the new bridge to help accommodate the Border to Boston project being championed by Essex heritage. If any of you also support the inclusion of a bicycle and pedestrian passage over the bridge this will be a meeting where those ides can be advanced.

Essex Heritage Administrative Assistant Visits Iceland

Emily Levin from the Essex Heritage office along with three of her friends recently spent four days in Iceland on a spring vacation trip. Little did she know that during her stay an up to then dormant volcano in that country would pick that time to erupt? The incident that caused worldwide chaos in international airline schedules hardly caused a “blip” in Emily’s tourist activities. The cloud and the ash from the erupting volcano while wrecking havoc with east to west airline travel was blowing away from most of what Emily and her friends were planning to do and see. It was a bit colder than she was expecting, but what can you expect when you visit ICElland She enjoyed her stay in Iceland and labeled it a wonderfully scenic country and flew home to Boston just before the wind shifted and began to cause problems for the island and its activities. She will always be able to say that she was “on the ground:” when one of the most talked about and disruptive events of this current century played iteslf out in Iceland.

Lymphoma Walk in Salem…A Personal Cause

This Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 10:00 am at the Salem Willows Park hundreds of survivors and families have organized the second annual walk a thon to help cure Lymphoma. The 5k walk will support the efforts to find a cure for this most common form of blood cancer. About a year ago, my wife was diagnosed with this disease and was treated successfully at Mass General Hospital in both Boston and Salem. We are sorry that we learned of this effort so late and have another commitment that day. We will have to save our walking efforts for the North Shore Medical Center Cancer Walk on Fathers Day in June at the same location. If you have an interest in this walk more information can be found at and click on the link to the Massachusetts chapter.

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

Friday, April 23, 2010

Essex Heritage Trails and Sails Expands, Plan Design Issue Gaining Momentum, NBCVB Update, Northern Essex Community College Expands in Lawrence



I am not certain if you were aware of some of the changes we have made to the 2010 Trails and Sails events but they are extensive and we expect that they will make the event that much more enjoyable. First of all the events have been expanded to include two weekends and that will allow more of you to enjoy the many free events offered during the last two weekends in September. In addition to the expanded opportunities created by a second weekend, we have listened to many of your concerns and have improved the registration process. As we get closer to the weekends this fall, we will provide more detailed information about the depth of the events and how you will be able to sign up for the weekends much easier. But for now, get the last two weekends of September on your calendars. When you are participating next fall, you will be glad that you took the time now to reserve the dates.

Plan Design Initiative Gaining Support

In this space recently, I commented on a movement being advanced by local elected officials that are seeking a change that would allow communities to address changing health plans without the approval of municipal unions. It appears that the initiative is starting to gain support around the region. It is certainly clear that at this time, with continuing shrinking revenues and increasing costs of running local governments that some change is needed, and the medical insurance plan design might be the breakthrough now needed. As many of you are aware, I serve on a local municipal finance committee and it is becoming increasing clear in my community and I am sure in others, that changes have to made to control costs if services as we have come to expect them will continue. State aid is continuing to be cut, and individual communities are being forced to consider local option taxes to raise revenues to keep municipal employees from being laid off. Plan design is certainly one option open to local elected officials and the benefits of that kind of local option might be a lifesaver for many communities. Let’s hope that the Massachusetts Legislature will consider the needs of the communities and set the legislative process in motion to effect these changes.

North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau and Essex Heritage

Essex Heritage has long been a committed supporter of the work of the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau. Representatives of that organization serve on the Board of Essex Heritage, and we have reciprocal participation on their board. Our missions are similar, and Essex Heritage has always been an advocate and a supporter of the wonderful work that the Visitor Bureau accomplishes annually with their efforts. For many years they have encouraged hundreds of thousands of visitors from other parts of this country and from the Eastern Canadian Provinces to visit this region and aid in the local tourist economy that is so important to so many communities and local businesses in this region. Funding for the Visitor Bureau has been cut and they are doing all in their power to keep the important work they do intact. The regional visitor center that they offer to the touring public on Route 95 in Salisbury has been closed for some time and they are working closely with the local Commonwealth of Massachusetts legislative delegation to find a solution that will allow them to reopen that facility in time for the 2010 tourist season that is fast approaching. If any of you come in contact with one of our local Beacon Hill delegation be sure to mention to them that tourism and the financial benefits of that activity are important to this entire region. Finding a financial solution that would allow that heavily visited regional visitor center to open again would be meaningful and a most positive outcome for this region.

Northern Essex Community College Makes Commitment to Lawrence

A couple of days ago, I noticed an announcement in the local newspapers that Northern Essex Community College had agreed to rent space in the Riverwalk property on Merrimack Street in downtown Lawrence. The 26,000 sq ft space that will be rented for at least a five-year term will house twenty classrooms, computer labs, and a conference room and staff office space when completed. This is a wonderful commitment to an urban center that will help the economy of that troubled community, by bringing activity and students to the downtown area. In both Lynn and Salem, the commitment of North Shore Community College and Salem State College to those two urban centers have meant a great deal to those local economies as during the business week there are students adding to the economic vitality in the downtown of both of those two cities. The commitment of Northern Essex to the City of Lawrence is most certainly appreciated by the City officials in Lawrence as every thing that can add to the vitality of that community in a much-needed step.

Invitation to Graduation at St John’s Prep Received

Earlier this week a received an invitation to graduation at St. John’s Preparatory School, on Sunday, May 23rd that included an invitation to the Golden Eagle Breakfast that precedes graduation. This year the breakfast will welcome the members of the class of 1960 to the ranks of Golden Eagles as they receive commemorative diplomas from the Prep. I have several friends from that class and it will be pleasant to welcome them to the association. This is the 56th anniversary of my graduation from the Danvers school, and I always look forward to seeing old friends who also make it a point to attend these fellowship events. Graduation will be a bit of a dress rehearsal for my family as my grandson; Brendan Leonard will be part of the graduating class of 2011 from the Prep.

Ending Today with a Couple of Personal Comments

. On Wednesday evening, I had the good fortune of attending the Boston Celtics “blowout’ win over the Miami Heat, but that was simply the appetizer that evening. The main course for me came at halftime of the game, when my twelve-year-old granddaughter, Caroline Leonard played for her AAU basketball team, the Worcester Shamrocks on the famous parquet floor of the Boston Garden. The game lasted about eight minutes and Caroline had a couple of shots without a hoop, but we will all remember those few moments on the big stage. She was a little awed by the crowd, the lights and size of the arena, but she enjoyed the experience.

I am a hockey fan at all levels, from youth to high school to college to the professionals and truly enjoyed the double overtime win scored by the Bruins on Wednesday evening. Lets hope that they can close out this series and get on to a second round of the NHL playoffs

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting, Community Preservation Act, Salem Partnership to Host Governor, Grange Presentation


Essex Heritage Annual Meeting

In this space, we have spoken on many occasions about the Heritage Hero Award Dinner scheduled for May 20, 2010 at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury. On the same day as that event, and at the same location, Essex Heritage will also hold a full commission informational meeting earlier that afternoon at 4:00 pm. Each year the Commission holds two full commission meetings in May and its annual meeting in October. The primary purpose of these two general meetings is to gather the elected Essex Heritage Commissioners to hear reports on the progress of the Commission over the past six months. These meetings are also open to the general public and serve as a wonderful tool to provide updates on the activities of the Commission that has impact on this region. This year in addition to providing general reports a new group of about one dozen new Commissioners will be elected at the meeting. A Nominating Committee meeting will be held in the next couple of weeks and a slate of nominees for this role will be created for a final vote at the May 20th annual meeting. The election of new Commissioners is a very important task for the rest of the Commissioners at the annual meeting to address as each year the Commission adds new members to keep the compliment of regional Commissioners at the 150 person level. These new and existing Commissioners serve as the representatives of the region we serve and represent the thirty-four communities in the region as well as many organizations ranging from large businesses to the smaller not-for-profit organizations that are so important to this region. These individuals act as advocates to help spread the word of our activities in the region, and also to serve as our eyes and ears in the many diverse communities that make up this region. If any of you would like to attend the May 20th annual meeting in Salisbury, please contact Emily Levin at the Commission headquarters at 978 740 0444 or at All are welcome and we look forward to providing updates on current activities that afternoon.

Community Preservation Act Update

Essex Heritage has always been an advocate for the wonderful accomplishments that many communities have been able to accomplish after the adoption of the Community Preservation Act by their community. In this region about one half of the communities have adopted the act and many projects and land acquisitions have been accomplished through the use of the funds generated through the use of this act. The City of Peabody is probably the poster child in this region for the use of the Community Preservation Act as it seems that each year several new projects have been undertaken using these funds that might never have been accomplished without the funds generated by the act.

We now hear news that the Town of Groveland, six years after the adoption of the act is currently debating reversing its decision. At the Groveland Town Meeting at the end of this month, that body will consider a proposal to rescind the acceptance of the act. The act when approved by a community allows the Town to levy a property tax surcharge up to 3% for open space acquisitions, historic preservation, and the creation of affordable housing and recreation activities in the community. If the article passes at Town meeting, a vote at the Town election will also be needed to overturn the action. The Town has used the funds generated by the Community Preservation Act to complete a number of wonderful acquisition and restoration projects in Town since the adoption of the act and we certainly hope the residents of Groveland will consider the past benefits from the funding created by the act before voting to rescind. The Community Preservation Act has served many communities in this region effectively, and Essex Heritage advocates for continuing expansion of the act in other communities in the region and certainly hopes Groveland will continue to use this tool in the future,

Also for your information, the Community Preservation Coalition, the statewide organization that provides support to communities that are contemplating participation in the CPA, will be holding their annual conference on May 6, 2010. This year’s event will be held in Northampton. MA from 8:30 am until 2:30 pm and for information on how to participate in the event and to sign up, please contact the Coalition at

Salem Partnership Announces Annual Meeting Speaker

A couple of days ago, I received an invitation to the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Salem Partnership in June 2010. The Salem Partnership was founded in 1987 as public-private partnership organization that focused then and now as an advocate for continuing progress in the City of Salem. The Salem Partnership has undertaken many projects of progress over its life, including the early restoration of the National Park site in the City, the building of the replica sailing ship, Friendship, the plans for the creation of an active commercial port in Salem, and the current courthouse expansion project currently underway in Salem. I am proud to have served as the President and Chairman of the Salem Partnership earlier in the life of the organization and still serve the organization as Chairman Emeritus. Essex Heritage was created in the early 1990’s through the efforts of the Salem Partnership organization and for those efforts the region should always be most grateful. The speaker at the annual dinner scheduled for June 8, 2010 at East India Hall at the Peabody Essex Museum will be the Honorable Deval Patrick the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Clearly, the continuing support of the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth will always be of great interest to the Salem Partnership and the message from the Governor will be important. For more information or to make a reservation, contact the Salem Partnership at 978 741 8100 or e mail .

Beverly Grange Presentation

Last night I had the opportunity to provide an update on Essex Heritage to a group in Beverly. There were about 30 people in attendance at a Grange meeting at the Masonic Temple in the Garden City. The grange is an organization that dates back to right after the Civil War, and was organized to help bind up the wounds created by the schism between the States who fell a way from the nation. There are only about a half a dozen Grange organizations still active in the region we serve, but their interest in all things agricultural is still most evident., The group last night is representative of the many community based organization that exist for fellowship and also to provide community service in this region. I was invited to speak to the Beverly Grange by a legend from the Town of Danvers. Frank Tyrell who continues to serve the Town of Danvers in many capacities including serving as a Town Meeting member has been a member of the Grange, first in Danvers and now in Beverly since 1936, that incidentally was one year before I was born. Frank is well into his ninth decade of service to this region, and it was most pleasant for me to positively respond to his request to provide an update on the mission of Essex Heritage.

The presentation covered some of the history of Essex Heritage and its organizational structure and provided updates on many of the activities that are currently being offered to this region. The group was most interactive and after the presentation we had an active discussion about the mission of Essex Heritage and the role we play in this region. Many thanks to the Beverly Grange for their kind invitation and the opportunity to tell the Essex Heritage story to a most interested group. If any group in the region wants to receive an update on the work of Essex Heritage, please contact me at and arrangements to have a speaker come to your organization can be made to fit that organizations schedule...

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

Friday, April 16, 2010

Essex Heritage Photo Safari's Announced, Historical Records Council Update, Lecture Series in Salem, New Bishop Fenwick Trustee Named

Essex Happenings, Friday, April 16, 2010

Essex Heritage to Schedule Photo Safari’s Again

Over the last couple of years one of the most successful regional events that Essex Heritage organizes are the Photo Safari’s. These well attended events are offered in conjunction with and with the full support of Hunts Photo and Video. This is always a wonderful opportunity for camera enthusiasts to have access to state-of-the-art digital cameras and to visit four unique and stunning Essex National Heritage Area landscapes and historic sites and to then snap shots for your person photography portfolios. During the stops at some of the wonderful sites where we have established partnerships in this region, you will be equipped with all the latest camera gear from Canon, Nikon, Olympus or Tamron, provided by Hunt’s Photo & Video, and personally coached by Hunt’s technical experts and visiting professional photographers. This is a wonderful opportunity and we are most indebted to Hunts for the chance to test this state of the art equipment during our visits to our partner organizations.

This year’s schedule includes four opportunities to participate and begins at the end of next month and continues through the early summer. We are most pleased that Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Tamron have all agreed to once again participate in this sensational regional event and we urge photographers of all levels to visit the Essex Heritage web site at for more information or to sign up to participate, This years participating sites are some of the most photogenic locations in the region and as always we are most grateful for their participation. The first event will be held on Saturday, May 22, 2010 at Endicott Park and the Glen Magna Farms and Estate in Danvers where the formal gardens are among the finest in the area. Two weeks later on Saturday June 5th will visit the Rolling Ridge Retreat in the historic community of Andover. Then, three weeks after the Andover stop, a visit is planned on June 26th in the neighboring community of North Andover at the Stevens-Coolidge Place, and the series will come to and end at Long Hill reservation on the weekend after Independence Day on Saturday, July 10, 2010. Take advantage of these wonderful opportunities in the region and visit the Essex Heritage web site or call Essex Heritage at 978 740 0444 to make your reservations for the Photo Safari of your choice.

Historical Records Council

In the very early days of the Essex Heritage Commission one of the first initiatives that we organized was a Historical Records Council. The catalyst for that effort was a flood that occurred in the basement of Gloucester City Hall when some valuable critical historical records were damaged. We were asked by Congressman Tierney to see if we could both lend some assistance, and to look into the creation of a vehicle that could provide advice in this critical area. It became very clear that in basements all over this region that there were storage facilities that could also be in danger and from this awareness the Essex Heritage Historical Records Council was created. For several years, the staff at Essex Heritage engaged the many in the region that had an interest in record preservation and protection in a series of meetings and workshops that helped created programs and protocols to assist in this important work. The workshops were well attended and many organizations and individuals received much needed and critical advice. The most recent of those workshops was held just about a year ago when an evaluation of Library material was featured.

In the recent past another factor has impacted the Historic Records Council. The Massachusetts Regional Library Systems are consolidating. It is likely that when that consolidation effort is complete that there may then be a single organization to replace the six existing regional operations. The Historic records Council is an important and informative organization that has been running parallel to the Library organizations and we believe that this effort should continue. This would allow the Council to continue to do what it does best, bringing many together for mutual support and education. The Historic records Council will likely reconvene and offer an opportunity to reconsider the role of the council once the .consolidation of the regional libraries is completed. I certainly suspect that we will hear more of the plans of the Council in the not too distant future and Essex Heritage will keep all those that have an interest, “in the loop” when a determination of a strategy to continue to provide support and information is in place

House of Seven Gable Lecture Series

I recently received a copy of the spring 2010 newsletter from the House of Seven Gables and in that edition a series of seven lectures was announced. I am a little late providing this information, as one of the lectures has already taken place, but it is not too late to bring the other six to your attention. The remaining lectures take place from April 25th through December 2010 and to sign up and get a complete listing of the remaining lectures contact the House of Seven Gables at 978 744 0991 Ext 104. The series of lectures appears to be most entertaining and informative and range from Salem Trading by Sea provided by Essex Heritage Hero award winner Jim McAllister to a presentation on the 100 year history of the Gables. The House of Seven Gables is one of our most participatory partners in our mission to preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of this region that we are all proud to call home.

New Bishop Fenwick High School Trustee Named

As some of you might remember, I spent four years as a member of the Bishop Fenwick Board of Trustees. During that term of office much was accomplished at this private catholic secondary school in Peabody. The school continues to serve this region well, and in this its 50th Anniversary Year they have recently added a new Trustee to the Board that governs the school. I recently received a communication from Audrey Sullivan who serves as the schools energetic and enthusiastic Board Chair advising that Attorney Sally Calhoun from Danvers will join the Board before this school year is finished. I have had the opportunity to work over Sally the last several years on the Danvers Finance Committee and can certainly testify to her capabilities, work ethic and commitment to a program and she will make a wonderful addition to Bishop Fenwick’s governing body. Ms, Calhoun has had three children graduate from Bishop Fenwick High School and clearly has an understanding of the role that Bishop Fenwick High School plays in the life’s of their graduates as they move towards maturity and as participants in the work of this region.

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heritage Hero Invitations Mailed, Friendship to Sail, Rally for Preservation, Support Offered for Essex Heritage by Congressional Delegation

Essex Happenings, Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring 2010…As we move deeper into April, it does seem as if spring is really here and now that the terrible rains of March are behind us, we can look forward to nicer weather. I have been living in this area long enough to know that all of this could change in a heart beat and it is still possible that some less than normal spring weather might return, but for now we want to begin to look forward to some of the events that Essex Heritage has planned in the near term.

Heritage Hero Invitations in the Mail

The premier event that Essex Heritage, in partnership with the National Park Service, plans each year is the Heritage Hero award evening. This year the event will honor three wonderful contributors to the life of this region on May 20, 2010 at the Blue Ocean Music hall on the Beach in Salisbury. Tickets to this special event have recently been mailed to our list of “Essex Heritage Friends” and we hope that you will act on the invitation and make your reservations now for this spectacular regional event. If by some chance you did not receive an invitation and want to attend the event, please contact our office at 978 740 0444 or by e-mail at www.essexheritage,org. We are most grateful to a generous group of sponsors headed by the presenting sponsor, The Provident Bank of Amesbury and banner sponsors the Institution for Savings in Newburyport, the Newburyport Bank, and Blue Ocean Music hall, Seaglass Restaurant, the Salisbury Beach Partnership and the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce whose participation will certainly make the event a wonderful success.

Friendship Sails

Essex Heritage through its association with the National Park Service has long thought of the replica sailing ship Friendship, operated by the Park Service as one of the most recognizable symbols of this region. The ship, under the direction of Essex Heritage has made historic visits to Lynn and Newburyport and during those visits has exposed thousands of adults and youth to the maritime traditions of this region. This spring, in advance of the Friendship embarking on its first public sails over Labor Day weekend in September 2010, a series of sea trials will be held in Salem sound over the next several months. As of this date , the schedule for the trials are not yet set, but when they become more definite, we will certainly keep all of you informed. For those of you with access to the ocean along this spectacular coast line, I would suspect that observing those sea trials with the Friendship under sail will be a most memorable experience.

The purpose of the sea trails will be to insure that later this year; Friendship will be able to take the public on board for a series of sailing events. The one definite event is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, when the ship will sail from Salem to Gloucester with a crew and a group that will have the opportunity to purchase a spot on that sail. This will be the first time ever that the ship will be able to take on paying customers and the event will certainly be a milestone trip. Later on the weekend the ship will leave Gloucester for the return sail to Salem and along the way will observe the Schooner races off the historic port of Gloucester. This trip will also be available as a charter as well. If any who read this communication wants more information on these inaugural sails next September contact the Director of Marketing and Communication for Essex Heritage Mary Williamson at 978 740-0444 or at

Rally at the Friendship

Late last week, we were pleased that dozens of friends of Essex Heritage including a group of children from the Phoenix School in Salem gathered at the Friendship to show support for our efforts to bring attention to proposed cuts in Federal funding for preservation projects like Essex Heritage. The supporters all carried signs indicating that they supported “Saving our Treasures”. Essex Heritage has forwarded the pictures that were taken that day to support a national effort to see preservation funding restored in the next Federal budget. We thank all that attended the rally that morning and thank them for their continuing support of the mission of Essex Heritage to protect, preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of this region.

Support for Essex Heritage Provided by Washington Congressional Delegation

We are particularly pleased to let you all know that Senator John Kerry has agreed to take the lead role in asking his Senate colleagues to provide increased funding in FY 2011 Federal Budget for the National Heritage Areas. We were recently informed that the senator will be the lead Democrat on a “Dear Colleague” letter addressed to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman, and Senator Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member, of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The letter requests that the Senate subcommittee double the line item for the National Heritage Areas – increasing the budget amount from $9m to $18m. His letter argues that the National Heritage Area Program is “an effective, high yield investment of federal funds.” This is the first time that Senator Kerry has taken the lead on funding issues for Essex Heritage and we are most pleased with his efforts.

In February, President Obama proposed FY11 budget cut the National Heritage Areas by fifty percent and zero funded several very popular and important Historic Preservation Programs – including Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America. On March 18, 2010, the House of Representatives sent a similar letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. Congressman John Tierney was a signatory to this letter. We are delighted that Senator Kerry and Congressman John Tierney are supporting the effort to adequately fund the National Heritage Areas, and thank them for their continuing support.

Close Today with a Couple of Personal Notes

Along with the nicer weather we spoke about earlier, April also brings a pleasant time for area sports enthusiasts. Red Sox baseball has returned to Fenway Park, the Bruins and the Celtics are both gearing up for the end of season playoffs, and on the last weekend of this month the Patriots will choose a number of potential new stars in the annual NFL draft. We also want to congratulate all of the fans of Boston College as their hockey team won another NCAA “Frozen Four” National Championship. In addition to all of these athletic endeavors all across the region, our favorite athletes in the regional high schools are beginning to play baseball, lacrosse, softball, field hockey and runners are preparing for another season on the track. Good luck to all of them and enjoy the participation. For many of them it will likely be the last time that they play competitively and they should enjoy every minute of every practice and game. Their current participation is something that will be treasured fondly in the future, and will be remembered and discussed later in life when former teammates gather to reminisce.

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

Friday, April 9, 2010

Essex Heritage Strategic Plan Approved, Community Budget Planning, Salem Five Annual Meeting, Rail Trail News


Essex Heritage Board of Trustees Adopt Strategic Plan

On April 6, 2010 the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees was presented with an updated version of the Essex Heritage strategic plan and the plan was adopted as presented. The work on the plan has been ongoing for the past half year and this is the first comprehensive planning effort undertaken by Essex Heritage since an original management plan was created at the time Essex Heritage was first authorized by the Congress over a decade ago. In those interviewing years, many external factors have changed including how Essex Heritage has received funding. Over time the Commission has adjusted to lower levels of public funding, and has made the required adjustments to seek more diverse funding from numerous generous and committed private funding sources. Under the new planning document approved this week, that trend will likely be accelerated. The plan approved by the board is based on a real need for Essex Heritage to address the way it serves the region in new ways as conditions in the region continue to change. The leadership of Essex Heritage continues to be confidant that the new vision and strategies that were adopted earlier this week will serve the region well in the future.

The adopted plan presents a vision and five general statements of purpose for Essex Heritage that will direct their activities over the foreseeable future. That vision and the general plan of action are as follows:

The Vision……..Essex Heritage is uniquely positioned to work across local and regional boundaries and advocate for matters that improve the “quality of life” in Essex County. From this strategic vantage point, ENHC creates tangible and intangible assets that benefit the people of Essex County. Through partnerships and leverage, ENHC is adept at preserving, educating, enhancing, and sustaining the heritage assets and organizations of Essex County, building a place that is greater than the sum of its parts.

As a catalyst for positive change, ENHC is committed to the following general tenants of operation:

Statement 1: Be a regional voice for the “Quality of Life” in Essex County

Statement 2: Improve the visibility and leverage the benefits of the presence of the National Park Service in the Area.

Statement 3: Educate and increase awareness of the Area’s historic, cultural and natural resources.

Statement 4: Preserve, enhance and sustain the Area’s tangible (physical) heritage assets and associated organizations.

Statement 5: Diversify core funding sources to achieve long tern sustainability.

Certainly there will be much more specific planning required by Essex Heritage to complete a set of strategies and tactics that must be created to assist the leadership of Essex Heritage as they move this plan into the implementation stage, but with the help of our many friends and partners we are confidant that the work can be accomplished. This will allow Essex Heritage to continue to be an important resource and partner to many in this region in the thirty four communities it serves and for the three quarters of a million residents of the area and the hundreds of thousands people who come to this region annually to work or to visit

Municipal Budget Planning Season

Over the next several weeks, municipalities around the region will all be looking at their financial budgets for the next fiscal year. This year’s task will be difficult in many communities as revenues continue to remain at best constant or even in some cases reduced slightly in today’s environment. In 2010, balancing the local municipal budgets without making serious expenses cuts will be hard to accomplish.

The Town of Danvers budget setting process like others in the region continues this week with a first Finance Committee meeting scheduled for this Thursday evening followed by seven additional meetings scheduled before the Town meeting on May 17, 2010. I have been involved in this process on the Danvers Finance Committee for a number of years, and each year the process get more and more difficult to complete without a reduction in services that usually includes job cuts.

It is interesting to note that in a recent newsletter from the Mayor of Salem, Mayor Kim Driscoll make a passionate case for the need to provide local Mayors and Town Managers with the ability to make changes to the health insurance plans that they offer to municipal employees without first receiving the approval of a majority of their employee unions. The process is called heath insurance design control and that capability for municipal leadership would go a long way towards bringing some of the local municipal health costs more in line with what is found now in private business. Just being able to make changes in co-pay levels for example could bring about substantial savings in total premiums for both the communities and the employees who serve this region. In addition to bringing the costs more in line, it might allow the local communities to enact approved budgets for this new year that protected municipal jobs that today are critical to the general economy as conditions across this State continues to show some small signs of improvement.

Salem Five Annual Meeting

Earlier this week, I attended the annual business meeting of the Salem Five Bank. I continue to serve this 155 year old, Mutual Savings Bank as a corporator after a nearly four decade career at the bank as an employee that ended eleven years ago. Salem Five that has long been committed to serving this region had a very positive, ”bounce back” year after a previous year that was negatively impacted by the world, national, state and local economic conditions. Earnings returned to more normal levels and the bank continued to be a strong community resource as a regional lender, and exceeded their lending goals in most categories, particularly in home mortgage lending where they wrote over 5000 new mortgage loans in the reporting period. The bank also reported that in the last year due in part to a connection with Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox that they had opened over 1000 new youth accounts, and received an award for the educational efforts connected with that program, Salem Five has always been a most committed supporter of the mission of Essex Heritage, has a representative serving on the Commission’s Board of Trustees and in their current status as the third largest bank in the Commonwealth seems well positioned to continue to provide support to the region and the residents, businesses and non-profit community organizations in this area,

Rail Trail News

Danvers Rail Trail….As noted recently in a recent posting, work on the Danvers Rail Trail seems to be gaining momentum each day. Essex Heritage is justifiably proud of the role that it has played in the development of a Rail Trail strategy in Danvers and in this region that includes the other communities participating in the Border to Boston initiative. We continue to be willing to offer our continuing support to the Town of Danvers and its Rail Trail Advisory Committee and others in this area as this exciting new regional recreational asset is developed. The work that has been accomplished in Danvers over the last several weeks is most encouraging and Essex Heritage looks forward to even more progress in the weeks and months ahead.

I recently received information from one of the participants in the planning process in Danvers and the Danvers Bi-Peds group has announced that their next meeting will be held in the Carriage House at Endicott Park on April 12th at 7:00 pm and that the next meeting of the town sponsored Rail Trail Advisory group will be meeting in Danvers Town Hall on 4/22 at 6:00 PM. Both of those meetings are open to the public and attendance and participation is welcome if you have an interest in the Rail Trail process in Danvers. Danvers group Visit to Peabody Trail….If local bicyclists want to experience what a finished trail can provide, the Danvers group is organizing a ride along the recently completed Peabody Trail on April 24, 2010. For more information on that event contact the Danvers Bi-Peds at

Coastal Trails Coalition…This effort that is substantially more advanced than the group in Danvers is planning a major event on May 23, 2010 to celebrate the official; opening of trails in Newburyport and Salisbury. There will be a series of events that day, to celebrate the trail openings and as the event gets closer we will provide much more detail, but for now we wanted to be certain that you had the date on your calendar

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Call for Preservation Action, Danvers Rail Trail, College Scholarships, Communications

Essex Happenings, Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Essex Heritage to Offer a Regional Voice to an Important Preservation Issue

The Essex National Heritage Commission is seeking instant community support to send an important message to Congress. The message … “Now is not the time to cut back on programs that not only save America’s heritage but save and create America’s jobs!”

Last month, heritage groups across the country learned that the Obama Administration’s FY 2011 federal budget is slated to make devastating funding cuts in several crucial preservation programs, such as National Heritage Areas, Save America's Treasures, and Preserve America. These critical historic preservation programs matter now more than ever, not only because they protect our national heritage but because they serve as economic development engines and job creators in the hundreds of communities served by organizations like Essex Heritage.

In addition to creating preservation jobs, which I have written about in the past, heritage sites sustain the important tourism sector that means so much to this region. ..We feel most confidant to report that in 2007 tourism within the Essex National Heritage Area drew 2.7 Million visitors alone, contributing to $15.1 Billion in direct sales and $943.3 Million in State and local spending all across the Commonwealth. We are now calling on local residents who care about historic preservation, and representatives of our many wonderful partner organizations to join us. Act now, and help us send a message to our Congressional delegation, asking them to support restoration of preservation funding as the House and Senate work on their respective budget bills,. The truth is that too many people think of National Heritage Areas and other historic preservation programs as a nice effort to support or invest in if there is some ‘extra’ federal money to spend. The fact is that preservation is a proven economic development and jobs creation tool that has the added benefit of fueling the travel and tourism sector, one of the nation’s largest service employers. Certainly, Essex County with its countless historic, cultural and natural resources has been and will continue to be a wonderful beneficiary of tourism activities in its many forms.

As a demonstration of its commitment to this effort, the Essex National Heritage Commission will participate in the National Trust’s initiative to raise awareness about proposed funding cuts by scheduling a public photo day. Essex Heritage will rally staff and other supporters for a Group Photo on Thursday, April 8th at 11:30am in front of the Friendship of Salem, docked at historic Derby Wharf within the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Participants will hold a sign that says "This Treasure Matters.” The photo will be sent to the Congressional delegation with a simple message - restore funding to federal preservation programs.

Essex Heritage invites the public and all partner organizations in Essex County to capitalize on this opportunity to connect our Members of Congress with their constituents on such an important local issue. Contact Essex Heritage at (978) 740-0444 or visit for additional Photo Day and advocacy effort information. We truly need a broad based coalition of residents and organizations from the region we serve to join with us in this effort. Hopefully many of you will find the time to joins us on Thursday morning at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to participate in this effort to bring awareness to the need to continue funding for organizations like yours and the Essex National Heritage Commission. The Friendship seems to be such a wonderful asset where a mobilizing rally can be held, as the ship certainly symbolizes the maritime history of this region and helps tell the continuing story of what historic preservation means to this part of the country.

Danvers Rail Trail Efforts

A couple of days ago, Essex Heritage received a copy of a message from the Town of Danvers Rail Trail Advisory Committee coordinator that was filled with positive news, if you are as Essex Heritage is a supporter of rail trail development. It appears that the committee and the coordinator, Senior Planner Kate Day has made much recent progress. The report focused on a contract that had been entered into between the Town of Danvers and a company named Iron Horse that will call for the removal of all of the rails along the proposed Danvers trail. As part of that process the smoothing of the rail bed for trail use will also be accomplished. In addition a committee of the Trail Advisory Committee has begun to discuss the eleven street crossings on the proposed trail and how they might be signed and provided safe access. Trail information and FAQ’s about the process will soon find its way onto the Town’s web site, and tonight the Board of selectmen will hear a report on progress from the Trail Advisory Committee. Any of you who have an interest in this potential Town recreational asset might want to see if you can make it to the meeting tonight or tune in to the meting on cable access to express your continuing support. I suppose that there are still many steps yet to be taken, but the progress that the committee has made in a relatively short period of time is extraordinary.

North Shore Community College Scholarship Committee

As a member of the North Shore Community College’s Scholarship Committee, it was a most positive experience to meet recently with the selection committee to listen to their recommendations... That hard working group made a presentation that outlined a list of 171 students at the school who have been recommended for $144,000 in total scholarships. The individual awards that start at $750 and go as high as $2,000 and the list of recipients was most impressive and we have been assured that they are equally most deserving of the awards. The list is held in confidence until the awards breakfast that is scheduled to be held at the end of May. I look forward to that meeting and sharing in the good fortune of the many students who would not be able to continue their college careers without this financial support.

BLOG Postings

Each quarter Essex Heritage provides a report to the National Park Service, the agency that oversees our funding. That report outlines the activities that we have undertaken in that particular quarter and provides information on the activities that helps make this region what it has become. For the last several quarters, I have been providing some statistical reports on Essex Happenings and how we are using this vehicle as one of the many communications tools, Essex heritage uses to help deliver our message to the residents of this region and the wonderful affiliated organization that we have as partners. As I researched the numbers for this quarter, I thought that I might share a couple of those statistics with you today. I began this process in July of 2009, and now just about nine months later, we have issued 107 postings to the BLOG and have offered commentary on over 460 individual activities in this region. We pledge to continue to provide these twice a week commentaries to be certain that we use every tool at our disposal to “speak” to you often about our mission and the value of our work...

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

Friday, April 2, 2010

Weather in New England, Strategic Plan to be Presented, Community Dinners in Danvers and Town Hall Murals

Essex Happenings, Friday April 2, 2010

Weather Issues Make for Difficult Times

I am not sure how I could prepare this posting on this day without some comments on the recent weather and the related difficulties that have been caused for so many in this region and around New England. I heard a comment recently that pointed out that is was just thirteen years ago yesterday when we all woke up to an April Fools Day snowstorm in 1997 that dropped three feet of snow on New England. I remember that day most clearly as on the day that storm started I was bringing my wife home from North Shore Medical Center after a medical procedure and we just about got home to Danvers before the storm worsened to the point that travel might not have been possible. The next day, Salem Five where I worked at that time and where I still serve as a Corporator held its annual meeting in the bank in the mid afternoon. The trip back to Salem that afternoon was very, very difficult but over the next couple of weeks all of the snow melted slowly and the region was spared from the kind of flooding we are seeing now with the March 2010 rain storms that are measured by some as the worst of a lifetime. Given a choice today, I would opt for the snow storm as the damages from that event were nowhere as severe as the damages from the recent rains. Over the last several days we have seen dramatic flooding in many parts of our region and many of our friends, fellow workers and family are experiencing some traumatic times with flooded basements, stalled cars, collapsed roads and long commutes. Some of the usual difficult locations around Essex County once again went through some harsh flooding conditions and businesses were impacted negatively as well, but as bad as it was in this region there are other sections of this larger region that were impacted even more dramatically.

We can only hope that the severe flooding conditions that have been reported on the south coast of New England and particularly in the State of Rhode Island will improve soon. In that area there are many rivers and dams that are near the breaking point and continuing improvement for that area is critical. If some of the damaged and weakened dams let go before the rivers recede a bit there could be cataclysmic effects in that part of New England. We look with some hope towards a weekend forecast that predicts warmer weather and most importantly sunny skies that might begin to dry up some of the regions flooding. Maybe by the end of the upcoming holiday weekend, we will see some improvement and we will all be able to look forward to better days ahead.

Essex Heritage to Present Long Range Plan to Board of Trustees

Next Tuesday, management of the Essex National Heritage Commission will present a long range plan to the Board of Trustees for their approval. The plan has been developed with substantial input from the Executive Committee of Essex Heritage and has been about a half a year in the development. Like every corporate planning process the plan that has been developed will have to remain most fluid as conditions that impact not for profit organizations like this one are changing much more quickly that ever before. The plan that will be presented will outline a vision and a direction for this organization that will help lead us in the future. The plan that has been developed over the last several months has received substantial input from the members of the Executive Committee and their thoughts and ideas have been added to the plan. The new plan will focus on several tenants that will include offering a stronger regional voice on quality of life issues and how those sometimes “hard to define values” impact the region in general. The plan will also offer thoughts on how the visibility of the National Park Service can be improved in the region and how that increased visibility will benefit the region. Essex Heritage will continue to be an educator and will offer programs to increase awareness in the region of the wonderful historic, cultural and natural resources that exist in the area. In addition, plans will be developed that will help to diversify funding sources to insure the long term sustainability of Essex Heritage. The plan will be complete with detailed strategies and tactics that will be most evident in the near term as Essex Heritage implements the plan. The leadership of Essex Heritage is particularly indebted to Board President, Kevin Tierney, CEO of Saugus Bank and Immediate Past President Nancy Huntington Stager of Eastern Bank for their efforts over the last six months in helping to craft the plan that will be presented next week.

Danvers Historic Murals Should be Reinstalled

As a long time resident of Danvers, and as a member of the board at the Danvers Historical Society, I agree wholeheartedly with Town Archivist Richard Trask that the three historic murals that were removed from Danvers Town Hall during the recent renovation should once again be displayed in Town Hall. The murals depict important times and events in Danvers History and should be preserved and displayed for future generations to view, be informed and enjoy.

Community Dinners in Danvers

A couple of years ago when an explosion hit the Danversport section of the Town of Danvers a number of organizations and concerned citizens organized a series of community dinners for those impacted that were most successfully implemented. When that neighborhood crisis was over and the impacted citizens life’s had returned to some semblance of normalcy the dinners were ended. Towards the end of last year several local churches led by the Maple Street Church decided to start the dinners up again as a resource to many in the community that were being impacted by negative economic conditions. The dinners have been ongoing now for a couple of months, and last night on an evening particularly thought of by many in the Christian community as a day for service to others, parishioners from St Richard’s church led by Paul and Patty Chisholm from the Parish Council at St. Richard’s served the meal at the Maple Street Church. I was pleased that my wife, Marge and I were able to participate in the dinner last night, as it was a wonderful evening and we were pleased to be a part of the experience. The group from the Maple Street Church that has organized this effort is still seeking support from community groups and if any in the Town of Danvers have an interest in learning more about the community dinner’s contact the Maple Street Church leadership.

Happy Easter Season

In my last posting, we were able to wish our many Jewish friends, associates and benefactors our best wishes as they began the celebration of Passover. Now we can also offer our best wishes to our Christian friends for a Happy Easter season. Last evening in many churches around this region the three day Easter services began with Holy Thursday, and tonight Good Friday will be observed, followed by Easter Sunday services on what we all hope will be a warm and sunny day,

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. Thanks You. Tom Leonard