Thursday, July 29, 2010

Essex Heritage Executive and Development Committee Meetings, Marblehead Museum, Parker River Wildlife Center, Salem State and St John's Prep


Essx Heritage Executive Committee

Earlier this month, the Essex Heritage Executive Committee met to hear a report from the Commission leadership on progress toward the Long-Range Planning goals. The Commission since its inception has been assisted with an annual appropriation that has been offered through our affiliation with the National Park Service and the wonderful support of the Washington Congressional delegation. That appropriation has provided the ability for Essex Heritage to develop and offer many programs that benefit this region. Certainly, in the future Essex Heritage needs to continue to develop new forms of revenue to keep this regional effort current and vitals soon. The presentation that was made to the Executive Committee reviewed several new initiatives that are being considered to meet this goal. When the planning for these efforts are more detailed and has more substance we will be certain to share the information with all of you, but for the time being we can only see, stay tuned for more details soon.

In addition to the report on the long-range planning efforts a recommendation was made and approved relative to a new group of Trustees that will be elected in August 2010. Unfortunately, two long term Trustees who have served Essex Heritage for many years have reached the maximum number of terms that they can serve and in August will be elevated to Trustee Emeritus status. Julie McConchie and Bill Pickles who have both been long associated with the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau will have to step down from our Board. Their service over the last nine years has been exemplary and the partnership that has been established between out two organizations has accomplished much for this region. They will certainly be missed on a day-to-day basis, but we will still be able to turn to them for advice and council in their new role as Trustee Emeriti. In addition to Julie and Bill we have also received a resignation due to a change in employment status of Greg Pronevitz who has taken on a new position with the regional library system.

The executive Committee has approved a recommendation to fill the three empty spots with the following nominees.

· Mr. Jason Korb, Vice President of Acquisitions, Beacon development

· Mr. William Piercey. Vice President, Chase and Lunt Insurance

· Ms. Anita Blackaby, Executive Director, House of Seven Gables

The nominees have been recommended to the full Board of Trustees and they will be elected and will begin to serve at the August 24, 2010 meeting. I want to make note that Bill Piercey in addition to this role with Chase and Lunt Insurance in Newburyport also serves as the volunteer President of the North of Boston group, so that the special relationship Essex Heritage have had with North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau will continue into the future.

Essex Heritage Development Committee Meeting

I am sorry that I was unable to travel back to Essex County to attend the recent meeting of the newly established Essex Heritage Development Committee. The meeting was held earlier this week under the direction of Chairman Charlie Cullen of The Provident Bank in Amesbury and much was accomplished. The committee established goals for the group, and assignments were made to all members of the group. We are confidant that in the next several weeks that appointments will be made to speak to a number of regional corporate entities with the expectations that at those meetings a case can be made for support for Essex heritage. In addition to me being absent from the meeting Mr. Jack Good of Danversbank who has agreed to participate on the committee was also not able to attend the initial meeting of the group. Mary Williamson, the Director of Development and Communications for Essex Heritage and I will with Jack early next month to obtain his thoughts and observations. A second meeting of the group has been scheduled for September 20, 2010 and at that meeting progress towards the Committee goals will be reviewed and measured.

Marblehead Museum and Historical Society

The Marblehead Museum and Historical Society has issued a call for volunteers, as they are undertaking a major project to research and identify the names associated with over six hundred graves at Old Burial Hill in that community. This certainly appears to be a most worthwhile project and for any amateur historians the project would be most rewarding. The organization believes that over 600 participants in the Revolutionary War are buried on the hill along with other prominent former residents of Marblehead. If anyone has any interest is volunteering for this most interesting project contact the Society’ President Dick Carlson at 781- 631-3593.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

The Parker River Wildlife Refuge is building a new Visitor Center to help better serve visitors to that important regional resource. At this time the new visitor center is partially open and the important feature of restrooms to serve visitors are open. The balance of the space that is still being competed is expected to be open by mid August as the Visitor Center staff is in the process of furnishing the space and completing the exhibits that will make the center complete. In addition to offering the new space to visitors in the future, the Center has gone “green’ with the installation of solar panels.

St John’s Prep Alumni Meeting on Cape Cod

Last night, It was a pleasure for me to mix a little business with pleasure, as I was able to attend at St, John’s Prep Alumni reception as the home of Paul Ahern a fellow member of the Alumni Association of the Prep. The agenda for the meeting was one of fellowship and is was good to see many of my contemporaries who either live full time or are summer residents in the Cape Cod region. Paul and I serve on a committee at the Prep that is reaching out to other alumni and providing information about planned giving opportunities at the school. All in all it was a most pleasant evening and I want to offer my thanks to Paul and his wife Mary for sharing their lovely home with us on a pleasant summer evening on Cape Cod.

Congratulations to Salem State University

All of us at Essex Heritage were elated to hear that the legislative action that was needed on Beacon Hill in Boston has been completed and what was once Salem Teachers College is now Salem State University. This action that clearly was the result of years of attention and dedicated committed work by both the current administration and past school leadership is wonderful news for the City of Salem and the entire region. This new important designation for the Salem institution will shine an even brighter spotlight on the south Salem landmark and the region and the thousands of alumni who can be truly proud of this new designation.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Essex Heritage Membership Program, Bill Steelman Update, Boys and Girls Club, Northeast Harvest, Danvers Historical Society Designer Showcase

Essex Happenings, Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Essex Heritage Membership Program

A comprehensive membership mailing was sent out earlier this month to Explorer members, Trustees. Commissioners and friends of Essex Heritage seeking support. That mailing seems to have been received with some level of acceptance as membership applications have been coming into the office with some regularity. We have received numerous applications and membership fees from some of our oldest and most loyal explorer members and they have provided this new commitment to support with little apparent concern. The membership program has been revised and some of the previous benefits that Explorers received have been modified, and still support for the work of Essex Heritage seem to be well received. We gave also received several larger gifts that exceed the nominal membership requirements and for that support we are most grateful. Some of those advanced membership contributions have come from existing corporate supporters, but in some cases the gifts have come from new sources. A wonderful example is a gift just received from the Newburyport Rotary Club that was unexpected. The support that we have been receiving appears to be confirmation by the general public that the work that we are undertaking every day to assure an improved quality of life in the region is being confirmed by the continuing and broad based support.

Brief Update on Bill Steelman

For our many friends of Essex Heritage and those of you who work during the year with Bill Steelman, we are pleased to report that we have heard from Bill during the last couple of days. The staff in the office has missed Bill and will welcome him back when he returns in mid August. The trip that he and has wife and family have undertaken to compete the educational assignment that Bill’s wife accepted at Cambridge University in England has been a most enjoyable experience to date. There are other American counterparts at the University and the entire family has benefited from the day-to-day experiences with both them and the local staff at the school and the weekend travel has been enlightening for Bill’s two sons. If I am not mistaken, Bill’s sabbatical from the Essex Heritage office is more than two thirds completed and we look forward to having him back in the region soon.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem

Over the last several months, the Executive Director and the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem have been actively involved in a comprehensive planning process that will impact the long-term future of the club and the youth that the club serves. Several months ago, the Immaculate Conception parish that is the owner of St. Mary’s School on Hawthorne Boulevard in Salem notified the club that when the current leases with the club is over that they have other plans for the property. They hope to find a buyer for the property and use the funds gained from that transfer for other church and parish projects. These original plans did not include the Boys and Girls Club and the church administration has been very helpful in providing this notice with a reasonable timetable for the Club’s departure from the site. During this period of planning the folks from the parish have been more than fair with us, and in fact some deliberations about the future the club have included both formal and informal conversations with members of the Parish administration about some possibilities that includes the club. In addition to the discussions with the church, the club is also looking at other opportunities in Salem to serve the needs of the clients of the club. All of the options being explored include locations that will continue to make the club accessible to the young boys and girls currently served by the club. The planning for this major move for the club has taken up a great deal of the time of the board and the Executive Director, and will likely become even more intense in the near term.

During this time of planning the club is also involved in its continuing effort to raise funds to support the mission of the club. The club regularly organizes individual events like a most successful shamrock raffle on St. Patrick’s Day and now in early August a Comedy Night presentation. The comedy night will be held on August 4, 2010 at the Salem Moose Hall on Grove Street. Tickets are only $10 each and all of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Boys and Girls Club. Tickets for this event can be purchased at the Boys and Girls Club and at the Salem Recreation Department offices.

Even with all of these events the club is currently reaching out in its annual “It Only Takes One” campaign that focuses primarily on local businesses. If any local organization has the inclination to help in this worthwhile effort, contact Executive Director Joanne Scott at I can unequivocally state as a long time supporter of the club that the work that is done and the help that is offered at that facility is meaningful and in some case is the difference maker in a child’s life.

Northeast Harvest Newsletter Available Now

The July edition of the Northeast Harvest newsletter has been published and distributed by Essex Heritage. This month’s edition continues to focus on farm stands and farmers markets all over this region. That certainly seems appropriate, as the summer is such a wonderful time for residents of the area to visit downtowns and the suburban locations all over the region to savor the wares at these venues. The products displayed and sold are all locally grown and distributed, and that for many is a wonderful process. The Newsletter this month also highlights a recipe for blueberry pie and I have pointed my wife to that formula, as that pie is one of her favorite desserts. For more information or to get on the mailing list for the Newsletter contact Essex Heritage and Elizabeth Rankin at

Danvers Historical Society Event

If you find yourself in Danvers between now and next Sunday, August 1, 2010, the Danvers Historical Society’s Designer Showcase event is still open to the public and one can certainly get some great ideas with a visit. . The designers who have come in to exhibit their products have totally transformed both Tapley Hall and the Page House on Page Street and a percentage of any sales of the products displayed at the show will go to the Historical Society to help them continue to preserve the history of Danvers through their work. The showcase is open every day until next Sunday, and tickets can be purchased at the door for a most nominal fee. The fee is slightly reduced for members of the Society but in any event the value of the visit is well worth the price of admission. The Historical Society does a wonderful job of preserving and then presenting many of the historical assets of this community that once was a part of the City of Salem. The primary assets of the Society are the historic properties that it owns and makes available to the public. The Glen Magna Farms property is one of the finest examples of a home from that period in the entire region, and is available for weddings and other functions for most of the year.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Salem Harbor Walk, Bike Interests Growing, Topsfield Fair Dates, Essex County Communites Faring Well, Afordable Housing news, Cape Cod Baseball

Essex Happenings, Friday, July 23, 2010

The City of Salem Opens the South River Harbor Walk

About a week ago, the City of Salem opened the long awaited Harbor Walk along the South River. Lt Governor Murray and other elected officials from the City were on hand to help celebrate the culmination of the project after many years. The new walkway stretches from the corner of Lafayette Street and New Derby Street to the spot where Congress Street connects with Hawthorne Boulevard. The initial point is in the section of the city that official are now referring to as LoLa, that stands for lower Lafayette Street that is fast becoming a new retail section. The walkway will help connect the downtown to the waterfront and will also help link the Point neighborhood with the rest of the city.

Many years ago, I helped manage the development of Pickering Wharf for Salem Five and a team of private developers and at that time, a public walkway was built around the perimeter of that project. Over the almost four decades since Pickering Wharf was constructed, that walkway has been heavily traveled during the pleasant months of the tear. That walkway connects the city to the National Park Service’s Salem Maritime Historic Site, so the new South River Walkway now allows residents and visitors alike the opportunity with one intersection crossing to walk from just a couple of blocks from the Salem pedestrian mall all the way to the waterfront without the concern of automobile traffic. The new walkway could be a boon to the businesses along that stretch of Salem, and will certainly help pedestrian flow in the City.

Bike Enthusiasts Continue to Make Progress in Essex County

It seems that everywhere we look these days; bike enthusiasts are making great strides. Bike trails are springing up in numerous communities and residents from children to seniors are exercising using bikes. Last Sunday morning, on the way home from church we saw hundreds of bicyclists who were competing through the streets of Danvers in a charity ride named Reid’s Ride.

In Beverly the city is using grant funds to install sixty secure bike racks that will make biking in that Community that much more convenient. The racks that are now being constructed all over the down town are phase two of this project as in phase one racks were installed at libraries and playgrounds. The City of Beverly views this program as a way to bring more visitors to the city and allow them to arrive using alternative methods of transportation.

Topsfield Fair Announces 2010 Dates

It certainly seems strange as we move through one of the hottest July’s on record to be writing about one of the premier fall events that takes place in Essex County. We recently received notification from our good friends at the Topsfield Fair that the Fair can’t be too far away when they send us information on the dates when the Fair will be in operation. Each year the relationship between the Fair and Essex Heritage gets stronger as more and more common projects are being undertaken. Essex Heritage works hand in hand each month with Fair officials in the production of the North East Harvest newsletter.

This year the fair will open on the earliest possible date in October on the first and the Fair will continue through October 11, 2010. Tickets for the fair, advance food purchases, concerts and Senior Citizen Day are now available and more information can be found at

Essex County Communities Continue Survive Without Layoffs

There has been much information in the local papers about all of the cuts that have been made to local aid funding for local communities. This has been a difficult time for many communities in the region, and has been particularly difficult for some of the large cities. The City of Lawrence has been particularly hard hit and even with some state support in the form of a loan to the City, many layoffs have occurred, and there has much substantial debate about the cuts in police and fire as the public safety of that community has been questioned.

However in some of the smaller communities in the region the cuts in local aid seem to have been assimilated without severe difficulties. For the most part, municipal layoffs have been averted due in part to numerous employee union concessions and better budget planning and we can all only hope that will continue. We can all hope that the economy will continue to improve as the year moves on, and that additional state local cuts will be not be needed. Anything-additional coming as it would after all of the steps that have already been taken could be a difficult pill to swallow.

Salem Harbor CDC and Beverly affordable Housing Coalition to Merge

I recently saw a notice that two of the premier non-profit housing agencies that have supported and developed affordable housing in this region are contemplating a merger. In my previous career as a local banker, I spent a considerably amount of my efforts working with Salem Harbor Community Development Corporation as they developed much needed housing in the Point neighborhood in Salem. Over the time that they were a force in real estate in Salem, they had a succession of most capable and conscientious Executive Directors that accomplished a great deal of positive accomplishments. At the present time the Salem Harbor CDC is without an Executive Director and so the potential of a merger with another similar agency in a contiguous community seems to be a good plan. There is still mush more that needs to be accomplished by Affordable Housing advocates in this region and we wish this new merged operation good luck.

Cape Cod League Baseball

As most of you know, I am spending a good portion of the summer at our vacation house on Cape Cod. Now that my wife is retired and I am not in the Essex Heritage office on a full time basis in the summer we are able to enjoy a little bit of semi-retirement. It seems that with Essex Heritage demands and several other regional obligations we head back on the North Shore every ten days or so, and so we are regularly heading over the Sagamore Bridge and the Cape Cod Canal to attend a meeting or tend to some other demand. Those return trips are important, as even in retirement I am anxious to be a participant in the relevant activities of Essex County.

But while we are here we are enjoying golf and an occasional trip to the beach during this very hot July, and one of the most enjoyable activities that we both enjoy is watching the very competitive and talent laden Cape Cod Baseball League. The players in the ten-team league are all college players who are playing in this league waiting for a Major League team to draft them and turn them into professionals. The Major Leagues are loaded with young men who have played in this premier summer league. At the present time, the team that we follow, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox have eighty former players who currently are in a Major League system. In Boston, the Red Sox have Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek on their rosters that have all played on the Cape.

Last night we attended a game that was a superb example of the way the game is played on the cape. We watched a young man from Texas lose a no hit effort with two outs in the ninth inning. The player who broke up the no hitter ironically was Michael Yastrzemski who graduated from St John’s Prep in Danvers before heading to Vanderbilt. The Yarmouth team only scored two runs on three hits in a game that was completed in one hour and fifty-three minutes. The Major Leagues could take lessons from the Cape League on how the grand old game should be played.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Monday, July 19, 2010

Friendship and the Navy, Salem State Seminar, Tourism in Essex County, Beverly Group Looking at CPA


National Park Service Friendship and the USS Constitution

One day last week, the National Park Service’s replica sailing ship, Friendship spent a day in Boston’s famous harbor completing a training mission. This time the cadre of dedicated Friendship volunteers were not completing traditional training that takes place all year, but were on a labor of love. The training team from Friendship was imparting their knowledge to a couple of dozen members from the crew of the United States Navy Ship Constitution. Constitution is the two centuries old ship known as Old Ironsides that distinguished itself during the historic war of 1812. Soon the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy will sail again in the summer of 2012 to help commemorate her exploits 200 year ago. The current training exercise is designed to give the crew of the Navy ship a hands on experience on Friendship that can be replicated by the Navy crew next summer when Old ironsides will once again set sail as she did two centuries ago. On several occasions in the life of Friendship, the National Park Service’s replica has had the benefit of support from the Navy as repairs were done on the Friendship by Navy workers in the Navy Yard in Boston so this a great way to pay back the Navy for prior services.

While this was a mission designed to teach United States Navy sailors how to haul sails and handle lines on a sailing ship at sea, this was a great opportunity for the crew of Friendship to polish their skills before the inaugural sails with paying clients over Labor Day weekend 2010. At that time Friendship will make a trip under sail from Salem to Gloucester with a group of North Shore Rotarians, and then on the following day will head out into Gloucester harbor to observe the annual schooner races. Essex Heritage is currently taking orders for spots on those two trips moderately priced at $185 per person and additional information on how you can participate contact Mary Williamson as 978 740 0444 or visit the Essex Heritage web site at All of the proceeds after expenses from this historic weekend of first ever sails will be used to extend the mission of Essex Heritage that focuses on the preservation and promotion of the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County.

Salem State’s Enterprise Center to Offer Seminar for Business Owners

Essex Heritage has since its existence had a special relationship with the State College in Salem. Several of the professionals who serve the college have been Trustees and Commissions of Essex Heritage who offer their continuing support to our efforts. At the present time, Dr. Patricia Meservey serves on the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees and Dr, Brewer Doran the Dean of the Bertalon School of Business, Bill Luster the Executive Director of the North Shore Alliance managed by the college and Christine Sullivan who serves as the chief Executive of the Enterprise Center all serve as Commissioners

The College’s Enterprise Center and the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development are co-sponsoring a seminar at the college on July 22, 2010 that may be of great interest to investors and entrepreneurs. The event that is scheduled to be held from 7; 15 10; 30 a.m. at the college and will begin with a breakfast. For mare information on the program that will feature presentation that will help you “Pitch you Company to Investors and Lenders” and to register contact the Bill Luster at the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development at

Speaking of Salem State

I know it may be bad luck to call Salem State College a University before the Governor signs the bill to make this happen, but it does appear to be imminent. The State Senate recently followed the lead of the Massachusetts House and approved the bill, so all the remains is the final approval by Governor Patrick and that could happen any day now.

Tourism Activities on the North Shore Gets a Boost

There have been several positive actions relative to the Hospitality and tourism industry in this region in the last few days. First of all the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau (NBCVB) has developed a new business plan that will allow them to continues to be a force in tourism in area also served by Essex Heritage. The NBCVB has relocated to new office space in Newburyport and at the same time ha announced that the Maria Miles Visitor Center on Route 95 in Salisbury has reopened to serve visitors to this region. That is very good news as the center is the primary center to serve visitors to this region who arrive here from our neiigboring Sates to the north and eastern Canada. The Center was reopened after long-term negotiations with the States Department of Transportation that will help with maintenance the facility. We also saw a recent note, that three small cruise ships are planning to stop at the new ferry terminal in Salem between now and early September for short stays. That business should be a boon to Salem merchants from the waterfront to the downtown.

We have also seen some recent numbers that show that tourism in the region is most definitely up. The National Park Service who we partner with on so many initiatives shows attendance at their regional Visitor Center in Salem up over 15% from May of last year to May of 2010. That is good news as more visitors to the region means more money spent in the region, new jobs being created, and additional taxes being paid to both the Commonwealth and local communities. The recent increase in the Hotel/Motel and meals taxes enacted by many local communities may prove to be a great timing for municipal budgets, as more visitors certainly will result in more local taxes based on those two recent actions.

The final issue relates to news from Salem State. That institution waiting for the news of their elevation to University status recently announced that this fall due to the increases in activity in the Hospitality and Tourism industries that they will offer the first of its kind in this region Graduate Certificate program in Hospitality and tourism. That is certainly a statement that the tourism industry is a most important element of the economy of Essex County, bur we knew that fact all along

Group in Beverly Advocating for the Adoption of CPA

It appears that there may be a group of activists in the City of Beverly that is considering advocating that the City consider adopting the Community Preservation Act. The group is investigating the possibility of seeking a one percent tax that could be used with the corresponding State allocation of funds that would used in preservation, open space acquisition and affordable housing initiatives. The City of Beverly rejected an attempt for the adoption of a 3 % tax a decade ago, but the timing now might be better and the tax has been modified. This effort is in the exploratory stage, and it could take several years to build community support that is essential, but if adopted the City of Beverly would join approximately fifty percent of the communities in Essex County that utilize this process. Many of the communities that have adopted this initiative have used the funds most effectively to enhance community opportunities.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel Opportunities, Best Places to Visit, NSMT Re-Opens, Maritme Festival in Newburyport, News fom Newbury and Danvers,





Essex Heritage Continues to Study Travel Opportunities

Over the past several months, Essex Heritage has intensified its study of travel programs as a revenue generating opportunity for this organization. The region that we serve contains a treasure trove of rich historic sites and a matching group of residents who are interested in exploring those sites. We are examining opportunities to either offer travel programs on our own or with a regional or national partner. Essex Heritage has recently completed an updated strategic plan that calls for the exploration of related income generating sources of revenues to help support the programs of the Commission and travel programs certainly fit that model we have devised. In the months ahead we will continue to examine travel opportunities of all kinds with the expectation that one or several of those opportunities will turn into the program of choice for the future. As we develop ideas, there are dozens of very concerned ‘friends of Essex Heritage” who have offered opinions in the past and it is possible that in time we will ask many of you to comment on these opportunities to learn if you feel as we do that travel programs can be valuable to the region and a source of continuing revenue for Essex Heritage in the future.

Commonwealth Announces 1000 Best Places to Visit in Massachusetts

Earlier this week the Commonwealth released the list of the one thousand favorite places in the State. The final list was chosen from a group of 12,000 nominations for this designation. The list can be found it great detail on but we at Essex Heritage were very pleased with the findings and the report. The list reported on one hundred and twenty five spots that made the list in our historic region. Virtually every community in the Essex National Heritage area had a listing or two and some of our more prominent communities had several listings. I will leave it to you to visit the list and review the listings one by one and I am certain that as I did you will find the list most informative. The Cities of Salem and Gloucester led the list with sixteen and fourteen listings respectively, but there were several other communities in the region that were also well represented, Beverly, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport and Rockport all had a substantial presence, and in general the county was well served. I noted in a Cape Cod newspaper that one hundred sites were listed in Cape and Island communities and Essex County fared better than that traditionally heavily visited part of the State. In total, the region with its large group of listings in the most favored locations had 12.5% of the total listed in the entire State, and when one considers the large metropolitan regions that had strong listings and presence, Essex County as a region fared quite well.

North Shore Music Theatre Re Opens for Business

It certainly has been a positive step for the region and for the arts experience in the area when the North Shore Music Theatre reopened for business earlier this month. The new ownership has done a remarkable job to bring the theatre back to life and the region is certainly much better off with an operating theatre of that scope back in business. From all we have heard, the opening performances went very well, and the crowds were receptive and welcoming. Essex Heritage certainly wishes the new ownership much success in the future, and has already opened a door to discuss how the two organizations can work together in the future.

City of Newburyport Investigating Maritime Festival Possibility

Several leaders in the Historic City of Newburyport including both a former and present Mayor and a former Redevelopment Authority Director have recently gathered to discuss the possibility of organizing a Maritime Festival on the City’s waterfront. The plan is dependant on the investigation of funding to support the event that would not be just a one-time event, but a recurring program. The group has set a very optimistic schedule as they hope to bring in three of four tall ships to take part in the proposed festival over the 2011 Fourth of July Holiday. The City has a wonderful river front harbor and the adjacent boardwalk and parklands would make a wonderful setting for such an event.

A couple of years ago Essex Heritage and the National Park Service brought the replica sailing ship Friendship into Newburyport for a two day visit sponsored by the local banking institutions and that event was a wonderful success. During the two days that the Friendship was on port, over 10,000 people visited the ship and learned of her mission. And I would suspect that an annual festival could also mirror that success. As plans develop, Essex Heritage might be pleased to play some role in the festival, as it could become a wonderful regional event.

Plum Island Dredging Project Delayed Due to Bidding Issues

The Town of Newbury was recently notified of a very tenuous deadline in connection with the long awaited and anticipated dredging project on Plum Island. As a result of a bid that came in substantially higher than anticipated to complete this important task the Town was advised that they had only two weeks to raise an additional $88,000 in funding. Because of the importance of the project the Town Administrator and the Board of Selectmen have found the extra funding. This effort should now allow the much-needed project to move forward in the near term

Town of Danvers Completes Negotiations with Employee Unions

It was good news for the Town of Danvers and all of its residents to see that once again, Town Manager Wayne Marquis has completed labor negotiations with the municipal unions that serve the Town. Under today’s uncertain labor and economic conditions, it is imperative to have financial certainly and that condition now exists in Danvers. As a member of the Town’s Finance Committee it is always positive to see that the Town Manager, as he has done year after year, has completed that administrative task and kept the Danvers “financial house” in good order.

Friendship Sails Update

In a recent posting I noted that the cost of tickets for the inaugural Friendship sail had been set at $250 per passenger. After recalculating some of the expenses connected with this event it was determined that the ticket price had been set too high. The new and correct price has now been set at $185,00 per person and that price is now reflected on the Essex Heritage web site.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Development Committee Meets, New Trustees to be Named, Rotary Clubs to Sail on Friendship, Salem State Close to University Status


Essex Heritage Development Committee Holds Organizational Meeting

Late last week, Charlie Cullen the new Chairman of the Essex Heritage Development Committee met with members of the leadership team to set the agenda for the initial Development Committee meeting to be held later this month. Preliminary goals for the committee were established and plans to develop a list of companies in the region where appointments will be made were discussed. The expectation that as the new fiscal year begins for the Commission that the timing to reach out to regional commercial interests seeking financial support for the mission of Essex Heritage seems to be right. The Committee when it meets later in July will be expected to develop a list of about two-dozen local companies and to identify primary contact people at those organizations. After that initial step is accomplished the Commission will attempt to establish appointments at the companies to where the mission of Essex Heritage will be outlined and financial support to enhance the work of ENHC will be sought. The mission of Essex Heritage has long been focused on the continued improvement of the quality of life in the region. Our work on projects like the Scenic Byway and the Border to Boston rail trail enhancements all contribute to the quality of the life in the region where we all live and work. Those regional improvements have certainly made it easier for companies in the area to attract qualified employees. The Commission welcomes any opportunities to visit a local company to speak about our work, and if anyone has an interest in learning more please contact me or Mary Williamson our Director of development and communications at 978 740 0444 or by e-mail at

Essex Heritage Will Add New Trustees in the Fall

Over the last couple of days, several discussions have taken place among the leadership of Essex Heritage that focused on the addition of several new members of the Board of Trustees. As a result of new job assignments and transfers, we have received two resignations from two Board Trustees, and two additional members of the Board will complete their terms of office this fall and will move up to Trustee Emeritus status. All four of these individuals who have done so much for Essex Heritage and the region and their services will certainly be missed. Essex Heritage will now have to replace these talented people from our wonderful pool of Commissioners. The choices for these positions have been made and will now be advanced to the Executive Committee and the full Board of Trustees for their approval and at that time we will make the names of the replacements public. We feel that it is critically important to continues to keep the region informed of the makeup of the Board of Trustees as this hard working group is your representatives from the region and helps manage the mission of Essex Heritage and works with management to decide focus and future direction for Essex Heritage.

Local Rotary Clubs to Participate in Friendship Inaugural Sail

Over the 2010 Labor Day weekend the National Park Service replica sailing ship Friendship will celebrate its recent Coast Guard certification with an inaugural sail to Gloucester. The sail that has been in the planning stage for a couple of months will move the Friendship from its permanent berth at the Salem Maritime Historic Site to the Coast Guard Station in Gloucester. On the second day of this excursion the Friendship will take passengers out into the harbor to witness the famous Gloucester schooner races. This weekend will be the first time the Friendship will carry paying passengers. Essex Heritage is acting as an agent for the National Park Service and is helping to organize this event, and after the expenses of the trip are covered, the balance of the funds raised will go towards the support of Essex Heritage programs like the Partnership Grant program, the Scenic Byway and the Border to Boston Rail Trail initiative.

Essex Heritage is working with a number of local Rotary Clubs, managed by the Salem Rotary Club to fill the first day sail on September 4, 2010 from Salem to Gloucester with members of local area Rotary Clubs as a regional fellowship event. Bill Kielbasa is advancing this idea as the recently elected President of the Salem Rotary Club. Bill has provided information about the event to regional Rotary Club officials from Saugus to Cape Ann with the expectation that the 45 available spots on this first ever sail will be filled by local Rotarians enjoying a day of fellowship and participating in a historic event. In addition to the opportunity to enjoy the company of the others on the sail, the group will be divided into three working groups and will help sail the ship under the direction of three watch leaders. Lunch and refreshments will also be served along with a running commentary on the maritime history of the region offered by National Park Service professionals during the five-hour sail to Gloucester. Salem Rotary President Kielbasa has made community participation one of the hallmarks of his Rotary club year and this event meets that goal quite well. Tickets that are priced at $250.000 each and are available on line for this wonderful event at the Essex Heritage web site at or interested parties can contact Mary Williamson at 878 740 0444 or at

Essex Heritage is also now taking orders for the second day event on September 5, 2010 to view the Schooner Races in Gloucester Harbor, and those tickets can be obtained for that event using the same instructions as outlined above. We expect that these tickets will be sold quickly and we urge any interested parties to contact Essex Heritage to purchase tickets for this historic event.

Salem State Moves Closer to University Status

Late last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelming voted to pass legislation that would change the designation of State College in Salem to a University. The proposed legislation is the latest effort in a long string of attempts to accomplish this goal. All that now remains is a positive vote by the Massachusetts Senate and then a signature by the Governor. The College and the region would be substantially improved if the change takes place. The legislation is revenue neutral as there is no financial ramifications if the change is enacted, and it is clear that the current students, past graduates and the vitality of this region would all benefit from the approval. College President Patricia Me survey recently sent an electronic appeal to al Salem State Alumni seeing their support and urging them to contact their Senator to seek support. Nothing as important as this action is ever done until all the T’s are crossed and all the I’s dotted, but it does appear that this long awaited action seems to be imminent. We certainly hope so, and have long been a strong and vocal advocate for the change in status.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Friday, July 9, 2010

July Weather, Essex Heritage Photo Safari Survey, Northeast Harvest Newsletter, Danvers Bike Trail Walk, and the Passing of a Salem Legend


Weather Conditions Certainly an Issue

Since July began we have certainly had no shortage of extreme weather. I hope that all of my senior friends are paying attention to the heat warnings and are trying to stay cool and are avoiding situations where health might be compromised. We seem to have one day after another during this present month that the temperature is in the 90’s and in some cases approaching triple digits. This is after a July 2010 where we were wondering where all the warm weather was hiding. In any event please take care to stay as cool as possible and remain hydrated at all times. I have spent the first part of the month on the south coast and this year there has been no relief even in that location. We even spent one day on the Islands off the cape, and even in that location the weather was substantially warmer than normal. I am heading back to Essex County very early on Thursday for a personal commitment and an Essex Heritage Development Committee meeting later this week. Hopefully some weather change will come along soon to give us a break from the heat and humidity.

Essex Heritage Photo Safari Survey Results

The Essex Heritage staff completed a recent survey of Cannon Photo Safari participants and the survey continues to prove that this is one of our most popular programs. There was a universal positive response when participants were asked if they enjoyed the experience. We continue to discover that many forms of outreach work when getting our message out about this program. We have many former participants who come back time and time again to these programs, and word of mouth from former participants and our newsletters and other communication also add to the list of players. We are most indebted to the folks at Hunts Photo and Video from Melrose who manage this program for their commitment and support. The professionalism exhibited by the photo experts that they provide is what makes the event so successful.

Recent Northeast Harvest Newsletter Full of Valuable Information

The recent Northeast Harvest newsletter contains wonderful information on Farmer Markets all over the region. The current newsletter contains a search feature that allows one to down load a complete listing of markets in both Essex and Middlesex Counties. This tool can be most helpful as one searches for locations and dates of these popular experiences. The web address of the newsletter is The most recent newsletter also contains a complete listing of all of the members of the Advisory Committee that are working so diligently to bring fresh farm products to the region.

I did notice, as I was looking over the list that one of the members of the Advisory Committee is Bill Clark who owns and operates Clark Farm in Danvers and doubles as a Town Selectman. I have learned that Bill recently underwent Open Heart surgery. I hear that he is progressing nicely, and all of us at Essex Heritage wish him continuing progress on the road back to good health. When we at Essex Heritage first reached out the agricultural community in this region Bill was one of the first people we approached. It became clear to us early that the preservation of the agricultural lands in this region were a critical component of our mission to protect, preserve and promote the natural resource of this region. Bill came to our aid then, and later he responded again to our call when he became one of the first elected officials in the Town of Danvers to announce his support of our efforts to help move the Border to Boston Bike Trail from the starting point in Salisbury down to the planned terminus in Danvers.

Danvers Bi-Peds

Speaking as we just were about the Danvers Bike Trail, the local group, the Bi-Peds that has played a major role along with the Town Planning Department in moving the trail to a successful outcome in Danvers is holding one of its trail walks on Saturday, July 10th. The walk will step off from the Hobart Street Parking lot at 9:30 that morning Dress for the weather and the still rough conditions on the trail, and bring plenty of water for the walk. This will be a great chance to see how far the trail has progressed since the ties and rails were removed. Every indication is that the trail is progressing quite nicely and will soon be ready for riders. The Bi-Peds web address is and substantial information about progress can be found on this site.

Personal Commitment in Salem on Thursday

Earlier in this posting, I noted that I had personal commitment that would take me back to Essex County at the end of this week. I am heading back to attend the funeral of an old and dear friend from Salem. The funeral of Joseph “Pep Cornacchio will be as much a celebration of his life as it will be a time to lament his passing. Pep who was 89 years young passed away the day after the Independence Day holiday. Pep was a legend in Salem, and was the ultimate community activist. He was the supreme giver of his time and gifts, as over his long life in Salem he volunteered regularly to help numerous organizations. When “Pep” was a young man he was a football star for Salem High School and then for the Salem Town Team. As a youth I remember Pep as a superlative athlete and watched and admired his play. I was too young to remember his High School exploits, but I do remember his time with the Salem Town Team. Later in life I more admired his volunteer commitment to the City of Salem than his athletic skills. I saw a lot of “Pep”, as he was everywhere volunteering his help. I do not remember ever seeing “Pep” that he did not have a nice comment to pass on to me. He was a very positive person and spent most of his days telling all of us how much our effort was appreciated, when in reality it was him who was the super star of volunteers. Over the last few years, ‘Pep’ was a member of the Salem Rotary and I enjoyed many Tuesday lunches where I sat with him to learn of his most current endeavor or award. It has been said in many quarters that no wake in Salem was complete until “Pep” Cornacchio arrives to pay his respects. He was there for the wakes and funerals of both my Mon and Dad when they passed away, and I am proud to say that I was there with so many of his admirers to “see Pep off” at his funeral and share in the celebration of his life this week.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heritage Commission Moves meeting, Marine Corp Services, Holiday Activities


Essex Heritage Executive Committee Meeting

The leadership of Essex Heritage made a wise decision when they arrived back from the Alliance Conference in South Carolina. After reviewing the calendar it was decided to move the Executive Committee meeting scheduled from the first business day after the long 4th of July weekend to a date later this month. I suspect that the decision might have been driven by how many members of the Committee had called in to say that they would be unable to attend. When the date was first chosen back in the dead of winter we never anticipated the wonderful weather that we all enjoyed for the weekend and how many of our members might have combined the holiday weekend with an extended vacation.

In any event we have re-scheduled the meeting for July 20, 2010. That is a date that will work much better for me as I have to be back in Danvers the night before that meeting date for an important meeting of my local Parish Council and so staying in the area for an extra day makes sense for me as I can likely make both events. It will also allow us to report to the Executive Committee on the plans and goals that will be set by the Essex Heritage Development Committee meeting that will be held this coming Thursday afternoon. There is little question that the activities of this Committee will be critical to the continuing success of the Commission. President Kevin Tierney has convinced a wonderful group of Trustees headed by Charlie Cullen of The Provident Bank to come together in an initial meeting later this week to set very important goals and to develop important strategies to achieve both commercial and retail fundraising goals that will be critical to the long range success of Essex Heritage.

The later date for the Executive Committee meeting will also allow Essex Heritage staff more time to follow up on the recommendations of the Nominating Committee as we work towards putting a slate of Commissioners in place well before the annual meeting scheduled for October. I want to once again take the opportunity here to ask any of you who are readers of these BLOG postings to advance any names that you think might make a good Commissioner to me for consideration.

Marine Corp Battle Color Ceremony

Just before the long holiday weekend I attended a very moving and patriotic service that was sponsored by the Marine Corp League, Cape and Islands detachment. This detachment is made up of a group of current and former Marines that dedicate themselves to servicing their country and their local communities. They raise funds to support the famous Marine Corp Toys for Tots effort, and provide support to injured and sick marines and act as an honor guard at Marine burials.

The event was called a United States Battle Color Ceremony and was offered by active duty Marines from the Washington Barracks of the U S Marine Corp. The event began with an impressive flyover by a search and rescue Coast Guard aircraft and then a gun salute by a local National Guard howitzer battalion. The subsequent program consisted of a series of patriotic songs presented by local tenor and retired Massachusetts State Trooper and former marine Dan Clarke and then a sensational presentation by active duty marines. The United States Marine Corp Drum and Bugle Corp provided a concert and drill, and the unbelievable twenty-four-member silent drill team who offered a demonstration of close order drill and precise weapon handling followed. The evening presentation that was offered to an overflow crowd at the Dennis-Yarmouth High School Stadium and concluded with an appearance by a Marine Corp color guard presenting the national colors and the official marine Corp Battle flag, with streamers representing the numerous engagements where the Marines have participated from the Revolutionary War to today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. After a most stirring version of the Star Spangled banner the color guard and the drill team and drum and bugle corps then passed in review

The evenings program ended with the entire contingent of marines passing in review past the families of eight service men and woman from cape cod who have lost their lives in the fight for freedom in the last two wars. The service was very moving and the tribute paid to the deceased service members was a fitting tribute. I am certainly glad that I attended the presentation and being presented so near the Independence Day Holiday made it that much more special.

Holiday Weekend Activities

I certainly hope that all of you enjoyed the Holiday, and were as lucky as me to be able to share the day with family. My son, Mike and his family spent the weekend at our vacation home with my wife and I. As I noted earlier, the weather if it had been ordered could not have been better and we all including a couple of grandkids, enjoyed cookouts, the wonderful beaches and a spectacular fireworks display from Hyannis that we were able to view from the beach at the end of our street. We were also able to watch two baseball games played by some of the very best collegiate players in this country. Most baseball experts think of the Cape Cod Baseball League as the best amateur league in the country. I have for many years told whoever would listen that I have two season tickets to the Red Sox. The Red Sox in this case are the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and my season tickets come with two lawn chairs that I can put down wherever I can find a space. The YD Red Sox have won two league championships in the last four years and are in first place again this year at the holiday. They play exciting and enthusiastic baseball and during the summer we usually make at least two games a week. This week we saw two wins, with a no hitter one night and a come from behind 3 to 1 win, that was won by starting pitcher John Leonard from Boston College and Walpole, Ma. To top of the win by pitcher John Leonard, my grandson Casey was able to “snag’ a foul ball and that absolutely made his weekend. All in all it was a most enjoyable weekend, I hope that you will all allow me this opportunity to speak about a more personal part of life. In the next posting, now that the holiday is over, I will get back to the business of Essex Heritage.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alliance Coference in South Carolina, Heritage Executiv on Sabatical, Mary Kelly Tribute, Boys and Girls Club Receives Gift, Happy Holiday,

Essex Happenings, Friday July 2, 2010

National Alliance of Heritage Area’s Annual Conference

This week a number of staff members from Essex Heritage have traveled to the fourth annual Alliance of Heritage Area’s International Conference held this year in Charleston, So Carolina. This year’s conference was held from June 27, 2010 through July 1, 2010 and was hosted by the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area. The annual conference is a wonderful time for the leadership and staff from the forty-seven Heritage Area’s now authorized by the US Congress to gather and exchange ideas and to explore “best practices” in both a formal and informal setting. The conference is examining such important topics as Tourism, Preservation, Economic Development, Marketing and the Development of Partnerships at both the national and local levels. There are tours of the local Heritage Area that is this year’s host and usually several good ideas from those excursions that come back as a plan for the local area. It will be good to have the staff back in the region just before the Independence Day holiday and since I did not attend the conference it will be interesting to hear the perceptions of those that did participate in the conference.

Essex Heritage Senior Executive on Sabbatical

Just before the holiday, Bill Steelman and his family will embark on what could be the experience of a lifetime. Bill will accompany his wife who is a professor at the University of New Hampshire on a summer teaching assignment at Cambridge University in England. Bill and family that include a couple of teen-age sons will spend six weeks at the world famous University north of London in the UK. I am certain that Bill and family will take advantage of this great educational opportunity for the two boys and much will be gained during their stay in the United Kingdom. We wish Bill at the best during his time away, and look forward to discussing his stay when he returns

Dedication of Patio to Mary Kelly

About four years ago, Mary Kelly retired as the Director of the Danvers Senior Center. She had served in that role for many years and had made a substantial impact on the seniors of the Town of Danvers. In addition to the role of Senior Center Director she also served as the Town’s representative to the Community Council. In that position she provided support to people of all ages who needed assistance. I was privileged to work closely with Mary on her all volunteer Council on Aging Board and I experienced first hand her compassion and expertise in dealing with problems of all kinds. After Mary retired from her Town position she then created a travel program at Danvers Bank that was most successful.

Earlier this year Mary passed away and that was a shock to all of us who worked closely with her over the years. Late last week hundreds of Mary’s family, friends, associates and contemporaries gathered to dedicate a community patio at the Senior Center that she was so instrumental in having built. In addition to dedicating that patio in Mary’s name, the Friends of the Senior Center planted a flowering tree next to the patio and Danvers Bank provided a granite memorial bench in her memory. The evening that finished just as a line of thunderstorms roared through the region was a wonderful tribute to the memory of a wonderful lady and a friend,

Wonderful News for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem

A couple of days ago, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem were the recipient of a most generous anonymous cash gift. The gift was the result of the long and storied relationship that the club has had for decades with the former CEO of General Electric. Jack Welch who grew up in Salem at the same time, as when I was a youth in Salem was then a member of the Salem Fraternity that was the predecessor organization to the Boys and Girls Club. I only knew Jack vaguely at that time as he was a little older and lived in another part of the City, and attended Salem High School, while I attended St. John’s Prep. I also attended the YMCA as a youth and not the Fraternity. Jack always felt very strongly about his relationships at what would become the Boys and Girls Club, and after his retirement from his incredibly successful career at general Electric, became a major benefactor of the club. A couple of years ago, I was privileged to be the co-chairman with Dr Nancy Harrington at a presentation that Jack Welch made at Salem State College for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club that was a most successful event for the club.

Recently Jack made a presentation to the anonymous company that made the cash contribution to the club, and in lieu of a substantial fee for his presentation, he graciously asked the company to make a contribution in his name to the club. They did just that, and for that gift all of us at the Club are most grateful. As with all of the contributions that Jack has mad and been responsible for in the past, the funds will be pit to good use helping to serve another generation of youth in the City of Salem.

Happy Independence Day Holiday

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a most pleasant Holiday weekend. This day is always very special for all Americans as it is the day we celebrate the country’s birthday. This year the calendar works out to our advantage as the holiday falls on Sunday and will be celebrated for all of us on Monday. For those fortunate enough to be able to get away on Friday, this makes the holiday weekend a four-day celebration. I am spending the weekend away from Essex County and we are fortunate enough to have part of my family and a couple of our grandchildren joining Marge and I at out home on Cape Cod. We will enjoy a couple of cookouts, a round or two of golf with my grandson Casey, and fireworks from a vantage point on the beach over Nantucket Sound. We will take in a couple of Cape Cod League baseball games, and generally enjoy time together.

I hope that wherever you are celebrating it will be a pleasant tome with family and friends. There are spectacular fireworks displays all over Essex County, and I know from past experiences that the finale of the Danvers Family Festival fireworks display is always spectacular, and the fireworks and concert in Salem with the Friendship as a backdrop is always a sight to behold. In any event enjoy the Holiday, and Happy Birthday America.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard