Thursday, August 18, 2011

Essex HAPPENINGS August 17 2011

City of Salem Offers Free Bike Share Program

Bike expansion programs continue to show up in this region. After the City of Salem recently announced the creation of designated bike lanes in that City, they have now developed a most innovative program that will allow some residents and visitors to this seaside community out of their cars and on to a bike. The big difference with this program and bike share programs introduced in large cities like Boston, Washington, London, and Melbourne is that the bikes in Salem will be free versus the $5 per day charge in Boston. The program in Salem will be free as the Salem program will begin on a small scale with a total of 30 bikes available when the program starts early in September. Mayor Driscoll in her announcement about the program indicated that if the program is successful she will find more funding to provide more bikes if the situation demands those additional bikes. The initial funding for the program that purchased the bikes was provided from a Green Programs grant in the amount of $30,000. The bikes that will be located in two spots in Salem will only require identification to obtain a bike. One station with 10 bikes will be located at Salem State university where 7700 undergraduates and 2400 graduate students can use the bikes to gain access to the downtown area. The second station will be located and managed by The Hawthorne Hotel and will be available there to both residents and visitors to the city. The bikes were designed for Salem and were provided and will be maintained by Salem Cycle in the city. This is a great step for the city and certainly enhances its reputation as a city that will welcome bikes and riders. Hopefully in the very near term we will see the benefits to the community and less downtown congestion. The administration of the City should be congratulated for its forward thinking restive to alternate transportation options.

Update on Project Sunshine in Danvers

The Town of Danvers continues to provide numerous resources to help support homeless families in the community. The Town with substantial help from numerous organizations and volunteers in town has organized a substantial program that at the present time is offering summer camping programs to the ever expanding number of families housed in Danvers's four motels. At the beginning of August the number of homeless families living in Danvers total 247 and there are presently 235 children in those 247 families. Of that group there are over 100 children between 5 and 18 that are the targets of Project Sunshine. The project includes substantial support from the Town Recreation Department, the Senior Center, the Food Pantry, The Danvers Diversity Committee and some youths from the school community. Neighboring communities have also pitched in to help as field trips to Marblehead, Ipswich, and visits to local beaches and a trip to Coco Key and Patriot Place has taken place. The Program has been supported by donations large and small from local businesses and two local banks, Eastern Bank and North Shore Bank made substantial contributions to support the program.

In a related story, the Town’s Board of Selectmen will be holding a special meeting on August 23rd to discuss the rapid rise in homeless population in that community. With the increase in that population up over 30% in just the last couple of months has moved the Danvers Selectmen to review the status of the motel population and the impact they will have on school costs starting early next month. Continuing efforts to learn what the State is planning to do to help will be explored. The meeting next week will begin at 6:30 at the Town Hall all interested organizations and persons impacted are invited to attend the meeting.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem

The final program for Dustin Pedroia’s visit to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem is now in place. The visit is provided through the support of Salem Five Bank that uses the Red Sox star as a spokesperson. The popular baseball star will visit with club members for a period of time and that experience will be a treat for all that have the chance to meet one of Boston’s most popular athletes. After the club members have their meet and greet session, photos will be taken with the guest. There will be a social event at the club and that event will be limited to the first fifty folks to sign up. The event set for September 14, 2011 will begin at 6:00 pm and will include refreshments, pictures with the Red Sox star and an auction with Sox memorabilia available. The cost of attendance will be $500 and the donation will benefit the numerous programs of the club and will be considered a charitable deduction. To secure a reservation contact either Executive Director, Joanne Scott or Director of Development Chris Coleman at

In another club matter, the senior staff of the club are also working hand in hand with the City and its Police Chief, to seek solutions to some of the recent issues that surfaced in an adjacent Salem neighborhood. earlier this summer.

Using Leather in Art Program in Peabody

The artworks community arts center and it new Director has announced that it will be planning a new exhibit in October where participants will be asked to incorporate leather in their work. The Exhibit that will be open to all will be asked to recall the Communities rich history with leather products and will explore what can be accomplished with leather in the modern age.

Gloucester Turbine Height Discussed

Similar to the wind turbine project being considered at Winter Island in Salem, a project is also being considered by the planners in Gloucester. The height of the turbine is the variable in question, and while clean energy appears to be important to so many in the region, the impact of turbines on neighborhood concerns are also most important to residents.

Adaptive Bike Sports Program Re- scheduled

I have been fortunate to have been a participant in an interactive adaptive sports program offered by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in conjunction with North East Passage. The program focused on hand cycling and was offered on the central campus of Salem State University. One of the sessions was canceled as it was originally scheduled on the Friday when the local temperature exceeded 100 degrees. The session is now scheduled for the last Friday in September and I look forward to completing the program on that date. It is a wonderfully exhilarating program for a Handicapped individual and next summer I am going to look into a similar program offered by Spaulding Cape Cod along the Cape Cod Canal once each week.

Digging Up Irish History

I noticed a news item this past week, that even though the connection was a bit vague relative to Essex County, it was interesting enough to me because of my Irish heritage that I thought that I would report it here. The connection between the City of Lowell and this region is also strong and seemed to have a reasonable connection.. There also is a large population of residents of Irish decent in this region that might also be interested in the story. An Archeology team led by researchers from the University of Lowell and Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland will travel later this month to conduct a dig in the home of an Irish immigrant to this country. The team has previously conducted a four-day dig on the grounds of St. Patrick’s church in Lowell on a site where the first wave of Irish immigrants to city settled. Next the team will travel to County Tyrone in Northern Ireland to dig on the former home site of Hugh Cumminsky who in 1822 led a large group of Irish immigrant laborers on a thirty-mile walk from Boston to Lowell seeking work on a Lowell canal project that was designed to provide water power for a future mill project. At the time Cumminski led the workers on the walk to Lowell he was a construction foreman on the Charlestown docks. I will try to follow this story and report ant conclusions reached as a result of the research.

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