Friday, September 2, 2011

Essex Happenings September 2, 2011

Hurricane (Tropical Storm) Irene “Damages” Region

It certainly appears that even with the substantial damage that was done to property on the south coast of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island and to many breached dams in the western half of Massachusetts, along with unprecedented and near catastrophic damage in New Hampshire and Vermont, where several iconic, historic wooden covered bridges were destroyed and then washed away in raging rivers, here on the North Shore we dodged the worst of the storm. We were likely the beneficiary of the weakening and downgrading of the hurricane to a tropical storm just at about the time the storm came ashore in Rhode Island. In Danvers we received a fair amount of strong wind and some moderate rain, but there were certainly sections of the State that received more wind and substantially more rain.

We never lost power at my house in Danvers, but across the state there are numerous communities with substantial outages as a result of the storm and damage is still being repaired. The power outages across the state are the most severe since Hurricane Bob in 1991 and in some cases, it may be days before all power is restored. There are exceptions to the local property loss experience as a dozen and a half boats slipped their moorings off Swampscott and ended up on the beach with many of those badly damaged. There will be a fair amount of work in the days ahead in that seaside community as the boat owners try to re-float their boats on high tides.

We have friends who checked our property on the Cape and save for some leaves and a few branches on the lawn we appeared to have “dodged a bullet” there as well. We were fortunate in the State as even with the property losses there was apparently only one loss of life in this State, when an electric company employee was electrocuted. It now appears that there may have been three or more deaths in Vermont. Up and down the Atlantic Coast there are nearly two dozen deaths in a half-dozen states from the Carolinas right up through the mid Atlantic states and into the metropolitan areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York

I am heading to the cape in mid week for the “Back in the Swing” recovery session sponsored by Spaulding Hospital, Cape Cod that I will participate in, as I try to get back on the golf course after my illness. That program will be offered through the support of CAPEable Adventures a Spaulding Adaptive sports affiliate at Holly Ridge golf course in Sandwich. At that time, I will have the chance to view the cape property first hand to learn if anything happened to that home, that needs additional attention. It is good that the weather for the week after the storm will be clear and pleasant, and that will allow an easier time for homeowners and community public works departments to complete the cleanup activities.

Second Annual Green Business Challenge Competition in Salem Underway

The second annual Green Salem Business Challenge is once again underway. This friendly competition and recognition program is a program where participating businesses pledge to do all that they can to reduce their environmental footprint, adopt green practices and to build awareness of green practices among their employees, customers, and the general public. Awards will be presented to businesses in each of four separate size classifications. Every business that takes part in the program will receive a participation window sticker and award winners will receive a separate award designation. Entries for the contest close today and an awards ceremony presided over but Mayor Kimberly Driscoll is already scheduled for September 15th at 4:00 pm at the Olde Town Hall in Salem

One More Limited Option for Commercial Flights from Portsmouth, NH

An announcement made over the weekend provided information about a new airline service that will soon be opening and operating out of the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, NH. The service will be offered by Streamline LLC and will offer limited trips to Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey, but if those locations of interest, the connections from the North Shore to Portsmouth are certainly handy and convienent. The price may be as competitive, but it will be worth checking, if those locations are of interest.

Danvers to Honor Long-time Volunteer

The Town of Danvers held a recognition ceremony at Town Hall earlier this week to honor and recognize four decades of community service by Ms. Patricia Toomey. The Selectmen will offer their congratulation as will the State Representative. Ms. Toomey who has been in ill health recently has served the town in many capacities over the last forty years. She has served as a Town Meeting member, and served on the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Balanced Growth Committee, Open Space Recreation Committee and a number of other community driven organizations. Her many years of committed service is much appreciated, by all she has impacted.

Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, and Merrimac, join together to Offer Hazardous Waste Collection

In the City of Newburyport, curbside rubbish collection will be delayed one day next week as on September 10, 2011, Newburyport will join in a regional effort with Newbury, West Newbury, and Merrimac will to host their annual household hazardous waste collection day. The event will be held rain or shine and materials from the residents of the four communities can be brought to the Newburyport Department of Public Works, 16 Perry Way. There are many conditions, types, and sizes of materials that will be considered and information on all of those conditions can be found on the City of Newburyport web site at This is wonderful example of how local communities can work together to accomplish regional initiatives under difficult conditions.

Local Schools to Open Soon

I do not have the dates and community schedules in hand, but between this week and next week schools will be opening all across the region. That will mean that drivers in all parts of this region, must take great care to be careful as children will be back crossing busy intersections in the early morning or late afternoon when lighting conditions might have an impact.

Bradford May Lose Post Office to Closing

In light of the financial difficulties being experienced by the United States Post Office, it was recently indicated that with the need to potentially close 32,000 post offices nationally, that the post office in Bradford, Ma may need to be closed. Without indicating which other local postal locations might have to close as part of this austerity effort, it seems likely that there may be other Essex County locations being considered for closure. In many cases, this may impact convenience but budget issues will prevail.

Andover to Offer Electric Plug in Capabilities

The Town of Andover is making the assumption that in the future, there will be enough electric powered cars being driven by community residents or visitors to the community that they are planning to add at least two charging stations in parking lots in that town. The community is seeking sponsors for the facilities who would receive credit for the installation and might also be involved in the maintenance of the charging station. This would seem to be a natural opportunity for a company who has committed to green technology. We also applaud the Town of Andover for their forward thinking in this critical area of future planning.

Cost of Busing for Homeless in Danvers a Burden

The costs of managing the busing of homeless students from their temporary motel housing in Danvers to their former community for school was the subject of substantial discussion at a recent Danvers special selectman’s meeting focused exclusively on the costs to the Town associated with the homeless issue in Danvers. The Board of Selectmen will continue to study alternatives to alleviate some of those costs. The options include ongoing discussions with State officials regarding possible re-imbursements to the Town for incurred costs.

Wind Turbines Discussions in Salem Accelerate

The two sides on the projected wind turbine project at Winter Island have ramped up their efforts both pro and con in recent weeks. This will be an important discussion about a most topical program and I am certain that the discussion will be carefully monitored by other communities that might soon enter into similar discussions. The future of renewable energy projects will become even more important in this region in the future and this project could be one that helps set the tone for the future of this technology.

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