Friday, October 14, 2011

Essex Happenings October 14, 2011

Essex Happenings October 15, 2011

New Spaulding Web Site

The following item is reprinted today, as in the last posting to this BLOG, an incorrect web site address was provided. If you have any interest in viewing this video, please take a look.

Many of you who read this BLOG on a regular basis know that I have become an avid advocate for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital since they took such wonderful care of me and certainly impacted my recovery from a recent illness. The Hospital has recently developed and brought a new web site on line, and about a month ago, they filmed a video related to my illness and subsequent recovery. If any of you might have any interest in viewing the video it can be accessed at and the video can be found on the homepage of that site under the Media Center section under the section "About Us." The testimony that I provided in the video continues my strong endorsement of the hospital as a sensational, if not undervalued l resource in this region.

The video provides a little insight into the medical experience and provides a little preview of the book called BELIEVE, that I anticipate will be published before the end of this year.

Sensational Holiday Weekend Weather

The weather on the Columbus Day Holiday weekend was almost beyond description and was certainly responsible to a great degree for high levels of visitation all over this region. The crowds that visited all sections of New England were above any previous expectations.

I would anticipate that one of the biggest attractions In this region, The Topsfield Fair closed its run with record attendance in its final days when the weather was fabulous. We visited the fair earlier in the schedule and we were there when half of the parking lots were underwater from torrential downpours but all this changed in the final days of the fairs run. The weather in this part of America is usually quite nice in mid October as the summer’s humidity is gone and the feel of fall is in the air and the regions foliage is usually in full color. In 2011 the past weekend was a bit different as summers warmth was still in place all the way from northern New England to the shores of Cape Ann and Cape Cod. In Salem the Halloween season began even earlier than usual as crowds arrived to sample haunted houses and other October focused attractions. The National Park Service regional visitor center experienced record crowds for the first weekend in October. If the weather continues to cooperate, this could be a record setting year for the region. This could bode well for the recently produced Salem witch trials film called “Salem Witch Hunt: Examine the Evidence” that Essex Heritage has created in conjunction with the National Park Service. The new film that tells the witch trial story from a new perspective could be a heavily visited attraction this year and that fact could be most beneficial to the regional organization whose mission is to preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County. Proceeds from the film, that is historically correct, was created by a team with exceptional educational credentials will be used to further the mission of Essex Heritage and to support its many cooperative regional programs that benefit both residents and visitors. The film will be shown four times a day at 11:00, noon, 1:00 and 2:00 seven days a week. Having had the good fortune to view the premier showing, I can attest to the quality of the film and would encourage you to make a trip to Salem to view this new Salem attraction. Not only will you enjoy the film but you will be able to offer financial support to a regional organization that is working on educational and recreational projects that have great importance to the entire region.

North Andover Closes in on Manager Selection.

In previous postings to Essex Happenings, I have provided information about the process that has been adopted by the Town of North Andover as they initiated a search for a new Town Manager to replace a former Manager who left to take a job as the City Manager of Portland, Maine. The job search has been reduced to the final four candidates and two of those candidates are from eastern Massachusetts with a finalist from both Swampscott and Belmont. The other two finalists are from out-of-state. The original list of candidates totaled over five-dozen applicants. The Town selectmen will make a choice soon.

Andover Citizen Group to Seek Special Town Meeting

In another initiative we have been following the citizens group that is seeking to build a youth center in Andover with a unique blend a private and public funds must now generate a public petition to call for a special Town Meeting to authorize this special partnership. Without the special meeting the previously raised private funds might be in jeopardy.

Gloucester Stadium to be Sponsored by New Balance Footwear

The city of Gloucester received some much needed good news when it was announced that the New Balance Corporation, that produces world class athletic shoes, would provide a sensational lift to that seaside community by providing a $500,000 grant to help upgrade the City’s football stadium and running track. Newell Field was first built right after this county’s great recession in 1936. The stands and the running track at the seventy-three year old facility will be replaced at a total cost of 3.5 million and the upgraded field will be renamed New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium. This is wonderful news for the “Fishermen” and we will all look forward to viewing the finished product.

The Association of Town Finance Committees will be conducting its annual educational meeting this month.

As a member of the Town of Danvers’s Finance Committee all members are always invited to attend the annual educational state wide seminar to stay abreast of new developments relative to municipal finance matters. I have attended this symposium in the past, but I am not able to fit the meeting into my busy schedule this year, but I wanted to print the meeting agenda to point out the depth of the program offered to local Finance Committee members across the commonwealth so that you can see how serious the local municipalities are to keep its volunteers current

Association of Town Finance Committees Annual Meeting, October 15, 2011
Tri County Regional Vocational Technical High School, Franklin Agenda

8:15-9:00 a.m. Registration, Breakfast, Networking

9:00-9:15 a.m. President’s Welcome, Kim Roy, Halifax Capital Planning Committee Business Meeting
School Foyer, Cafeteria Auditorium

9:15-10:15 a.m. State Fiscal & Legislative Update John Robertson, Deputy Legislative Director, MMA Pam Kocher, Director of Local Policy, Executive Office of Administration
on & Finance This opening session will be an overview of the following topics and will allow ample time for Q&A: •municipal health insurance reform •regionalization grant program •state’s economic trends, fiscal condition, revenue collections •supplemental fiscal 2012 local aid distribution due by October 31 • latest information regarding potential cuts to the federal government’s fiscal 2012 budget and the impact on state and local programs •impact of long-term federal fiscal issues and implications for states and localities, including bond ratings and key services

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break

10:30-noon Concurrent Workshops
1. New to the Finance Committee: Budgeting 101 Library This session will provide a good foundation for understanding the basics of municipal finance and budgeting. It will include a review of the timetable of the annual budget, developing a capital improvement plan, an overview of the tax recapitulation process and managing long- term debt. Hans Larsen, Wellesley Executive Director and former advisory committee member Tony Logalbo, Finance Director, Concord Moderator: Mary McBride, Billerica Finance Committee Vice Chair and ATFC Director

2. Collective Bargaining Basics Auditorium This session will give finance committee members an overview of this complicated process, touching on all of the basics including: laws and regulations, bargaining in good faith, and arbitration v. litigation.

Kate Fitzpatrick, Town Manager, Needham Kevin Feeley, Attorney, Feeley & Brown Moderator: Ira Miller, Sharon Finance Committee Chair and ATFC Director

New this year!3. Your Town’s Credit and Bond Rating Foyer This workshop is designed to be a primer on municipal capital planning and debt management for finance committees. It will touch upon debt management policies; setting appropriate levels of annual debt and cash capital spending; debt issuances and how they are structured; credit ratings and what ratings agencies look for when evaluating municipalities; and debt-related questions finance committees should be asking their municipal finance officials. Cinder McNerney, Managing Director, First Southwest Company and ATFC Past President Sandy Pooler, Finance Director, Amherst Moderator: Richard Creem, Needham Finance Committee and ATFC Director

Noon Luncheon

12:30 – 1:15 Speaker: Governor Michael Dukakis
1:30-3:00 p.m. Concurrent Workshops

1. Capital Budgeting
Developing and implementing a successful capital plan is on every finance committee’s wish list. Foskett will review his work on Arlington’s plan over the last 20 years, explaining how to get started and how to keep on track. Blake will highlight how DLS can assist communities in the process. This session is a must for anyone who wants to begin or further this kind of strategic planning in their town. Charlie Foskett, Arlington Capital Committee Chair and ATFC Past President Rick Kingsley, Bureau Chief, Data Management and Technical Services Division, Division of Local Services Moderator: Bruce Button, Concord Finance Committee and ATFC Director

2. Getting to Know Your Assessor Library Assessors have important information finance committees need for financial forecasting, for budget preparation, and for educating the voters about the impact of town meeting decisions on property tax bills. Improve your understanding of what assessors must do to insure that their communities are taxing fairly and equitably. This session will cover the basics of how properties are valued, how the tax rate is set, how new growth is calculated, how tax classification works, how exemptions and abatements are granted and how assessors use the overlay. Karen Rassias, Assessor, West Newbury Pam Davis, Assessor, Everett Moderator: Joanne Marden, Andover Finance Committee Chair and ATFC Vice President

3. Monitoring the Budget Auditorium This session will discuss the tools members can use to track revenues, expenses, and grants throughout the budget year to monitor for problems and assist committees in making educated decisions about the use of reserve fund transfers and special town meeting recommendations as well as gathering information on how the town's finances are functioning in preparation for the next budget cycle.
Marilyn Mathieu, Finance Director, Bellingham Paul Schaefer, Director of Finance and Operations, King Philip Regional School District Moderator: Jennifer Gonzalez, Holbrook Finance Committee and ATFC Vice President

99 Restaurants to Assist Salem Club

During the Month of October, the 99 Restaurants in Salem and Danvers are raising funds to assist the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem. Thanks to the folks who are offering this support to a wonderful organization that helps youth at risk at the Salem based club, where I am proud to serve as a board member.

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