Friday, December 2, 2011

Essex Happenings 12/2/2011

Essex Happening-12.2.11

The Calendar changes to a New Month

It seems impossible that we have turned the calendar to the final month of 2011. The month of December with all of the holiday celebrations has always been a favorite time of my year for my family. I can only hope that this year will be a more pleasant time than last year. During the first week of this month in 2010, I was injured in a fall and the first couple of weeks in December was only a blur in my memory and the start of a difficult several months for my family.

Partnership Grant Spotlight

Jerry Eide of Hill Town Restorations
Rare Gloucester Barn Stabilized
Though far removed from its primary downtown location, the Cape Ann Museum is preserving a rare surviving agrarian structure, the c.1740 barn adjacent to the 1710 White-Ellery House, an important First Period house. With the goal of stabilizing the massive timber frame, the multi-phase project was first tackled by teams of preservation carpentry students from the North Bennet Street School in Boston and more recently entrusted to the Hill Town Restorations of Wendell, Mass. Work to enclose the building is slated to conclude this fall.

DCR's Historic Curatorship Program Seeks Proposals for Newburyport Property

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is issuing a Request for Proposals for the rehabilitation, reuse, and maintenance of the Coachman's House Complex in Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Through DCR's Historic Curatorship Program, outside parties rehabilitate and maintain a historic property in return for credit toward a long-term lease.

"The Historic Curatorship Program demonstrates an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to preserving the history and culture of our park system," said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr., "By securing the long term preservation and maintenance of these historic resources, the partnership is a true win-win." To find out more about the DCR Curatorship Program and this property, click here.

Kudos to Eastern Bank!

Congratulations to Eastern Bank for being ranked the number 1 lender in Massachusetts by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Eastern Bank has been a long-time supporter of Essex Heritage. This year, Eastern Bank was a lead sponsor of Trails & Sails, allowing Essex Heritage to offer nearly 200 events across the Heritage Area for FREE to residents and visitors. Thank you to Eastern Bank for all of your tremendous support!
For more information click here.

As a long-term member of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club, I am pleased to print this appeal.
Help Salem’s Boys & Girls Club Reach $10K Goal by January 31.
Annually, the Boys & Girls Club spends between $400 and $500 on each child participating in our Drop-In program, but only charges those children a $10 membership fee to participate in great programs like The Ultimate Journey, Torch Club, SMART Girls and traveling sports teams.

This holiday season, the Club seeks to raise $10,000 through donations of $20 or more. Would you like to help? Please contribute by donating directly to the Club either online at, by telephone or via snail mail.

Town of Danvers Seeks Reimbursement for School Travel Costs from temporary Homeless Families

$130,000 is a tremendous amount of money for a small community to have to absorb as part of their school budget. That large figure is the amount that the Town of Danvers might be expected to pay to transport students now living in motels in that Town if the students elect to be transported back to the community where they lived before being temporarily relocated to Danvers. That amount is double the amount expended last year and substantially over what the town set in its current year budget. The number of families now living in the temporary housing in Danvers is now down to 106 families from a high of 143 earlier this year. The town is urging State officials to provide reimbursement for the substantial amounts already spent on the student. At present, Danvers is housing eight percent of the large number of homeless families currently being housed in motels. In addition to the transport costs the town now have a dozen and one half students who were living in motels in Town that are enrolled as full time students now in Danvers schools. Reimbursement for those costs will also be sought. Recently, the State Auditor’s office provided a ruling that could open the door for the Town to receive reimbursement. Funding for this will have to come from the Legislature and the Town will continue to work with the representatives that serve the community. This will be a difficult issue to solve and the importance of receiving the reimbursement could be critical to the short term financial health of the Town.

Andover Youth Center Moves Forward

One of the projects that I have been watching carefully over the last several months due to the unique public-private partnership is the plan to build a youth center in Andover. The project that has been funded with equal contributions from the public that wants the project built and the community that also will contribute both funds and the land where the youth facility will be built. The Andover Board of Selectmen approved bringing the potential warrant article to a special Town Meeting. All that now remains is the vote at the special meeting. The joint effort can begin with a $2 million contribution from a group of residents who have pledged the private funds that makes the project so unusual. It will be important to watch to see if this concept spreads to other communities. The idea that if a special interest group in a community desperately wants to see a project go forward, they will be willing to put their hard earned capital in place to match a public funding

Danvers Diversity Awards Announced

Each year to help bring attention to the Martin Luther King Holiday, the Town of Danvers offers a dinner and a series of awards named “Drum majors for Justice to honor Dr. King. These awards are provided by the Committee on Diversity to recognize extraordinary actions. The awards are provided to those who show a deep commitment to social justice and leadership in advancing racial and religious tolerance. This year the dinner will be held on January 16, 2012 at the Danversport Yacht Club. The 2012 individual award winners will be Juliet Sithole-Berk, Emily Jones, Georgeianna Melendez, Paul and Donna Pepper, and the group awards winners are the Prep@Pingree Program, Eastern Bank, North Shore Bank, and Students United for Acceptance.

Hamilton/Wenham Explore Regional Solutions

It was very positive to see a recent release that indicated that the communities of Hamilton and Wenham are seriously considering regionalizing their finance departments that would include accounting, treasury, employee benefits and payroll. Under an agreement between the two towns, Hamilton’s finance director and treasurer/collector have also been serving in the same capacity in Wenham. The chief administrative officers of the two towns have been working on a proposal to formally develop a report for the consideration of the two Town Boards of Selectmen. It is expected that the proposed regionalization report will be presented for action at a joint meeting of the two boards on December 6th. This is a positive step that has been taken by two communities that have much in common and hopefully will result in the consideration of even more regionalization between the two communities in the future. I would hope that leaders in other communities will be watching these discussions as well, as ideas like this one might have applications elsewhere and additional savings might be accomplished. I am reasonably certain that there are similar opportunities in communities that might already have an outstanding relationship with a neighboring municipality.

Retail Christmas Walk in Topsfield

The annual retail Christmas walk along Main Street will be offered on Saturday, December 3, 2011, from 4 until 7 pm. Stores will be open and will offer treats and a series of holiday events will be offered during that time. This kind of local effort to promote the retail opportunities in smaller communities help to promote the downtowns in these towns and can also have an impact on the economy of the entire region. My wife and I were in downtown Marblehead on Saturday for the wake of the wife of a former associate at Salem Five and it certainly appeared, based on the crowds of pedestrians in that community that there was a retail event of some type underway.

Santa Arrives Appropriately by Boat in Rockport

A annual holiday tradition in the port city of Rockport will be continued on Saturday, December 3, 2011 on a lobster boat at Bradley Wharf on Bearskin Neck at 3:45. The arrival of Santa will precede the annual tree lighting ceremony that will take place in Dock Square at 4:00. Caroling will be provided at the tree lighting.

North Andover Passes Meal Tax Increase

A town meeting vote in North Andover to approve adding a 0.75% additional sales tax on meals was recently passed by a narrow margin. This was the second straight meeting where the proposition was proposed. At the first meeting, the proposal was defeated by the same narrow margin of seven votes each time. The revenue from this tax will go directly to the Town’s General Fund. The Town is one of the last communities in this region to pass this local option tax. Collections of this new fee will begin on 1/1/12 and proponents of the tax adoption believe that it will have little or no impact on local food sales.

Traditional High School Thanksgiving Football Games

Congratulations to all of the participants in the traditional holiday football games that have become an important part of the way Thanksgiving is celebrated in this region. We hope that all of you that attended a game last Thursday enjoyed the experience and we hope that your team won the contest. The weather was clear and reasonably cool and perfect for Thanksgiving football weather that day. In a future posting in this presentation we will report on those schools from this region that will send a team to the MIAA Playoffs.

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