Friday, January 28, 2011


In my last blog post, I noted that Mayor Michael Bonfanti has opted to to stand for reelection in the fall. I would like to take this chance to applaud the mayor for not going away quietly. As a non-candidate Mayor Bonfanti is speaking out at every opportunity in these times demanding a fresh approach to city spending. The mayor has always been thought of as a fiscal conservative and he has done everything to keep the tax rate lower than the average of other similar communities. He is calling for all members of the city government to take a different approach in the way it provides minicipal services and compensates its employees. He wants the city to look at cost saving ideas like the consolidation of school and other municipal services. While funding education is incredibly important the budgets for those services can’t continue to escalate unchecked and systemic changes are needed. In his final term in office we urge Mayor Bonfanti to speak out and to seek news ways to reduce municipal spending. He is in a wonderful position as a standing mayor to call for change and not worry about how he is going to get reelected. As long as I have know Mayor Bonfanti he has always spoken his mind and we hope that he continues to do so in this important area. We wish him well in whatever he wishes to do with the rest of his career.

It also appears that across the state, in units of state and local government, there is some substantial progress being made on public pension reform. It is clear that this is certainly needed if the municipalities where we all live and work are to financially survive. We urge the elected officials who represent this region to continue to work together with the unions to make certain that the workers are protected but at the same time meaningful reforms are accomplished.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen several instances of communities that are doing things to consolidate positions and to review actions at every opportunity to see if additional savings can be achieved through consolidations. I noticed stories that indicated that the Beverly Public Works had made some consolidations and that the towns of Hamilton and Wenham have also joined forces and are now sharing a single Senior Center Manager. These consolidations are all commendable moves and will help in the long term financing of the communities where we all live and work.

I also noted recently that the city of Salem was adding a solar array on the top of the High School. These are the kind of improvements that every community should be considering as we move forward and grants become available.

One of the Essex Heritage heroes that we will honor next spring is town manager Wayne Marquis who just received a most commendable review by the Board of Selectmen in Danvers. He is a manager who really understands how to make things work and how to get the most out of people. We applaud the commendable review made by the Board of Selectmen.

In the just recent past I also noted that two well-known athletic figures in this region were inducted into the appropriate Hall of Fame for each of their sports. One was Mr. Pat Yanchus, the long-term baseball coach at St. John’s Prep and the other was a long-term hockey enthusiast; Mike Gilligan. Congratulations to both Pat and Mike.

I also lament the passing of a friend and associate: Paul Higgins. Paul was the long-term Athletic Director at Salem High School and was an athlete of some note in Peabody. When I was a youth, I played sports with Paul. Later my adult life, he became a very good friend I am sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. I’d like to offer my condolences to his wife Janice and family.

I am terribly sorry to have to report another death of a good friend. Mr. Albert Robinson, a long time principal in Salem, passed away in Naples, Florida after a long and difficult battle. Marge and I both knew Al very well and golf with the Robinson’s at Wenham Golf Course. Rest in peace Al. A scholarship has been set up in Al’s name at Salem State University.

I have been moved to a new floor at Spaulding of the North Shore and after only one day I can see the wonderful support I will receive from the therapy staff at this level. During this time that I’ve been in the hospital, some of the best tonic I have received is continuing information from my grandson Brendan - a senior at St. John’s Prep. Brendan has now been accepted into five of the schools to which has applied. His decision in the near future will be an important one for him and his family, but watching from afar I certainly am enjoying his early successes. His most recent approvals were from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Elon University in North Carolina where he was also the recipient of a “President’s Scholarship”. We look forward to his decision and then following his four-year career after he finishes at St. John’s Prep in May of this year.

Monday, January 24, 2011


It has been about seven weeks since I last made a posting on Essex Happenings. I have spent those past seven weeks in the hospital, and today on Monday, January 23, 2011 I’m now attempting to offer a new posting. During the last seven weeks, I have saved an enormous amount of material and I hope to sort through that today and try to pick some pertinent ones report on.

The first issue I’d like to comment on is my stay here at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Salem. The experience has been a good one, and the therapists and the medical staff here have been most helpful. I arrived here in Salem after having my leg removed at Beverly Hospital. From the very beginning of my stay here, I have received a wonderful level of help from the therapists at this hospital and I’m making great progress towards the time when I can leave here and go home. During the time that I have been here, I received a little bad news about a long-term Danvers friend and physician of mine, Dr. Thomas Lapine. Dr. Lapine passed away and after a long serious illness. Dr. Lapine was the ultimate professional and was there for every crisis my family experienced the last three decades and he will be sorely missed. I am very sorry that I will not be able to attend either the wake of the funeral of Dr. Lapine. I’m sure his family will understand that my wife Marjorie will stand in for the family at the wake this evening.

In the time that I have been away from the office, a substantial amount of progress has been made on the plans to bring visitors to Baker’s Island. The National Park Service has received a transportation grant which will allow them to seek to purchase a boat that would be able to bring between 12 and 18 visitors at a time to the island to carry on the orientation of what the maritime history meant to this region. A visit that starts at the Salem Maritime historic site followed by a visit to Baker’s Island would certainly tell a great story of what the maritime industry meant this area. We are going to be particularly careful to make certain that none of these excursions and the people who arrive at Baker’s Island will in any way disrupt the life of the people who live on the island and own property. We respect their rights and will do everything in our power to make certain that those rights are not violated. We don’t expect this program to begin in 2011 - more likely will be 2012 - but much planning was necessary before even beginning the experience so as plans develop we will try to keep all of you posted.

Over the past seven weeks there’s also been some changes in potential for municipal elections. We have learned that in Peabody Michael Bonfanti has decided not to stand for reelection. We at Essex Heritage certainly wish Michael all the very best in whatever he decides to do from this point forward. He has been a great friend of Essex Heritage and has always been there to assist us in anything we wanted to try to accomplish in this region.

At this point in time in the spring of 2011 it also appears as if Ms. Driscoll is readying herself for another run at the Mayor’s office in Salem and that is good news because the mayor has been a wonderful supporter of regionalism and she has long been a force in this region.

Mayor Bill Scanlon appears to have a challenger of his position as Mayor of Beverly. Bill is going to run again and that is also good news because like Ms. Driscoll, Mayor Scanlon has been a wonderful supporter and advocate for the work of Essex heritage.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

I know it has been a long time in between blog postings, but I think I am getting closer to being able to tackle this on a more regular basis. My medical progress has been very good and hopefully you will be hearing from me on a regular basis soon.