Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Essex Happenings... June 29, 2012


Essex Heritage Coastal Scenic Byway
One of the most ambitious programs ever undertaken by Essex Heritage is the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway.   The 85 mile byway through 13 communities and involving hundreds of heritage sites and businesses makes the project very complex.   Essex Heritage has lead this effort, developing the Comprehensive Interpretive Plan for the byway and creating a marketing program with community and business representatives which includes a new byway logo, an active web site and a mobile site.

Most recently the Essex National Heritage Commission applied for and received a $220,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and with $55,000 in matching funds from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for the design and installation of directional signs along the 85-mile Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. The comprehensive signage system will direct travelers from the region's three principal arterial highways to the byway and then help guide visitors along the route.

The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is a state-designated byway stretching from Lynn to Newburyport, including Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, and Newburyport. The byway highlights the best of coastal New England – historic seaports, colonial era farms, the rocky shoreline, the Great Marsh and a wealth of significant architecture. In its leadership role as byway coordinator, Essex Heritage is working with community officials, business owners, and heritage site stewards to leverage the byway's nationally significant heritage resources to generate economic and quality of life benefits for the entire region.   You can follow the issues connected to the coastal scenic byway at: www.coastaltrails.com

Maritime Gloucester Hosts Essex Heritage Photo Safari 
Essex Heritage held its first photo safari of 2012 at Maritime Gloucester on Saturday, June 16.  Sigma cameras and lenses were featured at the safari and Davis Fitzsimmons of Sigma helped the eighteen participants try out the equipment and take some great photos.  If you would like to take a look at some of their shots go to: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151826329420099.860892.99731915098&type=1
The safari was sponsored in part by Hunt’s Photo and Video Company.  Many thanks to  Maritime Gloucester and their staff who were very helpful.  There was a lot to see and photograph at this wonderful site, and the micro photo lab was a fantastic bonus!
Wenham Museum’s Director Diehl Retires 
The Executive Director of the Wenham Museum, Lindsey Diehl, will retire on July 13, after six years at the helm.  Prior to this, Ms. Diehl served as Director of Marketing and interim Director.   During her leadership at the Wenham Museum, new children’s programs and exhibits successfully increased the museum’s annual attendance helping the organization engage more families from across the region and also helping the museum’s ‘bottom line.”  Ms. Diehl, who is originally from New York, used to visit the museum as a child when her family spent summers in Gloucester.  Ms. Diehl  and the Wenham Museum have partnered with Essex Heritage on several projects including the annual Trails & Sails: two weekends of walks and water!  

Community Festivals 
Some of the most pleasant annual occurrences in this region are the weeklong community festivals - celebrated throughout the summer season in many of the communities with this national heritage area.  Each community has its own unique name for this celebration such as  “homecoming”, “heritage days” or “festival”. These celebrations are scheduled in the various communities that make up the fabric of the Essex National Heritage Area.  From time to time we will bring you some information about these celebrations and will try to direct you to where detailed information can be found.  The first of these regional festivals started a couple of nights ago in the Town of Danvers with the gala celebration at Glen Magna Farms where the Baron Mayer Award was presented.    This year the award was presented to Anna Bertini for her work in that community.   The Danvers Family Festival continues for the next two weeks and culminates with what some say is the best fireworks display on the North Shore on July 4th.    The festival has events for all ages including concerts, lectures, road races, bean supers and more.   For a complete listing of the events, their times and costs, if any,  see the schedule in local newspapers or visit the Danvers Family Festival web site at www.danversfamilyfestival.com  From June 27 – July 1, the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta is occurring in Gloucester including a parade, music, rides,  the Blessing of the Fishing Fleet, and  the famous greasy pole contest in which contestants try to walk atop a greased pole without falling into the ocean below.

Groveland Summer Reading Program for Teens to be Offered.
The Langly-Adams Library in the Town of Groveland will begin an on line reading program that will focus on students in grade 6 through 12 at the library web site at www.langlyadamslib.org.  Participants will be entered in a raffle that will award prizes in early August.   There are awards for reading three or more books this summer.

City of Peabody Students Art Exhibit
The seniors from Peabody High School will be exhibiting their artwork at the Peabody Cultural Center during the last week of June and through the first week of July 2012.


Salem Railroad Station Receives a Financial Boost
In a recent posting I provided information on the needs, as outlined by many local elected officials, for better MassTransit including improved stations and parking facilities that better meet the requirements of today’s travelers.  The demand for public transportation continues to increase and the service is struggling to keep up with demand.  Very fortunately for the City of Salem, the Commonwealth recently announced that it has approved an additional five million dollars to the new Salem Depot and Parking Garage project, bringing the total investment in the project to thirty-seven million dollars. This means that an additional floor can be added on to the proposed garage providing for approximately another 150 parking spaces.  The project will now offer over 700 spaces for those MBTA riders that want to use Salem as their point of departure.   The Mayor of Salem, the leadership of The Salem Partnership and the city’s state representative and senator have been very focused advocates for this project.  I’ve heard that the recent announcement was met with much happiness.   Essex Heritage considers improvement to local transportation as very important to the overall quality of life in the area.

Danvers High School Nearing Completion
The construction company that the Town of Danvers hired to do the High School renovation and construction project is completing the second phase of the project!  During the week of June 11 the contractor turned over most of the completed project to the town.   I am most pleased that the town elected to add to the present High School and renovate sections of the building rather than tearing down the facility.   At the end of last year the Field House was completed and opened for use.  There is still work to be accomplished during the summer month as the new facility needs to be prepared for the fall semester and the Dunn Wing will be demolished.  This project when completed will produce two remodeled schools with many elements of new construction open and complete for the middle and high school students of Danvers.   When the region adds the new fourteen hundred student Technical-Vocational school that will open in the fall of 2014 in Danvers, it is clear that the Town of Danvers will have an excellent claim to be one the educational centers of the region.   This wonderful educational collection of buildings is greatly enhanced by the building of the dramatic additions being created on the campus of the North Shore Community College.

City of Beverly and the Community Preservation Act 
Like the rest of us, City of Beverly residents will head to the polls in November to vote for the US President and also for other national and state representatives, but one of the most important local matters they will be asked to vote on is the Community Preservation Act (CPA).  The CPA is helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable work force housing, and develop recreational facilities by creating a local Community Preservation Fund. Funding for this community fund comes from levying a local real estate tax surcharge of between 1%-3% and the fund raised in this manner are match in part by the Commonwealth of MA.  Communities, such as the City of Peabody, that have passed this local legislation have greatly benefited.   This year, the CPA is on the ballot in Beverly, and the residents will get to decide if they want to participate by voting for a 1% surcharge.  Essex Heritage sees this initiative as very positive for the preservation of the quality of life and historic character of our local communities.

Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity transform vacant lot in Lawrence
Speaking of affordable housing, volunteers from the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity have built a duplex home on a lot on Market Street in Lawrence, made available after a fire destroyed the building on the site.   The duplex was built in a week during Habitat for Humanity’s nationwide effort to erect two hundred new homes across the country in a “Housing Blitz” - a five day building effort with volunteers and professional builders.

Voters in Newburyport to Approve Local Funding Projects
The voters in the community of Newburyport voted in favor of three referendums to rehabilitate two schools and to build the first community senior center in the city.   The vote was a major victory for Mayor Donna Holaday and her team who made an excellent case for the importance of the three projects and that nearly half of the school construction costs will be reimbursed by the Commonwealth – over $31m.   The work will begin in the near term on all three sites.

Festival of Trees Provides Preservation Funds 
The Methuen based foundation founded to raise and distribute preservation funds recently announced that they will be providing grant funds to groups in Methuen, Newburyport, Amesbury, Haverhill and Sandown, New Hampshire to help with these communities’ local preservation efforts.  The foundation raises funds during its annual Festival of Trees held during the month of December.   To date the Foundation has provided over one million dollars to help more than one hundred preservation projects in the Merrimack Valley.

Abbot Hall in Marblehead to Undergo Repairs 
Selectmen in Marblehead approved renovation funds of over $30,000 to restore the Maritime Museum at Abbot Hall.   This iconic building which defines the skyline in Marblehead was the site of an Essex Heritage annual meeting a few years ago.

Boston Light and the US Coast Guard 
The Boston Globe recently carried a story about a famous local lighthouse and an artifact that can be traced to 1719.   Boston Light is being recognized as a valuable site for the National Park Service and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.  The story revolves around a historic cannon that was purchased by the US Lighthouse Service (which later became part of the US Coast Guard).  The cannon is the oldest artifact owned by the Coast Guard and was shot off periodically on fog bound nights when it was not possible to see the powerful light at the Boston Light.    The light is now automated and it sends an air horn sound when the weather is bad.   Boston Light and its cannon are a popular NPS destination.  Since the island and the light opened for visitation in 1999, almost 25,000 visitors have made the trek to the Island.

Boston Globe Travel Bucket List 
The Boston Globe one week ago on Sunday produced what might be described as a “must see bucker list” on travel spots that are important to visit.   Their list was focused on all of New England, and included many cultural, historic and natural resources but focused most on special beaches, bike paths, amusement parks, and National Park sites.  One can debate the choices they made, but that is why we have vanilla and chocolate ice cream to pick between.  The Globe identified three sites in the Essex National Heritage Area (aka Essex County) for their “must see” list.  They named the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Motif #1 in Rockport and Whale Watch Cruises in Gloucester.   I agree that these three are very valuable to the region and are obvious excellent choices – but there are many more “must see” sites too.  This is why you should mark the Trails & Sails event on your calendar (September 21, 22 & 23 and 28, 29 & 30) because you can visit more than 100 “must see” places for FREE during these six days at the end of September.  Trails & Sails is the annual ‘signature’ event for Essex Heritage – so you don’t want to miss it!


Nelson Benton Testimonial and Retirement Event. 
On June 27th the Salem News will hold an OPEN HOUSE at the Danversport Yacht Club in Danvers to say goodbye and thank you to their long time employee and Editorial Page Editor Nelson Benton upon his Retirement.   Nelson worked for the Salem News for 40 years! All are invited and there is no charge.

Ipswich Town Manager 
Congratulations to Roberta Crosbie who has been appointed to the position of Town Manager in the Town of Ipswich.   That position has been vacant since last winter when the incumbent Town Manager resigned to take a similar position in Maine.   Ms. Crosbie has been the Town Manager of Longmeadow for the last eight years, a community that is similar to Ipswich in many aspects including geographic size and population.   Essex Heritage stands ready to assist the manager as she begins her new assignment as we have always done with other community officials


North Shore Elder Services has provided the following information
I am very pleased to inform you that North Shore Elder Services has a new Director of Community Services effective June 14.  This is Tina Claydon, Director of Community Services.  Tina can be reached at the North Shore Elder Services, tclaydon@nselder.org, 978 624 2284(Tel), 978 750 8053 (Fax), 978 624 2244 (TTY).


American Men Finally Closing the Longevity Gender Gap
MSNBC, Bill Briggs, 05/21/2012
Between 1989 and 2009, life expectancy for U.S. males grew by 4.6 years while predicted lifespans for American women rose by 2.7 years, according to the recent report from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.  It appears that women are catching up with men, as the pressures of life are affecting their health.

Boston Sports
Now that the Boston winter sports season is over, there are issues to work out for both teams.  The Bruins need to deal with the Tim Thomas matter, but congratulations are in order for Patrice Bergeron for winning the Selke Award as the NHL’s best defensive forward.  The Celtics have two long-term veterans, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to consider for renewals, before the dawn of a new season.

Please note:
In order to devote more of my time and energy to promoting the sites and organizations that participate in Essex Heritage’s annual Trails &  Sails event, from now on I will be making regular Essex Happenings postings only once a week - on Fridays.   I will attempt to make these postings more comprehensive and will offer ones that are a bit longer to cover my thoughts for the week long period.  I hope that you will continue to follow my BLOG and will find the material provided informative and enlightening. I plan to continue keeping the residents of this region abreast of the work of Essex Heritage and our partners as we preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of the Essex National Heritage Area –in Essex County, MA.

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