Friday, February 22, 2013

Essex Happenings...February 22, 2013

Essex Heritage Events and Activities

Quarterly Trustee meeting 2.12.13
Due to continuing Ice and snow issues left over from the gigantic weekend storm, I was unable to attend the Quarterly Essex Heritage Meeting.  The financial reports were presented and explained.  A recently completed audit report was presented and an explanation.  Copies of the reports are available and will be outlined at the annual meeting in April in Haverhill.   There were no unusual findings during the audit and the Essex Heritage staff was complimented on their preparation and diligence before and during the annual audit. A development report was provided and there is a continuing record of success in the acquisition on new corporate members. I personally am following up on several proposals that I have made to local companies. It was reported that movement on the legislative front continues and we remain hopeful of positive changes.   The need to update the Commission’s strategic plan is on-going.

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting
It is certainly not too late to make a reservation to attend an Essex Heritage Annual Meeting and we welcome your participation.  Here’s the invitation:

The Essex National Heritage Commission
Invites You to Attend its
Annual Spring Meeting
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Winnekenni Castle347 Kenoza Avenue, Haverhill, MA 01830
8:00 AM: Continental Breakfast Reception8:30 - 10:00 AM: Business Meeting

Join us for a morning of engagement on Wednesday, April 10, from 8:00am -10:00am, at Winnekenni Castle! Participate in this free, valuable networking opportunity that will further connect you with the work of Essex Heritage and our partners.
We are now accepting applications for the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program!
The 2013 grant recipients will be announced at the Annual Spring Meeting on April 10th at Winnekenni Castle.

About Winnekenni Castle
Dr. James R. Nichols, a local physician and inventor, built the Castle in 1873-1875 as a summer home at this farm which he named Winnekenni. The idea for the original castle came from England. The Castle was sold to the city in 1895. In 1967, after a devastating fire destroyed the aging building, a group of citizens formed the Winnekenni Foundation, which is still in existence today. Its goal was to completely refurbish the interior of the building, and make it and its surrounding grounds available to the public for cultural and educational events.
We hope you will be able to join us! RSVP below or call 978-740-0444.
Please Join Us!
To RSVP to the Annual Spring Meeting please go on-line to or you may call Jill at 978-740-0444.

Upcoming Essex Heritage Events
·         Sunday, February 24, 2013 • 1:00 - 3:00pm  
Featured Partner Event - Essex County Greenbelt Association Presents:Wildlife Tracking at the Arthur Ewell Reservation,Haverhill Street, Rowley, MA 01969
Join wildlife-tracking expert Bob Metcalf and learn about the wildlife corridors or animal highways that exist all around us.
Reservations required. This event is free, but please email or call Greenbelt at 978-768-7241 to register.

·         Sunday, March 24, 2013 • 1:00 - 3:00pm     
Featured Partner Event - Essex County Greenbelt Association Presents:Signs of Rebirth at the Willowdale MeadowIpswich Road, Topsfield, MA 01983
Look for signs of the natural world’s rebirth as you tour the trails within Greenbelt’s Willowdale Meadow, Bradley Palmer State Park, and the Willowdale Mill Reservation.
Reservations required. This event is free, but please email or call Greenbelt at 978-768-7241 to register.

Essex Heritage Continuing Partnerships
One of the longest running partnerships Essex Heritage has is with the Essex County Greenbelt Association.  Their continuing program of Open Land Preservation in this region in the recent year has had a wonderful effect.  Through negotiation and real estate deals, they have added substantial assets under their control.  Nineteen separate projects have been acted upon and 445 acres that night have found their way to another use and are now being conserved in perpetuity. This brings the land under their conservation control to 15,000 acres.  The Trust was first formed in 1951 and ‘on average” over the intervening years they have negotiated 15 to 20 deals each year and have added between 350 and 500 acres to their control each year. As communities and entities in the region have become much more aware of the existence of the Trust, it has been that much easier to put together deals.  Essex Heritage has found Executive Edward Becker to be a most willing partner and the preservation of Essex County space is that much easier to accomplish.  Ed is long time Commissioner of the Essex Heritable Commission and is a great recourse for the entire region

Regional News
UMASS Lowell Considers Expansion To Haverhill
The Chancellor of the University of Lowell and former Congressman Martin Meehan has proposed the University lease space in Haverhill’s downtown and will offer ongoing educational programs to City residents. This proposed in -town satellite campus has been warmly embraced and anticipated by Haverhill city officials.

Preservation Projects Sought in North Andover
The North Andover Community Preservation Committee is seeking request for grants to fund projects that will help preserve the community’s open space, historic buildings, landscape, affordable housing projects and for land to be used in the development of recreational assets.  To apply for a grant under this program requests must be received by the Town by March 8, 2013 and then be considered at the Town’s Annual Meeting in May 2013.  For more information on these grants including more complete details on the guidelines for application visit

Dedication of Historic Districts
Staying on the preservation theme, more and more local communities are developing historic districts in their communities.  This effort has been driven in many cases by the community need to preserve historic properties in their community.  In some cases these movements have had a negative impact on individual residents.   That process has to be regularly regulated to control individual rights.

City of Peabody Council to Hear Housing Plan
The City of Peabody City Council will soon be presented a plan that has been developed by the Planning Department of an affordable housing development plan that will increase the percentage of affordable housing from 9.1% to the required ten percent level to gain control of 4B projects.

Danvers, Middleton and Topsfield Police Chiefs Join Together to work with Mentally Ill
Essex Heritage is always interested in any effort to accomplish things regionally and an idea developed by the Police Chief from Danvers, Neil Ouellette, has been expanded to include Departments from both Topsfield and Middleton   The concept that is funded by local grants is the result of a clear recognized spike in Danvers of Mental Heath Calls.  The goal of the program is to prevent jail time for individuals that have a mental illness.  Professional Staffing is being provided through a grant by the Danvers Department.  Support is provided through the use of a part time employee from Leahy Health Behavioral Services Mobile Crisis Team three days a week.  She is available to respond in potential suicide calls.   This certainly seems to be a wonderful way for three local communities to work together in a most critical and socially responsible manner and to handle costs on a collective basis.

Medical Senior Disability Issues

Tragedy in South African Olympic sports
It is early in the process and there will be a trial to determine fault, but the disabled South African Olympic champion known to many as the  “Blade Runner” has been accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend.   Oscar Pistorius became a hero to many in the summer Olympics in London, and became an admired world class athlete who overcame the early loss of his legs to distinguish himself in his efforts in London.  The event is under investigation.

COPAA Support Group
Through the generosity and support of Cornell O & P and the Cornell Brothers, that own and operate the facility at Cummings Center in Beverly and other locations in this region,  Cornell O & P Amputee Association (COPPAA) is offered to amputees of this region.  COPAA is managed by MS, Posie Mansfield of Wenham. “Posie” understands the needs and the mind set of the amputee as she shares that affliction with the other members of the association which makes her most aware of the needs of people with handicaps.  The primary role of COPPA is to bring talented resources to speak to the members.   One of the resources she brought to the group was the wonderful gymnasium and rehabilitation facility at Gordon College where I am currently receiving therapy. 
Now she has found another valuable recourse from the Longevity Connection at North Shore Elder Services I help represent the Town of Danvers.  The following is a notice from COPAA about the upcoming meeting.

Ready for the blizzard of 2013?
Stay warm and stay indoors, hunker down for the duration of the storm.. I know I really don't have to say that, as we all have a fear of falling anyway, and we are not about to venture out into a blizzard for any reason!

We have had a change in our speaker for our Beverly COPAA meeting next Wednesday, February 13, our regularly scheduled meeting. Ruth Stone was supposed to come and speak about wound care and prevention of skin breakdown, but she had an unexpected scheduling conflict, so she cannot make it this time. Instead of Ruth, though, I am happy to announce that Eileen Lubas, from the Longevity Connection from North Shore Elder Services will be coming instead. She will discuss the many services provided by North Shore Elder Services, and our very own Tom Leonard serves on that board, so it should be a great meeting. Come with questions for the group, ready to welcome new members and simply to talk in an informal setting.

Mark your calendars, we meet from 5pm to 7pm on the second Wednesday of each month. ALL ARE WELCOME

People in the news

Danvers State Representative Ted Speliotis who represents Danvers Named Chairman of Important Massachusetts Legislative Committee.
State Representative Ted Speliotis, one of the longest serving Legislators on Beacon Hill has been named to the Chairmanship of the Committee that serves as the gate keeper committee for all bills that will be heard before the House of Representatives.   It is a very important Committee Chairmanship and his new role could be very important for the region.

Announcement of the Retirement of Wayne Burton
The following announcement provided by The North Shore Community College about the retirement of President Dr. Wayne Burton is presented FYI.  I suppose that I could let the announcement stand on its own, but I feel obligated to add some personal comments.

I have known Wayne since he arrived in Salem several years ago.   I worked with Wayne when he was the Dean of the Business School at then Salem State College.   I was asked and was proud and pleased to be one of Wayne’s presenters when he applied for the Presidency at North Shore Community College and I followed Wayne to the Institution and have served on the Foundation for that school.    Wayne served as a Trustee on the initial Board of Trustees of Essex Heritage.  He also served as the Chairman of the Nominating Committee at Essex Heritage in his nine-year term.  He was one of first Heritage Hero’s named and his work for Essex Heritage was extraordinary.

Dr. Wayne Burton’s Announcement
It is with overwhelming feelings of both joy and sadness that I announce my retirement today – after thirteen years at the helm of North Shore Community College, effective July 31, I will move on to my next phase of life. I have notified Rich Yagjian, Chair of the Board of Trustees, of my plans to leave and a press release will go out later today. In truth, I have been thinking about this since passing my 68th year last June and facing my sixty-ninth birthday this June.

I am deeply grateful to everyone at NSCC for a wonderful experience with an extraordinary group of dedicated people who with me share a strong belief in and commitment to educational equity. It is the community of the college I will miss most.

I will do everything I can between now and the end of July to bring in a decent budget in the current legislative session and advance all the important initiatives now underway at the College including the Lynn campus renewal and addition and Union Street space for culinary and cosmetology. Also, with your help, it is my intent to give the next president a new strategic plan grounded in the college and reflective of the culture of inclusion I have tried to nurture since I began as president in July of 2000.

While the Commonwealth may consider my leaving the presidency of North Shore Community College "retirement", I certainly do not. In the next phase of my life, I plan to enjoy family – with two middle-school grandsons and one more grandchild on the way by our younger West Coast son and wife, provide service to my town and state, and work on issues that have become important to me.

I currently serve on the Advisory Budget Committee of the Oyster River School District and as the Town of Durham's (NH) representative on the Strafford (county) Regional Planning Commission involved with regional planning, especially with regard to careful stewardship of our water resources. I also plan to run for Town Council in our hometown of Durham and, who knows, I might run for my old seat in the N.H. House next cycle.

I also intend to continue my involvement in the national Community College Consortium on Autism and Intellectual Disabilities (CCCAID) which I currently chair, carrying the message wider than I can now with the significant responsibilities of the presidency getting my top priority.

As we all grow and change with the seasons of life, I ask you to continue our important work as the college transitions to a new president and an exciting new era for the college as we celebrate our fiftieth year. I could not have made North Shore Community College the true beacon of hope and opportunity that it is, without each of you at the helm with me. Thank you!

Personal Observations

Slot Parlor Proposal in Danvers
The fact gathering period for information in the ongoing slot parlor proposal in Danvers continues.  The organization that is seeking the right to turn a vacant retail space formally occupied by Sports Authority at the rear of Liberty Tree Center into a slot parlor have met in an information session with several Danvers Officials.   In their original proposal they spoke about adding a new garage, but that addition no longer appears to be needed.  They have indicated that the facility could mean seven hundred new jobs for the Town.  It is expected that a public hearing on the proposal will take place on March 5th in a location to be announced, spacious enough to handle the many residents that want to be heard on this issue.   There appears to be continuing opposition to the facility by nearby residents.   It would certainly appear that the kind of operation envisioned would certainly mean more local traffic in an area where there already appears that there is too much traffic according to local nearby residents.  It is unclear to me to see a reason for approval except for the number of mid-level, at best, jobs that are proposed would benefit the community.  There may be some up front and ongoing fees that could be beneficial to the community and some of those answers might be provided at the March 5th public hearing and that night might make the decision easier when the officials are provided with a complete set of facts.

Retirement of Roman Catholic Pope Gregory XV1
As a participating member of the active Catholic religious family, I like a number of others were surprised by the recent announcement that the present Pope will retire from active service after an eight year term of office, due to poor health.  We will likely have a new leader of one of the largest religions in this region by Easter 2013.   Pope Benedict will be the first Pontiff to resign for heath reasons in over 600 years.   From my perspective, I would not expect any monumental changes in major issues such as abortion, female priests, etc.  What we may see is a new leader of the church who may come from a non-traditional location like South America, Africa or Asia.   That could be a major change as the new Pope could be our first Black or Yellow skinned leader of the largest organized religion in the world, and the new leader could come from a location where the Catholic faith growing faster than the norm in the rest of the world

Sports Update
In this space each week, I usually present a few words on Boston Professional Teams successes and failures that is truly one of my passions, but today I report on an even greater passion, family sports participation.   On Wednesday of this week we attended one of many basketball games we attended this winter.   We now know every signpost along US Route 495 as we have made numerous trips along that route this winter from our home in Danvers.   Our youngest grand-daughter Caroline is a student at a very competitive public high school in Northborough called Algonquin Regional.  The school has a great history of winning team championships.   As a freshman she along with a handful of other first year students participated with the Junior Varsity girls team.  They completed a single loss season avenging their only loss to Wachusetts Regional High School earlier in the season.
We traveled to many events around the area east of Worchester that we never would have made without the help and support of a GPS.   The basketball season followed a three-loss Girls Junior Varsity Soccer season that she also participated in as a first year athlete.    This has been a wonderful first year at Algonquin Regional.  After a steady successful diet with our other Grand-daughter Katherine of Danvers in lacrosse and field hockey I only barely comprehended, basketball is a sport that I played as a youth and it was a treat and a pleasant change to watch. 

 I can’t say enough about the level of coaching instruction Caroline received in both sports and we look forward to a couple of more seasons watching, rooting for success and enjoying the competition  

We skipped a trip to Florida this winter due to medical conditions and these multiple trips to Northborough made the recent Fall and Winter of 2012-13 seem to fly by.

After a very short period of time, we will be back on the road to watch Michael and Julie’s son Casey perform as a little league pitcher.

Essex Happenings...February 8, 2013

Essex Heritage Events and Activities

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting
There may not be a more meaningful meeting offered with free admission each year than the semi annual informational meetings offered at locations not usually available to Essex Heritage.   This Spring’s Annual Meeting outlined below is one of those meetings.   We announced this meeting in the last published edition of Essex Happenings, but because our attendance at this event is so important, as we provide substantial data, at that event we have printed the detail a second time.  The event is being offered at a private location in the City of Haverhill and since this is the first time we have visited this location ever in the long history of this initiative.

The Essex National Heritage Commission
Invites You to Attend its
Annual Spring Meeting
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Winnekenni Castle347 Kenoza Avenue, Haverhill, MA 01830
8:00 AM: Continental Breakfast Reception8:30 - 10:00 AM: Business Meeting

Join us for a morning of engagement on Wednesday, April 10, from 8:00am -10:00am, at Winnekenni Castle! Participate in this free, valuable networking opportunity that will further connect you with the work of Essex Heritage and our partners.
We are now accepting applications for the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program!
The 2013 grant recipients will be announced at the Annual Spring Meeting on April 10th at Winnekenni Castle.

About Winnekenni Castle
Dr. James R. Nichols, a local physician and inventor, built the Castle in 1873-1875 as a summer home at this farm which he named Winnekenni. The idea for the original castle came from England. The Castle was sold to the city in 1895. In 1967, after a devastating fire destroyed the aging building, a group of citizens formed the Winnekenni Foundation, which is still in existence today. Its goal was to completely refurbish the interior of the building, and make it and its surrounding grounds available to the public for cultural and educational events.
We hope you will be able to join us! RSVP below or call 978-740-0444.
Please Join Us!
To RSVP to the Annual Spring Meeting please go on-line to or you may call Jill at 978-740-0444.

2013 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program
About the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program -- The Essex National Heritage Commission’s Partnership Grant Program is a matching grant program created to foster and support the stewardship activities of organizations that share the Commission’s mission to preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of the Essex National Heritage Area.  Impacting many in the region, the 15-year old program has provided more than $1.6 million to municipalities and nonprofit heritage organizations that steward the region’s nationally significant heritage.

2013 Partnership Grant Program - Carefully read the 2013 Partnership Grant Program Description describing the program's timeline, eligibility criteria, requirements, and application process.  Through its 2013 Partnership Grant Program, Essex Heritage will fulfill a strategic priority by awarding $1,500 grants to ten (10) qualified applicants who apply for funding in one of three categories:
•          Education:  Create or further develop educational opportunities for youth
•          Interpretation:  Increase awareness and understanding of the region’s heritage
•          Preservation:  Preserve or enhance historic structures, landscapes and cultural resources

Essex Heritage will accept applications for eligible projects online only until 11:59 PM on Sunday, February 17, 2013. Once submitted, an application can be revised anytime until the deadline. All applicants will be notified by late March regarding the status of their application.

Once designated to receive funding, grant recipients will be required to execute a grant contract which will outline match-funding requirements, grant reporting and other responsibilities. All funded projects must be completed and all reports and financial documentation submitted to Essex Heritage by June 30, 2014.

Applications are due no later than Sunday, February 17, 2013 by 11:59 PM. 

Applications will be accepted ONLINE ONLY.  Read the Grant Program Description - pdf format

Regional Events

St John’s Prep Makes Fifth Hines Scholarship Game Special
Every year since United States Army Fist Lieutenant Derek Hine’s s life was ended defending this country, the Danvers private school has played a scholarship hockey game in his memory.  This year, Lt Hines a Newburyport resident and 1999 graduate of the Prep and its Hockey Captain was honored in a special way by having the team wear new star spangled sweaters for the game.   The event was enhanced by a St Johns Prep victory over one of their arch rivals, Boston College High School that helped move them to the top of the States school hockey standings.

New City Solicitor Needed in Methuen
The City of Methuen is currently in need of new City Solicitor after the present holder of the post was not appointed to a new term.  A Committee made of city councilors and two local lawyers will conduct an evaluation now that the period of application has been finalized.   Applicants for the position must be in good standing with the Mass Bar Association and have experience in the practice of Municipal Law.

North Andover has Assessors Position Open
Staying on the vacancy theme in the region, Town Manger Naylor of North Andover is seeking a community resident to fill a vacancy on the Board of Assessors.  If you are a community resident and have an interest in the vacant position contact the North Andover Town Manager.

The City of Salem has begun the process of securing $150,000 in bids for the restoration of the Historic fence that surrounds the Salem Common.  The bids are due in late January and after a period of assessment, 12 sections of the one half mile fence will be awarded.  The first portion of the work will be to make molds of the fence which will be done so that the restoration work can be done in phases.  The initial work will be one on the sections at the main entrance to the common along Washington Square South by the Roger Conant Statue and the main entrance to the historic Hotel Hawthorne.   This restoration process has long been a primary goal of the City as the common remains a focal point of the community.

Medical. Senior and Disability Matters

North Shore Elders Reports on Tax Proposal Offered by the Commonwealth
Tax hikes divide business groups
By Jon Chesto
Boston Business Journal
January 22, 2013

This year’s budget dance on Beacon Hill is already dividing the local business community as executives and advocacy groups try to head off tax increases or promote what they view as sorely-needed investments.

The stakes haven’t been this high in a long time. The state Legislature is embarking on its first serious debate about raising taxes in four years, and the outcome will likely overshadow the sales tax hike that resulted from the last one in 2009.

Resistance is certainly expected among small-business owners, many still upset about the new federal tax hikes. The National Federation of Independent Business, for example, is gearing up to fight potential increases in the income and gas taxes. “There are no taxes that are going to help the economy,” said Bill Vernon, the NFIB’s Massachusetts director, “certainly not the income tax.”

Meanwhile, advocates for bigger companies are focused on transportation upgrades and expanded education programs deemed crucial to the state’s competitiveness. Some will push for more reforms if they’re going to endorse a tax hike. But there’s been no consensus about the best way to cover the costs — especially since the House and Senate plans are weeks, if not months, away.

“When determining how to prioritize these issues, we need to be mindful that while our economy is improving modestly, it remains fragile,” Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Guzzi said. “We need to determine what we can afford, assess the impact on our economy, and take steps to improve our competitiveness.”

Gov. Deval Patrick set the stage for a tax hike with a series of public appearances during the past week. First, there was a pitch for an extra $1 billion a year for transportation, and then a call for increasing annual spending on schools by as much as nearly $1 billion over four years. Patrick used his State of the State speech on Wednesday to explain how he wants to pay for this — by raising the income tax to 6.25 percent. A proposed increase wasn’t unexpected, but the size could be too steep for the business community. (Patrick would offset some of the pain by shaving the sales tax down to 4.5 percent.)

The state still needs help just to break even. Even if state tax revenues rise by 4 percent as predicted, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates that state officials will be forced to reconcile a $1 billion-plus budget gap based on current tax rates and programs. To some extent, this perennial problem is due to tax cuts put in place from 1998 through 2003, changes that the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center says forced the state to forego nearly $2.5 billion in annual revenue. At least Massachusetts still has a strong rainy day fund, totaling more than $1.7 billion at last count.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray have signaled a willingness to consider tax increases this time around. They’re open to weighing Patrick’s ideas while their leadership teams develop their own budget proposals for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Even the Republicans don’t seem to be taking a hard line against all new taxes and instead are preparing to press the Democratic leadership to justify any hikes. Despite concerns among the rank-and-file that constituents are still struggling in a sluggish economy, there is a growing acceptance among the leadership of some kind of tax increase. The debate will likely be over the specific taxes to be raised, and by how much.

Transportation: Of all major taxes, the gas tax seems to be the most vulnerable. Some business leaders believe Patrick bungled his last gas tax request in 2009, and they see this as a much-needed source of funds to address the state’s overtaxed highways and crumbling bridges. The 21-cents-per-gallon tax hasn’t been touched since 1991. The current rate puts our gas tax in the lowest third of all states. The rise in collections here has not come close to keeping pace with rising gas prices that have essentially tripled in two decades. Another dime per gallon could bring in another $300 million a year.

But that isn’t the only transportation-related revenue source on the table, especially because the MBTA’s financial problems are still in need of a long-term fix after last year’s Band-Aid approach. Toll increases and T fare hikes will be up for grabs. Patrick’s Department of Transportation also floated longer-shot ideas, such as a payroll tax and registration fees based on a car’s carbon emissions.

Individual income: Voters in 2000 made it clear, through a ballot question, that they wanted the income tax to drop from 5.95 percent to 5 percent. But lawmakers stopped the decline at 5.3 percent in 2002. (They did include an economy-related trigger that has since brought the rate down to 5.25 percent.)

For the first time in at least a decade, lawmakers are seriously entertaining raising the income tax. Patrick’s proposal would exceed one sought by the union-backed Campaign for Our Communities, which is working with some liberal lawmakers to restore the 5.95 percent rate. Their increase would bring in more than $1 billion a year. (Legislators would likely soften any increase by raising personal exemptions to ensure lower-income families don’t get clobbered.) This is a tough sell to owners of small businesses, NFIB’s Vernon said, because most in the state are taxed through the income tax instead of the corporate tax.

Capital gains: The Campaign for Our Communities also calls for raising the taxes on investments to 8.95 percent from the current rate of 5.25 percent, matching the income tax. Separating the income tax rate from long-term capital gains, interest and dividend rates hasn’t been talked about as frequently as other revenue solutions. But some lawmakers will certainly champion the cause this year — increasing those investment income rates to 8.95 percent could bring in more than $800 million a year, according to one Department of Revenue estimate — as part of the broader debate.

Sales: The increase of the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent in 2009 is still fresh in consumers’ minds. So there probably won’t be much of an appetite for another sales tax hike, especially now that Patrick is pushing for it to be reduced.

Corporate income: The Legislature had given the business community a steady reduction in the general corporate tax, from 9.5 percent in 2009 to 8 percent last year. This was a concession at the time to push through tax changes aimed at collecting more from large, multi-state companies. It may be hard to believe lawmakers actually reduced taxes, particularly during the Great Recession. But this is at least one promise business leaders expect them to keep.

Toyota Motors Reclaims Number 1 From General Motors
After a brief period when Toyota Motors fell out of first place in automobile production, due to weather issues in Japan, have recently returned to the top of the list.  It is clear that with a Toyota Franchise in many communities in this region and a superior distribution system and a generally excellent product, it is not surprising of their standing.



Governor Patrick appointed his former Chief of Staff and Corporate Lawyer William “Mo “Cowens to fill the unexpired term of office in Washington until general election in June 2013.   Attorney Cowans is the second African-American to represent the Commonwealth.   He was born in North Carolina, graduated from Duke University and has been a resident of this state for over two decades.

Robert Holloway President of Massachusetts Bar Association
There was a most interesting and entertaining presentation locally on Mr. Holloway’s work in the local press.  In addition to his work as an attorney, Bob also serves as a most active member of the North Shore Elder Services Board of Directors.

Richard Bane Named to Salem State University Advisory Board
Richard Bane of Bane Associates, a senior health care operation out of Salem has been named to the Board of Overseers at Salem State University where he will offer support to the President of the University as he also does for North Shore Medical Center in Salem.


The Barnes and Noble Book Stores recently announced that due to a reduction in the amount of business being produced in their chain of stores, over the next five years the amount of units being offered will be reduced by about one third.   As a result of reading patterns being shown by American readers and the incredible changes in the use of digital reading. The chain is seriously considering a major change in the way they do business.  As a personal comment, it is a shame that after the demise of Borders Books and now reductions in opportunities at Barnes and Noble, that book stores of the past are fast disappearing.   I feel that I am a contributor to this trend as I am a very complete digital reader.  I have found that reading both newspapers and historical novels that I enjoy are so much easier to read on a digital reader, and only occasionally go back to a paper book, but I am not likely to ever return to the way it was.  The problem is that soon there will be very few bookstores left to browse through even though I have become, for the most part a full time digital reader.  I still enjoy being a browser but based on the changes taking place there soon will be few bookstores to browse through in our region.

Hollywood Movies and the Award Cycle
For the first time in many years this year I have viewed most to award winning films that are being considered for awards for acting, directing and writing, and this year the ultimate winners mean more having viewed the various performances.

A step towards a workable immigration program with a potential path toward eventual citizenship for eleven million people that might qualify is set to be unveiled shortly through the efforts of a bi-partisan group of a number members of a senate group headed by Republican Senator M.C. Cain of Arizona and Democrat Shumer of New York. 

The plan may be made public well in advance of a speech by the President so that he will outline his thoughts on this important subject.   It is reasonably certain that there is much to be accomplished by many elected officials before a final plan could reach the point of passage.  At the very least it is most positive that so many elected officials from both parties have made this issue important and parties on both sides of the aisle will work toward the development of a plan that would satisfy a majority of elected officials regardless of Party Affiliation                                                                                                                                 
Presidential Election 2016
It is becoming quite clear that the time between National Elections is becoming shorter and shorter.  Last Sunday evening, the news magazine show Sixty Minutes presented a show less than one week after President Obama’s Inauguration that focused on a presentation between the President and his retiring Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.  The premise of that show focused on the work she had accomplished and stopped just short if an endorsement for her in 2016.   It seems to me that the movement to bring the 2016 election into focus as early as they did made the election, onerous and it is way too soon after the last election.

Over 2000 dead in Brazil Night club fire
I do not intend to dwell on what went wrong at the club in Brazil but rather I want to offer my condolences to all of the college students and their families.   This story is like Groundhog Day as from time to time these tragic events keep repeating, but the results are always the same. The pyrotechnic portions of these presentations must be outlawed.

Book I Have Enjoyed
I Have Always Tried to Make This Blog Personal and at the same time Current. and accordingly. I present Books that I have Enjoyed Reading in the recent past.

As the winter weather has arrived and settled in on the North Shore, I have been more confined to my home and as such I have resumed my focus as a dedicated book reader.  As noted in another section of this presentation we have also become movie goers recently and have enjoyed some of the historical and period type current movies like Argo, Lincoln. Les Miz and others like them.  

My choice in books runs pretty much in the same direction.    This report is not meant to be a book recommendation section, but simply points out this one person’s choices.   I have greatly enjoyed part two of a three book trilogy titled Winter of the World in the Century Series written by Ken Follett.  These books were a follow ups to a previous series called The Fall of Giants that traced the plights of several families living in America, England, Germany and Russia.     There is one final book in that trilogy to be completed and I anxiously wait for that publication.   Mr. Follett previous wrote a couple of series about the building of a cathedral in England in the Middle Ages that were most enjoyable.

At the present moment, I have been drawn to historical novels and have enjoyed an older work by William Martin on Citizen Washington.  I have also completely enjoyed a current work of Martin, titled The Lincoln Letters.  As this is prepared I am captivated by a Jon Meacham work called Jefferson-The Art of Power.    After reading of the lives of Washington, Lincoln, and now Jefferson, I have learned much about our earliest US Presidents.

The next offering on my reading list is the story of the Air Force during the war in the 1940’s called A Higher Call and I am anxious to read that offering