Friday, February 22, 2013

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

No comments:

Post a Comment