Saturday, December 28, 2013

Essex Happenings January 2014


Rail Trail News
Even though I am no longer in the employ of Essex Heritage, and simply serve as many other Commissioners and trustees do as volunteers, I am most interested in numerous initiatives fostered by the mission of Essex Heritage particularly as they focus on recreation and the outdoors.  In that vein, I follow their work on the development of rail trails across the region.  I have recently been made aware of a most energetic and enthusiastic project undertaken as an Eagle Scout project that involved the search for and the building and installation of benches made of old railroad wheels and other material.  The three benches have been assembled and installed along the recently completed Danvers Rail Trail.  If you are in the vicinity of those resting places, take a look at the work of Danvers High School Senior, Tim Jordan, as it is a wonderful addition to the trail.

Speaking of Rail Trail enhancements the leadership of the Newburyport Rail Trail group have recently received a $50,000.00 grant to install Murals and other art work along the 1.1 mile Clipper City Rail Trail,   The City of Newburyport will add funds to complete the project.

A wonderful holiday gift
If you are still searching for the perfect gift for someone you might consider during the Holiday Season………Think about a membership for 2014.   The Commission truly provided events for all seasons.  See the following Information.

Your Support Matters.
The Essex National Heritage Commission Membership program offers unique opportunities to explore this Heritage Area. Members are the first to hear about exciting events, receive discounts to attend these events and receive the quarterly invitation highlighting them. In turn, supporting Essex Heritage through our membership program means you embrace and champion our mission to preserve and enhance the historic, cultural and natural resources of the Essex National Heritage Area. Our power comes from the power of our supporters – people like you who commit to protecting our region and our resources. We can't do it without you!
•  Become a member
•  Check out our "Membership Details" to learn more about membership and member benefits.

Questions? For more information, email or phone Essex Heritage at 978-740-0444.

Thank you to our Corporate Members
Essex Heritage is grateful for the generous support of our Corporate Members! All of our Corporate Members enjoy unique visibility opportunities and privileges.   Learn more about Essex Heritage's Corporate Membership Program.
·         Become a Member!
·         Membership Details
·         Corporate Membership Program
·         Event Host Opportunities

Essex National Heritage Area • 221 Essex Street, Suite 41, Salem, MA 01970, ph 978-740-0444, f 978-744-6473

Partnership Grant Gifts in My Name Provided by Local Friends and Associates
I am pleased to learn from the staff at Essex Heritage the memorial gifts in my name have been contributed by local friends to the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program.  Both Essex Heritage and I are most grateful for their thoughtfulness.  These generous donors were were Michael Morris, Dr. Wayne Burton, Fr. John O’Donnell and Paul Mc Ginley.

Happy New Year
I want to take a moment here to wish any readers of this Blog a most Happy New Year along with all of our best wishes for continuing good health and financial success.   As it is every year let us all fervently wish for a level of peace on earth and safety from gun violence  and other ills in our daily life’s.

Essex County Vocational Technical School Progressing  on Schedule
The New Vocational and Technical School currently under construction in Danvers is on schedule and under budget even though there are some under current in the region about costs of the program.  A comprehensive schedule of night classes offered for adults was recently released and there is truly something for everyone outlined in a recent publication recently mailed to area residents.   Also there are some discussions about a new privately funded indoor skating rink being planned and leased facility adjacent Soccer Field at the new school facility.  The initial comments about the ice facility expressed that revenues would be positive from this venture.   It seems to this observer that the location of this proposed venture would be a welcome addition to the local area provided  the potential problems with some residential neighbors might be addressed.

Innovative plan for the expansion of Education programs in Downtown Lynn Canceled
An innovative plan that would house education programs for Cosmetology and Culinary Arts being moved out of the Essex Aggie location to make room for the new county wide Vocational and Technical High School currently being built in Danvers has suffered a setback as the company that had entered into a prospective deal with Community College has fallen apart.  The programs were moving to a location in downtown Lynn but they are now once again without a home.  The two programs that historically produced students for prospective employment opportunities will be a loss for the region.  The collapse of the proposed deal has also produced a lawsuit by the present owner of the proposed location for the two programs.

Potential Power Plant Needs Debated
As the start-up date of 2016 moves closer and closer the entities from both camps, both pro and con for the need of the development of a natural gas powered plant continues to debate the need for such a facility.   I would expect that the issue will get more hotly contested as the START-UP date get closer and closer. Stay tuned for more facts and figures on the project so vital to the economic future of Salem and certain communities in the region.

City of Peabody to seek a home rule petition to offer ten additional liquor licenses In the Leather City
The City Administration with the unanimous support of the Council will be seeking a home rule petition that would allow the City to offer ten additional full service liquor licenses to potential establishments in either the restored downtown and at the retail mall. The new licenses would be used as an economic development tool in the community.  The Town of Danvers has applied for a couple of extra permissions and that effort has been successful.   Several local adjacent communities have seen the growth of the restaurant industry as an excellent economic tool.

The City of Peabody Considering the Rehabilitation of a an well recognized building in Peabody Square
A development firm is considering the rehabilitation of a historic building in the city center that would include a new hotel with a restaurant and meeting space.  It is expected that this plan would prove to be an incentive to visitors to the region.

Wreath Program offered in Peabody.   New Project Honoring Vets in Danvers
In the recent past several programs in the region have been announced that will benefit veterans.    A very aggressive program that would place wreaths from the Wreaths Across America on the graves of Vets has been established in Peabody.   A new memorial was recently constructed in Danvers adjacent to the Thorpe School to honor Vets in that community.

Local Senior Centers in No Andover and Danvers seeking Volunteers to assist in programs.
The Senior Center in North Andover is seeking volunteers to drive clients to medical appointments.    The Danver Senior Center currently has an innovative adult non medical Day Care Service, and that center is seeking qualified volunteer help.  The program has been most successful providing that there is a current and ongoing need for these kinds of programs.

It is very clear that all over this region there are non-profit organizations that would welcome volunteer help.  If you have received help in the past from one of these regional non-profits consider ‘paying it forward’ with contributed support.

Public Education vs. Private colleges
Once overlooked public University Programs and Community Colleges are stepping ahead of their private college partners in this state.  In many cases the public facilities are experiencing increased funding, improved new state of the arts facilities, honor programs, affordable tuitions and higher graduation results.  Recent reports show publish networks of public college in the State of Massachusetts are passing many private educational institutions in their status in the market for quality education for the costs offered.

Marblehead Town Building built in 1727 to be updated to insure handicapped accessibility
The Town of Marblehead has completed a half million dollar project that includes the installation of an elevator to make the building more accessible to residents of that seaside community.

Salem to enter phase two of City Hall Improvement Project
Speaking of older historic buildings, the City of Salem is embarking on the next phase of a major rehabilitation of Salem City Hall.  The building was constructed in 1838 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places and is one of the oldest continuous operating community city halls in the Country.     During the first phase of this 2 million dollar project a number of accessibility issues were addressed such as the installation of an elevator, and the final disability matters such as lower customer counters and wider doorways are being addressed to assist people in wheelchairs.    It is very pleasing for me to see so many elevators being installed around the region.   This is very important to people with disabilities.   I am a person with a disability who is currently involved in a project to make my parish church in Danvers accessible with the installation of an elevator and that project continues to be one of my primary concerns. 

Local emphasis on Library improvements countywide
All across the Essex County region local library complexes are undergoing improvement projects including both federal, state and private funding, including a unique effort in the Town of Salisbury where private funds are being sought.

Beverly Retail Improvements
Approval of a Beverly property to be used as a new retail center may also have an impact on plans of the Cummings Property and may well impact a future plans on Dunham Road, as conservation issues might cause changes in plans for that area by the retail giant in Beverly.  A final decision on this project will be decided by a public referendum in a soon to be schedule election.


This year may mark one of the first times in recent years that no local community was represented in the year end football Super Bowl competition This year Bishop Fenwick in Peabody and Central Catholic School in Lawrence won super Bowl Titles in December 2013 and should be congratulated.
Recent reading
In the most recent weeks I have curtailed my political and patriotic reading to take some time to read the biography of one the sports icons of this region that I have witnessed in person over the last couple of decades.   I have completed a very short but entertaining story of the life of Bobby Orr who helped to lead the Boston Bruins to a couple of Stanley Cup titles.  

I have long been a very strong admirer of Orr since I was a local youth hockey coach in the 1970’s.  I had the wonderful experience of providing a youth team to work with Bobby Orr, and Nabisco in the making of a film called “Winning Isn’t Everything”.   For two days myself and fifteen ten year old youths worked together with Orr to film drills and game action with commentary by Orr.   During that two day period I would be hard pressed to find a gentleman who was any more attentive to the youths we took to Harvard to film the documentary.  During the filming, the attention that he paid to my team and the personal attention he paid to provide tips to the boys on how they could improve in hockey and to be better contributors in life in general.   Later at a business meeting we used that occasion to discuss the filming and what that meant to my youngsters.

The book was well prepared and I enjoyed his presentation style and stories of his life as a professional hockey player starting at a very early age.

United States Congress making progress on a compromised budget agreement
The US-Congress may be saving an otherwise non- productive two year session with the potential passage of a two year federal budget that will contain several compromises from the two active political parties both sides of the aisle.  Possibly the  public messages to the Congress of the low regard we are holding them I at present may be getting through and this might be showing a positive sign for the future.

Holiday Food Pantry Needs
One of the Leonard Family favorite charities is the People to People Food Pantry in Danvers.   Early in December we attended a party for the benefit of the Danvers Pantry.  That day a considerable amount of resources were raised as well as great amounts of food products were donated at the Holiday Philharmonic Concert that offered a continuing Christmas tradition  by St. Richard’s Church in Danvers. 

At this time if you can offer help to a number of Food Pantries around the region, they certainly can use your support at this time of the year when the need is at its highest point.

Death of a family member
Just a week or so before the Christmas Holiday a venerable and a greatly admired uncle of mine passed away in a local Rehabilitation Facility.   John Hyland of Rockport suffered a fall and then passed away from injuries as he approached a century of living in this region.   Jack, the youngest brother of my mother was the historian of the family and he will be greatly missed by the remaining family members.  Jack lived for many years lived in the South Salem section of that city.  He served his country during World War Two as a Navy See Bee, and preformed much needed service in the Pacific Ocean Theatre of the War, building Air Strips and other facilities on Islands captured by the Allies.  As a youngster the family and I followed with great interest his travels across the Pacific Ocean.  After the war Jack worked for the General Electric Company at the River Works Plant in Lynn on the Jet Engine Program until his retirement.

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