Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I continue to follow and applaud the work and the activities of the Essex National Heritage Commission as my many years of association with that organization remains high on my list of important matters.  I have come to realize the importance of that National Park Service affiliate and the daily value that is offered to the three quarters of a million residents of the region and the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area that represented a great deal of activities that make the region such a national treasure.

Colonial Settlements, Maritime Adventures and Centuries of American Growth
The Essex National Heritage Area begins just 10 miles north of Boston and covers 500 square miles of eastern Massachusetts to the New Hampshire border. The area includes hundreds of historical sites, miles of intact landscapes, glistening coastal regions and lifetimes of rich experiences that chronicle the history of our region and of our nation.

The Essex National Heritage Area is a member of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and is one of 49 heritage areas in the United States.  -Experience Your America.  Discover nearly 400 national parks on the official National Park Service webpage. Some may be closer than you think. 

What are National Heritage Areas?They are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.

February 12, 2014 • The House of the Seven Gables, 115 Derby Street, Salem, MA, 01970. EX (Exhibits at The Gables) for The Underground Railroad exhibit will open with a members’ reception on February 12.

February 13, 2014 to February 28, 2014 • The House of the Seven Gables, 115 Derby Street, Salem, MA, 01970 -  Celebrating Black History Month, The House of the Seven Gables is proud to welcome the public to this special exhibit.  Have you ever wondered if there were North Shore homeowners involved in the Underground Railroad?  Come find out!

As previously reported, the City of Peabody is seeking an unlimited number of liquor licenses from the Commonwealth as an impetus to the economic development of that community.   Subsequently the Town of Danvers will soon be following suit and will soon be seeking additional licenses for the Town.   It could be said that the development of new restaurants in the Town of Danvers would be a boon to the addition of both real estate and meal taxes both of which would assist the Town in its attempt to increase overall revenue sources.

January weather seems extreme to this Observer
The end of 2013 was about normal, but since the start of the new year, it is been colder than normal all over the country with the influence of an arctic vortex.   We have seen more snow than normal and there are reports from all over the country recording new records for cold and conditions more severe than in recent history.

The redevelopment process in the City of Salem created a series of residential units and the successful opening of a themed eating establishment. This was on the site that once housed one of the oldest jails anywhere in the country and it was very well received. It appears that a recent announcement of a second phase of that project would be started in the spring of 2014 that will include the construction of a dozen units adjacent to phase one indicates an ever improving economy in the region. 

The MBTA recently announced plans to make improvements on the North Shore.  This is good news as this appears to be most positive as more and more this justifies the addition of garage space in various locations in the region.

Town of Danvers to hold public hearings on St. John Preparatory School Expansion plans
The Planning Board of the Town of Danvers is scheduling a public meeting to allow residents of the surrounding neighborhoods to comment on the recently announced plans of the private Catholic secondary school  to expand its activities on the Summer Street 174 Acre site.  The school is planning the addition of a nearly 7500 sq. ft. Science and Technology building that will allow the school to open and offer a new middle school for 399 prospective Grade 6 to 9 students that is expected to open in the near term.  The changes in land utilization will be minimal as most of the improvements will take place in campus locations where programs already exist and will be better utilized in the proposed plans.  It should be noted that even though the size of the campus is recorded as 175 acres, a great deal of the land is unusable due to water conditions on the site. The date of the hearing on the expansion plans has not yet been set, but will be widely announced when set and notification to abutters will be sent out as part of the process

Threat at St. John’s Prep
As a follow up to St. John’s Prep matters, I suspect that some of you have heard reports of police issues at the Danvers private High school.   I want to congratulate the administration at the Prep for taking the issue raised at the school so seriously.  In light of what has happened in other schools and public places in this country and the difficulty encountered in the local public school in the same community, that all potential “threats” should be taken most seriously, and the cautious actions undertaken by the Prep and the Danvers Police are applauded as it is most wise to be safe rather than be sorry later.

Habitat for Humanity to build Affordable Housing in Danvers
The national firm responsible for adding affordable housing in this country is planning to add housing stock that is affordable in the community of Danvers.  Some years ago, I was involved in a broad effort to add the affordable housing units in that community and that work continues. This is much needed not just in Danvers but across the entire region and should be most welcome and might spur new developments.

The City of Beverly was awarded a state grant to help construct the much discussed, and City Administration supported, project on Brimbal Avenue.  In an informational meeting held recently, it was very clear that if a vote were taken today that the project to change and create the new area would be soundly defeated.

The recent announcement of the retirement of the Townleys, a talented and strongly committed couple that have served the Town of Danvers as Park Rangers at the Endicott Park Property for many years, was greeted with praise and regret.  They will be hard to replace and their contributions were recognized with a dinner.  The Townleys provided a substantial commitment to the park for many years and their dedication to the mission of the town’s recreation area has been exemplary.   They have also been staunch supporters of the Danvers Historical Society’s work to preserve and promote the Glen Magna Farms property and the attendant  mansion.

Personal  Observations 
Current Reading Choices
I took a break from reading about political biographies and enjoyed a wonderful presentation written by Ben Bradlee Jr. about the life of Ted Williams that was primarily focused on his personal life including his military service in two conflicts and his numerous marriages and recollections about his children.

I am now just starting a history of Teddy Roosevelt and Will Taft titled the Bully Pulpit by the noted historic biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I am looking forward to getting into that history.  

Change of Status of Granddaughter
If I am allowed on comment about our family, we were all particularly pleased to learn that Caroline Leonard has been promoted from the junior varsity to the girls’ varsity basketball at Algonquin Regional High School.  This means a little later start for her basketball games, but it has not stopped our attendance at Northboro and surrounding Middlesex County locations.  She will still play from time to time with both teams to continue her rapid development.

For many in this region, sports and politics are of utmost importance.  In January, both the Celtics and the Bruins were on the road and were not too successful.   The Bruins won the final game of a three game west coast trip to semi-salvage the trip. The Celtics have lost eight games in a row during the present trip.  The Patriots finished the season on a high note with two consecutive wins in less than great weather and as a result received an opening round playoff bye and faced a second round playoff games against the Colts on another stormy day that they won.  The playoffs for the Pats, will come down to another Brady-Manning SHOWDOWN in Denver for the AFC Championship.   The NFC has an equally attractive game between San Francisco and Seattle.  Since this edition of this Blog will be printed before the results of those games have been decided, we will leave those results and the Super Bowl results for the next issue of the Essex Happenings BLOG.

COPAA to seek non-profit designation
COPAA has focused for a number of years as a resource for individuals who have been disadvantaged by amputations and disabilities.  It recently has completed a reorganization and has reaffirmed its mission to reach out to an even greater degree to amputees in the Northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire region.   The goal of the organization will be to make that population aware of the numerous resources available to them through this coalition
A perfect example of the services offered by COPAA to its handicapped members is noted in recent membership minutes - as noted:

COPAA has a ski trip coming up for organization members  and prospective members  on March 8 if anyone is interested. It looks like we may be going to Pico Mountain  this year, in Killington, Vermont. We will once more be renting a van to go up together, and we will be partnering with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital again. If you haven't already made us aware of your interest and you would like to try getting outdoors for the day and going skiing in one of the many activities that will be available, please get in touch with COPAA soon. You don't have to be an experienced skier to go with us. Beginners can use a sled to go down the mountain while tethered to an experienced instructor, or you can try skiing on a monoski (a sled that you sit on and steer with your body weight assisted by outriggers). If you are curious or want to try something different from couch surfing, come on out and join the fun! Contact us.

I am particularly pleased to have been asked to serve as the Treasurer and Clerk of the organization.   One of the first tasks of COPAA is to gain a not for profit designation that will allow contributions to the organization to be tax deductible gifts.  One of the avenues we are examining is a relationship with Essex County Community Foundation.  If any of the regional corporate and personal supporters that have offered financial support to other charitable endeavors that I have supported wish to participate, I encourage them to contact me at 978 774 5351 to learn more about the organizational mission of COPAA and how the proceeds from charitable giving will be used in the future.  COPAA is a most valuable amputee networking and supportive group and any financial or other contributions offered are most appreciated.

Danvers Community Council Awarded State Grant

Congratulations to State Senator Joan Lovely for the $20,000 grant that she was able to obtain for the Danvers Food Pantry.  The funds will be used to support the work of the Town as they help to provide food and other goods to 180 homeless families that are presently housed in motels in Danvers.  The grant is much appreciated, but is not a permanent solution to assist the over 2,000 homeless families currently supported by the State.  It is clear that this issue requires a permanent solution as housing for the homeless requires a long-term solution.

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