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Essex Happenings: Nov. 9, 2012

Read about the latest happenings of the Essex National Heritage Commission and their annual fall meeting this week.

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS

Hurricane Sandy

In the very last days of October, we all experienced a very difficult time with a storm that in many cases ravaged many of the northern Atlantic coastal states. The potential of the storm was heralded in all kinds of media resources and like a lot of the previous “Storms of the Century” that failed to live up to expectations; in reality, Hurricane Sandy unfortunately performed as advertised. The images we have seen of the area where the storm made landfall were devastating. The Jersey Shore took a direct hit and the floods, fires and damages to national landmarks like the boardwalk in Atlantic City, built in 1890, may never be replaced. In addition to the boardwalk, a replica three mast sailing ship, the HMS Bounty, similar to the National Park Service’s tall ship Friendship in Salem, was lost along with her captain. Last summer the HMS bounty visited the historic port of Newburyport.

The five boroughs of New York and many of the New Jersey shore bedroom communities were devastated. It will be some time until “the city that never sleeps” recovers. It is now coping with no power, a flooded subway system and limited travel capabilities. It will take some time for New York and the Connecticut and New Jersey shore communities to recover from this “once in lifetime” hit by Mother Nature.

The southern New England coast and many communities along our treasured coastline from Gloucester and Plum Island to Cape Cod were hit hard. The damages would have been much more severe if the eye of the storm had moved just a couple of hundred miles further north and hit the wonderful resources in this state in an even more critical manner. We truly feel bad for our neighbors to the south and will offer what help we can provide, but are most grateful that the area just north and south of Boston were spared from an even more devastating loss of resources. 

I expect that the remarks offered here might be better served in my usual section of my personal observations, but the implications of what might have happened has caused me to offer my observations on this subject right at the front of this presentation.

ESSEX HERITAGE PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES

Corporate Memberships

We are very pleased to announce that the Salem Rotary Club, with its long record of generous support to organizations in their home community and throughout this region, has agreed to become a Corporate Member of Essex Heritage. We thank them for their generous support for our mission. Salem Rotary provides exemplary assistance to so many organizations in this region.

Essex Heritage Annual Fall Meeting

Essex Heritage held its Annual Fall Meeting last Thursday, Nov. 8 at the historic Smith Barn in Peabody. The barn is part of the old Felton Farm which is operated by the Peabody Historic Society. The meeting was originally scheduled to be held on Oct. 30, 2012, but had to be rescheduled due to the unwelcome arrival of Hurricane Sandy. We are glad that we delayed this event as a fallen tree on the way to the Smith Barn would have made access difficult.

Despite the Nor’easter storm that blew in on Wednesday and the unexpected accumulation of a few inches of snow, the meeting was attended by more than 100 Essex Heritage Trustees, commissioners and friends. New Essex Heritage Commissioners were voted onto the commission. They join a broad, representative group of community and civic leaders that are the voice of the residents and businesses of this region. A complete list of the new Commissioners will be presented in a future posting.

There was a moment of silence in recognition of the recent passing of a significant contributor to the life of the region - Glenn Mairo. Glenn was a resident of Boxford but made his impact mainly in Danvers as the founder and director of the Essex Harmony, an acapella vocal ensemble from Danvers that performs music of the "singing school" period of late 18th and early 19th century New England. Glen also held the title of Educator of the Danvers Historical Society as well as serving on their Board of Trustees. A true lover of music, history and education, Glenn committed himself to teaching hundreds of Danvers school kids a love of knowledge and history. The audience was asked to mark the passing of such a dedicated individual who has made such a difference in this area. Glenn Mairo – he is greatly missed.

At the meeting, an Essex Heritage Special Recognition Award was presented to Lindsay Diehl, formerly of the Wenham Museum. After six years as the Executive Director and many more years of experience at the museum from visiting as a child to serving as Marketing Director as well as Interim Director, Ms. Diehl announced her retirement earlier this year. Ms. Diehl led the Wenham Museum through many improvements during her tenure as Executive Director. In 2006, flood damage from the Mother’s Day storm could have been devastating but Diehl was able to navigate with her team through the economic recession. During her term the museum saw increases in visitation, programming, membership and regional awareness as well as improvements in the care of collections and financial stability. Lindsay Diehl is an outstanding leader and we were extremely pleased to present this Special Recognition Award for her efforts.

Each year the Essex National Heritage Commission presents its Pioneers in Partnership awards to individuals and organizations who exemplify the Commission’s spirit of collaboration. The award recognizes those who build partnerships and celebrate the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County. At this fall meeting, Essex Heritage presented five awards to the following:

Bread and Roses Centennial Committee

Much like the famous 1912 Bread & Roses strike itself, the passionate work of the Bread & Roses Centennial Committee has brought international attention to the City of Lawrence, Mass. To suitably honor the textile workers’ strike that became one of the most significant flashpoints in labor history, a partnership of four organizations: the Lawrence History Center, Lawrence Heritage State Park, Bread & Roses Heritage Committee and University of Massachusetts at Lowell joined together to lead the centennial planning effort.

Together they organized an ambitious mix of commemorative activities to bring attention to their city. The committee’s efforts inspired a host of additional cultural activities related to the centennial. In sum, this partnership’s collaboration, dedication and energy created a great deal momentum in the city by boosting academic research, tourism and community pride.

This committee and its work was nominated for this prestigious award by Heather McCann of Groundwork Lawrence and Chairman Robert Forrant of UMass Lowell and the Bread & Roses Centennial Committee were provided one of the the important Essex Heritage Pioneer in Partnership Awards.

Captain Michael Rutstein

Captain Rutstein is the owner and operator of Schooner Fame and he has also developed a program with the National Park Service to offer curriculum based sailing experiences to Salem youth. The program is called “Salem Sets Sail: Ships, Sailors and the Sea,” and it combines dockside programming along with a chance to climb aboard The Friendship of Salem as well as Schooner Fame to gain hands-on sailing experience. Over 600 local schoolchildren have been able to sail in Salem Harbor as part of this program.

Captain Rutstein also works with local teachers and has developed professional workshops and training for National Park Service staff and volunteers. He and the crew of the Fame are providing the children of Salem with a wonderful opportunity to dive into the historic and natural world and become the next generation of our region’s heritage stewards. Captain Mike Rutstein was nominated for the award by Maryann Zujewski of the National Park Service and we were pleased to present the award.

Danvers Rail Trail Advisory Committee

This past June, following years of public debate, some of it acrimonious, the town of Danvers celebrated the opening of the Danvers Rail Trail. The day not only marked the completion of a 4.3 mile trail linking Danvers to Wenham, Topsfield and Peabody but the coming together of many partners around the idea of creating a better community.

The Pioneer in Partnership Award recognized the Danvers Rail Trail Advisory Committee’s leadership and commitment to developing a popular recreational amenity that has instantly improved the quality of life in Danvers and the greater region. Their accomplishments include creating a 60-page trail development plan, communicating with abutters, being the first in Massachusetts to partner with the Iron Horse Preservation Society to build the trail in exchange for the salvage rails and installing safety mile markers and interpretive signage. Through it all, the committee has honored the historic connection between the railroad and its role in the development of Danvers. The committee was nominated by Kate Day from the Town of Danvers. Chairman Charles Lincicum and the Danvers Rail Trail Advisory Committee were presented a 2012 Pioneer in Partnership Award.

Newburyport Powder House Committee

For the last nine years, Tom Kolterjahn and Karen Holt have led the Newburyport Powder House Restoration Project Committee, devoting countless hours of time and personal commitment. Without their combined passion and perseverance, there is no doubt that this project would not have been realized. When we look at the 1822 Powder House on Godfrey Hill, we should be reminded not only of Newburyport's military history, but also of Tom and Karen's vision to preserve that history for our community for years to come.

Following conveyance of a 99-year lease from the National Guard and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the City of Newburyport, the committee was able to enlist help, much of it donated, from some of the region's most respected historic building specialists and craftsmen. The scholarly restoration was informed by extensive archival research, archaeological investigations, and even laser imagery. Project funding came from numerous public and private sources including Essex Heritage, the Newburyport Community Preservation Act, the Mayor Gayden Morrill Charitable Foundation and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

With much acclaim, the Powder House was re-dedicated this Sept. 23 as the Powder House Park and Learning Center, and now serves the community as an educational and as a tourist resource for all ages. Karen and Tom were nominated for the award by state Rep. Michael A. Costello and accepted the award with gratitude and thanks to all else who helped mark the effort.

The House of Seven Gables

The Gables is much more than this a famous National Historic Landmark. The founder of the Gables Settlement Association, Caroline Emmerton, had a vision that was focused first and foremost on providing social services to immigrant families.  Since 1910, the Gables has concentrated on aiding the local under-served population of Salem, and Anita Blackaby, the current Executive Director, has continued this mission.

Last spring, Essex Heritage teamed up with the Gables to apply for a National Park Foundation grant to look at ways to engage Salem’s Latino youth in the history and heritage resources in their neighborhood. Places like the Salem Maritime Site, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Gables - which have a shared history with the Caribbean stretching back more than 200 years.

The 15 boys and girls who participated last summer learned much and became much more familiar with this area – and in turn, we learned a lot from them too – about their history and their experience as immigrants to this region. The program is continuing this fall – after school at the Bowditch Elementary and Middle School. The Gables has been a wonderful partner in this venture and we together have had great success. Anita Blackaby attended the meeting to accept the Essex Heritage award.

Upcoming Essex Heritage Featured Partner Event on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.

The House of the Seven Gables Presents: 
Strong Women at the Gables: An Orchestra at Her Fingertips
, 115 Derby St., SalemPianist Jacquelyn Schwab will perform vintage 19th century American parlor music, including Stephen Foster and Civil War songs, hymns, spirituals and ballroom dances. Schwab is best known for her performances on Ken Burns’ Grammy award-winning Civil War documentary, as well as the Emmy award-winning Baseball and Mark Twain documentaries on public television. A folk and classical improvisational pianist, she has a unique style that defies easy categorization.
 Advanced reservations required. Essex Heritage and Seven Gables Members $10; Non-Members $15. To reserve, please contact 
(978) 744-0991 and let them know you are an Essex Heritage member.

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS 

Richard Yagjian:  Rich, the President of the Essex National Heritage Commission and the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Hunts Photo and Video located in Melrose, was recently tapped by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to become the Chairman of the Board of the North Shore Community College of Danvers and Lynn. Richard Yagjian of Peabody has assumed the Chairmanship of the College’s Board of Directors that he has served for the past three years's as member. Previously, Yagjian had served as President of the Board of the College’s Foundation that acts as a fundraising organization. I am proud to have also served for many years in this effort for the college and recognize the work he accomplished for the College. I have also had the good fortune to see the commitment offered to Essex Heritage by Rich as he presented the idea of the Essex Heritage Photo Safari’s and turned it into an active, well attended Commission Program. Rich has played an important role in helping to bring the important community of Peabody into an active partnership with Essex Heritage.

REGIONAL NEWS

Town of Essex Approves Section of Community as Cultural District

The town of Essex has designated a section of the downtown on Route 133 adjacent to the Essex River as one of the states four new cultural districts due to the concentration of facilities, activities and assets in the region. One of the purposes of the district is to expand tourism and expand cultural enterprises, encourage business growth, preserve and reuse historic properties, and enhance property values and foster cultural development.

Annual Festival of Trees Scheduled in Methuen

Each year for the past two decades an energetic committee in Methuen has organized and implemented the Festival of Trees to help the preservation efforts in this community.  On Nov. 17, 2012 from 6-10 p.m. at Valley Office Park, the event will “kick off” with the “Taste of the Festival “with famous chef Paul Wahlberg. The event will also provide participants with a preview of some 225 Christmas trees for the Festival. Tickets for the “Taste Event” are $50 each and can be purchased by calling 603-893-2288 or by visiting www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com.

COMMUNITY HEALTH AND ELDER AFFAIRS

At this time, I have taken the liberty of reprinting the October report to the Board of Directors of North Shore Elder Services that serves five North Shore Communities including Salem, Peabody, Danvers, Middleton, and Marblehead. This report is provided to bring pertinent information to residents of this region.

1. Operating Results. For the first two months of fiscal 2013, we are reporting a deficit of $147,200 on revenue of $1,992,300. We do expect to operate throughout the year to end up with breakeven results. We do expect to incur monthly deficits during the first three months of the fiscal year due to a diminishment of revenue from federal sources as the federal fiscal year comes to a close.

2. North Shore Elder Services Annual Meeting: The Annual Public Meeting of North Shore Elder Services was held on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel (formerly Coco Key) in Danvers. State Rep. Steven M. Walsh, House Chair, Joint Committee on Health Care Finance, was the keynote speaker. His topic was the recently enacted Health Care Reform Statute and what we can expect on the North Shore.

3. Election of NSES Directors and Officers: At the Annual Meeting the following were elected to the Board of Directors:

  • Robert L. Holloway, Jr., At Large (Re-elected for a second three-year term)
  • Loretta Tenaglia, At Large (Re-elected for a second three-year term)
  • Robert A. Wilson, Director from Danvers (Elected to a three term; he had been serving as an At Large Director)
  • Kathryn Burns, At Large (Elected for a three-year term)
  • Dr. Stella Pierce, At Large (Re-elected for a second three-year term)
  • Capt. Joseph Berardino, At Large (Re-elected for a second three-year term)

The following were elected as Officers:

  • Chair: Dr. Joan C. Shea-Desmond
  • Vice Chair: Katherine (Kay) Walsh
  • Treasurer: Robert A. Wilson
  • Clerk: Thomas M. Leonard

The following amendment was made to the By-Laws: The position titles “President” and “Vice President” were changed to “Chair” and “Vice Chair.”

4. The fourth Annual “We Give Thanks” appreciation event is occurring on Thursday, Nov. 15 at Spinelli’s Function Facility, Route 1 Southbound in Lynnfield from 6-9 p.m. The following will be recognized:

  • ADVOCACY: Mr. Jack King, Esquire - Danvers
  • BUSINESS: Sidekim Foods - Lynn
  • COLLABORATION: Planning and Development Department, Greater Lynn Senior Service, Valerie Parker Callahan, Director
  • COMMUNITY SERVICE: Cranney Home Services - Danvers
  • FAMILY CAREGIVER:  Mrs. Marge Leonard - Danvers
  • INNOVATION: Right at Home - Virtual Dementia Tour - Salem
  • LEADERSHIP: Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll
  • POSITIVE AGING ROLE MODEL: Mrs. Marguerite Condon - Beverly
  • PUBLIC POLICY: State Senator Bruce Tarr
  • VOLUNTEERISM: Mrs. Loretta Tenaglia - Peabody
  • LYNAH-CARTER STAFF AWARD: Mrs. Barbara Byrne

Tickets as well as sponsorship opportunities for this dinner event are available at http://wegivethanks2012.eventbrite.com/# or by contacting Rhonda Gauthier at 978-624-2220 or rgauthier@nselder.org.

North Shore Elder Services has announced plans to hold two events in 2013 at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly:

  • Wicked Funny Comedy Tour, featuring a cadre of New England’s funniest comedians and starring Tom Cotter, seen this past summer on national television’s America's Got Talent. Saturday evening, April 27, 2013.
  • Barbra and Frank, The Concert that Never Was, a sensational tribute to Sinatra and Streisand as seen in Las Vegas starring “two of the most impressive celebrity impersonators in the business” and featuring a six piece concert band. Saturday evening, Oct. 12, 2013.

Ticket and sponsorship information will be available in December.

Protecting the Rights of Massachusetts Voters with Disabilities 

National elections occurred this week and polling stations around Massachusetts welcomed millions of voters. Voting is one of the most fundamental rights granted to American citizens, but as many as 3 million Americans with disabilities are "sidelined" on Election Day. The good news is that federal and state law provide important protections for disabled voters, and Massachusetts voters with disabilities and their advocates need to be aware of community resources that are available to protect the exercise of this fundamental right. Make sure to know your rights.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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