Mr. Mendes Deceased - before seeing Ernestina sailing again!!!!
- Dear Vinny, Marc, et. al.,
I am sad to bring you the news of the passing of Mr. Joseph Mendes, the last captain of the Schooner Ernestina from the Mendes family for which the schooner was named. As you know, Ernestina was his sister and his father gave her that name after recovering it from the fire in New York back in the 50's. Before he died, Mr. Mendes had asked me to write the story of the Ernestina and have any proceeds go to the ship to get her sailing again. My heart breaks to know that he never saw her sail another day since 2004.
I'd like to know how you and other members of the State House can help me and a large, committed group of constituents get some much needed funding to get and keep the Ernestina sailing, if not for all the school children and citizens of the world who visit her and learn from her each year... but for the legacy of CV's and the respect that it deserves as not only a gift of Cape Verde but a Historic, National Treasure. The details of a letter we are circulating to all our political leaders on what is being done and what is needed follows:
Honorable Senators and Representatives:
Repair funds for Schooner ErnestinaSchooner Ernestina ex. Effie M. Morrissey, Official Vessel of the Commonwealth, will be hauled at the shipyard in Fairhaven next week. A private donation of $80,000 matched by DCR with the same amount of FY 2006 Fix-It-First-Friends money will pay for keel repairs and some additional items. The ship has not been certified or maintained since the fall of 2004. Additional important work should be done. Until the Coast Guard and a ship's surveyor inspect the ship out of the water, there is no knowing how much more the Coast Guard will require. This yard period will extend into FY 2007 providing an ideal time to do work which will pay dividends in future reliability and prevention of downtime and loss of program revenue in coming years. Additional capital funds available as of July 1 will be critical to success in restoring sailing, education, and tourism operations of Schooner Ernestina ex. Effie M. Morrissey. Section 400 of S. 2500 provides $250,000 for repairs to the Schooner Ernestina. I urge you to include at least that amount of repair funds in the conference agreement or by prompt passage of an economic stabilization and stimulus package. Operating funds in FY 2007Schooner Ernestina programs, staff and crew were totally decimated by previous budget cuts and withholding of capital funds needed to meet the prior repair agreement with the Coast Guard and to keep the ship sailing. Average state operating funding for fiscal years 1999-2002 were more than $230,000 per year not including program grants. Because there is no ongoing operation, programming revenues which averaged nearly $400,000 per year during that period will not be regained immediately. Restarting operations will not generate substantial revenue until summer of 2007, that is mostly in FY 2008. Success in finding private and non-state funding and program partnerships will require more FY 2007 operating budget than a minimal $150,000 (Senate) or even $185,000 (higher of two House provisions). Restoring the average annual operating support of $230,000 is warranted. Please, consider funding part of Schooner Ernestina Commission operations through tourism, arts, cultural development (7007-0900) as was done by the House or through the Dept. of Education line item to avoid penalizing State Parks. DCR has posted the position of Executive Director of the Schooner Ernestina Commission. Evidence the Legislature will provide adequate support for getting the job done will greatly help recruiting a quality candidate. More than 1750 people have signed petitions urging adequate and consistent funding for Schooner Ernestina. These include many school children and other people from across Massachusetts who have experienced and know the value the ship creates through sailing, education, festivals and port visits, and community building activities. International supporters include people in Newfoundland and Cape Verde and the Cape Verdean worldwide community. Massachusetts has much to gain through the use of this historic ship and much to lose if it fails to preserve and exploit the ship’s value. Timing is critical to repair the ship and restart operations. I and others are available to answer questions or provide additional information. In view of the huge volume of issues and items with which you must deal in reconciling the budget bills, I will simply thank you for your consideration.
Barbara (Monteiro) Burgo, Anthropologist
and former ECHO Coordinator (Education for Cultural and Historical Organizations) - a Federally funded (No Child Left Behind Act) program which educated over 6,000 children and their guardians/families in 2004 about the importance of the Whaling Industry, Schooners, Navigation and the cultures served through Massachusetts/ Hawaii and Alaska