GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 16, 2013

Talk of the Times

Talk of the Times

By All Hands
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The Blizzard of 2013 not only snowed on Gloucester residents and frayed a few tempers last weekend, but — paired with the city’s sometimes tangled street names — created more than the usual problems for the Department of Public Works crews, their 18 snow removal vehicles, and the 60 or so private plowing contractors who were also called in to help with the city’s most massive snow cleanup in years.

In one instance last Sunday, a listen in to the city’s police and other emergency radio transmissions turned up the byplay between two plow drivers who seemed confused over which of two streets needed the more urgent attention‚ Marble Road or Marble Street, and which street’s residents had called for help.

The issue became even more confused when each of the drivers — one at one site and one at the other, each insisted he was in the right place to respond to the calls.

“C’mon guys,” the dispatcher said, “it sounds like we’re losing our Marbles.”

Both streets are in East Gloucester, and both go up — and down — hills a few blocks apart.

Fishing and agriculture

William “Mo” Cowan, who stepped into U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat on an interim basis when Kerry took over as Secretary of State last month, has not wasted any time taking up the cause of Gloucester’s and the state’s fishermen – even though he figures to only hold the post a few months until after the state’s June 26 special election for U.S. Senate.

Cowan, appointed to the interim post by Gov. Deval Patrick, was sitting in on his first hearing as a member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee — the first Massachusetts senator to sit on the Senate AG panel since 1879 — when he not only noted the too-often unheralded role played by Massachusetts farmers, but noted agriculture’s similarities with fisheries as well.

“Not only do we have roughly 8,000 farms (in Massachusetts), we also have over 80,000 fishermen, the farmers of the sea,” Cowan said. “These farmers and fishermen have a combined production of 7.2 billion dollars in annual sales.

“I recognize that some aspects of our fisheries are not in the jurisdiction of this committee, but fishermen from the Northeast who risk their lives to put food on our tables must be treated with the same respect as farmers across the nation,” he said. “Our fishermen are struggling too and are currently facing drastic stock reductions. Many fishermen, through no fault of their own, are in dire straits.

“I will continue to push for provisions in the Farm Bill that my predecessor, now Secretary John Kerry, advanced to ensure that fishermen are eligible for disaster assistance programs just like the other important farmers in this nation,” Cowan said. “As we look to reauthorize the Farm Bill this Congress, we must make sure farmers and fishermen have the tools they need to manage risk ...”

The Department of Commerce has declared the Northeast groundfishery, which includes Gloucester, an “economic disaster,” but the federal government has not allocated any money to address it. Stay tuned.

Honored veteran

The flag at the Veterans’ Center will fly this week in honor of Civil War veteran John S. Barrett. Born Feb. 18, 1840, he entered the U.S. Army on Sept. 30, 1861.

The private served with Company L 3rd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry.

Barrett was discharged June 15, 1862, and died May 6, 1865. He is buried in Washington Cemetery, Lot 34.

The flag was requested to fly in his honor by the Office of Veterans’ Services.

Anyone wishing to fly a flag in honor of a deceased veteran can call the Office of Veterans’ Services at 978-281-9740.