By All Hands
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — If you thought your friends and family — never mind the drugstore or bill collector — didn’t care enough to call and leave a message in a long, long time, that’s not necessarily so.
For the past four to six weeks, most Verizon customers in Gloucester with the provider’s electronic voice mail service might have had messages, but were unaware because their phones did not send the usual “interrupted dial tone” signal to indicate there was a message to be retrieved.
A software problem in the city’s central phone office caused the downage, said Verizon spokesman Philip Santoro.
Customers who were out of service can contact Verizon to receive a credit on their account, he said.
The problem was finally corrected Wednesday, Santoro said.
Senate salutes Swekla
The late Alphonse “Al” Swekla – the former Gloucester teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, city councilor and School Committee member, never served in the State House. But he earned a special salute from the state Senate on Thursday.
At the request of state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, the Senate adjourned its morming session at 12:36 p.m. in memory of Swekla, hailing him as a World War II veteran and Gloucester superintendent of schools in Gloucester. The adjournment essentially stood for the weekend, given that the Senate is next due to convene on Monday at 11 a.m. in an informal session, according to the State House News Service.
Both the House and Senate sometimes cast their adjournments to honor state or local public servants — and Swekla certainly fit that description, covering more than some 65 years of various types of community service.
Swekla passed away Jan. 30 at the age of 86.
Firefighters’ new heights
Four Gloucester firefighters completed a challenge to climb 41 stories of stairs in a Boston building, an 82-flight ascent to raise more than $2,000 in funds for the American Lung Association in an event called the Fight for Air Climb.
Team Captain Chad Mota finished the climb in 9 minutes and 35 seconds, followed by Kevin Gargan with a time of 11 minutes and 8 seconds. Nick Ouellette finished with a time of 15 minutes and 6 seconds while Bob Gerety anchored the Gloucester team with a time of 15 minutes and 25 seconds.
The firefighters extended their sincerest thanks and gratitude to McNeilly EMS Educators, Retired Fire Captain Allyn Smith, Mrs. Jeanne Smith, Frank and Deb Sacco, the Gloucester Firefighters Ladies Auxiliary, The Gloucester Police Relief Association, John “Polo” and Katherine Cooney, Gilbert and Jane Ouellette, and to the Gloucester Daily Times.
“Without your generous contributions and continuous support we wouldn’t have been able to raise $2,260 for The American Lung Association,” the firefighters said in a joint statement. “Again, we express our thanks and appreciation for the support of the community,” reminding people, in the words of the late firefighter Mike Smith, to “Hug a Firefighter....Save A Life.”
The Gloucester firefighters had dedicated their climb to Smith, who died after a battle with lung cancer last July.
The flag at the Veterans’ Center will fly this week in honor of Civil War veteran James Alfred Breen. Born in 1845, he entered the U.S. Army on Aug. 16, 1862.
The private served with Company B 50th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Breen was discharged Sept. 3, 1865, and died Feb. 25, 1925. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Lot 31, Section 12.
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.