, Gloucester, MA

March 20, 2010

Local trucker hailed as a 'highway hero'

By All Hands

A Gloucester trucker is among the finalists for the 27th annual Goodyear North America "Highway Hero" Award.

Stephen Page, who works for Pit Bull Trucking, was driving along Interstate 80 near Clearfield, Pa., when he spotted a fire in the woods alongside the roadway, according to the award organizers.

He and another driver stopped, then ran into the woods to find the burning wreckage of a double-unit rig that had gone nearly 1,500 feet off the highway.

Upon reaching the driver of the truck, Page first believed the driver was dead — but then realized he had lost consciousness. With the cab getting hotter by the second, Page and the other driver struggled to remove the victim.

Finally, with the help of two more truckers who had stopped, the injured driver was removed before the tractor and trailer were completely destroyed by fire.

Page stayed with the injured driver, talking with him as he drifted in and out of consciousness. ¬¬†With severe burns, the man was eventually flown to a hospital. And while the injured driver has a long road to recovery, he is alive — thanks to the lifesaving efforts of Page and his fellow rescuers.

Journalists who cover the trucking industry are now voting on the finalists, who will be featured March 25 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

One driver will be named the 2009 Goodyear North America Highway Hero at the Truck Writers of North America Annual Banquet and receive a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a plaque and a specially designed ring.

The other finalists will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and plaque.

JROTC on parade today at GHS

Gloucester High School's award-winning JROTC program will be playing a double role today — both hosting and competing in the JROTC's Region 1 Championships at the school's Benjamin A. Smith Field House.

The event, which actually began last night, hits high gear this morning with physical fitness testing at 7 a.m.

The competition then runs throughout the day until 4 p.m., with some 1,000 high school-age Junior ROTC cadets from as far away as Richmond, Va., competing in shooting, military drills and in academic testing as well.

Both regional and national Marine Corps JROTC directors will be in attendance, said Richard Muth, who heads the Gloucester High program.

Gloucester's JROTC drill team has a history of strong showings at various events, winning two championships in 2008 and placing second overall out of 56 teams.

That showing pushed Gloucester into the master's division, the highest division possible, for the 2009 competition. Yet — while the 2008-2009 was a rebuilding year for team because many on the championship squads graduated — the boys' team last year placed a solid eighth in personnel inspection out of 50 schools competing.

Adventures in water quality

Last August, Tom Mahin of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was working to restore, then ensure the safety of Gloucester's drinking water.

These days, Mahin, a DEP drinking water specialist, faces an even greater challenge. He's among those working feverishly working to provide safe drinking water for some 340 displaced families in earthquake-ravaged Haiti as part of a project coordinated by the Oxfam America international relief agency.

Mahin is working with families and the infrastructure system in the Port-au-Prince borough of Impasse Fouget, according to Oxfam. He is working as an advisor for a project that involves build a large platform to hold a 10-ton soft water tank that connects to five outdoor faucets through a flexible pipe. Through the process, the water is chlorinated for drinking safety.

Some seven months ago, Mahin had a far different task. He was one of the state DEP officials who worked with Gloucester Public Works and United Water — then the city's water treatment contract operator — to rebuild the quality of Gloucester's water after an August boil-water order.

The boil order remained in place for 21 days before finally being cleared again for public use.

Honored veteran

The flag at the Veterans' Center will fly this week in honor of Civil War veteran Orland B. Lane.

Born May 14, 1839, he entered the U.S. Navy on Dec. 19, 1861. The ordinary seaman served with the USS Ohio and the USS Chocura. He served during the "taking of Yorktown and all the way up to the White House Landing."

He was discharged Jan. 11, 1863, and died March 10, 1907. He is buried in Langsford Street Cemetery.

The flag was requested to fly in his honor by 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.