By Marjorie Nesin
---- — GLOUCESTER — The signatures of hundreds of Cape Ann community members will be spinning in the wind by the start of next year, thanks to residents who gathered to sign a wind turbine blade at an outdoor ceremony Friday.
The blade belongs to one of three turbines that will soon decorate the city’s sky by the start of the calendar year.
This turbine, to stand at Gloucester Engineering, is designed to power the city’s municipal buildings. The other two turbines, another at the Gloucester Engineering site and the third already erected on Varian property — all within Blackburn Industrial Park — will primarily generate power for those two companies.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk estimates the city will save $450,000 per year in energy costs, all stemming from wind, an energy source long utilized by Gloucesterites.
“For 300 of the 400 years we have been fishing from this port, it was the power of the wind that carried our fishermen out to do their work and brought them home again,” Kirk said during Friday’s ceremony. “And it was the power of the wind that caused 10,000 of our fishermen to go down to the sea in ships — never to return home again. Today, we seize the power of the wind in a different way.”
State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said Gloucester’s turbines enable the city to act as a leader in a statewide effort to create a platform for cleaner energy alternatives, and he commended residents’ support of the project.
“The real challenge in alternative energy ... is getting folks to say ‘we want it here and now and we’ll do whatever it takes to get it done’,” Tarr said. “And that’s what’s happened here.”
Among others who drew thanks at the ceremony were three O’Maley Middle School students — Alex LaBelle, Sofia Lane, and Cassandra McComiskey — all of whom volunteered to help install a small vertical axis turbine on top of O’Maley Middle School.
Candace Wheeler of the city’s Clean Energy Commission said the school’s project had been inspirational to city leaders.
“Your project peaked our interest in wind projects and showed us how to get started,” Wheeler said, thanking the students and school administration at the ceremony.
The three students, along with about 200 Gloucester community members scrawled signatures on the blade in an array of Sharpie colors. People clad in scarfs, mittens and hats, ranging in age from toddlers to elders, shuffled toward the blade, handing off the permanent markers. And soon swirling signatures, many punctuated by hearts, decorated the length of the gray blade.
Heidi Wakeman, Rockport Middle School’s seventh grade Spanish teacher, said she scooted out the door after her last class, knowing she would arrive a little late for the ceremony, but was thrilled to attend nonetheless.
“I still wanted to come here and put my name on a piece of history,” Wakeman said. “I’m excited to be part of history and I’m proud of our community and community leaders.”
Gloucesterite Janice Lloyd stepped back to take a photo of the names she had listed within a large heart on the blade. Lloyd had drawn a heart and inside the heart, had written out a family tree. At the top of the tree, were the names of her mother, father and brother — all of whom have passed away.
“We’ll all spin together now,” Lloyd said. “We’ll all be back together up there.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.