TALK OF THE TIMES: Polar Plunge against polio next Saturday | News

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The Gloucester Rotary Club will hold its annual Polar Plunge next Saturday, April 2, at 11 a.m. at the Cape Ann Motor Inn on Long Beach, located at 33 Rockport Road in Gloucester. The event is part of Rotary International’s ongoing campaign to eradicate polio.

Dozens of Rotarians, Interact students (formerly known as Junior Rotarians), and friends of Rotary from throughout eastern Massachusetts are expected to plunge into the cold water off Cape Ann. Since 2010, thousands of individuals and businesses have supported this event, the club said, and almost $1 million has been raised for #EndPolioNow.

The eradication of Polio has been Rotary International’s signature cause since 1988. The organization has teamed up with partners including The Global Poverty Project, The Global Eradication Initiative, the World Health Organization, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

When Rotary International took on the battle against this disease, more than 350,000 people spanning 125 countries were impacted byolio each year. Today there are two countries left where polio has not been eradicated — Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2021, there were only five reported cases of wild polio virus, down from 140 in 2020. Rotary International has committed to raising $50 million in 2022, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to match each dollar raised with an additional $2 donation.

Anyone wishing to support the 2022 Gloucester Rotary Polar Plunge may donate to the #EndPolioNow campaign online at Information about participating in the Polar Plunge can also be found on the website.

More information about  Gloucester Rotary is available online at and To learn more about the history of polio and the status of #EndPolioNow, please visit

The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance.

Birthday guitar

Happy birthday to the 60th mayor of the nation’s oldest seaport, Greg Verga, who turned 54 on Friday, March 25.

The former School Committee member and city councilor has been on the job for three months. He was elected last November to the post formerly held by Sefatia Romeo Theken since January 2015. When asked about his plans to celebrate another trip around the sun, he said in an email: “We are planning a small party with my kids and grandkids. Just a quiet evening with family.”

One of the first things the guitar and bass player did when he settled into the mayor’s office at City Hall in January was to hang a bass guitar behind his desk.

“This past year has been pretty exciting with the campaign and then winning the election,” he said. “I did get another new guitar this year too which is a nice addition to my collection. It has replaced the bass in my office behind my desk.”

Goodbye to The General

Gloucester Police Chief Edward Conley took to Facebook earlier this month to thank now retired Officer Scott “Duff” Duffany for his 34 years of service to the city. Here is his tribute:

“A lifelong resident of Gloucester, Scott was perhaps one of the best known patrol officers in the Gloucester Police Department. This recognition was no doubt the direct result of his authentic, and somewhat unique, commitment to the residents and business owners in our community. I found his larger than life personality and old-school beat cop approach so uniquely effective that I ordered that all new recruits had to spend time riding with him during their field training. I fondly remember former Chief (John) McCarthy introducing me to Scott and shortly afterwards stating, ‘Every police department needs at least one Duff in the ranks.’ John then paused for a moment and stated, ‘Maybe not 10, but at least one.”


Conley added: “Officer Duffany was absolutely committed to fairness, treating all people with dignity and respect. It didn’t matter if you were suffering from addiction, homeless, or lived on Eastern Point, Scott approached everyone absolutely the same. Personally, I will miss his quick wit and will not forget how he wielded it to make me feel welcomed in a way only a cop could understand. To the consummate gentleman, we wish you all the best in your retirement.”

Duffany was also known to many as “The General” for his pro wrestling.  And his quote on the back of his police trading card, given out to local children: “Always remember if you break the law, you can’t bluff the Duff, I’m coming for you.”

Oscar predictions

Ahead of the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday night, Associated Press film writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle share their predictions for  best picture winner.

The Nominees: “Belfast”; “CODA”; “Don’t Look Up”; “Drive My Car”; “Dune”; “King Richard”; “Licorice Pizza”; “Nightmare Alley”; “The Power of the Dog”; “West Side Story.”

BAHR: At this point it really feels like the award will go to “The Power of the Dog.” It is paradoxically both a safe choice and a game changer in that it would be a first best picture win for Netflix after years of trying. Jane Campion’s last major shot at picture (and director) was with “The Piano,” but in 1994 that basically stood no chance against “Schindler’s List.” This time, it’s her film that has the leg up on the Spielberg. And yet there is a distant possibility that “CODA” could “Little Miss Sunshine”/”Green Book” its way in there as the feel-good alternative (which was what “Belfast” was supposed to be).

COYLE: I’m calling the “CODA” upset. The smart money is on Campion’s film. But the win for “CODA” at the Screen Actors Guild — where “The Power of the Dog” failed to get nominated for best ensemble — suggests strong passion for the film, and maybe a crowd-pleasing advantage on the academy’s preferential ballot. Either film, though, will symbolize the ascent of streaming in Hollywood. It would hand a streaming service — Netflix or Apple — Hollywood’s most prestigious honor for the first time. Maybe that’s a big deal, maybe it’s belated confirmation of what everyone has known for some time.

Besides best picture, “CODA” is also nominated for best adapted screenplay, written by its director, Cape Ann resident Sian Heder, and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur. The movie was filmed on Cape Ann, mostly in Gloucester.

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