SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 2, 2013

Heard Around Town: Don't forget to vote for this guy, too

BY PAUL LEIGHTON and ALAN BURKE, STAFF WRITERS
The Salem News

---- — BEVERLY — If you’re not all worn out voting for Angie Miller, how about casting a few votes for another Beverly contestant?

Brackenbury Lane resident Jonathan Alcorn might not be on “American Idol,” but he’s doing pretty well in his own contest, the Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge.

The online contest is designed to pick the next NASCAR “driving phenom.” Alcorn submitted an online video and was recently ranked 11th out of about 150 in the voting.

He needs your votes because the top 10 finishers get invited to a three-day driving school, where the likes of famous drivers Michael Waltrip and Danica Patrick will help train and judge them. The winner will get a chance to earn his or her NASCAR license and qualify to drive in a sanctioned race.

“That’s my ultimate goal. That’s my astronaut,” said the enthusiastic Alcorn. “On Halloween four years ago, I went as a race car driver. I’ve always been into racing.”

The 26-year-old Alcorn is married with two children. He has worked as a welder and a mechanic and is now enrolled in a class to earn his truck-driving license.

Alcorn went to school to learn how to work on race cars, but he’s never actually been behind the wheel in a race.

“I looked for any way into the racing industry,” he said. “This is that opportunity.”

Alcorn has been putting up fliers around town asking people to vote for him. You can vote by going to peakstockcardream.com.

Beverly’s finest

The massive security presence in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings included a large contingent of Beverly police officers and firefighters.

No fewer than 16 people from Beverly — eight police officers and eight firefighters — volunteered their time in Boston and Watertown.

Police Sgt. Richard Russo worked out of the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council’s command center at the Watertown Mall. Russo is the logistics chief for NEMLEC’s incident management team.

Officers Erik Abrahamson, Frank Wojick, Jason Lantych and Edward Hathon all worked security at the police staging area at the Watertown Mall, while officer David Costa did the same at another staging area across from the Boston Police Department on Tremont Street.

Sgt. Russ Rollins and officers Dan Brown and John McCarthy helped out with security and traffic control during the memorial services for the victims attended by President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, Beverly Deputy fire Chief Peter O’Connor; Lts. Eric Fowler, Ryan Laracy, Donald Philpot and Matt Kowalski; and firefighters Mike Halloran, Jon Palm and Scott Perkins worked security in the area of Boylston and Exeter streets.

Charming Cardinal

Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s homily during the recent investiture of new Catholic priest Jurgen Liias charmed with wry humor the nearly 400 people attending St. Mary Star of the Sea Church.

Liias, formerly an Episcopal priest, became a Catholic priest, notwithstanding his marriage, under a special program established by Pope Benedict. The cardinal spoke of the need for Christian unity, and, amid the solemn ritual, he touched on the humanity of even the most exalted members of the Christian family.

Noting that Jesus’ apostles were largely fishermen, he joked, “I often say they were lousy fishermen. They never seemed to catch anything unless Jesus was around.”

Likewise, he observed St. Peter’s all-too-human weakness in denying Jesus three times prior to his crucifixion. “I like to think of him as a combination of Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden.” When trouble comes, Peter “runs for his life.” And, “He denies the Lord not to a Roman soldier with a spear but to a waitress with an attitude.”

Peter’s weaknesses are, however, in the end endearing. O’Malley stressed his love for Jesus overcoming such lapses, concluding, “Peter put all his hope in Jesus’ promises.”

Bill & Ted

Surprise over Mayor Bill Scanlon’s decision not to run for re-election wasn’t confined to the boundaries of Beverly.

“It surprised me,” said Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who especially values his veteran colleague’s experience. “Mayor Scanlon is someone I go to for advice. He is very energetic and very passionate about his job.”

In his first term, Bettencourt had met with Scanlon recently and had the impression he was as enthusiastic as ever.

“I thought he was going to run again. He loves the job. The campaigning, I know he doesn’t like that.”

The Bard of Beverly

That was quite a resolution read by Scott Houseman at a recent City Council meeting.

The resolution recognized the great work by the high school music department in presenting “West Side Story,” which sold out all four performances and drew standing ovations.

It also noted that 199 people, including students and volunteers from the community, took part in the production, and referred to Carolyn Pilanen-Kudlik and Adam Costa as the “fearless leaders of this merry band of collaborators.”

“Creative expression in the performing arts,” the proclamation stated, “defines life at Beverly High School no less than the performances of Shakespeare defined Elizabethean England.”

The new Donny Osmond

If Marie Osmond is a little bit country, does that mean Paul Guanci is a little bit rock ’n’ roll?

The City Council president revealed at a recent meeting that he’s a big fan of the singer, so much so that when Osmond appeared at North Shore Music Theatre a couple of years ago, he asked theater officials if he could meet “my idol.”

“My feet still haven’t hit the ground,” Guanci said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.