After 20 years at the helm of Mount Desert Island Hospital, President and CEO Art Blank announced last January that he would be retiring at the end of 2020. Over the years, Blank helped to establish Birch Bay Retirement Village, a Breast Health Center, transitioned the hospital to a critical access hospital (the third in the state) and incorporated nine community health centers, including the community’s first full-service behavioral health center and a nonprofit dental center.
ISLANDER FILE PHOTO
Remember when we could get that close to strangers and not worry about it? Donut eaters at the Fifth Annual Bar Harbor Winter Beer Fest in January didn’t seem to mind. But then again, we didn’t realize how close to a pandemic we were.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ATLANTIC BREWING COMPANY
THOSE WE LOST: Ken Paigen died on Feb. 15 at age 92. Paigen was a professor emeritus and former director of The Jackson Laboratory. Over his career, he published 148 scientific papers and received numerous awards for his work.
In February, Nicole Cote of Ellsworth became the national champion in grocery bagging. Cote, who works at the Bar Harbor Hannaford, had previously clinched a first-place win at the Maine Grocers’ Association bagging contest, which propelled her to the national stage. Cote won bragging rights as well as $10,000.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCIATION
On March 13, a Friday, our reporters went out into the community to capture a 24-hour period of activity in photos. Little did we know that this would be the last “normal” day we would see for a while. By the following Monday, schools, businesses and municipal services began to close. Managing Editor Faith DeAmbrose visited the Dog & Pony for a late-night photo and it would be the last weekend the restaurant would be open to in-person dining for roughly three months.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY FAITH DEAMBROSE
THOSE WE LOST: Bonita “Benni” McMullen died on March 25 at age 73. McMullen was remembered for her big heart and her creativity. She worked for the YWCA for 39 years and was the organization’s director from 1973 to 2012 where she was credited with helping countless women and children.
The first sure sign that there was a pandemic brewing was the fact that items on grocery store shelves began to disappear. For months, items such as toilet paper and cleaning products were in short supply.
In preparation of the transition to remote learning, members of the faculty at Conners Emerson School handed out bags to families of students in kindergarten through second grade in early April. At the time, it was believed to be a temporary two-week shift, but it lasted for the remainder of the year.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY
Concerned that visitors and seasonal residents were flocking to Mount Desert Island to escape highly-populated areas where COVID-19 was rampant, Tremont selectmen opted to post signs at the town lines.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH HINCKLEY
In the April 2 issue, we reported on Michelle Carter of Seal Cove who turned her ability to sew into a public service. Carter began making masks ‘day and night’ and then kept making them. In the weeks and months that followed, members of the community came together to help get masks into the hands of those in need.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERIE WEED
A peregrine falcon from Acadia National Park found love in Lewiston this year. Lizzie the falcon hatched in the park and fledged two years ago, making a nest at the Franco-American Heritage Center.
Kate Meyer, an English teacher at Mount Desert Island High School, was named Hancock County Teacher of the Year by the Maine Department of Education. One of 16 candidates, she did not win the statewide title, but Principal Matt Haney described her at the time as “an incredible teacher with a diverse skill set.”
High school graduation also looked a little different this year. With masks and the appropriate amount of social distance, students were able to hold a graduation ceremony even if it wasn’t the one everyone imagined. Here, Piper Charron, top, takes a selfie while standing up through the sunroof of a vehicle during the outdoor parking lot graduation ceremony at Mount Desert Island High School on June 7.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY
Local youth took center stage this spring as the Black Lives Matter movement resurged nationally. Organizers (from left holding banner) Sirohi Kumar, Charlie Parker and Alex Burnett, led a June march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Mount Desert Street in Bar Harbor. It was one of many peaceful demonstrations held in town over the course of many months. It also helped to spark debate throughout the community on the topics of social justice and anti-racism.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER BOOHER
THOSE WE LOST: In her home overlooking Long Pond, Dr. Beverly Paigen died on June 26 at the age of 81. Her husband, Ken Paigen, preceded her by five months. Paigen was a prolific scientist and a pioneer in the field of environmental health, providing crucial scientific expertise on the health effects of hazardous waste, especially in children. Her work with residents in the area of the Love Canal toxic waste dump site became a catalyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund cleanup program.
THOSE WE LOST: Tristram Colket died July 6 at the age of 82. Colket made consistent and significant contributions to the Bar Harbor Fire Department where he had served as a member since 1974. His philanthropy stretched far beyond the fire department and over the years helped to fund work at Friends of Acadia and MDI Hospital. Colket also donated his childhood summer home, La Rochelle, to the Maine Seacoast Mission in 2005.
In August, we caught up with Tom and Carroll Fernald who each year create a wall of colorful flowers in the village of Somesville. For decades, Tom’s mother had a succulent garden in a rock wall, but it was not something people could readily view. “It’s our gift to the community,” said Carroll.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY
THOSE WE LOST: Chris Fogg, former Bar Harbor Chamber director, died unexpectedly on Sept. 12. Fogg served as the executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce from 2006 to 2014. When it was announced that he was leaving the post, chamber leadership credited Fogg with a growth in chamber membership, creating a successful public relations program and fostering a more robust relationship with local government. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO
In October, Acadia National Park conducted an 18-day timed-entry reservation pilot to test a system that will go into effect next summer for the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road. The park tried the system in two places across the park but learned that one of the two was problematic and will focus on the Summit Road only in 2021.
ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINKCLEY
THOSE WE LOST: The tragic and accidental death of Tom Savage at the Route 102 property of his business Savage Forest Enterprise on Oct.12 shocked the community. Savage, a former MDIHS coach and sixth generation islander was 46 years old. A tree was later planted in Northeast Harbor in his memory.
THOSE WE LOST: Southwest Harbor Police Chief Alan Brown died while off duty on Oct. 15 at the age of 51. Brown, a resident of Ellsworth, had been Southwest Harbor’s Chief since 2015 and had worked for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department before that.
THOSE WE LOST: Known as ‘the map man,’ Raymond Strout died Nov. 6 at age 79. Strout owned Ahlblad’s Frame Shop in Bar Harbor, but was best known for his collection of maps and knowledge of local history.