BAR HARBOR – Last week, hundreds of people from Mount Desert Island (and beyond) followed the travels of a lone truck driver who was bringing a 200,000-pound building to Mount Desert Island Hospital. The move garnered attention for all the wrong reasons, but the story had a happy ending.
Most people began to follow the saga of the building, which will eventually house a fixed-place MRI machine, when it became stuck at the head of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge last Wednesday. A traffic jam ensued. Drivers slowly and alternately used one lane to move northward and southward while the building was freed.
The truck, building and driver eventually made it out of that predicament and stayed the night at a weigh station on the Bucksport Road in Ellsworth. By the morning, the driver, Mike Saxton, was a local celebrity. Passersby at the weigh station posted photos to let others know where the truck was and when it got back on the road.
It was smooth sailing through Ellsworth (yes, even Bridge Hill) and Trenton, but the journey through the small villages of MDI proved to be more of a challenge. After removing some road signs and after a four-hour stall in Northeast Harbor to change a tire and wait for a crew from the local power company to assist, Saxton and the building made it to their destination, a day late, to much fanfare.
Saxton likely had no idea that he was the talk of the town for a 24-hour period, or that hundreds of people were tracking his movements. For the most part, people sympathized with what seemed to be a nearly impossible task and were rooting for him.
When Saxton finally reached the ball field at lower Main Street on Thursday, he was met by locals who cheered and celebrated his arrival. Hospital administration made sure that he, along with the crane operators who stayed late into the evening to secure the building to its foundation, had somewhere to spend the night.
In a few more weeks, the MRI unit will arrive and will be placed in the building. Ultimately, it will mean better care for those on the island, which is something to celebrate. But something also to celebrate is the amount of empathy and good will that members of the community showed to a stranger who likely had no idea what he had gotten himself into.
Way to go, MDI! You showed what it truly means to be a community.