Philanthropist’s Donation Gives MSAD1 New Wheels

After spending the past few months being rebranded and converted into a school bus, the vehicle formerly known as the PI Loop bus is now back on the road as a part of the MSAD1 fleet.


Marion Young

The newly wrapped bus, adorned in Wildcat logos, sits parked in Houlton.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

If you’re driving around Presque Isle in the coming weeks, you may notice a familiar face back on the road under new colors. The PI Loop bus, which has been inactive since the service officially ceased operation last March, has made its return to the Star City’s streets after being rebranded in the school colors and converted to meet school bus regulations.

The vehicle will be used by the high school and middle school athletic teams for travel to and from away contests as well as in circulation with all other SAD1 buses, says Presque Isle AD Mark White, but at this point in time, it’s uncertain in what situations it can be made available. “It’ll certainly be in a rotation,” he said. “But it’s unclear to me at this time, given that I have yet to be on the bus, how many students we’ll be able to fit on there. Especially with the COVID restrictions in place, it may be hard to fit a team in there.”

The change in ownership of the bus came as a collaborative donation this past summer from the locally based Going Places Network and Philanthropist Mary Smith, who provided the initial $270,000 contribution for the birth of the loop service in the fall of 2019 as well as the funds for the exterior makeover, the decals for which were created by Cushman and Sons in Presque Isle. 

A former County resident still with family ties to the region, Smith hopes the donation, along with the many others she has given the community over the years, will serve to revitalize the bustling town she knew as a child. “I think every person that values their community, regardless of what community you live in, should support it in whatever way they can to keep it alive and thriving,” said Smith.

“Presque Isle is losing population, and it’s a beautiful area,” she continued. “So the question is why is that happening, and how do you turn that trend around. I think you do it with education and a vibrant economy.”

Smith believes that the gift will serve to aid the district in a variety of ways, something that, much like the rest of her philanthropic work, could pay dividends for The County down the line. “I think it can be of good use to the school and hopefully the community,” she said. “Certainly for sports activities but also in expanding cultural and travel opportunities for citizens of Presque Isle.”

The vehicle hit the road for the first time this past week with trips to Caribou and Houlton for middle school basketball action. It will likely begin to be used at the high school level once spring sports competitions get underway in late April.