Mercer is a small, rural town where people look out for each other and respond in a flash if someone needs help.

If a culvert washes out in a storm and no contractor is available, for instance, Gary Mosher, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen, knows he can reach out to five people who will show up within minutes.

“We’re a close-knit community,” he said.

That sense of community was evident Tuesday when about 30 people turned out to celebrate the reopening of Elm Street, part of which was washed out in a storm Dec. 18 and had to be rebuilt.

No one there was happier than Nick Lambert, whose family dairy farm is 1½ miles away in neighboring Norridgewock. The farmers used Elm Street daily to get to Mercer to plant and harvest about 200 acres of corn and 400 acres of hay annually.

“They take care of all the fields in Mercer,” Mosher said.


The road washout had landed a blow to the Lamberts and others, including Amish families who live and work farms on Elm Street. It is a major thoroughfare to get to Norridgewock, Skowhegan and other communities. Lambert said being able to use the road again will save him 20 minutes each time he travels to and from the fields with manure and equipment like a corn planter and manure spreader.

“Before, we had to go all around to the end of Frederick’s Corner Road, go up Route 2, hit the blinking light in town and come through town that way,” said Lambert, 28.

Tuesday was a big day for the Somerset County town, population 750. Warren Bros. Construction of Smithfield had just completed the $65,000 road project, which included installing two 6-foot-wide, 50-foot-long culverts under Elm Street, supported by granite blocks and rocks, through which flows Indian Stream.

It was a sunny, warm day as Lambert, Mosher and others stood amid the pine, ash and elm trees, chatting and celebrating the transformation.

Third Selectwoman Mary Burr was there and said Mosher gave it his all, conferring with contractors and checking on the road every day during the washout and construction. Town Clerk Nancy Gove was on hand, as was state Sen. Russell Black of Wilton, representatives from Warren Bros., and Mosher’s sister, Jodie Mosher, a Smithfield Planning Board member.

“I came here in support of my brother,” she said. “It’s good to see all these people here.”


Jodie Mosher recalled that one of the storms last year also washed out Pond Road in Mercer and a UPS driver used a resident’s boat to deliver packages to customers. That story made national news, she said.

When the Dec. 18 storm struck, Gary Mosher was out of town. He said it was a shock to come home and see a 60-foot-wide swathe of the road washed out and a hole that was 16 feet deep.

“It was terrible,” he recalled.

The town put the project out to bid and only three contractors showed up to look at the site. Warren Bros. was awarded the contract, and the town fronted the $65,000. Officials hope for a reimbursement of 90% of the cost from the federal and Maine emergency management agencies for that and other such projects in town.

Using sheep shears to cut a yellow caution ribbon draped across the road, Mosher thanked FEMA, MEMA, the contractor and many volunteers and others who saw the project to fruition. Then he announced that Lambert was going to drive his John Deere tractor over the fixed road.

“He has no brakes so get back,” Mosher said, to laughter. “It’s a typical Maine tractor.”


The giant rig rumbled up the road as everyone cheered, with Lambert’s 7½-month-old, blue-and-brown Australian cattle dog, Austin, barking from inside the cab. Then Lambert headed back to the farm on Sandy River Road.

Longtime resident Steve Perrault, 69, who retired last year after 46½ years working in construction, watched.

“It’s great to have it back — great,” Perrault said of the road.

Before the group dispersed, Mosher said a lot of communities were impacted by road washouts in last year’s storms. He reflected on the importance of a road to a small community — and the success that can be reaped through teamwork.

“This is a great little town, and people just love it,” he said. “Everybody helps everybody. This is a big deal for us, and we have many more projects to do.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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