FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Law enforcement officers from throughout Aroostook County gathered at the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Fort Fairfield on Friday afternoon to celebrate the official opening of the new 10 acre facility on the Limestone Road.
State Police troopers, members of the Maine Warden Service, the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and officers from various County police departments joined friends and family members of the Fort Fairfield agents at the brief ceremony.
The $6.5 million, 26,000 square-foot-facility was constructed by Dan Herbert Inc. Construction of New Hampshire. The new facility replaces an older, smaller building just across the street from the new complex. It was built to accommodate up to 50 agents and staff, and includes a helicopter landing site with lighting, a processing and holding facility, a mechanics bay and indoor parking for up to 18 service vehicles.
Those on hand listened to several speeches and got a chance to tour the bright, expansive facility. Agents also were on hand to show visitors equipment such as the department’s helicopter, ATVs and snowsleds.
Representatives from the state’s congressional delegation were on hand to offer congratulations and read prepared statements from U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.
“With border towns stretching along the edge of Aroostook County from St. Aurelie to Orient as well as more than 600 miles of border that Maine shares with Canada, each and every border patrol facility plays an instrumental role in safeguarding this great land,” Snowe said in her statement.
Snowe added that the station and the new space it provides agents and staff is “undeniably essential” to those who work to ensure the nation’s security.
Collins’ statement noted that the number of agents working on the northern border has dramatically increased since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. She said the new facility has “sufficient secure space to accommodate the processing of detainees, the maintenance and protection of vehicles, staffing requirements and equipment needs.”
A representative from Michaud’s office passed on the congressman’s sentiment that the nation needs to make sure its border stations are modernized and prepared for any challenges that agents face as they protect the nation.
Michaud’s statement said he was pleased to see the new station completed.
Chief Border Patrol Agent Alfredo Casillas attended the ceremony to represent the Houlton sector of the Border Patrol. He told the crowd of approximately 70 people that the mission of his agency has changed over the years, with significant focus now being placed on terrorism. At the same time, he added, agents also spend significant man hours protecting the U.S. from those who violate immigration laws, apprehending those intent on committing illegal acts in the U.S., and facilitating the flow of travel and trade.
Dennis Harmon, patrol agent in charge, said agents need “the appropriate mix of infrastructure, personnel, technology, partnerships and intelligence” to accomplish the department’s mission.
“This state-of-the-art facility will enable our agents to complete our mission more efficiently and effectively in securing our borders while keeping our communities safe,” he said.