Thursday, December 12, 2013
A partial shutdown of the U.S. government will not affect security and management at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol stations with Canada in Somerset and Franklin counties, emergency management officials said today.
Operations at the Jackman Border Patrol Station at the Canadian border in northern Somerset County and at the Coburn Gore Port of Entry, near Rangeley in Franklin County, remain in place with no request from the federal government for state assistance, directors said.
"I haven't heard of any areas in Franklin County that it's going to affect," Franklin County Emergency Management Director Tim Hardy said. "Essential services like Border Patrol and Customs, I'm sure those will stay up and going. I haven't heard anything different here at this point."
Such was the case in Somerset County, where Emergency Management Director Mike Smith said offices were operating as usual.
"To my knowledge, Border Patrol and Customs are two of the departments that are up and running," Smith said. "It is my understanding that all essential services — meaning Border Patrol, Customs, all of those types of agencies — are still open."
The Washington Post reported today that federal workers such as Border Patrol officers have been told they are required to work during the shutdown, but their pay may be delayed.
Smith said in emails this past weekend with Border Patrol agents in Jackman there was no mention of those agencies curtailing any of their routine activities. He said if state officials are called upon to assist the federal government with any emergencies related to the border crossing, then he, the sheriff and state police are ready to respond.
Calls placed to the Border Patrol office in Jackman and to the public affairs officer in Houlton were directed to the federal Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C. A recorded message at the federal office said the agency remains open but with reduced staffing that was not taking telephone messages today.
The Rangeley Station area of responsibility is 81 miles of border territory between the U.S. and Canada. Most areas are remote, becaue the border area is heavily wooded and mountainous, according to the website.
The station opened originally in 1940. The primary duty was to provide coverage for drive-through offenders at the Coburn Gore Port of Entry. Agents also are responsible for the area left underpatrolled from the New Hampshire state line to the Coburn Gore Port of Entry.
In 2008 the Rangeley Station was re-designated as an official Border Patrol station and a new station was completed in the summer of 2009.
The Jackman Border Patrol Station area of responsibility is in the middle section of Maine's border. Jackman agents patrol 103 miles of international border dividing the U.S. and Canada. That terrain also is mountainous and heavily wooded.
Jackman agents moved into a new facility in November 2006.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367