City, SAD 1 put up reward money

17 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Recognizing that money talks, the Presque Isle City Council voted unanimously last Thursday evening to approve a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest related to recent bomb threats in the Star City.

In November, the Presque Isle Police Department responded to three bomb threats at Presque Isle High School, as well two threats – Dec. 16 and Dec. 19 – at the local Wal-Mart store. While all of the threats turned out to be pranks, city officials are exasperated with the amount of time and money that’s being wasted because of someone’s inappropriate behavior.

“There has been a pattern of activity that is very disturbing,” said City Manager Tom Stevens, “and it’s appropriate that the city take a lead role. It’s not only cut through the school community but the business community, as well.”

During the meeting, Police Chief Naldo Gagnon said that anyone arrested in connection with the crimes faces a charge of terrorizing, a Class C felony.

That’s punishable by a fine of up to $5,000,” he said, “and time in jail not to exceed five years.”

Noting that the threat of a bomb is a “pretty scary event,” Gagnon said law enforcement personnel always respond to the scene quickly.

“It may take anywhere from four to six to eight hours to take care of a reported incident,” he said. “Unfortunately, when most of our officers are at the scene of a bomb threat, it makes it difficult for them to respond to another call that might come in. Bomb threats create a disservice to our community.”

Jim Bubar, assistant manager at the local Wal-Mart store, said the business lost a significant amount of money in sales and hours by having to close giving officers the needed opportunity to search the premises.

“It also puts our customers and associates at risk,” said Bubar. “We’ve applied for money, through our corporate ladder, in hopes of putting up a reward not only for our scares, but the school’s, as well.”

The company also seeks to make up for $12,000 in lost sales, ruined perishable products, and labor costs from the Saturday night evacuation that forced the store to close for three hours.

Eric Waddell, principal at Presque Isle High School, said bomb threats are not only upsetting but expensive.

“We’ve lost nearly a full day of school because of having to evacuate the building,” he said. “Parents have to leave work to pick up a frightened child, and it causes the faculty, staff and students to become unnerved.

“It’s important that the entire community take a stand,” said Waddell. “I want to thank the City Council for putting up a reward … I think that helps send a clear message that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated.”

SAD 1 has also posted a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest related to the recent bomb threats.

Councilor Ron McPherson said he strongly supported ponying up $1,000.

“Money talks,” he said. “We have an obligation as city councilors to take care of our people, as well as our businesses. I wish it could be $10,000.”

Councilor Walt Elish agreed.

“We’re striving to make Presque Isle a community that people want to live, work and do business in,” he said, “and we need to be proactive in this regard.”

Stevens said Presque Isle’s $1,000 reward will come from the city’s unclassified contingent account.

The city’s reward will apply to any activity in the past six months, as well as for any bomb threats made in the next six months.