Fort Fairfield officers commended for saving people and animals

2 months ago

Two Fort Fairfield police officers have received commendations for saving lives, rescuing animals and keeping impaired drivers off the roads.

Police Chief Matthew Cummings recognized the officers, Isaac Wipperman and Cody Fenderson, during the Fort Fairfield Town Council meeting on Feb. 21.

Fenderson, also a paramedic, was credited with saving two lives since he joined the force full time in 2022. In July 2023, a woman came to the police station because she wasn’t feeling well, Cummings said. Fenderson, who was on duty, and fire department paramedics were helping her when she went into cardiac arrest. The officer and paramedics administered care en route to a hospital, saving her life.

On Jan. 23, police received a report of a deceased woman in a health clinic parking lot, Cummings said. Fenderson assisted medical technicians and determined the woman had a pulse. He performed life-saving measures, and the woman survived.

“Our community is fortunate to have you watching out for them,” Cummings said.

Wipperman worked to save eight pit bull dogs on Jan. 4 who were discovered in what Cummings called “deplorable conditions,” leading to the arrests of two Fort Fairfield residents on animal cruelty charges. 

Wipperman obtained a warrant to search the property and found eight dogs alive and two deceased. The living dogs were taken to the Central Aroostook Humane Society in Presque Isle to be cared for. 

“Without your immediate, thorough and professional response to this complaint, it is undoubtable that all these animals would have suffered horrific and tragic deaths,” Cummings said. 

Both officers were also commended for their work to remove impaired drivers from roadways. 

When people think of impaired driving, what most often comes to mind is alcohol, Cummings said. But today, more than 90 percent of those incidents involve drugs. Wipperman and Fenderson both received letters from Mothers Against Drunk Driving in December for the reduction of fatalities related to impaired drivers, the chief said.

In other police business, the department has completed an inventory of its evidence room and removed cash that was stored there to a bank account, in efforts to become accredited by the Maine Law Enforcement Accreditation Program, Cummings said.

Town Manager Tim Goff reported the town’s tax anticipation note is no more, having been paid in full last month. 

“To remove that burden from the town is fantastic,” he said. “It doesn’t remove all of the debt that the town is carrying, but it does put us in a better position moving forward.”

That’s good news for a town that was once nearly $1.3 million in debt, which many residents attributed to unwise decisions and high spending on the part of former Town Manager Andrea Powers. Powers left in 2022, and Interim Town Manager Dan Foster took over until Goff became town manager in September 2023. 

After years of high mill rate increases, the town saw its rate decrease from 26.5 in 2022 to 24.25 in 2023.

Goff also reported the Maine Department of Transportation plans to repair several roads in town from the border with Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, through Main Street and toward Caribou and Presque Isle streets.

Finally, councilors approved the purchase of a government surplus pickup to replace the public works vehicle, and also voted to let the town sell a side-by-side with a plow that doesn’t fit town needs.