Emergency team responds to white powder at St. Francis elementary
by Don Eno, Reporter
May 18, 2012 | 1191 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ONLINE FIRST, IN PRINT NEXT: ST. FRANCIS - Personnel from the Aroostook Emergency Management Agency were once again called to a St. John Valley school to secure an envelope containing a suspicious white powder, according to SAD 27 superintendent Tom Doak. This time at St. Francis Elementary; last time at Fort Kent Elementary.

Doak confirmed via telephone that at approximately 8:15 a.m. on Friday, Jay Charette, principal at St. Francis Elementary School, called about an envelope he had opened at his desk. Charette reported that the envelope contained some white powder, the superintendent said.

Charette then placed the envelope on his desk and proceeded to vacate and secure his office and the adjacent office, and called Doak, which was appropriate protocol, said Doak.

Once notified, Doak called the AKEMA office in Caribou, and the post office, as well as the Maine Department of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Doak said that, at the time, the students were not in the main building, but were at a religion class, and were asked to stay at that location until allowed back to the main school building.

Doak said that all of the parents of the school children at St. Francis were also notified, and many expressed an appreciation for the notification.

Vern Ouellette, director of AKEMA, who went to scene with the Assistant Director Darren Woods, said over the phone that the two spent a little more than an hour securing the scene, including double-bagging the envelope and cleaning the office spaces.

The materials will be forwarded to the state emergency management agency, said Ouellette.

Doak said that it is his understanding that the postmark and the letter inside the envelope were the same as those from the previous incident at the Fort Kent Elementary School in early March. He also said that when he spoke with the department of education earlier in the day, they were unaware of any other schools in Maine that had received similar envelopes on Friday.

"You never know," Doak said. "It's crazy."

Doak said that protocol was followed in this case. He expects initial lab results to be available early next week. In the past the powder has turned out to be cornstarch or flour.