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Col. Martin Garabedian: (603) 271-3128
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
June 5, 2013

Conservation Officers of the Year and Volunteers Honored at Fish and Game

CONCORD, N.H. – At the May 2013, meeting of the N.H. Fish and Game Commission in Concord, the N.H. Fish and Game Department Law Enforcement Division recognized several individuals who have made outstanding contributions:

- CO Alex Lopashanski of Albany – 2012 Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association Officer of the Year
- Lt. Wayne Saunders of Stark – 2012 Shikar-Safari International Wildlife Officer of the Year
- Police Chief Richard Lapoint of Pittsburg - OHRV Safety Education Instructors Award
- Nancy Lyon of New London (posthumous) – N.H. Search and Rescue Extraordinary Service Award

MEDIA: For hi-res image, click on photos.
CO Alexander Lopashanski
CO Alex Lopashanksi - 2012 Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association Conservation Officer of the Year

Conservation Officer Alex Lopashanski of Albany was honored as New Hampshire's 2012 Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association Conservation Officer of the Year.  Officer Lopashanski patrols the towns of Albany, Madison, Tamworth, Freedom and Eaton. He has been with the N.H. Fish and Game Department for five years. He is a Defensive Tactics Instructor, Defensive Driving Instructor a Field Training Officer, a member of the Specialized Search and Rescue Team, recently a certified member of the Dive Team and an Honor Guard member.

"Officer Lopashanski has an outstanding work ethic and an enthusiastic attitude. His likeable, easy-going approach naturally lends itself to positive public relations," said Col. Martin Garabedian, Chief of Fish and Game Law Enforcement. "He has developed into a quality field investigator with the determination to follow through with leads, conduct thorough interviews and pay special attention to the details necessary to solve complex investigations." Garabedian referenced Lopashanski's successful investigation of bobhouse breakins during the 2012 ice fishing season. "His perseverance paid off when confessions were obtained, stolen equipment was returned to the ice fishermen and all of the suspects were charged and convicted in Ossipee District Court."

As a member of the Specialized Search and Rescue Team, Lopashanski responds at a moment’s notice to hikers in distress. "His enthusiasm, professionalism and attention to detail have had a positive effect on his fellow officers, and he is to be commended for his hard work and dedication to the N.H. Fish and Game Department," concluded Garabedian.

The Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association represents chiefs and command staff of law enforcement organizations throughout the northeastern U.S. and Canada. Its purpose is to encourage enhanced law enforcement cooperation among the member states and provinces, to study and exchange fish and wildlife law enforcement techniques and perspectives, and to promote cooperation and understanding among allied agencies in wildlife conservation and management.    


Lt. Wayne Saunders
Lt. Wayne Saunders - 2012 Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year

Lt. Wayne Saunders of Stark, N.H., was selected as the New Hampshire 2012 Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year. Saunders was recently promoted to the position of District One Chief. He has been employed by the N.H. Fish and Game Department for 18 years.

"Lieutenant Saunders is an incredibly motivated Conservation Officer.  He is a trained and valued member of the Critical Incident Response Team, an OC Instructor and Defensive Tactics Instructor, a Field Training Officer assisting in the training of new officers within the Division, and a trained Background Investigator," said Garabedian. "He has received many commendations for courage, exemplary performance and for his dedicated efforts over the years during challenging search and rescue missions. The Department is fortunate to have such a determined and capable new leader."

Garabedian also commended Saunders for initiating several highly successful efforts to secure needed equipment. To date, Lt. Saunders has been responsible for securing more than $90,000 in private donations toward the Department's Law Enforcement goals in the North Country.

The Shikar-Safari Club International is a worldwide organization dedicated to the protection, enhancement and preservation of wildlife, with emphasis on endangered and threatened species and promoting the enforcement of conservation laws and regulations.


Chief Richard Lapoint and Capt. John Wimsatt
Pittsburg Police Chief Richard Lapoint, 2012 OHRV Safety Education Instructor of the Year, is congratulated by Capt. John Wimsatt of Fish and Game

Police Chief Richard Lapoint of Pittsburg, N.H., was honored as the 2012 OHRV Safety Education Instructor of the Year.  This award was created in 2003 in memory of Bud Wool and Jack Willey, who were pioneers in setting the standards of safety education for snowmobiles and OHRVs.

"This year’s recipient has been a continuous supporter to the NH Fish and Game Department and safety education," said Capt. John Wimsatt, who overseas Fish and Game OHRV Enforcement and Education. "Chief Lapoint and the local club have sponsored dozens of safety education classes. He helps organize and teach the classes and has been a tireless supporter of our Department’s safety awareness initiatives."

Many years ago, as Fish and Game stepped up enforcement on irresponsible snowmobile riders, "Not only was Chief Lapoint supportive, he proposed many commonsense solutions to get to the root of the problem," said Wimsatt. "Many of those recommendations were adopted not only as working practices here in New Hampshire, but also by International Association of Snowmobile Administrators."

Working cooperatively with law enforcement command staff and side-by-side with local and visiting conservation officers, Chief Lapoint has earned a reputation of "Have fun -- but don’t get carried away in Pittsburg -- or be prepared to pay the consequences!" 

"This well-respected police chief is the example of inter-department cooperation," said Wimsatt.


Doug Lyon and K9 Search and Rescue team members
Doug Lyon and members of New England K9 Search and Rescue

The late Nancy Lyon of New London was honored by the New Hampshire Outdoor Council with a New Hampshire Search and Rescue Extraordinary Service Award, honoring individuals who have given extraordinary service to backcountry search and rescue in New Hampshire.  Her name will appear on a permanent plaque that will be displayed at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord. Her husband Doug Lyon and several members of the New England K9 Search and Rescue Team were present to acknowledge this special recognition.

Nancy Lyon was a long-time volunteer for New England K9 Search and Rescue and a prominent figure in backcountry search and rescue in New Hampshire. "Nancy was the NEK9 Team Leader for 18 years.  She has been an integral part of 400-500 searches over that time span, serving in both New Hampshire, Vermont and beyond as needed," wrote Lt. Todd Bogardus (Ret), former Fish and Game Search and Rescue Team Leader, in a letter supporting her nomination. "Nancy’s dedication and commitment to the K9 and the general search and rescue community is immeasurable.  As an example of a true ‘Unpaid SAR Professional’ she exemplified the words dedication, commitment, teamwork and leadership. 

"Her life seemed to revolve around SAR.  She was always ready at the instant the telephone rang or would simply leave a regularly scheduled training exercise to work on a real mission.  She many times conducted multiple search missions in a single day. Nancy continually researched and trained for better SAR standards, practices and overall search success, adapting electronic GPS and mapping technologies or learning lost person behavior to make her team more successful," wrote Bogardus. 

"Nancy’s gift of quietly providing her opinion and meaningful suggestions were always appreciated and respected," continued Bogardus. "She many times would readily take the toughest search grid for herself and as a search manager you could trust in her and her team’s abilities and dedication to the mission at hand.  It was through her leadership with NEK9 and her service upon the White Mountain Search and Rescue Working Group that Nancy gained everyone’s respect, admiration and genuine friendship."

The N.H. Outdoor Council is a statewide organization that supports search and rescue operations (through grants for training and equipment), and which supports public education in backcountry safety (through grants for efforts such as the hikeSafe program).

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