From Newport Fishermen’s Wives to our community . . .
We are looking forward to 2015 and the challenge facing us to ensure our Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter remains permanently in Newport. We will be working closely with our Congressional delegation, our attorney, and our local partners to ensure that our air facility is not threatened with closure again.
Before we embark on this next step, we want to thank all the people and organizations that made it possible to “Save the Helo”. It was an impressive, cohesive demonstration of the will of the people. Every one of you who signed the petition, wrote a letter, made phone calls, attended meetings and contributed money or services made it possible for us to succeed. This overwhelming show of public support gave our Congressional delegation the support they needed to pull off what seemed to be an impossible task.
Senator Ron Wyden led Oregon’s Congressional delegation, which included Senator Jeff Merkley, Representatives Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, in adding language in a bill which prohibited the closure of any Coast Guard helicopter station for a year. It came down to the wire, but they got the job done masterfully.
The support and counsel we received from our partners in the litigation was invaluable. They included Lincoln County via Commissioner Terry Thompson and County Counsel Wayne Belmont; the City of Newport via Mayor Sandy Roumagoux, City Manager Spencer Nebel and City Recorder Peggy Hawker; and the Port of Newport via Port Manager Kevin Greenwood and Port Commissioners Walter Chuck and David Jincks. Their advice and guidance was crucial to the successful outcome. Other elected officials lending support to our efforts included Representative David Gomberg, Senator Arnie Roblan , Governor John Kitzhaber and elected representatives from cities, counties and ports along the entire coast. We also received significant assistance and data from Charlie Plybon of Surfrider and our local first responders, including No Lincoln Fire and Rescue’s Don Baker and Captain Jim Kusz , Newport’s Chief Rob Murphy and Depoe Bay Fire Department Chief Josh Williams.
Local media was crucial in keeping the public informed .The News-Times publication of the helicopter special insert provided much needed context and clarity about the history and importance of the helicopter on the central Oregon coast. It was an outstanding publication which will continue to be a valuable tool as we go forward. News Lincoln County encouraged businesses to donate a portion of their business proceeds , and many businesses responded, as they often do here in our community. Yaquina Bay Communications (Radio KNPT, KYTE, KWDP) and the Lincoln County Dispatch teamed up to host a successful fundraiser. Monies raised were and will continue to be used in the prosecution of our legal challenge against the Coast Guard for failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and their search and rescue responsibilities under the Homeland Security Act. We are continuing to retain the services of our maritime attorney Michael Haglund of Portland to help us as necessary going forward.
There are many, many groups, organizations, businesses and individuals who made contributions of time and money to the success of this campaign. To each and every one of you – thank you. We will be forever grateful that each of you spoke up and declared that closure of the air facility and elimination of our helicopter was not an option. In a few short weeks, 17,000 of you signed the petition – no small feat and that got the attention of folks in D.C. That petition was initiated by Carol DeMuth on her own and we will be forever grateful for her foresight and timely action. To those of you who responded to our calls for help on social media—we thank you. Hundreds of letters and resolutions from near and far were sent to the Coast Guard Commandant in DC and our congressional delegation, making it clear that the public , across a wide spectrum of interests and places, would not stand for a reduction in search and rescue capacity on the central Oregon coast or elsewhere. You all saw the obvious – that the elimination of our helicopter by Coast Guard leadership in D.C. served only to put the lives of fishermen and the public at further risk and ensured an increase in cold water deaths. You insisted that the Coast Guard’s funding priorities stay true to their fundamental mission of domestic search and rescue– and we pledge to continue do all we can to make that happen.
Finally, we’d like to thank the men and women of our local Coast Guard and our own first responders, who daily put their lives on the line to ensure our safety. These are the true heroes of our community and they are the people we most deeply and gratefully thank.
Newport Fishermen’s Wives
P.O. Box 971
Newport, OR 97365