Coast Guard agrees to keep Newport Air Station open - for now

Coast Guard agrees to keep Newport Air Station open - for now
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FILE - This Feb. 13, 2012
file photo shows a U.S. Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopter flying
along the beach in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Fishermen rescued off the
Oregon coast by a helicopter dispatched out of the Newport, Ore., Coast
Guard base that's slated to close Dec. 15 say the $6 million that would
be saved is not worth the lives of fishermen. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee,
NEWPORT, Ore. - The U.S. Coast Guard agreed to keep its Newport Air Station open - for now.

An agreement was reached in a conference call between Federal Judge
Michael McShane, the United States Coast Guard, and five plaintiffs in a

The plaintiffs included the City of Newport, Lincoln County and the non-profit Newport Fishermen's Wives.

According to the plaintiff's attorney, Mike Haglund, the suit called for
an injunction on the air station's closure, which was scheduled to be
Monday, December 15.

Due to budget cuts, the Coast Guard announced it was closing the Newport
Air Station and a facility in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Coast Guard said it would move its personnel to stations in Astoria
and North Bend, and that the helicopter would be redistributed to fill
other operational gaps in the system.

Following repeated calls to ensure the safety of residents and visitors
in coastal areas, Oregon's Congressional delegation created a
reauthorization bill that would keep the Coast Guard's air stations open
through January 1, 2016.

The bill was passed by the Senate and the House Wednesday.

"This bill buys us some much-needed time to keep fighting for Newport,
for the air facility and for the continued safety of residents living
and working along the Oregon Coast," Senator Ron Wyden said.

The Press Secretary for Sen. Wyden's office said all that remains is for
President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law, which is expected to

Ginny Goblirsch, a member of the Newport Fishermen's Wives group, said
the U.S. Coast Guard agreed to not close the Newport air facility until
President Obama signs the bill.

"We are thrilled," Goblirsch said. "This is great news for Newport."

She warned that the fight is not over; it only secures the helicopter for one more year.

Goblirsch said the plaintiffs have decided to keep the case open and
revisit it at the end of next year, if the Coast Guard tries to close
the facility again.