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Coast Guard extends helicopter rescue services in Newport, Oregon

Associated Press

NEWPORT, Ore. – Several members of Oregon’s congressional delegation say the Coast Guard has agreed to keep a rescue helicopter at Newport two weeks longer than it had planned – until Dec. 15.

The agency’s Newport air station had been scheduled to close Nov. 30 due to budget cuts. Crabbing season is scheduled to start the next day.

Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader said they spoke Tuesday with the Coast Guard commandant and got his assurance that the closure date would be extended to Dec. 15. The Coast Guard agreed that the additional time would allow for a more extensive discussion of the risks to recreational fishing, commercial fishing and other activities on Oregon’s central coast.

Coast Guard Lt. Dana Warr in Seattle confirmed the extension.

Oregon’s congressional delegation has been asking the Coast Guard to keep the air station open at least through crabbing season.

The Coast Guard has said it will still be able to meet search and rescue standards. However, the closure plans drew an angry response from residents and public safety officials on the coast, who worry that longer response times will endanger fishermen and tourists.

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