Siege Schatza – IVN copy editor
The Grants Pass Civil Air Patrol delivered a presentation at the March 22 Board of Josephine County Commissioners’ weekly business session to inform the board of their desire to extend their stay and make upgrades to their current facility.
This meeting was held at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
Capt. Anthony Meyer, a retired Air Force officer and commander of Grants Pass Squadron 037, recounted that the squadron’s previous location at a double wide trailer across from the Grants Pass Airport “wasn’t very accommodating.”
By contrast, the Grants Pass Civil Air Patrol “hit the jackpot” with their new headquarters, located about a mile away from the airport.
“It really, really suits us well,” Meyer added.
The commander went on to detail his squadron’s history and the services they perform in the region.
“We were established in 1961,” Meyer remarked, adding, “We’re one of the oldest squadrons in Oregon.”
According to the presentation, Squadron 037 provides education to young adults aged 12-19, as well as scholarships for pilot training; assists cadets with acquiring FAA 107 drone licenses; provides local, county and state jurisdictions with emergency support; and teaches community service, discipline and sense of purpose.
Meyer claimed that 10% of Air Force Academy cadets are previously personnel of a civil air patrol.
He also traced the inception of air patrol squadrons to World War II, when their purpose was to protect the U.S. coastline.
In modern times, one of the most important functions of air patrols is water distribution during forest fires. Squadron 037 assisted with water suppression during the infamous Biscuit Fire.
Meyer also said that although “volunteerism in America has been on the wane,” the Civil Air Patrol has actually “experienced a growth spurt” in recent years.
Lieutenant Colonel Wells, the squadron’s deputy commander for cadets, joined Meyer to detail additional accomplishments and services of Civil Air Patrol.
These included: Joint preparedness with Oregon Department of Emergency Management for the inevitable Cascadia megaquake; flying blood to those in need after 9/11; assistance with the recent Talent Fires and other fire evacuation locations; assistance to the Oregon Army National Guard with aerial reconnaissance for assessments of practice troop movements; and security patrol at local events such as Boatnik and the Lake Selmac Fishing Derby.
Wells stated, “We could do so many things with this facility,” including STEM, aeronautics training rides and search and rescue drills.
The Grants Pass Civil Air Patrol’s request for the county was as follows: a lease agreement for a minimum of five years; at least one secure room for Air Force equipment; the ability to be lead tenant at their building, and take control of building schedule and security system; and coordinate with other nonprofits for building maintenance.
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger thanked the Grants Pass Civil Air Patrol personnel for their presentation and said the board would take their request under consideration.
Jesse Watkins of the JoCo Juvenile Justice Department was recognized for her five years with the department during the meeting. Baertschiger presented Watkins with an honorary certificate.
Juvenile Justice Deputy Director Brad Kane said his department “scored big” when they hired Watkins.
“She was a great acquisition for us right as we were opening our detention center and residential center,” said Kane. “Jesse came in with about 15-20 years already in the field of management experience.”
He added that Watkins’ responsibilities include supervising the highest risk youths in the detention center, which is a “tough caseload,” as well as training residential and detention staff.
“We’re very proud,” Kane concluded.