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Wyden visits Corbett, replaces stolen medals

Oregon Senator answers questions from students, community members.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - James Lucas, the brother of slain U.S. Navy SEAL and Corbett High graduate Jeffrey Lucas, is presented Thursday with a flag the flew above the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC to honor the latter's 2005 death in combat in Afghanistan.Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden fielded a wide range of questions at a town hall meeting in Corbett Thursday, but started off the meeting by leading a solemn presentation, replacing the stolen medals of a fallen Navy Seal from Corbett.

Jeffrey A. Lucas, a Corbett High School graduate, was a Navy Seal killed in Afghanistan in 2005 at the age of 33. The medals of the highly-decorated Lucas were stolen from his mother's Corbett home in September 2015.

Wyden presented Lucas' brother, James, with replacement medals, including two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, along with a United States flag that had flown above the U.S. Capitol building.

Representatives from Frontier Communications also gave James Lucas a shadow box frame with additional replacement medals and a special “Honor & Remember” flag.

Oregon's Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group, lined the gym in their leather gear holding American flags.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Patriot Guard riders attended Thursday's town hall at Corbett High School hosted by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. “There are no words by a Senator or anyone else that can sum up the loss of a loved one,” Wyden said to James and the crowd.

Following the presentation, Wyden spent about 90 minutes answering a variety of questions ranging from his position on gun control to defibrillators in public places to altering the Consumer Price Index to be more friendly to seniors to his salary, which is $174,000.

One Corbett student asked what the biggest change has been in the Senate since the Portland Democrat took office in 1996.

“The biggest single change … there is a great deal more partisanship,” he said, making it difficult to get things done for the people.

He joked with the mainly student audience in the high school gym on Thursday, Jan. 7, asking the basketball players to raise their hands. He said his dream in high school was not be a Senator, but to be a professional basketball player.

“I was too small, but I made up for that by being really slow,” Wyden said, to hearty laughter.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden shares a laugh Thursday with Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton at a town hall meeting at Corbett High School. On a more serious note, he told the students that Oregon has the fourth worst high school graduation rate in the country, which drew surprised gasps. He challenged the students to help him improve that by getting on his web page and telling him how they would boost the graduation rate.

“We are better than this guys. Oregon is better than this,” he said.

Although nobody asked Wyden about it, he also talked about the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by armed anti-government protesters on Saturday, Jan. 2.

“In rural Oregon there is a lot of economic hurt right now....I get that,” he said, adding he understands “there is frustration...that the government doesn't listen.” But he said “we shouldn't be led off a cliff from outsiders.”

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden speaks Thursday at a town hall meeting at Corbett High School. Wyden said the Malheur situation needs to be resolved peacefully, the temperature of the situation needs to be lowered and then all parties need to reexamine the government policies surrounding Federal land and other issues.

Two students asked Wyden about gun control. He said he supports the Second Amendment, but also supports “common sense” restrictions such as not letting people on the terrorist watch list or convicted domestic abusers obtain guns.

Another student asked Wyden if he gets a lot of headaches from his many responsibilities.

He said he'd never been asked that question and admitted that over the years, “I've gotten many headaches, but also had lots of wonderful moments — moments like this.”

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