The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

October 18, 2013

Parks open, workers back in office after government shutdown

WASHINGTON — From the Liberty Bell to Alcatraz, federal landmarks and offices reopened Thursday. Furloughed employees were relieved to get back to work — even if faced with email backlogs — but many worried about another such disruption in a matter of months.

“We’d hate to have to live through this all over again,” Richard Marcus, a 29-year employee of the National Archives in Washington, said after the government shutdown finally ended.

Nationwide, from big-city office buildings to wilderness outposts, innumerable federal services and operations shifted back into gear after 16 days.

The U.S. Forest Service started lifting a logging ban on national forests. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services restarted the computerized system used to verify the legal status of workers. Ticket sales resumed for boat trips to Alcatraz, the former federal prison in San Francisco Bay.

In Alaska, federal officials rushed to get the red king crab fishing season underway. The opening had been delayed because furloughed workers were not around to issue crab-quota permits.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said all 401 national park units — from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California to Acadia National Park in Maine — were reopening Thursday.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees had been among the 800,000 federal workers sent home at the peak of the shutdown

At Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, employees were busy with reopening chores. They returned just in time to begin closing the parks up again for the winter in a couple of weeks.

At Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, one couple’s long wait to see the Liberty Bell and other attractions finally drew to a close.

Karen and Richard Dodds of Oklahoma City were on a quest to see every national park in the U.S. They arrived in Philadelphia about three weeks ago in their motor home, visiting Valley Forge just before the shutdown. They stayed on in the area, awaiting a settlement.

“They didn’t solve anything by this,” Katie Dodds said of the temporary agreement in Congress that funds the government only through Jan. 15 and gives it the borrowing authority it needs only through Feb. 7. “The worst part is they’ll do it again in January and February.”

Among the many sites reopening in Washington were the Smithsonian Institution’s museums and the World War II memorial on the National Mall, which had been the scene of protests over the shutdown.

Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said the museum complex lost about $2.8 million in revenue during the shutdown.

The National Zoo was set to reopen Friday, though its popular panda cam went live Thursday morning, giving fans a view of a cub wriggling about as its mother, Mei Xiang, tucked her paws under her chin and watched.

Federal workers who were furloughed or worked without pay during the shutdown will get back pay in their next paychecks, which for most employees come Oct. 29.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez greeted returning workers with a sympathetic email.

“Unfortunately, as President Obama correctly noted, you are occasionally called on to perform your remarkably important work in a climate that too often treats federal employees and contractors as a punching bag,” Perez said.

The Defense Department called back about 7,000 furloughed civilians. In an open letter to the workforce, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the department still faces budget uncertainty as Congress struggles to pass a 2014 spending bill and deal with automatic budget cuts. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said the department lost at least $600 million worth of productivity during the four days that civilians were furloughed.

The National Institutes of Health warned university scientists not to expect a quick resumption of research dollars.

At the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., email servers were slowly grinding back into gear.

Fire protection engineer Dan Madrzykowski had been in the office for about half an hour and about 800 emails had popped into his inbox. And that represented less than a week of the shutdown. Still, Madrzykowski said he was pleased to be back.

“Nothing good was coming from keeping the government closed,” he said.

Patrice Roberts, who works for Homeland Security, said she wasn’t prepared for the emotional lows of the past 16 days.

“It’s just frustrating having that kind of control over your life and just having it taken away from me,” said Roberts, who is expecting another shutdown in January. “I’ll be better prepared next time.”

In Pottsville, Pa., several people waited outside the Social Security office ahead of its 9 a.m. opening. James Ulrich, an unemployed 19-year-old, needed a replacement for his lost Social Security card to apply for jobs. He was told a replacement card would take two weeks to arrive.

“I don’t have a really good outlook on the government,” he said.

In Cincinnati, Renee Yankey, a government alcohol and tobacco tax specialist, was sleep-deprived after staying up late to watch news of the shutdown-ending deal, but otherwise glad to be back at work with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

“I can tell that the alcohol industry missed us,” Yankey said. “The first thing I hear is ‘I’m so glad I got a person on the phone!”’

In North Little Rock, Ark, Simeon Yates was glad to return to work as an auditor for the Arkansas National Guard.

“It’s definitely a relief financially ... knowing that we’ll be able to provide for our families again,” said Yates, whose wife stays home with their four young children.

“It was hard to explain to the kids,” Yates added. “They enjoyed having me home, but when we were just having hot dogs a lot and pancakes ... you know, being small, they didn’t necessarily understand that.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Troubled childhoods may prompt men to volunteer for military service

    In the era of the all-volunteer U.S. military, men who served are more than twice as likely as those who never did to have been sexually abused as children and to have grown up around domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study has found.

    July 24, 2014

  • As poverty continues to rise, fewer Ohioans are receiving state aid

    The number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop even while poverty increases, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

    July 24, 2014

  • ’Saltwater’ from fracking spill much different from ocean water

    In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste — a byproduct of oil and gas production — has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

    July 24, 2014

  • 40 bodies from jet solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 23, 2014

  • U.S. pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    The United States announced signs of progress in cease-fire talks Wednesday, but prospects for a quick end to the fighting were dim as Palestinian families fled fierce battles in southern Gaza and the death toll rose to more than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

  • Veteran's Ducks Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks

    An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stacked Apartment.jpg New York building shows how mod design stacks up as cool

    In a city piled high with ambitious architecture, a seven-floor structure off the beaten path boasts a distinction of its own: It’s billed as the first multistory, modular-built apartment building to open in the nation’s apartment capital.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

    The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

    July 21, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video