Jim Heaney is no stranger to government shutdowns.
As an employee of the National Park Service during the last shutdown in 1995 and 1996, he saw firsthand the toll that it took.
"I was working in Philadelphia at the Edgar Allan Poe house and filling in at Independence National Historical Park," Heaney said. "We saw several million visitors each year. (The shutdown) was very discouraging, not only to our staff and visitors, but for all of the businesses surrounding the park. The restaurants and hotels were deeply affected. That was a long shutdown."
Heaney, now the superintendent of the George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, is seeing it happen again.
"We're furloughing 13 employees, myself included," he said Monday, in advance of the shutdown that took effect at midnight. "Obviously, that takes a toll on the workers and their families and any financial obligations they have.
"But we're also seeing a beloved, very American institution already being chipped away at by budget cuts now shut down."
The shutdown took effect when the dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law stalled a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job and suspending most non-essential federal programs and services.
The shutdown closed national parks, museums along the Washington Mall and the U.S. Capitol visitors center. Agencies like NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency will be all but shuttered. People classified as essential government employees - such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors - will continue to work.
The health care law itself was unaffected as enrollment opened Tuesday for millions of people shopping for medical insurance.
The military will be paid under legislation freshly signed by Obama, but paychecks for other federal workers will be withheld until the impasse is broken. Federal workers were told to report to their jobs for a half-day but to perform only shutdown tasks like changing email greetings and closing down agencies' Internet sites.
The self-funded Postal Service will continue to operate and the government will continue to pay Social Security benefits and Medicare and Medicaid fees to doctors on time.
Steve Stockam, airport manager for the Joplin Regional Airport, issued a statement regarding the impact on the control tower.
" ... if the history of past government shutdowns are any indication, we expect that contract controllers, just like FAA controllers, will remain on the job if the government shuts down on Oct. 1, at least for the short term," he said. "If the government shutdown lasts for more than 30 days, the continued operation of contract towers would be reevaluated."
Jim Heaney is no stranger to government shutdowns.
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Three things coming your way in Thursday’s Joplin Globe.
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