Impact of federal government shutdown felt in west Wis.

EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's a common sight across the nation: locked doors, chained fences and signs that clearly state a shutdown is in effect. While big cities with national parks, museums, monuments and other attractions are feeling the brunt of the shutdown, there’s still evidence of a shutdown in Western Wisconsin.

Federal courthouse workers say the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Eau Claire brings in revenue. That means there's money set aside in the budget to operate for the next ten business days. But unless congress comes to an agreement, workers will likely go on furlough.

Many government workers are already furloughed, like park employees at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. When you call the park number, you’ll get a voicemail message that says this: “Because of the federal government shutdown, the St. Croix River visitor center and all national park facilities at the St. Croix National Riverway is currently closed. Please leave a message and we'll return your call as soon as the government reopens.”

You’ll hear a similar message from the U.S. Agricultural Department in Altoona. We tried knocking on the door, but like many federal agencies, offices are closed and workers are at home.

If you logged onto government websites like the National Oceanic Atmospheric Adminsitration, the U.S. Census Bureau or USDA.gov, those sites are shutdown too.

Most people we spoke to say they just wish congress would “figure it out.”

“I have mixed feelings about it I know it causes a lot of inconvenience for a number of people. I think it’s unsettling for others,” said Steve Handoraf.

“I think probably the republicans fault more than anybody else, in their attempt to nullify the affordable care act,” said Dennie Reinke.

Around a sixth of Eau Claire City-County health programs like WIC and Immunization for Children are federally funded, according to director Lieske Giese.

“At this point, we're hearing very clearly both from the feds and the state that there aren't going to be any lapses in service and all of our programs are operational today,” said Giese. “We don't know down the road what will happen if there isn't a federal bill passed in order to get funding and move forward.”

There are other ways the shutdown cold affect your health. The Centers for Disease Control sent 68 percent of its employees home and the remaining skeleton crew is on hand to offer minimal support. Any investigations of major outbreaks of disease across multiple state lines will not happen during the shutdown, but state health officials might find outbreaks on their own.

Programs that are funded through the federal health law or other sources not included in the current congressional debate are not affected.

Hundreds of civilians are being furloughed at the Fort McCoy military base as well. Public affairs officer Linda Fournier said those employees include ID card section operators, headquarters staff and employees involved in training (see story link below).

Other parks that are affected include the Apostle Islands and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest which have both closed.


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