Furloughs, closures begin as shutdown affects Ohio

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 4:03 p.m. MDT

John Carano, 65, walks on a trail at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Valley View, Ohio. (Tony Dejak, Associated Press) John Carano, 65, walks on a trail at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Valley View, Ohio. (Tony Dejak, Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — A national military museum and national park closed and thousands of employees were furloughed Tuesday as the impact of the partial federal government shutdown rippled across Ohio.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron both closed in the aftermath of the shutdown that began at midnight after failure to break a budget impasse in Congress.

More than 1,800 Ohio National Guard employees joined 8,700 air base workers on unpaid leave in Ohio as a result of the shutdown. There are more than 15,800 Ohio National Guard employees statewide.

"While this is a significant hardship, we are very clear to let Ohioans know that we still have the capability to support this state if a time of need comes into play," said Guard spokesman James Sims. "We still maintain our readiness to support the war fight."

Some 8,700 civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton were put on unpaid leave, resulting in what the base estimates as a loss of $5 million a day in salaries. The base has a total workforce of about 29,000, including civilian and military personnel.

The base commissary will close Wednesday and only three of 95 employees remained on duty at the Air Force museum to safeguard exhibits that include vintage military planes. The museum is a popular site for military reunions, and averaged 2,087 visitors daily in October 2012.

The shutdown also is expected to mean delays in government-backed mortgages, other reduced government services and trimmed congressional staffs. A spokeswoman at the Dayton VA Medical Center said that services for veterans continued as normal.

At the Peck Federal Building in downtown Cincinnati, the Internal Revenue Service's taxpayer assistance center was closed, with a note of apology posted.

Just outside the building, Jennifer Dove was seeing an immediate negative impact — fewer customers for hot dogs and sandwiches sold from her cart. She admittedly just started paying close attention to the standoff Monday.

"I'm very concerned about it," she said, worried that a prolonged shutdown will affect her federally subsidized housing and other assistance and result in lost jobs and homes, and even higher crime. "It's really confusing."

Shannon Marino, 33, a bar manager from Maple Heights, set off on an 18-mile bike ride Tuesday morning before rangers began locking restrooms at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visitor centers also remained closed.

"I feel like the park system helps people to relax and find peace of mind in today's society, so it's an important part to have this area open for everybody," Marino said.

The privately operated scenic railroad at the national park won't run during the shutdown because it needs park employees for help, park spokeswoman Mary Pat Doorley said.

Roger Gunter, 52, of Elizabeth City, N.C., running in the park while visiting his hometown of Cleveland, blamed both parties for the deadlock.

"We need some new folks there," he said.

He wasn't fazed by the locked restrooms: he had identified a nearby fast-food restaurant if needed.

Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell contributed to this report in Cincinnati and Thomas J. Sheeran contributed in Valley View, Ohio.

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