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Ocmulgee Monument Closes; Furloughs Employees | News

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Ocmulgee Monument Closes; Furloughs Employees

If your plans call for a visit to any national parks during the government shutdown, look for other options.

They closed today since Congress failed to pass a budget. That includes Macon's Ocmulgee National Monument.

In addition to being closed, the park had to furlough nearly all of its employees. The park's superintendent, Jim David, had to send out 15 furlough letters to 15 employees, including seasonal and part-timers.

Tuesday morning, several calls were made to schools to cancel upcoming field trips.

Superintendent David said the temporary closing will have a definite impact. "It's very frustrating once again. We're here to preserve resources, and we're here to serve the vistors." 

They started making plans for the shutdown on Monday.

Jim Branan, park guide for 13 years, greets most everyone who arrives at the Ocmulgee National Monument.

Branan said, "A lot of travelers come through the door."

He rolled out the welcome mat for James and Barbara Phillips Monday. They stopped on their way from the Georgia coast to their home in Cumming.

Barbara said, "It's amazing this park system. He gets a senior citizen park pass everywhere," she added pointing to her husband.

The pass worked at the monument Monday. Tuesday, it will be no good at any national park.

All of them will close if the federal government partially shuts down.

James said, "That's crazy. I think it's a sad thing that it's come to this point."

Park Superintendent Jim David says the shutdown threat causes a lot of anxiety for his 16 employees. He met with them Monday morning about what could happen.

David said, "We had questions like, 'Will we be paid?' and that kind of thing. Of course, we don't have the answer to that."

He said all of the employees will come to work Tuesday morning. It's when they get there, they will be told to close up the park and go home.

David said, "We will then have about four hours to get signs up, to call the numerous school groups scheduled to come in."

David knows how a shutdown works. He's been through several before, including the longest shutdown in U.S. history. That one lasted 21 days from December 1995 to January 1996.

David called it frustrating for the staff and park visitors. He said if the monument is forced to close, two park law enforcement officers will still come to work to protect the property.

More than 21,000 employees of the National Parks Service are furloughed, as the government partially shuts down, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.




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