Shutdown impact not felt by all

PARKERSBURG – With the federal government going into shutdown, some local groups and agencies are seeing an impact while others are hardly seeing any effect.

Congress could not reach a deal Monday to keep the government operating so many federal agencies saw closures while others continued with operations with limits imposed.

At the federal building in downtown Parkersburg both the court and the Social Security office were running normally. Only the IRS offices were closed.

The federal building manager referred calls to spokesman Gina Gilliam at the General Services Administration (GSA). A call to her office referred to the GSA’s website on the shutdown, providing details on which agencies have been affected by the shutdown.

According to the GSA information, the Bureau of the Public Debt was open. The federal courts are slated to be open for 10 days – if the shutdown lasts that long.

Calls regarding the Bureau of the Public Debt were referred to Adam Hodge. A message at his extension stated he would be out of the office “for the duration of the government shutdown.”

A Bureau of the Public Debt employee said it appeared employees were at work Tuesday.

“Business as usual,” the person said.

Hodge’s message referred calls to Anthony Coley with the Treasury Department, including a telephone number. An operator who answered asked to spell the last name. Because Hodge’s message did not have a correct spelling, she tried variations and couldn’t find it.

Finally, she sent the call to a public affairs office where a message was left, but was not returned.

A later automatic email message response from Hodge included an email address for Coley that included the correct spelling of the name. Calls back to Coley’s office number were rerouted and an operator said no one must be answering at that number.

The Department of the Treasury released a copy of its updated contingency plans for the Department and its bureaus, which include the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which Public Debt and the Financial Management Service were merged together under more than a year ago.

“…Public Debt functions of the Fiscal Service are authorized to continue in the absence of annual appropriations by the Second Liberty Loan Act (31 USC 3129),” the plan said.

Coley responded to an email request for information and cited the Treasury’s updated contingency plan.

Cathy Yarosky, spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said all post offices would remain open.

“As a self-funded independent agency of the executive branch of the federal government the U.S. Postal Service will not shut down. Normal operations and normal business hours will continue.”

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge closed because of the lapse in appropriated funding, said Sara Siekierski, deputy refuge manager.

In an email, Siekierski stated the refuge, at 3982 Waverly Road in Williamstown, is closed to the public as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Because of limited appropriated funding, only limited functions will continue, including response to emergencies and to protect human life and property.

As long as the federal government remains in shutdown, public access to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be prohibited and all activities and programs are canceled.

Federal courts are considered essential and will continue to operate, said Teresa Deppner, clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

For the first 10 days of a federal shutdown, the court will use fees and long-term appropriations that are not included in its annual budget to fund court operations, Deppner said.

After 10 days, each court will determine which people and services are essential for continuing operations with the chief judge determining what is essential.

However, normal operations will continue with scheduled hearings held and filings processed.

Tuesday’s federal government shutdown will not impede the operations of the Wood County or Parkersburg city government, officials said.