Government shutdown effects vary

By Bill Colvard -

North Carolina is faring better than most states in the 19th shutdown of the United States government, placing 43 out of 51 (50 states plus the District of Columbia), with number one as most affected, as ranked by personal-finance website WalletHub.

“Shutdown” is a loaded term in these events. Not everything shuts down — and as of late Monday, it appeared the shutdown might be short-lived, with Congress nearly a compromise to get the government up and running again.

But, forever how long the shutdown lasts, some federal agencies are affected more than others.

For instance, when the IRS opens tax filing season on Jan. 29, they will be happy to accept your return filed with an accompanying payment, but less interested in processing your refund, an activity that the contingency plan of the IRS puts on hold until the end of a shutdown, according to Forbes.

Some federal government workers in Surry County are on temporary leave, as evidenced by messages on the local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) voicemail system. Callers to farm services are told the department is on furlough, and that messages left on the system will not be returned until the workers return from furlough. Other departments are less specific.

USDA inspectors did show up for work at the Wayne Farm chicken processing facility in Dobson. “We’re here,” said Rob Poindexter, operations manager for the plant, adding, “We’ve not been told of any issues with USDA.”

A USDA employee at the plant declined to speak on the record, referring all inquiries to the national office in Washington. The USDA website’s homepage reads, “This website will not be updated during a lapse in federal funding. Content on this website will not be current or maintained until funding issues have been resolved.”

The National Weather Service will continue monitoring the weather, but will cut down social media posts, according to a social media post on the “US National Weather Service Blacksburg VA” Facebook page. “During the government shutdown, we will be here monitoring the weather 24/7 as we always do protecting lives and property from impending weather hazards. However, because of the shutdown, our social media presence will be limited to activity directly related to our primary mission of the protection of life and property. In other words, any social media posts will be strictly related to impending weather hazards (e.g., winter storms, severe thunderstorms, flooding, etc.).”

The Blue Ridge Parkway will remain accessible to the public during the government shutdown, sort of, according to a statement issued by a Parkway spokesperson.

“During the shutdown of the federal government due to the lapse of appropriations, national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures. Park roads, lookouts, trails and open-air memorials along the Blue Ridge Parkway, will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited.”

Services provided by the National Parks Service will not be available, including road maintenance, trash collection, restrooms, facilities and public information. Some lodging, restaurants and services provided by concessioners may be available. The park service recommends calling the concessioners or checking their website. Don’t bother with the park service’s websites or social media accounts during the shutdown, though. Those are not being monitored or updated.

Sections of the parkway that were closed due to winter weather at the time of the federal government shutdown will remain closed at this time.

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.