Furloughs hit Valley workers

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VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) — As lawmakers and the President trade jabs in Washington, the impact of the government shutdown is making a direct impact on one of the Valley’s largest employers.

Of the 800,000 so-called non-essential federal employees being furloughed by the shutdown, commanders said nearly 100,000 of them are civilian members of the National Guard and Reserves. Locally, nearly 400 people work at the Air Station, making it one of the Valley’s largest employers.

And although the government’s partial shutdown became effective at midnight, civilian employees at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna started the process of curtailing operations around 6 a.m. Tuesday when most started arriving for work.

By late morning, most of the employees had left after shutting down their offices and equipment, including the station’s compliment of C-130’s. The base commander said with the exception of a small number of people, as well as civilians who work under contract as janitors or are performing construction work, most duties at the YARS will cease.

“Well minimally, we have 400 folks that are affected by the furloughs here in the shutdown. And out of that, we’ll probably be down to about 40. Can’t give you an exact number right now, we’re still working it. But it’s about 40 and most of those are fire and police protection here on the base,” said 910th Air Reserve Station Commander Col. James Dignan.

Even the Colonel himself will be one of those furloughed by the end of this week if the shutdown lasts that long. The furloughs come on top of the government’s sequestration during the summer months, when workers lost an average six days’ salary between July and September.

So what does an orderly shutdown at the base include?

“Everything from making sure people prepare their computers so that they stay on the network and they get maintained as they do, to the airplanes, shutting them down. They’re going to be missing some periodic required inspections, so they have to prepare for that,” Dignan said.

An official with Congressman Bill Johnson’s office said all but four of his staff members have been furloughed, leaving three employees working in Washington, D.C. and one in the district.

Sources said no staff members with Congressman Tim Ryan’s office have been furloughed.

In a news release on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said he will not accept his salary accrued during the government shutdown.

“With a government shutdown upon us, we know that countless working Ohioans will be affected—from small business owners in Lima and Chillicothe, to employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to families in Lorain and Springfield waiting for a home loan,” said Brown. “It’s time to allow House Members a vote on the Senate-passed plan and end the shutdown.”

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