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Federal workers unsure when they’ll see paychecks

SHERIDAN — As the partial shutdown of the federal government continues into its second day, federal offices and workers in the Sheridan area continue to feel the squeeze.

“The long and short of it, personally, is I won’t be paid for this time,” Andrew Cassiday, district conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service said. “I understand in the mid-90s during the last shutdown, they got back pay, but it’s not guaranteed. If it drags on, I’ll be without a paycheck for a long time, and that begins to pinch.”

Other federal employees in Sheridan and around the nation are feeling that same pinch. Even “excepted” workers who were allowed to stay on the job have no guarantee regarding if or when they will be paid for their time.

Cassiday is currently the only employee in the Sheridan NRCS office.

He said there were no conservation projects that were in process when the shutdown occurred but that there are several people on hold who wanted to get to work soon. While the shutdown continues, Cassiday will be unable to work on design projects or provide technical assistance.

“Until further notice, we are closed due to a lack of funding from Congress,” Cassiday said. “I hope they get it figured out, and I hope they get it figured out in a meaningful and lasting way.”

Four other USDA employees in Sheridan were furloughed in the government shutdown. The USDA Rural Development office, which assists with federal housing loans and provides grants and loans to foster small business development, was closed, which affected two employees. Two employees in the Farm Services division, which assists with agricultural support programs and subsidies, were also furloughed when the offices were closed.

Capt. Robert LeJeune, the officer in charge at the Sheridan office of the Wyoming National Guard, said two employees were furloughed in the shutdown. The two employees provided vehicle and equipment maintenance.

“If it’s only for a few weeks, it won’t impact operations in the long term, but there may be some catch-up to do with maintenance,” LeJeune said.

LeJeune said there are 13 Active Guard and Reserve personnel in Sheridan. They are considered active duty military and will not be furloughed.

The October drill for Guard members was combined with another month to accommodate special exercises, LeJeune said, so drill will not be affected this month. If the shutdown continues into November, drills for that month could be canceled.

“Fortunately we were lucky in the way we planned our training schedule that when this fell down, if you want to put it that way, it won’t have an impact on drill,” LeJeune said.

An automated message at the Buffalo Field Office for the Bureau of Land Management said the office was closed.

“We are currently unavailable due to the government shutdown,” the message said.

The contingency plan posted by the BLM Sept. 25 noted that BLM campgrounds, boat ramps and other recreation sites will be closed. Any visitor centers or facilities on public BLM lands will be closed and no patrols, maintenance or other management activities will be provided.

The plan noted that approximately 10,200 of the BLM’s total 10,800 employees nationwide would be furloughed during the government shutdown, leaving only law enforcement and emergency response functions in operation.

U.S. Forest Service offices also remain closed as all but 12-15 of the entity’s more than 100 workers were furloughed.

The Sheridan VA Medical Center continues to operate as usual.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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