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300 Springfield Guardsmen face furloughs

Federal shutdown will hit technicians who faced sequestration issues, too.

About 300 airmen at the Springfield Air National Guard Base will be furloughed because of the federal government shutdown, said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Stahl, public affairs superintendent for the 178th Fighter Wing, the base’s main unit.

Those placed on unpaid leave are dual-status technicians in the National Guard — full-time military personnel who are paid from civilian accounts. And, they’re no strangers to furloughs.

Nationwide, the National Guard has about 53,000 dual-status technicians who were subjected just this year to Pentagon furloughs of civilian employees as part of sequestration.

Their new orders, Stahl said Monday, are to report to work Tuesday morning.

“I’m pretty certain we’ll be sent home then,” said Stahl, who will be among those furloughed.

Those considered active-duty, including the airmen locally who remotely pilot Predator drones, won’t be affected.

In addition to the roughly 300 furloughed Air Guard technicians in Springfield, previous furlough days also hit about a dozen local technicians in the Ohio Army National Guard.

This time, Stahl for one was caught by surprise.

“Personally,” he said, “it’s frustrating. I wasn’t really expecting it.”

The local Air Guard base has an annual economic impact of nearly $100 million on Clark County.

If the government shuts down at midnight, it will cost $5 million per day in lost wages throughout the Miami Valley, according to Col. Cassie Barlow, who spoke about the cost and other aspects of the shutdown in a news conference at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Monday afternoon.

Last week, Barlow said about 8,700 employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are expected to be furloughed starting Tuesday if Congress fails to reach an agreement.

“We have 29,000 valued employees here. It’s distressing that we have to plan for an emergency furlough,” said Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing.

Some 3,200 employees deemed essential to life safety and protection of property would be “excepted” from a furlough. Those include foreign military sales, base security, fire safety, and many medical personnel and employees directly supporting wartime efforts “down range,” she said.

Wright-Patterson officials did not have an immediate estimate of how many contractor employees might be affected from a shutdown.

A shutdown will close the doors temporarily at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the region’s biggest tourist attraction with more than one million visitors a year.

The museum’s 95 federal civilian employees would be furloughed with the exception of three workers who are security personnel, according to spokeswoman Sarah Swan.

In the last government shutdown in November 1995, the museum closed to the public for five days.

The government shutdown could also have an effect on several other federal agencies in Clark County.

The Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority, an agency funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be open today, according to executive director Par Tolliver.

HUD announced a contingency plan for a potential government shut down last week. There will be federal personnel available to help, Tolliver said, but “the turnaround may not be as quick as we would like” on certain issues.

Clark County administrator Nathan Kennedy said a possible government shutdown will have “little to no effect” on county government, which is mostly funded through local dollars.

However, Kennedy said certain reimbursements could be delayed if the government were to shut down. The shutdown could affect grant money or other aid awarded from the federal government to the state, which is then sent to local government entities. The longer the shutdown lasts, the longer it could delay those dollars being routed to the county.

“If it’s one week, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Kennedy said. “If you’re talking 3-4 weeks, it can be problematic.”

The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service office located at Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St., could also be affected. NRCS is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Deba Mohler, district conservationist for NRCS for both Madison and Clark counties, said it’s been “business as usual” as they’ve been preparing to possibly be closed today. The office wouldn’t reopen until legislation passes to fund the government.

“The agency has been very good with communication,” Mohler said.

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