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Parks, NASA’s Plum Brook close

Andy Ouriel • Oct 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM

At least three federal entities in the Register’s coverage area were forced to close as a direct result of Congress’ failure to approve a spending bill late Monday.

The holdup stems from Democrats and Republicans disagreeing on how to fund President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

All federal employees considered “nonessential” are now on furloughs, effectively unpaid vacations.

The employees won’t be recalled and the venues won’t reopen until Congress approves a new spending bill.

Military bases and federal law enforcement agencies will remain open, which means essential federal workers — military personnel and U.S. Border Patrol, for instance — will continue to work and receive their paychecks.

Among the local federal offices closing for the foreseeable future:

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor

• Employees furloughed: 10 full-time, four part-time.

• Annual budget: $1 million.

• Annual visitors: 190,000.

• What it is: The center helps preserve habitats for migrating birds. It’s also a place where people can view educational exhibits and watch waterfowl, songbirds and shorebirds. Bird watchers frequently visit the area.

• Fallout: Park workers either canceled or postponed upcoming deer hunts and archery contests. Workers spent Monday and Tuesday closing up facilities and securing the park, ensuring no activity occurs during the shutdown.

• Reaction to shutdown: “We’re public servants. We’re taking our marching orders from Congress. We understand they have bigger issues, and they’re doing the best they can do." — Refuge manager Jason Lewis

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay

• Employees furloughed: 15 full-time.

• Annual budget: $1 million.

• Annual visitors: 185,000.

• What it is: The museum’s 352-foot tall memorial commemorates Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s naval victory against the British in the War of 1812. The memorial also celebrates peace among Britain, Canada and the U.S.

• Fallout: Workers prepared to close the grounds Monday and Tuesday. They also prepared furlough notices for all employees. The outdoor park portion will remain open but largely unsupervised.

• Reaction to shutdown: “We are very disappointed that we are going to have to shut down. Obviously there are visitors that have to come here but aren’t going to be able to visit the memorial.” — Memorial superintendent Blanca Alvarez Stransky

NASA Plum Brook Station in Perkins Township

• Employees furloughed: 20 civilian fulltime, 80 contracted fulltime.

• Money invested: $567 million from 2001 through early 2012.

• Annual visitors: 500.

• What it is: A one-ofa-kind testing facility and home to unique space equipment. The Space Power Facility, for instance, can create a vacuum and simulate temperatures found in space.

• Fallout: No major tests are presently occurring at the site, but all work must be halted. No one will be allowed on NASA Plum Brook’s grounds other than a security guard.

• Reaction to shutdown: “We live in a constitutional system with an elected public. Our government is divided and they need to pass a budget. As citizens, we have to let that process work." — Station director Gen. David Stringer

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