Chickashanews.com

October 3, 2013

Many residents in Grady County will not feel shutdown

James Bright, Managing Editor, chickashaeditor@gmail.com
The Express-Star

GRADY COUNTY —

With seemingly no end in sight, the partial government shutdown has fostered doubt and fear in many Americans, but locally most federal programs are still running. 

State Director the WIC Program Terry Bryce said it's business as usual in his office. 

"We will evaluate what's going on every week, but for at least the next two weeks we feel like we are safe," he said. 

Bryce said he doesn't remember whether the shutdown 17 years ago affected WIC, but for the moment he is fairly confident this one will not cause any damage to his operation. 

"We are just going to continue monitoring it and see what happens," he said. 

Oklahoma National Guard Spokesperson Colonel Max Moss is dealing with some issues after congress's failure to pass a budget. He said he furloughed close to 700 technicians across the state on Tuesday. 

"These are the individuals who make sure our F-16's fly and our vehicles are maintained," he said. "Without them working, the equipment isn't checked as it normally would be."

Moss said this wouldn't have an immediate impact, but should the shutdown last for extended period of time, the lack of technicians could cause a variety of problems. 

"Congress could pass a continuing resolution that would allow them to return to work," he said. "Once we have the go ahead it won't be hard to get them back to work." 

Many in Grady County and across the country are concerned with possible shutdowns in veteran services. Public Affairs Officer for Veteran's Affairs in Oklahoma City Tara Ricks said Washington's crisis won't initially do damage to local VA services. 

"During a shutdown, VA medical centers, clinics and other health services have advance appropriations for 2014 and will remain open," she said.

Although such appropriations will keep medical facilities up and running, Ricks said certain services may run out of funding by the end of October. 

"VA has funds available to ensure claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue through late October," Ricks said. "However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs will be suspended when funds are exhausted. Due to the shutdown, Veterans benefits Administration will not be able to continue overtime for claims processors."

The national cemetery will also remain open, but will run on less staff, said Ricks.