Government shutdown will force local tourist attraction to close - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Government shutdown will force local tourist attraction to close

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FORT OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) -

The U.S. government is headed for a partial shutdown for the first time in 17 years tonight unless House Republicans and Senate Democrats compromise.

The shutdown would cause 800,000 federal workers to be sidelined and cost taxpayers $40,000,000 to $80,000,000 a day.

All this political talk is a lot to take in, so we're looking at some examples of how a government shutdown would impact us locally. One way is by closing the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. It plays a key role in local education, tourism and employment and is in danger of closing tonight if an agreement isn't reached on Capitol Hill.

"We're waiting on word from Washington on whether we will have the park open," Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Superintendent Cathy Cook said.

More than a million people spend time in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park each year and the economy is $54 million better for it, but if the House and Senate don't reach a compromise by midnight...

"The park would be closed," Cook said.

all but the public roads around the park would be blocked. No one can stop and get out. 26 of the 30 employees would go home without a check.  Four would be exempt because they're law enforcement and need to secure the property.

"Not having a paycheck and the impact on their families, that's really what makes me nervous," Cook said.

"It's a tragedy if this were to close," teacher Myra Adam said.

West Side Elementary teacher Myra Adams worries about the educational impact of losing the park.

"That's one of the standards in Georgia, is to study the Civil War and our best resource is right in our back yard," Adams said.

Most schools in the area bring students here at some point-- usually fifth grade.

"We learned all these facts and it was just a fun day for us," student Trenity Newell said.

Others use the park for health reasons.

"It'd be missed. It would really be missed," 70-year-old Troy Dawson said.

He bikes there six days a week and volunteers one day a week. His dedication to the park is pretty common among locals.

"It's a big deal. Like Saturday morning I got here around 6:30, there wasn't a place to park," Dawson said.

So all eyes are on Washington and the looming midnight deadline. The source of disagreement over the spending bill comes down to health reform. The House wants to delay funding for 'Obamacare' for a year. The Senate and president don't want that.

"Still optimistic that there won't be a shutdown. We certainly want to be here for park visitors tomorrow," Cook said.

Keep in mind the National Park Service is just one of many departments that would be affected by a government shutdown. The FHA won't approve any new loans to home buyers and there'd be no action on small business loans.

However, federal programs that are automatically funded like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security won't be impacted. Mail will still be delivered.

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