Federal shutdown hits Kansas sites

10/2/2013

TOPEKA (AP) — Two photocopied pieces of paper taped Tuesday to the front door of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site let visitors know the building in Topeka is closed because of the federal government shutdown.

TOPEKA (AP) — Two photocopied pieces of paper taped Tuesday to the front door of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site let visitors know the building in Topeka is closed because of the federal government shutdown.

Across Kansas, thousands of government employees were reporting to work to prepare their offices for the shutdown, which officially began shortly before midnight.

David Smith, superintendent of the Brown site, said he was signing notices for the 17 staff members in Topeka, spelling out what happens next. One maintenance person will be kept on to monitor the site but will not be paid.

"It's a really challenging situation," Smith said before leaving at noon as ordered.

The lack of a resolution to the federal budget means thousands of employees at the Army's Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth will be furloughed until a new spending bill is approved.

The shutdown is also affecting the state's National Historic Sites, including the Brown building that honors the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark school desegregation ruling in 1954. It also forced the shuttering of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, part of the National Archives system.

Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that the state had taken steps to prepare for the shutdown in the recent weeks. The Republican governor, a former member of the U.S. House and Senate, said Kansas had built up cash reserves to keep operations that depend on federal support running.

The largest impact on state operations would be to the Kansas adjutant general's department where 700 full-time military staff will be idled.

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, state adjutant general of the Kansas National Guard, said the shutdown could also force the cancellation of weekend drills for units, a decision that will be made in the next 24 hours.

Tafanelli said ongoing budget problems would impact soldiers and units going forward.

"The longer it goes, the greater impact it has on our operational readiness and (it) takes longer to recover," he said.

The shutdown also affected the legal battle over the Park City land where the Wyandotte Nation wants to build a casino near Wichita. On Tuesday, the Interior Department asked the federal judge overseeing the agency's response to the request to suspend all deadlines in the case for the duration of the shutdown.

At the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas, the department's 100 employees were notified Tuesday morning whether they would be on the list of those who will continue working or those who will be furloughed, said spokesman Jim Cross. Most of the criminal attorneys will continue to work, while many of the government attorneys handling the department's civil cases will be furloughed along with support staff, he said.

"I think everybody is hopeful the shutdown will end as soon as possible," Cross said before leaving to begin his own furlough at noon Tuesday.

The shutdown could also affect the state's aircraft makers if it drags on.

"The lifeblood of general aviation manufacturers is their ability to bring new safety-enhancing products to market. The government shutdown will interrupt the flow of innovation, as the hundreds of FAA engineers who oversee and certify general aviation products will be sent home," the General Aviation Manufacturers Association said in a written statement Tuesday.

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