Mount Rushmore closed, bombers grounded: state reels from government shutdown

2013-10-02T06:30:00Z 2013-10-02T09:01:04Z Mount Rushmore closed, bombers grounded: state reels from government shutdownDaniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff Rapid City Journal
October 02, 2013 6:30 am  • 

As the nation grapples with the first partial government shutdown in nearly two decades, one emotion resonated more than any other in South Dakota: Frustration.

On Tuesday morning, tourists who traveled hundreds of miles to visit Mount Rushmore were turned away; hunters were warned not to enter federal wetlands; Ellsworth Air Force Base grounded one of its two B-1 bomber fleets, and 549 full-time employees were furloughed from the South Dakota National Guard.

In total, 800,000 federal employees across the country will be furloughed and more than a million will be expected to work without pay in the first shutdown. The shutdown was forced by the Republican-controlled House after the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would not concede to demands to weaken President Obama's 2010 health care law.

Not all government operations have been closed. Employees considered "essential," from mine inspectors to border agents, will continue to work. Other services that are largely paid through fees, like the postal service, will continue to operate.

Deployed military personnel will be unaffected, but that doesn't mean domestic bases won't feel the pain. In addition to grounding one of two squadrons in its local bomber fleet, Ellsworth Air Force Base furloughed 427 of its 582 civilian employees.

“We are in the midst of an emergency furlough — which may have severe and disruptive financial impact on our civilian workforce — and impact the ability of the base to accomplish its mission,” said Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander, in a press release.

Those furloughs were no more disruptive than for federal employees themselves.

Joseph Ladd, 28, a biological technician employed for the National Park Service for the summer, worked an hour at his Rapid City office before he and others were asked to leave on Tuesday.

Ladd, who moved from Washington in May, said the shutdown now put him in a tricky financial situation: While he applied for the unemployment benefit that day, it would take at least three weeks for those funds to come through.

"I have bills to pay," he said. "I have got stuff that I need to attend to – this happened conveniently at the start of the month, when I need to pay rent."

Overall though, Ladd said he felt disappointed. With a relatively small job market for his field of expertise, Ladd had spent the past four years doing unpaid summer internships for the federal government before he finally landed paid work in South Dakota.

"After four years of interning, this is my first job of actual federal employment," he said. "And it's getting ripped out from underneath me."

Disappointment was laced with anger for those who were planning to rely on government services Tuesday.

Deb Anderson, 61, an escrow closing assistant in Bismarck, N.D., drove six hours with her husband to see Mount Rushmore — only to find its entrance closed.

"I'm very, very mad at our government," she said. "There's other things that they can do and they have to quit 'Republicans against Democrats.'"

Anderson and her husband joined hundreds of other cars that crawled along the road outside the sculpture. Mount Rushmore employees — about half of whom are still working — blocked off pull-off areas, leaving visitors to vie for scarce space to stop and gaze at the monument.

National parks aren't the only areas that will be closed until Congress can reach a spending agreement. Large swathes of hunting and fishing ground managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were also closed to public access.

Chris Hesla, executive director of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, a hunting lobby group, said those closures hit particularly close to home for him — especially knowing that waterfowl hunting season opened on Saturday.

"I think it's more of a travesty now because it's affecting me personally," he said. "Before it really didn't."

[Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect a clarification. Ellsworth Air Force Base grounded one of two squadrons in its bomber fleet.]

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(33) Comments

  1. beaker
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    beaker - October 07, 2013 9:39 am
    As far as I'm concerned they can stay shut down, and we can permanently furlough all "non-essential" employees. (without back pay)
  2. emby76
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    emby76 - October 06, 2013 1:29 am
    Sounds like a lot of people in SD are on the Federal govt.dole. Whose monument is it anyway? Tell your legislature to take back all that federal land and use it like you want them to use it.
  3. Danger
    Report Abuse
    Danger - October 05, 2013 4:31 pm
    Hey, Rog

    What part of 60 percent of Americans don't want Obamacare don't you understand?

    Rather than your inane theory that Republicans oppose this president because he is black, could it be that they oppose him because they are actually trying to represent their constituents?
  4. tkelly33
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    tkelly33 - October 05, 2013 8:58 am
    I must remind the fools that assert the ACA is 'law' and cannot be changed or stopped that slavery, segregation, prohibition, and Japanese internment were also the law and were deemed legal by the Supreme Court.

    The House is performing its Constitutional duties and acting within its Constitutional authority in working to defund this abomination. The House has proposed funding to operate the entire government, with the exception of the ACA. Who are the petulant crybabies? Barack Obama and his supporters.
  5. Mary95
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    Mary95 - October 04, 2013 9:01 pm
    Breaking News: The job of the House of Representatives is to Approve any and All Monies that are Appropriated to be spent. Somehow through the years, a lot of money is now considered mandated, so they have no control over that. If you don't want them doing their job, You don't want checks & balances and you don't want Congress. You want a king and all his Yes Men.
  6. Mary95
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    Mary95 - October 04, 2013 8:48 pm
    Did everyone forget how Obamacare came to pass? After all the bribes and kickbacks, the 'Bluedog Dems' still weren't going to sign...Not until Obama promised, even made a photo op of him signing the ' Stupak Amendment' (no longer valid). These are the reasons it passed. I have read many pages of that 2500+ pg bill, the original. You should all read it, since Congress didn't. It is a bad, bad thing for America, including the 7 various govt agencies who will be collecting and disseminating our personal info. How many agencies have been hacked? FBI, DHS, etc. You really trust these people with your personal info? If you only know 1 side of this story, check out the other to find the truth.
  7. Celia
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    Celia - October 04, 2013 8:44 pm
    No Republicans do not get to "pick" this is bills that were already voted on, they were waiting to be funded. Funded by a House that was elected to judge what bills were worthily to be funded by the taxpayers dollars.
  8. Celia
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    Celia - October 04, 2013 8:37 pm
    Nobody special, I would have to agree with you. This administration has created nothing but chaos. We hear daily how millions are wasted in all Dept. I have never seen this much corruption in Government, ever. Al Gore is the richest ex politician ever, the green money just keeps Rolling in.
  9. Celia
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    Celia - October 04, 2013 8:32 pm
    I think giving Obama the media a week to spew his propaganda has helped him.
  10. Celia
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    Celia - October 04, 2013 8:29 pm
    This is as sad as closing the White House to school children and having a fence brought in to bar Vets out of a place made to honor them. Well, Obama owns it all now, it's his, and we can just keep out if we don't give him what he wants. When we retired we took a trip out west, Mount Rushmore was one place we looked forward to. I am so sorry Americans are forbid to see their country, but we now "bow" to other country's wishes. Very sad day for America.
  11. yezzus
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    yezzus - October 03, 2013 9:25 pm
    Closed or open they don't know what they are doing.
  12. Buldog
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    Buldog - October 03, 2013 8:56 pm
    According to the Fox News poll, disapproval of the Republican Party has jumped from 46% in September of 2012 to 59% today. Disapproval of the GOP has climbed from 54% in January to 56% in April to nearing 60% today. Approval of the Republican Party has fallen from 45% to 35%. In contrast, Democratic Party unfavorability has stayed stable in the Fox poll at between 48% and 49% all through 2013.

    Support for repealing the ACA has dropped from 39% in June to 30% today. This could mean that the linking of funding the government to defunding or delaying the ACA has completely backfired on the Republican Party.
  13. Black Hawk
    Report Abuse
    Black Hawk - October 03, 2013 8:55 am
    According to ABC News the cost is about $12.5 million an hour, or roughly $1.6 billion a week, while the government is closed. I should make you happy to know that after the last Republican shutdown the government were paid for the time they were off. I wonder how you would react if the shutdown would have stopped your Social Security check? Your suggestions would cut about .00001% of the government spending. Lets talk about the three largest budget items, Social Security, Medicare and military spending. Anything else is just more hot air.
  14. Obtuseangler
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    Obtuseangler - October 03, 2013 7:42 am
    Roger, Obama played hardball during his first term. You may recall, he and the Democratic leadership refused to meet with or include any ideas from the Republican leadership. The ACA was passed only through parliamentary games and without a single Republican vote. When asked why he would not talk to the Republicans his response was "I won." Well, elections really do have consequences. In response to the passage of the ACA the house changed hands. The house controls funding. Obama met with Boehner (who I have little respect for) yesterday only to tell him.....that he would not negotiate. Thank goodness some folks are standing up to this president. And no, it isn't about race. It's about hubris.
  15. Buck
    Report Abuse
    Buck - October 03, 2013 6:29 am
    The Affordable Care Act is LAW! It was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President into Law, the Supreme Court upheld most provisions of the law, including conservative Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.
    It's law but Barry said that big business gets a waver. Sounds good to me. Oh . . . and how many motorists are driving around out there without a license or insurance. Those that actually work for a living always end up footing the bill for those that feed off the system.
  16. ScreamingEagle
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    ScreamingEagle - October 03, 2013 5:56 am
    Are Dems so ignorant that they fail to realize the simple facts: You should not spend money that we don't have. You should not obligate future generations to over whelming debt. The president has chosen to make this situation worse by closing the national parks. I AM PRETTY SURE NOBODY HAS EVER STOLEN ONE. Our government has grown fat and lazy.
  17. nobodyspecial
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    nobodyspecial - October 03, 2013 12:52 am
    This government shutdown is a great thing! We are saving $300,000,000 per day! In a month that will add up to $9,000,000,000.

    Let's find a way to make the government work without all these overpaid employees. How much does the average South Dakota worker make in comparison the average federal worker? Isn't government service supposed to be service? The average grunt in the military doesn't make $20+ an hour and they put their lives on the line.

    This is our wake up call. This is their wake up call. The government can and will function without all these non-essential employees. It's time to prune the government It's time to look at what we allow congress to spend on lunches, transportation, and all their other discretionary funds. There are members of congress that spend $5,000 on lunch, or the average minimum wage worker's salary for 4 months.

    Why is the government shutdown such a bad thing? So what if we shut it down for a year? The earth will still revolve around the sun, the trees will still grow, and we'll save 1 trillion dollars in 12 months.

    It's time that government workers start appreciating their jobs and the thought of losing them at a moment's notice. Maybe this will make the government for efficient and I won't have to wait in line for 30 minutes every time I go to the Social Security office. But for the moment, and to save a trillion dollars in the next year, I'm willing to wait another 30 minutes.
  18. ttpilot
    Report Abuse
    ttpilot - October 02, 2013 7:04 pm
    "State reels?" I hardly think we're "reeling" yet
  19. Roger Cornelius
    Report Abuse
    Roger Cornelius - October 02, 2013 6:26 pm
    So now, Republicans get to pick and choose what they want fund and not fund, how reckless.

    Did you hear the Republican led House of Representatives bring to the floor a bill that would include their own pay and how they would give up during shutdown?

    The only hurt Republicans care about is their own and playing patronizing little games is not the solution to this shutdown.
  20. Roger Cornelius
    Report Abuse
    Roger Cornelius - October 02, 2013 5:19 pm
    Noem and Thune are supposed to be lawmakers not lawbreakers and are not upholding the Constitution they swore to protect.

    The Affordable Care Act is LAW! It was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President into Law, the Supreme Court upheld most provisions of the law, including conservative Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

    If you own a vehicle you are required to have a driver's license, the vehicle must be registered with the state and you are required maintain liability insurance. It is the LAW.

    The tea party came into existence because of their hatred of our Nation's first black President, their early goals have now become realized. Like tea party darling Rep. Michele Bachman said cheerfully yesterday, "This is what we wanted all along".

    I'll repeat what I have been saying all along, this shutdown has nothing to do with Obamacare and everything to do with attacking our President.
  21. Dogwoman
    Report Abuse
    Dogwoman - October 02, 2013 4:26 pm
    Sorry but I am not an Obama-hater nor do I believe in swallowing all that bunk that the extremists are putting out to their low-information followers.
  22. Black Hawk
    Report Abuse
    Black Hawk - October 02, 2013 2:57 pm
    Republicans don't want a shutdown. They want shutdown-Lite.
  23. Report Abuse
    - October 02, 2013 2:38 pm

    I think you are the one one the kool-aid stains. Or is that tea-stains? In any event, you're certainly making your point that it's absolutely ok for a small group to hold the government captive if they don't like a law. This is a dangerous precedent that will do great damage in the long run. I don't think you will like it when the democrats do the same thing later on now that it's "acceptable practice". Absurd.

    It's very apparent that the teapubs don't have the votes to make this a stand-up vote. I'm not defending Obomacare, I am however denouncing the tactics that the far right of the Republican party are using. I hope what remains of the moderates can regain control and bring sanity back to the Republican party that I was once proud of.

  24. Rhudedog
    Report Abuse
    Rhudedog - October 02, 2013 1:27 pm
    This showdown is designed to make things hurt by the elite. It's a war declared by the ruling class against the unruly public. Too bad you have drunk the Kool-Aid ma'am
  25. SD parent
    Report Abuse
    SD parent - October 02, 2013 12:15 pm
    House Republicans are trying to push a number of bills to open parts of the government, including national parks and monuments. Democrats said no way. They clearly want to make it hurt.
  26. Dogwoman
    Report Abuse
    Dogwoman - October 02, 2013 11:01 am
    The GOP invited extremists to come into their parlor, so they now have to own it. They fed the monster, and now the monster is knocking at the door wanting more. The Republicans' pathetic attempts to blame the Dems are not fooling the American people. The nation's leading editorials are brutal.
  27. bookswoman
    Report Abuse
    bookswoman - October 02, 2013 10:16 am
    Everyone does realize that the issue is a small minority of our representatives are holding the country hostage, right? Lets look back at the Federalist Papers "If a faction consists of less than a majority," wrote James Madison in Federalist No. 10, "relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution."
  28. rcwraith
    Report Abuse
    rcwraith - October 02, 2013 8:55 am
    Yes, all bombers are grounded! Except for the ones that flew yesterday, and took off this morning... ;-)
  29. Rhudedog
    Report Abuse
    Rhudedog - October 02, 2013 8:47 am
    Let us remember why we are in this position: Barack Obama spent the beginning of his presidency ramming (his healthcare takeover) down the throats of the Congress and the American people
  30. Report Abuse
    - October 02, 2013 8:44 am
    I see that all of the shutdowns have enough staff to keep people out but not to open them! I think something like the IRS deal, selective areas designed to create the most controversy.
  31. RCStubbe
    Report Abuse
    RCStubbe - October 02, 2013 7:54 am
    tiredwrkr . . . the National Guard has been furloughed!
  32. Calvin
    Report Abuse
    Calvin - October 02, 2013 7:20 am
    Mount Rushmore employees — about half of whom are still working — blocked off pull-off areas.
    [And there is a nutshell folks you have it. Pull off areas on a PUBLIC road blocked to make it as difficult on the owners of this monument to "democracy" to stop and see it. Personally I have never gone back since the monstrosity of an entrance was jammed down everyone's throat years ago.]

    those who were planning to rely on government.
    [Perhaps people should try relying on themselves more, and on government less?]

    The Senate, controlled by Democrats, would not concede.
    [And there are still people who think that it was ONLY the Republicans?]
  33. tiredwrkr
    Report Abuse
    tiredwrkr - October 02, 2013 7:14 am
    lets see about the only nonessential workers at Mt Rushmore would be the toll booth workers and the interpretive rangers, all others are essential or private, the security is stiill working, maintenece still keeps the water etc. going. so let everybody park for free and the private sector will handle the rest OR we have a govenor with a Janklow attitude and just us the Nat Guard to take over the place.
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