By Dan Sewell
CINCINNATI: The impact of the partial federal government shutdown began rippling across Ohio on Tuesday morning, with a national military museum and national park closing and thousands of federal employees going on furlough.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron both closed in the aftermath of the shutdown that began at midnight after failure to break a budget impasse.
Some 8,700 civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton had been notified earlier that they would go on unpaid leave when the shutdown began. The base has a total workforce of about 29,000, including civilian and military personnel. At the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force there, only three of 95 employees remained on duty to safeguard exhibits that include vintage military planes. The museum is a popular site for military reunions, and averaged 2,087 visitors daily in October 2012.
The shutdown will also entail delays in government-backed mortgages and trimmed congressional staffs. A spokeswoman at the Dayton VA Medical Center said Tuesday that services for veterans continued as normal.
Shannon Marino, 33, a bar manager from Maple Heights, found the Cuyahoga Valley park restroom still unlocked before she headed off on a morning 18-mile bike ride. Rangers later began locking restrooms and visitor centers remained closed.
“I feel like the park system helps people to relax and find peace of mind in today’s society, so it’s an important part to have this area open for everybody,” Marino said. “The government shutdown is unnecessary.”
The park is crisscrossed by roads operated by local government, and much of it remained accessible. However, park officials asked visitors to respect the shutdown and visit other areas of the historical canal towpath outside the national park.
The privately operated scenic railroad at the national park won’t run during the shutdown because it needs park employees for help, park spokeswoman Mary Pat Doorley said.
The congressional offices of Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, furloughed 70 percent of their staff Tuesday. The first-term congressman said he would donate his salary during the shutdown to Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank and the Wounded Warrior project to benefit injured veterans.
Associated Press writer Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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