Thousands affected locally by government shutdown: Air Force Academy chapel, Florissant Fossil Beds among landmarks closed
The Air Force Academy commissary was extra busy on Tuesday, one day after the partial United States government shutdown. That's because an announcement was made earlier in the day that beginning Wednesday the commissary would be closed until further notice.
That scenario was just one of many involving government run agencies in the Pikes Peak region. According to sources, most Defense Department offices employees showed up for work Tuesday morning, but the majorities of those workers received furlough notices and were sent home.
The federal government shutdown also affected the area's only national park, Florissant Fossil Beds in Florissant. Folks who visited the Fossil Beds' web site on Tuesday were greeted with this message:
“Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service web pages are not operating. For more information, go to www.doi.gov.”
The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau released a statement Tuesday morning stating that the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel and Peterson Air & Space Museum were closed temporarily due to the current government status.
The statement also read that even though Pikes Peak is federally owned, the mountain is operated via a permit from the National Forest Service with the City of Colorado Springs.
“All attraction employees, including forest rangers, are employed by the City and thus not affected by the shutdown. Pikes Peak, the Summit House and the Pikes Peak Highway, are all open and operating normally,” the statement read.
The Air Force Academy football team's game at Navy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday was also cancelled. Air Force released a brief statement early Tuesday morning.
“At this time, travel for all intercollegiate athletics is cancelled - this includes the Air Force-Navy game on Saturday, 5 Oct.
The statement also said that Air Force will attempt to play all home intercollegiate athletic contests but those may be cancelled, as well.
By Tuesday afternoon there was talk that the football game - which is sold out and scheduled to be televised nationally by CBS - might be back on due to private funding. According to various Colorado Springs news outlets, a military source stated there is a 50/50 chance that the game will be played with conference fees, conference television money and ticket revenue making up for a lack of government funding.
A decision must be made by 10 a.m. Thursday or the game will be cancelled or postponed. A likely makeup date is Dec. 7. In the meantime, Air Force is practicing as if it might be traveling to the east coast to play the game.
Even some Air Force Academy civilian employees were furloughed Tuesday, including public affairs officers John Van Winkle and Meade Warthen.
“We will start our furloughs today and we will be on furlough until further notice,” Van Winkle said in an email. “We are not allowed to work, or volunteer assistance. Likewise, all government cell phones that we use are off and turned in for the duration of the furlough/shutdown.”
Congressmen Doug Lamborn, whose constituents area spread over a large part of El Paso and Teller counties, furloughed 43 percent of his staff in Washington, D.C., according to his spokesman Catherine Mortensen.
The government shutdown wasn't felt on Wall Street on Tuesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 62.03 points at 15,191.70. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ were also up.