Federal employees return to work, concerns remain

Vicksburg Military Park reopens

VICKSBURG, MS (WLBT) - Monday can’t come fast enough for federal workers at the Vicksburg National Military Park. They will be back to full staff after some were furloughed during the government shutdown.

“We are so happy to be back and helping to preserve the park, provide for visitor opportunities to really enjoy the park,” said Bill Justice, Park Superintendent.

Justice said the government being shutdown for 35 days limited their abilities to keep the grounds safe.

“The National Cemetery had about 20 trees come down during the shutdown, and they remained there. It’s unsafe right now. There are hangers and what we call widow makers. We couldn’t deal with those.”

The park remained open for visitors during the shutdown because of city leaders in Vicksburg and the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park & Campaign.

The non-profit donated money to make sure the visitor experience continued.

Bess Averett, Executive Director of Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park, said “Over the past 35 days, we have sent approximately $53,000 to the federal government to keep basic operations open.”

President Trump agreed to reopen the government through February 15, while Democratic and Republican leaders discuss terms on border security funding.

Federal employees are wondering will there be another shutdown.

Justice said, “We work with what Congress and the President provide for us. We will adjust to whatever situations we have to work in.”

If there is another shutdown, the non-profit is ready to step in and help again.

“We will do everything in our power to keep the park open again, but we are a small organization and we do have limited funds,” said Averett.

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