Blanchard Springs Caverns reopened Dec. 28 after being closed since Dec. 22 because of the federal government shutdown.
Although the shutdown continues, the Caverns is able to operate using its local fees, District Ranger Jim McCoy explained.
“There is technically no lapse in funding because we have fee dollars to cover operation costs,” McCoy said.
Money collected from ticket purchases is local funding and is not tied to congressional appropriation, he explained.
While the winter season is a slow time for the caverns, McCoy believes it is very important for a business to maintain regular business hours.
The shutdown is affecting a few other offices in Stone County, including Farm Serivce Agency. Staff who do loans, including Branch Manager Rod Luther, have been temporarily laid off, technician Bailey Bramlett said Thursday. The rest of the staff had continued working last week but were instructed that Friday, Dec. 28, would be their last day until the shutdown ends.
Employees do expect they will receive back pay for the time missed, as has been customary after other shutdowns.
Jacob Branscum, a Conservation District technician, said the Soil Conservation and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are remaining open for now.
“As far as us, for the time being, they’ve told NRCS to carry on as usual,” he said.
Bryan McLester, postmaster at the U.S. Post Office in Mountain View, confirmed that postal service or jobs with the USPS will not be affected by the shutdown.
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