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By SAM ALLEN
Daily News Staff Writer
The U.S. federal government initiated a partial shutdown on Dec. 22. Eighteen days later 800,000 employees are still affected. More than half are working without pay with some of their duties curtailed, and the rest have been temporarily laid off, according to the New York Times. Those working are expected to receive payment for their work during the shutdown after the government resumes.
Here in Ketchikan, the shutdown is impacting residents working for the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Forest Service, Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration.
Many local workers affiliated with the agencies were instructed not to comment on the shutdown. Some who were contacted by the Daily News gave contact information for federal Alaska-based public relations employees who were either furloughed , or declined to comment and gave contact info for national public relations staff who either didn’t respond to email and/or had voice messages saying that they themselves been furloughed.
The U.S. Coast Guard in Ketchikan is operating without pay according to Lt. Brian Dyken, spokesperson for Coast Guard District 17.
According to Lt. Zach Vaughn, Coast Guard public affairs officer in Ketchikan, 44 civilian employees have been furloughed.
There are 135 active-duty Coast Guard members assigned to the base in Ketchikan and collocated units, according to Vaughn.
Lt. Brian Dykens, Coast Guard spokesperson for District 17, said “Units in Ketchikan are continuing to support and conduct essential missions.”
This includes search and rescue missions, as well as port and homeland safety and security, law enforcement and environmental response.
Dykens said the personnel typically furloughed are from the engineering, human resources and information technology departments.
All FAA employees in Ketchikan who are working are working without pay, according to Cindy Hoggard, supervisor at Ketchikan Flight Service Station. There are about nine people in her office. A national public relations number for the FAA had a voice message that the employee was furloughed.
Transportation Security Administration personnel nationwide and in Ketchikan are working without pay. The agent contacted said he was instructed not to comment, but gave a number for someone in Alaska who could. That person said they couldn’t comment, but gave the Daily News a number to a federal public relations person on the East Coast, who’s phone had a message that they’ve been furloughed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has experienced shut-downs nationwide. The Tongass National Forest office phone in Ketchikan has a voice message that says, “The U.S. Forest Service Tongass National Forest is closed at this time to to a lapse in federal funding. Thank you.”
In the Federal Building downtown on Mill Street, the only operating office is the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection.
When asked how they’ve been affected by the government shutdown, the local agency staff declined to comment. They gave the Daily News a number for a public affairs officer in Anchorage, who said he couldn’t comment, but gave the Daily News a number for a public affairs office located in San Francisco. This public affairs officer said he was unable to comment and gave a number and email for a national public affairs officer in Washington D.C., a Daily News email sent there was not returned and a phone call went unanswered. The voicemail inbox was full or a message could not be left.
When talking with Staci Feger-Pellessier, the FBI public relations director in Anchorage, about a separate matter last week, she said she was not allowed to talk about anything unless it was an imminent threat.