government shutdown

Lisa Autry

Friday marks the third week of a partial government shutdown stemming from the debate over funding for President Donald Trump’s southern border wall.  One of the towns feeling the effects of the debate is Hodgenville, Kentucky, the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln. 

When you drive through Hodgenville, you soon notice that it's Lincoln country.  The presence of our nation’s 16th president is felt everywhere: statues in the middle of the town square, the Lincoln Museum, Lincoln National Bank, the Lincoln’s Loft Bookstore, and the local radio station, Abe 93.7.

“Our town sees anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 visitors each year," said Lincoln Museum Assistant Director Rob Thurman.

Friends of Mammoth Cave

The partial government shutdown has suspended visitor services at national parks, but the message has not reached many people arriving at one of Kentucky’s most popular sites.

A volunteer group is greeting visitors who continue to show up at Mammoth Cave National Park, including some from other countries.

Friends of Mammoth Cave set up a temporary information table at the national park after some members of the volunteer organization saw many people surprised to find locked doors at the visitors center. Volunteers are offering brochures on area attractions provided by tourism groups from Barren, Edmonson and Hart counties, where the national park is located.

The partial government shutdown is having an impact on some outdoor enthusiasts in the southern Kentucky region. The Green River Ferry at Mammoth Cave National Park is closed and that’s affecting some hikers and cyclists.

The visitors center at Mammoth Cave National Park is closed and no tours are being held as a result of the government shutdown, but the hiking and bicycling trails at the park are still open the public.

Eddie Bruner is director of Cave Country Trails, a group that promotes cycling, horseback riding, canoeing and hiking in the cave area of southern Kentucky.

WKDZ Radio

The partial shutdown of the federal government has impacted U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in Kentucky. 

One victim of the government shutdown is the USDA Rural Development program. Some of the services in that program include mortgage loans and grants to individuals in rural areas; investment in rural broadband and electric infrastructure; improved roads and ports; funding for water and wastewater treatment facilities.

Here’s part of the recorded message from a call today to the USDA Rural Development Kentucky State office:

“We are on furlough due to the lapse in federal government funding. Please leave a voicemail or email. Please note that we do not have access to email or voicemail due to the current lapse in funding. We look forward to returning your message once funding has been restored.”

Liam James Doyle/NPR

As the partial government shutdown nears the two-week mark, one study suggests Kentucky is not among the states most impacted. 

When government operations cease, certain federal employees work without pay or are furloughed, including law enforcement officers, IRS workers, and NASA employees.  According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, the commonwealth had 35,618 federal workers as of June 2018.

Mammoth Cave National Park

The shutdown of the federal government has impacted one of Kentucky’s most popular tourist destinations - Mammoth Cave National Park. 

This is the Dec. 28 recorded phone message at the Kentucky destination that’s considered the world's longest known cave system with more than 400 miles of surveyed passageways:

“Thank you for calling Mammoth Cave National Park. Due to the lapse of appropriations and the subsequent partial shutdown of the federal government, Mammoth Cave National Park will not operate cave tours, provide visitor services, or operate the Green River Ferry during the government shutdown. Park roads, lookouts and trails will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited.”

WKU Public Radio

National parks are ready to welcome back visitors after a brief government shutdown.

During a partial government shutdown, maintenance employees, tour guides and most other personnel are furloughed. Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park was one of many parks with limited services and that meant no cave tours over the weekend. Even in winter that’s a big deal. John Garder at the National Parks Conservation Association, said visitors spent more than $30,000 on an average January day at Mammoth Cave in 2016.

Another high-ranking Kentucky Republican lawmaker is predicting that there won’t be a government shutdown in January.

In an interview in his Washington office, Somerset Republican Congressman Hal Rogers told the Courier-Journal “if we don’t do something, there will be a shutdown, but we’re going to do everything possible to avoid it.”

Kentucky’s Fifth District Representative joins Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in calling on Congress to make sure there is not a repeat of the shutdown that closed the federal government for 16 days in October. The shutdown ended when a stopgap spending plan was passed that funds the government until January 15.

Congressman Rogers and his Democratic counterpart are asking a special budget conference group to send them overall government spending numbers by Thanksgiving, in order to expedite the process of creating a new spending plan.