By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KNOB NOSTER, MO (KCTV) -
The government shutdown is effecting civilian government employees all over the country, but it's striking especially close to home in Knob Noster, MO, where Whiteman Air Force Base is located.
The base is doing all they can to deal with the shutdown.
Whiteman is one of the most critical Air Force bases to the military as it's home to the B2 Bomber. But right now the base is dealing with the struggles of the government shutdown having sent home nearly 300 federal civilian employees.
Ian Smith, 19, is on his way to his second job and that's a good thing. Smith works on the base and, with the government shutdown, he's losing about $200 a week in pay and it's hitting his pocketbook.
"The gas is a big issue. It's my dad's birthday today and it's going to be hard to be able to find him something," he said.
"You can't simply pull away a large portion of your work force and expect them to work the way they did before," said Capt. John Severns, a USAF public affairs specialist.
With the shutdown, the base has been scrambling to make sure they continue to operate as close to normal as possible.
Right now the base's commissary (grocery store) and library are closed as well as several on-base family-related service offices. Some airmen have been re-assigned to do base maintenance and repair, like mowing and road work.
There's currently limited access to the base, because there are limited workers working the office. KCTV couldn't even get new video of the base, because there was no one there to bring our crews onto it.
There's also no postal delivery to the dorms on the base.
It's a major hassle, but officials at Whiteman said they'll make do as long as they can.
"We've never had to test how long we could do this without our civilian work force or more importantly without a bill that allows funding. We're able to keep going based on the personal and the supplies that we have, but it's not an ideal situation," Severns said.
Some support staff on the B2 Bomber have been reduced. Whiteman has called back several workers to keep the program operational, although they are not getting paid.
"These members of the 131st Missouri Air Guard bomb wing, they maintain the jet. Several of them fly the jet with us, and they provide integral support to the jet," Severns said. "They are missing paychecks as a result of this and that's going to have a negative impact on them and ultimately a negative impact on the entire mission."
During the summer, the base had to deal with similar furloughs for several days. They're hoping this shutdown doesn't last too long.
Whiteman Air Force Base has also had to limit other facilities. The base's auto repair shop is down to just being open 20 hours a week and, while the fitness center is still open, most of the classes have been canceled as well.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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