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Shutdown ripples felt in Armstrong

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
A sign posted on the gated entrance at Crooked Creek Park notifies the public the facility is closed due to the government shutdown. Monday October 1, 2013

It is unclear how much impact the federal government shutdown will have on Armstrong County, but some ripple effects were felt in the area just hours after Monday's midnight deadline passed without a deal being reached.

According to the Social Security website, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments to beneficiaries will continue with no change in payment dates.

However, area offices like the one at 159 Butler Road in West Kittanning will offer limited services. Information about those services is posted on the website www.ssa.gov.

Armstrong County Commissioner Rich Fink said that the county's Financial Director Carly Cowan will be working to identify the federal dollars flowing into county government and county agencies.

“As of today, I think it is unclear what federal dollars will continue to flow and what will stop,” Fink said on Tuesday.

The shutdown has resulted in one meeting cancellation for the commissioners who were supposed to discuss ongoing issues with the locks and dams with members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Allegheny River Development Corp.

On Tuesday, the Corps closed down Crooked Creek Park to public use.

The 2,664-acre park, which is owned and operated by the Corps, reaches into portions of Bethel, Burrell and Manor townships. A sign posted on the gated park entrance alerted visitors to the closure.

Carol Davis, a public affairs specialist with the Corps' Pittsburgh office, said no park reservations were accepted throughout the day on Monday.

“Although we were planning for it, (the government) shutdown caught everybody a little off guard,” she said.

So for those who were still occupying camping sites on Tuesday, Davis said, the Corps was allowing them a limited amount of time to vacate the park (no later than 8 p.m. Wednesday).

A Corps news release noted that campers will receive a refund for any unused portion of their reservation and are being asked to call 1-888-448-1474.

Davis said the Allegheny River's Lock 6, 7, 8 and 9 will not be significantly impacted since operations at those locks have already been closed to boat traffic. However, she said, Lock 5 (Schenley) will remain open to commercial traffic with maintenance work being done only in cases where it may impact public safety and health.

Congressman weighs in

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, whose 3rd District covers all of Armstrong County, issued a news release Tuesday critical of the president and the Democratic Party.

“Last night, for the third time, the House did its job and passed bipartisan legislation to prevent a government shutdown and grant the American people relief from a job-killing law they've continuously opposed. For the third time, the Senate failed to follow,” said Kelly, adding that “the president and his party failed to do the right thing just so they could prop up a wrongful law (health care reform).”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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