Shutdown sends thousands of NJ base workers home

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
October 1, 2013 2:27:04 PM PDT
Thousands of workers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst were sent home after the government shut down Tuesday.

Of the 44,000 employees there, about 6,700 are civilians whose jobs are on hold while the budget mess is settled.

One worker, who only identified himself as Pete from Ocean County, is one of the civilian employees who was sent home.

"They just told us 'Until further notice you are furloughed and, when we call you, come on back in,'" said Pete, an electronics technician.

Another furloughed base employee, Augustus Zappini, blames Republicans.

"They could not get the votes to get rid of Obamacare, so now they're going to blackmail them,'" Zappini said.

Pete, however, disagreed.

"Harry Reid was talking about things that are dead on arrival. You can't have that, both sides have to talk," he said.

Wrightstown Mayor Tom Harper, who also owns a gas station right outside the base, is worried about the financial impact on his town.

"Without the joint base, Wrightstown is not going to be here and, as these people start losing their paychecks, they are not going to spend money in the town," he said.

The Stonehouse Eatery is one of the many businesses that depend on personnel from the base to stay in business.

"Today is a little bit slower here than normal, about 50% slower, I'd say. It's scary," said Patti Shields.

Mayor Harper is upset that Congress will still get pay and benefits while average federal workers suffer.

"The federal government is there to protect the people, help the people, not to screw them over like they're doing," Harper said.

Essential operations at the base - refueling and maintaining airplanes, moving troops and equipment - will all continue during the shutdown

Meanwhile, the website for the joint base can't be updated during the shutdown. However, updates will be posted on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JBMDL


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