Shutdown tentacles keep extending

Oct. 10, 2013 @ 03:25 PM

The ripple effects of the federal government shutdown continue spiraling throughout the Triad, this time potentially affecting an agency that helps older adults.
The Piedmont Triad Regional Council Area Agency on Aging announced this week that it will implement staff furloughs, effective Monday, because of the shutdown. The agency based in Winston-Salem has a staff of 18.
The organization administers more than $12 million in federal, state and local funding to underwrite services for older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers in a 12-county area of the Piedmont. Its coverage includes the greater High Point area.
The majority of the agency’s funding comes through the federal government, meaning that money has been cut off because of the shutdown.
“The full-time staff of the Area Agency on Aging will be placed on furlough with 25 percent work hour reduction, and all part-time staff will be furloughed at 100 percent work hour reduction through October or until the federal shutdown ends,” the agency announced. 
The furloughs won’t impact programs that directly help older adults, such as Meals on Wheels, said Allison Brown, aging program planner. But the furloughs still will have an impact.
“Technical assistance for the community, funded entities, seniors and others, as well as advocacy, training, education, quality assurance and planning, will be limited and delayed by the reduction in staff time ... There will be occasions when we cannot respond promptly to requests for information or assistance with issues,” the agency says.
The shutdown also forced U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employees off their jobs as of Tuesday, including workers in the Triad. The Veterans Administration closed to the public 56 regional offices and furloughed 7,000 workers. The impact includes the Veterans Administration office in Winston-Salem, where demonstrations took place Tuesday.
U.S. House and Senate offices remain open during the shutdown, though at slimmed-down levels.
“During a federal government shutdown, congressional offices are required by law to operate only at a level that permits federal representatives to perform basic legislative duties,” according to a message from Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
Republican Sen. Richard Burr has a message on his office’s website saying that “my office in Washington, D.C. is open, but operating at very limited capacity to support the core legislative functions ...”
Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th, has kept open all his congressional offices except Rockingham County, which already was closed prior to the shutdown from a maternity leave, said Chief of Staff Ed McDonald. All of the offices of Rep. Mel Watt, D-12th, remain open, said Communications Director Keith Kelly.

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