The federal government shutdown was felt locally in Gage County with the closure of Homestead National Monument of America, the area’s largest tourist attraction.
The National Park Service site was closed and all of its services were put on hold following a federal government shutdown that began over the weekend after officials failed to agree on a spending plan by Friday night.
A notice of the site’s closure was posted on social media, and park superintendent Mark Engler said signage was in place on Monday to let visitors know that Homestead had closed.
“Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, we will not be operating Homestead and there will be no visitor services provided, no permits issued or programs provided,” Engler said during the shutdown. “Our mission is to take care of the park and serve the American people, so we look forward to the conclusion of this so we can get back and we think it will be soon.”
An agreement was reached late Monday as Congress voted to temporarily pay for resumed operations. The vote will allow federal workers to return on Tuesday.
Engler said Homestead has 12 full-time employees and eight part-time workers who were impacted by the closure.
One worker remained at Homestead to care for the two main buildings, the Heritage and Education centers.
An ongoing film series about one-room schools that had been showing on the weekends had to be rescheduled, as as field trips and distance learning classes the Homestead provides.
While the facilities were closed, Engler added that the trail system connecting the two buildings remained open during the shutdown despite Monday's winter weather conditions.
“If people want to go on the trails they can do that, but we will not be maintaining those parking lots and that sort of thing,” Engler said of the closure.
Homestead also closed when the federal government shut down in October 2013. That shutdown lasted 15 days and it was estimated that as many as 3,000 potential guests of Homestead missed out.