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Top Stories of 2013: #1 - The Shutdown and Barksdale AFB

The two week government shutdown and it's impact on hundreds of military and civilian workers at Barksdale tops our list of 2013 stories.
There's an old saying: All politics are local.  That's very true to an extent.  But, when something a far-reaching as a government shutdown occurs... the ArkLaTex is within its reach.

That is this year's number one story - the federal government shutdown and it's impact at Barksale Air Force Base.

It was a speeding train. We were tied to the tracks. Just waiting to see if anyone in Washington would hit the brakes. Instead they threw more coal in the furnace.

"It's absolutely distressing. We can't underscore how much stress this puts on each person and the enterprise as a whole. We are all dedicated patriots who come into work every day wanting to do the best we can for our country."

But for some 400,000 civilian Defense Department workers... doing their best meant going home. October first the US government experienced its first shutdown since the mid-90's. Republican's in Washington wanted the Affordable Care Act de-funded. Democrats wouldn't agree. Both sides dug in their heels. And at Barksdale more than 300 members of the 307th Bomb Wing went of the job because lawmakers on capital hill wouldn't do theirs.

"We all hope congress gets together quickly and comes up with a viable solution sooner rather than later."

But it was not sooner. Instead, the shutdown lingered. And civilian employees weren't at their posts.

"They said we're shut down. It makes me sad because I love my job and i love seeing them in uniform. They're going to miss us."

Goodwill and the Arc of Caddo Bossier contract people to do several jobs on base... Janitorial, laundry, mail and commissary.

"Many people that work under our contract, even at the commissary, are some folks that have disabilities, even severe disabilities. Now they can't make money and can't work, so it's upsetting for us."

Finally, on October 16th, more than two weeks after it began, a deal was struck to re-open government. Barksdale workers were on their way back. No one more happy than the civilian employees.

"They're very excited. Most have been using their personal leave time and they'll be excited to get those paychecks. We've been discussing the contracts with the base and hopefully it'll mean they'll be going back to work."

While it's difficult to estimate how much the shutdown cost the local economy... Moody's projects the American economy lost as much as 28-billion dollars during the 16 day period.
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