Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 1995

S LIGHTS OUT, ROAD CLOSED FOR LOCAL OFFICES

November 15, 1995

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Local arms of federal agencies began coping Tuesday with snafus caused by the federal government shutdown.

Away game or not, athletic teams from Haskell Indian Nations University won't be hitting the road.

Classes were in session and offices open Tuesday at Haskell University, but it definitely wasn't business as usual. Like other local offices funded by the federal government, Haskell is coping with the shutdown of the federal government caused by the failure of President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders to reach a deal on the federal budget Monday.

No purchase orders or travel vouchers can be issued by the university, including those that would pay for athletic team's road trips and textbook orders for next semester, said Hannes Combest, assistant to the university's president.

The men's basketball team was to travel to Bismark, N.D., for a game this Saturday, but the game has been canceled, according to an official in the Haskell athletic office.

"That really undermines our credibility if we make these agreements and then break them because of things we can't control," Combest said. She said university officials are trying to talk with federal officials to solve some of the athletic program problems.

But that won't help with delayed orders of supplies and textbooks for next semester, Combest said. The university will have to pay higher costs to get the items shipped in time for the semester's start.

Haskell officials had been planning for the possibility of a government shutdown since the beginning of the school year.

Combest said the university had been operating without 24 regular staff members -- from faculty to kitchen help to security guards -- since school started this fall. She said school officials hoped to fill those positions as soon is the federal budget process is complete.

"We've already felt the impact of this in a lot of ways," Combest said.

At the Lawrence Army Recruiting office, 2223 La., personnel lived as if it were a century ago. At 1 p.m., they were ordered to turn off lights, computers, the fax machine and not make any outgoing phone calls. They also had to park and lock up their government vehicles and turn in company credit and toll cards.

"We're sitting here in the dark," said Sgt. First Class Lynn Wade, the recruiting station commander. But Wade had a stiff upper lip about the whole matter. "We're soldiers. We're used to adapting to situations. We've been out walking the neighborhoods. We will still recruit."

Although the officers will still get their paychecks, Wade said all Army applications processing have been suspended.

People who called the Lawrence Social Security office got a message that referred them to a toll-free number if they want to talk to a live person about an issue or problem.

But a call to that number ended up at another message.

"Due to the shutdown of the federal government, our 800 number is temporarily closed," the message said, referring queries back to the local social security office. "Because of a shortage of personnel, please contact your local office only if you have an emergency."

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