Topeka Just when the Battle of Black Jack was getting some national buzz, the government threatens to shut down.
If Republicans and Democrats in Washington can’t reach an agreement on a budget by midnight, much of the federal government closes shop, and that means shutting down the 394 parks and historic sites run by the U.S. National Park Service.
That includes the Topeka-based Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, which currently features an exhibit on the Battle of Black Jack. The battle fought in Douglas County in 1856 is being called the first fight in the lead-up to the Civil War.
David Barna, chief spokesman for the National Park Service, said that if the government shuts down, all the national parks, monuments, war sites and preserves would close, all visitors would have to leave and 17,000 workers would be on furlough. The national parks are getting about 800,000 visitors per day.
“That’s the big impact,” he said. “They (visitors) won’t have this experience, which is really sad.” In addition, the agency’s website also would be shut down. It receives a million hits per day, mostly from school children working on class reports and adults planning their vacations.
Social Security recipients would still get monthly checks, but military troops would not receive their full paychecks, according to the federal government. The air traffic control system would continue, as would emergency response agencies and the Border Patrol.
In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback’s office was taking a wait-and-see attitude. Brownback’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said the office wasn’t going to answer questions about a federal shutdown until it happened because there were so many variables in what could be affected.
At Kansas University, spokesman Jack Martin said grants and additional requests by students for financial aid could be delayed.
Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said as far as county services go, people won’t see any difference at all.
And in the agricultural sector, reports indicate that services related to law enforcement and public health, such as meat, poultry, eggs and grain inspections would continue. Funds have also been made available for nutrition programs and food stamps.
The Kansas Department of Transportation reports that a federal shutdown would have no effect on highway projects. The federal transportation funding law was extended by President Barack Obama through Sept. 30, according to KDOT spokesman Steve Swartz.