After a 16-day moratorium, national parks, military bases and museums were again open Thursday for business, including those in Michigan, after the lifting Wednesday night of the federal government shutdown.
The furlough idled hundreds of government employees in Michigan and frustrated thousands of residents who planned on visiting federal facilities such as the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor.
“I’m happy to say we reopened at 9 a.m. today,” Kristin Mooney, public affairs officer for the museum, said Thursday.
According to Mooney, the Ford Library will host 100 to 200 visitors on an average day.
“I’m sure the shutdown must have been frustrating for people who were looking forward to visiting the library,” Mooney said. “During the shutdown, we were limited to just essential staff; no one else was allowed in the building.
“But the signs have come down, and it’s nice to see the full staff back at work. We’re like a family here.”
Air operations were again underway at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, with 127th Wing A-10 Thunderbolt gunships and KC-135 Stratotankers again taking to the skies.
According to the 127th Wing’s office of public affairs, the lifting of the shutdown meant the return of all military technicians and federal civilian employees to the base Thursday morning, nearly 650 persons in all.
During the Oct. 1-16 shutdown, the base did not generate any aircraft sorties, and one drill weekend for reservists was canceled.
But on the upside, seven people did enlist in the 127th Wing during the shutdown.
“It’s obviously good news for Michigan and all the states,” said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the Michigan Budget Office.
The end of the shutdown restored a number of services in Michigan, including OSHA inspectors for workplace safety; inspections of new nursing home facilities and the availability of labor and market information.
It also means that the federally funded housing voucher program, which provides monthly rent subsidies for 24,000 low-income individuals, are again viable.
“We are hoping that we don’t go through the same exercise again in January,” Weiss said.
The Facebook message posted from the Upper Peninsula Thursday morning said it all: “It’s a great morning at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We are open — welcome back.”
“We’re thrilled to be back in business,” said Chief Ranger Tim Colyer, who has worked at the 35,000-acre national park for nearly nine years.
The park averages 1,420 visitors per day in October.
U.S. Army TACOM employee Jane Gabler was happy to hear that the defense plant had reopened.
“It’s definitely great news, everybody is back to work and the country and government are moving in the right direction,” said Gabler, who has worked at the Warren facility for 26 years.