Shutdown end opens gates to Kennesaw Mountain park
by Nikki Wiley
October 18, 2013 12:47 AM | 3041 views | 8 8 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Hitt, left, was able to return to the welcome center at the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park on Thursday to continue his research with the assistance of Willie ‘Swampy’ Johnson, who is a retired history teacher from Harrison High School now working part time at the park. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Michael Hitt, left, was able to return to the welcome center at the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park on Thursday to continue his research with the assistance of Willie ‘Swampy’ Johnson, who is a retired history teacher from Harrison High School now working part time at the park.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
slideshow
Julie Turner, left, and her brother Drew Adams, a retired Walton High School history teacher, also returned to the welcome center after the park reopened.<br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Julie Turner, left, and her brother Drew Adams, a retired Walton High School history teacher, also returned to the welcome center after the park reopened.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
slideshow
MARIETTA — The gates that had been shut for almost three weeks were opened on Thursday welcoming back outdoor and history enthusiasts to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park after Congress struck a last-minute deal to re-open the government.

The national park had been closed since Oct. 1 when the federal government partially shut down because Congress failed to come to an agreement on a budget.

Republicans used the budget battle as a way to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, and accused Democrats of being unwilling to negotiate.

Democrats defended the healthcare law and accused Republicans of shutting down the government because they oppose the law.

Though the partial government shutdown closed national parks and monuments and furloughed thousands of federal employees, other government services like the United States Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the scandal-ridden National Security Agency continued to function.

Drew Adams, a retired high school teacher who lives in Marietta, came to the park with his family Thursday to see “Kennesaw: One Last Mountain,” a film that premiered at the Strand Theatre last month and is now being shown in the park’s welcome center. The welcome center was closed during the shutdown.

Parking lots had been mostly empty around the mountain during the closure, but Adams said he did spot a few people who made their way into the park.

“It’s kind of interesting how people still parked and used the trails,” he said.

Some parking areas around the mountain are operated by Cobb County, instead of the National Parks Service, and were not closed during the shutdown.

Adams rides his bicycle near the park and hikes the mountain often. He’s glad to see it’s re-opened and says the parts of the government that citizens like were selected to bear the brunt of the shutdown.

“To me, it seems like the parts of the government, like national parks, are what got hurt,” he said.

Other less popular agencies didn’t seem to skip a beat.

The Obama administration selected what parts of the government would be shut down during the impasse.

Michael Hitt of Roswell also made his way to the park on Thursday to conduct historical research. He’s developed friendships with employees of the park and realizes that they weren’t to blame for the closure.

“I’m just glad they’re back,” Hitt said.

Chief Ranger Anthony Winegar said employees were back in their routines on Thursday.

“For us, it’s very much back to our normal way of doing business,” Winegar said. “For the rest of the staff, I think they’re excited to get back to work. It’s all smiling faces. Everything is pretty much where it was when they left it.”

Winegar said the park’s four employees who remained at work during the shutdown without pay have been promised that they will be paid. Those who were furloughed Oct. 1 through Oct. 16 will also be paid for the time they did not work, according to the budget deal reached late Wednesday.

Employees at the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area were working on Thursday to get the park, also closed due to the shutdown, open again.

“Our goal is to have all areas of the park open by (6 p.m. on Thursday),” said Scott Pfeninger, acting superintendent.

“Today is the first day park staff have been back in some of these areas, so we will be checking for any safety hazards. If we find trees down or other unsafe conditions, we may delay opening some sites until those are cleared up.”

Congressional Republicans at odds

The vote to re-open the government and avoid a national default pitted Georgia’s Republicans against each other.

Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson voted for the bill that gave no concessions to tea party Republicans who demanded a budget that defunded Obamacare. The Democrat-controlled Senate weighed in first with a bipartisan 81-18 vote.

All of Georgia’s Republicans in the U.S. House voted against re-opening the government. It was a 285-144 vote in the House that put the government back to work.

“Finding positive solutions to those challenges is what the American people elected us to do,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell). “That there’s now an agreement in place to talk about how we solve them is a good first step, but one has to wonder why the Democrat majority in Washington needed two weeks of a government shutdown and a run-up to the debt ceiling in order to agree to talk about doing their job.”

The agreement passed is just a temporary truce and will send lawmakers back to the negotiating table early next winter.

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) maintains it’s not over.

“There may have been some disagreements over strategy, but Republicans are united when it comes to fighting President Obama’s and Senate Democrats’ liberal tax-and-spend policies, blocking tax increases and eliminating government interference into our everyday lives—whether it be exam rooms, board rooms, or family rooms,” Gingrey said.



Comments
(8)
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Lib in Cobb
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October 18, 2013
The GOP/Tea Party were more than willing to cause hardship tens of thousands of middle class people within our government. Yes, they will receive back pay and that is deserved, however the damage is done involving the lack of respect for those who keep the wheels turning.

The GOP continues to inflict significant damage on themselves, while causing hardship to the average working women and men in this country.

Vote your conscience.
A Taxpayer
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October 18, 2013
"The Obama administration selected what parts of the government would be shut down during the impasse." 'Nuff said. And I will be voting my conscience, thank you very much.
Lib in Cobb
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October 19, 2013
@Taxpayer: Just who caused the shutdown? President Obama , NO! The Democrats, NO! The GOP/TP. YES!

You and Cruz have a very odd way of looking at things, up is down and down is up, a significant loss where the GOP gained nothing other than more contempt is called a victory.

If you and Cruz were keeping score in the NBA, the Hawks would be world champions every year.
ElectroRanger
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October 18, 2013
"The Obama administration selected what parts of the government would be shut down during the impasse."

Is that editorializing? I thought this was a news story. Because you offer no proof of what the reasoning is behind it. The reason the parks closed is because there was no funding appropriated to them and they are REQUIRED TO CLOSE BY LAW to not infer any further debt to the federal government as required by the anti deficiency act that has been in place for over a hundred years.

Don't make some off-hand comment without any source to support it, leave that to the editorial pages please.
James67
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October 18, 2013
Great the parks are re-opened! Really dumb for our government to have shut them down in the first place.
I16
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October 18, 2013
Could not been a better vote, just as expected of Shameless and Johnnie.

Georgia Finest, Shame and Road.
thanks gringey!
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October 18, 2013
I want to personally thank Phill Gringey for his part in the shutdown which ultimately will deliver Georgia to Michelle Nunn.

This was the best prescription Gringey could have written for the state.

THANKS DOC YOU FINALLY GOT SOMETHIN' RIGHT!

Hey maybe it wasn't what Gringey was trying to do, but frequently, excellent outcomes are happy accidents, aren't they!!
jjmule
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October 18, 2013
Panama, Sam's Daughter will make a great senator.
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