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Government shutdown hits home

The political football that is the current government shutdown has hit home. Though there are no accurate numbers, many Lamar countians employed by government have been furloughed and are not getting paychecks. That has a ripple effect on the local economy. Among those are the employees at the Lamar Service Center, home to the National Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Center and Farmers Home Administration. That building is shuttered. Its services are on hold. Government-backed home loans are impacted by the closure. ’I spoke to Cindy Jones of Midstate Mortgage here in town and we know for sure VA, FHA and USDA rural loans are on hold,’ said broker Kent Kingsley of Traditions Realty. ‘I’m not sure about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.’ Agents at Dora Cox Realty noted business goes on despite new difficulties with governement loan programs. The local Head Start operation is open but those in other areas are not. The local operation was funded prior to the Oct. 1 shutdown. U.S. Mail is being delivered in that USPS is a quasi-private function. The E-Verify system is down so employers cannot check the immigration status of potential employees. Entitlement programs benefits, like food stamps and welfare, are being distributed though the WIC program’s administrative funds are in limbo. As of Oct. 3, Georgia WIC is only issuing vouchers in one month increments. Participants will continue to be approved for three months and are encouraged to keep their appointments at WIC clinics. Report vendors that are not accepting vouchers by calling 1-800-228-9173. If one can get through the technical glitches and crashes at Obamacare healthcare exchanges, it is still possible to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Federal workers will also receive their health care benefits but the premiums will be deducted from their paychecks ‘“ when they get them. Veterans Administration hospitals in Georgia will remain open. Veterans will also be able to get mental health counseling and get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Disability payments and pension benefits will be processed but the Board of Veterans Appeals is closed. Veterans looking to appeal a denial will have to wait until the shutdown ends. Unemployment checks will still be sent out though some payments may be delayed due to a reduction in workforce. Editor’s note: If you have been heavily impacted by the shutdown, we would like to hear your story. Contact us at 770.358.NEWS or news@barnesville.com.

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