Government reopening sees Pa. parks, offices abuzz

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm •  Published: October 17, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Federal offices and national parks in Pennsylvania reopened for business Thursday, a day after U.S. lawmakers approved legislation to end a 16-day partial government shutdown that idled thousands of federal employees in the state while inconveniencing tourists and costing businesses that rely on them.

Barricades at Gettysburg National Military Park and Valley Forge National Historical Park were removed Thursday morning. A few hours later, Philadelphia's famed historical attractions followed suit, admitting visitors for the first time since Oct. 1.

"So here we are, and luck would be in our favor that we finally got the open doors to come and see all these great sites in Philadelphia," said Leslie Sworsky, a teacher from St. Francis, Minn., as she waited for the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to reopen.

In Pottsville, the shutdown's end was a relief for James Ulrich, an unemployed 19-year-old who needed a replacement Social Security card but had been unable to get one from the local Social Security office.

"They just said, 'We're not issuing new or (replacement) Social Security cards right now, so you're going to have to wait until the government's back up and running.' ... So we waited until last night, when we heard it was open, and rushed over here this morning," he said.

Ulrich's old Social Security card had been lost during a move. Lacking a replacement, he has been unable to apply for jobs.

"Pretty frustrating, because I know I can work," said Ulrich, a high school dropout who needs a job while he studies for his GED.

Adding insult to injury, Ulrich was told Thursday that a replacement card would take another two weeks to arrive. So, in all, his job search will have been delayed more than a month.

"I don't have a really good outlook on the government," he said.

Some farmers failed to receive subsidy payments or loans as scheduled, while others postponed the sale of crops because they lacked critical data on yields from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA's reports on the corn and soybean harvests affect the price at which those crops are bought and sold, said Mark O'Neill, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

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