The Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fresno will be open today and run as usual despite the federal government shut down, thanks to advanced funding for next year.
The Veterans Health Administration, which operates VA medical centers, announced Monday that "the hospital and all of our clinics will stay open," said Sheryl Grubb, a spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs Central California Health Care System, which operates the hospital, three area clinics and employs about 1,100 people.
"Our funds are appropriated in advance so we will still continue to serve veterans," Grubb said.
The news came as a relief to VA Central California, which is one of the largest federal employers in the region and one of several Valley agencies faced with uncertainty as the government wrestled over a federal budget.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Sacramento District said Monday afternoon that its projects and recreation parks would temporarily continue or stay open for at least a few days using what remains from the prior year's funding.
The district manages 10 parks in California, including Eastman and Hensley lakes near Madera, Pine Flat Lake near Sanger, Success Lake near Porterville and Lake Kaweah near Lemon Cove.
"These are important projects to improve safety for our communities and we're going to keep working on them as long as we possibly can," Col. Mike Farrell, the district commander, said in a news release.
"We're still hopeful Congress will pass a spending bill and we're doing everything we can to minimize any impacts of a funding lapse to our work and our work force."
If a bill is not passed, 22 employees funded by the Department of the Army would be immediately furloughed, the Army Corps said. The remaining staff of about 980 will stay on the job as long as money remains.
Once the funds run out, only staff essential to public safety work like dam operations and emergency response will continue to work.
The National Park Service tweeted Monday that all 401 national parks and facilities will close in the event of a shutdown. A park service contingency plan stated that all main roads would stay open but visitors centers and other facilities would close. Emergency response personnel also would remain.
Guests staying in hotels and campgrounds would be given 48 hours to leave the park.
The Wawona and Ahwahnee hotels in Yosemite, managed by DNC Parks and Resorts, will contact guests with reservations and work with those already at the hotel to re-book or to get refunds if the park is closed, spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro said.
The Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst has been fielding phone calls from visitors wondering how the park closure will affect their vacation, said Jarrod Lyman, director of media.
While access to the park will be restricted, there are other back areas to explore, Lyman said.
While a shutdown would immediately affect federal agencies and parks, it could create a problem later on for the recovering real estate market, a local housing expert said.
Federal Housing Agency and Veterans Affairs mortgage loans could be put on hold, interest rates could change, and lenders could be told not to make any new loans until everything is sorted out, said Lynn Heintz, a Realtor with Realty Concepts in Fresno.
"Anything that affects the economy would definitely affect housing," Heintz said. "If people can't get loans, it's going to shut down a lot of the market."
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