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Cattaraugus County officials aren’t expecting any major impacts from the partial shutdown of the federal government, which on Friday entered its 21st day.

As of Saturday, the shutdown was the longest since 1995 when the government shutdown under President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Cattaraugus County Administrator Jack Searles surveyed county department heads as the shutdown headed into a second week. There was some concern for food stamp recipients, he said

That fear was eased when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that there was funding for food stamps for millions of Americans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through February.

Then there are federal workers and contractors who missed a two-week paycheck on Friday — some of whom were required to report to work anyway, and those who were furloughed.

One example is the Allegany County Farm Service, where federal employees have been furloughed without pay.

A recording tells callers the staff is on furlough because of the shutdown and to leave a voicemail or send an email. The employees don’t have access to voicemail or email during the shutdown and inquiries will be addressed when the shutdown ends.

Farmers waiting to hear about loans through Farm Credit Service, a USDA program, will have to wait until after the shutdown is resolved.

Nathan Blasey, president of the Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau said the shutdown will impact the second round of tariff payments to farmers affected by President Trump’s agriculture product tariffs. “It wasn’t much anyway,” he added.

It may also delay home loans and others where applicants income must be verified by mortgage lenders.

Searles said he asked department heads to look into any federal funding, most of which goes first through New York State.

“We’re not being informed by any state agency to curtail services over a lack of federal funding due to the shutdown,” Searles explained.

“We’re keeping a wary eye on our federal revenues, but we’ve seen no effects on funding streams at this point,” Searles added.

In McKean County, Pa., at the federal prison, FCI-McKean, Scott Colson, acting executive assistant, told The Bradford Era last week that the central office of public affairs for the federal prison system has been furloughed, or temporarily closed, from the shutdown.

“So, I cannot really provide any official statements,” Colson said. “The only thing I can provide is that right now, currently, FCI-McKean continues to operate normally.

“We’re under the shutdown with the rest of the government, but everything is normal,”  Colson continued. “Our next paycheck is Monday, so we’re a bit anxious, and it appears that is not going to take place. But we’re hopeful everything will get resolved quickly.”  

Colson said the medium-security prison, which houses more than 1,200 male inmates, remains staffed and “the inmates are still programming. We haven’t altered anything we do.”

At the USDA Forest Service, serving the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania,  answering machines indicate that offices are closed due to a lapse in federal funding.

Renee Gamela, communications director for U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., was able to provide a statement on the Forest Service operations.

“Existing timber sales at the Allegheny National Forest are taking place with a small crew of employees who have been determined to be essential to the safety and operations of the forest,” Gamela said. “It is Congressman Thompson’s hope that Democratic leaders of the House will come to the table and work with the President to end the partial shutdown so all federal employees can return to work.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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