Federal employees in Fremont County returning to workOct 18, 2013 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Writer
The government shutdown has lifted after 16 days, and federal workers in Fremont County are heading back to work.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead issued a press release Thursday welcoming back furloughed employees and asked workers to return as soon as possible.
"A total of 239 state employees were on partial or full furlough," the release stated. "The impacted agencies were the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Workforce Services, Military Department and Department of Family Services."
The shutdown, which went into effect Oct. 1, affected positions funded partially or in whole by federal funds, which were not available during the shutdown.
Keith Guille, the public information officer for the DEQ, said roughly 107 of about 265 employees were furloughed in the department.
"The department's most affected were air quality, water quality and hazardous waste," Guille said.
He said work really slowed at the department with the employees on furlough.
Guille said some employees were partially funded by federal funds, which meant that if 20 percent of an employee's pay came from federal funds, that employee would only work four days instead of five. He said some of the workers' pay is about 60 percent funded by the federal government.
Guille said the DEQ is playing catch up.
"It was very important to get the employees back in the office," Guille said. "I am glad and thankful the government has opened back up so now we can move forward."
Employees at the Shoshone National Forest also were furloughed during the shutdown.
According to Kristie Salzmann, public information officer for the Shoshone National Forest, all the employees are happy to be back.
"We are focused on public service, so it's great to be back," she said.
Salzmann said all employees, except for the forest superintendent, three district rangers and three law enforcement employees, were furloughed.
Currently, employees are working to reopen facilities that are typically open this time of year. Salzmann said the shutdown caused some events to be postponed or canceled until next year, so the department is working on getting everything back on track.