Press-Republican

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October 17, 2013

Relief ready as shutdown solution seemed likely

MALONE — Wednesday, as rumblings grew about a possible federal-shutdown solution, Chastity Miller thought about the furloughed federal employees she knows. 

“I really hope (the Senate and House) come to a decision,” the director of the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation Office said about the votes expected perhaps as soon as Wednesday night.

Miller’s office is co-located in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) building in Malone, and when the three federal workers there were furloughed — without pay — on Oct. 1, the whole facility shut down.

So Soil and Water was forced to find new temporary digs for the duration.

Clinton County saw a similar scenario, though Miller said more federal workers were sidelined there, maybe 10 or so.

“They’re at home ... and not getting paid,” she said of USDA employees in both counties.

QUICK MOVES

Miller said she and her staff had little time to vacate the USDA building, where Soil and Water is given space rent-free.

“We had two hours to get the things we thought we would need for a few days and left. We didn’t think it would go on this long,” she said.

“We’re still getting paid, but we had to find someplace else to work,” she said.

They found that location at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office in the County Courthouse in Malone.

“We were kicked out in three hours,” said Nate Grue, district technician for Clinton County Soil and Water. “At first, we were working from home.”

But as of Wednesday, they had planned to set up shop in at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office next door to their regular space at the USDA, located at 6064 Route 22 in Plattsburgh.

Since there was no way to get the office’s phone messages or email, Grue said he planned to buy a pre-paid cellphone and provide that number to farmers through a sign on the office door for those who need to get in touch.

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