The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Some furloughs end early, base commissaries reopen
Action over the weekend that sent roughly 350,000 furloughed civilian federal employees back to work was welcome news to the Fredericksburg area.
Under the Pay Our Military Act that President Barack Obama signed into law, the Department of Defense “could eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement Saturday.
That meant that some on area military bases could return to work, and some services previously halted by the federal government shutdown could be restored.
The 110 Army civilian employees furloughed at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County returned to work Monday, according to a news release from the post.
Hunting and fishing will be allowed on the post, Outdoor Recreation will resume issuing hunting and fishing licenses and the identification card office will reopen today, the release said.
Army family lodging, gyms, outdoor recreation and food and beverage services are open during their normal operating hours as well.
The post does not have a commissary, but the post exchange will be open, said Fort A.P. Hill spokesman Bob McElroy.
Naval Support Facility Dahlgren has remained fully open, but the commissary closed.
It was authorized to reopen today, said Gary Wagner, spokesman for Naval Support Activity South Potomac, the host command for the base.
At Quantico, the commissary is open again, according to its website.
The hunting program at Quantico is still closed, but the fishing program is open.
Some area residents were told they could return to work.
Spotsylvania County Supervisor Timothy McLaughlin, a product manager for Marine Corps Systems Command, was among the federal civilians who returned to work Monday.
McLaughlin, who was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in 2011 on a conservative platform, said it was tough not knowing when he would be back on the job.
“There was no guidance coming out from anybody,” said McLaughlin, who blamed President Obama and the Senate for refusing to negotiate with the Republican-led House of Representatives.
He was also among the civilian defense workers who were furloughed for six days this year as part of sequestration.
Ending the most recent furloughs for the majority of Defense Department civilians was a step in the right direction, McLaughlin said, though he said he did have a qualm “as a taxpayer.”
“Why would you send everybody home if you’re going to pay them anyway?” he said.
And he says he doesn’t think all of the political theater will stop what he sees as a problem with federal spending.
“All this pain and anguish, and nothing will be resolved at the end of the day,” he said.
Staff reporter Jeff Branscome contributed to this story.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413