Local residents rally to help families impacted by shutdown

The NU 2 U Resale Shop in Manistee is accepting donations to benefit the U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — As the partial government shutdown entered its 25th day on Tuesday, with no clear end in sight, local residents and businesses in Manistee County are banding together to help those who are impacted.

The shutdown stems from President Donald Trump’s demands for a $5.7 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, successful Democratic and Republican negotiations to reopen the government have not been made.

According to the Associated Press on Tuesday, as the shutdown drags on into week four Trump reportedly rejected a short-term legislative fix, declaring he will “never ever back down.”

In the coming days, Trump is expected to sign legislation authorizing back pay for some 800,000 federal workers, who have been idled or are working without pay for the term of the shutdown.

At the end of December, the U.S. Coast Guard members were able to receive their final paychecks of 2018 in a one-time maneuver.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee is currently active, but personnel are on duty without a promise for paychecks in 2019 until the government reopens.

However, Coast Guard members will not receive their first paychecks of the year, which was scheduled for Tuesday.

“There is temporary interruption in pay, because of the shutdown,” said Petty officer Adrian Ledesma, with the U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee. “But we will be back-paid upon the government passing an approved budget. Once everything comes back online, Coast Guardsmen will get paid for the time they worked.”

The U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee is currently active, and personnel are on duty without a promise for paychecks in 2019. (News Advocate File Photo)

Funds for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are covered by the Department of Defense, which was able to receive its full funding. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which is experiencing a lapse in funding.

While Ledesma said the temporary interruption in pay did have the potential to impact the lives of Coast Guard members and their families, local nonprofits, veterans, organizations and even financial institutions are reaching out to help.

“Some groups are doing food drives for Coast Guard families, as well as helping out with essential living supplies,” Ledesma said. “Financial institutions are offering Coast Guardsmen forgiveness on past due payments.”

Stacy Helminiak, of the NU 2 U Manistee Resale Shop, said the antique store is offering residents a chance to give back to local Coast Guard members, who are in need of donations.

“I am just trying to rally up some food for them,” Helminiak said. “They are there for us when we need it.”

A recent Facebook post on the NU 2 U page stated: “We need to rally hard and fast for our beloved Coast Guard Station. With the government shutdown, these fine men and women will NOT get paid. They still have to show up and work.”

A drop box is located at NU 2 U — at 353 River St. in Manistee — accepting gift cards and nonperishable food items. Cash or checks are not accepted.

“The box will be open as long as I can do this,” she said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

Another local business rallying for support is the Diner 31, located at 267 Arthur St. in Manistee. Free meals will be offered to local Coast Guard personnel and their family members.

A recent Facebook post on the Diner 31 page stated: “It appears that our local community has been affected by the government shutdown. We have a local Coast Guard station with a great group of members who are not getting paid during the shutdown.

“We would like to offer each Coast Guard member a free meal for them and their family. Stop in to Diner 31 and show your server your active duty Coast Guard ID and receive a free meal from our family to yours. We thank you for your service.”

Call (231) 887-4158 for more information.

The United Way of Manistee — located at 449 River St. — also announced in December its effort to collect food and monetary donations for the Coast Guard. For more details call (231) 723-2331.

“We are absolutely stunned by the amount of generosity and kindness this community has shown us; especially during these uncertain times,” Ledesma said. “Our command is working with several charities and other organizations to find ways to help Coast Guardsmen that stays in line with the coast guard legal and ethical requirements for gift giving.”

According to Ledesma, gifts and donations to the Coast Guard need to go through the proper channels to adhere to transparency standards.

“There can’t be a perception of favoritism,” he said. “All organizations looking to help are vetted by our command.”

Ledesma said it is a quiet time time of year as far as “operational tempo,” but the Coast Guard is always vigilant, and response crews train constantly.

“Regardless of the funding situation, Coast Guardsmen remain committed to carrying out the mission as they would any other day,” he said. “We’re always vigilant this time of year. We get a lot of calls for ice recuse missions.”

Other local impacts due to the shutdown include the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Huron-Manistee National Forests Cadillac/Manistee ranger station.

A majority of the workers with the USDA are on furlough, including supervisors and rangers in the forestry service in Michigan.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests’ website includes the following banner headline: “Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue.”

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also has a shutdown notice on its website that reads: “Due to the current lapse of federal appropriations: this website may not be up to date; transactions submitted via this website might not be processed until appropriations are enacted; and we may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.”

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Ludington Biological Station is located in downtown Manistee and staffs about 15 people.

Benzie County Record Patriot staff writer Colin Merry contributed to this report.

A HELPING HAND

Other known local impacts due to the shutdown include the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Huron-Manistee National Forests Cadillac/Manistee ranger station.

If you know anyone impacted who would like to share their story, they are encouraged to contact the News Advocate at advocate@pioneergroup.com or (231) 723-3592.

Any other organizations or businesses who are helping out the Coast Guard or any other federal workers affected by the shutdown are also encouraged to contact the News Advocate.

avatar

Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

Leave a Reply