Government shutdown day 20: Schools, parks, and farmers feel impact

    Keepers of the Kern and local volunteers in the Kern River Valley are keeping campgrounds clean while the forest service is shut down. (Photo courtesy Gary Ananian).

    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Taking the House floor Thursday in his first speech as representative, Congressman TJ Cox said as long as his federally employed constituents in the 21st District go without pay, so will he.

    "I am asking the Chief Administrative Officer to withhold my pay until our government reopens. This situation has gone on for far too long. It’s time to get back to work," Cox said.

    Kern County federal workers will miss a pay day Friday, including correctional officers at Taft Correctional Institute and park rangers overseeing the Sequoia National Forest.

    Local farmers and schools are cut off from government-funded programs and services they rely on.

    Farmers who applied for government relief aid to combat tariffs with China won't be getting their checks. In an effort to get those checks out to farmers, Cox voted on Thursday to re-open the United States Department of Agriculture.

    And the free meals that feed hundreds of Kern County elementary, middle and high school students may not be free for the rest of the year.

    Bakersfield City School District said it will receive funding through February, and will dip into financial reserves to continue the meal program if the shutdown goes into March.

    The Kern High School District purchases their food months in advance, and won't be impacted by the shutdown unless it goes past March.

    And with the Forest Service closed, Keepers of the Kern and other volunteers in the Kern River Valley have been cleaning the upper Kern campgrounds, tidying bathrooms, and even emptying dumpsters with money from their own pockets.

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