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Federal workers, facilities in the Richmond area impacted by shutdown

FT. LEE, Va. - As congressional leaders in Washington D.C. are set to reopen the government following the latest federal shutdown, federal workers and facilities in the Richmond region saw a range of impact.

At Ft. Lee, the military base just outside of Petersburg, officials said most of the 5,200 civilian employees were furloughed Monday.

"Fort Lee continues to support key military operations and maintain all activities related to protecting the safety of life and property, including police, fire and emergency response operations,” a public affairs officer said Monday.

Leaders of Ft. Lee chapter of the American Federation of Government Workers said they received complaints from members Monday that workers showed up to work Monday, confused about who was furloughed and who was not.

Charles Bonnell’s wife works at Ft. Lee and was sent home Monday afternoon. Bonnell said things went smoothly for his wife’s department Monday morning.

“The directors got called to go in and be officially told they were furloughed. So, they got a piece of paper saying this is what the furlough means to you,” Bonnell said.

National Parks and cemeteries in Central Virginia remained open Monday despite the lapse in federal funding.

An employee at Ft. Harrison National Cemetery in Varina said contract workers who help maintain the grounds were sent home, but during the winter months, those tasks are not critical. He said full time cemetery workers continue to work during a shutdown.

At Historic Tredegar, a sign reading “We are open during government shutdown” hung from an entrance kiosk outside the American Civil War Museum.  The museum is a private instutioin, but shares the Tredegar campus with the National Park Service in Richmond.  Officials at the museum say people tend to think the museum is related the Park Service, so they posted the signs.  Employees said their foot traffic over the weekend was larger than expected, which they attributed to the warmer weather.

“Luckily there was a sign that said still open despite the government shutdown,” said Chris Passmore. He and his wife are visiting Richmond from their home in Oklahoma, and were checking out several historical locations around Central Virginia.

“We definitely laughed a little. It’s funny we have to be concerned about that,” Passmore said about the sign in front of the American Civil War Museum.

Charles Bonnell retired from the Army and then opened FDM Tactical with an friend down the street from Ft. Lee. Bonnell said he is not confident furloughed employees have completely escaped uncertainty since the funding deal Congressional leaders struck Monday only lasts three weeks.

“I think people are worried, not so much that there is a furlough going on, but that we have a Congress that can’t seem to agree on anything,” Bonnell said. "They are so divided and there is so much finger pointing, blame the Republicans, blame the Democrats. . . We’ll see. They got three weeks to try and do something."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article implied the American Civil War Museum was part of the National Parks Service because they share the Tredegar campus.  Museum officials alerted CBS 6 to what they said was a common point of confusion.