By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A dining room table is their makeshift office.

It’s where Mississippi Park Connection workers are on their laptops trying to keep vital park programs on track.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the park will be there with us, working side by side to put on these programs, but we are making contingency plans,” Katie Nyberg of Mississippi Park Connection said.

The nonprofit partners with the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Because that visitor center is closed, the connection has to work from home.

The shutdown stopped work on upcoming park service outings, school programs — even a climate conference. So the park connection is hoping to do what furloughed workers can’t.

“Some of these programs would come to a halt, particularly our school programs where we would have to say, ‘I am sorry, but we’re going to have to cancel that trip to the river,’ and that’s something we don’t want to do.”

“Every year, it seems we’re in a shutdown or there’s a threat of a shutdown,” Gregg James said.

It’s getting old, says the union representing Minnesota’s 18,000 furloughed workers. And James, AFGE District 8 national vice president, says it’s a hardship on working families.

“We are no different that anybody else. We are American citizens; we have childcare to pay for, we have to put gas in our cars to get to work and we’ve got to put food on the table,” James said.

It’s a Washington stalemate felt in every corner of the country.

“We want our park rangers back to work,” James said.

Bill Hudson