Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 3, 2013
Shutdown hits Tooele County

Furloughed Dugway workers brace for economic hardship 

While Tooele Army Depot has escaped the recent government shutdown with only a few furloughed workers, the story is evidently different at Dugway Proving Ground.

There has been no official information on the number of people furloughed at Dugway. Monday afternoon, Dugway’s commander and the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command in Maryland, declined to offer specifics or even comment on the shutdown’s impact on the military facility.

And by Wednesday morning the public affairs officer at Dugway was furloughed, thwarting further attempts to obtain official information.

However, some Dugway employees, and residents of English Village, the facility’s residential area, have been willing to share their observations and concerns.

“Around 85 percent of our civilian workforce has been furloughed,” said Cindy Hawkins, who worked in the garrison commander’s office. The garrison commander is responsible for day-to-day operation and management of installations and base support services.

Hawkins has been furloughed and her comments are not deemed as an official statement from Dugway. Yet, according to her, many people that live at Dugway have households with two wage-earners that work there.

“This furlough will be real tough for them,” she said. “They have house payments, car payments and other expenses and now no income.”

Hawkins said her family is fortunate. Her husband, Scott, works at Dugway as a contractor, but his contract has been funded through June.

“He goes to work and gets paid,” she said. “We will have to live off of one income for now. Others aren’t that fortunate.”

Deedee and Kevin McCollin are among the less fortunate. They too live in English Village.

Deedee is a supply technician and her husband is the emergency medical services chief.

Deedee has been furloughed while Kevin still works, but Kevin won’t get paid until an appropriations bill is passed by Congress and the shutdown is over. For the duration of the shutdown the McCollins will have no income.

“We have enough in savings to get us through one month,” she said. “If this lingers on for longer than that, we will be in trouble.”

The McCollins also had their income cut by 20 percent for six weeks this summer as a result of the federal budget sequestration.

“Most of my neighbors are in the same situation,” said Deedee. “There aren’t a lot of people working out here.”

While DPG officials Monday turned down a request to comment on the shutdown, prior to 11 a.m. Tuesday, several posts about the shutdown were made to Dugway’s (Official) Facebook page.

One post informed Dugway residents that the Family, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation facilities, including the library, fitness center and community club, will remain open. The PX/Shoppette will stay open, but the commissary is closed.

Another post assured Dugway workers and residents that emergency and essential services, including police, fire, safety, and security in English Village and at the West Desert Test Center facilities, will continue to operate during the furlough.

“We have no income and no idea how long this will last,” Deedee said.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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