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Hopewell Furnace superintendent on shutdown's end: 'We're just thrilled to be back in business'

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 17 2013 04:07:54 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2013 05:14:04 PM CDT

The federal government is back in business, and furloughed federal workers returned to work Thursday after spending 16 days off the job.

UNION TWP., Pa. -

The federal government is back in business, and furloughed federal workers returned to work Thursday after spending 16 days off the job.

Closed signs came down and the gates to national parks reopened, which proved the partial government shutdown is over.

"We're just thrilled to be back in business," said Edie Shean-Hammond, superintendent of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Union Twp., Berks Co.

Hopewell Furnace was alive again with visitors Thursday. Kids could be heard laughing, a sound that went silent during the shutdown. Now, things are getting back to normal. Employees were seen setting up equipment for visitors. Officials said the site helps pump about $4 million into the local economy.

"I am so excited to be here and to see people once again enjoying their public land," said Shean-Hammond.

The Reading IRS branch was also open again, and the Social Security office was back in full swing.

"I'm looking forward to better things for the days ahead for the U.S., especially for our children and young people in this country," said Evelyn Klingler, who was glad a deal was reached.

People enjoyed a day outdoors at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the Poconos. Some were seen eating lunch and taking in the sights, while employees removed signs and opened roads in the park.

"I'm happy people can use the facilities again and also that the workers are back to work," said James Langan, who traveled from Scranton to see the breathtaking views.

The bipartisan deal reached Wednesday keeps the government funded through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.

Jessica Cardwell, who took her kids to Hopewell Furnace on Thursday, fears it's a short-term fix. She's concerned we will be faced with the same problems come the new year.

"Now, we just have to wait a few months and see if it happens all over again, and it people can't work and we can't see things we pay for," said Cardwell.

President Obama said that won't be the case come January and welcomed everyone back Thursday.

The deal also provides back pay for federal workers who were furloughed.