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For Vermont's Federal Workers, It's Back To Work As Usual — For Now

The U.S. Coast Guard Burlington station.
Meg Malone
VPR File
The staff of the U.S. Coast Guard station on Lake Champlain, seen here in July, were considered active duty during the shutdown but had suspended "non-mission-essential items" during the shutdown, according to Petty Officer Lucas Weston.

Federal employees in Vermont were back to work on Monday after President Trump signed a short term spending bill last week reopening government.

The six employees of the national fish hatcheries in North Chittenden and Bethel resumed work after weeks of reduced hours and no pay.

Henry Bouchard, who heads up the hatcheries for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the salmon and trout survived the shutdown just fine. He and his five employees, in the meantime, haven’t been paid in weeks.

Bouchard said he spent much of Monday trying to process back pay on behalf of his office. Despite red tape, he said, “we’re optimistic we could possibly see some pay by the end of the week or early next week.”

Bouchard said he’s also paying office bills and stocking up on fish food, in case the shutdown resumes.

In Burlington, staff of the U.S. Coast Guard station on Lake Champlain resumed routine lake and ice evaluations. Petty Officer Lucas Weston said these and other “non-mission-essential items” had been suspended during the shutdown.

All of the Coast Guard station's staff are active duty, so they were not furloughed.

The national weather service in South Burlington stayed fully staffed without pay during the partial shutdown. On Monday, employees said they hope to receive back pay later this week.

CORRECTION: The broadcast version of this story wrongly stated that Burlington Coast Guard staff did not miss pay during the partial government shutdown.

Emily Corwin reported investigative stories for VPR until August 2020. In 2019, Emily was part of a two-newsroom team which revealed that patterns of inadequate care at Vermont's eldercare facilities had led to indignities, injuries, and deaths. The consequent series, "Worse for Care," won a national Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting, and placed second for a 2019 IRE Award. Her work editing VPR's podcast JOLTED, about an averted school shooting, and reporting NHPR's podcast Supervision, about one man's transition home from prison, made her a finalist for a Livingston Award in 2019 and 2020. Emily was also a regular reporter and producer on Brave Little State, helping the podcast earn a National Edward R. Murrow Award for its work in 2020. When she's not working, she enjoys cross country skiing and biking.
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