Government shutdown closes Hoover’s Presidential Library, impacts town of West Branch

WEST BRANCH, Iowa -- While visitors are told to enter the National Park at their own risk, the Presidential Library and Museum are closed until further notice.

Towns like West Branch are known for their main attractions. In this case, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. However in this small town, things have gotten a lot quieter, as the partial government shutdown has taken a toll on the community.

During the shutdown, federal employees are forced to work without pay, or not work at all. Meaning the employees who keep the museum running, are not coming into work until the shutdown ends. The National Park grounds remain open, but with no park ranger on duty to assist in an emergency, visitors are warned at the entrance to "enter at their own risk."

"Tourist numbers go down because people are uncertain what's going to be available to them," City Administrator, Redmond Jones, said.

Jones said due to the lack of park rangers, local West Branch police have stepped in to pick up patrols in the area.

"I don't know if our leaders think about all those things when they have these standoffs," Jones said.

Tourists like the Clark family traveled all the way from Orrtanna, Pennsylvania hoping to see a piece of history. Instead, they were met with closed doors.

"It's a little disappointing... I mean we drove 14 hours," Sam Clark said. "It's still nice to see it but it'd be nice to be inside, too, and look at some of the actual artifacts that were during that time and era."

The President of the Hoover Presidential Foundation, Jerry Fleagle, said he hates to disappoint people who have traveled so far.

"You don't know whether they're coming back through again," Fleagle said. "And they may never get the opportunity to see it."

The Clark family says the government shutdown never crossed their minds when planning their visit.

"Because you don't think of little places like this being effected downstream from everything that's happening," Clark said.

The City Administrator said fewer tourists going through the museum means fewer people spending their money through the rest of the town during their trip. A national problem that's hitting hard in Hoover's hometown.

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