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   WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a measure into law reopening the federal government and averting a potential default.

   The White House says Obama signed the bill early Thursday, hours after the House gave final approval.

   The White House budget office has already instructed federal workers to plan to return to work Thursday morning.

   The measure restores funding for the government through Jan. 15 and extends the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

   The partial government shutdown started Oct. 1. The U.S. was to reach its debt limit Thursday if no deal was reached.

   As the deal neared final passage in the House Wednesday, Obama said it was now time for leaders in Washington to win back the trust of Americans that was lost during the debt-and-spending crisis.

Published in National News

   NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) - Several southwest Missouri school districts that have planned new safe rooms since a deadly May 2011 tornado destroyed much of Joplin say their projects could be delayed by the federal shutdown.

   In Neosho that means more than $10 million in projects are on hold because there's nobody at the Federal Emergency Management Agency that can approve the work. Similar projects in Webb City, Avilla and Joplin also are in limbo because of the shutdown.

   The Joplin Globe reports school officials believe a delay in awarding contracts could mean construction on the safe rooms might have to be pushed back until next year.

   An architect for several of the projects says it takes six to eight weeks to complete the bid process after FEMA approves of the designs.

 
Published in Local News

   "Hopeful," that's how Congresswoman Ann Wagner describes Thursday's meeting between GOP leaders and President Barack Obama.  

   The two sides got together to discuss the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline.  The St. Louis County Republican was one of 18 GOP lawmakers who attended the 90-minute meeting at the White House.  

   Wagner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that toning down the rhetoric that has accompanied the dispute was one area where both sides agreed.   "We can't be fear-mongering and talking in ways that make our markets react," she said. 

Published in Local News

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taking out a mortgage. Getting married in a park. Going for a fall foliage drive. Cashing a check.

 

Who knew that so many random activities of daily life could be imperiled by a shutdown of the federal government?

 

Americans are finding that "the government" entails a lot more than the stereotype of faceless D.C. bureaucrats cranking out red tape.

 

And so it is that two dozen October weddings, including nine this week, are in jeopardy because they're scheduled for monument sites on the National Mall. Ditto for a New Jersey couple planning to marry at the Grand Canyon.

 

Mike Cassesso and MaiLien Le's permit to get married Saturday on the lawn near the Jefferson Memorial looks to be among the casualties, giving rise to a new Twitter hashtag for their #shutdownwedding. They're looking at alternate sites, including the restaurant booked for their reception.

 

Also canceled: a weekend Ku Klux Klan rally at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

 

Want to take a drive along Virginia's popular Skyline Drive to take in the fall colors in Shenandoah National Park? Not till the government reopens.

 

It's not just romance, tourism and public events that are in jeopardy.

 

Consider the Wisconsin farmer who can't cash a check for a cow he sold.

 

Ben Brancel, the state's agriculture secretary, said that because the farmer has a loan from the Farm Service Agency, he can't cash the check without both his own signature and one from an FSA official, unavailable during the shutdown.

 

"Our advice to him was he was going to have to wait, that there wasn't anything he could do about it," Brancel said.

 

Ready to buy your first house?

 

Borrowers applying for a mortgage can expect delays, especially if the shutdown is prolonged. That's because many lenders need government confirmation of applicants' income tax returns and Social Security data. Mortgage industry officials say they expect bottlenecks on closing loans if the shutdown stretches on for more than a few days.

 

In addition, low- to moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-insured mortgages for single-family homes from the Federal Housing Administration can expect longer waits because of sharp reductions in FHA staffing.

 

Even workers who get their paychecks from a state government aren't safe from the ripple effects of a federal shutdown.

 

An assortment of state workers around the country are on furlough because the money for their jobs includes dollars from Washington. Among those are hundreds of workers at Arkansas' Military Department and one at the Crowley's Ridge Technical Institute, a vocational school in Forrest City, Ark.

 

In Illinois, the furloughs include 20 workers in the state Department of Employment Security and 53 in the Department of Military Affairs.

 

"These are the first, and there may be more," said Abdon Pallasch, the state's assistant budget director.

 

Want to escape the shutdown worries with a bike ride on the C&O Canal, a popular 184-mile trail and national park between Washington and Cumberland, Md.?

 

Closed. Those thinking of ignoring the closure notice and going anyway should consider this: Restrooms will be locked and handles removed from water pumps along the way.

 

One possible silver lining to shutdown annoyances writ small and large: The whole thing could serve as a teachable moment for all those people who tell pollsters that they want budget cuts — as long as they aren't directly affected.

 

"As time goes by, more and more people see these little things that they took for granted," said Ed Lorenzen, a policy adviser at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group pushing for spending discipline.

 

He said the shutdown could serve as a reminder that "you're not going to be able to the balance the budget just by cutting spending in Washington that doesn't affect people."

 

___

 

Associated Press writer Andrew Miga contributed to this report.

Published in National News

   METROPOLIS, Ill. (AP) - A southern Illinois plant that helps make nuclear fuel is firing up its production again after a yearlong shutdown due to federally requested upgrades.

   The Honeywell plant in Metropolis was scheduled to resume operations Wednesday. That comes a little more than a week after the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave the green light for the plant to again refine raw uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride. That's later processed into fuel for commercial power reactors.

   The plant has been closed since May of last year after the commission ordered Honeywell to make the site able to withstand an earthquake or tornado. The plant also had to revise its emergency response plans for natural disasters.

   The company in recent months has been hiring back workers, among other things, to get them retrained.

 
Published in Local News

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