After Shutdown, Hoover Library & Museum Happy to be Back
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
WEST BRANCH, Iowa – The federal government shutdown had Linda Rice from Atlanta waiting for more than half a month to tick the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum off her bucket list, as she travels across the US to see them all.
"We would have come two or three weeks ago," said Rice. "We couldn't. We thought 'I hope that doesn't affect the libraries.' But it did."
The library and museum re-opened the 17th. Officials were happy to have visitors back after a 16-day hiatus that was bad for business in and around the facility.
"Fifteen permanent full-time employees, 14 were furloughed. Including myself," said the library and museum’s director, Tom Schwartz.
Though Schwartz said employees will be getting back pay, he called the shutdown bad timing for the facility as a whole.
October is one of the library and museum's busiest months because a lot of schools take field trips to the facility. He estimated they missed out on 2,500 visitors, and lost $5,700 dollars in expected revenue.
"Our totals for this month will be about half of what they normally are," said Schwartz.
West Branch businesses around the site suffered as well. At the Pink Pony, Owner Brenda Welsch said customers melted away faster than her ice cream cones on a hot summer afternoon.
"First day I thought 'eh, no big deal,'" said Welsch. "As it hit the 15 day mark, I was beginning to get lonely here. I missed the customers. I missed the tourists. Sales are down."
Welsch hopes business will snap back now that the Hoover halls are seeing guests again.
Rice finally got her chance to see the facility, Saturday.
"I think it's just wonderful. I'm so happy these presidents have done this," Rice said.
She's one step closer to reaching her goal of walking each one, even if the shutdown had her at a standstill.
"We only have, what, four, five to go," she said.
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