Fort Leavenworth waits for Washington's decision

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - The small military community at Fort Leavenworth has little left to do but wait for Washington's decision on whether or not the federal government will open tomorrow-- and wonder how many people won't have a job to go to if it doesn't.

The base employs some 2,600 civilian contractors, the vast majority of whom could be subject to furlough for the duration of a government shutdown, according to base spokesman Lt. Colonel Jeff Allen.

Among them, Heath Steele, who wore the uniform for eight years before coming to work at Leavenworth three years ago as a community outreach specialist with the Army.

With hours to go until a possible federal government shutdown, Steele was hopeful congress could once again stop short of the precipice. But he's already making plans for belt-tightening and projects around the home if he receives a furlough notice on Tuesday.

"I think it's a seriously issue financially from the beginning," Steele said. "We are certainly not in a position where we can give away paychecks."

With a deal seemingly in place late Monday to keep paychecks flowing to uniformed soldiers, Leavenworth will avert the worst possible economic outcome of seeing more than 4,000 soldiers having their regular paychecks replaced with IOU's.

Still, some local businesses were nervous about the reduced spending power for members of the town's most important industry.

"I'd say maybe 90 percent of the Leavenworth population probably has a job on post so if they don't get paid, we don't get paid and nobody in Leavenworth gets paid," Anthony Crouse said , a 19-year old waiter and host at the Ten Penny restaurant and bar, a popular off-base hangout.

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