Unicoi County

Unicoi County hit hard with government shutdown furloughs

UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - Unicoi County is home to two federal agencies that are experiencing furloughs in the wake of the government shutdown -- the Erwin Fish Hatchery is one of them.

The hatchery is a place where large numbers of fish eggs are artificially fertilized and then hatched in an enclosed environment.

The process isn't one that can be easily shut down and started again, so two out of four workers are required to work while they are on furlough.

News 5 spoke with one of the workers Wednesday and he asked us not to give his name. "We come in and do the basic work, which is to take care of the fish and our eggs, do the bare minimum and then shut it down and go to the house," said one of the hatchery workers. All without knowing if he will get paid for the work. He tells News 5 he was one of two workers chosen to work because they live the closest to the hatchery.

Nearby preparation is underway for the county's largest event which is the Apple Festival. "We are expecting a 110,000 festival attendees this year," said Amanda Delp of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce.

Delp tells us some of those attendees and vendors may not be staying at their intended location, the Rock Creek National Park, which is run by the U.S. Department of Forestry. "We had a vendor contact us this morning that was planning to a be a vendor in this  year's festival that had made arrangements to camp at Rock Creek Park, and now because of the government closure they are trying to find accommodations elsewhere," said Delp.

The Chamber tells us they have received calls about the closure and they believe they'll see the full extent of the effects this weekend.

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