Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Cuts hit close to home for two women

Helen Stanley has been working in the Keys for 25 years.

The Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West environmental specialist is also a homeowner and a single parent.

She's among the more than 1,000 civilian employees who work on NAS Key West property facing 22 days of furloughs due to sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts that went into effect Friday.

"Everyone is talking about it, but trying not to talk about it," Stanley said. "And everyone is hoping that whatever happens doesn't include furloughs."

Stanley is now looking for another job to make ends meet. It's not something she thought she would have to do, but the reality of Congress' failure to pass an appropriations budget has brought the burden to bear.

"The problem is the uncertainty of how long," the furloughs could last, Stanley said.

Shanna Christensen has been in Key West for 21 years. She works as a security assistant at NAS Key West and is one of 26 civilians that augment the 82 enlisted sailors who work in military law enforcement.

"I'm looking at losing 20 percent of my paycheck," Christensen said. "That's a lot given how expensive it is to live here already." Both workers said they don't see much reason to anticipate Congress will rise to the challenge of passing an appropriations bill soon.

"I'm lucky in that I just paid off my truck, so at least that's one bill I don't have to worry about," Christensen said.

Not all her co-workers are so lucky.

"I really don't see much hope in the eyes of co-workers over here," Christensen said. "We're all planning for the worst and hoping for the best."

-- alinhardt@keysnews.com

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