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Out of work because of shutdown, two federal employees pick up trash along Philpott Lake

By Justin Ward, jward@wdbj7.com
Published On: Oct 14 2013 05:52:13 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 14 2013 05:55:01 PM EDT

Philpott Lake is the most recent casualty of the government shutdown. Two of the federal employees who are out of work aren't letting that stop them from doing their job.

HENRY CO., Va. -

Another park in the area is the most recent casualty of the government shutdown.

Philpott Lake, which is surrounded by Henry, Patrick and Floyd counties, is now closed.

Two of the federal employees who are out of work aren't letting that stop them from doing their job.

Dan LaPrade's wife emailed us Monday morning saying her husband couldn't stand not working. So he and another park ranger picked up a trash bag and got busy.

Bagging up trash along state-run Goose Point road is a job that needed to be done.

It's just not Dan LaPrade and Ernie Shepard's full time job.

"It's a five-mile road approximately, so we're going to try to knock it out,” LaPrade said.

Both men are park rangers at Philpott Lake, but are not working because of the government shutdown. This week, they're trash collectors.

"I felt like I had to be doing something. This isn't much, but at least it's something," LaPrade said.

LaPrade and Shepard were told they'd get paid for the furlough time when the government reopens. It's part of a bill Congress passed to compensate federal employees during the government shutdown. Both of them wanted to earn the money instead of staying home.

"Instead of just sitting at home and having my wife make me paint rooms, I figured I would come out here and give a little bit back rather than just sit at home and draw my paycheck," LaPrade said.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers closed the lake and all campgrounds on Friday after funding the parks through special project money for two weeks.

"We were lucky on that deal because at that time there was no assurance that we would get paid,” Shepard said. "We're losing visitors. This is a big time for us."

Now in their new role in public service, both men are hoping what they're doing catches on with other furloughed workers.

"If just each of them gives an hour of public service, how many weeks of actual work is that, that gets done,” LaPrade said.

This is typically one of the busiest months for the park.

Both men say they'll continue to pick up trash along the roads leading to Philpott Lake and campgrounds until the government reopens.