CHESTERTOWN, MARYLAND —
The partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government is being unevenly felt across the country. In the rural town of Chestertown, Maryland, it’s barely noticeable. But residents are sill worried.
The municipal repair crew is hard at work, and garbage is collected as usual.
Fortunately this traffic light still works, but so does the meter maid, handing out five-dollar parking tickets.
Is the shutdown felt at all in Chestertown, seat of a county in rural Maryland?
“No. Not here in Kent County. We’re in the backwoods and it takes a long time for something to affect in both ways,” said Sydney Brookes, who is writing parking tickets.
Monuments may be closed in Washington, but here public services are funded by local governments and other sources.
Life goes on as before in this historic town just about a 90-minute drive from the nation’s capital. People are worried, however, about the shutdown.
Marjorie Adams is moving her ladies' clothing shop to a prime new location. She said October is normally a busy time here.
“Lots of festivals, and all kinds of activities that would bring people from the Washington-Baltimore area and if they’ve lost their job, they’re not going to come," said Adams.
And even a few people who live here have been furloughed, including Becky Lepter’s husband. “We’re okay, we have savings, so we’ve put away some money for something like this, but I do know people that haven’t and are struggling and are worried about paychecks,” she said.
Chestertown's population is about 5,000 and it's mostly a peaceful place. But Police Chief Adrian Baker said some programs that help keep the mentally ill off the streets already have lost funding.
“If there was a long-term shutdown I imagine that that lack of attention would ultimately trickle into some crime and relationships with the police that we wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Baker.
This former colonial boomtown has been through hard times before and its residents do feel their well-being now depends on Washington - well, maybe not all of them.