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Sanctuary employees happy to return to work after government shutdown

(Photo Courtesy/Mike Beiermeister) Visitor Experience Manager Andrew Augustyn sets up a computer at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center front desk.

Alpena, Mich. — while many locations were closed today, one community staple was happy to be open.

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary opened it’s doors this morning after being closed for 35 days. The government reopened on Friday afternoon. Funding was approved to reopen the government for three weeks. The division of national marine sanctuaries falls under the control of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The longest partial government shutdown forced the sanctuary to cease operations. Employees could not access the building, respond to calls, or reply to emails. The website and social media could not be accessed. The building remained closed to the public through the weekend due to the 2019 Thunder Bay International Film festival, held at Alpena Community College.

“It’s exciting,” said Visitor Experience Manager Andrew Augstyn. “You know, you’re looking forward to getting things back to normal that sets a little bit of transition back to the everyday swing of things.”

Workers like Augstyn were happy to dust off the keyboard and get back to business as usual.

“I’m not looking forward to answering all of the emails that have back-logged over the past months and the voicemails as well, but it’s just really going to be good to get back and go and have that sense of security moving forward,” said Augustyn.

Operations have resumed as normal. Museum hours for the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center are from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Look out for lectures and films throughout the rest of the spring.