County, state workers back on the job

Published 10:23 am Friday, July 22, 2011

Local state workers woke up with a purpose Thursday morning: It was back to the working grind for many of them.

“That was the first time I was completely unemployed since I was 18,” said Shelley King, a researcher for the state Department of Corrections.

Many state departments went back to work Thursday, as well as Mower County employees funded through the state.

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“It got to kind of be a weary situation,” said Margene Gunderson, director of Mower County Public Health.

Those three weeks gone from the job are sure to catch up to state employees, although King said she hasn’t seen adverse effects yet. King missed deadlines on several research projects, including a legislative report, because of the shutdown. For her, catching up on her projects and keeping up with a glut of incoming projects will be most important over the next couple weeks.

“Even if I haven’t actually seen it today, (projects) could be coming,” she said.

That’s what many MnDOT employees are feeling, as many maintenance and bridge crews opened up rest areas — including ones near the Interstate 35 corridor — Thursday in anticipation of more work. Local MnDOT shops are also prioritizing which projects and tasks needed immediate attention, according to Kristin Kammueller, MnDOT District 6 Community Relations Coordinator.

“It’s going to take some time for us to get back to normal,” she said.

MnDOT road projects won’t be up and running soon, however. Kammueller said state workers sent out e-mails to project contractors Thursday, but there will have to be talks and negotiations between state and private workers before road projects resume. It could take several weeks before projects such as the Highway 218S work starts back up. State workers will have a better idea on when projects should resume next week, according to Kammueller.