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Ranger wouldn't rest during shutdown
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Philpott Lake Park Ranger Dan LaPrad stands near the bed of his pickup Wednesday after having spent 18 hours this week picking up trash in Bassett, some of which is seen in the truck bed. LaPrad picked up the trash while he was forced out of work by the partial government shutdown. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Furloughed Philpott Lake Park Ranger Dan LaPrad spent about 18 hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday picking up roadside trash.

He planned to continue picking up trash until he is called back to work, he said.

He was told not to work on Friday and was, as of Wednesday afternoon, still waiting for the partial government shutdown to end.

“We’re getting paid,” he said of the back pay he and other federal workers eventually will receive for the time they are forced off their jobs during the shutdown.

“I don’t like taking something for nothing,” LaPrad added.

He also thought about “all the trash you see on roadways in the area.”

“I wanted to keep busy, and feel I am not drawing a paycheck for sitting around doing nothing,” he said.

So he picked up trash about six hours a day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — first on Goose Point Road and then on a road by the river from Trenthill Drive to Route 57 in Bassett, he said.

When asked about news earlier Wednesday that Congress had reached an agreement to end the partial government shutdown and avert a Treasury default, LaPrad said, “I hope so.”

“I would much rather be doing my regular job,” he said.

“I think it’s crazy,” he said of the shutdown. “Those guys (Congress) should have been able to come up with something to keep the federal workers working. It’s terrible that partisan politics does this to the country, but they are elected officials, so you have to deal with (it),” he said.

He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington District commander kept Philpott Lake workers on the job longer than some other federal employees because it had the funding to do so. That funding ran out last week.

LaPrad, 61, of Bassett, has worked for the Army Corps of Engineers since 2009, all as a park ranger at Philpott. His duties include being interpretive coordinator and a security officer.

Previously, he was a private investigator, served in the Marine Corps (his last rank was sergeant E5), was branch manager for Grainger Industrial Supply and district manager for the Roanoke Times.

He said he always has had a strong work ethic.

“I like to give a full day’s work for what I’m getting paid,” he said.

Is he looking forward to going back to work at Philpott?

“Oh, yes, definitely. There’s a lot of work piling up,” he said.

LaPrad didn’t know when he will be called back to work, he said. “They haven’t notified us of anything.”

He also doesn’t know how long it will take to get his back pay.

His being out of work hadn’t caused financial problems as of Wednesday, but he said he would have to draw from savings if he didn’t go back to work soon.

LaPrad added that another Philpott Lake park ranger, Ernie Shepherd, worked with him to pick up trash one day.

Late Wednesday night, Congress passed legislation to end the shutdown, and President Barack Obama was poised to sign it before midnight.


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