No Gary South Shore Air Show this year? It could be a victim of sequestration
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org February 27, 2013 10:46PM
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly their F-16 Fighting Falcons in a diamond formation during the Gary South Shore Air Show held at Marquette Beach in Gary, Ind., Sunday, July 8, 2012. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media
By the numbers
The White House released the estimated cuts Indiana will face under the sequestration:
$13.8 million for primary and secondary education, which could affect 190 jobs, 12,000 students and 50 schools.
2,170 fewer low-income students will receive college aid.
1,020 fewer students will get work-study jobs for college.
1,000 fewer children will be served by Head Start
$3.3 million that helps maintain water and air quality and prevents pesticide and hazardous waste pollution.
$739,000 in fish and wildlife protection grants.
$262,000 in Justice Assistance Grants.
$683,000 for job search assistance, referral and placement, which affects 24,290 job seekers.
Loss of child care for up to 600 children.
$189,000 for vaccines, which will affect 2,770 children.
$1.7 million in grants helping treat and prevent substance abuse.
$820,000 for food programs for senior citizens.
Updated: April 1, 2013 11:50AM
The federal sequestration is poised to hit Northwest Indiana right in the wallet.
From cuts to Head Start to the Gary South Shore Air Show likely being canceled, the region is set to feel the sequestration’s damage, although exactly how and when it will affect all areas is still unknown.
The sequestering will take affect Friday unless Congress reaches a deal to hold it off. If no deal is reached, the federal government will slash about $1 trillion across its budget. Those cuts will mean loss of services for citizens in Northwest Indiana.
One group of residents — the unemployed — will not see cuts, however. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development initially announced Wednesday that, starting Saturday, they would temporarily stop extended unemployment benefits because of a lack of guidance from the federal government.
They reversed that decision Wednesday night when they announced that the federal government had confirmed the benefits would continue. That means people who have already received 26 weeks of unemployment benefits will continue to receive them through 63 weeks.
The Gary South Shore Air Show is facing a more likely end, however, South Shore Convention and Visitors Association President and CEO Speros Batistatos said. The SSCVA will have to decide soon whether the air show can go on this year.
“We will make the decision sooner than later,” Batistatos said. “That’s an unfortunate spot for us to be in.”
The Air Show relies on a majority of acts that come from the U.S. military, which will suspend its participation in all air shows under the sequestration. Without the military acts, the Gary Air Show has little to offer visitors, Batistatos said.
The SSCVA spends months getting sponsors for the event, a task already hard enough in a good year.
“All of that is going to be impossible if sequestration is hanging over our head,” he said.
Indianapolis has already canceled its air show, which was scheduled for the middle of June. Batistatos didn’t give a set deadline for when a decision would be made for the Gary Air Show, set for July 12-14, but said he isn’t optimistic.
A quick end to the sequestration, as in a week, would be good news.
“But if this thing drags out at all, we’re more than likely going to walk away,” he said.
That would mean the region won’t see the 500,000 to 525,000 attendees the Air Show is said to pull in. Batistatos said he expected to see even more people this year, perhaps more than 600,000, because the planned lineup would have included F-22 fighter jets, which have not been at the Air Show before.
Batistatos said he conservatively estimates the air show’s economic effect for the region at about $5.5 million to $7 million.
Not all cuts in the region will take place immediately.
Sandy Kauffman, president of the nonprofit Geminus group that runs the Head Start program in Northwest Indiana, said his group has been told it will see a 4 to 5 percent cut in funding for Head Start, which works with 1,500 children in the region.
However, those cuts won’t take effect until at least this summer due to the way Geminus receives funding from the federal government. The money it gets now is actually part of last year’s grant.
The group has also been told by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the areas that have long waiting lists of children for Head Start — which the region has — would need to cut the number of children being served only as a last resort.
“It’s very, very complex because we don’t even know what sequestration is going to mean,” Kauffman said.
The group is working on several possible solutions, but no easy answer exists. If Geminus is to make budget cuts without cutting the number of children it serves, then one option is to look at cutting the quality of services, such as cutting transportation for the children.
However, Geminus must meet 1,800 standards of service to keep its funding. If it misses just one, Kauffman said, then its funding is put in jeopardy.
Geminus doesn’t know if HHS will allow the agency to cut services in order to keep up the number of children.
“We have to maintain our level of care or we will be in noncompliance,” he said. “We’re spending a fair amount of time on this.”
Geminus will likely start taking real steps after the end of the current school year in May, he said.
The picture is even less clear for the Indiana Department of Education. Spokesman David Galvin said last week that no one had reached out to the department about what sequestration will do to its funding.
“No one really frankly has any idea what it means to us,” Galvin said.
Shorter park hours
Although the National Parks Department would not comment on how sequestration will affect the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore specifically, spokesman Jeffrey Olson said visitors to any national park should expect to see reduced hours and services. Campgrounds, hiking trails and lakeshores might be closed, he said.
Olson did confirm information released by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which has released a report showing the National Lakeshore would lose $450,000 through sequestering.
A release from the National Lakeshore Tuesday said in 2012 the park had 1.9 million visitors who spent about $60 million in local communities during their visits. The park has 100 full-time employees and 100 seasonal employees. Those jobs could be threatened under the proposed cuts.
The retirees coalition says the total amount to be cut from the National Parks Department is $110 million, almost the entire amount of $150 million it spends on nonpermanent employees.