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Americans find ways to soften sequester; saving tourist seasons, programs for needy

 

Americans cannot cover the entire $85 billion in federal budget cuts this year known as sequester, but they’re pulling together to make up the losses for important matters like helping local economies and salvaging federal programs that serve needy children.

When the Navy decided to deal with sequester by pulling its popular Blue Angels fighter jet team from air shows and other events, organizers of Seattle’s annual Seafair festival dug into their general fund to pay for a replacement –  the Patriots Jet Team.

Seafair President Beth Knox said the Blue Angels had performed at the festival over the past four decades so spending $80,000 was important to the community and worth the money.

"We've had to look outside the box and find ways that we can fill the gaps where our government is not able to provide those services," she told Fox News.

In addition to hiring the California-based group of retired fighter pilots, festival organizers also are bringing in a ship from the Canadian Navy to replace a U.S. warship that won’t be coming to this summer’s events. 

"Making sure the general public is educated about the value of our military, that doesn't change, even if the government has to cut back on its spending," Knox added.

In Wyoming, two cities stepped up when the National Park Service decided to save money by plowing snow at Yellowstone National Park two weeks later than usual, which would have delayed the clearing of four park gates well past the typical May 1 opening.

The park service’s decision will save U.S. taxpayers roughly $150,000, but it would have cost the cites of Cody and Jackson Hole much more because they depend on park-related tourism.

In response, city officials held a joint fundraiser and collected enough money to pay the state to clear the roads, ensuring the gates will be open on time.

“We needed to act, and if there was a way that we could make a difference we wanted to do that because people rely on that opening date,” said Mayor Nancy Tia Brown. “And the moment that the park gate opens, things are different in Cody."

Officials told Fox many of the donations came from businesses that stood to lose revenue if the gates didn’t open on time for the tens of thousands of visitors.

"We work on a 20-week tourism season, and if the first two weeks are going to be taken out because the park's not open, that's a big deal," said James Blair, of Blair Hotels.

In central Florida, a Head Start program directed to cut 5 percent from its budget as a result of sequester decided to temporarily stop contributions to the employee-retirement fund, instead of cutting services. The decision was made with support from staffers, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

The program provides child care and other services for preschool children from low-income families and for disabled children from families of all incomes.

 

 

Dan Springer joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in August 2001 as a Seattle-based correspondent.