Roadside inn reopens after feds tried to shut it down over budget impasse

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The owner of a privately run inn along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is back in business five days after the federal government forced him to close as a byproduct of the D.C. slimdown.

Bruce O’Connell, owner of the Pisgah Inn, told on Tuesday he was “hopeful” that his business would reopen -- and by Wednesday, it had.

A posting on the company’s Facebook page said the inn was reopening at 5 p.m. Suggesting an agreement was reached with the feds, the post thanked the National Park Service “for working with us through all of this mess.” An employee also confirmed to that the inn was re-opening.

O’Connell was among a growing group of business owners who argued that the federal government was needlessly choking off their ability to earn a living, and were fighting back. O’Connell had been vocal about looking into his legal options following the forced closing.

Congress’s inability to come to a compromise on bills that would have kept the government fully funded forced the inn, which is in a leased building on federal land, to shut down last Thursday.

Initially, O’Connell defied the mandate and kept his restaurant, gift shop and country store open. His attempt at civil disobedience lasted all of two hours before rangers from the National Park Service came to his inn, blocked the entrances and prohibited patrons from coming in.

On Monday, O’Connell told that there were three cars and five rangers stationed outside his business in what he called a “24/7 blockade.”

“It appears to me the Obama administration is choosing to make this shutdown as painful as possible by unnecessarily forcing privately run small businesses to close just because they happened to be located on public lands, especially when this didn’t happen in the last government shutdown,” Rep. Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, told in a statement.

Wednesday marks the ninth day of the government slimdown with hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed, national parks closed and a variety of other government services on hold.

In Virginia, the owners of the Claude Moore Colonial Farm also reopened their doors Wednesday.

Like O’Connell, the owners of the farm had considered taking legal action against the government. While no suit was filed, a source close to the owners told that they “were ready to go and fight this.”

Claude Moore sits on federal land but receives no federal sources for maintenance or operation from the government.

“These sites operate without using a dime of taxpayer dollars or resources,” Hastings, R-Wash., said. “It is shameful that these private businesses are being punished because the Obama administration is more interested in playing more political games.”

Martha Boneta, an organic farmer in Fauquier County, Virginia, who has had her own run-ins with the government, visited her friends at Claude Moore Monday.

“Farming is such a profession of hope and when the government comes in and does something like this, it takes away and squashes the passion,” she told

Boneta, who visited the Claude farm many times as a child, says the close-knit farming community came together to help out one of their own.

However, she said Wednesday that despite the farm reopening, the owners are still out a lot of money.

“These are really good folks that work so hard,” Boneta said. “They are still out thousands of dollars as a result of the shut down.”

During the last government shutdown 17 years ago, Claude Moore farm was allowed to continue operating.

“It’s my prayer that rational reasonable minds will prevail,” Boneta said. “We should look at history and that there is no reason to shut this farm.”