Andrew Dys

Shutdown pawns: Head Start kids, Kings Mountain anniversary

Graceland Thomas, 3, waits in line to go back to class after lunch Tuesday at Head Start in Rock Hill.
Graceland Thomas, 3, waits in line to go back to class after lunch Tuesday at Head Start in Rock Hill. aburriss@heraldonline.com

In the back-and-forth over a possible federal budget shutdown – a dispute centered on Planned Parenthood funding – politicians want to show their muscle and appeal to these in their parties who yell and scream and threaten.

When these men and women from both parties – who could decide whether a deal is made by Wednesday – play chicken, it’s York County’s kids and history buffs who get punched.

Children from low-income families are being spiked like a volleyball. The rich history of western York County that changed the course of American and world history also are pawns in this chess match.

Just two years ago, the Head Start program – which provides pre-kindergarten education to almost 900 children in York, Chester, Lancaster and Union counties – was halted for two days when the 2013 government shutdown went from politics to actually affecting people. Employees were sent home. Kids had no school.

Only a $10 million gift from a Texas couple, outraged at the politicians, opened the doors again during the 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government.

In spite of all the threats being made about Planned Parenthood funding, it seems less likely this year that there will be a federal shutdown. The U.S. Senate approved a resolution Monday that could be approved by the House and then President Barack Obama by Wednesday or Thursday.

Head Start is paid for with federal Department of Health and Human Services money, which has not been replenished as the shutdown showdown resurfaces, local officials said.

“We are optimistic,” said Walter Kellogg, executive director of Carolina Community Actions, the non-profit that administers Head Start locally. “We don’t think it will happen again and we don’t want it to happen again.”

Events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Kings Mountain National Military Park in western York County will celebrate the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain – one of the most skirmishes of the Revolutionary War. Some, including Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, wrote that the battle changed the course of history, when the rough and tough country boys who wanted freedom from England beat the loyalists and British.

It is the main annual event for the park and attracts up to 10,000 people every year for the activities.

But the 233rd anniversary in 2013 never happened. Politicians took it away.

The event was canceled that year as the shutdown shuttered national parks and furloughed park employees. While big-city attractions such as the war monuments in Washington, D.C., received most of the attention, this rural park lost its biggest attention-getter and money maker.

Planners spend the entire year readying for the main weekend of festivities, yet in 2013 politicians decided they were more important than the history that created the United States of America.

Kings Mountain employees are planning for the weekend’s events to proceed, said Chris Revels, the park’s chief ranger.

“We are moving forward, planning on being here and having a great weekend,” Revels said.

A deal seems imminent. There probably will not be a shutdown.

But kids and history again have to wait as they are caught between Democrats and Republicans arguing over abortion and politics.

Want to go?

What: 235th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Kings Mountain

Where: Kings Mountain National Military Park, 2625 Park Road, Blacksburg, in western York and Cherokee counties

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

Schedule: nps.gov/kimo; or 864-936-7921

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