With no paycheck during shutdown, local federal employee chopping wood to stay warm

HOLT, Mo. — The sting of the shutdown is affecting hundreds here in the metro. One local federal employee is doing what he can to pass the forced time at home.

The adage goes, "Make hay while the sun shines."

The government shutdown isn’t exactly a sunny situation, but Tom Wielar is making hay. Actually, he’s chopping wood.

"It’ll save us a bunch of money. Typically, if I run the furnace in that room, it’ll cost me $400 to heat it on a very cold winter time in the month," he said.

The federal government employee is cutting corners. He’s turned to firewood to heat his Holt home.

"My bills are paid, but I don’t see any point in burning up the propane," Wielar said.

Tom Wielar

His bills may be OK for now, but just like 800,000 other Americans out of work, savings can only go so far.

"I don’t know when I’m going to have a paycheck again," he said. "The fact that when I watched on TV, that they’re saying this could last months or years -- at that point, I’m either going to have to start dipping into my 401K or I’m going to have to get another job."

Wielar and his wife were going to visit their grown sons in Colorado, but there's no money for entertainment right now.

"As much as I’d love to go see them, you know I miss my boys, but you know, I gotta pay the mortgage,” Wielar said.

He’s about a year out from retirement but said it’s not time.

"I can tell you from the last couple weeks being home, I’m still too young and restless to stay home all the time!" he said with a laugh.

So while he takes care of his land and his home, he hopes the land of the free and the home of the brave will stop being a union divided.

"I hope they come to some negotiations instead of bullying back and forth," Wielar said. "And this is both sides. I’m not taking a Republican or Democratic point of view. I hope that our legislators grow up, get to be adults and put us back to work tomorrow. I want to go back to work tomorrow!”

Besides federal government workers, there are also people who depend on government contractors or those who run businesses near federal buildings who also aren’t bringing in income during the shutdown.