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News Maryland Harford County Aberdeen Havre De Grace

Even though shutdown is over, APG's Oktoberfest is canceled

With the federal shutdown officially drawing to a close, Aberdeen Proving Ground is back in business.

Spokesman Kelly Luster noted the post has largely been back in the swing of things for a while.

"Aberdeen Proving Ground recalled most employees Oct. 7 under guidance of the Pay Our Military Act," he noted Thursday. "We are not aware of any services that have not returned to normal."

The shutdown did see one casualty on post: Oktoberfest.

Officials at Aberdeen Proving Ground announced Wednesday that the second annual "Hooah with Oompah" Oktoberfest is canceled.

The German-themed three-day festival of food and fun was initially rescheduled from the weekend of Oct. 11-13 to Oct. 25-27 because of the government shutdown, APG Spokesperson Kelly Luster said in a previous interview. Now, it is canceled for this year.

Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, APG senior commander, said several factors were involved in the final decision to cancel the event.

"Given the current the current fiscal environment and many competing demands placed on our resources, we have reluctantly made the decision to cancel this year's Oktoberfest, so we are better able to prioritize our efforts and ensure our APG military members, civilians and families receive the best possible support and access to our most critical installation services and programs," Ferrell said in a statement.

Ferrell said the free festival was created to foster relationships between APG and the surrounding neighborhoods. During the event, APG planned dedicated appreciation ceremonies for the town of Bel Air, Havre de Grace, Edgewood, Aberdeen and Cecil County communities.

"I also know that the tremendous relationship we enjoy with our local communities will continue to grow and we look forward to building on the great partnership APG has with leaders and residents of this region," Ferrell said in a statement.

Other activities planned for Oktoberfest included a fireworks display, pony rides for kids and a 5K non-competitive fitness walk.

While the shutdown dragged on, one Harford County municipality made plans to let furloughed federal workers put off paying their water bills.

Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett said at a council work session Tuesday he wanted the city to allow Aberdeen residents to move their bills to the next pay period, if they can show they work at Aberdeen Proving Ground and are not getting paid.

Bennett quickly added the council has no intention of forgiving any bills.

"We are just saying, we know you are probably going to be strapped for some cash right now," he said.

Residents would have to bring in a letter proving they have been furloughed, he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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