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Volunteers, donors help Vicksburg military park stay open

December 31, 2018

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — Volunteers and donors are helping keep a Civil War battlefield site in Mississippi open, despite a federal government shutdown.

The Vicksburg Post reports a group has been raising money to keep the Vicksburg National Military Park in operation.

Bess Mitchell Averett heads the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign. She says volunteers came out Friday after a storm to help clear park roads of trees and debris.

Most of the park’s maintenance team has been furloughed.

Averett says it costs about $2,000 per day to operate the park at a minimal level during the shutdown.

“We are committed to seeing through this process as long as we can,” Averett said. “We work together all year on important projects and events for VNMP. We can think of no higher priority project we can take on than keeping the gates and museums open and sharing this amazing treasure with the public.”

Park superintendent Bill Justice says the military park and visitors’ center are open. The cemetery has several trees down and is closed. A damage assessment will be done when the shutdown ends.

The park says on its Facebook page that all specially scheduled events have been canceled for the rest of the shutdown.

The park memorializes the battle for Vicksburg, whose location by the Mississippi River made it vital for shipping and moving supplies. The Union Army held Vicksburg under siege for 47 days, starting in late March 1863, and the Confederate Army surrendered the city that July 4.

The park is home to monuments erected by states that sent troops to fight at Vicksburg, a monument dedicated in 2003 to African-Americans who served in the Vicksburg campaign and an ironclad gunboat called the U.S.S. Cairo.

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