2009-06-04 / Front Page

Budget cuts force major cutback at Robert Toombs House museum

In an effort to deal with a 39 percent budget cut, Washington's Robert Toombs House State Historic Site will be closed all but one day a month, and a long-time interpretive ranger will lose her job.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced last week that some 95 full- and part-time employees will be laid off, including Washington's Marcia Campbell. The DNR will also eliminate 81 positions, move 32 full-time employees to part-time status and, on July 1, begin furloughs.

The layoffs came as a surprise to Campbell. "They said they'd be able to work it out, and not to worry, right up until the end."

The Toombs House will now be open one Saturday a month, with manning from another site. The budget cuts slashed operational days at 11 other historic sites, and reduced access and services at five state parks. Fees for lodging, recreation and parking will increase as well.

"These decisions were heartwrenching but were made using a business-case analysis," DNR Commissioner Chris Clark said in his official announcement.

Hours for the Toombs House had been cut over the years and is now open Wednesday through Saturday.

Andy Fleming, Executive Director of Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, responded to the cuts with a message to the group's membership stating, "As Friends, we know the decisions were tough and that the DNR was left with few options following the legislative session earlier this year which approved these massive budget reductions. We are also truly saddened by the impact these decisions will have on the separated employees and their families."

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