Area counties approve time off for Juneteenth holiday

Dayton's 13th annual Juneteenth celebration concluded Sunday, June 19, with a Gospel Music Showcase at W.S. McIntosh Memorial Park.
Dayton's 13th annual Juneteenth celebration concluded Sunday, June 19, with a Gospel Music Showcase at W.S. McIntosh Memorial Park.

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

Several area counties will close offices July 2 as employees take the day off to observe Juneteenth, while workers in Montgomery County will get a floating paid day off this year to observe the new federal holiday.

“We strongly believe in the inclusion of Juneteenth on our federal holiday calendar,” Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said.

Coupled with the Fourth of July holiday, the Juneteenth observance on July 2 will amount to a four-day weekend for county workers under county commissioners in Clark, Miami and Warren counties, according to resolutions passed by the counties this week.

As many as 4,272 Montgomery County employees may get eight hours leave to use by the end of the year. Beginning in 2022, the paid holiday will be included annually on the work calendar, Colbert said.

Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge expects more counties and cities will eventually codify the holiday in perpetuity for their employees as well.

“Once it’s a federal holiday, usually other communities start to honor it and put it on their schedules for the next year,” she said. “The slaves in Galveston were freed and they didn’t have to be. They were already citizens. I think everyone should honor that.”

President Biden signed a bill making June 19 a standing federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. As Ohio law follows federal holidays for state workers, later that day Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that state offices would close Friday.

ExploreBiden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

Biden’s bill signing June 17 didn’t give Montgomery County time to let employees off the Friday before the holiday, Colbert said.

“The fact the bill passed very quickly precluded us from shutting down our services on such short notice since we have many key functions and programs in place that are vital to the public,” he said.

Clark County did close offices at noon July 18 and commissioners voted on Wednesday to observe the holiday fully on July 2.

“Due to the quick decision by the federal and state governments to make Juneteenth a holiday earlier this month, it was difficult for us to appropriately observe the holiday,” Clark County Administrator Jennifer Hutchinson said. “The commission and our administrative team felt it was necessary to provide adequate leave for our employees.”

Clark County’s resolution was limited to the 2021 date, but the holiday will likely be approved for the federally observed date next year through a resolution later this year approving holidays for 2022, according to a county spokesman.

Miami County’s resolution approved this week also pertained only to 2021, but the federal holiday will be observed in 2022 and likely beyond, said Miami County Commission President Greg Simmons.

“As long as it remains a federal holiday, we will celebrate it,” Simmons said.

Miami County commissioners urged other elected officials in the county to join in closing their offices July 2 this year, according to a statement by commissioners after passing a resolution Tuesday.

Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said he discussed how to treat the holiday with commissioners during a work session Thursday. If commissioners decide to take action, it will likely be during the commission’s July 1 meeting, Huddleson said.

The city of Dayton plans to give workers a floating holiday this year similar to the one passed by Montgomery County, but a measure has yet to reach commissioners, according to the city.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said observing the federal holiday will help create a more inclusive workplace.

“Recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday is a great step in celebrating the diverse backgrounds of our employees while acknowledging that there is more we can do as an organization to build a culture of racial equity,” she said.

The city’s administration is working with employee labor unions to negotiate the floating holiday for this year and to annually recognize June 19 as a city holiday beginning in 2022, according to the city.

ExploreCity of Dayton announces plans to acknowledge Juneteenth holiday

Other area cities may include the holiday on 2022 calendars, including in Springboro where City Manager Chris Pozzuto said council will likely consider it later this year.

Miami County resident Kenny Block said he appreciated the unanimous action of Miami County commissioners to observe Juneteenth.

“As a citizen of Troy and Miami County, you hope your leaders show concern for all citizens of the community,” said Block, a Black business owner of A to Z Property Maintenance. “It’s a sign of inclusiveness, that the efforts of our government are trying to show that they mean business when they say that they value diversity.”

Simmons said the cost of paying roughly 800 Miami County employees for what is now the 12th federal holiday was a consideration.

“We had to take a look at that as stewards of the county. But Juneteenth far outweighs anything that’s going to be monetary,” he said.

Staff Writer Ed Richter contributed to this report.

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