By Conrad Dudderar
A newly proposed Canadian County holiday schedule does not include a new federal holiday.
Canadian County Commissioners, at their weekly meeting Sept. 7, voted 3-0 to approve a 2022 holiday schedule that authorizes county offices to be closed for 11 days. The schedule will not be finalized until the county’s excise board meets Sept. 28.
Canadian County’s planned 2022 holiday schedule does not include “Juneteenth” National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of African American slaves.
President Joe Biden recently signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, recognizing June 19 as a federal holiday.
Canadian County Commissioners were asked Sept. 7 to consider adding Juneteenth to Canadian County’s holiday calendar as a paid “day off” for county government employees.
Melanie Johnson, director of the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center, pointed out “all men are created equal” under the Declaration of Independence.
“There are 47 states and Washington D.C. that mark Juneteenth as either a holiday or observance,” Johnson told commissioners. “With the division in our nation now, it would certainly help unify. We’ve had several employees at the center that have asked about it.
“In Oklahoma, the Tulsa Race Riots certainly adds to our state’s issues. And what’s the message if we don’t honor the federal holiday? I think it’s important that we honor it.”
Canadian County’s newly proposed 2022 holiday schedule shows 11 days off for these nine holidays:
New Year’s Day (Friday, Dec. 31, 2021), Martin Luther King Day (Monday, Jan. 17), President’s Day (Monday, Feb. 21), Memorial Day (Monday, May 30), Independence Day (Monday, July 4), Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5), Veterans Day (Friday, Nov. 11), Thanksgiving (Thursday and Friday, Nov. 24-25), and Christmas (Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 26-27).
“We always follow the state’s schedule,” District 2 Canadian County Commissioner Dave Anderson said.
Juneteenth is not part of the State of Oklahoma’s 2022 holiday schedule.
“It is a (federal) holiday,” Commissioner Anderson said. “There’s nothing we can do to change that.
“The question is, do we want to consider it a paid holiday?”
After discussion, Canadian County Commissioners agreed to again follow the state’s holiday schedule – which has two days for Thanksgiving and two days for Christmas, but not Columbus Day or Juneteenth.
District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart did say he thought closing Canadian County offices for just one day after Christmas would be sufficient.
The federal government’s 2022 holiday schedule shows Juneteenth will be observed Monday, June 20 (June 19th falls on a Sunday). Federal employees also will get a paid day off for Columbus Day, but only one day each for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
‘WE ARE BLESSED’
“We are blessed to have the holidays we have,” District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader said of Canadian County government. “I used to work at a nice, huge private engineering firm with 14,000 people across the globe. We had six (paid holidays off). Here we have 11, sometimes 12.”
Hader appreciated Johnson’s input on the Juneteenth holiday.
“Every year, we talk about (including) Columbus Day as well,” he said. “That’s a day I’d like to be off, and I think there’s a lot to honor in that regard.”
Other holidays like Columbus Day, Good Friday and Easter have not typically been included in Canadian County’s annual holiday schedule.
“Just because we don’t pay an employee for not working that day doesn’t diminish the importance of the holiday,” Commissioner Anderson added. “Our holiday schedule is generous. I never worked in a job where I was paid for 11 days that I didn’t work – and 15 days’ vacation.
“That’s 26 days a year that an employee is paid for not coming to work.”
COUNTY JAIL POPULATION
Presenting the weekly Canadian County Jail report, Undersheriff Kevin Ward said the population had declined – 263 inmates in custody, with 222 prisoners at the El Reno lock-up and 41 housed in other counties.
The state Department of Transportation on Sept. 7 accepted 15 prisoners for transfer from Canadian County custody.