By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Canadian County’s elected officials are considering adding Juneteenth to the county’s holiday calendar.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves.
While it is observed as a federal holiday, Juneteenth is not part of the official Canadian County or State of Oklahoma calendars.
Canadian County Commissioners are considering a change to the county’s holiday schedule for 2024.
First-year District 3 Commissioner Tracey Rider suggested adding Juneteenth at the commissioners’ weekly meeting Sept. 25.
“There is nothing in the statute that I’m aware of that says we’re limited on the number of holidays we’re able to give,” Rider said.
After discussion, the commissioners agreed to table action indefinitely so Canadian County Human Resources Director NaCole Majors could conduct more research about other counties in Oklahoma that observe Juneteenth.
“I want to make the right decision,” first-year District 1 Commissioner Tom Manske said.
Oklahoma’s three largest counties – Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland – already observe Juneteenth.
Dewey, Kingfisher, Caddo, and Blaine counties are among other counties that observe the June 19th holiday.
Canadian County’s holiday schedule follows the Oklahoma state calendar with 11 paid days off for employees – including two days at Thanksgiving and two days at Christmas.
The federal government’s holiday schedule includes Juneteenth and Columbus Day – but has just one day for Thanksgiving and one day for Christmas.
When Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson became the District 2 commissioner in 2009, Canadian County personnel were allowed to take off on their birthdays as an “unofficial holiday”.
At Anderson’s urging, that practice was ended – and employees instead were given eight more hours of accrued annual vacation leave.
“My position on Juneteenth has always been, if an employee wants to use that eight hours that exceeds their two weeks (vacation) for observing Juneteenth, that’s fine,” Anderson said. “If they want to take personal leave and observe Juneteenth, that’s fine.”
Before Anderson became a county commissioner, Canadian County also observed Good Friday.
Many municipalities, counties and other states across the U.S. now have Juneteenth as a paid day off for their employees.
The City of Yukon started observing the holiday in June 2022.
President Joe Biden in 2021 signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, recognizing June 19 as a federal holiday.
June 19 is the anniversary of when news reached Galveston, Texas in 1865 that the Civil War had ended, and all enslaved persons were then released from the bondage of slavery.
June 19th has been celebrated in communities across the United States as “Juneteenth” and has also been designated as “Freedom Day”, “Jubilee Day”, “Liberation Day”, and “Emancipation Day.”
THIS AND THAT …
Among other business at their Sept. 25th weekly meeting, Canadian County Commissioners approved:
- Tabling indefinitely awarding a bid to replace the parking lot at the Canadian County Assessor’s Office. Seven paving contractors submitted proposals – with bids ranging from $201,997 to $282,348 for asphalt and $245,739 to $425,000 for concrete.
- Interlocal agreement between District 1 and the City of El Reno for improvements on Elm Street from Radio Road to Alfadale Road and on Alfadale Road from Highway 66 south one-half mile.
- A resolution with Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO) Circuit Engineering District #8 for road maintenance, bridge inspection, purchasing, and management services.
- An agreement with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes for an improvement project on Walbaum Road at the Geary Travel Center.
- Authorizing names of three private roads in unincorporated areas of Canadian County for 9-1-1 addressing purposes – Canyon View Drive, Daybreak Court and Red Valley Drive.
Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward on Sept. 25 presented the weekly county jail report to Canadian County Commissioners.
The update showed a population totaling 191, with 162 inmates at the El Reno detention center and 29 others housed in contracted counties.
The total count is down 13 from last week as 45 prisoners await transfer to state Department of Corrections (DOC) custody.