Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Knowlton Township Committee Discusses Juneteenth as Paid Holiday

Should Juneteenth be a paid holiday for Knowlton Township employees? Deputy Mayor Debra Shipps thinks it should, but other members of the township committee are not sure they want to add another paid day off.

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th, marks the emancipation of African-American slaves on June 19, 1865. The day was declared a federal holiday in 2021 and has been adopted as a holiday by the state of New Jersey and Warren County.

At the May 8th committee meeting, Shipps said the extra holiday would conform with the other levels of government that give their employees the day off.

“How can we not give a day off that every other level of government gives off?” Shipps asked.

Shipps said it was an opportunity for the township to offer a benefit to town employees, whom, she added, are not paid as well as their counterparts in other municipalities.

“Is it really going to hurt us? Is it costing us any more money? No. Is it going to affect the
budget? No. Is it going to make them happy? Yes,” Shipps said. “A three-day weekend in June.”

Mayor Frank Van Horn said he was concerned about adding another holiday to the calendar.
While not outright saying no to the idea, Van Horn said there are already many paid days off available to employees.

“I think that there’s already abundance of personal days and sick days and vacation days,” Van Horn said.

Committee member James Mazza said the issue might be more appropriate being discussed during collective bargaining with the employees. He also suggested that it may be more practical to add a floating holiday.

If the holiday can’t be adopted for 2023, Shipps suggested at least allowing employees to leave early on June 19th this year.

The issue is expected to be discussed further at the June 12th committee meeting.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.