A new holiday has been added to the calendar for employees of Knowlton, as the Township Committee voted to make Juneteenth a new day off.
In a split vote at the June 12th committee meeting, rare for this governing body, the committee voted 3-1 to establish the paid day off, which employees can use any time during the calendar year subject to staffing needs.
Committee member Debra Shipps, who strongly advocated for the holiday, said the added day off would be a way to offer a reward to employees without it costing the township.
“It’s a holiday that that’s a lot of companies are giving off,” Shipps said. The State of New Jersey and Warren County have already added Juneteenth as a holiday.
“Then it’s up to the municipalities if they want to adopt,” Shipps said. “It’s not costing any additional money. I did the homework on it.”
Disagreeing with Shipps that there is no cost to the town, Committee member James Mazza voted no but said that while he was not against the move in principle, he felt it had not been discussed thoroughly. He said he was not convinced the new day comes at no cost to the township.
“This is monetary,” Mazza said. “They’re getting paid for a day off. So, it does cost the township.”
Mazza had said at the introduction of the ordinance in May that he felt a decision like this should be part of the collective bargaining process.
Mayor Frank Van Horn, while not completely convinced there was no cost, supported the measure because he felt adopting the measure was a way to give something to the town’s employees.
Juneteenth, observed on June 19, marks the emancipation of African-American slaves on June 19, 1865. The day was declared a federal holiday in 2021.
Joe Phalon, 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.