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Treasure Valley cities mixed on upcoming Juneteenth holiday

Federal government agencies and banks will observe the holiday on Monday. Some cities also will close their offices, but some will not.
Credit: AP
The Juneteenth flag, commemorating the day that slavery ended in the U.S., flies in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

NAMPA, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

Treasure Valley cities are mixed on their responses to Juneteenth, a holiday marking the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to free slaves.

The holiday falls on Sunday, June 19, this year, but entities like the federal government and banks will recognize the holiday on Monday, June 20.

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Government buildings in Boise, Meridian and Nampa did not close last year, due to the short notice. However, Gov. Brad Little closed state offices on Friday, June 18.

This year, Meridian City Hall will be closed and employees will have June 20 off in observance of the holiday, Communications Manager Stephany Galbreaith wrote in an email to the Idaho Press.

Boise and Garden City will also observe Juneteenth on June 20.

However, Nampa’s full-time employees will take the paid holiday on December 23, according to Amy Bowman, communications manager for the city.

“This year, we are using Juneteenth as a floating holiday; similarly to how the City of Nampa takes the Columbus Day holiday on the day after Thanksgiving,” Bowman wrote in an email.

Kuna’s offices will be open, though employees can take the day off if they choose, Mayor Joe Stear said in an email. The city of Eagle will also remain open on Monday.

Last fall, Idaho County commissioners questioned whether to add Juneteenth to their list of holidays. Normally, government workers would have Monday off, since the holiday falls on a non-business day this year, but Idaho County Treasurer Abbie Hudson told the commissioners June 20 is the final day of property tax collections for the second half of the year, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

Idaho County Commission Chairman Skip Brandt went a step further.

“We have plenty of holidays ... and I’m disinclined to add another one,” Brandt said, according to the Lewiston Tribune.

Holidays show what is valued by society, Kristin Haltinner, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Idaho, told the Idaho Press last fall. Holidays also create community and unity.

“I think the resistance to holidays that recognize some of these racist histories reflects the lack of reconciliation that Idaho has done with its own racist past,” Haltinner said at the time.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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