LIVERMORE — The Select Board voted 3-0 Tuesday to follow the state and adopt June 19, known as “Juneteenth,” as a paid holiday.

All nonessential town offices and departments will be closed and town employees will receive paid time off.

Juneteenth is a celebration of liberation that marks the symbolic end of chattel slavery in America. Gov. Janet Mills first signed a bill designating Juneteenth a state holiday on June 10, 2021.

Selectpersons Brett Deyling, Tracey Martin and Randy Ouellette voted to approve the motion. Selectperson Scott Richmond abstained andChairman Mark Chretien was absent.

Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller said that “the town’s personnel policy says that the town shall observe and pay all regular town employees in accordance to the holiday schedule observed by the state of Maine.”

However, he added that “of course … you can do what you choose.”

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“That is up to you entirely,” he said.

Miller said that according to an “impromptu poll,” 29 other towns have recognized it as a holiday; 12 are considering its adoption; eight towns have moved not to adopt it.

He did not clarify the polling and if he was referring to Maine towns and cities.

Deyling asked whether the board would need to make a holiday schedule if they were to specifically adopt Juneteenth.

“We would have to change the personnel policy” he said, given that, as it stands, the town defers to the state’s list of holidays.

“Per our personnel policy, it is now (a) holiday, right?” Martin asked.

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“It’s still up to you. I mean, even though it does say that, it’s your policy,” Miller said. “I’m just playing both sides of the fence here.”

Miller clarified that the board also needed to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday on the record because “the personnel policy does list the holidays.”

He one reason to recognize all state holidays is because “all state offices are closed.” By closing town offices and departments, it will prevent a delay of services for locals, he added.

“(Miller) makes a good point. If you can’t communicate with anybody from the state on registrations and stuff, that’s not working,” Deyling said.

In an interview following the meeting, Richmond said he abstained from voting because he and “a lot of people don’t get all the state holidays off” from work.

“It’s not a holiday for me, how’s that?” Richmond said.

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He said he chose to abstain, rather than vote against the motion, because he “knew it was gonna pass anyways.”

“I’m not against it, because I get it,” Richmond said. “But I’m not for it either.”

Juneteenth marks the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were told about the end of slavery on June 19, 1865 — 2 1/2 years after former President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation address in January 1863. The first Juneteenth celebration was held the following year and it has since become an annual celebration of liberation and racial equality for Black people and progressive activists alike in America.

Though it was previously a lesser known holiday, attention has increasingly turned toward Juneteenth. Attention was especially drawn during the 155th anniversary in 2020 amid the height of Black Lives Matter protests. Some view Juneteenth as America’s “second Independence Day.”

When Maine adopted the holiday, Mills marked the legislation as “a commitment to fighting for a state and nation where equality, freedom and justice for all is more than an ideal, but a reality.”

Juneteenth was made a federal holiday in 2021.


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