Monroe County commissioner: “Indeed, the county is celebrating Juneteenth. The county will be closed on Friday.”

Responding to a question during public commentary at the start of Wednesday morning’s board of commissioners meeting, president Julie Thomas cleared up any uncertainty about the “Holiday Closing” that’s listed on the county’s official calendar for this Friday.

Image links to full calendar page.

Thomas said, “Indeed, the county is celebrating Juneteenth. The county will be closed on Friday.” All county buildings will be closed that day.

Friday is June 18, the day before Juneteenth.

Juneteenth commemorates the arrival of Union Army general Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which came two and half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863.

The decision by county commissioners to make June 18 a holiday this year was made last year, on Nov. 4, with the approval of the annual resolution that sets the employee holiday calendar.

The resolution approved last year does not have descriptions listed with any of the dates.

Thomas’s statement early in Wednesday’s meeting removed any doubt about the reason June 18, 2021 was chosen as a holiday date.

The point was made again after the regular business of the commissioners had concluded, when the three commissioners read aloud a statement about the history of Juneteenth.

Thomas recited the opening sentences from Granger’s order: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Thomas continued, “As we celebrate Juneteenth this Saturday, we all acknowledge that there is a great deal of work that still has to be done to ensure equality and liberty for everyone in our community and across this country.”

Whether Juneteenth is a holiday in future years might not depend on action by county commissioners. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate enacted a bill that establishes Juneteenth as a national holiday. The U.S. House is expected to follow suit, according to an Associated Press report.

The city of Bloomington’s Juneteenth celebration is set to take place on Saturday in Switchyard Park from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. According to a city news release, the activities will include, free food, games, and music, with Black-owned businesses on-site offering additional products for sale.

Also taking place in Switchyard Park on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is a county health department COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Monroe County’s health administrator Penny Caudill announced the clinic at Wednesday’s county commissioners meeting. Caudill said the clinic would use the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That means there’s no need to schedule a second dose.

Caudill said the vaccine clinic would be under a shelter near the pavilion area.