Johnstown to celebrate Juneteenth 

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Juneteenth is now a city holiday in Johnstown following a unanimous agreement by the Common Council on Monday. 

The holiday gives city employees the day off, and City Hall will be closed, said Mayor Vernon Jackson. 

“It’s a federal and state holiday, and we have to amend our contracts with the [Department of Public Works], Police and Fire to include that as a potential holiday off for them,” Jackson said after the meeting. “It’s like any other federal holiday. The state also authorized it, and our union [representatives] contacted me and said you need to amend the contracts, and we did to allow that as one of their paid holidays.” 

Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday in June 2021 and a state public holiday in October 2020, commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves. The holiday, also called Emancipation Day and long celebrated by African Americans, garnered new attention as #BlackLivesMatter gained momentum. 

Specifically, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and informed slaves of their freedom. That day followed President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, on January 1, 1863, by more than two years.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 unless it falls on a weekend, in which case it will be celebrated on either the Friday prior or the Monday after. In 2022, June 19 falls on a Sunday.   

Hearing set

In other business, the city set a public hearing on the budget for Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. The city’s 2022 tentative budget includes raises for the city attorney and city clerk, as well as a discrepancy in the city engineer’s personal service requests. The city also needs to finalize an ongoing dispute between city leaders and members of the Water Board, who want a full-time $70,000 superintendent position. The city has proposed a $30,000 alternative in which the city engineer and the deputy city engineer would handle the duties of the superintendent. 

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Vernon Jackson said he had submitted the counteroffer to the Water Board in writing but hadn’t yet heard back. 

The Water Board passes its own budget, but that budget gets included in the city’s overall budget. The city’s charter spells out a Dec. 1 deadline to pass the budget.  

Other action at Monday’s meeting included reappointing Michael Viscosi to another six years as city court judge. The role backs up Hon. Brett A. Preston. 

“I am very honored,” Viscosi said after the meeting. “It’s a quiet city. Part of my job is to keep it that way.” 

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite. 

 

By Andrew Waite

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