HOPE MILLS — The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners voted during a special meeting Monday to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for the town.
The federal holiday commemorates the abolishment of slavery in the United States. The town will observe the holiday starting this year.
Juneteenth, which is usually observed on June 19, falls on a Sunday this year. The town will observe the holiday on Friday, June 17. Town offices will be closed. Going forward it will be observed on the actual date when a weekday. If it falls on a weekend, it will be observed on the closest Monday or Friday, Town Manager Scott Meszaros said.
The town decided to observe it on Friday because the board has a previously advertised meeting on Monday, he said.
Mayor Jackie Warner said she called the meeting before the holiday in case the board wanted to vote and observe the holiday this year.
Meszaros said Hope Mills has 12 paid holidays, “13 if you count the town’s birthday.”
Hope Mills follows the state's recommendations for holidays. Meszaros said there were several federal holidays the state does not recognize.
Making Juneteenth a paid holiday doesn’t affect the town’s budget, Warner said.
“As far as budgeting, it doesn’t have to be considered because the budget centers around the salary they (the workers) require, so it doesn’t cost us any more,’’ she said. “It’s just an incentive or opportunity for our staff.”
Warner said the “only people affected in which we vote would be our police and fire because they really do work on holidays.”
Commissioner Jerry Legge made the motion to make Juneteenth a paid holiday.
Before the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Kenjuana McCray read from a prepared statement on why the town should be more aggressive in solidifying the holiday.
“It took 32 years for the Martin Luther King holiday to come about and become a holiday,” McCray said.
She said she didn’t want to be like South Carolina or Arizona, which were some of the last to vote for the holiday.
McCray said she asked for the meeting because she wanted the town to be more aggressive in its beliefs and intentions.
Legge agreed, saying if the town board stepped forward and approved the holiday it would be more of a leader and hopefully other municipalities would follow.
The motion to make Juneteenth a town holiday was approved by unanimous vote.
The Fayetteville City Council voted in January to make Juneteenth a city holiday.
Several Juneteenth events are scheduled for the area, including a launch party Thursday at Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills. Fayetteville’s inaugural Juneteenth Jubilee takes place Saturday and Sunday with concerts in Festival Park and other events downtown.
Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityViewTODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.