Grafield County commissioners working out 2011 holiday schedule |

Grafield County commissioners working out 2011 holiday schedule

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The Garfield County commissioners are working on a 2011 holiday schedule for county employees, and high on the list of questions this year was whether or not to include Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The mid-January holiday, created by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, is meant to celebrate the birthday of the slain civil rights leader [Jan. 15], and is observed on the third Monday of January in most states and cities around the country.

However, it is not in Garfield County, which has never observed the holiday.

At the board of county commissioners’ Aug. 9 meeting, commissioner Tresi Houpt suggested the BOCC vote to include “MLK Day,” as it is called, as a paid county holiday.

Houpt made the suggestion after Human Resources Director Katherine Ross told the BOCC that the holiday calendar is short one holiday for 2011. She said there are currently nine holidays, compared to the usual number of 10.

But after Houpt suggested MLK Day be added to the list starting next year, Commissioner Mike Samson asked whether the calendar should be expanded to include Easter, instead.

“We may be the only governmental entity that doesn’t recognize Martin Luther King Day,” Houpt rejoined, adding, “It’s not an arbitrary day, it’s not a day that isn’t significant. It’s a civil rights issue, a day that celebrates the freedoms that were brought forward in the last century.”

She also said the holiday calendar already honors Christian holidays, including extra days at Christmas, but not the holy days of other religions, so she questioned the wisdom of adding Easter.

The commissioners decided to put the question to the employees, by asking them which holiday they would prefer: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Colorado Day [which used to be a paid day off in the county], a “floating holiday” or “other.”

According to County Manager Ed Green, the employees overwhelmingly chose a “floating” day off, meaning a day they could choose, with 178 votes. He said that Colorado Day pulled in 32 votes, and MLK Day came in last with 30 votes.

The question of the holiday calendar will come up again at the BOCC’s Aug. 16 meeting.

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