File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Town will observe Juneteenth by closing Town Hall on Monday, according to a press release issued by Supervisor Yvette Aguiar’s office late this afternoon.

The decision to close town hall comes after earlier in the week, town officials told RiverheadLOCAL it would remain open because it was not designated a paid holiday in employees’ union contracts.

There was no discussion during Wednesday’s work session about the holiday or closing town hall.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said in a phone interview today the Town Board will vote on a resolution Tuesday to “ratify” the day as a holiday.

“We decided to go along and honor the holiday this year,” Hubbard said. “And then in the years coming, we’re going to have to put it into part of union negotiations and the contract negotiations.”

“It seemed to be what neighboring towns were doing also,” he added.

The Southampton Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday to amend the 2022 holiday schedule to include the observance of Juneteenth on Monday, even though it had not completed negotiations with CSEA to permanently add Juneteenth to the list of observed holidays in their collective bargaining agreement.

Southold Town Hall will also be closed on Monday.

Suffolk County offices will be closed Monday as well.

Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and National Independence Day— is the celebration of the day on June 19, 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger read the proclamation of freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state with institutional slavery after the Civil War ended. The celebration dates back to Texas the year after in 1866.

Juneteenth was added to New York’s list of public holidays by a bill signed into law by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2020. Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act making June 19 a federal holiday.

Riverhead will celebrate Juneteenth this year over the weekend with events hosted by community organizations and the Suffolk Theater. See prior story.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]