• Last modified 1617 days ago (Jan. 21, 2015)


MLK Day off? Elected officials made the call

Staff writer

State and federal government offices closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, although city offices throughout the county remained open — with city officials insisting there was no slight toward MLK, but rather a decision made by each city council as to which holiday city employees have off and when city offices will remain open.

Many city governments in Kansas closed, including Wichita, Salina and North Newton.

However, the cities of Marion, Hillsboro and Peabody were open. City administrators said their city councils decide the matter.

“It’s not anything to do with race relations or anything like that; we’re just open for the public,” said Larry Paine, who became Hillsboro’s city administrator in 2007.

“It’s been this way all the time since I’ve been here,” Paine said.

Roger Holter, Marion city administrator, said he tried phoning Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s office in Salina on Monday but discovered his office was closed.

“Since Congress is not in session, all of the representatives’ offices are closed,” Holter said.

Holter’s office was not only open on Monday, but the Marion city council met in the afternoon as well. The Marion council has not approved MLK or Columbus Day as paid holidays for city employees, although city employees do have Veterans Day off. The last time the Marion council made any changes to the holiday schedule predated 2000, when MLK Day officially became a holiday for all 50 states, Holter said.

In 1979, a bill to make MLK Day a national holiday failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, but the measure passed in 1983, and the holiday was enacted for federal employees in 1986. In 2000, South Carolina became the last state to recognize the day as a paid holiday for state employees.

As they are in Hillsboro, Peabody city offices are open on MLK, Columbus, and Veterans Day holidays. Still, even though the government was open, markedly less foot traffic entered and exited the city building.

“Because our bank is closed, the lumberyard is closed, and the post office is closed, lots of people assumed that the city offices are closed,” said Stephanie Lago, Peabody city administrator.

Marion County offices closed on Monday. Next door, Chase County offices stayed open. County commissioners came to different decisions in each county.

Last modified Jan. 21, 2015