Lincoln's birthday remains a labor day for most

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- The telltale response by answering machines at some government offices was the first clue many got that Tuesday marked any observance but Mardi Gras.

It was also Abraham Lincoln's birthday, an official holiday in about 30 states including Missouri and Illinois. Still, for most Americans it was just another Tuesday.

The birthday isn't a federal holiday. The city of Cape Girardeau doesn't observe it, either. But Cape Girardeau County offices were closed Tuesday along with state offices, just like they will be six days later for Monday's federal holiday, Presidents Day.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones says the county takes the same holidays as the state, and he wishes there were fewer.

Jones personally ignored Lincoln's birthday, spending part of it working in the County Administration Building in Jackson. Likewise, Charlotte Craig, director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, spent her holiday mired in paperwork.

Craig said she routinely works on Lincoln's birthday. "Most administrators would wish for fewer days off and most employees say thanks for the day," she said.

A state senator two years ago proposed eliminating three of the state holidays -- Lincoln's and Truman's birthdays and Columbus Day. The measure failed.

County employees get off for New Year's, Martin Luther King's birthday, Lincoln's birthday, Presidents Day, Truman's birthday, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Janet Robert, county recorder of deeds, said she and her co-workers like the holidays -- they just wish the breaks were more evenly distributed throughout the year.

"We haven't been able to find a June one or August one," she said. "We have nothing in April or March."

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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