Public offices should not close for total solar eclipse

On April 8, Trumbull County will be graced with the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse, something that hasn’t been visible in Ohio since 1806, and won’t be able to be seen again in the state until 2099, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The eclipse, which will move across Ohio from southwest to northeast, is expected to be visible in Trumbull County about 3:15 p.m. and could last four minutes, depending on your location in the county.

Due to this historic event happening in the middle of the afternoon, schools across the Mahoning Valley have canceled school or have scheduled earlier releases on the day of the event. However, just because schools are allowing students to go home early, doesn’t mean nonessential county employees should do the same. There’s still a job to do.

According to Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti, the Mahoning County commissioners have decided not to give their employees time off for the eclipse, which is the right move.

Trumbull County commissioners have gone in the opposite direction, however. On Wednesday, by a vote of 2-1, commissioners voted to end the work day at 2 p.m., about an hour before the eclipse will occur, for nonessential county employees. Board President Denny Malloy and Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa approved the move, while Commissioner Niki Frenchko voted against it. She said county employees should take an earned vacation day if they want to witness the eclipse.

We agree with Commissioner Frenchko on this notion, as we believe county taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for nonessential county employees to watch the eclipse.

As Trumbull County resident Valarie Johnson said during the commissioners’ meeting Wednesday, regular employees throughout the county would have to take a vacation day if they wanted to watch the eclipse, nonessential county employees should have to do the same.

According to our reporter, Raymond Smith, the discussion about the amount of time employees should get to view the eclipse lasted nearly an hour and several different suggestions were brought up before the decision was made to end the work day at 2 p.m.

Commissioners discussed giving nonessential employees about 30 minutes or an hour to experience the event fully. We could’ve supported this. While an hour may be too much, giving employees 30 minutes to step outside and witness an event that could last approximately four minutes would suffice. While nonessential county employees wouldn’t be able to experience it with their families, which is an argument that Malloy made, they could still experience the event and discuss it later in the evening.

While the total solar eclipse is a special event that should be witnessed, and will be by citizens from the Mahoning Valley, Ohio and out-of-state visitors, we still must make sure that responsibilities are being fulfilled. Allowing nonessential workers to go home at 2 p.m. at the beginning of the work week is not doing that and it’s something that we must disagree with wholeheartedly.


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