By Erik Pekar, Town Historian
The Slate Valley Military and Honor Banner Project is the official name of the project that is making great strides towards the goal of having banners honoring those in the area who are or have served in the military. This project has been in early stages of planning for the past few months, and the Granville Post 323, American Legion, and the Falvey-Fringi Post 1653, V.F.W., are involved. The scope of the project has been expanded beyond Granville, and will now include neighboring areas. Besides the village of Granville, banners are also planned to be displayed in the towns of Hampton and Hebron, and in the Vermont towns of Pawlet and Wells.
The banners are to be two feet wide by four feet tall, and will be hung from utility poles in prominent areas of the communities. The front of the banners will have a photo of the service members in uniform with names and relevant service information; the banners are capable of having color photos, if such exist. The back of the banners will have a statement thanking all for their service.
The cost of each banner for a family or a sponsor is $150. Donations are also welcome. Application forms are available through the local posts of both the American Legion and the V.F.W. At this time, about 20 to 25 banners are planned to be made in the first group, although this could increase depending on the response.
The project committee is presently working with the boards and utilities in order to allow for the banners to be hung from the utility poles in the communities. Committee chairman Charlie King appeared before the village board at its February meeting as part of this process. The project received unanimous approval from the board.
The Granville area will benefit from the end goal of the Slate Valley Military and Honor Banner Project. There have been many towns before which have made similar banners honoring those who have served or are serving in the military. The Granville area is one step closer to joining those other places with banners, and all the towns planned for banners should give their full support to the project.
On Feb. 22, the Whitehall Board of Education will vote on whether to pursue a partial sports merger with the Granville Central School District. The main sport to be affected by the proposed merger is football: the Granville Golden Horde and Whitehall Railroaders football teams would merge into a combined Granville-Whitehall team. Granville and Whitehall have merged a team once before; the cross country teams were merged together in 2018.
The proposed football merger first surfaced in late 2019. At that time, board members in both school districts, as well as superintendents, were in favor of the merger. Projected numbers of students playing on the football teams were cited as a reason to pursue the merger. The projections for the 2020 football season at the time were 26 students in grades 10 to 12 for Granville, and 21 in the same grades for Whitehall, with decreases for the next couple of years. Another factor was the announcement by the NYSPHAA that they would be increasing the enrollment figures for Class D schools from 229 to 260, starting in the Fall 2020 season. This move was projected to increase the playing field for Class D football teams in Section II, but also have the effect of dropping some merged teams into Class D.
Granville’s football coach John Irion and players expressed their support for a merger at a school board meeting in November 2019. One football player, Thomas Roberts, said “it doesn’t matter who is on the team, so long as they are able to field a team and compete.” When asked by a board member whether playing football itself was more important or playing it wearing a Granville blue and gold jersey, the athletes responded, “playing football.” Roberts elaborated that it is the same, regardless of the team, colors or mascot: “they don’t care if it’s for Whitehall, for Granville, for any team … every kid that plays the game that’s serious about it, wants to play the sport.”
When asked about what they thought of the longtime Granville-Whitehall rivalry that has been brought up as a reason not to merge, he responded, “That’s long gone. It’s not going to come back.”
The Whitehall school board voted to table the matter in late December, partly due to a planned project for their football field. Granville’s school board voted in early 2020 in favor of pursuing athletic mergers, with or without Whitehall. Discussions have continued since then between administration and officials of both school districts.
There have been concerns that one school would have more “control” or oversight over the combined team. This is to be solved by dual coaching, with a head coach from Granville and another from Whitehall.
If the merger happens, a combined Granville-Whitehall football team would get a new name. A possible outcome is that one team name would continue, and the other dropped. This happened in southern Washington County a few years ago, where the Salem Generals football team was merged into that of the Cambridge Indians, the combined team being named the Cambridge-Salem Indians. In this scenario, the merged team could either be the Golden Horde or the Railroaders.
Another possibility is a new name that combines elements of both team names. This occurred in Warren County several years ago, where the Lake George Warriors and the Hadley-Luzerne Eagles merged as the WarEagles. For Granville-Whitehall, names such as “Golden Railroaders” have been suggested.
Community members have had a varied response on the proposed merger. Some are all for a merger, and that in view of the numbers it is preferable Granville and Whitehall football players be able to play on a combined team, instead of not being able to play at all. Others are opposed, some invoking the longtime rivalry that existed for many years between the Golden Horde and Railroaders football teams.
As in late 2019, the administrations of both the Granville and Whitehall school districts are in favor of such a merger. This includes the superintendents, school boards, athletic directors, and head football coaches. Granville and Whitehall football players have also voiced their support. If the merger is approved by the Whitehall school board, Granville’s Board of Education will vote on the merger at their March meeting.