Granville Then & Now – Football merger canned; yard sale draws many

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

One of the biggest changes to almost occur in area high school sports won’t be happening at this time. It was announced at the Granville Board of Education meeting of May 10 that the combination of the Granville and Whitehall football teams, popularly known as the “merger,” will not be happening.

It was cited that Whitehall wants to go in the direction of an independent program and did a survey of the coaches and players and found there were enough players down the line that a JV program could grow into a varsity football program in time for the 2022 season. Whitehall did not have a varsity football team during the recently completed Fall II season and does not plan to have one for the 2021 Fall season.

The decision on Whitehall’s part to back out of the Granville-Whitehall football merger was met with surprise, although most of the reaction after the surprise was positive. Some were glad that there would now be no risk of infighting or confusion with players and coaches by combining the teams. There was some minor lamenting of the decision from some, including a few parents of football players from Whitehall who would have played on the combined team this fall.

Granville’s Phil Berke was pleased with the decision, although he recognizes the issue of combining the Granville and Whitehall teams is not over yet. He reiterated that the would-be combination was “a co-partnership, not a merger.”

Berke said Whitehall’s decision to leave the co-partnership “has nothing to do with going on their own.” “The issue”, Berke said, “is control – who’s going to have control [over the combined team] – what’s the plan?”

“The superintendents have not admitted this, and not accepting the fact that the problem of combination is control, and trying to avoid this, muddies the whole issue,” he said.

Berke noted that the Whitehall school board is very “gung ho” about sports and concerned about who would have control of the combined team.

Berke recalled that a few years ago Granville superintendent Tom McGurl claimed that the Granville schools have a lack of participation in sports. Berke attempted to seek out a survey from the athletic director to find out if this was the case. He found no such survey had been done. The athletic director then conducted such a survey and found about 70% of the Granville High School student body participates in sports.

Berke noted that “girls are just as interested and competitive [in sports] as boys.” He added that some board members over the years have not had concern for Granville’s athletic program, believing it to be beneficial primarily for physical exercise.

“There’s a lot more [benefits from athletic participation] than just physical exercise,” Berke said. “It has to do with school spirit, what one does after graduating from school, and one’s outlook on life.” With that being said, Berke added that “Granville has a lot of students participating in sports, so board members must have concern for sports.”

The matter of a merger is likely not over,” he said. “Both [the Granville and Whitehall] coaches have said that they need players. Both coaches want a combination of the two teams.”

“If student population stays as it is now,” Berke added, “then it will become difficult for both football programs.”

Berke said he feels a merger between Granville and Whitehall would be the best fit, if one happens. “I think it’s a natural combination, if it’s necessary to combine. Both towns have mutual interests, the same outlooks… Many people in Granville go to Whitehall and vice versa … if there’s ever going to be a combination, then it would be natural to combine with Whitehall.”

The major issue of control of the combined Granville-Whitehall football team can be solved. The issue, Berke said, “could be negotiated to the satisfaction of both parties.” Both groups of coaches and athletic directors would have to discuss the details. Berke said he feels this is possible, adding “you have to trust the people you’re negotiating with.”

“There can’t be a co-partnership, it would never work,” said Berke. “A merger would work, and there are many ways of resolving this.” Hopefully, the Granville and Whitehall football issue can be solved to the satisfaction of both parties, with a result that would best benefit both schools.

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The Granville Town Wide Yard Sale was held as planned last weekend, May 15 and 16. The event had good attendance for having not been held in two years, as well as the lingering effects of the reason that caused the cancellation of last year’s sale.

Sales were held all over the village and town of Granville. There were vendors at Veterans Memorial Park and on the Granville High School front lawn. Most of the village streets had at least one sale going on; many had a few, with Quaker Street and Morrison Avenue having many sellers. There were sellers scattered throughout the town. There were several sellers in Middle Granville and in North Granville.

The antique stores and second-hand shops did not skip a beat either. Second Time Around and Shaw’s Antiques were open as well, and Bargain Busters was open for the mornings on both days.

Granville’s eateries were busy during the yard sale weekend. The Pine Grove Diner was well attended on both days, and the same was true for Jen’s Pit Stop in Middle Granville. McDaddy’s Car Hop in the village opened early on both days around 11 a.m., much earlier than their currently scheduled 4 p.m. opening, and was packed by 2 p.m. Those who wanted run-of-the-mill fast food did not miss either, as for much of the busy time on both days, the drive-thru line at McDonald’s stretched back to the parking lot on the opposite side of the ordering screen.

There were some new faces in the food service at the vending areas this year; on Saturday, Tommy Festa’s “Clever Cleaver” food truck was parked near the high school front lawn, and the “Mr. Foodie” food trailer was parked in the parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park.

There were many who attended this yard sale event, the first of its kind held in over a year. While not quite as many as in previous years, the fact that lots of people from the area and surrounding places came to Granville shows that the Town Wide Yard Sale is still a successful event.