Granville Then & Now – Football merger to begin this fall

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

The Granville-Whitehall football merger will be happening after all. The announcement came on Nov. 18 that merger talks had resumed between each school’s athletic directors, coaches, administration, and boards of education. A joint meeting was held in early December, where important details of the plan were worked out. The plan was then taken back to each school board for approval. The Granville school board approved it at its meeting on Dec. 13, and the Whitehall school board approved at its meeting on Dec. 20.

The merger plan approved is a true merger. The football programs of each school will be merged and run as a single program. There will be single Granville-Whitehall teams for varsity, JV, and modified, although there is a possibility that there may still be separate modified teams this coming fall. A new head coach will be hired for each merged team; the coaches will not be either of the most recent head coaches of the separate Granville and Whitehall teams. Also, due to the terms of the merger agreement, the new football coaches will also not be any former coach from either school who was dismissed from their position, or resigned for bad reasons, within the past 10 years.

Earlier plans for combining the teams had been in the form of a partnership. Among other features of those plans, there was a provision which would have had the present head coaches of the Granville and Whitehall teams becoming co-coaches of the merged teams; such an arrangement would have inevitably led to conflict and infighting. The resumption of Granville-Whitehall merger talks comes after the Granville board discussed – and quickly, rightfully rejected – a merger with Corinth and Hadley-Luzerne in early November.

The approval of the Granville-Whitehall football merger met with little fanfare. Those who had supported the teams being combined were happy to see it happen. Those who opposed combining the teams as a partnership, now approve of the true merger put forth in the current plans. In the community, some still have reservations about the merger, and a small few are against it; most of these people graduated within the years of 1975 to 2010.

While many decisions were made in November and early December regarding a Granville-Whitehall football merger and how to go about it, there still are aspects of the merger that have not been decided. This includes the team name, colors, and mascot. Ideas are currently being thought of and at some point between now and September, input will also be taken from Granville-Whitehall football players regarding name, colors and mascot.

The merger was first suggested in the fall of 2019, as a response to declining fielding numbers in the Granville and Whitehall varsity football teams. The change will guarantee the ability of Granville and Whitehall student athletes to continue playing football. This will be the second sport merged between the schools; their cross-country teams were merged in 2018.

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Something great has started for Whitehall. Last Friday, Jan. 14, was the first patient-accepting visit of the Hudson Headwaters mobile health van and the van will return to Whitehall every other week; the next visit will be Jan. 28. This service will allow Whitehall residents easier access to such care. Whitehall officials and community members should be commended for encouraging the Hudson Headwaters Health Network to bring this service to their town. If all goes well, perhaps in a few years Whitehall may get a full-size permanent Hudson Headwaters health center, like those in Warrensburg and Moreau; that would certainly be a boon for Whitehall.

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If all goes to plan, Granville’s Main Street may get a different kind of new business this year. Rumors over the fall and early winter were proven true last week, when the announcement was made in the Sentinel that plans were underway to open a cannabis dispensary in Granville. The Village of Granville opted in to both cannabis licenses by taking no action, while the town of Granville opted out of both.

Land Craft Wellness is owned by a consortium, including Peter and Wendy Berry, Chris Kostyun, and Kelly and Rich Taylor. The consortium, as 6-10 Main Street LLC, owns the building, built in 1972 by First National Bank of Glens Falls, and most recently occupied by TD Bank. The main floor will be used for sales and display space, and the basement level for cultivation (growing). The group plans to apply for the cannabis license allowing for cultivation, processing and retail sales. The State Liquor Authority’s Office of Cannabis Management has not decided upon regulations yet, but the group hopes to be in operation by June.

The Land Craft group’s goal is to “revitalize Main Street.” Kostyun was quoted as noting that some businesses on Main Street were supportive because of the opportunity for “reciprocal business.” The enthusiasm for the cannabis dispensary may be an overreaction, however. One reason is that it won’t really generate “reciprocal business.” The clientele who frequent a dispensary generally go to the town just to shop at its dispensary. People visiting Granville to go to the Land Craft dispensary, if it opens, would generally not go to the other businesses on our Main Street. The dispensary’s customers would likely stop at the Stewart’s Shop or Cumberland Farms and get gas or “grab and go food,” or go to McDonald’s.

Another reason the reaction may be an overreaction is the reputation and stigma regarding cannabis, something Kostyun also alluded to in last week’s article. It is true that the cannabis Land Craft will cultivate, if they get the license, will be pure. It is also true, however, that cannabis has a reputation that can’t be shaken for some members of the community, and this vicinity of Upstate New York. Inevitably, if, or when, Land Craft opens, Granville and Main Street may gain a reputation of being a “cannabis town.”

The reaction to Land Craft has been sharply divided, with some in the community welcoming the idea of a cannabis dispensary and others being staunchly opposed to the idea. For those against it, there is little to nothing that can be done now to stop it.

In any case, Land Craft Wellness is a unique kind of new business for Granville. In the event they open, hopefully their optimism for success and Main Street revitalization will play out and an open attitude taken to Granville and Land Craft. If the area doesn’t take a new look, the opening could be the catalyst for another era of decline on Main Street.