The past year saw a one-of-a-kind animal rescue expanding in Granville and historic success for Granville High School's football team. But throughout the year downtown businesses closed and students were required wear masks as the COVID-19 continued to impact the village.
The following are some of the most significant new stories from Granville in 2021.
Fox and wolf dog sanctuary comes to Granville
Walking Wild Rescue, a non-profit organization that rescues and provides a safe haven for captive bred foxes and wolf dogs, has come to the Granville community.
The Chatham Road area facility is in the process of a $900,000 capital campaign to fund construction of two barns. The rescue held a groundbreaking ceremony in June for an approximately half-million-dollar, 7,000-square-foot fox facility. The climate-controlled fox barn, capable of housing more than 60 foxes, will include 20,000 square feet of play yards, an attached kitchen for food preparation, a vet clinic, storage and information center.
The adjacent 4,200 square foot wolf dog barn on their 20-acre sanctuary site will have 32,000 square feet of outdoor habitat.
Walking Wild aims to rescue foxes trapped within the fur trade, and foxes and wolf dogs that people bring into their homes as pets only to realize the exotic animals are not easy to care for pets.
Granville athletes shined
It was memorable year for Granville High School sports.
It started with wrestler Douglas Terry finishing a stellar career, taking his second runner-up medal, this one at 152.
Granville’s boys track team won an indoor state title with the foursomes of Nathan Newsom, Jacob Kreger, Keshawn Bonner and Max King winning the 800 relay and Kreger, King, Dylan Christian and Ian Law taking the 1,600 relay.
The Blue Aces’ competition cheer team matched them, winning a state championship.
Granville’s girls cross country team continued their dominance in the fall. The Blue Aces earned their second Division II runner-up finish in three years, finishing just three points behind Minerva for the crown.
The fall extended deep into November thanks to the heroics of the Granville football team.
Granville won the program’s first Division III regional title and carried an unbeaten season all the way to the state semifinals. The Blue Aces won a wild shootout against Western Brown before falling to Hamilton Badin.
Granville eatery shakeups
The past year saw restaurants come and go from downtown Granville.
Construction is underway at the former Granville Township Fire Department on the new Mai Chau Kitchen and Three Tigers Brewing location.
Whit's Frozen Custard is in the process of moving from its long-time location at 138 E. Broadway to a few doors down at at 266 E. Broadway.
Hashi, specializing in sushi, Korean dishes, and fresh seafood, opened in September at the former Moe's Original BBQ spot on East Broadway.
The Granville Donatos location closed permanent in Oct. 29 for numerous reasons, including COVID-19, inability to find workers and raising rent costs.
After nearly five years in downtown Granville, SteamRoller Bagel Sandwiches closed the doors of its Prospect Street restaurant for good in December.
Outside of downtown, Ray Ray’s Meat + Three BBQ Pit debuted its first sit-down restaurant, located 1256 Columbus Road in Granville Township.
Masking mandated in Granville schools
After starting the school year with no mask mandate in place, Granville Exempted Village Schools mandated masks in September to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Superintendent Jeff Brown was unanimously granted authority by the board of education on Sept. 20 to implement the mandate "in grades K-6 until a vaccine is available and implemented."
Once the Ohio Department of Health updated its masking policy Oct. 25 to allow students to remain in class after in-school exposure to COVID-19 if they wear a mask for 14 days, Granville Superintendent Jeff Brown said during the district's Nov. 15 board meeting that masking is now optional for all Granville students.
"Our current mask status is we are strongly recommending K-12 that students remain masked," Brown said. "However, it is mask-optional, so parents do have the ability to make that decision."
But the district has implemented at least one temporary mask mandate in specific classrooms when needed.
Holiday celebrations return
Granville's holiday traditions returned in 2021 after being drastically scaled back in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, elephant ears, lemon shake-ups, dodge-'em cars and a Ferris wheel were all back on Broadway for the village's annual Fourth of July celebration.
Fireworks rained down over Granville's Wildwood Park and families lined Broadway for the annual parade on July 5.
But it wasn't the only event to return to pre-pandemic state. The 36th annual Granville Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour, organized by the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, returned to its traditional one-day format on Dec. 4.
Families from Granville and beyond visited the village between 1-9 p.m. to see 76 lit Christmas trees along Broadway and Main Street, enjoyed activities from business, tried delicious food from local restaurants, watched performances from local churches and so much more.
Advocate reporter Kurt Snyder contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Fox, wolf dog rescue, football playoffs among Granville's top stories