By Meladi Brewer
GREENVILLE — The Versailles Music Boosters and various community members confronted the Versailles Village Council Wednesday to inquire about their right to escorted celebrations.
In the past, the Versailles Fire Department had given teams who received a State Championship a siren filled escort through town showcasing their accomplishment. This escort was reserved for all teams including the Marching Band, but the policy put into place regarding the escorts had been rewritten to exclude all of the music department.
President of the Music Boosters Todd Rauh spoke on behalf of the group, and said they would like the council to reconsider the policy and add back music.
“We would like you to reconsider the policy,” Rauh said. “Other communities honor their bands by doing more, but we are just looking at when the band gets a Superior at State.”
A Superior rating at State is the highest award a band can receive at the end of their competition season. Not every band qualifies to go to state, and not every band will receive the honor of a Superior rating. Rauh said it is the “pinnacle of their career.”
He said they understood the policies were changed due to liability issues, and the council drew the line because they did not want the trucks out for every little victory, but the Boosters are only asking the music department to get recognition for their contest season if they win a Superior rating at State.
Since 2000 the band has appeared in the State Finals 16 times. In those 16 appearances, they have only received a superior twice. Rauh advised the council, the utilization of the firetrucks is low and few; therefore, liability would be low because it isn’t an easy achievement. They feel it is notable to honor the victory of getting the highest rating possible when it is achieved.
The kids work hard and put in ample hours: “60 to 70 hours for the Amplified Show Choir and over 340 hours for the Marching Band.” Rauh said, “It is a lot of time, and I think these kids deserve to be recognized for that.”
A female citizen chimed in saying “I would just like to say for those that have kids in sports and they get that recognition, to Todd’s (Rauh) point it does. Why should those band and choir students be considered any less, or why shouldn’t their accomplishments be celebrated in the same manner? You should think about what that is telling the kids.”
Rauh had said he understood there are other ways to honor them, but in his opinion, when the community has backed the music department in the past and gave them an escort and now they don’t “it kind of throws up a bad signal.”
Mayor Jeff Subler addressed the room and council by giving the history leading up to the decision to redraw the line on escorting. He said parents were questioning the escorts saying “why not my kid?”,and it was beginning to get out of hand.
“Through time, because of parents feeling like ‘well what about my kids’, and I understand it, but it started to grow,” Subler said.
Subler said at one point it became “so out of whack they had someone call wanting an escort because their son’s little league team won a championship in the summer.” He said there needed to be a clear policy put into place that when the fire chief was called at midnight, they could say yes that qualifies or no it doesn’t qualify.
He said when the council redrew the line they needed to figure out a rule of thumb and how up and down the line of victory they were willing to go. They talked about music, wrestling, FFA, football, etc. Mayor Subler said there were three options when deciding. One being everyone gets one, two being no one gets one, and three was there is a distinct line drawn. The council had decided to draw the line at teams earning a State Championship returning to the village.
“I would say a team is where they are competing against other teams and at the end they beat everybody and everyone else was less,” Subler said.
He continued to say band is different than football because at the end of the season, there is a grand champion; however, the marching band just received the grand champion award at their last contest, meaning they were better than every other team, including those not in their category or division.
Subler brought the discussion back to state saying multiple bands can receive a superior rating, and that is why they decided to push the band behind the line. Rauh advised the council, there are multiple divisions in band, just like football, that enables more than one team to win a Superior at State like the football teams win State Championships.
A superior rating especially at State is also the highest ranking honor the band can get. It signifies the end of the season, the hours they put in competing, and when they achieve it, it shows the other bands in the category who are “less than.” It was said the accomplishment is a hard feat especially without a strict guideline for how the performance should be run, unlike football.
Mayor Subler expressed his concern that if they begin to move the line even a little bit, they are going to open the door for everyone else because if you do something for one person, you have to do it for all of them. He said “it is never our intention to make anyone mad or hurt anyone’s feelings.”
“Me personally, if we change it, it’s going to cause issues, but that is history,” Subler said.
Council member Jeff Beasley said he agrees the band and music department put “a ton of hours in” and believed they need some kind of recognition.
“I think they (the Boosters) have a point. I mean they really do,” council member Cory Griesdorn said. “I’ve never had anyone in band, but I think they do have a point. I think we could do something with the State Superior, as it appears equivalent to the state championship.”
The Fire Chief Brian Pearson says the fire department does not have an issue doing it, but at the end of the day, they have to follow the policies put into place. He wanted the community to know “it isn’t like the fire department is against the escort.”
“It’s the end of the road for them. They achieved the highest opportunity that they can achieve, and it’s all about how you interpret it. It doesn’t matter what you call it: a coach, a director, or a team, it all kind of falls into the same category,” Pearson said.
Though no decisions were made Wednesday, the council agreed to discuss the redrawing of the line for escorts and to draft legislation to be brought up in future meetings. It will not be able to be completed before the band’s Nov. 6 State Contest at 3:15 p.m. in Piqua, but legislation could be drafted to give the opportunity to future participants.
The next Versailles Council meeting will take place Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at 7 p.m., in the EMS Building, 320 Baker Road, Versailles.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].