Concord Charlie Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter
Athens, W.Va. – An estimated 130 people including students from the Appalachian Leadership Education Foundation, (ALEF), packed into the Jerry Beasley Student Center Ballroom for the 32nd annual “Concord Charlie” Groundhog Day Celebration. During the ceremony, Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret.) was honored as the Grand Groundhog Watcher. Foglesong is the president and CEO of the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation (ALEF), a non-profit organization.
ALEF encourages students from the Appalachian region to strive for character, leadership and technical excellence. There are 29 ALEF students on Concord’s campus.
Gavin Ward, president of Concord’s ALEF chapter, said he has been in the organization for three years and is happy to have the opportunity to see the General at the breakfast. “It’s amazing to see Mr. Foglesong here,” Ward said. “He’s very down to earth.”
The breakfast, a tradition on “The Campus Beautiful” since 1979, began with a welcome by Dr. Joe Manzo, professor of Geography and an invocation by Tom Bone, reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Bone thanked God for creating the seasons and the creatures of the earth, including “Concord Charlie” and also asked for a blessing to be upon the food and the “grand gathering of groundhog watchers.” Afterwards, people enjoyed the buffet-style ham and egg breakfast catered by ARAMARK.
After breakfast, President Gregory Aloia announced the long-awaited prediction from “Concord Charlie.” Aloia, upon visiting the burrow, said that Charlie did indeed see his shadow, thus … six more weeks of winter. Yet Aloia said it wasn’t easy getting in contact with him.
“I couldn’t find him and he wasn’t connecting with me,” Aloia said. “I sent him e-mails; I went to his Facebook page, and then I got word from a good friend of his saying that Charlie was having this adjustment problem. He had this great relationship with President Emeritus Beasley and they were buddies from way back. Then I met Charlie’s publicist, Fred, the rabbit, an international student at Concord who, in the early 1990s, majored in communications and minored in geography. He also has an MFA [Marketing Fictitious Animals] in communications; so he decided to represent Charlie. Charlie told me about the BYRD [Burrow in Yard Reinvestment and Development] project, which is a ‘shovel ready’ project. It is an initiative designed to garner support for infrastructure at Concord University.”
After the weather prognostication, Dr. John David Smith, vice president for business and finance, introduced General Foglesong as the Grand Groundhog Watcher.
“He has done so much for so many,” Smith said. “He has devoted his life to public service and public leadership.”
Foglesong launched ALEF four years ago and introduced the program to students at Concord after meeting former Concord President Jerry Beasley.
To Foglesong, now is a great time to be an American. “I contend that we’re the greatest and most respected nation in the world and the best days are ahead,” Foglesong said. “There are certain things that are going to make us better. Remember two years ago when they said that the American savings rate was the lowest it has ever been? Not anymore. Americans are saving money now. Americans are making financially smart decisions now.”
“The flipside [to the unemployment rate] is that we have 92 percent working,” he said. “I’ve gone to multiple nations around the world that would love to have that [rate of employment]. Sometimes we have to look at the reciprocal to see where we are.”
Foglesong also acknowledged the men and women serving overseas, saying that our nation is standing on the legacy of millions of Americans who fought and died for our country. “Those men and women didn’t know they were going to be heroes; they were ordinary citizens,” he said. “These young men and women here today [ALEF members] are going to be our next group of heroes. They’re going to be ready to go out and get the respect that this nation deserves.
“We, as Americans, need to persevere,” he said. “Don’t give up on America. Good times are ahead.”
PHOTO: Concord President Gregory F. Aloia; Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret.); Vice President for Student Affairs John David Smith
NOTE TO EDITORS: High-resolution photo attached to the end of this page.
Andrea Meador, a sophomore majoring in public relations wrote this news release. Her hometown is Ghent.