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2006 Grand Groundhog Watcher Announced for 28th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration at Concord University

2006 Grand Groundhog Watcher Announced for 28th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration at Concord University

NOTE TO EDITORS: THE MEDIA ARE INVITED TO ATTEND the breakfast at no charge, please call either 1-304-384-5348 / 6056, or the university’s public relations office, 1-304-384-5211, for reservations.

Athens, W.Va. - Will Concord Charlie see his shadow this Groundhog Day to add six more weeks of winter weather to the season? We will find out on Thursday, February 2, 2006, when the special announcement will be made at the 28th Annual Groundhog Day breakfast at Concord University. The 2006 “Grand Groundhog Watcher” will be writer and public broadcasting producer Kate Long.

Every year since 1978 Concord University has welcomed a special West Virginian to “the campus beautiful” and honored him or her with the designation of “Grand Groundhog Watcher.” The Grand Groundhog Watcher is invited to share his or her wisdom, wit and humor with the assembly.

Long, a Fayette County native, says she will sing and speak her remarks. “That way, I have a better chance of keeping people awake,” she said.

Long is also the writing coach of the Charleston Gazette. The Fayette County native has won national awards for news writing, fiction, songwriting and radio features. She won the 2004 Gerald Loeb Award from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management for her Charleston Gazette series on the high cost of health care and insurance. Her 1977 book on special education won the Delta Kappa Gamma International Award. A Public Radio International piece on Robert Kennedy in West Virginia won the 1999 National Headliner Best of Show Award. Her “Who’ll Watch the Homeplace” became the 1994 International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year.

Long has recorded three CDs of her original songs, which she describes as “mostly stories about everyday people dealing with life.”

Former groundhog watchers have included politicians, retired Concord employees, entertainers, military heroes, pastors, writers and others. A. James Manchin (now deceased), former secretary of state and state treasurer of West Virginia was the first Grand Groundhog Watcher.

After Long’s introduction, Concord University President, Dr. Jerry Beasley, will share Concord Charlie’s forecast with the audience and media. (Beasley rises early to meet with the furry prognosticator and gathers weather details and predictions about the University’s future.)

The “Concord Charlie” tradition was begun in 1978 by Professor R.T. “Tom” Hill, a resident of Athens, W.Va. (He passed away in 2003.) As chairman of both the geography department and the Appalachian Studies program, he thought this would be a means to celebrate a piece of Appalachian heritage—and draw attention to the fact that Concord had such a program. The prognostication is now part of the Concord University president’s job description.

The public is invited to attend the “ham and eggs” breakfast. The cost is $6.50, payable at the door or in advance. The breakfast will be held in the Student Center Ballroom, Thursday, February 2 at 8 a.m.

For more information or to make reservations, call 1-304-384-6056, 1-800-344-6679, extension 6056, or e-mail


PHOTO: Kate Long

CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679, extension 6086 if special assistance or help is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.

Jesse Call, a junior majoring in political science and history, wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.


1978, A. James Manchin (deceased)

Former Secretary of State and State Treasurer of West Virginia

1979, Jim Comstock (deceased)

Editor of The West Virginia Hillbilly

1980, Shirley Donnelly (deceased)

Historian and columnist for Beckley Newspapers Inc.

1981, Dr. E. Meade McNeill (deceased)

Professor of Biology at Concord

1982, Don West (deceased)

Director of the Appalachian South Folklife Center, Pipestem, W.Va.

1983, James Dent (deceased)

Humor columnist and cartoonist for The Charleston Gazette

1984, Dr. Charles Kenneth Sullivan

Executive Director of the West Virginia Humanities Council

1985, George A. Daugherty

“The Earl of Elkview,” a prominent Charleston attorney

1986, Ken Hechler

Former W.Va. Secretary of State and former Congressman

1987, Edward J. Cabbell

Appalachian scholar, founder of the John Henry Foundation

1988, R. T. Hill (deceased)

Father of the Concord Groundhog Day Breakfast and former Professor of Geography at Concord

1989, Reverend Harry Christie

Former pastor of Princeton Presbyterian Church

1990, Dr. James Bailey

Co-founder of Veterinary Associates of Princeton and a Mercer County civic leader

1991, Nelrose Richards Price

Retired Registrar of Concord, 41 years of service

1992, Jean Battlo

Published poet and playwright from McDowell County

1993, Katharine Tierney (deceased)

Mrs. Tierney was a Bluefield civic leader and longtime friend of Concord

1994, Denise Giardina

McDowell County native, successful novelist focusing on the vibrant culture of the coalfields

1995, Thomas Conlin

Former West Virginia Symphony Artistic Director and Conductor

1996, Frankie Ferrante (deceased)

Owned Mercer County restaurant, Frankie’s La Salute, and was an active civic and community leader

1997, Dr. J. Elliott Blaydes, Jr.

Retired Bluefield eye specialist and philanthropist

1998, Recent Concord Retirees

Harold Bailey, John Seago, Paul Morgan, Bill Ryan, Bill Wells, Beryle Santon, Violet Martin, Kevin O’Sullivan, Ed Lowe, Dale Geiger, Carl Chapman, Shelva Rarick, Bernard Keirnan, Karl Fezer, Kenneth Baker

1999, Jerry Jarrell

Retired Director of the National Hurricane Center, a Concord alumnus and Raleigh County native

2000, Andrew Paterno

President and Chief Executive Officer of Acordia Mid-Atlantic, a Concord alumnus and Kanawha County native

2001, Andy Ridenour, Larry Groce

Ridenour is originally from Washington, D.C., Groce is originally from Texas, both are with West Virginia Public Radio

2002, Dr. J. Douglas Machesney

Concord’s Vice President for Development from 1986 through 2002

2003, Dr. Jay Banks

Retired physician and author, lives in Union, W.Va., with his wife, “Marty”

2004, Dr. Ancella Bickley

West Virginian and African American educator, historian and author

2005, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient