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 email@example.com.
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.
CONCORD UNIVERSITY’S “GRAND GROUNDHOG WATCHERS”
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