Barbara Hawkins Is Grand Groundhog Watcher for 29th Annual Groundhog Celebration at CU

For Immediate Release: 
Jan 21 2007

CONTACT: Kati Whittaker, Director of Alumni Affairs
1-304-384-6056, 1-800-344-6679, extension 6056, or


Barbara Hawkins Is Grand Groundhog Watcher for 29th Annual Groundhog Celebration at CU

Athens, W.Va. - The 2007 Grand Groundhog Watcher will be Barbara Hawkins, chief political correspondent for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Barbara Hawkins, born and educated in Virginia, adopted West Virginia as “home” in 1972 and has had her pulse on Mountain State politics for the past 30 years.

A retired state editor for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, she spent her career covering the West Virginia Legislature and following the state’s most well-known political figures through modern-day history. Recently retired, she volunteers at a battered women’s safe haven, Pam’s Place in Princeton, named in memory of her daughter — but continues her first love, political writing, as chief political correspondent and a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Ms. Hawkins biography includes the following: Princeton bureau chief, investigative reporter, city editor, and state editor for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and Princeton Times editorial editor.

Before coming to West Virginia, she was editor of the Smyth County News and worked as a reporter for The Southwest Times in Pulaski, Va.

She has won many writing awards from the West Virginia Press Association and the West Virginia Press Women’s Association. For a period of time, Ms. Hawkins served as editorial director for the Princeton Times in addition to her duties with the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. During that time, the Princeton Times won the WVPA’s top award for editorial excellence. She also won awards from the Virginia Press Association, the National Press Women’s Association, and in 1991, became the first Bluefield Daily Telegraph staff member to win a national award for writing. Hawkins was recognized as runner-up in the National Federation of Press Women’s “community service-careers” category. The Princeton resident was recognized as “Citizen of the Year” by the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce for her work in establishing the Mercer County E-911 Center. She served as chair for committees that constructed the Princeton Town Square and founded the Pam Hawkins Foundation.

She was given the “Social Justice and Human Dignity Award” in 2001 by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission for “exemplary personal courage in meeting the challenges of racism and injustice” to one’s fellowman.

Concord College named her recipient of the 2001 Linda Fink Community Service Award and she was a winner of the West Virginia Community Service Award in 2004, sponsored by the West Virginia Women’s Commission. The same year, she received the Bluefield State College Community Service Award for her role in saving BSC’s federally accredited two-year programs. She was a founder of the Greater Mercer County Charity Foundation, which later joined Bluefield’s foundation to become the Community Foundation of the Virginias. During her retirement Hawkins plans to write books on state political figures, local murders, local history, and her animals.

She has a daughter, Kimberleigh White, son-in-law, Kendall White, and granddaughter, Pami who live in Roanoke, Va. She is a member of the West Virginia Family Protection Board.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph Executive Editor Tom Colley, in expressing his long newspaper association with her, said, “Barbara’s distinguished career with the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and previously with the Princeton Times will long be remembered for not only the prolific news stories she reported during the past three decades, but also the many remarkable civic achievements she influenced through the news and editorial pages of both newspapers. Barbara is among the most influential and respected political writers in both Virginias, and thankfully, her strong political presence will not diminish,” Colley said on her retirement.

The public is invited to hear Barbara’s unique observations of “what goes on behind closed doors” at the State Capitol.

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 the breakfast would be a means to celebrate a piece of Appalachian heritage—and draw attention to the fact that Concord had such a program.

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.

The prognostication is now part of the Concord University president’s job description. Concord University President, Dr. Jerry Beasley, will abandon the ivory towers of academia and ignore presidential protocol to share the secrets of Concord’s very special friend, Concord Charlie. Will Concord Charlie see his shadow this Groundhog Day to add six more weeks of winter weather? Only Concord Charlie knows, and Jerry Beasley will share the weather details.

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, Friday, February 2 at 8 a.m.

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


PHOTO: Barbara Hawkins

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.


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 Folk Life 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 (deceased)

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

2006, Kate Long

Writer, bluegrass musician