24th Annual Groundhog Celebration Held at Concord: Concord Charlie Makes His Prediction
Athens, W.Va. - Concord College President Jerry Beasley shared the news from Concord Charlie with 130 guests who attended the 24th annual Groundhog Day Breakfast celebration.
Prior to the weather proclamation, Tom Bone, former director of public information for the College made a special announcement. Captain James H. French served as the first "principal" of Concord Normal School for 16 years (1875-1891). On February 2, 2002, President Beasley tied the record of the longest service as a principal or president on Groundhog Day with his service of 16 years, seven months and one day.
Those in attendance included Senator Anita Skeens Caldwell, Mercer County, Senator Leonard Anderson, Summers County, members of the local media, and numerous former Grand Groundhog Watchers.
"We’ve been accused of lying and so we went to the Athens Ministerial Society and they issued a one day waiver for truth-telling," stated Beasley, as he grinned sheepishly. "This is the second largest gathering of fibbers in West Virginia (indicating that the first group held forth in Charleston from time to time). One of the things that keeps us going is to see what sort of folks show up for this celebration. And, one thing they made clear in my job description—and there’s not much that is—is to talk to Charlie. Charlie did not see his shadow, I am happy to report."
The president then announced the "Grand Groundhog Watcher," someone who is honored for his or her contributions to the state of West Virginia and Concord College.
Dr. J. Douglas Machesney was named the 24th Grand Groundhog Watcher. "Machesney is noted for his humor which seems to evolve around pairs. There are only two kinds of pies Machesney likes—hot and cold," stated Beasley. Machesney was the College’s first vice president for development and will be retiring June 2002.
"Dr. Machesney has served the College well during his tenure with us, and his accomplishments are too numerous to note them all. Under his leadership, the endowment has grown to the current $16 million from $250,000 in 1987; he has been instrumental in securing federal dollars to aid the College in developing a state of the art technology center; and, he orchestrated the College’s first capital campaign, ‘Quest for Scholars’ in 1988."
Beasley also announced the creation of the J. Douglas Machesney scholarship at Concord and wished Stan Sweet, local television personality, the best in his recovery from a personal illness.