Grand Groundhog Watcher Greg Puckett Speaks during CU’s Groundhog Day Breakfast
Concord University Photo by Lance McDaniel
ATHENS, W.Va. – “I’m sorry!” Concord University Interim President Kendra Boggess apologized to the guests gathered at the 36th Annual Concord University Groundhog Day Breakfast. “Looks like a little bit more bad weather.”
Chatting with famed groundhog weather prophet Concord Charlie via cell phone, Dr. Boggess relayed the much anticipated forecast from the University’s groundhog prognosticator. “You came out yesterday (Groundhog Day, Feb. 2) and you saw your shadow,” she confirmed with Charlie. She then told the furry forecaster, “Go back in your burrow.”
The yearly breakfast was held on Monday, Feb. 3 in the Jerry and Jean Beasley Student Center Ballroom. According to Groundhog Day tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow the morning of Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter can be expected. An early spring will be on the way if he doesn't see his shadow.
The Concord Charlie tradition was originated in 1978 by the late Professor R.T. “Tom” Hill. As chairman of both the geography department and the Appalachian Studies program at Concord, Hill started the Groundhog Day Breakfast as a means to celebrate a bit of Appalachian heritage and highlight the program.
Charlie has a standing appointment with the University’s President each year to offer his predictions and insights on the duration of winter. The President then relays the forecast to the breakfast guests.
Sharing the spotlight with Concord Charlie each year is the Grand Groundhog Watcher, an individual who has positively impacted life and culture in West Virginia. Greg Puckett, a native southern West Virginian and 1993 Concord graduate, is the recipient for 2014.
Puckett is known statewide and beyond for his tireless community service that focuses on the well-being of youth. He is Executive Director of Community Connections and a key player with the local Creating Opportunities For Youth (COFY) community coalition. His work includes substance abuse prevention efforts among young people and their families.
“This is truly an honor,” Puckett told the breakfast audience. He said he was familiar with the event as a Concord student. “R.T. Hill was one of my professors here. I had Appalachian Studies,” he said.
Puckett’s leadership efforts have been instrumental in bringing recognition to Mercer County on multiple occasions through designation as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by American’s Promise Alliance.
He is also part of a team of local businesses and individuals passionately dedicated to revitalization and economic stabilization through the Princeton Renaissance Project (a partnership with the West Virginia HUB initiative). The project is bringing new energy and life into downtown Princeton, W.Va.
Puckett says he sees the Princeton Renaissance Project as an opportunity to make positive changes and leave a legacy for future generations. “There’s a legacy to be left and that’s why you do what you do,” he said. “We want you to come with us and leave that legacy.”