Mountain state plans for Groundhog Day - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Mountain state plans for Groundhog Day

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West Virginia won't let Punxsutawney, Pa., have all the fun of Groundhog Day. 

At Concord University, the tradition of Concord Charlie giving a weather prediction started in 1978 by the late professor R.T. "Tom" Hill, who was chairman of both the geographic and the Appalachian Studies programs at the school.

Hill started a Groundhog Day Breakfast to celebrate the area's Appalachian heritage as well as to celebrate the program. 

While Punxsutawney Phil makes his prediction each Feb. 2, Concord Charlie plans to make his call during the breakfast Feb. 3. The Concord event also highlights an individual who has positively impacted life and culture in West Virginia with the title "Grand Goundhog Watcher," and this year Greg Puckett will have the honors. Pucket is a 1993 Concord alumnus, director of the Drug Free All Stars, executive director of Community Connections, has been director of the Mercer County Drug Free Community Support Program as well as an advocate for teen courts and has worked with local businesses and individuals on the Princeton Renaissance Project.

West Virginia's official weather prognosticating groundhog, French Creek Freddie, will make his 36th appearance at the West Virginia Wildlife Center at French Creek, which is in Upshur County.

Wildlife Center staff awakens Freddie each year to look for his shadow in front of an audience of hundreds of fans, but the festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 2 with Appalachian storytellers "Granny Sue" and Judi Tarowsky. Freddie's wake-up time is 10 a.m., and at 10:30 a.m., the second annual "Woodchuckin' Contest" is slated to start.