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Groundhog decision not easy one for elected leaders in Bullitt County

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My Views

By Stephen Thomas

    NICHOLS - The fur could be flying during the next week as Bullitt County determines its official groundhog in time for the upcoming Groundhog Day holiday.

    In past years Nichols Nick, long-time county soothsayer, eluded local government attempts to control weather forecasts. Rather than continue pursuit of the slippery hedgehog, Bullitt Fiscal Court switched to plan B.

    A 3-2 split decision vote designated a new county groundhog officially recognized by local agencies.

    Magistrate Buddy Shepherd, representing Nichols Nick’s woodlands, and Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts voted against the idea.

    Shepherd spoke (in Groundhogese) with Nick, who referred to the vote as “split hairs.” Nick speculated upon a conspiracy by magistrates with moustaches.

    “Those guys welcome shadows, especially at five o’clock,” Nick said in a released statement.

    With an official go-ahead, magistrate Eddie Bleemel made a first nomination for long-standing community hedgehog Solitude Sol.

    Shepherd immediately debated the selection, with rumors speculating that Sol’s hole in the ground was across county boundaries.

    Magistrate Joe Laswell felt more north end residents should be represented, introducing his suggestion, Fox Chase Freddie.

    Not to be outdone, magistrate David Walker preferred a classical, rural hog. He referred to young but popular Bernheim Bill, a resident of the Bernheim Research Forest.

    With a pending stalemate vote, Shepherd argued that Nichols Nick would keep his honorary position.

    The deciding vote came down to Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts, who felt compelled to support all magistrates.

    “I’ll select a rodent,” she said, “But I refuse to grow a moustache.”

    Magistrates voted unanimously against Roberts’ suggestion to create a celebrity event by hiring Jerry Mathers, TV’s “Beaver” Cleaver, as guest soothsayer.

    County attorney Walt Sholar called for an executive session to discuss potential alternatives. Fiscal Court then decided upon a new plan to appease everyone.

    Roberts announced that Bernheim Bill would replace Nichols Nick. However, Nick would continue to forecast for the county.

    Roberts said Bill would assume Nick’s duties at 11:35 a.m., while Nick’s forecast would be moved to a more convenient 10 a.m. time, declaring the dual forecast the New Bush-hog Conglomerate (NBC).

    “Bill’s taller and bushier, he can see more shadow that way,” said Roberts. “But Nick has that prominent chin that assists him as well, they’re both good.”

    The forecasts would be displayed on free Internet television, with Nick’s forecast, “The Shadow Knows,” followed by Bill’s.

    Roberts pledged to drive further viewing with her sponsorship, calling Bill’s forecast, “Me, Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts, and My Shadow, My Shadow and Me, Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts.”

    In retaliation of the news, Solitude Sol immediately resigned from the NBC to form his own forecasting organization known as Calculations By Sol (CBS). He referred to his new “politics-free” forecast as “Out of the Shadows.”

    Fox Chase Freddie also began an organization, Freddie’s Overall X-aminations (FOX). The albino groundhog created a new broadcast called “The White Shadow.”

    Fiscal Court approved the NBC plan with a mind frame that all was successful; however, they did not anticipate the competitive nature of whistlepigs.

    Shepherd informed magistrates that 10 a.m. would be too early for shadow seeing in Nick’s hilly western side of the county. A new agreement was then made to move Nick back to his 11:35 forecast, with a shorter prediction.

    It was also agreed that Bernheim Bill, who previously worked many late afternoons in the forest, would move back to a 12:05 forecast.

    “That’s too late,” Bill said. “By then the television news will be using Nick’s short forecast and won’t bother breaking into their newscasts for mine.”

    Bill added that he would not participate in “helping to screw up the greatest franchise in the history of weather.”

    Solitude Sol publicly chastised Nick. The two hedgehogs were busy beavers years ago competing for the County groundhog title.

    “They wanted whichever one of us that didn’t see our shadow to be the one, because they wanted early spring,” said Sol. “Nick hid in a closet during that day to guarantee it wouldn’t happen.”

    Sol also claimed Nick pushed his father, long-time Bullitt County Groundhog Pitts Point Pete, out of the county position for his own benefit.

    “Pete was the king, he was our Punxsutawney Phil,” Sol said. “Then he was unceremoniously dumped for Nick.”

    Punxsutawney Phil, seer or seers, prognosticator of prognosticators, weather predictor extroidinaire, national treasure and most photographed Pennsylvanian, was unavailable for comment.

    However, Phil’s advisor, Oliveburg Oliver, informed The Pioneer News that in the event of unclear and decisive local prognostication, Phil’s forecast would hold true for the area in question.

    As of now, a final settlement has not been reached by local groundhogs or government officials. Unless informed otherwise, check Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast for an official word on six more weeks of Bullitt County winter weather at www.groundhog.org.

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UPDATE: 02/02

    Bullitt Fiscal Court reversed earlier plans due to public outlash, reinstating Nichols Nick as the official county groundhog.

    The decision came moments before the start of the Fiscal Court meeting.

    As of 9:50 a.m., Nick reported seeing his shadow, meaning six more weeks of bad weather is expected for Bullitt County.

    Punxsutawney Phil, the world's official groundhog, also saw his shadow Tuesday morning. Phil's forecast was to be used locally if the county government did not have a proper official groundhog in place for a local forecast.