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Multiple snowstorms. Temperature below zero. Wind chill advisories. Day after day, week after week. And all during an election year.
Local officials, many of which are slated to run for re-election, will not stand back and let that happen.
By a 4-1 margin, Bullitt Fiscal Court agreed on an ordinance banning any future prognostication by formerly-official county groundhog Nichols Nick.
The move was made to avoid an additional six weeks of severe weather that could lead to controversial decisions such as school closings, government shutdowns and cancelations of Chamber of Commerce networking events.
Magistrate Joe Laswell voted against, citing that he thought the proposed ordinance would not allow any form of “crazy meteorologist” into government facilities.
“I thought it was worded in a way that wouldn’t allow dips inside the building,” he added.
Following official approval of the county’s new Spring Modulation and Overall Kentucky Industrialized Nature Generator (SMOKING) ban ordinance, area hunters multiplied in hopes of tracking down local groundhogs.
Meanwhile, other citizens vowed to fight the SMOKING ban, forming a new organization and political affiliation, the Keep our Evolutionary Groundhogs (KEG) Party.
In its first official act, the KEG Party declared Nichols Nick as their new “Social Host.”
“Nick is a real pip,” said Bullitt County Partners in Prevention representative Brittany Watkins.
Once Nick accepted his new position, county attorney Monica Robinson claimed he was in contempt because he was paid in the past via the county’s hedgehog fund.
Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts officially declared Nichols Nick a “vigilante rodent,” calling for local law enforcement officials to bring him in “dead or in a cute little cage with curtains and a bed.”
Word through the Bullitt County underground spread that Nick was fleeing the area, partly for safety and partly to attend a national KEG party in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium prior to this year’s Super Bowl, held on Groundhog Day.
When Roberts’ office received word that Nick was headed to New Jersey, an email was distributed to local officials calling for a complete and lengthy shut down of the Salt River Bridge on Highway 61.
In a following email, Shepherdsville council member Faith Portman demanded to know why she was not informed in advance of the bridge closing. She blamed mayor Scott Ellis for holding a grudge because his team, the Indianapolis Colts, did not reach the Super Bowl.
Portman also demanded to know why she remained out of the loop in reference to the city’s official groundhog soothsaying almanac.
Countywide backlash reached the city of Fox Chase, where mayor Bill Broughton announced that the city’s groundhog, Fox Chase Freddie, also planned to attend the KEG Party Super Bowl event with Nichols Nick.
To assist with the issue, Pioneer Village Paul, the soothsayer for that city, offered services free of charge. However, due to a verbal agreement with Fox Chase Freddie, council members elected to pay him for future prognostication.
Meanwhile, in Hunters Hollow, the city commission considered suing the Bullitt County Sanitation District for attempting to flush Nichols Nick out of the ground by releasing extra discharge into city streams.
Robinson issued an official letter to Nichols Nick in New Jersey, promising to cease and desist on a lawsuit upon his return, along with performing an official forecast at the Bullitt County Courthouse.
In a reply email addressed to The Pioneer News, Nick stated that a courthouse prognostication was “propaganda” and a “waiting trap” for the groundhog.
“It’s a set-up,” he insisted. “They get me at that courthouse, and then they’ll surround the building with smokers that are exactly 15 feet away from it. Then I’ll be stuck in the building’s shadow, and the smoke cloud, and I won’t be able to see my own shadow.”
Roberts, Robinson, county magistrates, Portman, Ellis, Broughton and all Bullitt County candidates running for public office all publicly denied any truth to Nick’s statements.
“I didn’t know anything about this,” Roberts said. “But if it works, please remember it was my idea. We the people, they the groundhogs!”
The forecast for Bullitt County on Sunday showed a chance for sunshine. The Pioneer News warns everyone to remain cautious: if any of the above politicians see their shadow, it could mean six more weeks of election coverage.
Nichols Nick must wait until Sunday for his weather forecast, but has already provided a Super Bowl prediction.
“If Peyton Manning sees his shadow on the field, then the Broncos will win by six,” he said. “I got that tip from my fellow groundhog, Omaha Otis.”