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A little ground hog fun

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My Views

By Stephen Thomas

 CLERMONT - A local rodent has waylaid plans to bring Bullitt County out of the shadows.

And six more weeks of winter weather could be over and done before a legal decision could be reached.

Issues began following the 2018 election, when new county judge/executive Jerry Summers made a decision to immediately fire long-time Bullitt County groundhog Nichols Nick.

At the time of his decision, Summers defended his action by stating he did not want his new regime to be anything like the previous regime. From there, he removed Nichols Nick, just as previous county judge/executive Melanie Roberts hired Nick to replace former county groundhog Pitts Point Pete.

As soon as Nick’s firing was announced, Summers congratulated and welcomed his new county groundhog selection, Clermont Cleo. The move raised the ire of some local residents who were quick to point out that Cleo campaigned heavily for Summers during the past year.

Cleo was named as the new overseer of the Bullitt County Environmental and Meteorological Soothsaying organization, or EMS. The group’s primary function is determining an extended winter season based on its head seeing its own shadow on Feb. 2.

Controversy began in late January, with reports by the Bullitt County Sheriffs Office that all holes in the county connected to Cleo’s underground network has been closed off, with concrete poured into each entrance.

Claims from the Cleo conglomerate inclined that a “closet clandestine clod” working for Nick was responsible for the corporal concrete clamps.

Sheriffs deputies obtained Nick for further questioning, holding him at the Bullitt County Detention Center. However, within hours, Nick was able to escape from the facility.

“I feel sorry about it and I’ll take full responsibility,” said new jailer Paul Watkins. “We were just trying to clean this place up, and we saw him and thought he was a big rat, so we chased him out.”

At a press conference, new county sheriff Walt Sholar announced a countywide dragnet to “reincarcerate the rebellious rodent,” citing a similar situation in 1878 regarding Raleigh Rollo, a North Carolina woodchuck who tried to take over the job of neighboring groundhog Durham Durwood.

As Sholar spoke from his podium, an errant wooden moccasin was tossed at his head, with a groundhog in glasses fleeing the sheriff’s offices, believed to be Nick.

Though Sholar immediately ordered all deputies to “promptly pursue that particularly pesky, pestilent whistlepig,” the groundhog was able to flee easily while deputies took time to don their best official uniforms prior to reporting to duty.

Meanwhile, Summers worried that without an official county groundhog forecast, he would not be able to make good on one of his primary campaign promises: Vote for Summers, no more winters.

The Pioneer News received a message from Nick, who first reminded that in the event of a tainted or questionable forecast, or even a non-forecast, the local prediction would be reverted to that of the official national groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.

Known as the Seer of Seer, Soothsayer of Soothsayers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Phil’s official forecast read “no shadow” this year, meaning an early spring. Phil’s forecast has only predicted early spring 19 times over a 133-year period.

Summers called for a press conference to make the announcement official, declaring an early spring as well as his kept promise to voters.

“My constituents have received a concrete campaign certainty,” he said.

Immediately following the press conference, Nick again contacted The Pioneer News, claiming that it was Summers who had Cleo’s burrows concreted, ”confirming so through his cryptic, clamoring conference comments.”

According to Nick, Summers became aware, through Cleo, that Feb. 2 in Bullitt County would be sunny and 62 degrees. That coming immediately after a week of snow and wind chills below zero.

“From ferocious flakes falling to frigid, freezing Fahrenheits, followed by fair, favorable spring-like weather, with fluffy clouds, (Summers) figured he’d fix the forecast so fans would favor the false, fabricated fairy-tale figures,” Nick said. “Just ask him, but I’ll be he’ll give you a different ‘F’’ word altogether.”

Summers denied any knowledge of a Groundhog Day forecast cover-up, while again taking credit for the pleasant weather that immediately followed.

The judge reminded that he knew people in prominent places, and hinted that he had the power to build a burrow-stopping wall around the Nichols area to keep Nick and others like him from “invading and skewing these important weather forecasts.”

“I’ve got backing and support from other prominent rodents,” Summers said. “I’ve even been told that I’ve received the OK from that thing on Donald Trump’s head.”

Reading a postcard with a photo of The White House, Summers read what he claimed to be from that thing.

“He’s the best county judge in Bullitt County history,” Summers read. “He’s done more in two months than any other judge ever thought about. Cleo is one of the best groundhogs to ever come out of the ground, he has one of the best shadows. No one knows shadows more than me.”

Nick threatened to file a lawsuit to acquire his job back, with Summers threatening to countersue for slander and defamation of character. A court date is pending.

However, Bullitt Circuit Judge Rodney Burress admitted that any suits, either in legalese or groundhogese, would take longer than six weeks to come to trial, adding that at such time they would be null and void even if pursued.

Pressed for further information, Burress said he preferred not to stay any longer at the late-day press conference following a lengthy court docket.

“Frankly, I don’t need to be bothered anymore by any of this nonsense surrounding the timing of the groundhog’s shadow,” he said. “I’d like to go home now, I’ve got my own 5 o’clock shadow to worry about.”