Venir au beau comté de Tucker

Alisha McCune works with Annie Snyder during physical therapy at Cortland Acres. Snyder, who has spent 40 years singing the praises of life in Tucker County, is staying at Cortland’s new Blackwater rehabilitation unit after hip replacement surgery.

‘Come to beautiful Tucker County’  is  Annie Snyder’s mission

One of the strongest voices to promote what’s good in Tucker County comes with a distinct French accent. But make no mistake – Annie Snyder is a “local” through and through who lives to sing the praises of her adopted home.

“This is such a wonderful area,” Snyder said. “We have something for everyone. I just love it here.”

Snyder certainly would know about something for everyone. Over the past four decades, she’s worked in nearly every part of the county’s economy. She and her husband, Bobby, started working in the restaurant at Canaan Valley State Park, then became the managers.

She ran Cabin Mountain Stables and worked with David Downs during what she called the “pioneer days” of real estate development in Canaan Valley. She organized day and overnight rides complete with camping in Dolly Sods, and the stable had a trainer and farrier on staff.

Snyder assisted Anita Barton after she created the Alpine Festival, coordinating a 50-mile endurance ride on horseback that drew people from several states.

“We were able to ride all over,” Snyder recalled, noting land restrictions spelled the end of that ride as well as the popular Blackwater 100. “There were a lot of riders – we averaged 80 horses.”

During her time at the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau she worked with Walt Ranalli and Lois Nelson to create the Leaf Peepers Festival, the first event focused on the fall season.

All those years on horseback likely contributed to why she’s temporarily slowed enough to talk about her colorful history. Snyder had back surgery last year and hip replacement surgery already this year, and she’s recovering at Cortland Acres Blackwater rehabilitation unit in Thomas. She’s already become an evangelist for the service there.

“That’s the price you pay, but I have no regret,” she said of the surgery. “I really, really value this rehab center. It’s close to family, it’s close to work. I’m so pleased with all the therapists, inpatient and outpatient. They’re extremely talented.”

The rehab unit, which opened in 2016, features private rooms on a separate wing for short-term stays. Snyder actually took a video of the center and showed it to her surgical team at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

“They couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I market Cortland just because I think they’re so great. You rehabilitation yourself faster than you do at home. It’s less stress on your family and they push you a little bit.”

Snyder certainly knows about pushing herself. During a recent visit, she was sitting in a chair in her room in front of her laptop, making telephone calls about a real estate continuing education class she’s organizing in April.

Her first experience with real estate came with Timberline, where she actually served a number of roles. Over the course of 20 years, she served as the resort’s program and event director, directed the Nordic skiing program, coordinated the popular Snowy Luau Festival and worked with Timberline Four Seasons Realty.

For the past 16 years, Snyder has worked with Kim Landis at Landis Realty LLC. Snyder said her four decades in the area and varied interests help her serve clients. In addition to the outdoor recreation, she’s a master gardener and worked with Matt Quattro to develop a variety of classes at the Thomas Education Center.

“I enjoy it. I love it,” she said of real estate. “Knowing the region, you’re not afraid to sell it to others. We have all of the amenities – skiing, boating, cross country, camping, places like the Purple Fiddle and micro-businesses people have built themselves.”

She cited people like Ranalli and Sandra and Michael Goss at Sirianni’s, Chip Chase and Laurie Little at White Grass, then another generation like Rob and Melissa Borowitz at Hellbender Burritos and the artist community along Front Street in Thomas.

“All these people I grew up with, they have known how to use their talent to create businesses with unusual character,” Snyder said. “And people put their money back into their businesses and the community. It’s just a bonus.”

Now, she said, it’s exciting to see another generation carrying the torch.

“Thomas and Davis had a hard time because all the young people were leaving,” she recalled. “It’s so wonderful to see young people here, see things being developed. And Corridor H is a big help. I’m a big fan. It’s making us a destination. It’s very promising.”

Because of her infectious personality and varied interests, many people know the Annie Snyder who has been here since the mid-1970s. But how, exactly, did a native of France end up a key part of growth in the mountains of West Virginia?

“I went to college in France and studied philosophy and English,” she said. “I decided to take a year off and my English teacher suggested I look at an exchange program in the United States. I would teach French and polish my English.”

Snyder hoped for a placement in California, but that wasn’t meant to be. She was sent to Wisconsin, then Topeka, Kansas. Her third and final placement was in Petersburg, West Virginia. It was there that, with a friend, she ended up driving down to the river with a young man named Bobby Snyder.

When she hit the brakes to avoid an accident, her car slid and hit a pole. She had cuts and bruises, and Bobby had a couple cracked ribs.

“So that’s how we got to know each other better – in the hospital,” she said with a smile.

She took him to France to try to sell an invention that improved bicycle wheels, and she planned to stay home. He had other ideas.

“He said you’re coming back to America with me and we’re getting married,” she said. “So now I go back to France to visit my mom every year, and she comes to visit here. It’s the best of both worlds. I’ve got families here and there. I’m very fortunate.”

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