Laura Dean Bennett
Last week’s 2021 Tourism Partner Luncheon was held at Camp Twin Creeks, at the confluence of Knapps Creek and Browns Creek in Minnehaha Springs.
The annual meeting is held to review the accomplishments of the previous year and coordinate efforts to improve the business of tourism in Pocahontas County.
In attendance were local businessowners, county officials, representatives of many county and state organizations and agencies as well as Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau staff and board members.
The meeting afforded attendees a chance to experience hospitality at the historic local landmark.
Many of those assembled professed their delight in having the opportunity to visit the camp, as they had never been to Camp Twin Creeks before.
Prior to the meeting, guests took time to “meet and greet” each other in the bucolic setting – on the lawn outside of the dining hall overlooking the manicured grounds of the camp where, each summer, thousands of young people from all over the United States and abroad have attended summer camp.
After a warm welcome and a brief overview of the camp’s activities by Camp Twin Creeks Director Iain McClements, the audience settled down to the first presentation – a thorough review of the CVB website update being done by the county’s new advertising agency, Digital Relativity.
Lunch was served al fresco. It was catered by DirtBean owner Kristy Lanier, who served a delicious pork barbecue sandwich, innovative coleslaw, macaroni and cheese and a tossed salad of spring greens.
Dessert, a yummy banana pudding, was provided by the camp kitchen.
Following lunch, the attendees were ushered back into the meeting, where the agenda continued with several informative presentations.
Gray Beverage, with the West Virginia Department of Highways, and Tammy Shoemaker with Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, discussed the limitations of the effectiveness of GPS in Pocahontas County and how to better direct visitors and guests to local destinations.
Mystik Miller, Director and Community Liaison of the Snowshoe Foundation, talked about this year’s Mountain Biking World Cup which will be held at Snowshoe and the positive economic impact of the IMBA bike trails silver designation.
Marlinton/White Sulphur District US Forest Service Ranger Cindy Sandeno spoke about ongoing efforts to improve the health of the forest and work with the communities within the forest.
A question and answer period followed the speakers, after which, CVB Executive Director Cara Rose reported on the Make It Shine campaign and the work of the Broadband Council.
“Sarah Riley is leading the Broadband Council on behalf of the county commission, and we are fortunate to have well-informed and engaged members such as Mike Holstine on board.
“If we had $10 million, we’d have broadband across the county. In the meantime, we are looking for grants,” Rose said.
Rose also told the audience that the county’s plans for the year-long Pocahontas Bicentennial Celebration are being met with enthusiasm and that a pre-bicentennial event, the “trout reveal” party, is scheduled for August.
“This is going to be a great celebration for Pocahontas County,” she said.
Last on the agenda was the presentation of two awards by the CVB Board of Directors.
Mary Snyder was honored with an award for being the longest continuous serving member on the CVB Board of Directors.
Snyder has been a board member since 1989, representing West Virginia State Parks and Forests.
Snyder was born in the Cass area, making her life there while raising two daughters with her husband, Charles.
She began her career at the Cass Railroad State Park in January 1987.
Since her retirement from Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Snyder has continued to serve on the board as a representative of the Green Bank Voting District.
“Her hard work and service on a number of committees as well as her nearly flawless record of meeting attendance during her more than 30 years with the board, have proven her dedication to the mission of the CVB board and aided in its success,” Rose stated.
“Mary is fully invested in the preservation and history of Cass, which made her an ideal CVB Board member representing one of the major tourism attractions in the county.”
Each year, the CVB bestows its Tourism Person of the Year award on one of its tourism partners – someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the growth of tourism in Pocahontas County.
The name of that person is always a closely-held secret until its announcement at the annual meeting.
This year, that secret was even more closely held than usual.
Apparently, Cara Rose had been given the impression that fellow board member Gil Willis had won the award.
When Willis was called up by board member George Murphy and Rose for the presentation, the tables were turned as Willis announced that this year’s Tourism Person of the Year is actually Cara Rose.
She was truly surprised.
Rose is a graduate of Salem College, where she acquired a Bachelor of Science in both Marketing and Management in 1987.
She began her career in the hospitality industry 38 years ago.
Rose’s first “real job,” as she put it, was working at the Snowshoe switchboard one winter when she was still in high school.
Rose has worked at Watoga State Park, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Pocahontas County CVB from 1988-1996 and then the National Radio Astronomy Observatory from August 1997 to May 2011 before returning to the CVB as executive director in May 2011.
She lives in Minnehaha Springs, on the farm where she grew up.
She has two daughters, Lorena, who lives in Tacoma, Washington, and Amelia who is a West Virginia University student.
“I am very honored and humbled to receive the award this year,” Rose said.
“But a good executive is only as good as their staff and board of directors, and I’m pleased to say that the CVB has a fantastic team and a truly dedicated board of directors,” she added.
“I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to stay in Pocahontas County and make my career in Pocahontas County’s hospitality industry.”