By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
Bob and Cindy Barr may be relatively new to Pleasant Valley, but after living here for five years, and coming up on weekends for 12, West Virginia feels like home.
“I’d love to start telling people I grew up in West Virginia, but you all know each other here,” Bob said, laughing.
The Burrs own an A-frame house on the Tygart Valley River, with a dock and pontoon boat out back. It started out as a vacation home, but they soon grew to love their time on the river so much, they wanted to call the house home.
“Cindy is a summer person. She loves to be out in the sun, and she loves the water. This was a no-brainer,” Bob said. “Keep the wife happy.”
The love of the river wasn’t the only thing drawing the Barrs to West Virginia.
Bob was a medical transport helicopter pilot in Virginia and Maryland, helping to take patients from one hospital to another, or arriving on the scene of an accident.
Around the time the Barrs had been thinking of moving to West Virginia, his contract in Virginia-Maryland ended.
“Buckhannon had just opened up as a brand new base,” Bob said. “So it was real easy.”
Bob flies helicopters for HealthNet out of Buckhannon now, moving patients to Morgantown, Pittsburgh and Charleston. He flies the helicopter, and he also has a nurse and a medic on board.
His work schedule is a little bit different.
“Pilots by law can only work 12 hours, and then they need so much rest,” Bob said. “So I’ll work seven days, and then I’m off seven days in a row.”
Because his work is dictated by medical need and accidents, Bob says he thinks of his work as kind of like working at a fire hall.
“All of our work is on-demand,” Bob said. “It’s very rarely a scheduled event, unless a town is holding a public relations event. That’s the only time I know I’m going to go out at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.”
While the river is Cindy’s real love, flying his helicopter is Bob’s.
“I get paid to do something I was born to do, and I love,” he said. “I mean, it really isn’t work.”
The Barrs’ A-frame house originally belonged to some friends Cindy knew through her job as a nurse in Virginia. While she loves the river now, when her friend first started asking her to come down, she was skeptical.
“After she had asked me for about a year, one day I decided, OK, I’m going to go with her and see what this place is all about,” Cindy said. “So I came here one weekend with her, and I just fell in love with it, and for the next nine years, every time she came, I came with her.
“And it was just the most relaxing place in the world. There are no problems; there’s no politics. It’s like a little piece of heaven down here.”
Then in 2005, their friends decided they were going to retire to Las Vegas and put the house up for sale.
“And the rest is history,” Cindy said.
“We have been blessed to live on this river,” Bob said. “I find God lives on the river with us in the summertime. Not sure where He spends His winter, but certainly in the summer, when we go out on our pontoon, we are just thoroughly, thoroughly blessed.”
Their neighbors have been another blessing.
“For the first three or four years we owned the house, we just came basically every couple of weeks in the summer, and maybe once or twice in the winter. So our neighbors watched our house for us, because we’re under threat of flood any time here,” Cindy said.
“One year, it was in the winter time, and the water came up. It was a couple of inches in our basement.
“And they moved all of our furniture out of the basement up here to this level for us. Then they told us there was a flood,” she said.
“I mean that’s what kind of great neighbors we have,” she said. “Who’s going to move your furniture when there’s a flood, and then clean out the flood? Those are good neighbors,” Cindy said. “And that’s what you see in small town America.”
While Cindy isn’t working as a nurse anymore, she’s still keeping busy.
“I try to find a project to volunteer with,” she said. “I feel it’s important to give back, and since I don’t work, I have the time to give back.”
Cindy volunteers with her church, Kingmont Methodist, through a group of several churches in the area. She and the other volunteers go to the Soup Opera to help out.
“We go and make a meal, serve the meal and clean up. That’s our job there,” she said.
She also is active in the Marion County Master Gardeners group.
“We have education programs; we meet once a month; we take care of all of the flowers at Pricketts Fort,” she said. “You can be very busy with just the one organization, if you so choose.”
She also gardens on her own, around her neighborhood.
“I love to mess in the yard,” she said. “My neighbors tolerate me. If I want to plant flowers in their yard, they let me plant flowers.”
Cindy has also planted flowers by the railroad.
“I only have my front yard out there,” Cindy said. “So wherever I can, I like to garden.”
Email Colleen S. Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.