City Clerk Loves Lending A Helping Hand
By Alexe van Beuren
Whether you knew her parents or you’ve seen her down at City Hall, Vivian Snider is a person to know – and chances are, you do.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” Snider tells me. “I just never left.”
A graduate of Water Valley High School, Snider first went to work at Big Yank Corporation, where her father, Hubert Sanders, managed the plant, and her mother, Margaret, worked in the office. Then, in 1989, she saw the position of deputy clerk advertised.
She has worked for the city ever since.
“I love to be able to help people with their situations,” Snider tells me in the wood-paneled meeting room at City Hall. “Most people are upset when they come here, and I’m glad to listen to them any way I can.”
Promoted to City Clerk in 1995, Snider’s job consists of– well, everything. She and other city employees take care of payroll, collect information for the court, organize driving schools for traffic offenders, take complaints, and record minutes for the multitude of governmental meetings. In her 18 years with the City, Snider has worked under three mayors, and readily admits she knows more than she can tell me, despite my best journalistic probings.
“I practice letting everyone else do the talking,” she says with a smile.
While she is admirably circumspect about her professional life, Snider is more than willing to open up personally. She has been married to Ronnie Snider for 28 years, lives close to her family, and has kept the same group of friends since her school days.
“A lot of us have stayed,” she says, referring to her high school posse. When I ask her about the good parts of having the same friends, Snider says that some of her friends have had tragedies in their lives, and it’s wonderful to be able to be here to help them “I think that’s important.” Of course, the downside is, “they never let you live down anything!”
Luckily, Snider freely admits to her greatest passion: P.J., her blue-eyed, long-haired, and utterly spoiled cat.
“He rules the house,” she says. “He doesn’t realize he’s a cat.” And why should he? After all, Snider hangs balloons in her yard for P.J.’s birthday and dresses him in costumes for Halloween – which are recorded for posterity with portraits taken by Gurner Photography. “My family and friends have finally accepted it,” Snider says, smiling at her own antics.
Despite all of Snider’s care, the cat “actually prefers my husband,” she says, shaking her head. “Even though I’m the one to do everything for him.”
As we close our interview, Snider leads me back into the shared office where she spends her days, surrounded by the “wonderful people I work with” – and of course, multiple pictures of P.J., a cat who probably doesn’t realize how fortunate he is.