RIPLEY, W.Va — The once shaky future of the Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Jackson County is looking a little more stable.

The West Virginia Board of Education Wednesday supported a plan, which was presented during their meeting, that would allow for the conference center to remain open for years to come.

“To maintain the wonderful asset that is Cedar Lakes for public use by transferring the ownership and the operation of it, over a period of time, to the Cedar Lakes Foundation from the West Virginia Board of Education,” said Jackson County state Senator Mitch Carmichael.

Since 1950, the state Board of Education has owned the 228-acre conference center near Ripley and has covered the $3 million a year cost to run the facility, which only generates $2 million in revenue a year. With state budget cuts looming, the board was considering closing down the facility.

Carmichael said this plan would keep Cedar Lakes open, but leave the board out of having to take care of the bill.

“It will become more of a market-based, free market enterprise scenario that generates the necessary revenue to cover its expenses and provide the wonderful benefits to the citizens of the region,” he said.

The proposal will ask for continued funding on a declining scale over an annual basis for Cedar Lakes so as in a short period of time the facility will become self-sustaining and require no further funding from the state.

“It will save the citizens of West Virginia about $3 million over a period of five years versus what is currently being expended for that facility,” Carmichael added.

Carmichael said the goal would be to have the foundation take over control of the center in the fall of 2015.

“We are very pleased with this and think it’s a win/win scenario for all involved,” said Carmichael.

The state Board of Education will recommend the plan to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin when it submits a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.


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  • Mountain Boy

    If they ARE planning to keep Cedar Lakes open, the very first issue that needs attention is replacing or remodeling the lodge, cabins, and meeting rooms on the grounds. I have to go there once a year for a week long training seminar and the accomodations are just awful. Filthy, outdated, annoying (due to the fact that you can hear someone sneeze 4 rooms away down the hall), SAD are some of the adjectives that first come to mind when I think of the facility. This year I'm staying 30 miles away in Charleston and commuting daily. All the hotels in Ripley are booked already due to the fact that no one wants to stay at Cedar Lakes.

    And what a shame!! It could be one of the nicest conference centers in the state. Beautiful location...just needs some TLC.

  • disgusted

    i wish Larry would just go away-----talk about a negative nelly on every single article----

    if you don't have anything good to say about anything- don't say anything

    • Larry

      Not negative, just realistic. By the way, could you possibly say "anything" anymore in one comment.

  • Larry

    Spend 3 million to make 1, that sounds like government. If this facility is truly left to stand on its own, it will be closed very shortly, there is no way they can generate the kind of funds needed to keep it going without taxpayers footing the bill.

    • The bookman

      I disagree Larry! Cedar Lakes has always been operated by the Board, an entity who was never focused on running Cedar Lakes as a business...a group dedicated to this project certainly stands a much better chance of making it work...And the upside is that the State Dept of Ed gets out from under it in a transfer of ownership, so the success of the project lies squarely on the shoulders of the newly formed Foundation...Optimism....pass it on!

      • Larry

        If they want to do it, it should be no tax dollars from the start, no "declining scale". Just hard to imagine a place that hosts an annual arts and crafts show, a few band camps, and an occasional conference as being a money making machine. If it is ever to be a profitable venture, it will not be able to remain as it is today.

        • The bookman

          Well we have already funded it to this point...where was your outcry? This is a plan that cedes ownership...close the doors and still retain ownership and we will still incur some cost to the taxpayer...I would like to see a state law requiring use of state facilities for conferences when astounds me that facilities like this one or our state park conference facilities are vacant yet we pay millions to private hotel chains like the Waterfront or Lakeview or the Greenbrier for state level publicly funded conferences...but don't get me started!


    Unbelievable that taxpayer funds from property taxes were used to pay for this annual bill. How many others are out there? How about Metronews do a special investigative report on discovering these pork bellies that burden taxpayers. Geez, at $3 Million a year, just imagine how many School Building Authority projects to include new schools that could have been funded.....again, unbelievable. Only in our great state.

    • ExWV

      Everybody screams for big government to be cut down to size...except when it affects them. Cedar Lakes is a white elephant..past it's prime. Let's see how well it does when it doesn't have the government doling out that extra million a year to keep it open1


      In response, Cedar Lakes has served as the home for the West Virginia FFA Association for decades hosting the FFA's State Convention and Winter Leadership Conference. These events provide a great experience for youth to develop leadership and compete in various educational contests in a postive environment. I for one have benefited because of FFA involvement and it has made me a better person. I would hope taxpayers would rather have their money go to other wasteful ventures.

      • Melissa H.

        Agreed! I have very fond memories of State FFA Conventions at Cedar Lakes. The skills I learned with FFA have been some of the most beneficial in my career. This facility is worth supporting!

      • Bob

        Completely agree with 'FFA Mountaineer'. From grades 7 to 12 I spent a lot of time at Cedar Lakes for school activities. It was an incredible benefit to me and greatly influenced my life. Cedar Lakes is one of the best things the state Board of Education could fund. I'm very happy to see there's a plan in place to keep it open.