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.