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Cedar Lakes has more than 220 acres, a conference center, lodge and dorms along with other amenities.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The wheels are in motion to transfer the Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Jackson County from under the control of the state Department of Education to the private Cedar Lakes Foundation. The state Board of Education approved a resolution Wednesday.

State School Superintendent Dr. Jim Phares told MetroNews this is a direct response to the 2011 education audit that said the department should no longer financially support the center.

“It’s another one we can check off that we’ve met the call to the audit response,” Phares said.

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.

Superintendent Phares gives a lot of credit to the foundation, which is made up of several community members. He said they stepped up after a meeting last year when it looked like Cedar Lakes could close.

“I laid out a call to them right there that if they wanted to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem we needed to meet and get together and come up with something. It is an impressive effort made by those groups,” Phares said.

The resolution allows the foundation five years to become fully self-sustaining with declining annual support from the state over those five years. Phares said the state board’s move is the first step. He said there would also have to be corresponding steps from the legislature and state Board of Public Works to complete the transfer.

Phares said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is fully on board with the transfer.

The school board’s resolution also includes the following requirement:

“Before the facility is officially signed over to the Cedar Lakes Foundation in July 2015, it must agree to maintain the original mission for education enrichment at the center. The transfer of property must also be endorsed and approved by the governor, the West Virginia Legislature, and, if necessary, the West Virginia Board of Public Works.”


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  • Jephre

    How about spending the $2 million that formerly supported Cedar Lakes on roads in Jackson County?

    • Larry

      Good idea.

  • Larry

    It was a good run for this place, things will gradually get worse each year as the tax dollars dry up, and by the time this "foundation" is in control the bridge will be impassible and the grounds overgrown with weeds and brush.

  • Independent View

    I've been to Cedar Lakes events and conferences. Rather unimpressive. And, if Cedar Lakes is loosing a million dollars per year, with the taxpayers picking up the tab, what would lead a logical person to believe that it can stand on its own two feet?
    If there was market for a conference center in Jackson County, the private sector would have developed one years ago.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Could have used some of Gus Douglas' revolving account to keep this sucker afloat.

    • old ben

      The new Commissioner of Agriculture and Water Farming will keep Cedar Lakes afloat.

  • flossrancher

    I love Cedar Lakes, and have participated in its programming in so many ways over so many years--exhibiting and performing at the Fair, teaching and taking classes, attending workshops, etc. It's a wonderful facility which has always fallen far short of its potential due to its nebulous management and staffing structure, plus some serious limitations placed on it by the state. I feel sure the place could become self-supporting given the right leadership, and I sincerely hope the team taking over can make that happen.

  • Citizen of JC and user of CL

    "A waste of taxpayer's dollars"!!! How dare you and evidently you never attended an event at Cedar Lakes!!
    Take note of a required provision of said transfer: must continue to provide educational opportunities..... Seriously, Mr. Phares!! The state just dropped us or rather "checked us off the list" per recommendation of THE audit, but yet will continue to dictate how we, the citizens of Cedar Lakes, will operate and promote said facility!! The state will no longer be providing financial support and facility no longer falls into the Department of Education; that would lead me and others I'm sure, to believe neither one has control or a say in how the facility will be operated! Both, have tried before and have said, we do not want or need this facility. So, why should either one care or dictate how it will continue? I believe that both the state and Dept of Ed. just gave themselves either a huge pay increase or "fluffed" their coffers (budgets) so frivolous spending can continue for line items, fancy meeting and training locations with "proper amenities" provided.... and other such expenditures. In my opinion, you both have lost and should no longer have any control or say in how we, the citizens of Cedar Lakes, continue to operate said facility. Your done here.........

  • Mountain Man

    Well gee, where will all this extra money go? This has been a fiscal tragedy for many years. Could have built many schools with this waste of taxpayer funds.