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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Delegate says Cedar Lakes outlook not so bleak; rally scheduled Oct. 3

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  • RIPLEY - Jackson County Commissioners received a positive update on a subject that would affect not only local residents but those from around and out of state from Delegate Steve Westfall at their Thursday meeting.
    In a recent article written by JN reporter Phil Perry for the Thursday, September 19 issue of The Star News, entitled, "Cedar Lakes Conference Center faces possible closure," the fate of the facility was not looking bright.
    Perry wrote," With budget goals looming, the West Virginia Department of Education looks to close the facility and by early summer 2014 only a small maintenance crew could remain intact."
    Delegate Steve Westfall 12th District Representative, assured commission members that he did not see Cedar Lakes closing it doors any time in the near future. He stated that he and Senator Mitch Carmichael had just come from a very positive meeting with State Superintendant West Virginia Department of Education Dr. James B. Phares.
    Said the Delegate, "Dr. Phares said he has no intention of shutting it down, its just part of the budget cuts. He (Phares) said I still think we did right by going around talking to employees to let them know this could still happen and that he stood by his decision. May be it's a good thing. It got everyone's attention that's for sure.
    "He did give me talking points that they are handing out some stuff. Every department in the state got cut by 7.5%.
    "They want to shield a few places, the school for the blind and deaf is going to be shielded", said Westfall, "Cedar Lakes had to get cut. With 7.5%, I know Cedar Lakes will live with that but they are used to that, they go by pennies anyway. Taking a 7.5% cut is better than closing the place down."
    Westfall added that state needed to market the facility better.
    Said the delegate, "We talked about the state agencies do not use it. Last year the State Department of Education spent $2,000 on State teacher meetings at Cedar Lakes and thousands and thousands and thousands for Morgantown and Stonewall. It's a dinosaur; in the fact that most people don't want to stay there. Cedar Lakes doesn't have television, no nothing. Most meetings are voluntary so if someone is asked do you want to go to Stonewall or Cedar Lakes they'll pick Stonewall. We want to get stat agencies to use it if possible, but I can't force them use the place."
    Westfall stated that a rally in support of the conference center will be held at Cedar Lakes on October 3 at 6 p.m.
    "Dr. Phares wants to be there as one of the speakers. We would like for you to come out. They are expecting, hopefully, thousands," Westfall said.
    A meeting with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is the next move for Westfall.

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