RIPLEY - Budget cuts throughout the state of West Virginia has left the future of the Cedar Lakes in murky waters.
The ultimate conundrum facing those opposed to the demise of the Jackson County staple is where the funding will come from to save it.
State Board of Education Superintendent Dr. James Phares painted a not-so-positive outlook for the facility at a rally in October. While Phares' words didn't echo chimes of pollyannaism, his courage to stand before a group of visibly chafed supporters of Cedar Lakes and deliver a direct, intelligent and realistic message about the situation was widely respected.
Jackson County State Senator Mitch Carmichael along with Delegate Steve Westfall, a 12th District Representative, have solicited local organizations for financial contributions to save the facility. The duo has been active at city council meetings and a Jackson County Board of Education session among others, to raise awareness and garner support.
"We as a community need to come together and preserve Cedar Lakes for future generations to appreciate and enjoy just as we have," said Carmichael at a recent Jackson County Board of Education meeting.
On Wednesday, relief for the bulging retaining wall of hope was provided when the West Virginia Board of Education approved a plan that would provide the facility the means to move progressively into the future while transferring ownership, over time to the Cedar Lakes Foundation.
The WVBOE has carried the $3 million annual burden to support a 200-plus acre facility that only generates about $2 million in revenue.
The proposed market-oriented, free market enterprise plan will keep Cedar Lakes open but relieve the WVBOE of the financial burden, while saving the citizens of West Virginia around $3 million over a period of five years.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will receive details of the plan from the board for review.
Cedar Lakes has been in operation since 1950, hosting educational events, camps and more.