Karen Facemeyer and Suzette Lowe with the Cedar Lakes Foundation were the speakers at the recent Ripley Rotary Club meeting. They discussed some new and exciting things that are happening at Cedar Lakes.

Facemeyer noted in 2018 Cedar Lakes had over 66,000 plus visitors who lodged or were part of a conference or group. Around 10,000 visitors alone attended the Mountain State Arts & Crafts Fair.

They host soccer tournaments, band camps – up to five different bands at a time – banquets, picnics, reunions, church camps, and specialized camps like Mountain Heart and Camp Echo.

Cedar Lakes is currently able to house 600 guests at one time as well as feed all 600. The area that is lacking is meeting space.

“We can house and feed 600, but they need more meeting space,” Facemeyer said. “Bands are our big thing and we could host so many more with additional indoor meeting spaces for concert practices.”

They are looking to purchase a tent. At this time they have raised around $10,000 towards the $35,000 cost.

Facemeyer stated that the the tent is a temporary solution to a ongoing issue of meeting space.

For a more permanent resolution, Facemeyer has researched a building company, B & D Builders, an Amish company in Pennsylvania, who is willing to build a new facility that will hold between 1,600 and 2,000 people.

“Cedar Lakes lost a lot of large groups several years ago because we didn’t have the facility to hold them anymore,” Facemeyer said.

The new facility would include two stories of meeting spaces and a room for caterers to use for different events. The cost for the facility including the parking lot for 1,000 cars as well as an update to the current office building to match the new structure would be $5.5 million.

Facemeyer noted that during the past fiscal year, last July through this June, Cedar Lakes took in about $1.5 million in revenue.

The Cedar Lakes Foundation has stepped up in the last few years to raise money to keep the facility running.

The foundation is broken down into two different committees, Capital Campaign and Grass Roots.

The Capital Campaign Committee focuses on ways to raise money for the entire facility while the Grass Roots Committee brainstorms ways to get the local people and community involved.

Ann Knopp approached Lowe, who is the chairperson for the Grass Roots Committee, with the idea of doing a Memorial Brick Campaign. This campaign would raise funds to renovate the VFW Cabin.

The Memorial Brick Campaign will honor veterans with a permanent Veterans Plaza walkway in front of the Veteran’s Memorial, which is a flag pole that was donated by Farm Credit and dedicated last November. It is located on an island between the two bridges.

The first brick would cost $50 and each additional brick would cost $40. The bricks will be engraved with the name of a veteran, living or deceased.

Constellium has been approached regarding a request for a bench depicting each branch of the military as a bench to sit and reflect on the sacrifices the veterans have made to our country.

Once the idea was pitched, others questioned the ability to purchase a brick to honor non-military people.

“Someone said, ‘What about Dave Bourgeois, or the Gold Star Mothers?’” Lowe said. “So we decided to create a separate section to honor loved ones, living or deceased, and those you just want to honor.”

The Memorial Brick Campaign is for more than just those in Jackson County.

“Last year’s Road Scholar Craft Classes brought in people from 33 different states and three different countries,” Facemeyer said. “This is something for anyone who wants to honor a loved one, military or non-military.”

It will take around 800 bricks to do the entire walkway and Cedar Lakes employees will do most of the placement work.

“We are starting with the brick campaign, but we are looking for some good donations from businesses and people,” Facemeyer said, “We will also look into some state funding as well.”

Facemeyer believes with the renovations and additions to Cedar Lakes, it will make Jackson County a prime location for different events and bring in a much needed revenue to this area.

Bricks are able to be purchased through City National Bank or online at bricksrus.com/donorsite/cedarlakes.

In other business:

• Denise Toler reminded everyone of the Jackson General Hospital Golf Tournament to be held at Green Hills Golf Course on June 22.

• September 7 will be the Rotary’s Ford Driving event.