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UPDATE: Senator Fighting to Keep Cedar Lakes Open

By: Anna Baxter, Michael Clouse Email
By: Anna Baxter, Michael Clouse Email
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UPDATE 10/9/13 @ 6:27 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The fight to keep an education center open rages on.

The Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley not only employs about 50 people, but also attracts hundreds of thousands of students and visitors each year.

This is not just a debate over finances, but also a debate over which education is more important: one in a classroom or one in the field.

Just as students dread tests, people on both sides dread the possible outcome.

On Wednesday, the topic came up again at the state school board meeting

The Department of Education needs to cut 7.5 percent of their budget for next year, equating to roughly $8 million.

About $3 million would be saved by closing Cedar Lakes.

On Wednesday afternoon, officials went back and forth trying to figure out how to cut funds without closing the popular retreat location.

A top suggestion is to privatize Cedar Lakes and its $1 million yearly deficit.

"We know, we are absolutely positive that we can generate that additional million dollars, and, or cut some costs to make it an absolute zero balance cost to the state of West Virginia," said State Senator Mitch Carmichael.

Carmichael says one negative of even discussing a closure is the impact it's making on bookings at Cedar Lake. If people think a place is going to close, chances are they're second guessing making a reservation.

A decision will ultimately be made by the state legislature during their next session. That begins in January.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 9/13/13
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Budget cuts may cause a popular conference center in West Virginia to close its doors next year.

Liza Cordeiro, with the West Virginia Department of Education, tells WSAZ.com the board has submitted its recommendations on how to cut its budget and one of the recommendcations is to turn Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley into a maintaintanace only facility. That means, if this proposal was approved, the lodge and conference center would no longer be open for lodging, meetings and other events.

Back in August several state agencies were asked to cut their budgets by 7.5-percent because the state faces a $300M budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year which begins next July.

"The conference center is a wonderful resource for the state, but the board had to make some touch decisions, Cordeiro said. We need our budget to go straight back into the classroom."

Ripley Mayor Carolyn Rader tells WSAZ.com the news came as a surprise and she hopes the board will reconsider because she feels the center provides a great education tool to the state.

This is only a recommendation. The budget cut proposal still has to go through several steps before it gets final approval.

The conference center has 35 full time employees. The conference center also employees seasonal workers.

Cordeiro says the conference center costs a little more than a million dollars a year.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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