UPDATE 3/6/2014 5:00 PM
Cedar Lakes Jackson County2
Cedar Lakes is going private.
The West Virginia Senate passed legislation to allow Cedar Lakes Conference Center to become a for-profit business outside the control of the state board of education.
The bill allows the conference center to set salaries of its employees.
In the past the minimum salary requirements for school service personnel have applied to the center's employees.
The bill now goes to the governor.
UPDATE 1/8/2014 5:20 PM
A second chance for the Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley.
The West Virginia Board of Education passed a resolution to keep the facility open.
The board had planned to close down the center after it determined that it could no longer continue to request financial support from the legislature to support daily operations.
UPDATE: 10-3-13 11:34PM
People in Ripley held a rally Thursday night.
Students and adults alike gathered at Cedar Lakes Thursday evening for a rally to keep the park open.
Several guest speakers spoke on the park's behalf telling the public how important Cedar Lakes is for the community.
It's an important landmark that brings in money to Jackson County since it's opening 63 years ago.
"As the Cedar Lakes Foundation President, our concern is that we want to retain the current mission to this facility, serving diverse groups, even Spina Bifida in kids that come here for camp," says Cedar Lakes Foundation President, Dr. Stanley Hopkins.
The Ripley High School Band along with the Ravenswood High School Rave Revue were there performing musical songs.
The rally also featured many people cheering their hearts out to keep Cedar Lakes open to the entire community.
A staple of Jackson County for years, it was the home of many special programs.
But now the funding is about to dry up.
Cedar Lakes could close.
Many in the community are trying to keep that from happening.
Though nothing has been decided yet, it's a possible target for state belt-tightening.
A lot of people know it as the home of the annual Mountain State Arts and Crafts Festival in July.
But instead of it being run by the Department of Natural Resources, like a state park, Cedar Lakes is actually part of the State Department of Education.
That's because more than half of the events there are education-related, like FFA gatherings.
And the greater concern is that it's part of Jackson County's economy.
"It's a real nice place for people to congregate. We have family reunions, band camp, a lot of kids come here to fish. We have the arts and crafts fair. It's such a great place, I hate to see it shut down," says Ripley resident Dave Henthorn.
" Come support us, because Cedar Lakes is important to Jackson County, and to the whole state of West Virginia," says Delegate Steve Westfall.
The Department of Education emphasizes Cedar Lakes is one of several options it is considering for budget reductions.
Nonetheless, an online petition to save the park started just days ago has already picked up three-fourths of the signatures it is seeking.
A public meeting at the conference center is set for next Thursday night at 6.