Budget cuts could shut down Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Rip - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Budget cuts could shut down Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV

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Funding for Cedar Lakes could be cut from the WVDE Funding for Cedar Lakes could be cut from the WVDE
Ripley, WV -

Proposed budget cuts could shut down a popular conference center that's used by kids and adults all across the state.

It's an all too familiar issue for those who frequent Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV.

"Cedar Lakes has faced budget cuts time and time again," said David Bourgeois, a retired vocational agriculture teacher.

The Department of Education owns the 400-acre facility. It was required to make a 7.5 percent cut in its budget this year, and a bulk of that would affect Cedar Lakes.  The cuts would lay off all of the center's employees and turn it into a maintenance-only facility.

The WVDE said it's very early on in the budget process. While $1 million in funding could be cut from Cedar Lakes, there's still a chance no cuts will happen at all.

Bourgeois said more than 170,000 people utilize the amenities at the center every year.

A 'Save the Cedar Lakes Conference Center' Facebook group has grown to more than 7,000 members in just one week.

"We've had people from all over the United State and Canada go in on that social media, the Facebook page that's there, and write comments about what Cedar Lakes meant to them," he said.

Delegate Steve Westfall said even the threat of budget cuts will have consequences to the center right now.

"This affects the bookings for next year. The Department of Education says it could possibly close June 30, 2014 and that scares people away," he said.

Home to the annual Mountain State Arts and Craft Fair and dozens of other events, many people do not want to see this iconic center shut down.

A public rally has been scheduled in support of the center for Thursday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

Click here to join 'Save Cedar Lakes Conference Center' Facebook page.