CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thousands have taken to social media to help save the Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley from potential budget cuts.
The state Department of Education owns the center, and like other state agencies was required to make a 7.5 percent cut in spending this year.
Under the Department of Education's proposed budget that incorporates those deductions, the conference center is taking a major hit.
"We had some really tough decisions to make related to the budget," said Liza Cordeiro, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education. "As we looked and asked where is it that we can cut, our main focus during the entire process was keeping money in the classroom. While these were tough decisions, they had to be made."
The proposal eliminates most funding for the 400-acre facility, which is used for a variety of community events, and would scale back to "maintenance-only" costs for the center, laying off 35 full-time employees.
Cordeiro urged that these are merely considerations at this point, and "there is a long budget process ahead."
However, nearly 6,500 people have already joined a "Save Cedar Lakes Conference Center" Facebook group created earlier this week.
Cedar Lakes hosts the annual Mountain State Arts and Craft Fair and also offers space to organizations such as 4-H and the Future Farmers of America.
The center also currently provides lodging, crafting courses, a swimming pool, dining facilities and additional meeting space for the community.
Lisa Scarberry posted to the Facebook group last week, saying she has fond memories there. It's where her husband proposed and where they later had their wedding.
"Our kids love to go on picnics there, play putt-putt golf, fish, ride their bikes ... they have had ball practice there and we love walking the trail around the back two lakes," Scarberry said. "Our oldest child enjoys 4-H camp there each summer, while I enjoy being a counselor. I have family from out of town that love visiting the park while visiting with us. The Arts & Crafts Fair not being held there would be a big disappointment as well."Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.