IN 1950, the state Department of Education established an educational retreat on more than 200 acres of donated land near Ripley in Jackson County.
What followed was the Cedar Lakes Conference Center, which has hosted thousands of meetings and retreats for students and adults over the years.
Many West Virginians have fond memories of camps and retreats there.
Additionally, people from across the state and the country have journeyed to the pristine and bucolic setting for the annual Mountain State Art and Craft Fair.
Cedar Lakes is important to the local economy. About three dozen people work there, and local businesses benefit when visitors come to the retreat.
So it's understandable that when the Department of Education says it may have to cut funding for the beloved camp to meet a possible budget reduction, people become upset. Rallies are held, a "Save Cedar Lakes Conference Center" Facebook page pops up and supporters turn up at the state Board of Education meeting.
But Cedar Lakes, for all its charm, has issues, most of which were detailed in the recent Education Efficiency Audit by Public Works.
Cedar Lakes is not self-sustaining. About one-third of its budget - $1 million - comes from a state Department of Education subsidy.
Employee costs are high. State law mandates that Cedar Lakes employees be paid comparable to school personnel, which is higher than salaries in the hospitality industry. The audit found wages are 45 to 50 percent above the average at competing facilities.