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Senate bill amended to keep Beech Fork funded


The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A threat to cut funding to Beech Fork State Park won’t turn into action this legislative session.

The West Virginia House of Delegates advanced Senate Bill 535, which is drawn from Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal to reorganize West Virginia’s Division of Tourism, on Thursday afternoon.

While the scope of the bill focused on Justice’s proposal to boost tourism in the state, an amendment to the bill last month threatened to cut state funding for two state parks, Beech Fork in Lavalette and Cacapon State Park in Morgan County.

In 2012, legislators approved a measure authorizing the sale of $52.5 million in bonds for capital improvements at Beech Fork and Cacapon.

The two parks were to split the proceeds, which were to be paid back through excess lottery revenue at a cost of $3 million each year for 30 years.

At Beech Fork, the bond money was planned to be used to build a 75-room lodge with a restaurant, indoor swimming pool, meeting facilities and recreation centers.

Feasibility studies available at the time the bond measures were approved showed the lodge would accrue about $2 million each year for Wayne County and create 28 jobs.

The delay in issuing the bonds is that lottery revenue, which was to be used to pay down the bonds, has declined.

Senate Bill 535 will be on third reading and eligible for a final vote in the House on Friday.

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